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East Alton, Illinois, Newspaper Clippings

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


EARLY HISTORY OF EAST ALTON    [Also called Alton Junction; Emerald; or Wann Junction]


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, September 28, 1868
For the last two or three weeks past, goods shipped on the Alton and Terre Haute Railroad, and directed to our merchants, have been missed, until suspicion was excited and efforts were made to detect the robbers. After considerable investigation, it was pretty well ascertained that the thefts were perpetrated on the cars detached from the general freight trains at night, left on the switch at the Junction [East Alton], on the Alton and Terre Haute Road, about four miles from Alton, to be brought to Alton in the morning. During this time, the following named firms in Alton had missed goods: Messrs. J. W. & H. Schweppe, Mr. P. B. Whipple, Messrs. Blair & Atwood, and Messrs. Joesting & Co., clothiers.

From the information obtained, locating the depredations at the above-named point, Mr. Snowball, section boss on the railroad, and Mr. Everinham, telegraph operator, determined to watch. On Friday night they discovered some men carrying off some goods, and on demanding of them to halt, one of the desperadoes wheeled and fired upon Mr. Snowball, striking him in the arm and making a serious flesh wound. But owing to the fact that he stood directly between Mr. Everinham, the latter was prevented, through fear of injuring him, from firing, and the robbers made their escape. Afterwards, in examining the cars, a number of bags stuffed with goods was found, which they had failed to get off. Dr. Williams of Alton was called out and dressed the wound of Mr. Snowball, and it’s hoped he will recover without any serious injury.

On Saturday morning a search warrant was issued, and Marshal Young repaired to the Junction and commenced the search. In examining the house of Mr. H. K. Smith, about a quarter of a mile from where the cars were switched off, he came across quite a quantity of the goods secreted in his house, store and stable, and immediately arrested Mr. Smith, his father, a German, a barkeeper for Mr. Smith, and two others, the names of whom we have not obtained. They were brought to Alton and safely lodged in the calaboose. Their trial will not, however, take place until tomorrow. It is thought that there are several other parties implicated in these crimes, but we shall say no more about that at present.

Yesterday, still further search for goods were made, when a case of ladies and misses goods, which belonged to Mr. P. B. Whipple, was found in a cornfield.

The arrest of these men will no doubt break up a foul den of thieves. That vicinity has long been suspected of not being what it ought to be, but nothing positive could ever before be brought against them. Their plan was not to steal all that was in a box, but to break it open, take out a portion of the goods, and close the box again. A large iron was found on Mr. Smith’s premises, evidently made for the purpose of prying open the cars and boxes. We will give further particulars tomorrow, after the trial takes place.

An examination of evidence was quickly held, and Henry Gruering turned State’s evidence against H. K. Smith, who was held over for trial, with his father being released. Louis Froyster, Henry Gruerning, and Michael Grimm were bound over for the next term of the county court, with bail being $1,500 each. In default of bail, the parties were committed to jail in Edwardsville. Philip Ritter, another member of the gang of thieves, was still at large on October 1, 1868. I could find no further information.


Source: Alton Telegraph, January 19, 1872
E. Nevill & Co. have always on hand at their sample rooms in Edwardsville and at the Wood River Driving Park Hotel, a choice selection of genuine imported wines and liquors. They will give due notice of all races at the Driving Park.


Source: Alton Telegraph, March 29, 1872
Considering the state of the track through the heavy fall of snow on Friday last, one of the best quarter races ever ran was at the Wood River Driving Park [in East Alton] last Saturday. A short time ago, Mr. Ed Nevill, the proprietor of the hotel and park, purchased the celebrated race horse “Blind Weasel," and immediately matched her against Mr. Hastings "Fleet Foot," the race to come off on March 23, independent of the weather. The horses were brought on the track promptly, when a hitch arose as to the choice of track, but Mr. Nevill finally consented to Mr. Hasting’s terms. The horses were taken to the Quarter Pole, and after a little delay in starting, the word was given to go. The grey got the start by 3 feet, but in six jumps she got up to him. They ran neck and neck until passing the grandstand, when the mare shot away from the grey, and after a most exciting contest, the Weasel won the race by five feet. So even was the race thought to be, that what betting took place was even.


Source: Alton Telegraph, April 26, 1872
The great horse show and races to take place at the Wood River Driving Park on Saturday, April 27. In addition to the other features, premiums will be given to first- and second-best roadster horses. Another match has been made between Ed Nevill’s horse, “Blind Weazel,” and P. Bradley’s “Dodger” – quarter mile heats, best two in three – May 11.


Source: Alton Telegraph, February 14, 1873
The engine house and water tank, belonging to the Terre Haute Railroad at Alton Junction [East Alton], took fire Thursday night in some unexplained way, and was consumed. The engineer in charge, Mr. Easley, states that after filling the tank, and seeing that the furnace fire was all safe, he left the building at the usual time, and has no idea how the fire originated. The Junction engine now takes water at the Chicago & Alton tank in Alton.


Source: Alton Telegraph, June 13, 1873
Among the enterprises recently inaugurated in this vicinity, is the fire brick factory of Messrs. Roepner & Co. of St. Louis, situated about two miles northeast of Alton Junction [East Alton], where is found an excellent quality of clay, suitable for the purpose. The company have extensive works erected, and employ a force of from 25 to 30 hands. The bank of clay is found at the base of a steep hill, and is mined from a shaft. After being dug, the clay is conveyed to the works on a tramway, and is first ground fine in a huge “coffee mill,” as it is termed, then moistened and moulded in the usual manner. The brick are then “sun dried,” and afterwards “kiln dried,” and finally burned. The works turn out above five thousand brick per day, in favorable weather, though in time it is anticipated the capacity will be largely increased. Mr. Frank Backof, one of the proprietors, is in charge. The office of the company is in St. Louis.


Source: Alton Telegraph, April 17, 1874
On Sunday night, the depot and water tank of the Terre Haute Road, at Alton Junction [East Alton], together with the saloon and restaurant adjoining, were totally destroyed by fire. The fire originated in the saloon, which was owned and occupied by John Yunck, and spread to the railroad buildings. The depot buildings were probably worth about $1,000, and the saloon $200. Loss was totally.


Source: Alton Weekly Telegraph, February 4, 1875
The young men, James Smith and William Clayton, committed by Squire Benbow on two charges of arson, have been transferred to the county jail to await their trial, Judge Baker having refused to grant the writ of habeas corpus sworn out in their behalf. The arrest of these young men, the circumstances of which we have narrated, is regarded as of great importance. The charges upon which they were committed are for burning the Wood River Driving Park Hotel, and for attempting to burn the residence of Jacob Koch. But it is believed that they are connected with several other mysterious incendiary fires that have occurred in the same vicinity the past year. So bold have been these incendiary operations that a perfect reign of terror has existed for months in the neighborhood of Alton Junction, no man knowing when his property would share the same fate. There seems to have been a gang of desperate men in the vicinity who avenged private grudges by destroying the property of those against whom they had conceived a dislike. Among the supposed incendiary fires we recall in this connection are: Depot buildings at the Junction, burned on the 12th of last April; residence of George Smith (father of one of the prisoners), burned the same month; Driving Park Hotel, burned May 4th; residence of John Cook, burned in same month; Brushy Point school house, burned Dec. 25th. There is also the attempt to burn the residence of Jacob Koch. In addition, a stable and one or two straw stacks have been fired by unknown parties. It is believed that the arrest of Smith and Clayton will lead to important developments in regard to these other fires. It is certainly to be hoped that the guilty parties have, at length, been caught, and that the citizens of that locality will, in future, have more security for their property. One thing that has a bad look for the defendants is the fact that several important witnesses for the prosecution have been mysteriously spirited away since the arrest, and cannot be found. The credit for swearing out the warrant in this case is due to Major Roper, and his action in the matter is justified by the decision of the court in committing the prisoners for trial.

[Note: On February 25, 1875, James Smith and William Clayton were taken to Belleville for a hearing for their crime. I could not find if they were convicted of arson.]


Source: Alton Telegraph, February 4, 1875
James Smith and William Clayton, committed by Squire Benbow on two charges of arson, have been transferred to the county jail to await their trial. The arrest of these young men is regarded as of great importance. The charges upon which they were committed are for burning the Wood River Driving Park Hotel, and for attempting to burn the residence of Jacob Koch. But it is believed that they are connected with several other mysterious incendiary fires in the same vicinity the past year. So bold have been these incendiary operations, that a perfect reign of terror has existed for months in the neighborhood of Alton Junction [East Alton]. There seems to have been a gang of desperate men who avenged private grudges by destroying the property of those whom they had conceived a dislike. Among the supposed incendiary fires are: depot buildings at the Alton Junction, burned on April 12; residence of George Smith (father of one of the prisoners), burned the same month; the Driving Park Hotel, burned May 4; residence of John Cook, burned in the same month; Brushy Point schoolhouse, burned December 25. There is also the attempt to burn the residence of Jacob Koch.

It is believed the arrest of Smith and Clayton will lead to important developments in regard to these other fires. One thing that has a bad look for the defendants, is the fact that several important witnesses for the prosecution have been mysteriously spirited away since the arrest, and cannot be found. The credit for swearing out the warrant in this case is due to Major Roper, and his action in the matter is justified by the decision of the court in committing the prisoners for trial.


Source: Alton Telegraph, August 5, 1875
(From the Daily of July 29) – On Tuesday evening, the greatest storm of the present rainy reason commenced, and continued with slight intermissions for thirty-six hours. The rainfall was something almost unprecedented – creeks and water courses quickly overflowed their banks, ponds and lakes were raised to a height never reached before. In the city, the damage to streets, drains, and culverts is very heavy, and will require a heavy outlay to repair it. A number of houses up the creek, at the corner of Sixth and Alby Streets, and on other low grounds, were flooded, and considerable damage done.

The greatest destruction in this vicinity was in the Wood River Bottom, in the vicinity of the Junction [East Alton]. Both forks of the Wood River overflowed their banks yesterday afternoon, and swept in a resistless torrent across the bottom. The stream was four feet higher than any point reached in the last forty years, which gives some idea of the height attached by the flood.

At Upper Alton Station, on the Rock Island Railroad, the west fork of the Wood River flooded all the lowlands in the valley. The depot was entirely surrounded by water, but the bridge, although under water, was not swept away. Up to this morning, the flood was still so high that crossing at that point was impossible. All the farms on that lowland between Upper Alton Station and the Junction were overflowed. Fences, grain and hay were swept away. The standing corn was prostrated, and root crops badly injured. Two bridges on the Rock Island Road, one of them at Woods Station, were also carried away, while the track was washed out and badly damaged. Below the junction of the east and west forks, the river became a resistless torrent, and poured a flood of water directly across the Driving Park, carrying away the east and part of the north fence. The flood followed the line of the wagon road pas the Thre Miles House, and broke through the embankment on the Terre Haute Railroad, at the crossing of the Edwardsville wagon road, and overflowed the lowlands below for several miles. At twelve o’clock today, the wagon road to St. Louis was still two or three feet under water as far as the eye could trace it, from the railroad crossing beyond the Three Mile House. The break in the Terre Haute Road at that point is a serious one, but will probably be repaired by tomorrow, so that trains can pass. On the Chicago track, a bad break occurred at a point about a mile south of the Milton Bridge, but the damage was so promptly repaired that trains crossed before 10 o’clock this morning. The St. Louis passengers from Chicago this morning, by the lightning express train, were transferred to the packet.

Although the river rose to the planking of the three bridges at Milton, still they appear to be in good condition. The most serious damage to the Terre Haute Road was between the bridge and the Junction, at the point where the flood swept across through the Driving Park. Two serious breaks, each several rods long, occurred at this point, and it will be some time before they can be repaired. In the meantime, the passengers from Alton for the East, will have to be transferred at the bridge, unless the “plug train” makes connection by running to Edwardsville Crossing [Hartford area] on the Chicago & Alton track.

On the Rock Island Road, the condition of affairs is still worse. Two bridges are gone, and the track badly damaged. No trains have passed over the road between the Junction and Brighton since yesterday morning. Until the damage is repaired, the only outlet for this road will be over the Chicago & Alton from Brighton to St. Louis. We presume trains will take this route.

The loss to the farmers on the bottom by this overflow will be heavy. In many cornfields, we noticed the water this morning standing two or three feet deep, and as there was no current, it will evidently remain there until removed by the slow process of absorption. The path of the main torrent presents a curious spectacle – rails, fencing, trees, and debris of every description are seen on every hand. Just above Milton, the heavy timbers of a large bridge are stranded on the bank. On the east fork of the Wood River, one county bridge is swept away, and also the timbers for a new one, which Judge Stocker had the contract for building. The details we have given of the flood are meager, but all that a hasty drive to the scene of disaster enabled us to collect. Enough is known to show that the flood is the most disastrous that has occurred in that section for many years.


Source: Alton Telegraph, August 16, 1877
Quite a large company of ladies and gentlemen from Alton, Edwardsville, and other places, assembled at this favorite place of public resort on Saturday afternoon, where a number of trials of speed in trotting took place. Edwardsville horses carried off the honors – the first prize, a $5 whip, was won by Hon. G. B. Burnett; the second prize, a $3 whip, was carried off by Mr. Judy, both of Edwardsville. Some Alton horses made good time in both races, but were not quite equal on that occasion to their competitors from the county seat.


Job’s Stables Destroyed by Fire
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 11, 1881
Mr. Zephaniah B. Job’s stables near the race track, a few miles below the city, caught fire about noon Friday, and were totally consumed in a few minutes. The structure consisted of a large range of wooden buildings, and had lately been used to shelter teams used in constructing the Chicago & Alton Railroad cut-off. There was a lot of loose straw about the place, and it is supposed that the fire was caused by sparks from an engine, as a train had just passed. Dr. Guelich and Mr. J. Kuhn, who were near the place at the time, state that they first saw a little smoke, and in an inconceivably short space of time, the whole building was enveloped in flames and was destroyed so quick that nothing could have been done to save it, even had the appliances for the purpose been on hand.


Source: Alton Telegraph, November 10, 1881
“Wann Station” is the new name given to Alton Junction by the I. & St. Louis authorities in their new time card, issued yesterday.


Source: Alton Telegraph, December 15, 1881
During their geological exploration last week near Alton Junction [East Alton], Professor Marsh and Hon. William McAdams were much interested in a beaver dam across the Wood River, a short distance from the I. & St. Louis Railroad bridge. The dam extends entirely across the stream, and is very ingeniously constructed. It raises the water about three feet. The gentlemen were much surprised at the discovery, as they supposed the beaver had long since deserted this part of the country. They had both often seen beaver dams in the far West, but did not expect to find one in the Wood River, within three miles of a busy town, and near where a hundred men are at work on the cut-off. The residents on the Wood River regard the dam as a great curiosity, and would visit dire revenge on anyone who molested the ingenious little builders.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, January 12, 1882
Alton Junction [East Alton] seems bent on furnishing its quota of exciting incidents. While excavating for earth to be hauled onto the Chicago & Alton cut-off near the Edwardsville wagon road at the lower end of town, today the workmen were greatly surprised at finding the skeleton of a human being that had been buried there some years in the past. The strange unlikeliness of the situation, for so sacred a duty, caused them to wonder greatly, but it was increased to astonishment when the discovery was made that the back part of the skull had been driven in by some blunt instrument, probably at the time its owner came to his death. The skull, which is now in the hands of a villager, yet retains a slight portion of the hair. Among other things exhumed was a brass kettle, a silver half-moon shaped plate, which bore the engraving of an opossum, a silk ribbon, on which were several silver buckles, and quite a number of beads. The poor fellow’s remains, we understand, and regret to state, were hauled up onto the “cut,” and dumped in with other earth.

The situation of the unknown’s grave, and the disreputable fame associated with the locality in years gone by, cause one to speculate with a feeling of horror as to the manner of the death. At this instant, might not a loving wife be looking with that never-failing trust for the morrow that would bring that loved form and gladness to her heart, and might not the cheering thoughts of that far-away fireside and loved friends have been occupying his thoughts when the assassin’s blow felled him to the earth?

A conviction for murder has been the outcome of following circumstances less manifest than those already developed in this affair, and some amateur detective has a fair opportunity of pitting his keenness against probably villainy.


Source: Alton Telegraph, January 14, 1886
The Hotel Wann, at Alton Junction [East Alton], owned by Mr. George Y. Smith, caught fire Friday afternoon, and was totally destroyed. Some of the household furniture and goods were saved. The flames originated from the flue, communicating to the woodwork just under the roof. The house was a two story, brick and frame. The building and contents were insured for about $3,200. This will not quite cover the loss. In the effort to extinguish the flames, some persons had their hands frozen.


Source: Alton Telegraph, July 15, 1886
Late Monday afternoon, the boiler of a steam engine, used in threshing wheat on a farm near Alton Junction [East Alton], belonging to Hon. Zephaniah B. Job, rented by Mr. A. Mathias, exploded and scattered fragments of iron and clouds of steam in every direction. Fortunately, operations had ceased for the time being, and those engaged in the work had separated to some extent, otherwise the consequences might have been much more serious. As it was, three men, William Diamond, William Baily, and Charles Neimeyer were considerably injured and disabled. They were taken care of by Mr. Mathias and others, placed in a wagon, and carefully conveyed to Alton. Baily and Neimeyer were placed in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Hospital. William Diamond was removed to his residence on Belle Street, near Fifteenth Street. He had a severe cut, four inches in length, in the right jaw, and a wound, made with a nail or other missile, just back of the right ear. He was not scalded. He was conscious, but unable to swallow anything except liquids, owing to the swollen condition of his neck. All the men were doing well today, with prospects of speedy recovery. Two wagons, a lot of wheat, and straw were destroyed by the explosion, and two horses were killed.


[East Alton]
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, January 18, 1887
A costly fire occurred at Alton Junction this morning, by which the Tile Works at that place was totally destroyed, including all the machinery and fixtures. The flames were first discovered near the boilers, and with such fury did they rage that in thirty minutes, the whole building, or mass of buildings, was a pile of ashes. There were no appliances for a crisis like this, hence nothing effective could be done towards extinguishing the flames. The main building was 72x144 feet, two stories high. One wing was 30x200 feet; the other to the rear, 30x100 feet. There were 15,000 feet of steam pipe in the establishment; three drying floors; the engine was 45-horsepower; and steam cylinder. There were 2 tile machines, 1 elevator, 2 clay crushers, 2 brick machines, a 5-pump doctor, an iron lathe, and other appurtenances. All of these were destroyed or badly damaged.

From 40 to 45 men have been employed at the Works. The members of the firm are: M. H. Boals, John Cook, A. F. Foster, W. W. Stickney.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, June 14, 1887
The destructive fire which swept away the main factory buildings of Manuel H. Boals and Company’s sewer pipe and tile works at Alton Junction [East Alton] last January, and which at the time seemed to be a great misfortune to the town and county, as well as to the proprietors, has happily resulted in one of the most extensive and substantial manufacturing improvements in the State. At the time of the fire, one of the partners was in California, and this, together with the inclemency of the season and the usual formalities of insurance adjustments, caused some delay in starting to rebuild. Meanwhile, the firm took occasion to carry out a long-contemplated change into a joint stock company, duly incorporated under the laws of this State, under the name of the Stoneware Pipe Company. The stockholders of the new organization consist mostly of the same parties interested in the old firm, and it is understood that the management will continue practically the same as heretofore. All preliminaries being satisfactorily adjusted, work was commenced early in March on the foundations of the new factory buildings. On the site of the old ruins, there stands today a substantial three-story brick structure, 192 feet long by 112 feet wide, and a one-story engine and boiler house, 56 feet long by 40 feet wide. These buildings contain floor space enough for 261 rooms, 16 feet square, or 65 entire houses of 4 large rooms each. Over 100 carloads of material have been used in construction, consisting mostly of about four hundred thousand brick and three hundred thousand feet of lumber.

This is understood to be the largest factory in the west, devoted exclusively to the manufacture of stoneware pipes for sewers, culverts, and general drainage purposes, and it is also the only pipe factory in the west which draws all its raw material, both clay and coal, from its own mines, which are believed to contain ample supplies to last more than a hundred years. With such advantages, it is difficult to see why this concern should not make money, as every citizen of this county should be glad to see it do, for there is nothing which builds up and sustains a community like such large and permanent manufacturing establishments, bringing in money as they do from all parts of the country, and distributing most of it in the form of wages to their employees. The productive capacity of this establishment will not be less than three carloads per day of manufactured ware, or one thousand carloads per year, and almost the whole cost of production, aside from wear and tear of buildings, kilns, and machinery, is the labor expended in mining the raw materials and converting them into merchantable ware, and whatever conflicts between labor and capital may be carried on elsewhere, there seems to be but little reason for any such disturbances at the Stoneware Pipe Factory, since the employees get by far the larger share of the proceeds of the business.

A large boarding house and six dwelling houses belonging to the company are already provided for the accommodation of the employees, and we are informed that ten more commodious houses are soon to be built by the company on its own grounds for the same purpose, thus forming the nucleus of a pleasant little village in the immediate vicinity of the works, the social and economic advantages of which will undoubtedly be duly appreciated.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, January 18, 1892
Details reached the city today of an affray which took place near Alton Junction [East Alton] last evening, and which rivals in its ghastliness some of the dime-novel border stories. The affair happened on one of Mr. Z. B. Job’s farm – the one usually termed Job’s ranch. In the farmhouse lived a man named Gardner and his family, Willie Davis, William O’Neill, Patrick O’Brien, and John Williams. Yesterday morning a quarrel started between Davis and O’Neill about who should feed the cows. O’Neill drew a knife and threatened to cut Davis. The latter picked up a piece of brick, but bystanders brought about peace. Davis then went to Alton Junction, thinking he would thus avoid any trouble. Williams afterwards told O’Neill that he (O’Neill) was in the wrong. Everyone except O’Neill let the matter drop there. He, however, got his revolver and loaded it to kill. Gardner found the revolver where O’Neill had put it, and hid it. O’Neill and Williams, who had been the best of friends, then started to the Junction. There, O’Neill filled up on whiskey in some of the “closed” saloons. Williams returned to the ranch at about 8 p.m. On the road to Alton Junction, O’Neill had told Williams that he intended to kill O’Brien. Williams told O’Brien to be on his guard, that O’Neill had said O’Brien’s time had come. All the men got home before O’Neill. O’Brien went to bed upstairs, and Williams laid on a bench thinking to quiet O’Neill when he came home. But he fell asleep, and his good intentions may be the indirect cause of his death. The men had been out late and retired early on that account. At 8 o’clock, they were sleeping soundly.

O’Neill had been bloodthirsty all day. The whisky he had imbibed made him a demon. When he came in the house, he saw Williams on the bench. Here was a victim. He got an ax that had been used for cutting meat, and struck Williams on the side of the face, cutting a gash from the chin to the ear, and breaking the jawbone. Williams fell to the floor, when O’Neill rained blows on his body. When Williams groaned, he cried, “I’ll cut your legs off!” On Williams’ head, body and legs came the blows from the ax, and in the din O’Brien waked up. He came to the stairway and O’Neill came toward him, threatening to kill him. Just then, Williams moaned again, and the brute, O’Neill, said, “Ain’t you dead yet?” With this, he rushed to Williams. He aimed a blow at his head, but it missed and struck Williams in the breast. Again, he tried to strike the prostrate man, but O’Brien had come up behind him, and giving him a shove sent him sprawling to the floor. Here, he held him until Gardner could arrive, and together they tied him hand and foot. When the wretch was secured, a telephone message was sent to Alton, and Deputy Sheriff Volbracht brought him here, where he placed him in the city jail.

This morning O’Neill was given a preliminary examination before Squire Brandeweide, who fixed his bond at $1,000. O’Neill would convict himself on his own story.

Dr. W. Fisher attended poor Williams. The man is fearfully cut and hacked. Besides the gash on the cheek, he has both eyes closed, his mouth cut and mashed, a big cut on the leg, another on the breast, and numerous bruises on the body and internal injuries. The blows on the head caused concussion of the brain. There is little hope of Williams’ recovering. O’Neill is in jail. He couldn’t get bonds for any amount, and if Williams dies, he will be a candidate for hanging.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 23, 1892
Patrick O’Brien, one of the men living on the Job ranch, stated to a representative of the Telegraph yesterday, that he was the man with whom O’Neal, who used an ax on Williams last Sunday, had the misunderstanding early in the morning; that he (O’Brien) left the ranch and went to the Junction to avoid trouble that O’Neal told Williams (the wounded man) that Sunday would be O’Brien’s last day; that all the men were sober; that Williams stayed downstairs in order to pacify O’Neal; that he (O’Brien) was waked out of a sound sleep by the butchery going on downstairs, and came down in time to save Williams’ life; that he threw O’Neal down, held him there until a rope was procured, and then tied him; that O’Neal had threatened the lives of several of the party. O’Brien says he served nearly five years in the army during the Rebellion [Civil War], and has just applied for a pension and feels very thankful that O’Neal’s axe did not fall on him, as he believes was intended; that he wants to live to enjoy his pension for some time yet.

Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, January 19, 1892
There is but little change in the condition of Williams, the man who was so unmercifully chopped with an axe on Sunday by the drunken brute, O’Neill. Dr. W. Fisher is hopeful of Williams’ ultimate recovery.

Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 20, 1892
We are informed that all of the trouble about the Williams – O’Neill imbroglio has not been published. There are always two sides to every story, and there seems to be no exception to the rule in this case. Williams, so the other story has it, had whipped O’Neill twice during Sunday. That when O’Neill returned from Alton Junction, the men were not asleep as reported. That Williams again set on O’Neill with the result know. It seems that jealousies have existed between the men for some time past, which was fanned into flames by the connivance of one of the men on the ranch.


Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, Wednesday, January 20, 1892
An assault occurred near Alton Junction on one of the farms of Z. B. Job, Sunday, in which William O'Neil hacked John Williams while asleep with a meat ax. The farm house was occupied by John Gardner and family, Willis Davis, Patrick O'Brien, William O'Neil and John Williams. Sunday morning a quarrel took place between Davis and O'Neil about the feeding of the cows. O'Neil drew a knife and threatened David. Bystanders interfered and Davis, to avoid trouble, went to Alton Junction. Williams afterwards told O'Neil that he was in the wrong. Everyone let the matter drop with this except O'Neil. He got a revolver and loaded it. Gardner found the weapon and hid it. O'Neil and Williams then started for the Junction. There O'Neil drank freely. Williams returned home about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. On the road to the Junction O'Neil told Williams that he intended killing O'Brien. Williams on his return told O'Brien to be on his guard. All the men got home before O'Neil. O'Brien went to bed and Williams laid on a bench, thinking to quiet O'Neil when the latter returned. He fell asleep and when O'Neil returned was sleeping soundly. O'Neil was blood thirsty and when he saw Williams became enraged. He went to the kitchen, got an ax that had been used for cutting meat, returned to where Williams was sleeping, and without warning struck Williams across the face, cutting a huge gash from the eat to the chin and breaking the jaw bone. Williams fell to the floor, when O'Neil struck him several more times. When Williams groaned the infuriated man cried, "Now, I'll cut your legs off." On Williams' head, body and legs the ax did its dreadful work. The noise awakened O'Brien. He came to the stairway and O'Neil came towards him and threatened to kill him. Just then Williams moaned again and O'Neill, with the exclamation, "Ain't you dead yet," rushed to Williams. He again struck him and attempted to repeat the blow when O'Brien came up from behind and shoved him sprawling on the floor. Here O'Brien held him until Gardner came up and together they tied him. A telephone message was sent to Alton, and Deputy Sheriff Ferd Vollbracht went after him. He was taken to Alton and bad a preliminary hearing Monday. His bond was fixed at $1,000, in default of which he was brought to the county jail. Dr. W. Fisher attended Williams, whose injuries left little hope of saving his life. He presented a horrible sight. If Williams dies, as seems probable, another will be added to the list of murders in the county.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, April 4, 1893
Mr. William Henry's store at Alton Junction [East Alton] was ransacked last night by professional thieves and safe-crackers and $400 in money stolen. Mr. Henry, upon arising this morning, was astonished to find the things scattered over the store, the doors wide open and his safe missing. An investigation revealed the fact that his store had been entered by thieves. The safe stood in a corner of the store room, some distance from the door. The burglars took a pile of jeans pants from a shelf and carefully laid them on the floor from the safe to the door. Ropes were attached to the safe and it was drawn to the entrance. So carefully was this done that the family overhead was not aroused. The safe was a very small one and weighed but a hundred pounds. It was but little trouble to drag it a distance of a hundred feet to the rear of the stable, drill a hole near the lock and blow it up with dynamite. The money was mostly paper, there being about $330, the balance being in silver. The books, insurance policies, and other papers belonging to Mr. Henry were strewn about the ground. A dog belonging to Marian Chirak, living on the opposite side of the street made an uproar during the night. A member of the family got up and looked about, but was unable to see anything unusual. Shortly after a shot was fired which must have been the blowing of the safe. This occurred at 2 a.m. Mr. Henry has wired the surrounding towns to be on the lookout. He thinks that a pair of suspicious looking characters who watched him open the safe the morning before, after purchasing several articles, are the ones responsible for the robbery.


Source: Alton Telegraph, May 18, 1893
Mr. Marion Squires, while ploughing in a field near Wann yesterday, found a silver souvenir medal that had evidently lain in the ground for several years, as it was quite black. The medal is commemorative of the unveiling of Gen. Frank P. Blair's statue in Forest Park, St. Louis, in 1885.


Source: Auburn, New York Argus, 1895
Five thousand pounds of giant powder exploded at the Equitable Powder Mills, Alton, Illinois. Thomas Keff, Henry Ragus, and William Roetgess were killed.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 21, 1895
On March 24th, the Big Four [Railroad] will change their station name here to East Alton instead of Wann. This change will make everything straight East Alton, and does away with the two or three different names for the village.

[NOTE: The Big Four Railroad was the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad. The Wann Station was originally called Alton Junction, and existed as early as 1864 in the town of Emerald (later named East Alton). There was a hotel at Alton Junction called Hotel Wann, and I believe this is where the name of Wann Junction came from. Hotel Wann, a 2-story brick and frame building, was owned by George Y. Smith, and was destroyed by fire in January 1886.]


60 Men Dumped into the Wood River
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 5, 1895
At 4:15 o'clock this morning, a southbound Chicago & Alton freight train, on the cut-off between Godfrey and Wann [East Alton], went over the Wood River bridge and was converted into kindling wood, causing death to five men and badly injuring fourteen others. The dead are:

David Hefty, Watertown, Wisconsin, aged 25 years, mangled.
Frank Harreman, Philadelphia, aged 30 years; head crushed.
Unknown man, died on relief train from internal injuries.
Unknown man, a laborer, who has until recently been employed at Sag Bridge, Illinois.
Unknown man, body not recovered from the wreck in Wood River.

The fatally injured are:
Edward Albursched, a Prussian laborer, head crushed, back injured, internal injuries.
Otto Schmidt, home unknown, internal injuries.
C. W. Schroeder, Argentine, Kansas, right arm broken, legs mashed, internal injuries, back hurt.
Thomas Cote, chest and side injured, head badly cut, right arm broken, internal injuries.
John Moran, Massachusetts, side and back crushed, internal injuries.
Henry Glass, Pennsylvania, shoulder, jaw and collarbone broken; head injured.

Others injured:
Willis Willets, Dallas, Texas; head and shoulder cut.
James Hart, no settled home, cigar maker, head, legs and back cut and bruised.
Charles Custer, Lima, Ohio; hip crushed, back injured.
Robert Seal, New York, ankle crushed, kneecap broken.
Martin Pickens, 368 West Madison Street, Chicago, back injured, head cut.
John Carr, Cincinnati, Ohio; head cut, slight injuries.
Harry Williams, Toledo, Ohio; ankle crushed.
Theodore Hunt, no settled home, foot crushed to pieces.

The accident was caused by an old flat car and the use of the air brakes. The train of eighteen cars was running at a high rate of speed, and at the Wood River bridge, the air brakes were applied. The front end of the train was light, the rear end heavy, and the momentum caused the flat car to collapse. The entire train, with the exception of the engine and three cars, went over the twenty-foot embankment. The middle of the train fairly raised, and then pitched to either side of the track into the river below and to the foot of the embankment. There were, it is stated, about sixty men on the train, mostly workmen from the Chicago drainage canal, and tramps. A box car with eighteen men on the inside fell to the bottom of the ditch, and nearly every man was injured. It was like a flash of lightning. Two cars went into the Wood River, and one car remained suspended to the bridge by the trucks. Not a member of the train crew sustained injuries.

The members of the train crew commenced the work of rescue. The men were pulled out from among the wreckage, and a relief train was dispatched for. The train left Alton and returned with the wounded men about 10 o'clock, making the trip via Godfrey. The train was boarded above the city by a representative of the Telegraph. Fourteen mangled, cut and bleeding men were in the car. They tossed about, moaning and calling for water. One of the number died on the way to Alton.

Edward Albusched, one of the fatally injured, presented a sickening sight. The left side of his head was crushed, and the blood fairly oozed through his hair. His left hand was smashed, the flesh being nearly all torn off. He tried to ease the pain in his head with the shattered member, while he constantly uttered in broken English, "Please give me water."

One of the injured gave a graphic description of the suddenness of the accident. He had been asleep, and awoke first at one end of the car and then at the other, striking men and splinters in his flight. One of the men was standing on the rear end of the train, when the break came. He went off like a rubber ball and was tossed thirty feet, alighting on the ground.

Upon the arrival of the relief train, the injured men were removed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where the work of attending their injuries commenced under the supervision of Dr. W. Fisher, the railroad’s local physician. The body of Frank Harreman was brought to the police station here [Alton]. The unknown man who died on the relief train is at the hospital. Arrangements were made for the interment of the other two at the scene of the wreck.

The wreck was not as costly to the Chicago & Alton as the appearance would indicate. About five of the box cars were all that were entirely destroyed, and every one of these were empties. Several cars containing merchandise were damaged, but the contents were not materially affected. The total damage will probably not exceed $5,000. A wrecking crew with track clearers were put at work and the track was cleared at once.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 1, 1896
About eight o'clock this morning, two distinct and severe concussions were felt by the people of Alton. Some imagined that it was an earthquake, but the general opinion was that an explosion had occurred at the powder works at East Alton. This was soon verified by telephone reports, indicating that two of the houses had been blown up, and three men killed in the explosion. The first explosion occurred in what is called the press mill, where the men killed were at work. A few seconds afterwards the corning mill exploded. The fire and smoke ascended into the air at least several hundred feet and were seen plainly in Alton, the smoke remaining in the air for ten or fifteen minutes. The shock was felt for miles around. Telephone messages were received from East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Collinsville, and other places, inquiring if Alton had experienced an earthquake. The shock was not felt as much at East Alton as at Upper Alton, because the buildings are situated behind a hill, which separates the village and the works. The Telegraph's East Alton correspondent gives the following account of the explosion:

At 7:50 o'clock this morning, the press mill and corning mill of the Equitable Powder Milling Company blew up, instantly killing William Roettger, Henry Rages and Thomas Keffer, all employees. The cause of the explosion is a mystery. The men killed all have families. G. H. White was slightly injured and was just leaving the press mill when the explosion occurred. Roettger and Rages were employed in the press mill, and Keffer had gone to the mill for something and was just in the door of the press room and coming out when the explosion took place. Herbert White, being a short distance ahead of Keffer, escaped any serious injury. The remains of Rages and Roettger have not been found, nor likely never will be. The biggest part of their remains found so far was a thumb and a piece of flesh the size of a hand. Their bodies were blown to fragments.

The Press mill exploded first, and a minute later was followed by the corning mill. The corning mill was in charge of George Scott, who made his escape without injury. Mr. Scott saw the press room was going, and well knowing that his mill would also go, ran for his life, and none too soon, for in scarcely a minute from the time the press mill went up, the corning mill did likewise. Windows were shaken, glass broken and chimneys knocked down everywhere in the town, and pictures shaken from the wall. The report was heard at Bunker Hill and East St. Louis. The damage will amount to many thousands of dollars.

The engine room was also wrecked. The men killed had been working with the Equitable Powder Co. ever since the mill has been here. William Roettger had made application to the A. O. U. W. and had been examined by the local physician, but his medical papers had not been returned from the Grand Medical Examiner, and he was to have been initiated Saturday evening, September 5. Mr. Olin was in St. Louis. He was notified by wire and arrived here on the Burlington at 9:30. An eyewitness who saw the explosion from near Milton bridge says he saw a timber blown at least 1,000 feet in the air. A telephone message from East Alton at 3 o'clock states that up to that time a portion of the skull and a part of the shoulder of Rages had been found. Coroner Kinder came over from Edwardsville and held an inquest. The jury was unable to learn the cause of the explosion, and returned a verdict of death by explosion.

An ex-employee of the powder works was seen this afternoon, and explained that the press room is where the powder is pressed into cakes by hydraulic pressure. Usually 60 kegs or 1410 pounds are here at a time. Being so compact is what produced the terrible concussion of the first report. The powder which filtered out of the buildings settled on the ground, and this explains how the corning room exploded. The latter is 100 yards away, and here is where the cakes are cut into the sized grain desired. This powder being in grains did not make such a report. This informant states that the two magazines have a capacity of 60,000 kegs.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 2, 1896
No further fragments of the bodies of Henry Rages and William Roettgers, who were blown to pieces by the powder mill explosion yesterday morning, have been found, and all that remained of the men was a few pieces of flesh, picked up in different places. The funeral of Thomas Keffer, whose body was not badly mutilated, took place in Upper Alton today. The funeral of William Roettger took place at Brighton today, and the remains interred there. The funeral of Henry Rages will take place tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock from the Baptist Church in East Alton.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 18, 1899
The entire plant of the Western Cartridge Company at East Alton was destroyed by fire Tuesday evening, shortly after the men had stopped work for the night. The buildings destroyed are the main building where cartridges are loaded, a structure about 40x60 feet and two stories high in places, also the blacksmith shop and the old stable building, at the time used as a powder store house. While the buildings themselves were not a very heavy loss, the machinery and other contents of the building were quite expensive and are ruined. One cartridge machine recently installed cost $8,000, and three other machines were valued at about $2,500 each. Beside this loss, the cartridges and powder in the buildings together with the buildings themselves will aggregate $2,500.

It was stated today by a representative of Mr. Olin that no one but Mr. Olin, who is absent and will return tonight, could state the amount of damage, as he alone knows the cost of the machinery. The insurance was $5,200 with companies represented by G. H. Smiley, and $3,000 by Edward Yager.

The fire was discovered at 6 o'clock when the flames burst from the roof. All hands at the cartridge factory had stopped work at 5:30 p.m., and there was then no sign of fire about the place. All employees are ordered from the building at the closing hour, and the doors securely locked. The first flames seen were leaping from the roof of the main building, and before many minutes the entire building was wrapped in flames. The fire soon spread to the blacksmith shop and the old stable used as a storeroom. In the stable were two reservoirs for powder which contained seven or eight kegs of powder at the time. The powder exploded, but did no damage as the reservoirs and buildings are loosely constructed in anticipation of just such occurrences. The explosion of powder was distinctly felt in Alton in two sharp shocks that were the first intimation received here that anything was wrong at the powder works.

It has become an established rule that whenever earthquake-like shocks rock the earth from the direction of East Alton, everyone jumps to the conclusion it is the East Alton powder works going off, if it is nothing else. In the main building was fully fifty cases of cartridges, and these added to the uproar and confusion.

