History of Elkhart, Il.
By: Lawrence B. Stringer
Published by: Pioneer Publishing Company, Chicago 1911


In some respects the history of Elkhart dates from the first settlement of James Latham at Elkhart Grove in the spring of 1819. A detailed account of this, the first white settlement in Logan County, has been given in connection with the chapters on early settlement and need not be repeated here. From the very earliest times Elkhart Hill has been the scene of more or less activity, James Latham's house and later Richard Latham's place on the brow of the hill further south being locations on the early stage routes from Springfield to Blomington and here travelers were received with true pioneer hospitality. In later clays, Abraham Lincoln, David Davis, John T. Stuart and others, when "traveling the circuit" frequently tarried over night at Elkhart Grove, all of which has been frequently referred to in these pages. About 1820 James Latham also built a horse mill at the Grove. Before this, the early settlers had been compelled to go to Edwardsville to mill. During the existence of this mill, settlers came a great distance to get their grinding clone and frequently camped out over night waiting their turn.

A town site was at one time projected by Aquilla Davis but nothing definite was done in that direction until the Alton & Sangamon (now the Chicago & Alton) railroad came in 1853. As soon as the railroad had been completed an old horse mill, owned by Seneca Woods, was brought from Springfield by William Mozee and converted into a warehouse. This was the first building in the town of Elkhart. In 1855, John Shockey, of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, laid out the town and the same was surveyed by County Surveyor Conaway Pence on April 11th of that year. Christian Shockey and John Rinehart were chain carriers, Wm. F. Elkin and A. E. Constant were witnesses to the survey and the town was given the name of "Elkhart City," this being done to distinguish it from Elkhart Hill and Elkhart Grove. The same year Mr. Shockey erected a large frame hotel. J. R. Saunders also built a brick store and offered the first general stock of goods for sale in the town. A few goods had been for sale in the old warehouse, prior to this, but no regular stock had been kept. Quite a number of houses were built the same summer and the town had quite a growth during the later fifties. J. R. Saunders was the first postmaster and railroad agent and William Rankin was his assistant. In 1858 John Gibbs erected a warehouse. Shockey's addition of 16 acres was added to the original town, Jan. 19, 1858. Rigney's addition was laid out in 1863 and Thompson's addition was added in 1865. A small district school house was moved into the town in 1856, which gave way to a more pretentious structure in 1865.

For many years Elkhart was one of the largest shipping points on the C. & A. railroad, due to the large stock raising farms of John D. Gillett that were adjacent thereto. The town was incorporated Feb. 22, 1861, by special legislative act. The first officers were James Rigney, president; W. M. Helm, clerk; T. H. Cantrall, treasurer; L. D. Dana, justice; Martin Buzzard, constable; A. H. Bogardus, street commissioner; Charles Elwood, Martin Buzzard, A. Downing, A. Buzzard, R. J. Williams. A Methodist church was built in the village in 1863, a Catholic church in 1864 and a Christian church in 1867. Elkhart was the home of Capt. A. H. Bogardus during the time he was champion wing shot of America and at the time he won the world's championship medal in London in 1875. The present new depot at Elkhart was built in 1888. The town has had some experience with fires. Near the town, the residence of John D. Gillett was burned Feb. 14, 1871, and on March 2, 1891, Gov. Richard J. Oglesby's residence was consumed by fire. A new residence was erected by Mr. Gillett on the former site. Gov. Oglesby also erected a new residence but on a site further to the south and east, now known as "Oglehurst" Here Gov. Oglesby died, April 24, 1899. On May 24, 1889, lightning struck the Crang building, occupied by the general store of Hughes & Mendenhall, setting fire to the same and communicating the flames to adjacent buildings, resulting in destroying the main business portion of the village. Ten buildings were consumed in all, nine being business stores and one a residence.

In 1885 the town was incorporated as a village under the general laws of the state, relinquishing the special charter. The first board under the new incorporation consisted of Henry Stahl, C. P. Bridges, A. H. Bogardus, C. B. Taylor, David Lippet and Luther Wood. A handsome new library building was erected in 1904, the gift of the Gillett family, an account of which has been given in the chapter on "Libraries." Elkhart is a station on the Illinois Traction System, which was built through the village in 1904. The village is located in Elkhart township and has a population of about 400.

Return to [ Illinois History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Illinois Biographies ]

Illinois Counties at this web site - Adams - Carroll - Champaign - Cook - De Kalb - Du Page - Edgar - Kane - LaSalle - Lee - Logan - Macoupin - Madison - Mason - McHenry - McLean - Stark - Stephenson - Vermilion - Will

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ PA ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy