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


In addition to the three municipalities named in the foregoing chapters, Logan County boasts a number of sturdy, thriving and enterprising villages. These are located along the line of the four railroads penetrating the county and substantially date their birth from the laying out of these highways of commerce. An exception to this rule is the town of Middletown, which historically speaking is one of the most interesting points in the county. Middletown is the oldest town in the county. It is older than the county itself by seven years. It is the first town of any sort laid out on Logan County soil. It is older than Chicago. It is older than railroads. electricity, friction matches, photography and scores of other inventions now part of daily life. When laid out there were only 22 states in the union, Missouri was the only state west of the Mssissippi, Andrew Jackson occupied the White House and Vandalia was the capitol of Illinois. Middletown was laid out by Hiram S. Allen and was surveyed and platted Oct. 13, 1832, by T. M. Neale. deputy surveyor of Sangamon County. Hiram S. Allen was a real estate speculator residing at Pekin. The first lot in the town was sold in June 1833 to Hawkins Taylor. The deed to this lot was witnessed by Abraham Lincoln. who had just returned from a three months' service in the Black Hawk war and had accepted a position as clerk in a grocery store at Old Salem.

The site selected for Middietown was on the famous stage route between Springfield and Peoria, which accounts for its early activity. for a year or two later, it boasted of 200 souls, made up of hardy pioneers and speculators and contained a grocery store, general store, meat market. barber shop, dance hall and two taverns. In its early days it was a famous rendezvous for sports and was a typical frontier town. Two race tracks were laid out there at an early date, one a circular mile track and the other a straight track of 600 yards. Twice a year race meetings were held and men and horses came to these meets from Springfield. Peoria and other points and stayed in Middletown for two weeks at a time. At these meets large sums of money were wagered and the sporting element not only ran their horses but ran the town.

Probably the first store building in the town was erected by Josiah B. Smith and David King under the firm name of Smith & King. The firm quit business in 1836, King having died and Smith moved away. The original survey of the town covered 16 acres and included 64 blocks. In 1836 James R. Smith for Hiram S. Allen, John W. Casey, and Ambrose C. Hankinson, all of Pekin, laid off an addition to the town and the same year Moses L. Knapp and William Glenn, Jr., laid off a second addition. Despite the sporting character of the town, one of the first buildings erected was a church of the Presbyterian denomination. This was built in 1835. This church was moved to Irish Grove in 1867 and dismantled in 1905, the brick being used in the erection of a church for the same society in Middletown in 1907. Allen & Stone also erected a store building in 1834. Among the purchasers of lots in the town in 1836 were James H. Swan, Josiah B. Smith, Peter Bashaw, David Enslow, Ambers L. Stone, Lewis Reynolds, James Beaham, Aaron Longshore, Hannah Sundershan, Farrington Price, William Glenn, David A. Glenn, James Glenn, William Patterson, Robert McConnell, and Samuel Weaver. The Sangamon County records show a license issued at the December, 1837, session of the Commissioners' Court to George W. Dunlap to keep a tavern at Middletown at which the prices for meals are fixed at twenty-five cents, a night's lodging twelve and a half and stabling of a horse over night twenty-five cents. The prices of intoxicating beverages are also regulated in the license as follows: French brandy and wine, twenty-five cents a half pint; apple brandy, whiskey and domestic gin, twelve and a half cents a half pint; Holland gin, rum and peach brandy, eighteen and three-quarters cents a half pint.

A school petition dated June 27, 1836, contains the following names of early settlers in and around Middletown at that date: Nathan Barnett, John Barnes, William Glenn, Hutson Low, Aaron Longshore. Asahel Haistead, Abraham Musick, James S. Haistead, David Enslow, James R. Smith. J. Sullivan, John Deskins, Alexander Ewing, John D. Enslow, David A. Glenn. James Glenn, Lewis Myers, John Snyder, John A. Ross, Alexander McGarvey, Joseph Pence, S. R. Lowry, Jason White, Berry Boughan, J. W. Stapleton, Jonathan Shinn, Jesse Hobles, William Stallings, John Pence, Joseph H. Rayburn, John S. Stone, Stephen Stone, Jonathan Musick, John Critz, John Hedrick, David L. Sutton, David Donaven, Samuel G. Martin, John Martin, Peter Bashaw, William Wilkeson, Irvin Low. William Stone and Peter Price.

Colby Knapp came to Middletown from Maryland in 1836 and in October of that year engaged in mercantile business with William Glenn. Jr. About a year after he bought out Mr. Glenn's interest. He had married just previous to his coming and he and his wife reached Middletown by stage route from the East to Pittsburg, then by the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Pekin, where they tarried a short while, and then to Middletown. His first store was a frame building. In 1840 he built a brick house, probably the first brick structure in the county. This was used as a dwelling as well as a store and it was at one time the largest store in this section of the state. Mr. Knapp was postmaster at Middletown from 1837 to 1860, a period of 23 years. He was township treasurer for over 20 years. Soon after the organization of the county he was elected probate justice of the county and was later one of the early county commissioners. In 1851 he was elected to the Legislature and in 1862 was state senator. He came to Lincoln in 1864, where he died in 1882, having been mayor of the city in 1869 and treasurer of Lincoln University.

During the seventy years following the laying out of Middletown, the town remained substantially stationary. A number of buildings were erected and some residences built. A Methodist church was built in 1870 at a cost of $3,000. A school house, two stories in height, was erected in 1889. The first incorporation of the town was effected, under the general law, Nov. 17, 1900, by a vote of 59 for and 22 against. The first village officers were: President, W. V. Guttery; clerk, Gilbert Gunsten; trustees, H. A. Binns, A. L. Deaton, Owen Anson, Thomas Dorgan, \V. C. Young was the first village treasurer.

A new era dawned for Middletown in 1903 on the sinking of the coal shaft and the discovery of an ample vein of coal. Since then the town has increased in size and as a business point with great rapidity. The population more than doubled in the first few years after the opening of the shaft and many new buildings have been erected both in the business and residence portions of town. Seven small additions were laid out to the village from 1902 to 1905. A telephone system was established in 1904. In 1907 the new Presbyterian church was built at a cost of $9,000; St. John's Catholic chapel was erected in 1908 and a new Methodist church built in 1909 at a cost of $11,000.

Middletown has been the victim of numerous fires in the last few years. A number of frame buildings were consumed in 1905. On Nov. 16, 1907, the Deaton building was burned to the ground. On Aug. 13, 1909, the school building was destroyed by fire at a loss of $4,000. The greatest fire in Middletown's history, however, occurred June 3, 1910, with a loss of over $25,000. Among the buildings burned were the Farmers' State Bank, the Leisy Brewery Company buildings and property owned by A. L. Deaton. Middletown supports a newspaper conducted by Grant Heatherwick, the same having been established in 1908. The village officers for 1910 were: W. A. Koch. president: George James, clerk; Garrett Rayburn, treasurer: trustees, L. E. Thompson, L. Boyer, Tobias Gibbs, William Lambert, T. L. Foster, Wesley Montgomery. Middletown is the fourth town in size in Logan County and is located in Corwin Township.

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