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


Girard township is formed from the southern half of township 12, north range 6. The land, which is very fertile, is drained by branches of Otter and Mccoupin creeks. From the fact that there was a scarcity of timber in this district, this township was not settled as early as many of the other townships in the county. However, a few families settled as early as 1830 in the southwest corner, among whom were Daniel Black, William and Charles Cox, Jesse Ashlock, a Mr. Mathews and Harlam and Thomas Warren. In 1835 John Henderson located at the cross roads, a mile and a half north of the present site of Girard and conducted a tavern, as it was on the stage line running from Springfield to Alton. The place was for many years known as Henderson's and later as Virden's stage stand.

About 1834 Dr. Edwards and Coe Mather laid out a town at the edge of the timber, a part of which was located on the present site of Girard. They named the place Girard but the only improvement that was there made was a brick kiln.

Until the year 1840 there were few settlements made but after that time this locality became the permanent home of many settlers. Eventually, in 1852, the Chicago & Alton railroad was built through the township, which furnished shipping facilities for produce, but prior to the building of this road the farmers had to haul their grain and produce to the St. Louis and Alton markets, where wheat sold at from twenty five to fifty cents per bushel.

The first death in the township was that of Mrs. Thomas Warren, in 1833. The first couples to be married were Elisha Smith and Susan Evans and a Mr. Duff and Juliet Henderson.

The first sermon preached in the township was by a traveling minister of the Methodist denomination and the services were held at the home of one of the settlers. For some time the residents of this locality went to North Otter township to attend religious services in the homes of the settlers. John Steward and Bird England were local preachers and P. Lamay, of the Baptist faith, also held religious services here occasionally.

The first mill erected in the township was run by horse power and was built by a Mr. Sprouse. Steam mills were soon built on Waverly and Lick creeks and there was also a water mill on Sugar creek. In 1846 B. Boggess built a steam saw and grist mill in North Otter and this proved a great convenience for the people of Girard township.


The town of Girard was laid out in the spring of 1853 by C. H. Fink and B. Boggess, and the survey was made by Nathan Savage. It covered a portion of the land on which Edwards and Mathers had contemplated laying out a town many years previously. It is surrounded by a beautiful prairie country and in the center of the town is a public square, set out with trees, which adds not only to the beauty of the place but affords comfort to the residents.

The first addition to the town was made in the year 1855 by Thomas Lewis and John Way. A sale of lots was made on the 21st of August that year, which sold at from $20 to $6o each. The second addition was made by B. Boggess on the north and east sides of the town in 1866, when he added a tract of sixty acres.

The first building in the town was one which was moved from the country by B. Boggess and occupied by Dr. Abraham Miller and family. In the fall of 1853 Dr. Miller, N. Branham and C. H. Fink built dwelling houses and B. Boggess built a store and J. S. Warfield a blacksmith shop.

A. S. Mayfield opened the first store in the town in the summer of 1853.

The first school was taught by a Miss Purdy in an unfinished dwelling in the fall of 1853. Later a one story frame schoolhouse was erected on the site where the present public school stands.

In the spring of 1855 a church was erected, which was used as a union church by Baptists, Methodists. Presbyterians. Christians and Universalists. In 1864 the Presbyterian congregation purchased the building and eventually the other denominations each built for themselves a house of worship.

In 1854 a postoffice was established at Girard and James Mitchell was appointed the first postmaster. Prior to this time the people had received their mail from the Pleasant Grove office in North Otter township.

The first warehouse was built by J. W. Woodroof in the fall of 1854 and he bought and shipped the first carload of wheat from this place.

H. Hall built the first flout mill in 1855. Later J. W. Woodroof, Walker & Miner and Lancaster & Erwin built flour mills here.

A coal shaft was sunk in 1869-70. when a seven foot vein of coal was reached three hundred and fifty feet below the surface. This shaft is now owned by the Girard Coal Company. From this time on the town of Girard began to grow and improve.


In 1880 a petition was presented to the board of trustees praying that an election be called to determine the question of organizing under the city charter under the general law. An election was called for and met September 14, 188o, and resulted in an overwhelming victory for city organization. The city officers were elected at the regular annual election in April, 1881. The outgoing board of trustees refused to receive the election returns for such election, claiming such organization had not been made within the time required by law, refusing to vacate their seats for the newly elected officers and continued to hold regular meetings to elect and commission officers elected by them. The newly elected city council met for the first time in July, 1881.

Legal proceedings were instituted in the circuit court of Macoupin county to determine the legality of the town board's action. That court decided against the town board and an appeal was taken to the appellate court, which early in the year 1882 also decided adversely to the town board. It was not until February 7, 1882, that the town board made its laws. Thus for nearly two years there was maintained in Girard two sets of officers, each striving to maintain its supremacy and to secure the other's overthrow.

In the fall of 1880 the second railroad (the present J. & St. L.) was finished through Girard from Jacksonville to Litchfield. This gave additional passenger and shipping facilities to the city and doubtless has contributed much to its subsequent growth and development.

In 1881 there was prepared and published a complete set of ordinances for the then new city. Aldermen were elected at large and not until in January, 1882, was the city divided into wards. In September, 1885, the petition of R. S. Cowan and others was presented to the city council praying that an election be called "to determine the question whether the city of Girard shall be changed from city and become village." Pursuant thereto an election was called, resulting in a decided majority against such change. In 1886, a complete revision of the city ordinances was made and published. This revision remained the code of the city until 1892, when a new revision was made and published.


