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North Alton, Illinois, Newspaper Clippings

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


EARLY HISTORY OF NORTH ALTON    (Also called Altonia, Greenwood, and Buck Inn)


Source: Alton Telegraph, June 1, 1839
The reader is requested to take notice, that the sale of lots in the new town of Altonia will take place on Monday morning at ten o'clock at the Buck Inn, a short distance from this city, on the road to Monticello. The town of Altonia, about a half a mile north of Alton, is laid out on the highland, north and south of the Upper Alton and Grafton road, and east and west of the State road leading from Alton to Jacksonville; thus having two of the most important roads in the State crossing at a right angle in its centre (at which stands the Buck Inn), the road leading to Smelzer's ferry running through it on the south, and the Alton and Hillsborough railroad running through it on the northeast. The concentration of these roads in Altonia most greatly lead to render an interest in it desirable, did it possess no other advantages. But in addition to this, it has a salubrious [healthy] atmosphere; an abundance of stone road within its bounds; a good landing on the Mississippi river, within the distance of three-fourths of a mile on the Smelzer's ferry road, inexhaustible quarries of lime and free stone in its vicinity, an easy access to Monticello Seminary, one and a half mile north of it, which is perhaps the best institution of the kind in Illinois, and a regular plan for its future growth. The streets are wide and cross each other at right angles, and the blocks large, with alleys through them to be closed in any given block so long as one individual may own an entire block, at his option. By this plan, any person who may wish to have a few acres for his private residence can be accommodated, and the works of art he made to unite with the natural beauty of the town, to render it worthy of the union which must soon take place between it and Alton. A public sale of lots in Altonia will take place on the first Monday in June next, at ten o'clock a.m. at the Buck Inn aforesaid, at which sale some lots will be sold for the most they will bring. Terms: Ten percent, cash, the balance on nine- and eighteen-months credit, unless the purchaser will improve them, in which case a credit of one and two years will be given for the balance. Until the day of sale, any of the above-mentioned lots can be had at private sale; and to any person who will build on them the price will be low, and the credit long. Plats can be seen and terms ascertained by application to Messrs. Willard and Carpenter, W. S. Lincoln, Esq., or C. L. Frost, Auctioneer, Agents for Proprietors.


Source: Alton Telegraph, September 30, 1843
Mr. Strong of the "Buck Inn," about two or three miles north of Alton, has decidedly the finest peaches I ever saw or tasted; he has several varieties, among which are a large yellow freestone of a very delicious flavor, and a very large white cling, two of which weigh a pound down weight. He informed me, however, that they are not as large as they were last year - the circumference of some of them being ten inches.


Source: Alton Telegraph, December 3, 1852
We regret to learn that the property known as the Buck Inn, situated about two miles north of this city and owned and occupied by Mr. James Strong, was entirely destroyed by fire about one o'clock yesterday morning. The family were aroused from their sleep by the glare of the fire, and had barely time to escape with a portion of their clothing and bedding, before the building was consumed. About one hundred bushels of potatoes in the cellar were also burnt. The loss is estimated at about $1,500, on which there was no insurance. It was doubtless the work of an incendiary.

Buck Inn was believed to be the first structure erected within the present North Alton business section. It was a frame structure, constructed in 1837 in Godfrey Township, at the northwest corner of State and Delmar [where the shopping center now stands]. Buck Inn was destroyed by fire in 1852. A man named Sullivan was arrested for arson. A brick structure was erected by James Strong in 1855 to replace the building that burned. This brick building still stood in 1937.

James Strong, founder of Buck Inn, came to the North Alton area in 1836 or ‘37 from Pennsylvania. He was born in 1785 in Cumberland, England. James arrived with his wife and at least one of his children by ox-drawn wagon. He settled on two and a half acres of wooded land, made a clearing and erected an inn. Soon Buck Inn, located on a crossroad, grew in importance. Travelers stopped to take meals or stay the night, and the large well which James had dug provided fresh water for man and beast. Antlers of a buck, which Strong hung over the entrance, gave the tavern its name. Settlers began building their homes and businesses nearby, and this settlement became known as “Buck Inn.”

James Clayton Tibbitt laid out another town just south of Buck Inn in 1853 and called it Greenwood. However, this name did not catch on. When a post office was established in 1868, with P. J. Melling as postmaster, it was called Buck Inn by the U.S. Government.

James Strong died November 11, 1869, at the age of 84yrs, 2mths, and 2 days. He is buried in the Godfrey Cemetery. His wife, Maria A. Strong, died in 1876, and is also buried there. The Buck Inn name continued until 1875, when North Alton was incorporated.

