CHOLERA IN 1849
In 1849 Alton was visited with an epidemic of cholera, whick proved, fatal to many. In St. Louis it was frightful
scourge. As an illustration of its ravages I give the following incident related to me by Capt. William H. Hayden
of Springfield, at that time a resident of Alton: A family living in St. Louis, named Bergen, came to Alton to
try and escape the scourge, the son of the family, which consisted of seven persons, having died. On arriving in
Alton the family went to the home of Judge Bailhache, Mrs. Bergen being a relative. Previous to their coming Mrs.
Bailhache had died of the cholera. Soon after arriving, Mr. Bergen was taken ill with the disease and Captain Hayden
went over to help care for him at night and stayed with him until the patient died at 3 o'clock in the morning.
Mr. Hayden then went home to obtain a little rest, and returned at 8 o'clock. Mrs. Bergen met him at the door,
and exclaimed, "Oh, don't I have trouble." At half past two in the afternoon, of the same day, Mrs. Bergen
herself died, and two daughters quickly followed, leaving two other daughters as sole survivors of a family of
seven. The two girls remaining were cared for at the home of Mr. Hayden's parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Hayden.
This is simply an illustration of the terrible character of the disease and the frightful rapidity with which it
wrought its deadly work.
TWO PRESIDENTS VISITED ALTON
Two presidents visited Alton during their term of office. One was Millard Fillmore, who was here in 1851 or
1852. He probably arrived by river as, in departing, he took the train for Springfield at the old stone depot.
President Andrew Johnson also visited Alton while he was in office in his famous "swing around the circle."
He made a speech at a stand at the corner of Front and Piasa streets. William H. Seward, secretary of state, also
spoke. General Grant was in the party but was silent as a sphinx, yet got all the applause. The presidential party
was met here by a fleet of twenty eight steamers who escorted the president to St. Louis. Commodore Joseph Brown
was in command of the fleet.
LINCOLN - DOUGLAS DEBATE
The closing debate between Lincoln and Douglas in the famous contest of 1858 was held in Alton on October 15th
of that year. The details will be found in Chapter XXI.
OLDEST FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY IN ILLINOIS
The Illinois Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the oldest fire insurance company in the state, was organized in
Alton, April 4, 1839, with B. F. Long as president and M. G. Atwood secretary, and soon attained a high rank. I
have not the names of the original directors, but in 1845 the directors were: John Atwood, Samuel G. Bailey, John
Bailhache, Alfred Dow, M. G. Atwood, B. F. Edwards, O. M. Adams, B. K. Hart, John James, B. F. Long, Elias Hibbard,
Robert Smith, G. W. Long, Wm. F. DeWolf, Geo. B. Arnold. The officers were: B. F. Long, president; M. G. Atwood,
secretary; Geo. B. Arnold, treasurer. In i866 the officers were: M. G. Atwood, president; John Atwood, secretary;
H. W. Billings, counsellor; L. Kellenberger, treasurer; with Samuel Wade, Henry Lea, Lyman Trumbull, F. A. Hoffman,
J. W. Schweppe, C, A. Caldwell, M. H. Topping and M. G. Dale, added to or replacing others in the directorate.
The company had agencies all over the state and for many years was a flourishing institution. It built a tine office
in Middletown and around it were grouped the residences of the officials. The locality was locally called "Insuranceville."
The office was subsequently moved to what is now the Masonic building on State street. It extended its operations
and entered the insurance field in Chicago where it met its fate. It was wiped out by the great conflagration of
1871 which destroyed the great part of that city. Many other insurance companies were swept out of existence by
the same unprecedented calamity.
Alton was the residence of many distinguished men including three U. S. senators: David Baker, Sr., James Semple
and Lyman Trumbull. Also of Hon. Cyrus Edwards, who served many terms in the state legislature, both houses, and
in 1838 was the Whig candidate for governor.
One of the most exciting political campaigns of later days was that of 1880 between Garfield and Hancock. Great
meetings, flaming torchlight processions and general illuminations were features of the campaign. The presidential
canvass of 1896, between McKinley and Bryan was almost equally exciting but was devoid of the great parades of
1880. Politically, for the last fifty years Alton has been almost equally divided between the two great parties
with a preponderance in favor of the Republicans the last few years.
THE CIVIL WAR
The removal of the arms from the St. Louis arsenal to Alton was the most daringly planned and successfully executed
exploit of the opening days of the Civil war. It was conducted by Capt. James B. Stokes of Chicago, acting under
authority of Governor Yates. He was ably assisted by Col. S. A. Buckmaster, of Alton, who was also in the confidence
of the governor.
