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


Staunton township is situated in the extreme southeast corner of Macoupin county, and is bounded on the north by Cahokia township, on the west by Dorchester township, on the south by Madison county and on the east by Montgomery county. The township is mostly rolling prairie, well adapted for all kinds of agriculture. Several creeks run through the township, the principal one of which is Cahokia, which enters in the north part of section 5 and flowing in a southwesterly direction, passes out on the west of section 19. The streams are bordered by belts of timber, which include various kinds of oak, ash, sugar maple, walnut and hickory.

John Wood claimed the distinction of being the first settler in the township, coming in the year 1817. He was a blacksmith and millwright by trade and came here from Virginia, settling on the southeast half of section 36. In the same year Richard Wilhelm and Cennith Seymore, both natives of Pennsylvania. came to Staunton township from Alabama, and settled on section 24. In the spring of 1819 Telemachus Camp, who was a native of Georgia, also came here from Alabama and located on section 19. In November of the same year John D. and Richard Chapman, who were natives of North Carolina, came here from Tennessee, the former settling on section 18, while the latter established his home on section 24. In 1820 several families were added to this section, these being Jesse Chapman, who came from North Carolina and settled on section 17 James B. Cowell, who came from Tennessee and settled on section 30, while Lewis and William Cormack settled in the same neighborhood. The following year, 1821, Rodger Snell, a native of North Carolina. came from Tennessee and settled on section 31. From this time on many came and settled in Staunton township and during the succeeding seven years this district became quite thickly settled, the people coming from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and some from Pennsylvania.

The first religious service was held here in the fall of 1820, at the home of Richard Chapman. the minister being Rev. Parham Randle, of the Methodist faith. Rev. James Lemon, a minister of the Baptist faith, preached in the home of Telemachus Camp, in the fall of 1821. The first church was built and dedicated in 1828 and was not only used by all denominations for religious services. but served as well for school purposes and public meetings of all kinds. It stood on the land where the city cemetery is now located.

The first school was conducted on the subscription plan and was taught in the summer of 1822 by William Wilcox. He taught eight hours a day, five days in the week, for two dollars a scholar.

In 1825 the first school house was built. It was constructed of split hickory logs, with clapboard roof and dirt floor. The second building for school purposes was made of hewn logs, with a shingle roof and oak plank floor. It was 18x20 feet in size and one story in height. The first teachers were Rodger Snell, Tristram P. Hoxey, Philip Denham and Archibald Hoxey.

The first couple to be married in the township was Jesse Chapman and Comfort Alexander. The ceremony was performed on the 29th of May, 1820, by John Y. Sawyer, a justice of the peace, at Edwardsville, which was the only place a license could be secured. The second couple married in the township was William Wilcox and Polly Cormack, in 1823.

The first white child born in the township was Benjamin, son of John D. and Sarah Chapman, in the spring of 1820. On the 23d of October of the same year a son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Telemachus Camp. He died on the 15th of December following, this being the first death in the township.

The first store was opened by Stephen G. Hicks in 1831 and in 1834 John Cormack also opened a mercantile establishment.

Dr. Luke S. Coons came in 1835 and was the first physician here.

In the fall of 1820 Richard Chapman purchased a pair of millstones and fitted up a band mill. Up until 1823 the settlers were dependent upon this mill for their bread stuffs. In the latter year John Wood built a horse mill on Silver creek, a few miles distant, and soon thereafter Stephen Wilcox erected a mill on section 25. In due course of time these gave way to tread mills, water mills and steam mills in their order, which furnished excellent facilities for the manufacture of flour.

Telemachus Camp made the first entry of land. August 18, 1819, on section 19, his place comprising one hundred and sixty three acres. On the 2d of April. 1825, he entered eighty acres on section 31. December 22, 1828, Nathaniel Buckmaster entered eighty acres on section 29, and Rodger Snell entered eighty acres on section 31.


The town of Staunton is located on the northwest part of section 32 and a small portion extends into section 29 and section 31. The Wabash railroad runs along the east side of the town, and running northeast passes through the whole length of the township. The town seems to have been started by the opening of a store by Stephen G. Hicks in 1831. The town was laid out in 1835, by David Hendershot, the streets running north and south. It was not incorporated, however, until the 23d of February, 1859.


In 1891 Staunton received its charter as a city. At that time it had a population of 2,209. It has now 5,048 people within its corporate limits, is growing steadily and is at this time the largest city in Macoupin county. E. E. Godfrey was the first mayor under the city charter and served in that capacity from 1891 until 1899. In the latter year he was succeeded by John Coerver, who died in August of that year. R. M. Purdy was acting mayor until the following November, when E. E. Godfrey was appointed to fill the position. His successor, J. H. Harding, was elected in the spring of 1901 and served until 1903. C. F. Hackman was mayor from 1903 until 1906, when George H. Luker was elected and is the present incumbent.