James Strong had at least one son, Jacob, and two daughter, Emma and Hannah. The Strong family grew in size and importance in the North Alton/Godfrey community.

James Strong, a grandson of James Strong Sr., was hit by a car in 1937 and died from his injuries. He was 75 years old. He was struck while crossing Godfrey Road, just north of Delmar Avenue. His sister, Laura Strong, was struck by an automobile in 1927, within a few feet of where James was injured fatally. His cousin, Lillian May Picard, was struck by an automobile in front of her home on Delmar.


Source: Alton Telegraph, February 24, 1871
A small storehouse, belonging to E. Picard & Co., at the Buck Inn, was burned yesterday. The loss, we understand, was small.


Source: Alton Telegraph, June 23, 1871
The Buck Inn neighborhood was the scene of two or three lively rows Monday night at the saloons. At one saloon, two constables became involved in a fierce personal encounter, which resulted in one of them whipping and disarming his antagonist. Constables are generally supposed to be conservators of the peace, but when they descend to such performances, whatever the provocation, it is due to the public that a vigorous examination be made into the case.


Source: Alton Telegraph, February 21, 1873
Messrs. Hughes & Co. of St. Louis were in town Wednesday, prospecting for a location for a new tile factory. They have purchased land near Buck Inn, upon which is a splendid deposit of clay suitable for making stoneware tile. They intend to make a specialty of the manufacture of roofing tile, or slate for covering houses. They own a patent under which they claim they can make roofing tile at a cost that will not exceed a dollar a thousand more than shingles. They examined the Seaton Foundry property yesterday, and will probably lease it for their business. Should they finally decide to locate here, their factory will be an important addition to our manufacturing industries, as they would employ constantly from 50 to 60 men. We trust they will receive every encouragement in their new enterprise.


Source: Alton Telegraph, September 5, 1873
There was a large gathering at Weigler’s Beer Garden at the Buck Inn Sunday afternoon, to attend an entertainment, and during the afternoon, some roughs raised a disturbance, upset the counter where the Teutonic beverage was dispensed, and robbed the money drawer of eight or ten dollars.


Source: Alton Telegraph, April 8, 1875
The miners employed at the principal coal mines at Coal Branch and Greenwood are on a strike, occasioned by a notice from the proprietors that wages would be reduced on the first of the month from five to four cents a bushel for digging. The proprietors were obliged to take this course because at former rates they were losing money. In St. Clair county, we understand, miners are paid but 2 to 2 1/2 cents per bushel. If this is the case, it is easily seen that proprietors here cannot afford to pay five cents a bushel for digging.


North Alton Republican Rally
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 2, 1880
From the Daily, August 31 – Yesterday was a proud day for North Alton. It was the day fixed for the Republican meeting to be addressed by Hon. John B. Hay. The bustle of preparation during the day indicated that a big time was expected. The Alton Republican Club was invited to be present, and accepted the invitation. The marching companies were unorganized, although some names had been enrolled, but torches and uniforms were quickly issued, and a procession improvised from the hundreds who gathered at Crowe’s Hall. Nothing daunted by the long march in prospect over 200 torch bearers fell in line behind Gossrau’s Band. Company A was under command of Mr. John K. Butler; Company B (young men’s company), commanded by Mr. James Glenn; and Company C (colored men’s company), by Mr. John Smith. The procession was under the direction of Dr. Haskell, President of the Club. As the torch bearers moved forward, they presented a fine sigh, especially in ascending State Stree hill. At the corner of State and Main [now W. 9th] Streets, the procession was met by the North Alton boys, 100 strong, who also fell into line. About a quarter of a mile this side of North Alton, the Cullom Guards of Brighton met and joined the line, and the procession entered North Alton in style – three bands playing, banners flying, and men cheering. It was an inspiring sight, and waked up North Alton so thoroughly that it won’t go to sleep again the rest of the campaign. The entire population had turned out, and North Alton Park, where the speaking took place, was crowded. From 1,200 to 1,500 persons were present. Notwithstanding the immense assemblage, everything was quiet and orderly. The speaker of the evening was Hon. John B. Hay, the next Member of congress from the 17th District. He was introduced to the audience by Mr. C. W. Colby, President of the North Alton Club. Mr. Hay commenced by giving a sketch of the life and public service of General Garfield, and contrasted his career with that of General Hancock, and the facts in the case were very unfortunate for the latter. The contrast between the honorable career of General Arthur and the mercenary life of “Shylock” English was also fittingly portrayed. Mr. Hay next drew a comparison between the past records of the Republican and Democratic parties; reciting the patriotic services of the former, and the disloyal deeds of the latter, and in eloquent terms appealed to the people to stand by the party that had ever been the friend of the oppressed and had done so much to maintain the honor of the country, maintain its integrity and increase its prosperity. Owing to the lateness of the hour, Mr. Hay’s speech was brief, but into it was condensed an immense amount of strong logic, unanswerable argument. He is a strong and forcible speaker, with a fluent command of language and a persuasive manner. The crowd listened to him with profound attention, and gave him three ringing cheers in conclusion. Mr. Hay made a favorable impression, and the North Alton people will stand by him solid.

