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History of New Douglas, Madison County, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser




The first settler in New Douglas Township, located in the northeast corner of Madison County, was Daniel Funderburk. He was a native of South Carolina, born in 1786, and served through the War of 1812 under General Smith. Daniel and his wife, Mary, immigrated to New Douglas in 1819, and for several years they were the only residents of that territory. In 1823, he taught the first school in a small cabin built near his residence. Daniel’s wife, Mary, died August 7, 1838. Hers was the first death of the township. Daniel died on December 11, 1838, leaving behind a family of eleven children, including his first-born son – John – who was the first born in New Douglas Township. Sarah Funderburk, Daniel’s daughter, was the first to marry in the township in 1834, to Aaron Voyles.

John L. Carlock arrived in the township about 1831. On December 14, 1833, he entered the first track of land in the northwest quarter of the township, where he improved the forty-acre farm. He later moved to Adams County. The Methodists held their early meetings at his residence.

Cornelius Wood, a brother-in-law of Carlock, located on a place southwest of Carlock’s about the same time. He improved a small farm there and filled the office of Justice of the Peace. He later moved to Bond County.

Robert Greening arrived in 1830, living to the south of Wood’s farm. He was a strict member of the Baptist Church, and meetings were conducted at his house regularly for many years. Jackson Allen, a native of Virginia, came to Madison County in 1837, and settled in New Douglas Township in the Spring of that year. He lived some distance out in the prairie, where he improved a good farm until he lost his wife in 1862. He then lived at his daughter’s home nearby until his death in 1870. John P. Lindsey settled in the township in 1840. He was the second to settle out on the prairie.

In 1857, Alonzo Foster (his father, Oliver Foster, was a pioneer settler of Fosterburg) arrived in New Douglas Township – which was an open prairie - and laid out the town of New Douglas. The town was platted September 5, 1860, and contained 20 acres east of the present Main Street. Later, Foster and Mr. Owens laid out an addition on the west side of the street. Alonzo Foster donated land for the city cemetery in the north part of town. It has been enlarged several times.
                                              1861 map of New Douglas
The post office in New Douglas was established in 1863, and mail was received twice a week from Staunton. J. W. Lord was the first postmaster. In later years, postmasters include Frank Alsop, W. W Livingston, Dora Blair, Eugenia Prange, John Johnson, E. W. Bunn, and L. R. Wall.

Early Businesses in New Douglas
In 1860, Costen Sawyer erected the first business house, in which he opened a small stock of goods. The same year, he built a blacksmith shop and employed John Trype. Trype afterward conducted a shop of his own.

The second store was started by Dr. William F. Rubottom in 1863. Rubottom was the first physician in New Douglas. He practiced medicine for about five years, and then went west.

The first hotel in New Douglas was constructed in 1876 by Rodo Latowsky. A general grocery store was added to the hotel, and Latowsky and his three sons (Oscar, Ehrhart, and Hugot) continued to operate them until about 1918. A second hotel was later constructed by Wesley Reaves.

Alonzo Foster farm in New DouglasAlonzo Foster built a home on the corner of Main Street and Sorento Road. He lived there for many years with his family. Later the home was sold to Otto and Cora Latowsky. Across the street from the Foster home was the John Vollentine and Joe Crowder homes. Vollentine was one of the original members of the Old Settler’s Association. He donated the park where the Old Settler’s picnics were held (on Main Street).

The Murdock and Fletcher Flour Mill was established in 1879. They later sold to Amos and Anna Easton.

I. A. “Red” Olive operated a hardware story for many years. Marney and Foster maintained a grocery store in the building that later became the village hall. The building was also used by the New Douglas Fire Department.

Robert Alsop owned and operated a grocery store, and also ran an undertaking establishment. Later, Hugo Latowsky established an undertaking business and furniture store, in an addition built onto the Latowsky store building. This was used until a modern undertaking parlor was constructed on Sixth Street.
The Wesley Reaves store in New Douglas
Paul Douglas was a harness maker and shoe cobbler. Mrs. Tillie McMullen was the village dressmaker. William Kline and “Dart” Foulke operated barber shops, and J. F. Smith owned a wagon shop and blacksmith shop.

The New Douglas livery occupied a prominent place in the history of the village. At one time, a horse and buggy met all the incoming trains and hauled travelers and their baggage from the station to uptown. Many “drummers” or salesmen would be among the travelers, and after completing their work in New Douglas, they would hire a rig to take them to neighboring towns of Sorento, Staunton, or Alhambra.

Brothers August and William Prange constructed the brick flour mill in the south part of town, near the railroad station. It was later operated as a feed mill by Edward Rosenthal and son. In addition to operating the flour mill, they branched out into the merchandising business, operating a general store. They also established the Prange Bank.

On February 27, 1875, a violent cyclone passed through the west part of town, traveling northeast. It demolished 11 buildings, including 2 churches, the schoolhouse, and the Masonic Hall. Reverend Henry C. Young, the Methodist minister, was killed while conducted an afternoon meeting.

By 1962, out of all the old business houses of the 1900s, only the Van Delph Building, later know as Bunns Drugstore, and the Masonic Hall were still standing. The drugstore owned by Robert Livsey was destroyed by fire on July 4, 1895. The Robert Alshop building was used as a telephone office, and operated by Mrs. Mae Bunn Schoenmetzler for 35 years. It has since been torn down. The Nickle Plate Railroad Depot has been moved to the Catholic church yard, and converted into a parish hall.

Early New Douglas Schools
The first schoolhouse in New Douglas was erected by Daniel Funderburk in 1823. He was the first settler in the New Douglas Township, and built a log schoolhouse near his home. Funderburk died in 1838. The second schoolhouse, a log building, was erected in 1839. Nelson Sparks was its first teacher. Other early school teachers include Joe Crowder, L. T. Kennedy, A. N. Lewis, W. E. Lewis, E. W. Bunn, E. M. Sievers, and Elizabeth Fletcher.

A two-story frame schoolhouse was constructed in 1879. This was used until about 1901, when half of the building was moved to Main Street by Robert McFarland, who operated a popular ice cream parlor and confectionery. The other half was used as a residence by George Eardley. In 1904 a new brick schoolhouse was constructed in the northwest part of town. This was used until 1953. The building was later owned by the American Legion. Later, a modern, four-room grade school was constructed, with gymnasium and cafeteria. New Douglas became part of the Highland Community School District, and the high school students attended there.

Early New Douglas Churches
The New Douglas Southern Methodist Church was constructed in 1867. The Baptist church was build in 1869, and the Catholic church was constructed in 1870. The Lutheran church was constructed in 1874, and the Northern Methodist church was built in 1877. The Christian church was built in 1878. Of these, only the Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, and Christian were still standing in 1962.


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