Alton's part in the Civil war is narrated in Chapter XXXVI and will not be reviewed here. During the war Alton
was a military post on the border and was a lively place commercially, but after peace was declared there came
a slump in its prosperity that lasted over fifteen years. Times were so dull real estate could hardly be given
away. The renaissance came with the establishment of the Illinois Glass Works. Begun in a small way the plant rapidly
expanded. It is now the largest manufacturer of hollow glass ware in the world. Its plant covers an area of fifty
acres. Its success is a monument to the financial genius of William Eliot Smith. Other large industrial enterprises
followed which, in connection with the glass plant, demonstrated in a practical way the advantages of the city
as an industrial centre.
It is not intended to review in detail Alton's history for the last thirty years. That should be the province of
a later writer when what are now current events stand out in greater relative significance. But present conditions
may be adverted to and correct inferences drawn therefrom. Its progress in education as reflected in its splendid
schools, colleges and academies, its libraries and literary societies, is related elsewhere. Its trade and commerce
are shown in its hundreds of wholesale and retail stores and warehouses. Its industries in many of the largest
plants in the Mississippi valley. Its religious aspirations in over a score of stately churches and the spacious
edifice of the Y. M. C. A. Its municipal expansion in the addition to its territory of North Alton in 1908 and
Upper Alton in 1911, giving it now an aggregate population of 21,000. Its welcome to transients is expressed in
ample hotel accommodations for visitors. The two largest hostelries are the Hotel Madison and the Illini, the latter
lately completed at a cost of $175,000. It is equipped with every improvement known to metropolitan life.
PIONEER MASONS AND ODD FELLOWS
Secret and fraternal lodges and societies are numbered by the score and have a large membership. Alton is the
birth place of Odd Fellowship in Illinois, the order having been instituted here in 1837, and Free Masonry the
The history of Free Masonry in Madison county seems to date back to organization of Franklin Lodge, No. 25, on
November 25, 1837. Franklin Lodge was under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Missouri until 1844 when it
came under the care of the newly formed Grand Lodge of Illinois. It was moved from Alton city to Upper Alton in
1843. Charles Howard, the second mayor of Alton, was the first master of Franklin lodge. Piasa Lodge, No. 27, was
constituted October 9, 1844. The orders of the craft are now represented in Alton as follows: Alton Chapter No.
8, R. A. M.; Alton Council No. 3, R. & S. M.; Belvidere Commandry No. 2, K. T., chartered September 18, 1853;
Franklin Lodge, No. 25, as above, and Franklin Chapter No. 15, R. A. M. Other lodges were formed in years past,
among them Erwin Lodge, No. 315, which appear to have been merged with other lodges.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was introduced into Illinois by Samuel L. Miller, by the organization of Western
Star lodge, No. 1, in 1837. Wildey Encampment, No. 1, was constituted July 11, 1838. A Grand Lodge of the State
was instituted in Alton the same year. Other organizations followed. At present the order is represented in Alton
by Western Star, No. 1, Wildey Encampment, No. 1, Alton Lodge, No. 475, Upper Alton, No. 466, Carlin Lodge, No.
248, D. of R. The I. O. O. F. own their own building which, besides their own spacious hall houses Temple theatre
and various stores and offices. The Masonic Order have a fine four story building on State street and have just
acquired adjoining property for a new edifice. The Elks and the Eagles also own spacious and elegant new homes
of their own. The Knights of Pythias have been represented in Alton since early in the history of the order. Fleur
de Lys Lodge, No. 68, has a large membership. Of fraternal insurance orders the M. W. A. have the largest membership.
Alton is provided with all the public improvements and utilities any modern city can boast. She has thirty miles
of paved streets within her limits and four or five more in process of construction. She has ten miles of street
railroads within her corporate limits. Two Interurban lines, the Alton, Granite & St. Louis, and the Alton,
Jacksonville & Peoria, the latter completed fifteen miles out of Alton. Two telephone systems, the Bell and
the Kinloch, both providing local and long distance service. Two telegraph companies, the Postal and the Western
Union. A public heating plant, gas works and an electric lighting system. A complete system of water works, which,
in connection with a finely equipped fire department affords ample fire protection. The water works system is built
on the gravity plan with hydrants all over the city. Capacity of machinery, 10,000,000 gallons daily. The fire
department has five engine houses provided with three horse trucks and two motor trucks.
The postal service of Alton is metropolitan with a free delivery system covering the entire city including the
North Alton and Upper Alton additions. The office is first class in rank and the government building lately erected
for P, 0, purposes, at the corner of Third and Alby streets, at a cost of $9o,000, is modern in every particular.
The postmasters of Alton and Upper Alton have been as follows, the names of those postmasters of what became Tipper
Alton being given first:
Alton, Madison Co., Ill., Augustus Langworthy, postmaster; date of appointment, August 27, 1819.
Alton, Madison Co., Ill., Bennet Maxey, postmaster, date of appointment, Dec, 8, 1823,
Name of office changed to Salu; Bennett Maxey, postmaster; date of appointment, Feb, 9, 1824,
Name of office changed to Alton; George Smith, postmaster; date of appointment, Aug, 14, 1826,
Name of office changed to Upper Alton, David Smith, postmaster date of appointment, July 27, 1835; Andrew Clifford,
postmaster date of appointment, June 19, 1844; John Cooper, postmaster date of appointment Aug. 3, 1844; David
Smith, postmaster date of appointment, June 2, 1845; Franklin Hewitt, postmaster date of appointment, April 27,
1849; Joseph Chapman, postmaster date of appointment, June 2, 1853; James Smith, postmaster date of appointment,
Sept, 24, 1858; Aaron Butler, postmaster date of appointment, April 8, 1861; T. B. Hurlbut, postmaster date of
appointment, Mar, 28, 1865; Aaron Butler, postmaster date of appointment, May 21, 1867; J. H. Weeks, postmaster-date
of appointment, Jan, 30, 1877; Mark Dickson, postmaster date of appointment, Aug, 11, 1885; J, H, Weeks, postmaster
date of appointment, April 29, 1889; Wm. L. Gillham appointment, April 14, 1894; H. A. Marsh, postmaster date of
appointment, Jan, 10, 1898; J. G. Seitz, postmaster date of appointment, March 14, 1902.
The list for what is now Alton follows:
Lower Alton: Jacob C. Bruner, postmaster date of appointment, Nov, 24, 1831,
Name of office changed to Alton; Jacob C, Bruner, postmaster date of appointment, Oct, 16, 1835; Nathaniel Buckmaster,
postmaster date of appointment, Apr. 13, 1838; Cyrus Edwards, postmaster date of appointment, Aug, 6, 1841; B.
F. Edwards, postmaster date of appointment, July 12, 1843; John Hatch, postmaster date of appointment, Oct, 11,
1844; Peter Merrill, postmaster date of appointment, July 31, 1845; Timothy Souther, postmaster date of appointment,
May 24, 1847; R. W. English, postmaster date of appointment, November 10, 1853; J. G. Lamb, postmaster date of
appointment, Mar, 30, 1861; I. J. Richmond, postmaster date of appointment, Jan. 26, 1875; Chas, Holden, Jr., postmaster
date of appointment, May 31, 1878; T. H. Perrin, postmaster date of appointment, July 3, 1886; W. T, Norton, postmaster
date of appointment, Sept, 6, 1889; John Buckmaster, postmaster date of appointment, April 14, 1894; Julia Buckmaster,
postmistress date of appointment, Dec, 1, 1896; W. T, Norton, postmaster date of appointment, May to, 1897; Henry
Brueggemann, postmaster date of appointment, Feb. 5, 1906.
These lists show that the office which became Upper Alton was established August 27, 1819, under the name of Alton,
The name was changed to Salu in 1824; changed back to Alton in 1826, and to Upper Alton in 1835, which name it
retained until consolidated with the Alton office in 19r2. The Alton office was first named Lower Alton and was
established in 1831, The name was changed to Alton in 1835 which it has since retained, The receipts of the Alton
postoffice for the year ending September 30, 1911, were $42,202,32. The disbursements for the same period were
$28,338.54. Surplus earnings forwarded to department, $13,863.78. This is a handsome showing of the business prosperity
of Alton. It does not include Upper Alton which continues an independent office at this writing.
OLD-TIME CITIZENS AND BUSINESS MEN
The Madison County Gazetteer, of 1866, says: In 1830 there were few permanent settlers located in the village.
Among those who arrived in 1831 were B. G. Gilman, Edward Bliss, William Manning, Samuel Wade, Samuel Avis, Mark
Pierson, William Hayden, Elijah Haydon, A. C. Hankinson, J. D. Smith, J. S. Lane, J. T. Hudson and R. M. Dunlap.
Thos. G. Hawley had come some time previous, as had George and John Quigley, also Andrew Miller. Winthrop S. Gilman
came in 1829. William Hall came in the early thirties. He built a frame house in upper Middletown which is still
standing. Samuel Pitts, Sr., came in 1836, W. W. Cary also in 1836, and Rev. A. T. Norton in 1839, although he
came to the state in 1835.