The meeting was a magnificent success in every particular. The attendance was four times as large as had been anticipated. It was by far the largest gathering North Alton ever witnessed of any party. The fact that it was called together at short notice shows the interest and enthusiasm of the people. The Alton boys marched home in good spirits, and disbanded in front of headquarters about 11 o’clock.


Source: Alton Telegraph, April 26, 1883
Tuesday night, Dr. George F. Barth’s family, at North Alton, were aroused by fire in their dwelling, the flames having made such headway that the occupants made their escape with some difficulty from the edifice, a story and a half frame. The house and contents were totally destroyed, including the post office and fixtures, a stock of drugs, and household goods. The flames next communicated to two one story and a half houses, closely adjoining on the south, owned by Mr. Joshua Dixon, and occupied by himself and Mr. Henry Essering as residences. Edward Deterding’s two-story brick house also fell a victim to the ravages of the flames.

Through the unremitting efforts of the citizens of North Alton, the household goods and furniture of all the houses, except that occupied by Dr. Barth, were saved. The store and stock of H. A. Betz & Co., just north of the first house burned, were injured to the extent of a few hundred dollars.

The total loss by the conflagration is estimated at $6,000 or $7,000, and will be quite a heavy blow to our thriving little suburb. The origin of the fire is unknown, but indications point to an incendiary.


Source: Alton Telegraph, January 29, 1885
Thursday evening, Mr. James Mullen’s fine barn, situated at his place, half a mile west of North Alton, was discovered to be in flames by Mr. James Wannemacher, who immediately alarmed Mr. Mullen and his family. On account of the strange persecution to which they have for some weeks been subjected, the windows of the house were heavily curtained on the inside, thus preventing the inmates from seeing the light of the conflagration. When the alarm was given, the structure was so enveloped in flames, that it seemed that it would be impossible to save anything, but through the determined efforts of Mr. Mullen and his family, assisted by Mr. Wannamacher and Mr. Hall, thirteen head of cattle, two horses, and two mules, housed in the barn, were saved, but unfortunately, three cows and a valuable bull, belonging to Mr. Mullen, and two horses, property of Mrs. W. C. Quigley, were burned. Also burned was 25 or 30 tons of hay, 4 sets of harness, 2 plows, 250 bushels of screenings, and other articles.

The barn was a new structure, and included all the modern improvements. There is no doubt but that the fire was incendiary, and the supposition is that the criminal is the same who has made so many attempts to burglarize Mr. Mullen’s place. At 5:15 p.m., Mr. Mullen left the barn for the house, and at the time everything was in order as usual.

These outrages upon Mr. Mullen have continued so long undetected that it is a disgrace to the authorities. Every good citizen is interested in the capture and condign punishment of the villain, whoever he may be. Mr. Mullen offers a reward of $300 for the arrest and conviction of the guilty party or parties, and the authorities of the township should supplement this by another reward of as much more for the same purpose.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, April 11, 1893
Yesterday morning Messrs. John Molloy and Samuel Ball, commenced work on the new shaft at North Alton. They got down some 15 or 16 feet by evening and will push the work until they find the "lost vein," or its twin brother. Both of the men engaged in the enterprise are experienced miners, know how to proceed in order to make every move a movement of progress, and their past success in locating veins warrant the confidence their friends feel in ultimate victory now. The shaft is being sunk on the land of A. T. Hawley, just off Elm street, and to the left of the Presbyterian mission. Coal has been found and mined successfully all around the new prospect hole, and the projectors of the hunt depend on striking the "black diamonds" in paying quantities at a distance of 90 or 100 feet. The Telegraph wishes the gentlemen every possible success in their undertaking. The "lost vein" is there: of this there can be no doubt: may it soon be advertised in the "Found" columns of all the papers.