The fire is supposed to have been started by electric light wires. The plant is lighted with electricity supplied by an independent dynamo. No other theory can be given than that the wires in the roof set fire to the woodwork a short time before the closing hour. By chance it happened that there had been quite a demand for cartridges, and most of the stock had been shipped out so that the loss was comparatively light in that respect. The buildings of the Equitable Powder Company were too far distant from the fire to be affected, and no damage was done to them.

The Western Cartridge Company in East Alton was founded in 1898 by Franklin W. Olin. Nearby was the Equitable Powder Manufacturing Company, founded by Olin in 1892. The Western was the forerunner of the Olin Corporation, formed in 1944. Olin rebuilt the Western following the 1899 fire.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 1, 1900
The Western Cartridge Co. is pushing work on its new factory for the making of shells used in the manufacture of cartridges. It is said the company is putting in the finest machinery at its new factory at a great expense, and that the factory will be one of the finest equipped in the country. When the Western Cartridge Company has finished its improvements, it will be an active competitor for the cartridge and shell business of the country.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 2, 1900
East Alton had a close call from being wiped from the face of the earth by fire early Sunday morning. The fire originated in a double store and dwelling house of J. B. Vanpreter, and spread to the double store and dwelling house of William Clarke, thence to two dwellings in the rear owned by A. E. Benbow, and from there across the road to William Henry's saloon building, a barber shop, and a shed where farm machinery was kept. All of these buildings were destroyed, and only the heroic efforts of the East Alton people saved the fine building of William Henry, from which the fire could easily have spread and destroyed the entire village. Several hundred people worked for hours passing buckets of water to be poured on blankets which were spread over the threatened side and roof of the Henry grocery and saved the building. Three times the side next to the burning saloon caught fire and was extinguished by the villagers. The Wood River saved the town. Usually no water is nearer than the river, but a large pool was left in the rear of the Henry property when the flood in Wood River subsided, and from this pool water was carried to keep the blankets wet and to keep the clothes of the firemen from burning.

In the Vanpreter building was J. W. Robinson's grocery store and Joseph Cooper's saloon, and upstairs lived J. B. Vanpreter and Neil Shannahan with their families. In the Clarke building was Clarke's Drugstore and the post office, David Ellman's Dry Goods Store, and upstairs lived the Clarke's, Ellman's, and J. A. Hamilton's families. In the two dwellings of A. E. Benbow, the families of Ralph Douglas and Joseph Cooper lived, and all of these lost everything in the houses, escaping in some instances only partly dressed.

The crackling of flames awakened Neil Shannahan who was asleep in his home with his two young children. Mrs. Shannahan was not home. He caught up his two children and rushed from the house just in time. The flames were burning fiercely from the outside, and the breaking of a window caused him to awaken. He saved none of his clothing and all of his wife's clothing was destroyed. The fire spread to the Clarke building and the inmates had but short time to leave their burning homes with what little clothes they could hurriedly gather up. The entire grocery stock of J. W. Robinson was destroyed, and there is little insurance. The contents of the drugstore were destroyed, and also of the Ellman dry goods store. Mr. Clarke estimates his loss at $6,000 and insurance at $4,500. Mr. Ellman's stock of dry goods valued at $1,500 is a total loss with no insurance, and the same is true of the saloon fixtures of Joseph Cooper. The loss in the Benbow dwellings with the furniture, and to the families living over the burned stores, is almost total, as fire insurance rates in the village are high because of their being no fire protection, and as a result but little insurance was carried by property owners. Mr. Vanpreter estimates his loss at $3,000, and says he could have sold for that amount a short time ago.

Across the road was a vacant barbershop building that was set afire by the intense heat, although the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. From this building the flames spread to a storehouse which William Henry was using to store farm machinery for which he is the agent. A binder was in the burned building and with a lot of extra supplies was ruined. From this building the flames leaped to the Henry saloon building which was owned by Zephaniah B. Job Jr., and in a short time this was a complete loss. The East Alton people thought the Henry grocery was doomed and all of Mr. Henry's household goods and his stock of groceries was carried to the outside and piled up in the roadway, but the fierce fight of the amateur firemen at last conquered the flames. Mr. Henry places his loss at $500, and Mr. J. B. Job's loss is about the same. A new brick building in course of erection for James Chessen was slightly damaged by fire, but was saved by the wind. The total loss is estimated at $15,000.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 18, 1900
East Alton had the most exciting election in her history Tuesday. When the contest between the license and anti-license forces took place and resulted in a barren victory for the "drys," a riot occurred in the village hall where the polls were located, and the injured are:

Riley P. Owen, scalp severely cut
F. G. Brooks, badly bruised and cut
Joe Cooper, arm broken
Sam Hunter, scalp wound

Besides those injured many had a narrow escape from being wounded with a double charge of shot fired by Frank Devanny from a shotgun. Stones were hurled through windows and into the struggling mass of men in the polling place. The trouble was brewing all day, feeling being to the point of frenzy on both sides. The temperance people were determined to carry the election and the saloon people were more determined such should not be the result. Shortly before the polls closed the clash came. Around the polls in the city hall a crowd of workers for both sides had gathered to watch the last few votes go in. The four saloons in the village had been bending every energy to carry the day, and every vote counted heavily. James H. Chessen, the village clerk, offered to swear in five challenged votes for the "west," and the votes were accepted. Then someone said he would not believe Chessen under oath, and someone else silenced the doubter with a blow, so an eyewitness says. Then the mix-up began, and the fight was furious and bloody for a few minutes. Someone outside hurled a stone through a $20 plate glass window in the town hall, and F. G. Brooks ran into the room from the outside and hurled a stone at Village Attorney for the "drys," R. P. Owen, and struck him on the head. Mr. Owen is ordinarily quiet enough, but frenzied with pain and blood pouring from his wounded head he bore Brooks to the floor, and the consequences might have been serious but for interference of the other men there. Mr. Owen hurt Brooks badly. In the melee, Joe Cooper, father of a candidate for trustee, suffered a broken arm, Sam Hunter sustained a bad scalp wound, and to heighten the confusion, Devanny fired his shotgun but no one was hurt. The total vote on president was 114, and the total vote on the license proposition was 92. It is said Bright, Chessen and Cooper were elected by the biggest majorities ever given at an election in the village.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 2, 1900
The Equitable Powder Company is preparing to make extensive additions to their plant at East Alton. A big powder magazine will be built and additions to the manufacturing capacity of the plant will be made. The powder mills near East Alton are fast becoming one of the most important industries in this vicinity, and the rapid increase in business of the institution is an effective comment on the push and business methods of the company.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 25, 1900
The fine new store building of William Clarke at East Alton has been completed so far as the foundations. The building will be of stock brick and will be a handsome structure.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 10, 1900
The office of the Equitable Powder Company and the Western Cartridge Company at East Alton was destroyed by fire this morning, and little of its contents were saved. The fire was discovered by Night Operator Robert Rodgers of the Big Four, at 2:45 o'clock, and in a short time after the fire alarm had been given by firing of firearms, the entire male population of the village had turned out and was engaged doing its utmost to prevent the flames spreading to a magazine, only a short distance away. The office building destroyed was a two-story frame structure, almost new, and substantially built. It contained all the papers and books of the two companies, some of which are very valuable. In the middle of the building was a brick vault in which the papers were stored, and it is supposed they are in good condition, as the brick work was standing after the fire. The origin of the fire is not known, as no one was near the building when it broke out. The damage was covered with insurance.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 13, 1900
One ton of gunpowder was exploded last night at 9:45 o'clock in wheel houses 3, 4, and 5 at the mills of the Equitable Powder Company at East Alton. Wheelhouse No. 3 exploded first, and the other two were set off by detonation from the first. Not a man was hurt by the explosion, although the force was so great it distinctly shook buildings in Alton and was plainly heard in all parts of the city. The shock was felt at Edwardsville also. Fred Kauffmann, Sam Hunter and Munsey Palmer were the watchmen at the wheelhouses last night, and their escapes were narrow. It is the duty of the men to visit each of the six wheelhouses once every 20 minutes to keep watch on the explosive, which is being ground under 10-ton crushers, and is kept constantly wet to prevent heating by friction. The men had started on the rounds, and No. 1 had been entered when the explosion in No. 3 occurred. The watchman in No. 1 lost no time in escaping, but Nos. 1, 2 and 6 did not explode. The roofs of the solid stone wheel houses were blown to pieces, being loosely laid on to furnish no resistance. It is not known how badly the machinery is damaged.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 3, 1900
The Equitable Powder Company and the Western Cartridge Company is building a fine brick office building on the ruins of the office that was destroyed by fire one month ago. The building is the most substantial one in East Alton, and is a credit to the place. The damages caused by the fire and explosion at the wheel houses of the powder mill have been repaired and the plant is again in running order.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 17, 1901
Ten tramps who had been hanging around the railroad yards at East Alton Wednesday, all day, started out in a bunch this morning between 12 and 1 o'clock, and held up and robbed everybody they met. Just how much they got is not known. Some meetings were going on last night, and several men were abroad at that hour. Marshal Hank Feldwisch and Ollie Harris were hunting in the yards after the robbers had dispersed, when they were met by a small boy who said he knew that the hold-up men were in the Big Four sandpit camped by a fire, and that he heard them planning the robberies. The officer and Harris slipped quietly into the pit, covered the crowd with guns, and the ordered them to surrender. The robbers broke away, shots were exchanged and one of the "invincibles" fell, but got up again and escaped with seven others. Feldwisch and Harris captured three, and the wounded man and two others of the gang were captured by East St. Louis officers as they emerged from a freight car in the East St. Louis yards this morning.

People of the town (those of them who had been aroused) were thoroughly alarmed, armed themselves hurriedly it is said, and barricaded themselves in their houses. They tell today that Charley Henry, the barber, was discovered this morning in his shop, surrounded by eight revolvers and one breech loading shotgun, defying all the thieves that ever was, and daring them to come on and receive his treatment, which he guaranteed to cure thieving, free of cost. The good work of Marshal Feldwisch and Ollie Harris is evoking many works of commendation, and increases the feeling of security people down there have had since "Hank" put on the star.

Henry F. “Hank” Feldwisch was a member of the East Alton police department for 40 years, and police chief under Mayor James Jameson. He was one of the early settlers in East Alton, and was one of the first employed at the Equitable Powder Company in East Alton. Feldwisch was an eyewitness of the Wann Disaster in East Alton. He was wounded twice in his line of duty. Feldwisch, born in Alton, was the son of Ernest and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Vahle Feldwisch. He worked at his father’s Alton brickyard in its early days, where the bricks were used in building the original St. Joseph’s Hospital. He died in March 1945, and is buried in the Upper Alton Oakwood Cemetery. He left behind his wife, Anna Bartling Holden Feldwisch, and a stepson, Roy Holden.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 12, 1901
Fire destroyed the passenger station of the Big Four and the C. B. & Q. at East Alton this morning. Within one hour after the fire was discovered in the shingles of the roof, the building was level with the ground and only heaps of charred wood remained. The loss was not heavy, as the building was lightly constructed and all the valuable papers in it were saved by the office men when the fire broke out. At 10 o'clock the flames were discovered in the roof, and an effort was made to extinguish the fire after valuable books and papers had been removed to places of safety. The water supply at East Alton would have been sufficient to have saved the building, but no ladder to reach the roof could be found and the pressure was not sufficient to throw water up there. The building was old and dry and made quick fuel for the flames. Temporary accommodations for the office force and passengers will be provided, and the Big Four will at once build a new and better depot.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 14, 1901
East Alton has again got the wonders, and the village is guessing what sort of a man wore on his shoulders the skull found yesterday afternoon on Job's ranch, just east of the town. Mr. Job had a force of men engaged in leveling down a hill near the old ranch house, and one of the scrapers brought out with its load of dirt the skull of a man. Investigation unearthed the rest of the skeleton, but it speedily crumbled into dust. The skull, however, was made of sterner stuff and is still intact. The jawbones are massive and the teeth are formidable looking masticators, and if the rest of the owner was formed in proportion, he must have been a giant in stature. Mr. Job has owned that place for 60 years or more, and he does not know of any man having been buried there. In fact, he gave the Milton Cemetery to the public for burial purposes, and in earlier days Milton was the place where all deceased persons were laid to rest. Mr. Job inclines to the belief that an Indian wore the skull and appurtenances, and this appears reasonable. He brought the skull to Alton and says he will give it to Dr. W. Fisher to put in his cabinet. Charles Henry, the East Alton barber who is an archaeological crank, a pre-historic Pundit, and an antediluvian Mahatma, says the find is the face of an ape, but he does not explain how the Simian got there or how he buried himself that far down in the ground.

Zephaniah B. Job's ranch was located north of Berkshire Blvd. in East Alton, near the Wilshire Village Shopping Center. Job was born in 1817 in Virginia, and came west with his father, riding horseback all the way through the wilderness. He arrived in Alton in 1833. His father bought land in the American Bottoms near future East Alton, and farmed for the remainder of his life. Zephaniah Job became Madison County Sheriff in 1856, and was the lessee of the State prison at Joliet. He became a large land owner in Madison County. It's hard to say what kind of skull was found on his ranch. Nothing further was mentioned of it, but I doubt that it was the skull of an ape, as mentioned in the article. Who knows what still lies below the ground, waiting to be discovered?