Girard is now a city of 1,891, having gained 230 in population since the census of 1900. Its mines employ many people and are among the largest in the state. On three sides of the public square are business emporiums of a character not often found in a place as small as Girard. The buildings are modern and the stocks of various descriptions, equal in quantity and quality to many cities of much more importance.


For the past several years Girard has owned its lighting plant. In 1892 the city council granted a seven year license to George A. Eastham and Charles Evans to place electric light poles in the streets of Girard, contracting with them for lights for such streets. On the expiration of their franchise, which was by vote in 1900, it was determined that the city should own its own electric light plant. About that time the city issued bonds to the amount of $6,000 and bought the plant, which had been built by George L. Tipton and E. M. Burnett. The city then built a substantial brick power house in another locality, installed new machinery, and today has a modern lighting plant more than sufficient to meet the demands upon it. The streets are lighted on a "moon" schedule and at the present has in service twenty six arc lights.


Girard is a desirable place in which to locate and take up a residence. It has a splendid school and several churches, the Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian. Catholic, German Baptist, Lutheran Baptist, Universalist and Christian. Most. if not all, of these organizations have new, substantial and handsome church buildings, ranging in cost from four to five thousand dollars each.

The city has seven miles of cement walks. Five miles of these walks have been laid within the past four years. There is a good brick city hall building, which was erected many years ago and an excellent volunteer fire company, to whose paraphernalia a Howe gasoline fire engine was added in April, 1911, at a cost of $2,000.

Prior to 1907 saloons had existed in Girard for a period of twenty six years. In the spring of the year mentioned, under Mayor C. H. Metcalf's administration, the saloons were "turned into the discard" and when he retired from office the treasury contained $2,200.

There is in this stirring little city a splendid opera house building, erected by T. C. Dodson, about 1893, at a cost of $15,000. There is also a woman's club here, which is now about three years old. The presiding officer is Mrs. Ella Toland. There are several fraternal orders, among them being Girard Lodge, F. & A. M., the Eastern Star, Girard Lodge of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, Knights of Pythias and Rathbone Sisters, Knights of Labor, Modern Woodmen of America, Hibernians, Court of Honor and others. Luke Mayfield Post, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized soon after the war, with a large membership, which has dwindled down to a few old veterans, the others having answered the last roll call.

In the fall of 1909 Girard was visited by quite a disastrous fire, which destroyed about $35,000 worth of property, consisting of business buildings on the west side of the square. New buildings at once took their place, which added materially to the fine appearance of the square. During the holidays of 1910 the O'Neil block burned to the ground, entailing a loss of from $10,000 to $12,000.


Below is given a list of the men who have served Girard as president or as mayor of the village and city of Girard since the year 1865:

1865-6, William S. Littlepage; 1867-69. Joseph McKinney; 1870, Barnabus Boggess; 1871-2, Daniel S. Macknett; 1873. R. S. Cowan: 1874-5. William E. Eastham; 1876-7, William S. Littlepage; 1878, Henry D. Lowe; 1879, William S. Littlepage; 1880, Henry D. Lowe: 1881-2. Thomas C. Cherry; 1883-4, L. C. Murphy; 1885-6, William S. Garretson; 1887-8, R. S. Cowan; 1889-90, Lewis C. Deck; 1891-2, R. S. Cowan; 1893-4, Edward C. Knotts; 1895-6, R. S. Cowan; 1897-8, William N. Drennan; 1899-190o, Frank G. Wood; 1901-03, Alexander W. Crawford; 1903-5, Philip Flood; 1905-7, Alexander W. Crawford; 1907-11, C. H. Metcalf; 1911, A. H. Miller, who is the present incumbent.


The Bank of Girard was organized December to, 1873, by James D. Metcalf. A. P. Andrews, T. W. Woodroof and John F. Roche. The officers were: James D. Metcalf, president; B. P. Andrews, cashier; H. C. Hamilton, assistant cashier. In 1908 the institution changed its character to the extent of securing a charter as a state bank, assuming the name of the State Bank of Girard, the first officers of which were: H. C. Hamilton, president: J. D. Metcalf, vice president; J. M. Metcalf, cashier; E. E. Littlepage, assistant cashier. This list of officers prevails at the present time. The directors are H. C. Hamilton, J. D. Metcalf, J. M. Metcalf, E. E. Littlepage, John F. Roche, B. P. Andrews and J. W. Woodroof.

The paid up capital of this financial institution is $50,000, with a surplus and undivided profits of $12,500. It does a general banking business and is considered one of the most substantial concerns of the kind in the county.


This bank was organized February 1, 1893. Its first officials were: J. N. McElvain, president; W. S. Garretson, vice president; J. O. Burton, cashier; Jason N. McElvain, W. S. Garretson, S. O. Smith, J. Coy Roach, J. O. Burton, F. G. Storz, T. H. Cherry, directors. The bank is capitalized at $40,000 and has a surplus of $20,000. Its present officials are: S. A. Smith, president; T. H. Cherry, vice president; J. H. Tietsort, cashier; S. O. Smith, T. H. Cherry, J. H. Tietsort, J. O. Burton, M. H. Tietsort. G. G. Garretson, J. Coy Roach, directors.

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