Source: Alton Telegraph, April 28, 1896
Work on the North Alton electric line is being pushed vigorously by President Porter. The men who struck are still working peaceably enough and are making rapid progress with the work. To comply with the terms upon which the bonus is given, the line must be in operation on the first day of June. The completion of the road on time will require fast work, but it is thought that cars will be running by the specified time. President Porter stated yesterday every rail will be spiked on the entire line to Fourth street by Saturday night. Mr. Porter also stated that nothing had been done in regard to changing the route from Third and Piasa street, and that he expected to go along with the work on that route. A force of men began setting the poles on Third street this morning for the trolley wire.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 30, 1900
Work will be started next week on the new Temple to be erected by Greenwood Lodge I.O.O.F., at North Alton. The new Temple building will cost $2,200, and will be a handsome structure and an ornament to North Alton. Some time ago the lodge bought a piece of property in the main part of the village for the purpose of making a lodge home that would belong to the Odd Fellows. They have had plans prepared for rebuilding the property, and will make it a profitable investment for the lodge. Rooms for lodge purposes and entertainments will be made on the second floor, and downstairs will be devoted to business rooms. The building will be one of the prettiest little Temples in the country owned by a lodge the size of Greenwood.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 14, 1901
John Rain has leased the north half of the store part of the new Odd Fellows building on State, near Elm street North Alton, for a term of five years, and is fitting the place up with shelves, etc., preparatory to putting therein a large and assorted stock of groceries, etc. Mr. Rain is a good business man with hundreds of friends, and it is thought will make a complete success of his new venture.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 15, 1901
One of the oldest, if not the oldest building in North Alton, was destroyed by fire last night, and four families were made homeless temporarily at least. The building was a double brick, owned by Mrs. Catherine Kolb, and occupied by Mrs. Kolb, Mrs. Overstreet, W. W. Calvey and Thomas Swift and families. The fire broke out in a closet in one of the rooms occupied by the Swifts, about 9 o'clock last evening. That fire was extinguished, it was thought, and after a time folks went to bed. About 11 o'clock members of the Swift family were awakened by smoke and flames. The room was ablaze from the ceiling. The closet fire had not been extinguished, only smothered, and had worked slowly up the laths between the wall and plastering to the ceiling. The alarm was given, the fire bell was rung, and did the best it could, then the rope broke and the bell quit. The volunteers got out the fire fighting apparatus but could not save the building. They did save the adjacent buildings and the store of Mrs. Annie Hennessey, and they saved all of the furniture and effects of the different families in the doomed building excepting that of Mr. Swift's. Everything he had except a sewing machine was destroyed.

The building was insured, but the amount of insurance could not be learned. It was an old building, however, and its destruction will probably entail very little, if any loss. Years ago, when the Buck Inn was in its prime, this old building, which was located on State Street a short distance north of the Custom Mill, was the scene of many a joyous gathering and hilarious time. It was a place that good "refreshments for man and beast" were kept constantly on tap, and where romances were born, tragedies conceived and big heads produced - by the stuff that cheereth some but inebriateth more. The old "Greenwood Hotel," or "Gast House" or Cupid's Bower, or whatever term you may please to call it, awakened all kinds of memories in recollection's balls of the older citizens last night as they watched its finish, and "peace to its ashes" was muttered by some, while "it got what was coming to it" was said by others.

Thomas Swift, one of the men burned out last night, is followed by a determined demon of ill-luck. Sickness fastens often on his family, accident after accident has happened to himself, until it is a wonder he is alive or has a whole bone in his body. He works hard when he can; so does Mrs. Swift, and they are deserving of sympathy much more substantial than saying, "it is too bad." They have several children and are destitute of furniture, clothing, etc., by last night's fire. There is a difference of opinion as to the origin of the fire. Some say rats gnawing at matches in the closet ignited them; others say one of the children went into the closet with a lighted lamp, chimneyless, and that this set fire to something there, but this does not explain the 11 o'clock or destructive fire as it was early in the evening when the girl is said to have entered the closet. Besides, the fire was between the wall and the lathing, and the rat theory is probably the correct one. A great deal of the furniture of the people, so rudely deprived of shelter, is still out in the yards exposed to sun, dust or anything that may happen along. It is impossible to get vacant houses, and while the people themselves may be given shelter by neighbors, these latter have no place to store furniture. The engine house where the truck and ladders are kept will be used probably until something better can be done.