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 5, 1901
A man, who appears to be James Rayburn of St. Louis, aged about 34, was found dying in a boxcar this morning at East Alton, his head crushed in by blows from a piece of heavy iron and his body covered with bruises and with blood. The body was found by a harvest hand named Lou Barber, who was passing the car in the Big Four yards and heard the dying man's groans. Making an investigation, he discovered the body in the car covered over with straw. Rayburn lived one hour after being carried to the town hall at East Alton, and died at 7 o'clock. He did not regain consciousness, and the identification was by means of papers in his pocket. The head of the man was beaten almost into a shapeless mass. On the back of the head was a big hole and the skull above the left eye was crushed in. The ear was knocked off and a hole made in the bone. On top of the head was a hole and a heavy blow had been struck over the mouth, knocking out Rayburn's teeth. All but one of the pockets in Rayburn's clothes were turned inside out, and the motive of the murder was apparently robbery. In the one pocket that had not been searched by the murderers were three silver dollars, and in his sock was a paper dollar bill. Rayburn's clothes were of good texture and his body was clean. He wore silk underclothes, a stiff hat, blue check suit of clothes, blue tie, blue shirt and tan shoes. In the clothes was a check for baggage, and he was evidently going from East St. Louis to Kansas City and was beating his way. It is said at East Alton that two suspicious characters boarded a freight train for St. Louis at 5:30 o'clock this morning. The murder was probably committed at 5 o'clock, as the blood on him was still fresh and the wounds were new. No one knows how the murdered man happened to be at East Alton, nor had anyone seen him there before. Deputy Coroner Streeper held the inquest this morning and a verdict was found that Rayburn came to his death by blows inflicted by unknown persons.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 2, 1901
William Henry and James Chessen Sr. have opened a new saloon at East Alton, and are moving the saloon building to the west side of the Henry store.


Source: Alton Telegraph, April 17, 1902
Plans for the Big Four East Alton Depot have been accepted by the Big Four, and it is said that work of construction will be started soon. The plans adopted show a neat little structure, which will be both convenient and comfortable, and will furnish cozy quarters for Agent R. D. Patton and is East Alton office force. The baggage room will be detached from the main building, and will be connected by a shed. The Big Four is now relaying the tracks in its East Alton yards, preparatory to installing a complete new interlocking plant there. An electric power plant is being built now, which will furnish power to operate the electric systems controlling the interlocking plant from East Alton to Venice, along the double track system.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 30, 1902
The Wood River's work on June 29, 1902, will long be remembered as the worst rampage that stream ever went upon. It is estimated that ten thousand acres of land on both sides of the river, covering a strip a mile or more in width on each bank, was laid waste. Thousands of acres were denuded of their wheat crops. The wheat was standing in the fields after the harvest and the shocks fell easy prey to the torrent that was sweeping down the Wood River valley.

The Wood River, ordinarily a peaceful stream, converted into a destroying torrent by the thirty-six hours continual downpour of rain, rose out of its banks Saturday night, spread over the rich low-lying farms and rose eighteen inches higher than ever before known. Water stood in East Alton avenue eighteen inches deeper than ever before known, and three feet of sand was deposited in the main street by the flood. Barns and other buildings were washed away. At one time the men of the village went out to the Big Four embankment, south of the town, and cut it through to allow the water to escape. A trestle formerly allowed the water to flow off there, but the railroads put in two 30-inch drain tiles and supposed that would carry the water. The drains did not work fast enough, and East Alton people will sue the Big Four for obstructing a water course and backing the water into their village.

At Chessen's, Clark's and other stores in the vicinity of East Alton Avenue, water stood in buildings at a depth of two feet, and people carried their goods from the buildings. A barn belonging to William Henry was floated off, and in it were three tramps who had taken refuge there from the storm. The barn was carried down in the whirl of waters, finally lodging down the river. The tramps screamed for help, but none could be given them and they stayed in the barn until the flood subsided.

The Big Four, Chicago and Alton, Bluff Line and Illinois Terminal suffered heavily. The damage of the Big Four was the worst. Three miles of track was washed out, bridges were wrecked and the road was impassable. Orders were sent out for every section man west of Terre Haute to go to East Alton and assist in repairing the track. Four work trains were put to work and 500 men. Both main line and branch were washed out, and not a train passed over the Big Four Sunday. At the Job farm, four horses and 20 head of cattle were drowned, and five horses escaping from the torrent were mired in quicksands. The five horses were rescued about noon after hard work by a big party of men who gathered to help them.

The powder works was inundated and much damage was done there. In some of the new buildings constructed there, the floors were forced up by the water, and the floors were flooded to a depth of three feet. The watchmen were penned up in the second stories of the buildings and had to stay there until the water subsided.

The plant of the Stoneware Pipe Company at East Alton was destroyed by fire as the direct result of the flood. The loss is $40,000 on this building alone. The plant consisted of a three-story brick building, 80x120 feet, which was surrounded by large kilns, ten of them, for burning tile. These kilns were in operation and in No. 4 the last heat was being put on to glaze the pipe. At that time, the Wood River came up and flooded the place. Water filled the underground cut leading from the kiln to the chimney and cut off the escape of vapor in the kiln. Steam generated by the water coming in contact with the hot kiln filled the place, and an explosion occurred which drove flames out of the kiln and set fire to the main building. The machinery and building are totally destroyed. The loss is covered by insurance.

The C. B. & Q. station was carried away, switch-stands were snapped off and buildings overturned by the swirl of waters in the mad torrent. The flood subsided about noon Sunday and the farmers began counting up their losses. Charley Ferguson, East Alton's postmaster, lost everything in his fields. Joshua Frankfort also suffered total loss. Wheat from all the fields choked the natural water courses and dammed up the water worse than it would have been. Wheat was carried down the Mississippi to St. Louis, and the surface of the river there was covered with floating sheaves. The Reuter brothers lost about $9,000 worth of wheat and many others lost nearly as heavily. Along the Wood River Bottoms, there will be great losses resulting from destruction of corn and the wetting of wheat not carried off by the flood. One tinner says he got 45 different telephone calls Sunday to repair leaky roofs. Other tinners got numerous calls also. The village of Wanda is under water, and hundreds of acres of growing melons and other garden truck are covered with water and mud.


Source: Auburn, New York Weekly Bulletin, April 21, 1903
Edwardsville, IllInois, April 21. - Rural telephone service made It possible for two farmers to call an armed posse in a short time to hunt down thieves who had plundered their farmhouses, and after a chase two suspects were overtaken in a buggy. In the fight that followed Frank Charles of Mobile, Alabama, one of the supposed robbers, was fatally wounded by Charles Glass, a farmer. The other man left the buggy when his companion was shot and escaped after the posse had followed him three miles. Charles Glass and Henry Hendricks were the men whose houses had been entered. When they discovered their loss, they immediately notified the nearest constable and their neighbors, who responded at once, all heavily armed. Among the things stolen was a tent. It was known the raiders had escaped in a buggy, and the trail was a hot one. The posse overtook a buggy, on the outside of which a tent was strapped. There were two men in the vehicle. They were ordered to surrender, but laughingly refused to do so. Glass removed a shotgun from the buggy and one of the pair drew a revolver and fired at Constable L. J. Lawrence of East Alton, who returned the fire. Neither shot was effective. Glass then fired the shotgun and struck the man in the buggy in the jaw. The other man then escaped.

Alton Evening Telegraph, April 21, 1903
In speaking of the robber wounded by Constable Jack Lawrence of East Alton, near Wanda Sunday, and who was taken to the county hospital at Edwardsville for treatment, the Intelligencer of that place says: "The greater part of his lower jaw was carried away cleanly by the charge of shot and the throat was torn. There is scarcely and support for the tongue, and the man's condition is regarded as dangerous. That view of it is not taken by him, however. At 10 o'clock this morning he surprised Superintendent John Ost by demanding the morning papers. Then he got out of bed and rolled a cigarette, and although he has scarcely enough of a mouth to handle the latter, seemed to get some enjoyment out of it. He is described as the gamest patient in the hospital. The man's identity is not clear. Last night when he could not talk, he replied to questions as to who he was by scrawling on a sheet of paper, "Frank Charles, Mobile, Ala., age 19 years." Later he told the doctor his name was James Edward, but the initials tattooed on his arm are "J. I. B."

Alton Evening Telegraph, April 24, 1903
Frank Charles, the robber dangerously wounded last Sunday by Constable Jack Lawrence of East Alton, is recovering at the county hospital and Sheriff Crowe will remove him to the sick ward in the county jail. The wounded man says his name is not "Charles," but that no one will ever know his real name. He says he is a "black sheep," and that his family will never know how black.

[NOTES: Charles Glass and Henry Hendricks were well-known farmers who lived south of East Alton, off of the Old St. Louis Road. The robbers fled south, and were overtaken near Wanda, in the Hartford area. I could find no further information on Frank Charles, the robber who was shot, or on the robber that got away. He was probably never caught.]


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 16, 1904
Messrs. Long and Swift have just surveyed and platted for Hon. Zephaniah B. Job another addition to East Alton, which Mr. Job has christened Niagara, in honor of the falls in Wood River over the powder mills dam. The addition is directly east of the Wood River bridge on the Milton Road, and extends eastward two blocks. There are 35 lots in the tract.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 27, 1904
The construction of the Charles Beall Shovel factory at East Alton is progressing rapidly and another whistle of industry will be soon calling men to work in this vicinity.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 12, 1904
Friday night Herman Schultze, John Farris, and Dan Scott, three well known residents of East Alton, went on a possum hunt in the Wood River Bottoms, and the hunt was pretty much like other hunts of that kind until about 1 o'clock this morning. They were in Bradley's woods, back of the powder mills, when they were startled at first and then panic stricken by a series of yells that came apparently, now from above their heads, now from the underbrush beside them, and occasionally from the path in front. The screams and cries are described as being of the most blood curdling character, and at first the men thought some woman was being killed, as the voice sounded like that of a woman in the greatest of agony. Then it dawned upon them that the noise was caused by a panther or a wild cat, as did the fact that the animal, or whatever it was, was approaching them and they stampeded. They did not know which way was safety; they only knew they wanted to get away from those cries and they ran in any direction. They became separated from each other in their flight, and each lost his way. Just how many miles they ran during the hours between the beginning of their panic and daylight cannot be estimated they say, but they are satisfied that if daylight had postponed its coming a little longer, they would have made a century run. As soon as it became light enough to see, the frightened men found their way out of the woods and returned to their homes in an exhausted condition. A party will be formed and a hunt made for the sound maker, which is believed to be either a wild cat or the Indian Creek panther.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 26, 1909
O. W. Foster is moving into his newly completed residence in Silver Ridge.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 2, 1909
Silver Ridge addition to East Alton is in the midst of quite a building boom, and bids to be the most thickly populated part of East Alton within a few years. Houses are now being built for Charles Chessen, Ed Doerr, Ed Walls, Frank Eudy, and Jesse Jones. Houses have just been completed for Lee Bracken and Ed Doerr in that addition. Mr. Doerr has finished three houses.


RECORD FILED FOR THE NEW TOWN OF BLINN (Suburb of East Alton, founded by H. J. Bowman)
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 25, 1910
The record for the new town of Blinn, east of Silver Ridge addition to East Alton, was filed with the county clerk yesterday, and the lots in the new place will be put on the market at once. The property is part of the Job estate, and will be in charge of Joseph Heins, who will act as agent. One house has been started there by Charles Glass, the ground being broken yesterday, and others will be started within a few weeks. The lots are 50 feet by 130 deep, and are all fronted with a four foot concrete walk.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 23, 1910
There is considerable talk of the annexation of Silver Ridge addition to East Alton. It is known that East Alton and the residents of the addition are willing for the annexation, and it is probably that petitions for the annexation will be circulated soon.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 18, 1910
Charles Glass has started the construction of a new house in his property in Blinn. This is the fourth house to be started in Blinn.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 29, 1910
The Beall Bros. Mining Tool Factory at East Alton was completely destroyed by fire this afternoon. The fire started at 3 o'clock and within a half hour the entire plant was destroyed. It was said that the fire got out from under the furnace and mounted up to the roof. With inadequate firefighting equipment, the plant was soon destroyed. James Gleason was badly hurt by the roof falling on him. The destruction of the plant by fire is the second heavy loss the firm has suffered in the past six months. The loss may be near to $75,000. At the late hour the fire was discovered it was impossible to ascertain about the insurance.

The whole of East Alton was turned out to fight the fire, but could do little. The plant employed about 75 men, and was rushed with orders. The destroyed plant was a large frame building, and an addition to it was just about finished. The destruction was quick. The buildings housed costly machinery, all of which will be badly damaged. Mayor Beall said this afternoon that he did not know of the fire until it was over, as he was at a barber shop being shaved. He estimated that $75,000 would not cover the loss if the destruction was as complete as he was told.

