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History of Troy, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser




The land on which the town of Troy in Jarvis Township is mainly built was entered by John Jarvis in September 1814. However, farms in the immediate vicinity were operated a long time prior to that date. The first settlement within the present limits of Troy was made by Jacob Gregg and Mr. Moore on April 1, 1803. They lived a short distance north of where the Vandalia Depot later stood. Gregg had three sons, viz: John, Herman, and Titus. In the spring of 1804, John Gregg settled on what was later the James M. Taylor farm. Herman Gregg settled on what was later the central business portion, and Titus Gregg made improvements on the future site of Ignatius Riggin’s farm, just north of Troy.

By 1818, when Illinois became a state, there was a store operated by Stephen Dewey and a tavern by Joseph Eberman. Jarvis named the settlement Columbia. In the year 1819, Jarvis sold ten acres of land lying south of his residence (where he had a horse operated mill) to James Riggin and David Hendershott. These men surveyed the tract into lots, and laid off the town. James Riggin named his new town Troy. John Jarvis died October 27, 1823, and is buried in the Troy City Cemetery.

James Riggin and his brother, Harry Riggin, immigrated from Sevier County, Tennessee to Columbia (Troy) in 1818. In 1822 another brother, John C. Riggin, joined them. Their father, Ignatius Riggin, was a Methodist preacher who traveled a circuit in East Tennessee for eight years, then took up farming to support his family. After the town of Troy was platted by James Riggin and David Hendershott, a new store was opened in which James Riggin, Harry Riggin, and Samuel Reid were partners. Henry Hayes, who lived in the Six Mile Prairie, served as their financial backer, even though the three men had no previous knowledge of the mercantile business. They bought three hundred dollars’ worth of goods and began business. Later, George W. Carr from St. Louis joined to help run the establishment. He had a good education, bright talents, and was a good business man. Carr taught James Riggin the business, but the store was not profitable. Riggin loaded the goods in a one-horse wagon, and moved to Lebanon, where he engaged in the mercantile business for many years and accumulated considerable property. Harry Riggin moved to Menard County. In 1829, John C. Riggin purchased the farm north of town originally settled by Titus Gregg. John Riggin had secured the money to buy the farm during a trip to the Galena lead mines in 1829. Riggin lived on this farm until his death in 1869.

One of the earliest buildings in Troy was a house on the southwest quarter of Main and Market Streets, built by David Gaskill. It was so rough in its construction, that Mr. Carr and others, in a playful spree, tore it down and burned the rough, round logs so that it might not again disgrace the town. On the northwest corner of the same streets stood a building, which in 1822 was occupied by Calvin McCray as a storehouse. McCray was one of the early merchants of the town, and carried on business for a number of years. He owned the whole block. A log cabin stood on it, and to this a frame addition was made. This building was used as an inn and tavern, to “accommodate travelers,” and was ran by Horatio McCray, brother to Calvin. Jacob C. Gonterman became owner of the block, and continued the tavern. A frame storehouse was built by Riggin and Hendershott on the northeast corner of Main and Market Streets, and on the southeast corner Joseph Eberman built a frame house for tavern purposes.

The growth of Troy was slow, and it was not until many years later that a post office was established in 1833 in John Brady’s store, with George Churchill as postmaster.

In the year 1831, White & Merritt conducted the only store in town. Lewis Scantland kept a public house, which later became the White Horse Hotel. He sold out to a man named Hickman. Abner Kelly, a resident of Troy, was the local harness maker.

On March 5, 1839, the town plat was recorded by William Henderson, John Reed, Frederick T. Krafft, and Theodore J. Krafft. Mechanicsburg, laid out by Josiah Caswell, was recorded as an addition to Troy.

Andrew Mills lived in Troy since March 1842, and was connected with the business affairs of the town. He also filled the position of police magistrate. Other early proprietors of businesses in Troy include:

John Brady, store owner on Market Street
Fred Krafft, store owner
William Henderson, tavern owner
John Henderson, blacksmith
Mr. Curtis, blacksmith
George Hulme, tailor
Thomas P. Moore and Andrew Kimberlin, grocery store
Daniel Peterman, carpenter
Dr. Green, physician
Dr. J. K. Reiner, physician
                                1861 Map of Troy, Illinois
Julius A. Barnsback opened a store in Troy in 1846, and carried on a large and prosperous business. He also served as postmaster, and agent for J. P. Yoris & Co., the proprietors of the St. Louis and Terre Haute stage line. When Mr. Barnsback came to Troy in 1846, the town contained about a dozen houses, and a population of less than one hundred.
Dr. John S. Dewey home, Troy, Illinois
Dr. John S. Dewey was a native of Massachusetts, and became a resident of Troy in 1846. He was a physician with an extensive practice. He served as surgeon of the 109th Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, during the Civil War. He was twice elected to the legislature. His death occurred on July 17, 1879.

The stage coach line was established on the National Road, which ran through Troy. Daily stages would run between St. Louis and Terre Haute, Indiana. The arrival and departure of these stages was the great feature of the day. The stages going east left St. Louis in the morning, and reached Troy during the forenoon. Going west, they usually passed through the town late at night. Troy was the first station out from St. Louis at which horses were changed. After the building of the railroad, the stage line was discontinued. A hack line was then established between Highland and St. Louis, which passed through Troy and Collinsville, carrying the mail. This line was kept up until the building of the Vandalia railroad.

An acre of ground was gifted to the town by Wesley Jarvis in 1843, for the purpose of a cemetery. The town later purchased additional ground. There lie the pioneers and settlers of the Troy community.

Incorporation of Troy, and the town of Brookside
In 1857, Troy was incorporated by an act of the legislature. The first president of the Board of Trustees was John Padon. By 1882, the population of Troy was about one thousand. Brookside, the settlement formed south of the town around the railroad depot, added to that number. The plat of Brookside was recorded September 26, 1873. Susan Taylor, Sylvania E. Ground, James M. Taylor, and Julius A. Barnsback were the proprietors.

Troy City Mills
The Troy City Mills were built in 1856 by John R. Swain & Brother. Mr. Swain was a prominent citizen of Troy, and at one time the sheriff of the county. He had erected a mill on the same spot some years before, but that mill had burned down. It was supposedly set on fire by an arsonist. The Troy City Mills were located adjacent to a pond fed by a spring, and had a capacity of about three hundred barrels per day.

The Brookside Mills
The Brookside Mills were located near the railroad depot, and was erected in 1877. It had a capacity of one hundred and twenty-five barrels of flour per day. William Donoho was the proprietor.

Brookside Coal Company
In 1880, work was begun on a coal shaft near the railroad depot. A five-and-a-half-foot vein of coal was found at a depth of three hundred and thirteen feet. It was ready for operation in the early part of 1881. It supplied the local demand for coal, and that of towns farther east. William Freudenau was president of the company.

1882 Businesses in Troy
General Merchants – Samuel Rawson & Bro., F. M. Auwarter, David Seligmann, Stolte & Feldner, Louis Karges & Son (Brookside)
Hardware, Groceries and Drugs – Henry A. Risser
Hardware and Tin – Jacob Gebauer
Stoves and tin ware – William Hampe
Furniture – J. Stienhaus
Drugstores – S. Kingston, and J. P. Lytle & Co.
Lumber – Henry H. Padon
Agricultural Implements – James B. Thomas, Henry Martin, and Frederick Gerfeu
Blacksmith and Wagon Maker – Frederick Gerfeu
Blacksmith and Plow Maker – Elias Burke
Blacksmith – John Riebold
Carpenters and builders – John Seybold, James Seybold, John and James Peterman, Stolte & Salter
Shoe Shops – Joseph Kiesel, Andreas Klein, Bennett Smith
Watches and Jewelry – Fred Simon
Livery Stable – S. W. Cowles
Saddler and Harness Maker – Frank L. Hampton
Tailor – Julius Nill
Butchers – John Diemling, Ernst Albrecht
White Horse Hotel – William Meiners
Johnson House – Mrs. Sarah Johnson
Physicians – Dr. F. A. Sabin, Dr. Fred Zenders, Dr. Charles Schott, Dr. J. J. Brown, Dr. Fred Zenk
Postmistress – Mattie Johnson
Justice of the Peace – Frank L. Hampton and James N. Jarvis
Police Magistrate – Andrew MIlls

Early Troy Schools
In 1856 a large and substantial brick school building was erected. It was two stories high, with four rooms. In later years, due to the growthTroy Public School, 1912 of the town, four more rooms were added.

Troy also had two parochial schools, conducted by the Catholic and Lutheran congregations. The Lutherans erected a new school building in 1912, at a cost of about $8,000.

The McCray-Dewey Academy was an important educational institution in Troy. It was endowed by the late Angeline (McCray) Dewey, widow of Dr. John S. Dewey, in 1880. Four hundred acres and $3,000 were left for the establishment of a high school. The endowment was raised to $9,000 by the trustees of the academy, through the sale of coal underlying the estate.

Early Troy Churches
The first church in Troy was organized in 1842. Reverend William Chamberlin, who had been appointed itinerant missionary for Southern Illinois by the Presbytery of Alton, and the Reverend Thomas Lippincott, the first Sabbath School in the state, held a protracted meeting in a grove west of the White Horse Hotel. This meeting resulted in the organization on October 6, 1842, of the Presbyterian Church. The original thirteen members were Dr. J. K. Reiner, Cyrus Scott, Benjamin Posey, Mrs. E. C. Reiner, P. Scott, G. W. Scott, James Perigo, S. A. Scott, E. Davis, Cintha Scott, I. Perigo, E. Scott, and E. Goodwin. J. K. Reiner and James Perigo were ordained elders. In 1843, the members erected a rough house of worship. Twenty dollars was paid for the lot. It was a frame church, twenty-four by thirty feet. The studdings were hewed poles, covered with split weatherboarding. The floor was made of one foot wide, unmatched plank. The old oak seats were the gift of the Collinsville Presbyterian Church. Among the early pastors were Rev. William Chamberlin, Rev. Thomas Lippincott, Rev. J. R. Dunn, and Rev. Calvin Butler. A new brick church was erected in 1871, at a cost of ten thousand dollars, while Rev. Robert Stuart was pastor.

In 1843 a Methodist Church was erected. Its location was then in the woods. Dr. Dewey, in his Centennial address, remarked that by some of the members the church “was said to have been built by the devil, as most of the movers were irreligious, and were actuated by strife against the Presbyterians, and not by religious motives.” When the building was completed it was given by vote to the Methodist Episcopal congregation. In 1847, a bell, which had belonged to a sunken steamer, was bought of James B. Eads of St. Louis, who was then a diver and wrecker on the river. The bell was later moved to the schoolhouse. Later a brick church building was constructed on Main Street, due to the efforts of William J. Barnsback and William Donoho.

The Baptists build the first church on Main Street in 1848. In 1876 a larger church was erected. Among the ministers of this church were Rev. John M. Peck, Rev. Mr. Harris, Elijah Dodson, Elihu J. Palmer, T. W. B. Dawson, John Padon, John H. Mize, and W. D. Ross.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church was constructed in Gonterman’s addition to the town in 1865. The membership was made up of the German inhabitants. The Lutheran’s also had a school.

The Church of the German Reformed congregation was erected in 1876.


                                             Market Street, Troy, Illinois - 1912


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