The old Greenwood Hotel was located near the corner northwest corner of State and Rozier Streets, about where the Miller-King Law Firm is today.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 4, 1901
Somewhere in the Hop Hollow caverns, a black wolf- maybe more than one - is in hiding, coming forth only when he wants a tender lamb, juicy ig or yellow-legged chicken. The wolf has been seen by several citizens, among whom are some expert hunters, men who are familiar with wild animals and who declare the North Alton animal to be a sure enough black wolf - the kind that has built up a great reputation for fearlessness and savageness. John Mullen and James Wannamaker, both well-known farmers living just west of North Alton, are the latest to hold a session with his wolfship, who visited their barnyards in the early morning in quest of a breakfast. They gave chase with their dogs and they shot several times at the animal, but he succeeded in getting into Hop Hollow and losing himself. He showed fight too, until he realized that he was clearly outnumbered and outclassed, when he led a retreat with ability and success. The boys are talking of organizing a big hunting party and of bearding the wolf in his den if they can find the den, someday soon, and some of them are of the opinion that they will unearth a family of the varmints. Black wolves in this section of the country are about as scarce as white blackbirds, and many people are inclined to the belief that the one now in hiding in the bluffs is an escape from a menagerie or circus.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 25, 1901
From time to time the Telegraph has published accounts of the pleasing progress being made by North Alton; of the many commodious and sometimes costly dwellings erected there the past year; of the rapid building up of the Lockyer addition on State street, and today it has the pleasure to announce that the long-delayed development of the Turner tract, just north of Alton city limits, is at hand. The credit for breaking the deadlock - for such it practically was - is due to Charles F. Steizel, the enterprising cashier of the Citizens National Bank. Recently he purchased nine choice lots in the tract from Eugene Lee Benoist and Edith Turner Benoist of St. Louis, and secured control of many more. He refused to sell to would-be-purchasers, unless development was intended by them. In other words, speculators were not encouraged, and to those who wanted to purchase for home building purposes, he sold a lot in this, one of the loveliest and most convenient and desirable additions to Alton, at very reasonable rates. Papers have been made out by him transferring lot 3, block 3, of the addition to Mrs. Anna Michelbuch, and lot 4, block 3, to Ed S. Cotter. These lots are on State street near the old Wise brick hotel and farmhouse. Architects are now drawing plans for houses to be erected by both purchasers to be occupied by themselves as homes, and construction work will be begun as soon as contracts can be let. Mr. Steizel has negotiated the sale of a couple more lots, the transfer papers of which will be completed this evening or tomorrow morning, and what is now a fine farm, will speedily become the site of many beautiful houses, the homes of happy people. When he secured possession of the acre and a half of the tract, and control of a great deal more of it, a big stride was made towards development, for Mr. Steizel is not a believer in the "setting hen" theory as against the incubator process, as a producer of spring chickens. He is a developer himself and believes in development by others and is willing to help in the work of converting the raw material into the beautiful and useful. With the terms and inducements offered, the Turner tract will speedily be covered with comfortable homes, beautiful streets and sidewalks, and yard improvements, and there will be a solid street of houses from the river almost to the Godfrey line on State street. Annexation or amalgamation will follow, and the Altons become one in fact as they really are now in interests and in ambitions.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 7, 1901
This morning at an early hour the broom factory of E. S. Newson, on the Godfrey road near North Alton, was completely destroyed by fire, together with several tons of broom straw, several dozen brooms, machinery, etc. Broom straw is worth $150 per ton, and Mr. Newson had just stocked the factory with straw enough to run the factory all winter. There must have been between 25 and 30 tons, or about $4,500 worth of straw besides the machinery, building, etc., which will make the damage close to $7,000. There was some insurance, it is said, but not nearly enough to cover the loss. Mr. Newson's little girl, it is stated, went to the factory before 7 o'clock to start a fire in the stove. She dropped a lighted match, it is supposed, into the dry, inflammable straw, and the flames spread rapidly and uncontrollably until all was destroyed. [Note: The Broom Factory was covered with insurance.]