In 1872, Edmond Beall and his brother, Charles, founded Beall Brothers Mining Tool Company in Alton, to manufacture mining tools. With continued expansion, the company was incorporated in 1900, with Charles Beall as president. In 1904, Charles Beall founded his own company in East Alton, C. L. Beall Manufacturing Company, which produced a variety of tools. The plant was destroyed by fire in 1910, and rebuilt. This company was sold in 1917 to Hubbard & Co. of Pittsburgh. The company was sold to Mark D. Speciale in 1984, and was then named Beall Manufacturing Inc.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 19, 1914
The glazing mill at the plant of the Equitable Powder Co. at East Alton exploded Wednesday evening about 6:20 o'clock, with a shock that was felt for one hundred miles. Within a distance of fifteen to twenty miles the shock was so violent that in many places in the eastern part of Madison county it was believed that the explosion was close at hand. In East Alton there was a general smashing of glass windows and there was wild consternation when the mill went off. The violence of the explosion indicated at once that it was the "glaze" mill that had gone off. The glaze mill consists of ten huge barrels in which powder is polished, the final process of preparing it for market. These barrels have a capacity of about 1,500 pounds of powder each, and there are ten of them. The whole battery of barrels exploded. The system of polishing powder is regarded as rather dangerous, though every precaution is taken. The friction that would be caused that might produce an explosion is minimized by the use of graphite which is poured into the powder and is afterward sifted out when it has served its purpose. It was in this department that the explosion occurred. The building was about 25x80 feet, constructed of wood with sheet iron covering and resting on concrete foundations. The night inspector, Henry Miller, aged 56, had just started on his rounds. He had reached the glaze mill, lantern in hand, and it is supposed he had just entered the door to investigate the temperature of the bearings on the machines, when the explosion occurred. Search was immediately made for Miller, but no vestige of him could be found, and it was concluded that he had been blown to pieces. The building containing the machinery had been blown to the winds, and even the concrete foundations were wrecked by the discharge of near eight tons of high efficiency powder. The jar was plainly felt all over Alton, and everywhere inhabitants of Alton thought that there had been a sudden jar very close to them. Down on Second street a policeman and a gang of men made a rush for the site of the destroyed Stanard-Tilton elevator, thinking that it had taken place there. The echo rebounding from the tall grain tanks had given the effect of a local blast being fired. In East Alton there was general terror. The crashing of falling glass made the first impression in the minds of those nearby, that a terrific earthquake was on. Large plate glass windows in the village of East Alton were smashed, though the glaze mill is almost two miles from the village, and is close to the eastern line of the insane hospital site. After the explosion a search was undertaken to find the missing attendant who had been blow up. Though a search was continued until late into the night for fragments of his body, none could be found. Fragments of the body of Miller were found scattered all over the vicinity of the exploded glaze mill. The fragments were collected and a coroner's inquest was held this morning. It was officially stated today by Powder Co. that the loss to the company, exclusive of the powder, which was not counted, would be in the neighborhood of $5,000. The pieces of the building and machinery, almost all of them small, were ______ 900 to 1,000 feet.

The explosion will cause no interruption of the manufacture of powder, as the company keeps duplicate departments and when one shuts down the other is started up. This morning at daybreak the searchers for the remains of the missing body, among whom was Harry Hatton, succeeded in finding small pieces of the arm bones 200 feet away from the mill. Scattered fragments of the body were found at distances from a quarter to a half mile away, and it was said that some of the clothing was picked up on the James Ferguson farm, over across the Big Four railroad track. Coroner's Undertaker, John Berner, went out this ...[unreadable] -tended the picking up of the remains which he deposited in a sack and put in his undertaking wagon. An inquest will be held. This morning a committee of Ed James and Mr. Berner went around in East Alton, stopping at every place to see what windows were broken and offered to replace the windows. About one fourth of the windows in East Alton were broken, and some large plate glass windows in business houses. The death of Mr. Miller reveals the fact, according to an intimate acquaintance, that Miller and his wife Alice had been separated and divorced, but that for convenience sake both had been living in the Miller home, but not as husband and wife. The wife, it is said, had been working at the Cartridge works and the husband at the powder mill. They have three children, two married daughters who married a year ago at the same time to husbands who boarded at the Miller home, and a son about sixteen years of age. Miller filed the divorce suit in the Circuit court about 9 months ago, and is understood to have secured a divorce. It is believed that the husband and wife would shortly have compromised their troubles. Mrs. Rebecca English, 74 years old, of Worden, Ill., about 30 miles east of Alton, dropped dead when the force of the powder explosion shook the home. She was a widow, living with her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. George Chapman, in Worden, and had been in feeble health for some time. She was alone in the sitting room when the explosion shook the house. When other members of the family who had left her for a moment immediately went into the sitting room, ... [unreadable].


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 1, 1915
James Colburn, Louis Murphy, Elmer Kortkamp, Gus Volz and Clyde Davis were killed instantly at nine o'clock this morning when the press house at the Equitable Powder Co. at East Alton exploded from a cause which at present is entirely unknown. The shock was felt at Mattoon, 100 miles away, and hundreds of windows in East Alton were shattered by the explosion. The five men who were at work in the place at the time of the accident were blown into many pieces, and their bodies were scattered for a distance of several hundred yards about the place. According to the officials of the company, this is the first time in the twenty-four years of the company's history that the press house has been destroyed. The men in the house went to work as usual at seven o'clock this morning and everything was running smoothly as ever. Some of the men in the employ of the company who were in the building but a few minutes before the explosion reported at the office shortly after that everything was running in perfect condition when they left the building. It is likely that the cause of the accident will never be known. The press house is a frame building fifty by twenty-five feet containing a single hydraulic press, which is used in the manufacture of blasting powder. The grain powder is placed between the leaves of the press where it is put under several tons of pressure and pressed into blocks twenty-four by twenty-four inches, and one inch thick. At this time of the year the hydraulic press is operated with oil instead of water, and this burning oil was scattered over the grounds, causing small fires among the leaves in various sections. Orders were given to all the employees at once to keep outsiders out of the yards. Hardly had the sound of the explosion and the smoke died away before hundreds of people from East Alton, who had relatives at work in the plant, rushed to the gates to find out what had become of them. Some of these people when they were refused admittance walked nervously up and down the track looking for a chance to get into the grounds, but they found none. It soon became generally known on the outside of the plant which of the buildings had been destroyed, and as fast as this became known the people acquainted with the workings of the plant knew what men had gone to work there at seven o'clock this morning and therefore who had been killed.

After the explosion and the small fires had been extinguished, a party of men were put to work searching for parts of the bodies of the men who had been injured in the accident. A trunk and head of a man which was later identified as that of Colburn was found across the Wood River several hundred yards from the explosion where it had been thrown. One arm was still on the trunk of the body, although all the clothing had been torn off. The body was identified by a stiff finger. This is the first explosion which has occurred at the plant since the state insane hospital at Alton was started, and there was some interest as to how this would be affected. A report from the hospital this morning indicated that no damage whatever had been done there. Officials in charge said that the shock had been felt, but not a window had been broken and no damage had been done. Windows in nearly every third house in East Alton were broken. All the windows in the powder works hotel were broken out and one of the front walls in the Beall factory at East Alton was damaged.

Clyde Davis is 22 years of age and unmarried. He boarded at the home of Mrs. William Crawford on Church Street in East Alton. Louis Murphy is 28 years of age, is married and has two small children. He lives in East Alton. Mrs. Murphy rushed to the powder works on hearing of the explosion and fainted on the grounds and had to be brought back in an automobile and put under the care of a physician. Elmer Kortkamp is 23 years of age. He is single and has been living with his widowed mother, Mrs. John Kortkamp in East Alton, and is her sole support. Gus Volz is __ years of age, and has a wife and one child. He is said to be known as Miller, and came in East Alton from Ohio. J. A. Colburn, superintendent, is about 50 years of age. He came to East Alton about seven years ago from Connecticut, and is a high salaried, first class powder expert. He has been in that business all his life. He made a high salary and lived in a handsome home in Blinn, which he and his wife had built about a year ago. They have one grown son, Nordell Colburn, who is a telegraph operator at Alexandria, L.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 2, 1915
Nine persons, it is said, have been killed in the Equitable Powder works at East Alton since it was built about twenty-five years ago. The number is small considering the hazard of the occupation. Two were killed in the Western Cartridge works in the fulminite department. Yesterday's explosion was the worst for the number of men killed. On one other time, three were killed at once, and that was in 1892 when William Rodgers, Thomas Keffer, and Henry Ragus were killed in the press. Yesterday's explosion was the second explosion in the press. Later on, John Voss and George Scott were killed together in the corning mill, then Frank Newhause was killed in the wheelhouse, Charles McGinnis in the glaze room, Jeff Bright, East Alton councilman, in the corning mill, and Henry Miller in the glaze room. Harry Mills was the first killed in the fulminating department, and Mr. Beachey was the second killed there.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 11, 1915
It was a wild night after the storm in the vicinity of the Bowman stockyards near East Alton, where 7,200 horses belonging to the British Commission, bought for use in the army in France, escaped from the stockyards Thursday night before midnight. The horses romped over the whole country, terrifying people, delaying trains, and in at least one case, caused personal injuries. Herman Wuestenfeldt, who was returning home from Alton after being out on the Elks excursion, sustained fractures of three ribs when the horses coming down the road encountered the automobile in which Wuestenfeldt was carrying Nola, William, Gussie and Loretto Carstens. Eight of the horses were killed by a fast freight train on the Chicago & Alton, two were shot to admit of the Midnight Special passing on, after a delay of more than one hour. Hundreds of the horses were penned up by property owners who will have damage claims against the stock. Some of the stock was recaptured during the night, but the most of them were not found until during the day. The cause of the stampede is not quite certain. It was said at the stockyards this morning that nothing definite was known about it, and that an investigation would be made.

The village of Wood River suffered heavily from damage done to young trees which were set out last year along the streets. The horses, after escaping from the corral, did not run very far. They are all well broken animals, and tractable, and after the first burst of speed on regaining freedom, the animals settled down to grazing along the roads, on lawns, in fields and many of them took to the railroad tracks. The whole country was overrun with animals that are destined for slaughter on the battlefields of Europe.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 23, 1915
The commissions which made the tour settling claims filed by landowners and tenants for damage to crops after the stampede of the horses from the stockyard on the Bowman farm near East Alton, have completed their work and they have settled with all but one claimant, it is said. That one claimant was offered $65 for his loss, and he demanded $500. The difference was so great that no settlement was made with him. Some of the farmers, the Telegraph is informed, are preparing to file additional claims against the keepers of the stock on the grounds, they claim, that the shipping fever from which the horses suffered was spread about among the livestock on the farms where the stampeded horses took refuge. Whether or not a suit could be maintained against anyone whose horses gave a sickness to the horses of the claimant is a question of doubt. If there is any precedent for such a claim, it would probably be hard to find, it is believed by stock-raisers. It is cited that no one can sue for damages if he contracts a disease from another person. It is therefore believed by some horse owners that if there is any instances of the shipping fever being spread in the country, it would be hard to get such a claim established.

The stampede which occurred at the Bowman horse farm east of the city some time ago, will not affect the number of horses which are to be kept at the barns there, according to information received by the Telegraph. Plans are under way at present for increasing the yards and making a roof to care for many more horses. A gang of one hundred men have been put to work on the farm, building more fences and new runs for the horses. The barns which have been erected will serve the purpose of caring for the extra horses which are to be kept at the farm, because the weather will be warm enough for some time to make shelter unnecessary. How much it has cost to secure the return of the horses and how much money they have paid out in damages will probably never be known. It is understood that the sum was enormous, but the officers at the farm are making efforts to keep it from being made public. Rewards were paid for the return of many of the horses. All but six horses have been accounted for. A compilation of the sums of horses brought in after the recent stampede at the corral because of the lightning storm of ten days ago, shows that only thirty-two are yet out. Of this sum, 25 were killed by trains or died from over eating. One of the missing horses is now in the Gus Burjes pasture in Moro. Mr. Burjes found the horse in the pasture yesterday when he went out to look at his stock, and promptly notified the barn. The work of the cowboy riders has been completed, and most of them have gone back to the East St. Louis stockyards. They did good work, and proved very effective rounders of horses, doing much better work than the inexperienced men who were assigned to the job.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 28, 1917
The East Alton stockyards will come back again in full swing. Preparations are now being made for the care of more horses than ever at the East Alton stockyards for the French and English. The stockyards have been practically deserted for the past year, and only a few of the horses which were left ill at the time of the last shipment out was made, have been at the stockyards. The rest of the ground was rented out to R. J. Hoeckstra, a farmer, who has been living there and has been tilling the land. Hoeckstra has received notice to cut his corn and stop his fall sowing and vacate as soon as possible. This is worrying Hoeckstra to some extent, as he says he has no place to go, but he must obey the orders to make way for improvements. The fences are being rebuilt and many of the sheds on which the roofs were worn are being recovered. Next Monday a shipment of several hundred horses is expected over the Big Four. Orders have been given that all trains routed to East Alton with horses should reach East Alton by daylight, so that they may be unloaded in the daytime. On account of the many accidents to horses which happened when unloading was done in the night. This possibility will be avoided under the new ruling and much better care will be taken of the horses. Probably five or ten thousand horses will be accommodated at the stock yards this winter, and all the pens and buildings are being enlarged for this purpose. Dr. Ed Enos has been in charge since the British and French officers left about a year ago, and he will probably continue in some official capacity at the stockyards. Orders have been given for the employment of a large number of men for caring for the horses.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 21, 1915
The Wood River's very worst rampage was the one that followed and attended a rain of 24 hours duration, and reached its climax Friday afternoon about 4 o'clock. The breaking of the costly drainage district levee that cost over $100,000 so far, was the most disastrous feature of the flood. The levee system worked fine up to and far beyond a stage of water ever know in the Wood River valley before, but the effectiveness of the levee system ended.

