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History of Worden, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Lamb’s Point and New Hampton
A native of Tennessee, John Lamb was the first to locate on the rich prairie of Illinois where Worden would later be located in Omphghent Township. A sawmill was established nearly a half mile southwest of Lamb’s homestead. The settlement of Lamb’s Point and the post office, under the direction of William Roseberry who lived nearby, took his name. Roseberry turned the post office over to his neighbor, James Burley, who lived just across the road. Hampton Wall’s farm (a son-in-law of Robert Roseberry) was the next post office in Lamb’s Point in 1857. Wall set up a store with his post office, and laid out the town of New Hampton in 1860, comprising of ten acres. This store was sold in 1867, along with the post office, to John C. Worden, who became the next postmaster. (See below for more information on John C. Worden.)

The Founding of Worden
In 1870, John C. Worden laid out in town lots the balance of the north eighty of the northeast quarter of section 35. When an election was held seven years later concerning the right-of-way for the Decatur and St. Louis Railroad, John Worden was influential in changing the negative vote to an agreement. The railway station was named Worden in 1870 by the railroad company, in honor of the part he played in helping them secure the land. As a result, the post office was immediately changed to Worden. Mr. Worden was the first railroad agent, and did the company’s business for seven years, while at the same time attending to his store. For eleven years he was the postmaster.

    1873 View of Worden Depot, Worden, Illinois

W. F. Roberson opened a grocery in 1867. Joseph Floyd and Co. built a flouring mill in 1873. William Wyatt was the first blacksmith, which he opened in 1861. Frank Ferli was the second blacksmith. H. R. Dorr was the first physician of Worden.

The Worden Mining Company opened its mine in 1876. This soon brought a boom time in Worden. In June 1877, the first 20 bushels of coal was brought up to the surface. The coal was hauled to town and auctioned to the highest bidder – Worden City Mills, for $52. Eventually the coal mines shut down, and Worden became a residential town. The load of coal was driven to the mill and burned in the furnace.

The Wabash Coal Mining Company’s shaft on the farm of Joseph Lamb was sunk in 1881, and was owned by F. P. Baker & Co., of St. Louis.

John C. Worden and James Kell constructed the first steam elevators in Worden in 1870. It was later enlarged and conducted by C. A. King & Co., of Toledo, Ohio. A second steam elevator was built by George Breed & Bros. In 1873, Joseph Floyd & Co. built a flouring mill of three run of burrs. After running about six years, it was moved to Jonesborough, Illinois, and subsequently destroyed by fire.

Worden business in 1882 included:
Physicians – H. R. Dorr, J. H. McDonald, and H. Powers
General Stores – H. C. Picker, C. Rudolph, Henry Reese
Groceries & Notions – W. F. Robinson
Drugs and Notions – P. H. Paul
Postmaster – P. H. Paul
Notions – D. Hirschfeld
Merchant Tailor & Clothing – F. A. Schmitt
Groceries – J. McDonnell, H. Knollmann
Bakery – Philip Enerich
Furniture & Undertaking – Joseph Heidel
Hardware & Tinsmith – r. Wildi
Saddles & Harness – J. Uhl
Hotel – Frederick Putting
Livery – J. M. Lowry
Boots & Shoes – Jacob Dornseip, K. Lorch
Barber – F. W. Schwer
Blacksmiths – Frank Firli, William Schutte, William Winter
Wagonmaker – Samuel Merz
Police Magistrate – John C. Worden

John C. Worden
John C. Worden
John C. Worden was born at Preston, Lancashire, England, June 24, 1834. He was the second son of Peter and Ann (Charnock) Worden. Peter Worden died when John was at the tender age of six. He remained with his mother until the age of thirteen, when John immigrated to American alone, locating first at Albany, New York. He worked for six months at the public works, for a salary of seven shillings a day. Afterward he apprenticed himself for one year to learn blacksmithing. He attended the night schools to educate himself. He next became a canal-boy on the Erie Canal. He then sought a position with a farmer, paying his board by labor, and attending school during the winter months. His next occupation was working in a brickyard for fourteen dollars a month. He attended for one term, Whitestown Seminary, after which he purchased a half interest in a canal boat. During the following winter he drove a stage from Mohawk to Herkimer, and in the ensuing Spring clerked in a provision store. Worden next engaged in teaching during the winter of 1853-54, in western New York. He again entered a provision store, where he remained eight months, leaving in 1854 to engage with his aunt (Mrs. Elizabeth Sandbach), then residing in Madison County, about two miles northwest of the future village of Worden. He remained in her employ about five years, then in 1856 returned to England, where he spent nine months with relatives. He came back to American in the Fall of the same year and taught school in St. Louis County, Missouri. In 1857, he taught school in Moultonville for five winters. He was appointed Deputy Sheriff and Deputy Assessor. He then went into business at New Hampton, now the village of Worden. On November 26, 1867, John married Miss Virginia J. Weaver. Six children were born. His wife died September 12, 1881.

When the Decatur & East St. Louis Railroad (later the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific) was contemplated, Worden gave a speech which encouraged the establishment of the railroad. In appreciation, the railroad named the depot after him. Subsequently, Worden laid out the town, which was named in his honor.

Worden Schoolhouse
Early Worden Schools
Residents of Worden erected a large, two-story schoolhouse surrounded by pleasant grounds. The first school treasurer of the district was Hampton Wall.



Early Worden Churches
The New Hope Baptist Church, near Worden, was constituted as early as 1840 with sixteen members. The church edifice was constructed in about 1850, and stood originally in the cemetery, a half mile north of town. It was later moved into the village to its present site. Rev. J. V. Hopper was pastor from 1851 to 1859. During this period the church enjoyed growth.

The Methodist Church was organized in 1870, when Rev. J. A. Beagle of New Douglas Circuit met with a few area citizens. In 1871 the Methodists built their frame church, at a cost of $3,000.

In 1876 the German Lutheran Church was constructed, and was also used by them for a schoolhouse.


          1906 Map of Worden and New Hampton


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