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 25, 1903
The Newson Broom factory here is turning out an unusually large number of excellent brooms, and is flooding the country with literature appealing to the people to assist in destroying the trade of the convict-made brooms of Arkansas and other places, which have entered into competition with union-made articles, outside of penitentiaries. Union-made brooms sweep clean and are clean, and should be given the preference very time and everywhere over the convict manufactured kind.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 9, 1905
George Miller will move the machinery of the Newson broom factory to Alton tomorrow and will resume business at once in his new factory on Madison avenue.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 6, 1901
It is stated that a fine new building will be erected in the spring on the site of the old Greenwood hotel and adjacent ground several months ago.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 10, 1903
The Chappell Brothers, who purchased the custom mills here Wednesday, will at once proceed to improve and enlarge the plant. Steam will be abandoned and electricity used instead to operate the machinery. A 20-horse power electric motor was received and is being set up today.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 5, 1903
Henry Camp, the well-known North Alton farmer and coal miner, while working in his coal mine recently unearthed a deposit of petrifactions - shells, small animals or insects, and a perfect figure of a human. The arms are crossed on the breast of this latter, the shoulders are broad and prominent, and there is a deep cavity in the back between the shoulder blades. It is asserted that this is a petrified prehistoric man or baby. If true, prehistoric man was a midget, and a one-legged one at that, as the figure found only displays one leg. Prehistoric man must have been colored too, if Mr. Camp's find is a specimen, for it is black in the face and its body is as black as a tar kiln also, a condition that it would not obtain - unless mortification had set in before death - if the original were white. It is a curious formation anyway, and the petrified shells are real and the find has attracted considerable attention. Mr. Camp brought the "man" and some of the shells to town and left them with Henry Buckstrop of the Cole Hardware Company, and he is thinking of mounting the lecture platform this summer and giving some chalk talks on antediluvian [period before the Flood] subjects.

Petrification is the process by which organic material becomes a fossil through the replacement of the original material and the filling of the original pore spaces with minerals. This process occurs when groundwater containing dissolved minerals fills pore spaces and cavities of specimens, particularly bone, shell or wood. The pores of the organisms' tissues are filled when these minerals precipitate out of the water.

I could find no more information on Mr. Camp’s find, and if, indeed, it was a petrified human, but it’s not hard to imagine that this process could have taken place, given the amount of mineral deposits in this area. I wonder what else lies beneath the ground - yet to be discovered?


