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History of Marine, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser




Marine Settlement
Permanent settlement in the Marine prairie was made in 1813 and 1814 by Major Isaac H. Ferguson, his brother-in-law John Warwick, John Woods, George Newcome, Joseph Ferguson, Absolom Ferguson, Aquilla Dolahide, Abraham Howard and Joshua Dean. In 1815, the settlement was increased by the arrival of Chester Pain, Thomas Breeze, Richard Winsor, John Campbell and John Giger, and in the following year came Henry Scott, John Lord, James Simmons, Henry Peck, Andrew Matthews Sr and Andrew Matthews Jr., Lefford, French, James French, and Abram Carlock.

In 1817, Rowland P. Allen and Elijah Ellison came to Illinois to explore for their sea-faring friends, for the purpose of founding a settlement. Arriving at Edwardsville with their families, they traveled to the Marine prairie in 1818, choosing the area lying between Silver Creek and the middle fork or Peck’s Branch of Silver Creek. The next year, 1819, a colony of sea-farers settled on this prairie, including Captain Curtis Blakeman, Captain George C. Allen, Captain James Breath, Captain De Selhorst, Captain David Mead, and their families. These men had seen years of service on the ocean and had come to the West to engage in agriculture and rear their families. They came from New England, New York, and New Jersey. This settlement soon took on the name of Marine Settlement, and intelligent, enterprising, and prosperous men made it their home.
Captain Curtis Blakeman Memorial
Captain Curtis Blakeman was one of the leading men of this colony. He came with considerable wealth, while the others had been mostly driven to Illinois either by poverty or a desire to obtain wealth. Blakeman was a candidate for county commissioner in 1820 and was elected to represent the county in the legislature in 1822. For a number of years, he filled the office of Justice of the Peace. His son, Curtis Blakeman Jr., was a prominent citizen of Madison County, and was elected a representative in the legislature in 1842.

Rowland P. Allen was one of the first to build on the prairie and was laughed at for his willingness to haul building material, fencing, and firewood so far – a distance of half a mile. But in a few years the older pioneers realized the advantages of a residence on the prairie, and began to leave the gloom of the woods and build in the sunshine.

A post office was soon established, with Major Ferguson and Rowland P. Allen alternating as postmasters. The first tavern was kept by Eben Twiss in section 11, in 1820, and the first ox-tread mill was built by Captain Blakeman in 1823.



In 1820, John Anderson settled in Marine. He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1793. During the War of 1812, he offered his services and wasJohn Anderson accepted as drummer boy. In 1822 he married Susan S. Creamer, and together they had twelve children. After the death of his first wife, he remarried April 23, 1868, to Margarett L. Creamer, by whom he had two children. Anderson was successful and amassed considerable property. He owned houses, barns, orchards, etc. He died April 11, 1875. He was a man of unquestioned integrity and had good business sense.

The Contemplated Town of Madison
The building of a town in Marine Township was contemplated by the early pioneers. The town was to be named “Madison,” and 100 town lots were offered for sale in the Marine Settlement, Illinois. The auction was to be held November 18, 1820, at the home of Rowland P. Allen. The lots were situated on the prairie, with thirty improved farms located to the east, south, and west. Curtis Blakeman, Rowland P. Allen, George C. Allen, Pierre Teller, Adrian Hegeman, Abraham Beck, Nehemiah Allen, W. M. O’Hara, Justus Post, and Theophilus W. Smith were the proprietors of the land. This sale of land did not succeed, and the “paper” town of Madison in Marine Settlement was never fulfilled.

The Founding of Marine
In 1834, the town of Marine was laid out by George W. Welsh, James Semple, Jordan W. Jeffress, and Abram Breath. The first stores were kept by Jordan W. Jeffress, George W. Welsh, and Abram Breath. The first physicians were Drs. George T. Allen and P. P. Green.

The village of Marine was incorporated March 8, 1867 and re-incorporated under general law on April 23, 1888. It was an important station of the Illinois Central Railroad.
                                 1861 Map of Marine
Businesses of Marine
The Cable Mill was built in 1866 by Curtis Blakeman Jr., John B. Parker and Jacob Spies. It had but three run of stone, but after Charles Valier and Jacob Spies took over the mill in 1876, the mill was enlarged into a four-story brick building with numerous frame additions and a cooper shop.

