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History of Prairietown (Prairie City), Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser




A German settlement was founded near what would become Prairie City, when F. Meyer entered a tract of land in 1831. The following families soon settled around the Meyer settlement: Adam Hoeh in 1842; H. Meyer in 1843; Daniel Schmidt in 1847; Herman Wieseman, Ludwig Pape, Carl Engelke, Henry and Christian Knoche, Christian Kuethe, John Schoenweiss, H. Thurmann, H. Dustmann, J. A. Scherff, Albert Kaiser, Fred Dustmann, Henry Dorr, Henry Ruenhold, Adam Mueller, Klein J. Schumacher, John Schaefer, the Helmkamp brothers, and other who followed in the course of a few years.

In 1854, the Rev. F. Besel of Staunton organized the future St. Peter’s Lutheran Congregation, and on September 25, 1855, they bought five acres of land from one of their members – Conrad Weishaupt – as their church property. In 1856, they decided to build a house of worship on it near the present site of the school.
1861 map of Prairie City (Prairietown), Illinois
Maurice Hartnett was the first settler of Prairie City (later called Prairietown) in Omphghent Township, Madison County. Hartnett built a small log house at the northwest corner of the “four corners” (Prairietown Road and Renken Road), in 1858. That same year, the town was laid out by L. L. Dorsey (originally spelled D’Orsey). The next year, Mr. Klump opened a saloon and f. and E. Best opened their blacksmith shop. In 1860, a general store and saloon was established by John Schaffer. At about the same time, Richard Richards constructed a general store. Mr. Schaffer established a post office shortly after he began business, and was the first postmaster. Dr. Martin was the first physician.

By 1883, the following businesses existed in Prairietown:
E. Engel - physician
M. Kyle, H. Grote, and John McDonnell – general stores
M. Kyle – postmaster
F. & E. Best, Albert Farner – blacksmiths
John Hess – wagonmaker
V. Schulz, C. Bockoer – boots and shoe maker

Township Supervisors:
James Kell – 1876 (2 terms)
W. F. Kell - 1878
Henry Dorr – 1879 – 1882
Joseph Floyd - 1883

Early Churches in Prairietown
In 1863 a frame church a short distance west of the village was constructed for the Lutherans. This building was later used for a schoolhouse. A new brick Lutheran Church was constructed in 1874 at a cost of $11,000.


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