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 6, 1903
Mrs. Lucia I. Priest, who is continually doing good in a quiet, unostentatious way, has just presented to the North Alton Board of Education for the free use of North Alton children generally, a library of fine books, with book cases, etc. There are more than six hundred volumes in the library, and the books are all of the interesting, instructive and elevating kinds. She has said also that she will add to this library from year to year until the North Alton library will be a splendid one. The Board of Education has secured the large, well-lighted hall in Odd Fellows' Building, and the bookcases, desks, books, etc., will be placed there which is about the most central place, and the best adapted for the purpose in the village. The books now in the public school will be added to Mrs. Priest's gift and together they give North Alton a library of more than 1,000 volumes. Principal George H. Osborn is greatly elated and so are all who know of the substantial gift of Mrs. Priest. Mrs. Priest was instructress in the North Alton schools some years ago, and she has never lost interest in them or in North Alton people, and these latter will certainly never cease to hold her in grateful esteem.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 6, 1903
G. F. Long says in regard to the old well on McPherson street ordered filled up by the village board at its last meeting, that it [the well] never furnished water for travelers; that in fact the old brick house known for years as the "bee hive," and popularly supposed to be the remains of the old Farmers' Home, never was a hotel or tavern at all. The old Farmers' Home, he says, was a frame structure situated on the Wise farm (the Turner tract) just across the street from where the Episcopal chapel now is, and it was wiped out by fire years ago. The old brick house remodeled and now occupied by Grocer Waldron was erected many years before the war [Civil War], by John Fitch, editor of the Alton Democrat, and used by him as a country residence. During the war it was occupied by the family of Doctor Breckinridge, relatives of Mr. Long. After the war it fell from its high estate and became a tenement house and finally was abandoned altogether.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 17, 1903
North Alton News - One of the rural routes started out of Godfrey traverses the Grafton road for quite a distance west of Melville, and leaves the Grafton road at the intersection with the Rocky Fork road.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 22, 1904
Mrs. Eleanor Kohler, widow of Frank Kohler, died Sunday morning after six years illness with acute stomach troubles at the home of her brother, Joseph Ein____, on East Third street. She was 77 years of age and had lived in the Altons since 1854. The funeral will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock from the home to City cemetery. Rev. Theo. Oberhellman officiating. Mrs. Kohler was one of the original settlers of Greenwood, now North Alton, where she married in 1857 and resided until the death of her husband in 1888, when she moved to Alton. She leaves four children, Mrs. Frank Gissler, North Alton, Mrs. B. Burl of St. Louis, Miss Josephine Kohler of Alton, and George Kohler of St. Louis.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 11, 1904
North Alton is to have a new addition - the World's Fair Addition, and in it will be several desirable sites for homes. John E. Rodger, the well-known real estate dealer, purchased the tract of more than 8 acres of Thomas Adams of Bloomington, and will have it surveyed and platted at once. He already has two purchasers for portions of the tract, and he intends to erect two dwelling houses at once to suit these two purchasers. The tract will be divided into lots containing two acres each, and this will give plenty of ground for beautiful front yards and lawns, with a large enough space for an orchard or garden in the rear. In addition to the two-acre tracts, there will be three lots on Elm street _00x120. The tract is north of Elm street and directly south of Alby, and only a short distance from State street and the car line. The location is a good one from all points of view.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 8, 1904
Anheuser Busch Brewing Company has leased the Kolb property near the park on the opposite side of the street, for a term of five years, and with the privilege of purchasing during that time. The company will erect a building on the site of the old "Greenwood Hotel," destroyed by fire a few years ago.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 13, 1904
Mr. John Ingersoll has secured the right of way from North Alton to the Jersey county line for the proposed electric line to be built by the Central Traction Company, and there is no doubt that the supervisors will today grant the permission necessary for the company to have before beginning work of construction of that part of the line running along the public road. Work of construction will begin this fall, Mr. Ingersoll says, at the North Alton end and possibly at the Jerseyville end also. A power house and car barn will be built either at North Alton or at Godfrey. If the power house is built at North Alton, the village board will endeavor to negotiate with the new company for electric lights, or secure better terms from the present company. Godfrey township people are giving the new road and its projectors a warm welcome and substantial encouragement, and the pupils, patrons, and teachers of Monticello Seminary are said to be delighted with the prospects of soon having a trolley line in front of the Seminary.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 21, 1904
According to G. L. Glassbrenner, the North Alton saddler who was down town Monday morning, a new kind of dairy was started in that village today by Ed Riehl, the well-known horticulturist and farmer of the Grafton road. Instead of using milk wagons to make deliveries, the cows themselves are taken along and the pint of milk for Mrs. Fuss-and-feathers or the quart for Mrs. Goodmeasure is milked from the cow right in front of the purchaser, who can see that if there is any water in that milk the cow drank it and mixed it herself. Each purchaser tells the amount of lactated fluid wanted and it is milked into the measure and delivered on the spot before there is any chance to secure help from the town pump or any other pump. In Cuba, the Philippine Islands and tropical countries generally this method has been in vogue for centuries, but it is entirely new here, and ought to become immensely popular.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 19, 1906
The Walter's apple jack [apple brandy] distillery has a capacity of 40 barrels daily, and is pressing about 500 bushels of apples into cider every day the apples can be procured. Apple jack must have hot weather to reach perfection, and so far, the weather has been hot enough even for apple jack.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 19, 1907
The A. J. & P. grading contractors are being followed closely by the bridge and culvert makers and the track layers in North Alton. Pile drivers are kept busy from daylight to dark, and everything indicates the speedy completion of the road to this place, at least. There is some difficulty experienced, and it may cause temporary delay in getting a right of way through the Schiess tract between Elm Street and Delmar Avenue, but in all other respects, the Alton, Jacksonville, and Peoria Traction Company has clear sailing, apparently.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 25, 1911
If Judge Dyer of St. Louis, who complains that he cannot get a jug of pure apple cider in that city, will come to Alton, he can be supplied with many jugs of undoubtedly pure apple cider. It is here and in the surrounding country in barrel lots and farmers say it never before was so plentiful and never was any better or purer. Michael Walters, who operates a distillery in Mather street, has just finished filling a large cistern at his place with sweet cider. Barrels could not be obtained several weeks ago because every man who had an orchard wanted a barrel or two for cider for home use, and Mr. Walters concluding an emergency existed, pumped all of the water out of the cistern, cleaned the cistern thoroughly, and began pouring in the cider. The capacity of the cistern is two hundred and twenty barrels of forty-five gallons each. That makes nine thousand, nine hundred gallons of cider in the cistern. Mr. Walter has made many thousands of gallon of apple cider this year, and is still making it. Some of the cider is sold to dealers, sweet and fresh; more is made into cider vinegar, while lots more is converted into apple jack [apple brandy]. The Walter's distillery has long been famous for the good quality of the apple jack made there, and this year Mr. Walters will have a larger quantity to dispose of than ever before. He has sent another lot of barrels of apple jack to Louisville, Ky., where it will be bonded and aged. He has more than forty-five barrels there now, and the end is not yet. Unless he sells the lot in Kentucky, it will be brought here later and disposed of to dealers in this section of the country. He has never had any trouble disposing of the products of his distillery close to home, and expects no trouble this year either. It is undoubtedly the first time in the history of Madison County that 10,000 gallons of cider went into a cistern for want of other receptacles.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 8, 1917
North Alton undoubtedly will take the lead of all parts of the country this year in the manufacture of apple butter - one of the most healthful of substitutes for "bull butter," or any other kind of butter for that matter, at the present time when real butter is so scarce and so high priced, and Fred Kranz will take on the title of "Apple Butter King of Madison County." He will manufacture close to 700 barrels of the butter this winter, 500 barrels being for a St. Louis concern. The Landau Grocery Company has placed a large order with him, and he has countless smaller orders. He is getting apples from various parts of the country - not too remote - and will receive some large consignments from Calhoun County next week. He used sweet cider in manufacturing his apple butter, and he has some process, all his own - which makes the butter leave a taste in the mouth that won't come off, and that you don't want to come off. He is making and selling large quantities of sweet cider too, and will have more or less cider vinegar to dispose of later in the year. He will make no apple jack at all. In former years, before he bought the M. Walters' distillery in Mather street, cider and apple jack were the only products of the plant. Fred has halted the apple jack business altogether, and has added a grist mill equipment to the plant and will make corn meal, rye flour or wheat flour for farmers when they desire the service.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 24, 1919
The Fred Kranz cider and apple butter factory on Mather Street, west of State Street, was burned last night shortly before midnight and everything was destroyed completely. The contents of the factory included many barrels of sweet cider, vinegar, a large quantity of apple butter, and about 1,000 bushels of apples - eight hundred bushels of which were received by Mr. Kranz yesterday. The fire was well under way when discovered and the alarm given, and there being no water available in that part of the street, the firemen were more or less helpless. The fire bell was not rung and most residents of the North Side knew nothing of the fire until this morning. Fire bells are not being rung now as in the days of volunteer firefighting, but many of the old timers cannot become accustomed to this failure, and feel they could help materially if they knew of the fire. It is a good feeling to have perhaps, but their help, as compared with the work of trained fighters, could not affect much.

