History of Champaign City, Il.
From: J. S. Lothrop's Champaign County Directory
With History of the same, and Each Township Therein
Published by: Rand, McNally & Co., Printers & Binders, Chicago 1871



We confess to a feeling of deep regret, as we commence this task; first, that space will not admit of the work that in justice should be done here, and second, our inability to successfully perform the little that may be. Its rapid growth, and unparalleled prosperity, is a subject of wonder and admiration among its friends, and of chagrin and disappointment among those who desire its hurt; and to place upon the pages of history a statement in full of all that is deserving a place, would require more space than we have to devote to it, and the public must be content with but a brief sketch.

The first residence erected within the limits of the city, was by the Illinois Central Railroad Company, near where McFadden's Block now stands, and was occupied by L. W. Walker, the first settler in Champaign City, who has since figured. so largely in its history. The next was by one Murphy, (father of our Larry Murphy), in 1853, upon the east side of the Illinois Central Railroad. track. The third was built by Mr. J. B. White, upon the spot now occupied by the comfortable, homelike residence of Mr. H. Jefferson, at corner of Neil street and Springfield avenue, in 1854. The next was by Mark Carley, who came to the town in May, 1854, and erected his residence near where the Presbyterian Church now stands.

At this time, the land now occupied by the business centre of the city, was an interminable slough; from Larned's Block, east and south-east, the land was low, wet, marshy and unpromising; especially as a site for a city. The place where Barrett's Block now stands, was a bog, and all the way down Main street, the liquid mud, in uncomfortable quantities, stood or moved sluggishly along toward. boneyard branch. But a few years before this, the ground was made to supply grass,which grew rank and thick here, wherewith to thatch the stable roofs of the citizens of Urbana. The buildings of which we have spoken, were plain, unpretending cottages; comfortable, it is true, but holding no rank among those that may be seen upon every hand today.

The city was first organized under the general incorporation law of the State, in 1855. At this time the Legislature of the State was in session, and an attempt was being made by the flourishing and ambitious city of Urbana, to extend, by legislative enactment, the boundaries of that city, to include within them the embryo village but just sprouting upon the prairies, two miles to the west. The citizens of the new settlement, having an eye to future glory, office and emoluments, put in a demurrer, which was sustained by the law makers of the State. When Mr. Pierce, who was the solitary lobbyist upon this occasion, in the interest of Champaign, returned, a meeting was called, and steps were immediately taken for incorporation of the town under the general law. The first election for town officers was held in 1855, at the house where J. Dickerson now resides. In 1861, the present charter was obtained from the State Legislature, and the same year ____ ____ was elected Mayor of the new city. In this charter the boundaries of the city were fixed, and the duties and powers of the officers in the various branches of the city government, described and defined.

The first hotel was erected by J. Campbell, in 1854, upon the east side of the Illinois Central Railroad track, and. was called the "National House." It is still standing, in good repair. When first opened, it was kept by Mr. Campbell, but was soon sold to one Burlingame, since which it has changed hands and name frequently.

In 1856 was built the "Neil, House," at corner of Neil and Washington streets, and the same year the "Doane House was completed and occupied by J. Campbell, the original proprietor of the "Nationat" The "Neil House" was kept by Samuel Dean, well known in the history of the city.

The "Doane House" was built and owned by the Illinois Central Railroad Company, and is located close by the track of the same, upon the east side, and used for the purpose of a passenger depot and. hotel; and here we find it necessary to go back in the history of our city, to its more early days.

The purpose of the Company building the Illinois Central Railroad was to run the line through, or near, the city of Urbana, but owing to some difficulty in procuring the right of way, and lands deemed necessary for the use of the Company, that route was abandoned, and one determined upon two miles to the west of that city. At the point but little north of west of Urbana, a depot was established. Here the Company built the Doane House, as before stated. Here the Company, of its own land, laid off the first addition of the city, now known as Railroad Addition. Here, too, the Company erected a Round House and extensive repair and manufacturing shops, filling them with skilled mechanics, to hammer life and enduring vitality into the infant city. And thus began Champaign, which, but for the unfortunate disagreement between the Railroad Company and the citizens of Urbana, would never have been known.


