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History of Livingston and Williamson

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Recommended Reading:  History of Livingston, Illinois, 1905 - 2005

Mining development in Olive Township required a railroad development. In 1903, the Big Four Cut Off, extending from Mitchell northeast through Madison County, was completed. A shaft was sunk in section 16, on the property of the John Livingston estate. A railroad station was established nearby, and christened Livingston. As soon as the station was established and the mine opened, a settlement developed. The first five houses were built in 1904. A town was laid out on section 15 and 16 by the heirs of John Livingston, on lands bequeathed them by their father. Livingston was incorporated as a village in 1905. The first president of the village board was David G. Livingston, son of John Livingston.
John Livingston
John Livingston was born in Ireland, December 25, 1830, and came to America with his mother in 1846. He supported himself by working as a day laborer. He was upright and industrious, and by saving his money, he was able to buy a farm in 1861. Eventually he was the owner of 300 acres of highly improved land. He married Mary A. J. Brown in 1857, and they were the parents of eleven children – Sarah Jane, Martha White, Robert Wilson, Rebecca Elizabeth, Mary Ellen, Margaret Ann, William John, Jessie Alice, David George, Luella Mae, and Cora Belle. John Livingston became an agricultural giant in the area. He was also involved in local politics and was a member of the Republican Party. He served as school director and was highway commissioner for fifteen years.
Livingston family home
The Livingston home was the scene of many social gatherings for state, county, and township officials, as well as family member. On May 18, 1883, a tornado hit the Livingston family farm, and the home was demolished. Luella Mae was the only family member home at the time, and she survived. Mary Livingston died in 1897. John Livingston died March 11, 1898, at the age of 67. They are both buried in the New Spangle Cemetery in Livingston.

A schoolhouse was erected in Livingston in 1907 and enlarged in 1912. By 1912 the schoolhouse contained six rooms. Four of the Livingston sisters became schoolteachers. Martha was a teacher in Madison County. Rebecca taught for forty-five years and was principal of a Granite City School. She was also assistant principal of the Livingston Grade School. Mary Ellen was a school teacher prior to her marriage. Margaret served 42 years as an educator. She was the first principal of the Roxana schools, and was principal of the Williamson School.

The Bank of Livingston was established September 15, 1911 by D. E. Aylward & Company. It occupied a two-story brick building.

The Methodist Church in Livingston was erected in the Fall of 1911. It was near the line of the village of Williamson, and supplied the spiritual needs of both communities.

In 1912, Livingston had thirteen saloons, and the population was largely foreign.
                                      Livingston - 1906


The village of Williamson lies immediately north of Livingston in sections 9 and 10. It was laid out by the Mt. Olive and Staunton Coal Company on land purchased from Henry Liche. The village was named after the family of John and Mathew Williamson, whose farm land was included in the village site. Williamson was incorporated in 1907, with John Commit as village president; J. Crassen, M. Krupp, George Dyzorus, R. T. McAllister, Joseph Farrimond, and H. Gray as trustees.

The village was entirely dependent on the coal industry. The great proportion of dwellings in the village were owned by the coal company. The majority of miners that lived there were Slavs or Italians.

A schoolhouse was erected in Williamson, and in 1912 there were 350 children attending.


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