History of Bunker Hill Township, Macoupin County, Il
From: History of Macoupin County Illinois
Hon. Charles A. Walker, Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1911


The site on which the present town of Bunker Hill is located was once a prairie, known as Wolf ridge, from the fact that it was frequented by wolves. The earliest inhabitants of this section were the Peoria, Kickapoo and Winnebago Indians, who had a camping ground northeast of the present town of Bunker Hill. In 1826 the last of these tribes left here and moved farther west.

The first entry of land of which we have any record was made by William Tones. He secured eighty acres on section 33, on the 31st of July, 1827. Howard Finley entered eighty acres on section 21, January 25. 1830, and Alexander Conley entered one hundred and sixty acres on section 29, March 17, 1830.

Among the earliest settlers here was John Cooper, a native of Tennessee, who built a house on section 28, and here developed a farm. In the year 1825 Howard Finley and Daniel liranscomb settled on the east side of the east fork of Wood river, and as above stated, the former entered land here in 183o. Mr. Finley was a native of Tennessee. He built a cabin on his land and later erected a more modern dwelling on the southeast quarter of section 21, in which he made his home for many years. His death occurred in Greene county, this state.

The year 1827 witnessed the arrival of James Bremen, who was the first justice of the peace in the township, holding the office for more than twenty years. Simeon Jones may also be classed among the first settlers in this township. He was born and reared in Madison county, this state, and after coming to Bunker Hill township, served for many years as school treasurer.

In 1830 Jonathan L. Wood also settled here, as did also Benjamin Davis, and his sons. Jefferson, Isaac, Alfred and David. They came to this state from Tennessee but had formerly lived in North Carolina.

James Wood settled here in 1831, establishing his home on section 30. His sons, Samuel, David B. and James E., eventually became prominent residents of this section of the county.

William McPike, a Tennesseean by birth, came here in 1831 and became a prominent citizen. His death occurred after a residence here of many years. Mrs. Millie Bayless and her sons, Reese, John, George and Daniel, came here in 1831. Reese and John were prominently connected with the old militia, the former holding the position of colonel, while the latter attained the rank of adjutant. Both served in the Black Hawk war.

In that locality known as Corneilson mound, or sometimes called "Ticket'" mound, on section 29, the first settlers were Daniel Littrel, Alexander Conley, John Murphy, Charles Collyer and Finley and Moses Jones.

In the vicinity of the Springfield road the first settlements were made by William, Isaac, Alfred, James and Ephraim Wood, Anthony Linder, George Howland, Elijah Lincoln, Dr. Budden, Samuel Buell and Charles Goodnight. Dr. Budden was the first man to practice medicine in the township.

In 1833 Messrs. Tuttle and Lincoln laid out a town two miles south of the present site of Bunker Hill and named the place Lincoln. However, a log cabin and a frame house marked the farthest progress to which the town ever attained. This was later converted into a farm by J. V. Hopper.

In 1833 a postoffice was established and called Lincoln, the first postmaster being Anthony Linder. He was succeeded by a Mr. Cook, while in 1837 Samuel Buell took charge of the office. In November of the latter year the postoffice was transferred to Bunker Hill. Nathaniel Phillips was the first postmaster appointed after the removal of the office to Bunker Hill. Josiah Richards acted as assistant. In 1837 a postoffice was also established in Woodburn.

Moses Jones built the first mill in the township on section 33, on the east side of Wood river. It was operated by ox power. Dr. Budden shortly afterward erected the second mill on the prairie, a mile southwest of Bunker Hill.

The first schoolhouse was erected on section 21 but it was later moved to section 22. A Mr. Richardson was the first teacher and he was succeeded by Josiah B. Harris. In 1831 a schoolhouse was erected on section 20, on land belonging to John T. Wood, John Wilson, Jesse Wood and Aaron Leyerley were among the earliest teachers of the township.

Elder William Jones, a Baptist, preached the first sermon in the schoolhouse which stood on section 21. Alexander Conley was the first resident minister in the township. Rev. Gimlin was also a pioneer minister here. He was also of the Baptist faith. The first church was erected by the "hard shell" Baptists on section 33, while the second in the township was built by the Congregational people at Woodburn.

The first couple to be married in the township was Finley Jones and Mary Conley and the second was Daniel Branscomb and a Miss Gregg. John Finley was the first child born in Bunker Hill township.


The city of Bunker Hill lies in th eastern part of Bunker Hill township, which is one of the southern tier of townships. In March, 1836, Messrs. True and Tilden employed Luke Knowlton to lay out and plat the town. This was only seven years after the first settlement was made in the township. Mr. True set out the first tree, a locust, in the town, and he, with Mr. Tilden at once commenced the erection of a hotel, which later became a part of the Richards' block. In the summer of 1837 Mr. True enlarged his hotel and in the succeeding fall Josiah Richards, who had come here from Boston, purchased the goods in the store that had been opened by Mr. True. In 1838 Mr. True retired from the hotel business and N. H. Flanagan, from New Jersey, became proprietor.

Dr. Ebenezer Howell settled in the town in the spring of 1837 and for many years was the only physician practicing here. His son George was the first child born in the town.

In the spring of 1839 J. W. Cummings. G. Parameter, Charles Burnham, R. Califf, Nathaniel Burnham. D. E. Pettingill and Joseph and Edward Burton settled in the town and vicinity. John A. Pettingill arrived in April, 1839, and conducted the first nursery in the township. He also became one of the early schoolteachers of this district. Charles Johnson came here in May, 1839, from Medford, Massachusetts. S. H. Davis, A. B. Davis, R. Ridgeley, James Hamilton, I. Southworth and Charles Cavender were early settlers here. Francis N. Burnham settled northeast of the town and taught the first school in the town of Bunker Hill. His marriage to Miss Harriet Phillips was the first consummated in Bunker Hill.

In 1840 Judge P. C. Huggins moved here from Woodburn, where he had conducted a mercantile establishment, and purchased the store here from Josiah Richards. For many years he was the only merchant in the town. In November, 1847, John A. Pettingill opened the second store.


The nearest sawmill to Bunker Hill was on the Cahokia, north of Edwardsville. The first flour used in the new hotel came from Carlinville. The first sermon preached at Bunker Hill was by Elder Kimball from Upper Alton.


John A. Pettingill, who established the second store in Bunker Hill, in his Centennial History wrote the following:

"The 4th of July. 1839, was the first anniversary of 'the day we celebrate' ever observed in due and ancient form in this township. The day preceding was all bustle in securing and raising a liberty pole and making a leafy bower to cover the extended tables. The glorious fourth ushered in a terribly hot day, but despite the heat, the whole community turned out, some sixty souls. F. Burnham was master of ceremonies and M. H. Flanagan orator of the day. Dr. Ebenezer Howell read the Declaration of Independence, and H. B. A. Tappen made some cogent remarks. After dinner T. W. Cummings called the assemblage to order and read the toasts. The ground upon which the gathering assembled was that south of Huggins block, now covered with stores. The political campaign of 1840 brought the democrats to Bunker Hill and the whigs assembled at Woodburn, and each celebrated the 4th of July. The former were presided over by M. H. Flanagan, and Rev. Arnold, of Alton, orator. The whigs listened to Abraham Lincoln, John Hogan and Judge Davis.

"As early as 1834 a military company was organized with John Wilson as captain, succeeded by Washington Built and afterwards by Wiley Breden. The first muster in this township occurred on the 27th of September, 1839. A regimental organization existed in southern IVIacoupin, with R. Bayless as colonel, and P. C. Huggins as major. The muster in question was the stated parade of the batallion which made its headquarters at Bunker Hill. The Bunker Hill company mustered forty men. Captain Van Tyle was in command."


The little city of Bunker Hill is picturesque in its beauty and nicely located upon elevated grounds, some 30o feet above St. Louis, and distant therefrom about forty miles. It is reached by the Cleveland Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (Big Four) railroad.

As a place of residence Bunker Hill has always been an attractive and favorite place on account of its beauty, enterprise, intelligence of its people, and the school and church advantages it affords. It has many churches and a public library supported by the city, containing between four and five thousand books and periodicals. There are a number of lodges and societies, chief among them being Charter Oak Lodge, No. 258. I. O. O. F.; Bunker Hill Lodge, No. 151, A. F. & A. M.; Macoupin Lodge, No. 230, Ancient Order United Workmen; Bunker Hill Camp, No. 185, Modern Woodmen of America; Maple Camp, No. 1727, Royal Neighbors; Bunker Hill Court of Honor, No. 261; Hubbard Post. No. 721, Grand Army of the Republic. There is also the Nellie Custis Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Bunker Hill Fire Company No. I has a large membership and holds a leading place among the volunteer fire companies of the state of Illinois.


About 1901 the city built an electric light plant, which furnishes light to its people in their homes and on the public thoroughfares. Its newspaper, the Gazette-News, is ably edited by J. H. Truesdale. There are two banks, many excellent stores, an opera house, fine halls, well kept hotels, a coal mine, a flouring mill, wagon works, and other industries in this energetic and flourishing community.