Down at the lower end the channel of Wood River has not been straightened out. The water still piled up in the huge reverse bends of the stream that winds like a huge snakelike scar through the earth, making a tortuous channel which delays and holds back and piles up the water, destroying the efficiency of the straightened channel farther up. It was only when the volume of water racing down the channel became more than the winding channel below could take care of, that the flood piled up, leaped through the levee of the drainage district and then came disaster.

The plants of the Western Cartridge Company and the Equitable Powder Company were put out of business. Men fled for their lives before a tidal wave of water that swept out of the dammed-up course of the Wood River, and poured down into the lower lands the levee had been built to protect. About 4 o'clock the girls working in the Cartridge Plant were told to go home, as it was feared that the water would come over the levee, and that there would be great difficulty in getting so many people out. The men who were willing to stay were told to do so and aid in getting property up where it could not be wet. The gang of men were working hard and doing good work when the factory whistle was sounded as the warning for everybody to run, and they ran. They got out in time to save themselves.

When the water poured through the first break in the levee, it came as a huge wall which broke against the high board fence surrounding the grounds. The fence went down, the wall of water rolled over and, in a tumbling, destroying torrent, filled up the lower lands where was situated the factories of the Western Cartridge Company, and flooded the office building. The loss entailed by the water going into the Cartridge Plant will be immense. The waters seized upon large quantities of materials and carried them off with a rush down toward the river. Lying loose in the yards were hundreds of the great glass carnoys in which sulphuris acid is contained, and there were piles of lumber and much other material, all of which was borne on the crest of the flood in a mighty jam that went off downstream. The current was terrific. No skiff could be driven against that stream at its full. Power boats would have been in danger in the boiling, surging torrent that piled down toward the Mississippi, destroying all in its path. The stream took its course through the village of East Alton, spreading out to Benbow City on the one side, and as far as East End place in Alton on the other.

Much railroad track was washed out. Not a line was left intact across the Wood River district, and Alton was entirely cut off from railroad communication to the south. The last train that went over the c. & A. tracks was the Prairie State Express, which went down at 5:30 p.m. The last train on the Big Four was the plug, which came in about 6 o'clock. Then the tracks were covered, the bridges over the Wood River were menaced, the chances appeared too great for a train to cross. Then the track began washing out. The interurban cars were shut off at 6 o'clock, and all service annulled. The Big Four annulled its trains on the old main line this side of Hillsboro because of the flood. The Flyer tried to get through, but failed. It got as far as East Alton and went over to the station. Then it was to have backed down to a cross over and go on to the C. & A. tracks and take the cutoff route to Godfrey, and thence to Alton, as the earlier C. & A. did, arriving here after 7 o'clock. However, while the Flyer was at East Alton, the track washed out behind her and was already washed out in front, and there the train had to stick. The passengers were given lodging in East Alton homes and at the village hall.

The seventy-five Altonians who spent the night on the Big Four Flyer kept things interesting. When some of the members of the party were certain that all of the ladies aboard the train had been cared for in the hotels of East Alton, and there were no prospects of rest on the Flyer on account of the uncomfortable sleeping accommodations, they proceeded to enjoy the night. Many played cards, but the majority spent the time singing sons. there was little sleep on the train. This morning the party left the train and were rowed to C. & A. cutoff in skiffs, and then walked to a street car in Upper Alton.

In East Alton was the center of excitement during the flood of Wood River. Mayor Henry Eckhardt became alarmed about 4 o'clock, and he telephoned his daughter, Miss Elinore Eckhardt, to go and warn the people in the threatened district that the levee was about to break. She did so, and the people were ready for it when the catastrophe did occur. Some families did not get out of their houses in time in the levee district at East Alton, and had to be assisted out. Telephone messages were sent for skiffs and proper boats, but the boats that were available were snapped up quickly for rescue work.

The water, when it overflowed and went into the Cartridge Works grounds, got into the buildings to a depth of three or four feet, according to their elevation. The basement and first floor of the office building were flooded too. All night F. W. Olin and his sons, John and Franklin, were on the ground, and they returned home this morning. Skiffs had been rushed out from Alton to do what could be done, but it was little. The water had effectually damaged everything it touched, and naturally there is much of the company's stock that is subject to water damage.

The water ran down through East Alton and got into the grounds of the Standard Oil Company Refinery, and there it stood at such a depth that it was necessary to shut down the whole plant, the fires being put out in the stills and passage about the grounds being impossible because of the depth of water covering the grounds.

There was great fear in East Alton that some of the buildings in the worst flooded part would be collapsed by the water undermining the foundations, as it did ten years ago when Wood River went on her last destructive rampage. The people in the houses which were threatened were taken in by their more fortunate neighbors, and everybody was doing what could be done to relieve distress. On every side in East Alton was the wild tumbling waste of water that had a menacing look for everything that it came in contact with. The Beall plant was not caught in the flood, and the men were saved from being driven from their work.

At the Cartridge Works, only one person, George Eckhardt, a son of Mayor Eckhardt, was left through a misunderstanding, and he climbed on top of the concrete roof of the machine shop and called for help. Efforts to rescue him could not be made immediately because there were no boats to be secured. The only boat known was a steel boat which was locked up in one of the sheds at the Cartridge Plant and could not be got. Finally, E. Hill, an East Alton boy, came forward and offered a small, unstable canvass boat. It served the purpose in a pinch, however, and in this boat, men rowed to the Western Cartridge plant and got out the large steel boat. Eckhardt's son was then rescued, and the rescue work was carried further to the Powder Works Hotel, where the Apple family marooned by the water were taken out and brought to town. Then the Russell family in the lowland near the C. B. & Q. station were rescued and several other families.

George Barber was the only man employed on the construction gang at the new State Hospital who was able to return to his family in Alton last night. The other fifty workmen remained at the farm and spent the night. When they went to work yesterday morning the stream was little more than a foot in depth and was very meek looking. By evening, the stream had covered the railroad tracks and tipped the track on one of the bridges on end. Barber held onto the higher end of this track with an iron hook, and walked on the lower rail. Several times his head went under in the swift current, and the men watching him believed that he would be drowned, but each time he recovered and continued on his trip over the mad stream.

Shortly before midnight last night, an appeal came to the police station for help in the eastern part of the city. Two skiffs were placed on a stake wagon and hurried to that section at once. Night Captain John Nixon and E. L. Rose took charge of the rescue work. Here the police found that one family containing a woman and her four children were in the attic of their home with the water threatening them every minute. These were quickly taken to safety. Another case faced the police. In this home was a family with the smallpox. They demanded to be taken from the home. After looking over the situation, the night captain decided that it would be safe to allow the family to remain in the house if the water did not come up over 18 inches more. Two men were left in charge of the skiff with the orders that the family with the smallpox be rescued if the water rose eighteen inches more. The water did not rise this much, however, and the family was left in their home.

After passing through the yards of the Powder Mill, the water rushed through the streets of East Alton at the depth varying from five to seven feet, and thence down the St. Louis Road to Benbow City, which was also submerged, and then the river joined the waters of the Mississippi. Many of the people left their homes and places of business last evening, fearing that they would be washed away by the waters. According to measurements made by some of the residents of East Alton, the water was forty inches deeper than it was in the flood of 1903. The East Alton wagon bridge, and the three C. B. & Q. railroad bridges in the vicinity of East Alton were down. East Alton was shut off this morning without any break or meat. They are supplied from Alton, and none of the Alton merchants were able to get these supplies to the city this morning.

The Kulp (Culp) levee was the first to give away. This levee which has been constructed in the vicinity of Bethalto gave away yesterday afternoon at two o'clock. Word was sent at once to the Cartridge Plant that this levee had broken. It was then that the men in charge realized they had little chance of saving the East Alton levee. All of the girls and women were sent home, and the men were put to work moving goods from the flood. In the loading room of the Cartridge Plant, all of the machinery with the exception of a single motor was saved. The men carried all of the machinery to the third floor of the building, and some of them had to wade out when the water was over waist deep about the yard. All of the other buildings, including the storage room and the metallic department, were covered to the depth of three or four feet by the flood. In the metallic department a large part of the machinery will be seriously damaged by the flood.

With the seven hundred employees of the Western Cartridge Company not working, and the hundreds of spectators from this vicinity who made the trip to see the flood, the streets of East Alton were crowded this morning. The water, still to the depth of several feet, under the viaduct and along the St. Louis road, but there was no current and the sidewalks were cleared. The damage to the Jones and the Clow grocery store had been figured and they were again open for business. The demand for bread was heavy, and this afternoon the A., B. & C. Company of Alton sent a truck load with a skiff for the city still marooned. The truck carried the bread and skiff as far as the water, and then the skiff was used to take the bread into the town.

Ed Hauser had a trying experience this morning while driving the Central Brewing wagon from Wood River to East Alton. His horses became mired in the water and mud south of East Alton, and for a time it looked as if they would be lost. Several kegs of beer rolled from the wagon, but the outfit was rescued by the men standing about the streets. Hy. Hines was caught in the same place and came near losing his life. People standing on the main streets saw two men attempt to go under the viaduct on horseback. The horse with the man in the lead encountered a step-off that was several feet deep, and both horse and rider were forced to swim to safety. The other rider turned back.

The flood was subsiding rather slower today than was hoped for. Such a tremendous volume of water had to come down, that while Wood River went down considerably, it did not leave the streets of East Alton nor drain the territory between there and the village of Wood River as fast as would have been satisfactory to everybody.

The East Alton wagon bridge was badly damaged, and a number of the planks and some of the woodwork has been torn away. The C. B. & Q. bridge at East Alton has been twisted around so that it will be impossible for a passenger train to make the trip over it. Two other bridges on the C. B. & Q. are washed out between East Alton and Woods Station.

Sidewalks were torn up, a part of the C. B. & Q. platform was washed away, some of the smaller buildings in the Cartridge Plant were turned around on their foundations, and a number of others were washed away entirely. The Big Four track suffered greatly from the flood. Every few feet the roadbed is washed away so that four or five ties were without support, and at places there are stretches of track three hundred feet in length which have been washed away. The Parks buildings damaged and the harness shop of H. H. Wenges suffered greatly from the flood.

Extra freight train number 364 of the Big Four railroad went into a ditch in the vicinity of Wann. The train was composed of an engine and five cars. When it was seen that it would be impossible to go father and the water was threatening them, they left the train before it tipped over.

Offers of work were made this afternoon by the officials of the Cartridge Company. All of their employees who desire to do laboring work can start tomorrow morning, helping to clear up the wreckage and get the plant back in operating condition.


Source: Poughkeepsie, New York Daily Eagle, November 25, 1915
Two wheelhouses at the plant of the Equitable Powder Company, East Alton, blew up this afternoon. No one was hurt. The concussion was felt for 27 miles. Eight thousand pounds of powder were in the building. The cause of the explosion is not known. The Equitable Powder Company is making war supplies for the allies.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 18, 1916
The new addition which will be subdivided and sold in lots on the Alton-Edwardsville Road will be known as the Ben Cooper addition. The property was purchased last week by Mr. Cooper, who says he will market it himself. Sixteen lots have already been sold, most of which are for building purposes. The property was formerly a part of the Fox farm.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 3, 1917
The Landau Company of Alton, trustee for the creditors of the V. F. Waldschmidt store in East Alton, is rapidly selling out the stock and will soon vacate the building. They will turn the building over to its owner, James H. Chessen, who announces that it is for rent. The closing of the store marks the closing of the old stand which James H. Chessen conducted for many years and made a handsome profit out of it. Since Chessen left the place, it has changed hands frequently. The Clow Company held it the longest and for a while made money, but at last they too were obliged to give up the business and sell out. Waldschmidt took it from the last Clow proprietor, Jesse Clow, in exchange for a farm at Peoria, Illinois. Waldschmidt told people in East Alton he was beaten in the deal, and as he had gotten his Peoria farm off of his hands, he would move to another farm he owned in Wisconsin. He and his family have been gone for some time, and it is supposed that he is in Wisconsin, leaving his creditors to handle the business affairs alone.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 20, 1917
The finding of a human skeleton in the ground that is being plowed up for lots in the Cooper and Hoehn addition to East Alton has aroused considerable interest in East Alton and vicinity. A few days ago, while Joseph Heins and Robert Kennedy were engaged in plowing up the ground to level it off for lots in the new addition, the plow share turned up the skull of a human being. The skull was perfect and gave indications of having lain only a few years. They dug farther down into the ground and found all the rest of the bones, which put together would make a perfect skeleton. The bones appear to be those of a woman, although that point is not positively established. Considerable speculation is rue as to how the skeleton got there. Whether it is the skeleton of someone murdered by his fellow man, or by the Indians who once tramped over the county, there is probably no way of finding out. The nearest cemetery is the Milton Cemetery, a mile away, and it is hardly probable that the skeleton could be that of a person buried in the Milton Cemetery.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 8, 1918
The dry weather and a minor explosion at the Western Cartridge Co. caused a fire which resulted in the complete destruction of the trench mortar shell department at the Western Cartridge Co. this afternoon. The damage will run over $100,000, although a complete valuation of the property destroyed had not been made at a late hour this afternoon. Six frame buildings burned. There were five explosions, none of them large, and any one of which would have been of no consequence if it had occurred by itself. The department destroyed was originally the shotgun shell department. Recently it has been turned over to be used as the trench mortar shell department.

The Allies are badly in need of these shells, and orders were given to rush the work in this department. Fifty men and girls were working at the loading machines when one of the machines clogged. Half a second later there was an explosion. This was quickly followed by the fire which spread through the building so fast that the people fled without taking with them their coats or hats. Six buildings arranged in a semi-circle in the rear of the old office caught fire one at a time. The buildings that burned were the loading room, 125 by 40 feet; the box department, small; the box storage department, 75 by 50 feet; the paper box manufacturing department, small; the wad building and all of the stables; two powder magazines filled with powder. The heaviest loss was the eleven machines in the loading department. These are all there at the plant for the manufacture of the trench mortar shells. It will take considerable time to replace them. One hundred and fifty thousand mortar shells which had been accepted and passed and were to have been shipped to the Allied armies today were in the fire.

The employees of the plant turned out with buckets and hose to fight the fire. When it was seen that there was danger of the flames spreading to other departments, the Alton fire company was called out. Fire companies 1 and 3 were sent to East Alton and Chief William Feldwisch directed the efforts of the firefighters. Lieut. Jules Arturo and Lieut. Glastino, of the Italian army, helped with the firefighting. Arturo mounted one of the warehouses and with a handkerchief over his face he held the hose and fought off the flames until the Alton fire department arrived. He saved several thousands of dollars’ worth of explosives. The wind blew the fire away from the main part of the cartridge factory. It also scattered the fire into the outlying parts of the plants and small groups of men were kept busy fighting this with buckets of water.

Officials of the company said this afternoon that the explosion which caused the fire was of little consequence and nothing would have been thought of it had it not caused the fire. They said that this was the first time in the history of the plant that such an explosion had been the cause of a fire. They were inclined to believe that the hot weather and the dry conditions of the buildings were the cause of the fire. Officials refused to make any estimate of the damage, but it is understood that it will be more than $100,000. Only a very small part of that is covered by insurance. The wonder of the fire was that no one was injured. A large amount of explosives went up during the afternoon, but the fighting was conducted so that no one was allowed to get into any unnecessary danger.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 15, 1920
Frank Hamilton, while out hunting yesterday, discovered almost buried in the sands of the Wood River Creek bottom, about 1 1/2 miles southeast of the state hospital, the skeleton of a woman which he reported and the skeleton was taken in charge by Deputy Coroner W. H. Bauer. The skeleton was devoid of flesh, but clinging to it was still the remnant of some clothing, including a dark colored coat, and the shoes were those of a woman. The body had evidently been buried in the Wasson Stanley farm long ago, and had been partially uncovered of late. Mr. Hamilton saw the skull protruding from the sands and made an investigation. As no one living in the vicinity was reported to have been missing, it was supposed that the body was that of one of the wandering patients of the Alton State Hospital. The theory advanced, is that one of the hospital patients, wandering at large, either deliberately or accidentally got into the waters of Wood River when the stream was at flood, and was deposited where found and covered by the sands, remaining there until the flesh had decayed from the bones. Dr. George A. Zeller was consulted and he said that over a year ago there was one woman from Jersey county who had disappeared from the institution and whose relatives made search for her and she was never found. It is not positive that the skeleton is her remains, nor is there much possibility of effecting an identification because of the bad condition of the garments, which have rotted and discolored until there is little chance of knowing what the original ______ was. The bones and fragments _____ clothes were gathered by Deputy Coroner Bauer, who will hold them until hope of identification is given up completely. Dr. Zeller declared that there was enough of the garment to make it possible for a negative identification, that is that it was not the remains of any former inmate of the State hospital at Alton. The reason why the body was not discovered earlier is that the land where it was found was not cultivated last year. The assumption by some is that the body was interred by someone where it was found, not deep in the ground, and the mystery started by the discovery of the skeleton was deeper as the inquiry proceeded.


Marks Completion of Village's 2-Mile Paving Project
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 30, 1921
East Alton celebrated the completion of its two-mile paving project last night. Mayor Jameson, for the village, yesterday said East Alton would be host to the entire Alton district, and would care for the crowd, no matter how great it might be. Two blocks of the newly-paved street were turned over to dancers. No automobiles were permitted to be parked in that section, and when the street was swept and cleaned it made an admirable dancing floor. At one time 300 couples were dancing, presenting an unusual sight. The dancers were given full sway, no traffic being permitted in the two blocks. Two band concerts were given, one by the White Hussar Band and the other by the Western Cartridge Co. band. There was a special movie show. Members of the fire department were in charge of the refreshment stands. Cake, the product of East Alton ovens, was the big feature. East Alton gained a reputation for progressiveness by completing the big paving project, but last night East Alton gained a reputation for the cake baking ability of its housewives. Big cakes, little cakes, white cakes, pink cakes, all kinds of cakes were for sale. And all the cakes were good glorious examples of the pastry art. And for ten cents a great big slice was given. The firemen, dressed up in brand new blue shirts, with accompanying white ties, were in charge of the refreshment stands, and sold the cakes. Proceeds of the refreshment sales will go toward the fund to provide a truck for the fire department. The speakers included Mayor Jameson, former Mayor Cruse, and John D. McAdams of the Telegraph. Mayor Jameson quit the East Alton band long enough to make the opening speech. He welcomed everyone and urged them all to have a good time. He was followed by former Mayor Cruse, who thanked the members of the village council which voted with him to launch the paving project, he thanked and congratulated Mayor Jameson for carrying out the project and he thanked the people of East Alton for their cooperation. Mr. McAdams congratulated the people of East Alton upon the completion of the paved road. "When this project was brought up in the courts for confirmation, there was not a single objector. East Alton is to be congratulated," Mr. McAdams said. "But East Alton has done more than merely completed a big paving project and has done more than complete another link in the paved road to St. Louis. East Alton has carried out the spirit of public improvement. You have brought contentment and joy to people, who, when they use this road, will never know of the hardships you have endured that it might be a reality." Mr. McAdams then traced the local history of the automobile. "Fourteen years ago," he related, "there were seven automobiles in Alton and two in East Alton. John Vanpreter owned the first car in East Alton. It was a one-lung (one cylinder) International. It did not even have a horn, but it didn't need a horn because it made so much noise. Then James Chessen bought a car, a two-cylinder Buick. This car had a fine nickel-plated horn, but it is said that the horn did no good because you couldn't hear it, either. Now, 4,000 automobiles pass over this road every day. From 2 to 4,000 in 11 years is the growth of the automobile."


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 12, 1921
Four masked bandits at 10:30 a.m. today entered the Illinois State Bank at East Alton, tied one official and forced another to crawl under a table, and escaped with $8,000 in cash in an automobile, held in readiness by a fifth. H. V. Greene, cashier of the bank, estimated the amount taken at $8,000. He said the cash had not been checked up, and he could give no definite figure. All money in the bank, with the exception of a small amount of silver, was taken. The loss is covered by insurance with the Aetna Company.

The bandits were in a green automobile. Conflicting reports were heard as to the direction from which the men came. It was said at first that they came from the north and later it was said that the car was an Alton machine. The automobile came through the streets of East Alton at a rapid clip, it stopped in front of the bank and four men jumped out and went into the bank. Three men then pointed _________ [unreadable] the muzzles of the guns through the screen of the cage. One of the bandits came in back of the counter and soon was followed by the other three. Greene was ordered to crawl under a table. He hesitated, and was pushed under the table by one of the bandits. Larton was told to stand close to the wall. One of the bandits pulled the telephone loose and bound him with the wire. One of the bandits carried a wheat sack and in this all cash in sight was thrown. The safe and drawers were rifled. The bandits left checks, and threw aside some War Savings Stamps. Checks were strewn over the floor. The bandits left the bank hurriedly, one of them keeping the officials covered. They climbed into the automobile and sped away.

Posses scoured the surrounding country in search of the bandits. Police officials of surrounding towns and cities were notified to be on the lookout for the bandits. This afternoon no trace of the bandits had been found. The license number of the bandit's car was Missouri 213630. The bank was cleaned of all available funds by the bandits. A messenger was immediately dispatched to Alton to secure funds and at 12 o'clock, an hour and a half after the holdup, the first customer came in and the bank was again doing business. There were no bonds of large denomination in the bank. These are kept in vaults of Alton banks.

Mr. Greene, the cashier, was signing a bond when the bandits entered. Mr. Greene, who is an Alton man and who was formerly bookkeeper for the local agency of the Anheuser Busch Brewing Co. of St. Louis, described the holdup to a Telegraph reporter:

"I was standing right here signing this bond," Mr. Greene said and pointed to a bond on the counter. "One of the bandits shoved a gun at me through the screen there," and he pointed to the spot. "Two others covered Mr. Larton and me, while a fourth one came in back followed by the other three. I was commanded to get under the table and then shoved under. Mr. Larton was tied with the wire from the telephone not far from me. Then a sack was produced and the cash thrown into it."

The bandits left the bank, Mr. Greene said, still covering the officials. The bandits, Mr. Greene said, were all young men, and each, he said, seemed to weigh about 175 to 180 pounds. He expressed the belief that the bandits put on the masks after entering the bank and took them off before leaving.

East Alton was stirred by the robbery. The street in front of the bank, St. Louis Road, was crowded and the holdup was the chief topic of conversation. Many wild stories were in circulation, early reports having it that the two officials of the bank were slugged with the butts of revolvers, and that the amount stolen was $30,000, with many bonds included. The Illinois State Bank is the same institution at which a holdup was attempted in the summer of 1919. At that time bandits entered the bank and ordered the cashier, E. F. Zoernig, to throw up his hands. Zoernig, as related in the Telegraph at that time, dropped behind the counter and came up with a revolver in his hands. The bandits were scared off. The Illinois State Bank has a capital stock of $50,000. John M. Olin of the Western Cartridge Co. is president of the bank.

As far as I can tell, no one was ever caught for robbing the East Alton bank. The Illinois State Bank was established in 1904 as the Farmers Bank of Bethalto, and was located on West St. Louis Avenue in East Alton. In the 1920, the bank moved to the corner of West St. Louis Avenue and West Main Street. In 1996, the bank was acquired by Magna Bank. Today, Regions Bank occupies the property.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 14, 1921
Search up to noon today had failed to reveal a trace of the five bandits who last Saturday held up and robbed the Illinois State Bank at East Alton. After a daring holdup of officials, the bandits made their escape in a green Essex automobile, bearing a Missouri license tag. The bandits' automobile was seen passing through Wood River and was later sighted on the detour road at Mitchell, headed in the direction of Edwardsville. Although several posse’s prosecuted the search, and police of cities and towns for many miles around were notified to be on the lookout, the car was not seen after that. The bandits, H. V. Greene, the bank's cashier, said Saturday, were young men, all of them well built. He expressed the opinion that each weighed about 170 or 180 pounds. Four of the bandits entered the bank, and after forcing Mr. Greene to crawl under a table, and tying M. W. Larton, assistant cashier, with wire from a telephone which they tore loose from the wall, placed all cash in sight in a sack, and made their escape in the automobile held in waiting by a fifth. The four who entered the bank were marked. It was said today at the bank that the amount taken by the bandits was $7,736.66. The Telegraph Saturday said the amount secured was about $8,000, quoting Mr. Greene who said the figure at the time would not be definitely determined. It was pointed out that checking up might show a change in the figure. The loot of the bandits was all cash. The bonds of the bank are kept in Alton vaults. The bandits threw aside checks and war savings stamps.

The bank robbers were never captured, although Charles Chessen and Robert Dooling were implicated for the robbery by a private detective agency. Their case was dismissed for lack of evidence. East Alton Mayor Jameson set out to stop the St. Louis "crooks" who were coming into East Alton to "ply their trade." The first order for the mayor's anti-crook campaign was to organize a shotgun squad. The squad was composed of ten men, all capable of handling a shotgun with "telling effect." The mayor also arranged for the installation of a fire and burglar alarm system in East Alton, at the home of each member of the shotgun squad. The mayor vowed to pick up every person who looks suspicious, and he didn't care "a rap who they are."


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 21, 1922
A blast in the corning mill at the plant of the Equitable Powder Co. today caused the death of Edward Owens, aged 37, who was at work in the mill alone when the explosion occurred. The mill building was destroyed and the machinery badly damaged. The explosion occurred just a few minutes before 7 o'clock this morning. Owens had gone to work only a few minutes before it happened. His duty was to feed the big cakes of powder into the mill for them to be ground up. It is the practice in such mills to have one man working there alone. A few months ago, a similar blast occurred in the corning mill and the man in charge of it was killed. The mill had been rebuilt and put into service again. Owens was brought here from a powder plant at Marlow, Ky., to take charge of the job. He was an experienced powder mill hand. He leaves a wife and six children, who did not accompany him to East Alton when he came here to take the job, a month ago. There was in the mill at the time of the explosion about a ton and a half of powder. The explosion shook Alton. Immediately after the explosion, it was distinguished from the blasts across the river which frequently rock this territory, by the great umbrella shaped cloud of smoke which rose and hung suspended over the powder works. The corning mill is a wooden structure covered with sheet iron, and houses machinery in which one of the near final steps in powder making is done. The work is known as dangerous, yet explosions there have not been numerous. The two which have occurred recently are the nearest together in a long time. The one that occurred today will never be explained, and will remain a mystery, just as the preceding one remained. The body of Owens will be taken back to Marlow to the family there. The wife was notified immediately of the death of her husband, and that the body would be brought to her.


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