The Kranz factory included also a custom mill grinding outfit, and during the Winter and Spring Mr. Kranz made corn meal, chicken feed, etc., and this mill, together with considerable other machinery, was badly damaged, if not completely ruined by the fire. Mr. Kranz bought the mill from Michael Walters a few years ago, after it had been operated for years by Mr. Walters as an apple factory, and the new owner at once proceeded to fix it up, equip it with modern machinery, custom mill, etc. Then the war [WWI] came along, and Fred was sent to the colors and the factory was closed. He was gone nearly a year and a half, and had just gotten things shaped up once more, when this misfortune occurred. He has had bad luck throughout, and it is said that he did not carry a dollar's worth of insurance on the building, machinery, or stock, so that everything is a total loss. He neglected to have policies reissued, or new policies made, and he stands to lose between $5,000 and $6,000. A dwelling belonging to Mrs. Alice Meyer and occupied by a tenant was saved with difficulty by the firemen and neighbors, it is reported. It is not far from the mill site. The origin of the fire is unknown, but as the men worked all day at the factory, and there were many callers during the day and evening, it is possible that some fire danger or menace about the place was overlooked when the place was closed for the night.

The North Alton cider plant was located on Mather Street, west of State Street. It was originally owned by Michael Walters, who operated the plant as early as 1906, and who also owned a grocery store in North Alton. In 1911, 10,000 gallons of cider filled a cistern, as he ran out of storage room. Some of the cider was trucked to Louisville, Kentucky, where it was bonded and aged. After taking over the business, Fred Kranz earned the title of “Apple Butter King,” as he manufactured 700 barrels of the butter – with 500 barrels sent to a St. Louis firm. Kranz shipped in apples from various parts of the country, especially Calhoun County. He also made apple jack (hard cider). After the fire of 1919, the factory was rebuilt and in operation once again.

Frederick “Fred” Kranz was killed in an auto accident on September 23, 1946 (27 years to the day when his apple jack plant burned), when the vinegar truck he was driving collided with an oil truck on Highway 67, a mile and a half north of Godfrey. Another truck from the Alton Vinegar Company was also involved. Kranz was born in the State Street neighborhood of North Alton on April 4, 1891, and was the son of Harry and Catherine Kranz. He operated the apple jack plant for a number of years, and also worked for the Alton Vinegar Company. He had been active in the North Side playground, and was a member of the Boosters Club. He left behind a wife, a son (Fred Jr.), and two daughters (Mrs. Bernard Serals and Miss Marilyn Kranz). He was buried in the Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey.


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