While Bunker Hill has held its own in a business sense, has erected new and modem buildings for mercantile purposes and residences, yet it has not kept pace with some of its neighbors in the matter of growth and population, for it appears that in 1890 the town of Bunker Hill had 1,269 inhabitants, while the census of 1910 gives the place only 1,046.


One of the chief and attractive adornments of Bunker Hill which immediately catches the eye of the visitor as he enters the business portion of the town is the Lincoln monument. At the intersection of its two principal streets, in the center thereof, was erected in 1904, and unveiled with fitting ceremonies, a magnificent statue of Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator, by Company B, First Missouri Cavalry. The statue of the martyred president is life size and cast in bronze. The pose is that of the orator addressing an assembly, with one hand extended. It stands upon a granite pedestal, about six feet in height, and with the known physical proportions of Mr. Lincoln, this would make the object of art and its support about twelve feet high.


On December 22d, 1857, a meeting was held "to take measures looking to the establishment of an academic school." E. Harlan was chairman and H. M. Hutchinson, secretary. The following committees were appointed: To solicit subscriptions, A. W. Ellet, P. C. Huggins, Tames Weller, T. J. Van Dorn; on building, E. Howell, G. C. Mack, G. Parmenter, T. A. Delano. Subsequently Dr. Hopper was substituted for Mr. Delano and E. H. Davis was added to the committee. Subscriptions to stock at $25 per share were at once solicited and in January, 1858, the subscriptions amounted to $7,075, whereupon. J. W. Cummings, A. J. Coates and T. F. Vandeventer were appointed a committee to secure plans, etc. The amount of capital stock was fixed at $25. It was provided that the academy "should not be sectarian or denominational, and to promote this object not more than one third of the trustees shall at any time be members of any one religious denomination." Following officers Were then elected: President, A. W. Ellet; trustees, P. C. Higgins, W. Gill, Charles Parmenter, E. Howell, J. S. Flanagan and J. A. Pettingill. In the following January. Mr. Pettingill and H. W. Burton was elected to rill the vacancy. J. W. Cummings became the treasurer. P. C. Huggins donated a lot for the building, which was constructed of brick, three stories high and very attractive in its details. The cost was $19,000. The school opened in 1859 and the success of the innovation became evident when the enrollment of pupils showed the number to be 193. Then on came the Civil war, when Professor Smith and thirty nine pupils entered the army at the first call. Others soon followed and it became necessary to close the institution. The building was then leased to the district as a public school and was occupied for that purpose until 187o. In the year last above mentioned, improvements were made upon the building and it was again put to use for its legitimate purpose. S. L. Stiver succeeded A. W. Ellet as head master of the school and remained in that position until July. 1910, his death occurring at that time. He was succeeded by the present incumbent, Rev. William D. Marburger.


The select character of this school, the limited number of cadets, its homelike features, the attention given to the prevention of bad habits, and to the formation of good character and the special care taken for the safety, health and happiness of all, render the academy an unexcelled institution for smaller, as well as larger boys. The smaller boys have the special care of the superintendent and an assistant teacher is always on the same floor in the dormitory with them.


This is a home school. No vicious boys are enrolled, only boys of known good character are admitted. The design of the academy is to meet the wants of the parents who wish for their sons the benefit of careful and systematic instruction and training in everything necessary to their success and welfare as men. It provides a good home in which cadets receive all the attention and care that are given boys in any enlightened and well regulated households. It prepares for business, for college or university, and for government schools. It provides for the physical, social and moral development of all its students, gives training in gymnastics, athletics and military drills. It affords its graduates a sufficient training in military science to enable them to perform official duty as leaders of the militia in time of peace and to organize and train recruits in time of war. This include, bayonet and sabre drill, the new Butts' United States army rifle drill and some artillery drills.


The academy has a campus rarely equaled and seldom surpassed. The central building is three stories high, heated by steam and lighted by electricity. Stiver Hall is a similar, but smaller, building on the campus. Belt Hall, a beautiful colonial residence, was opened in the fall of 1911. There is a gymnasium and main dormitory, school rooms, reading rooms and library. Plans have been completed for extensive new buildings, the ground for which was broken August I, 1911. It is anticipated these improvements will cost about $100,000 and be completed within two years.

In the year 1910 this school gave instruction to 56 pupils. There are already enrolled for 1911, 75. The ages of the boys range from twelve to eighteen years and they come from eighteen states and territories.


Bunker Hill has a beautiful cemetery, laid out on high, rolling ground, within the corporate limits of the town. The records show that at about 1840 Moses True donated a half acre of ground for cemetery purposes. In Tune, 1852, a committee was organized for the formation of a constitution and bylaws and a cemetery association was established, with C. D. Marsh, J. A. Pettingill and J. Pierson as trustees. J. A. Delano was elected as secretary and treasurer. A subscription paper was circulated, with unanticipated success and three acres of land were purchased and added to that donated by Mr. True. This ground was fenced and platted the same year. March 4, 1861, the association was organized under the state law, and the following officers elected: J. A. Pettingill, president; J. F. Cummings, T. J. Van Dorn, Richard Ridged, directors, and J. A. Delano, secretary and treasurer. From time to time other additions have been made to the ground.

Among the many handsome ornaments attracting the eye of the visitor in this "silent city of the dead" is


This memorial shaft is of hard, gray sandstone, and stands 29.4 feet high. It was unveiled, February 14, 1867. The cost of the monument was $1,773. Of this sum, $1,215 was subscribed by individuals, $200 donated by the cemetery association, and the remainder was made up by sociables, literary exhibitions and donations by secret societies and the like.


Belt Brothers & Company's bank was founded in 1881. Its declared capital is $10,000, deposits $126,000, resources. $120.000. J. H. Belt. Jr., is president and cashier.

Baumann & Drew's private bank was founded in 1892. Its deposits are $124.000, resources. 120.000.


Woodburn, which is located in the western part of Bunker Hill township, was named in honor of the Wood family, who were early settlers of' this locality. It was laid out in 1834 by B. F. Edwards, Benjamin Stephenson acting as the surveyor.

The first dwelling in the town was erected by Rev. Elijah Dodson, a pioneer minister of the Baptist church. He came to Macoupin county in 1835 and on the 5th of April, of that year, moved into his new dwelling. His wife. Mrs. Nancy Dodson, was the first woman to live in the town. She died in 1877, while his death occurred in 1859.

E. T. Miner erected the first store building in the town. Daniel Luttrel and Enos Grandy also built dwellings in 1835 and in the same year Dr. Edwards put up a hotel, for the accommodation of the traveling public. James and William Hamilton were the first proprietors of the hotel. Some of the first buildings in the town were erected by James and Robert R. Tompkins who came here in 1835 from Virginia.

In 1836 Dr. Edwards and John Adams commenced building the first steam mill in the county but before it was completed sold their interests to Moses Jones, who later sold it to a Mr. Mudge, who finished the sawmill. In 1841 T. J. Van Dorn purchased the mill, put in a large engine and two run of burrs. In 1840 Daniel Luttrel had built a mill for grinding corn, the motive power being horses, mules, oxen or anything that could be hitched to it. This served the people of this section until Mr. Van Dorn erected his steam mill.

In 1837 the Perry brothers erected a blacksmith shop but it is not known whether they or Alfred Davis operated the first blacksmith shop.

The first church was organized by the Baptist denomination on the 24th of June, 1835, with eleven charter members. The pulpit was supplied by Elders Starkweather and Dodson for about one year, when the latter was made the regular pastor of the church. In 1842 plans were laid for the erection of a church, which was completed and occupied the following year. In 1867 an addition was built to the church.

The Congregational church was organized in 1838, with forty members. Rev. Robert Blake served as its pastor until his death in 1842. In 1838 the congregation built a house of worship which served not only for this congregation but for congregations of various denominations, as well as for school purposes and as a public hall. In 1843 the Baptist people built a house of worship and the Methodists were organized into a society and erected a church about that time.

The first schoolhouse in the town was built in 1852.

In 1836 Messrs. Moore and Kellum laid off eighty acres in town lots as an addition to the town of Woodburn, and devoted a large block to a public square.

The mail route between Alton and Carlinville passed through Woodburn. the first contractors for carrying the mail being William and James Hamilton. The contract was turned over to George Gordon, who carried the first mail in 1837. About that time the first postoffice was established here with a Mr. Corey as postmaster.

In 1837 William West manufactured the first kiln of brick, and he also established the first grocery store in the town.

Deacon I. Long came here in 1837. In 1846 the steam mill of T. J. Van Dorn burned and and in 1848 Tompkins Brothers built a mill, starting it as a sawmill and also ground corn. In 1852 they put in the burrs and bolts necessary for the manufacture of flour.

Jonathan Huggins established his residence here in 1839 and in 1845 established the Woodburn Nursery, which furnished the trees which have beautified the town of Woodburn and this vicinity.

As above stated, E. J. Miner was the first merchant here but he eventually sold his stock to L. L. Brown, but in 1838 he sold to P. C. Huggins. who conducted the establishment until his removal to Bunker Hill in 1840.

The town was incorporated in 1867 and in 1869 it was granted a special charter by the legislature.

Woodburn now has a population of 175. Twenty years ago there were 276 people in the village.

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