The first dry goods house in the city was on the east side of the track, in a frame building on what is now University avenue, and stood. opposite the office of Horace Gardner, Esq. It was owned and. kept by Gardner & Morris. In 1855 the building occupied. was erected by them, and was the first of the kind in the city. This building was afterward moved by Mr. H. Jefferson, to the west side, near the lumber yard of Mr. Beidler, and was burned down at the time of the fire which occurred there in the spring of 1867. About the time that Messrs. Gardner & Morris started, as before stated, J. W. Badley & Co. built and opened another store upon ground now occupied by a portion of Union block, on Neil street. We have said. that Messrs. Gardner & Morris were the first, but there is some dispute upon this point; the best information we have, however, is that those parties were the first to start, though both nearly at the same time, and were cotemporary, both going out of business in 1858. Mr. Badley resided in the city until his death, which took place in February, 1871.

T. A. McLaurie and J. Leal opened a stove and tin store where Charley's eating house now stands, about the same time of those of the dry goods establishments, and was the first of its class. One L. Lancaster built the store now occupied by J. C. Wright as a grocery store, and opened a hardware and grooery store in 1856. This was fourteen years ago, and those above described were the oniy business establishments of any kind in the city, save the National Hotel. There were few dwellings, and the population did not exceed one hundred citizens. The business transacted at the places named. was of necessity small, and at the time gave little promise of improvement.

The first notion store was kept by A. O. Woodworth, and G & W. Shipley the first grocery store; Ellis Morris owned and. kept the first drug store; House & Edwards the first boot and. shoe establishment, all in a small way, keeping but a small stock and doing a light business.

Mr. S. G. Peabody was the first blacksmith, and came here in 1856; and the first wagon maker was John Bragg, whose card may be found on page 3 of this book. He has seen the town grow up and out of its infantile wrappings, into the strength of comparative maturity, and has won for himself the confidence of the community in which he has so long lived his workmanship cannot be excelled.

One Kennester was the first harness maker, and had a small shop on the east side of the track. He did not remain long, however, and was succeeded by Mr. G. E. Hessle who located in the town on the east side of the track in 1857, where he commenced in a small way, without money and without acquaintances, but by that untiring industry, that conquers all opposition, has worked up to the possessorship of one of the largest harness and saddle manufactories in Eastern Illinois. He is known as a man of uncompromising integrity in his business matters, and it is through this fact that he has remained and. prospered, while others have come, had their day, and passed away.

The first tailoring establishment was kept by a Mr. Tobie, in 1857, and the second by George H. Case, who now holds forth in Barrett's Block. One Mr. Yearby was the first to sell furniture. He was in the business but a short time, and did but very little of it. He was succeeded by F. F. Walker, who commenced in 1856, and followed the same in a small way, manufacturing the more common articles by hand-work, with from two to four hands, until the year 1862, when L. W. Walker, who for ten years had been fuel agent for the Illinois Central Railroad. Company, associated himself with F. F. Walker, under the firm name of Walker Brothers. A manufacturing establishment was then erected and supplied with the necessary machinery, employing five or six hands. In 1864, this was enlarged, the building being now 20 by 50 feet, and. giving employment to about eighteen men. In May, 1869, they again enlarged, this time to double its former size, putting up an addition of brick, two stories high; in all, 100 feet in length, and employing over thirty men, the first-class mechanics of their craft. October 29, 1869, the entire factory, with all its contents of furniture and machinery, together with over two hundred thousand feet of valuable black walnut lumber, was destroyed by fire. This was but partially insured, and the loss which to the Walker Brothers was most crushing, was felt throughout the community; but appalling as it was, they were equal to the emergency, and on the 29th day of December, 1869, just two months after the fire, a fine substantial brick building, 40 by 80 feet, three stories high, with separate brick engine house, 30 by 40 feet, and a steam dry house, 24 by 30 feet, two stories high, was standing upon the site of the one destroyed, fully completed, and prepared for the machinery which was immediately placed therein, and the yard again stocked with over 125,000 feet of ash and walnut lumber. The mill was set to running January 20, 1870, giving employment to over thirty men, among whom are distributed over $25,000 annually. Persons who have not visited this establishment should not fail to do so, for while its completeness is a marvel, the beauty of the work turned off there is a greater one. The first lumber-yard in the city was established by J. B. Gouch and C. F. Columbia, in 1855, and is believed to have been the only one in the county at that time. Their sales amounted to about 225,000 feet per year.


One William Blanchard, a Congregational minister, preached the first sermon in Champaign City, and established the first church-the Congregational Church of this city, and the first house of worship was erected by that church in 1855, at a cost of about $1,000. It is known as the Goosepond Church, as it stood near a pond of water frequented by those bipeds. The old building still stands there, but no pond, that having given place to rows of business houses. It is now occupied by the German Catholic congregation. The next church erected was in 1856, by the Presbyterians, the same being now used as a school building by the Young Ladies Seminary Association of this city. The building cost $2,000.

The Lutheran Church was erected the next, on Columbia street, in 1858, at a cost of about $700, and it is still occupied by that organization. The Catholic Church, on the east side of the track, was built about the same time, costing about $700. This has since been enlarged and improved, at a cost of nearly $10,000.

The Methodist Church, at corner of Church and State streets, was built in 1861, costing about $4,000; and about $1,000 in buildings have been added to it since that time. It is a commodious building, yet far too small for the numbers that worship within its walls. The new Congregational Church was the next. It was built in 1862, on Park street, and cost about $13,000; is a neat, substantial building.

The next in order was the Dutch Reformed Church, erected in 1863, on east side of track, at a cost of $2,000. The Colored Methodist Church, in 1864, was next; it cost $600, and is also located on the east side.

The Baptist Church was the next built, at the corner of State and Park streets, in 1865, at a cost of about $1,500. This building was used for school purposes, as well as church, and has since been changed to a residence. The Christian Church was built about the same time, on University avenue, costing about $500. It has since been sold, and remodeled for a residence. The new Presbyterian Church, a fine brick, 105 feet by 60 feet, was next erected, and occupied in 1869, the entire cost being about $40,000, and stands at the corner of State and Hill streets. The same year was built the new Baptist Church, at corner of Randolph street and University avenue, costing about $14,000. It is a very neat, substantial frame building. Also, in that year, which does not appear to have been a very good year for churches, the Second Methodist Church was built, near the State University, costing about $3,000. The Colored Baptists built their church in 1870, the same costing about $700. Thus it will be seen that fourteen churches have been erected in the city, eleven of which are still being used for church purposes. Others will soon be erected by the Episcopal and other denominations, now worshiping in the public Halls of the city..


The first school taught in the city was in 1854, by one Dr. Shoemaker, in a small frame building on the east side of the track. The first school house erected was the old brick, in District No. 1, on Randolph street, between Church and Hill, in 1855, and at first cost $4,000; since then, frame additions have been made from time to time, adding $2,000 more to its cost.

School District No. 2, on east side of track, built their house in 1800-a frame building, costing about $1,200. In 1869 extensive additions were made to the old building, which was remodeled; the whole, with furniture, costing about $15,000. This was destroyed by fire in 1870.

To supply the increased and rapidly increasing demand for more school room in District No 1, a new school building was erected-commenced in 1868, and occupied in 1870. This building cost about $80,000, and one more complete in all its appointments, in rooms, finish and furniture, cannot be found in the West. (See the cut of this building, and diagram of the school.) We wish we were able to give a full description of this edifice, with the mode of conducting the school therein; but to do so would occupy too much of our space, and a partial account would not answer the purpose. This much we do say, that the school building and the school, are each models. Great praise is due L. W. Walker for the former, and to J. C. Oliver, the Principal, for the latter.

The Young Ladies' Seminary of Champaign, Ill., organized under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church of this city, commenced its first term Sept. 6th, 1869, and has now been in operation a little more than one year, with flattering prospects of success. The society was organized under the general incorporation law of the State, in July, 1870, with the following officers: President- Rev. R. H. Lilly; Vice President- J. R. Scott; Secretary- J. B. McKinley; Treasurer- E. Miller Trustees- J. R Scott, J. S. Oliver, J. B. McKinley, R. B. Condit, and W. J. Ermentrout. An efficient corps of teachers are employed, and the students have the advantage of full access to the libraries of the Industrial University at this place. Every effort will be made to insure success.

Several disastrous fires have occurred in the city during the last five years. In the fall of 1866, the block of business house on Neil street, between Church and Hill streets, was mainly destroyed; a portion of the burnt district was rebuilt, and in 1870 the entire block was again swept by the destroying element, These were frame buildings, and the loss in both fires was about $40,000. The ground is now covered by the magnificent brick blocks known as Larned's and Union Blocks. In 1867 three or four frame buildings on Walnut street and University avenue, and a portion of Mr. Beidler's lumber yard, were consumed; loss about $16,000. In July, 1868, the entire block covered with buildings, between Market and Walnut streets and University avenue and Main street, was destroyed, excepting two brick buildings standing upon opposite corners of the block. We are unable to ascertain the estimated loss, but it was great. The most of this territory has since been covered with fine brick blocks. One of these, that owned by Col. W. N. Coler, was destroyed by fire in 1871. In 1869, the furniture manufacturing establishment of Walker Brothers, and the carriage and wagon shops of Geo. Ely, were destroyed, and upon the old sites there have arisen fine substantial brick buildings that will compare favorably with any in this part of the State.

There are a number of old and dilapidated frame business ranges, but these are fast disappearing, giving place to beautiful blocks of brick or stone; and generally we challenge any city of the State, of its population and years, to show as many equally valuable and beautiful business houses or residences. This is due, not only to the presence of men of restless energy, but also to the energy and thrift of the agriculturists of the county, who have given their countenance and support to the advancement of this young city. As an evidence of the growth and prosperity of the city, we give here a few short notices of the principal business men, and refer our readers to their business cards found in this book.

Dry Goods Merchants. Miller & Toll, in Marble's Block, Main street, have one of the finest stores in Eastern Illinois, and one of the largest and best assorted stocks of goods in that line to be found. They are enterprising men of the first class.

C. S. Morehouse, No. 3 Main street, well and extensively known, ranks second to none as an enterprising, successful mer chant. Since the advertisement of Mr. Morehouse was printed, he has moved his extensive stock to the splendid store, No. 3 Main street-Beasley's old stand.

Eichberg & Bros., in the old McLaurie Block on Main street, a e models of their class, having a large and well appointed store.

S. McFadden, corner University avenue and Market street, is the oldest merchant in the city. The beautiful brick block owned and occupied by him, gives evidence that his labors have been marked with that energy and fair dealing that must ever secure success.

Grocery Merchants. Of these, C. B. Whitmore, No. 4 Main street, takes deservedly high rank, and is too well known to require comment. From exceedingly small beginnings, he has through years of industry, acquired a popularity and a capital enjoyed by few.

E. Ellis, in Wright's old stand, Main street, has one of the neatest stores in the county, and gives promise of abundant success.

J. Rigg & Son, in their new store in Union Block, Neil st, have no superiors as business men, or in. the variety of their goods; while Pollock & Dodson, at corner of Neil and Hill streets, give ample proof of first class business qualities.

Strong Brothers, in Marble's Block, corner of Main and Walnut streets, do a business second to none in the State outside of Chicago.

Of the Boot and Shoe Merchants, P. Rugg, at the corner of Church and Neil streets, is the oldest in the city, and holds first rank. What he cannot supply in his line, parties need not look for. He is about to build a fine brick block where his store now stands, which will add much to the attractions of his well appointed store.

Of Clothing Merchants, J. Kuhn, next door to National Bank, Main street, ranks among the first in Eastern Illinois; his large stock of goods shows that he is well acquainted with the wants of the public.

S. Bernstine, corner of Main and Market streets, is the oldest clothier in the city, and holds no second place among men of his class in any place, which also may be said of N. Stern & Co., on Main street, near bank of Bnrnham, Condit & Co. They are business men whose presence would be an honor to any town.

Wm. Roberts, Neil street, merchant tailor and clothier, is also doing a thriving business.

Of the Druggists, we hazard nothing in saying that the store of L. W. Faulkner, in Union Block on Neil street, 3d door north of Church, has no superior in the beauty of its finish, its proportions, its order, and its appointments throughout, in the State outside of Chicago, and would be a credit, both in store and stock, to any city in the Union. Mr. Faulkner is a druggist of twenty years experience, and has no superior in the land.

H. Swannell, in Barrett's Block, corner of Neil and Main. streets, is the oldest druggist in the city. He commenced business in a very small way where Howard's butcher shop now stands, and has worked himself up to his present high position among the business men of the State, and in the confidence of the public, in which no one is his superior, which furnishes the best possible proof of his worth.

Nat. Green & Co., corner of Main and Walnut streets, have the neatest establishment of the kind to be found in this or any other city, and those who know "Nat" need no further words from us.

Of our Jewelry Stores we feel to boast. L. C. Garwood's establishment on Main street cannot be excelled in the amount, the worth, and the variety of his stock, in any city oflhe State out of Chicago; while B. Wingard, in Burnham's old bank building, has a reputation for quality of work and goods second to none.

Of Hardware men, C. G. Larned is king. His fine brick block, corner of Church and Neil streets, with its extensive and varied stock, would do credit to any city in the land; and. no city can boast more energetic and more deservedly popular agricultural implement men than ours. Angle & Sabin, Main street, near Illinois Central Railroad track, Hibbard & Finch, Walnut street, north of Main, and Beach & Condit, near depot of I. B. & W. R. R., have no superiors in the State.

Of Millinery, Mrs. E. R. Groom, Main street, near National Bank, is doing a large and extensive business, rapidly increasing.

The Crockery and China Store of Hosford & Spear, at 44 Main street, in the variety and elegance of its stock there offered for sale, has no superior in Central Illinois.

Of Lumber, 8,138,000 feet were received at the yards of R. Peacock, M. E. Lapham, Chaddon & Hesse, and Beidler & Kratz, during the year 1870. All of these men are of thorough business qualities, and an honor to the county. The yard of R. Peacock is the most extensive of any in this part of the State.

M. E. Lapham is doing a large and rapidly increasing business, as is also Beidler & Kratz.

Messrs. Chaddon & Hesse have with their yard a sash and blind factory, which illustrates well the growth of the town. It was commenced in 1858 by Messrs. Plummer & Chaddon, and a one horse power was used to run the machinery. In 1861 this shop was enlarged, and a ten horse power engine was set up, and a planer and some other machinery placed there. About 1864 another enlargement took place, and the motive power increased to thirty-four horse power, with new and valuable machinery to do the work required. In 1867 Chaddon & Hesse became the proprietors, and again enlarged, adding new and valuable machinery. They now give employment to about fifteen men, with a business rapidly increasing, demanding additional facilities for the work.

Attorneys at Law. We believe that the county of Champaign can boast a bar equal to any in the State, and at the head of the profession in our city are the names of Chas. Black, E. L. Sweet, C. B. Smith, T. J. Smith, George W. Gere, J. S. Wolfe, and J. W. Langley.

Of the Medical Profession, D. A. Cheever, homosepathist, and Howard & Martyn, J. T. Pearman, and S. C. Hogue, allopathists, stand the peers of any in the land; while in Dentistry, none excel O. F. Britton (corner of Main and Neil streets, in Barrett's Block), and A. Sherman (in Angle's Block, Main St.), in that art.

The Newspapers of our county are second to none. The "Champaign County Gazette," by Flynn and Scroggs, and the "Champaign Union," by Nicolet & Schoff, are models of their class, reflecting credit upon the city in which they are located.

Our Wagon and Carrage Manufacturers are worthy of great credit. John Bragg, on Neil street, was the first to manufacture in the city, as before noted. J. N. Crannell, on Neil street, whose shops would do credit to any city in the State, manufactures only carriages, and his work, for durability and beauty, will compare favorably with that of any establishment in the United States. He turns out about fifty fine carriages per year, with his business rapidly increasing.

J. W. Spaulding manufactures farm wagons as a specialty, and turns out about three a week at his shops on east side of the railroad track; and no better can be found in this or any other State.

We also boast the best Carpenters and House Builders in the country; among them, J. Dickerson, whose shop is on Hickory street, holds high rank as a workman of superior order. Among the many specimens of his work, may be seen the barn of the Industrial University, said to be the finest in the State, and the High School building of our city, our boast and pride. Seeley Brown is an architect and builder of rare merit, of which his work bears convincing testimony. Clark Rush, J. Fleming, and Bullock & Drake, are also men richly skilled in their craft. The latter firm connect with their other business the manufacture of a patent bed spring, which is of superior worth.

Of miscellaneous business, we mention that of Peterson & Turnell, whose extensive book and music store, on Main street, will compare favorably with any in this section of the State; S. C. Edwards, manufacturer of a new and valuable, pump; Phillips & Bro., the enterprising livery stable men; S. H. Soucler's renovating and dyeing establishment; M. E. Lasher, the house mover; Eads & Wilcox, real estate agents, doing an extensive real estate business in this and all the North-western States; Plank & Sweet, and John Thomas, active and reliable insurance agents; Charles Smith, proprietor of the farmers' eating house, so well known throughout the county; J. W. Keys, a painter of rare merit; P. Coffey, proprietor of the Champaign House, at north end of Neil street; I. H. Hess, police magistrate and justice of the peace; and the banking house of D. Gardner & Co. which holds high rank among establishments of its class in this and the Eastern States; all of whom possess, in a very high degree, the confidence and esteem of the county and community in which they live, and show far better than we were are able to do, the enterprise, thrift, and prosperity of our city, where less than eighteen years ago the rank grasses of the prairies waved, untrodden, save by the wild wolf and the deer.

Prominent among the men of our town is the name of W. N. Coler. We have utterly failed to extract from this gentleman the confession that he was ever born, much less the time and place of that event. He is one of those active, energetic men whose native restlessness will not permit him to wait the coming of events, but makes the events suit his purposes. It is to him that our fair city is indebted for several fine business blocks, and one of the finest residences in Central Illinois, a cut of which we give below.

W. C. Barrett is another of our live men, whose energy and public spirit has furnished us with some of the finest blocks and residences of which we can boast. Barrett's block, corner of Niel and Main streets, would be a credit to any city in the land, while those brick mansions on State street, near Springfield avenue, cannot be surpassed in beauty and elegance combined with comfort, by any of the cities of Central Illinois.

Also, S. Richards, S. M. Marble, C. G. Larned, C. F. Columbia, A. C. Burnham, B. F. Harris, Frank Finch, Mark Carley, L. W. & F. F. Walker, D. Rugg, John Mathers, S. McFadden, and many others of whom we would like to make special mention, for, their devotion to the interests of the city, and their large-hearted, liberal public spirit, but space (or the want of it) forbids.

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