Jacob Spies of MarineOther businesses by 1882 included physicians Peter S. Weidman, Peter Fischer, Henry L. Judd. Valentine Mill, John G. Goerke, Henry Hoppe & Company, Henry Gehrs, and the Blanke Brothers operated General Stores. Fred Wentz and Kold & Richardson opened hardware stores, and L. A. Richardson and Porter G. Parker owned drugstores. A hotel was operated by H. H. Elbring. John M. Hettel ran a stove and tinware, and Charles Adler, John Koch, V. Deibert, and Michael Ford operated blacksmith and wagon shops. Henry A. Hoyer was a wagon maker and bridge contractor, and Fred Webold was carpenter and bridge builder. Julius Busch was a wagon maker and millwright, and George Gravins and Henry Ortmann were furniture dealers. Barbers included William Apffel and John Weber, and John Deibert & Son owned a clothing and furnishing goods store. Harness and saddlers included Henry Brandes and William Koeh. Charles Lewis Varwig and Edward Frey owned cigar stores. Charles Pfister ran a bakery and confectionery, and Catherine Nemnich, Mrs. Mary Ellison, and Mrs. William Koch owned millineries. A meat market was owned by Henry Schmidt and Jacob Weder, and the local watch maker was Andrew Volk. Shoe makers included Herman Vanderstein, Peter Harnist, and Henry Ackermann.

Early Schools of Marine
The first school in Marine Township was taught by Arthur Travis in 1814 in Major Ferguson’s smokehouse. Another of the early schools in the Marine Settlement was a building made of logs, consisting of two departments separated by a log partition. The first department was a stable, accommodating several horses, and the second was a crib or granary, utilized for scholastic purposes. The only entrance to the schoolroom was through the stable, and teacher and pupils were compelled to climb six feet of the log partition to enter. “The conductor of this school,” wrote one of the pupils of those days, “was a little effete, old codger, the most ignorant and illiterate creature I ever knew as a teacher of the youthful mind. We were instructed to always call the letter ‘Z,’ ‘Izzard,’ and in spelling Aaron, to say, ‘Big A, little A, r-o-n, Aaron.’ The next teacher who attempted to teach at Marine was Mr. Giles Churchill, the most bashful and awkward of men. He had studied English grammar in Webster’s spelling book, and said he could teach it if anybody wanted to learn. Nearby in the woods was a whisky distillery, and the teacher would sometimes rest at this point and imbibe too freely of corn-juice for the successful advancement of education. One way or another, he did manage to teach the young minds.

In 1819 a young man from New Haven, Connecticut opened a school in an empty cabin that stood between Captain Blakeman’s and R. P. Allen’s. In 1821, a substantial Union Church house was erected, which was likewise used for school purposes. It is believed to have been at the time the best building devoted to educational purposes in the county, as it was a frame building with clapboard siding, supplied with split shingle roof and glass windows.

In 1874 a two-story, five room brick schoolhouse was erected, with five teachers. The cost of the building was $10,000.

Early Churches in Marine
The first sermon in Marine Township was preached at Major Ferguson’s home in 1813 by Rev. Samuel Lindley, a Baptist missionary. A Union Church building was erected in section 33, in 1821. Another church was organized November 2, 1834, with Roswell Brooks as preacher, succeeded by Robert Blake. After about three years the church became vacant, until 1840, when T. Lippincott became preacher. After a revival, twenty-seven were added to membership. Original members included James Breath, Elizabeth Breath, George C. Allen, Mary Allen, James M. Nichols, Elizabeth Nichols, George W. Walsh, John R. Kerr, William Anderson, Eunice A. Anderson, Gertrude Anderson, Zilphatt Parker, George Foster, Hannah N. Foster, Rebecca L. Breath, and Mary A. Breath. In 1851 a frame church was constructed.

On April 7, 1860, the Marine Church of Christ was established at a place then known as the Reid schoolhouse. Elder William Birge acted as minister. Original members included A. W. Jeffress, Mary A. Jeffress, J. W. Jeffress, D. W. Biggs, Catherine Biggs, Elisha Stapleton, Mary Stapleton, Curinda Stapleton, Anna R. Farghuharson, Mary E. Parker, Margaret Graham, Adaline O. Bacon, Ella Stocton, Harriet Weidman, and Ella Bocsinger. In 1871, a church was constructed at a cost of $2,500.

By 1882, there were five churches in town – the Roman Catholic, German Lutheran, and Christian (all with brick buildings), and the Presbyterian and Methodist (with frame structures).


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