In 1884, what was then considered a large and substantial city hall, was erected. It is a two story brick building and stands on the corner of Main and Wood streets, occupying part of the public park. It has outgrown its usefulness, has been condemned as being unsafe, and it is only a question of a short time when a more modern structure will take its place. In this building are the council chamber, city offices, and fire department. The city is well policed and the civil government is run economically, but in a manner which shows a very progressive spirit on the part of the citizens.


In 1896 the city constructed an electric light plant, at an original cost of about $10,000. It was built near the water works plant, outside the corporate limits, about one mile from the city. Subsequently, it was removed into the city and housed in a well built brick structure, and at various times improvements have been added to the plant. In 1911, $9,000 was spent upon this utility. Staunton citizens take a great pride in their electric light establishment and claim to have one of the best plants of its kind in this section of the state. The service is continuous and the patronage so generous that the city is enabled to light the streets practically free of cost, or in other words, the electric light plant is self sustaining.


Staunton also owns its water works, which were built in 1888, and in operation the latter part of that year. This improvement is built upon a tract of land consisting of twenty seven acres. Here a dam was constructed at a cost of some $12,000. There is a brick power house, wherein are installed powerful pumps, which give sufficient pressure for any emergency. The water is wholesome and is piped throughout the city to many consumers. This is also a self sustaining city utility and the plant itself is fully worth $50,000.


The city of Staunton is not only the largest place in Macoupin county, but its business center is also the most substantially and more modernly built than any other town in the county. On its main street are some splendid buildings, devoted to mercantile purposes and its streets and sidewalks are of the best. There are now about eighteen blocks of brick paving and many miles of cement sidewalk. The city also owns a beautiful cemetery in the northwest part of the place, within the corporate limits.


The chief industry of Staunton consists in the mining of coal. Mines Nos. 1 and 2 of the Mt. Olive & Staunton Coal Company are located on the Litchfield

Madison railway - which runs through the city - near the north line of Madison county, Illinois, about one and a half miles from Staunton. These mines rank high among the important producers of the state of Illinois. The company is an Illinois corporation, having its offices in Staunton. This coal is largely used for domestic purposes and is a very superior steam product. It is also a famous coal in the large clay burning districts near St. Louis.

Staunton also has an artificial ice plant, which was built by Paul Walters and Charles Becker. in 1896.


H. A. Fischer is the postmaster at this place. Under the direction of the department at Washington he opened a postal savings bank on June 27, 1911, one of the first to be established by the government in the state of Illinois. The first deposit made at this office was for $100, by a farmer, on the day that the innovation was started, and at the time the office closed for receiving deposits on that first day, $1,100 had been taken in by the postmaster. Since the opening of the system at Staunton, the average daily deposits have amounted to $800. This clearly demonstrates the virtue of the government's postal savings banks.

The first postmaster here was Dr. Coons. His successors were: Hugh Caldwell, Thomas Blair, C. Godfrey, C. Panhorst, W. F. Hackman and D. G. Williamson. The present incumbent, H. A. Fischer, was appointed by President Roosevelt, April 10, 1906, and by President Taft on the 23d of April, 1910.


The banking house of Wall & Company was established in 1893 by Hampton W. Wall and J. C. Panhorst. This financial concern continued in business until 1898, when Mr. Wall died and at his death Mr. Panhorst retired. The institution then passed into the hands of the sons of Mr. Wall, William P. and Charles R., who conducted the business under the name of Wall Brothers. In 1901 William P. Wall secured full control of the business of Wall Brothers. and on March 1902, Cornelius Godfrey secured an interest in the concern and since that time the business has been conducted under the firm name of Wall & Company. Bankers, William P. Wall, president and C. Godfrey, cashier. The bank's responsibilities are S100,000.


In 1902, after retiring from the Wall Brothers bank, Charles R. Wall and Otto E. Quade, under the firm name of Wall & Quade, established a banking institution. It is located in the corner of the Quade - Miller - Hackman block. Here are well appointed banking rooms, in which is a beautiful vault, the outer walls of which are covered with onyx and the inner walls steel lined. In this vault is a Mosler safe and safety deposit boxes. Both these banks are among the strong financial institutions of Staunton.


Staunton has a library of several hundred volumes and an active commercial club, the members of which have an eye single toward the interests of the city. There are numerous lodges, a few of which are here mentioned: Staunton Camp, No. 572, M. W. A.; Parnassus Lodge, No. 581, K. P.; Staunton Lodge, No. 177, A. F. & A. M.; Royal Neighbors; Musicians Protective Union Local No. 219; St. Michael's Branch, No. 32; Western Catholic Union; Eastern Star; Red Men, Odd Fellows, Ben Hurs and others.

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