The Gazetteer also gives the following list of men who established themselves here in early days and were still
in business in 1866:
Samuel Wade, lumber; 1831; banker.
Dr. E. Marsh, druggist; 1832; banker.
Arba Nelson, 1836; hardware.
P. B. Whipple, 1835; dry goods.
H. B. Bowman, 1839; dry goods.
Isaac Scarritt, 1837; dry goods.
Richard Flagg, 1837; dry goods.
Robert DeBow, 1835; grocer.
Thos. G. Starr, 1838; grocer.
S. A. Parks, 1836; publisher.
Charles Phinney, 1838; grocer.
Amasa S. Barry (located 1837); druggist; 1842.
J. W. & H. Schweppe, 1844; clothiers.
J. W. Schweppe, came 1837.
William Hayden, 1831; lumber.
H. C. Sweetser, 1838; lumber.
George Quigley, 1832; tinware.
M. W. Carroll, 1832; harness and saddlery.
James S. Stone came 1836 or '37.
E. L. Dimmock, 1838; boots and shoes."
The Gazetteer also gives a list of many residents who were here prior to the close of 1840. I copy those not mentioned
in some previous connection: Hezekiah Davis, William McCorkle, M. Gillespie, William Barrett, J. A. Langdon, Richard
Shipley, S. H. Denton, John Quigley. Isaac Negus, S. C. Pierce, J. T. Thurston, George Kelley, Eli Foster, O. J.
Foster, Samuel Bush, J. W. Stoddard, G. Robbins, Hezekiah Hawley, John R. Woods, Arba Nelson, B. F. Child, Henry
Lea, W. Libby, Calvin Stone, A. L. Corson, S. E. More, T. L. & T. Waples, G. S. Gaskins, W. Flamed, John Hogan,
W. and H. Tanner, Dr. B. F. Edwards, T. P. Wooldridge, J. C. Woods, J. M. Morgan, W. T. Miller, John Batterton,
J. C. Milnor, John Dill, A. Platt, J. W. Hart, C. S. Leech, A. G. Sloo, H. G. McClintock, Caleb Stone, George W.
Fox, R. McFarland, Moses Forbes, S. L. Miller, Chas. E. Frost, Geo. Walworth, S. H. Kennedy, James H. Lea, J. G.
Lamb, John Dye, E. Trenchery, W. F. and J. Leonard, S. Lufkin, George L. Ward, John Chaney, Edward Levis, James
E. Starr, Geo. McBride, Andrew Mather, John Mullady, W. L. Chappell, George and W. A. Holton, B. F. Sargent, E.
H. Harrison, John Rowe, Charles Trumbull, James D. Burns, J. R. Stanford.
Among others who were here in the thirties were James S. Stone, Andrew Alexander, A. W. Corey, Samuel Thurston,
B. F. Long, Beale Howard, J. A. Langdon, Charles Holmes, W. H. Robertson, Geo. W. Fuller, Orrin Cooley, D. T. Wheeler,
Nathan Johnson, A. Olney. In Upper Alton the names of Enoch Long, Isaac Waters, H. K. Lathy and Henry H. Snow may
be added to those resident there prior to 1821.
Of leading German citizens who were early residents of Alton, Fred Hoffmeister, who came here in 1833, seems
to have been the vanguard. Dr F. Humbert came to Upper Alton in 1836. Hon. Geo. H. Weigler in 1838. He became prominent
in public life; was a justice of the peace, member of the city council many years, and a representative in the
general assembly in 1874-6. Hon. J. H. Yager, who came here prior to the war, having previously lived in Edwardsville,
filled many public offices including state's attorney and member of both houses of the state legislature. Among
other leading German citizens who settled in Alton at an early date may be mentioned A. L. Hoppe, the Joesting
families, C. and F. Wuerker, J. W. and H. Schweppe, R. Maerdian, J. J. Hartmann, Andrew Rosenberger, Philip Maurer,
Henry Neinhaus, G. A. Deterding, M. Jaeckel, Chas. Rodemeyer, Philip Wenzel, Dr. E. Guelich, Joseph Floss, Col.
John H. Kuhn, Jacob Kuhn, H. M. Tonsor, William Sonntag, R. Gossrau, Louis Berner, Anton Sauvage, Theodore Lehne,
H. F. Lehne, R. J. Bierbaum, Charles and N. Seibold, Maj. Emil Adam. Many of the descendants of these early German
residents are among the leading business men of Alton today.
Among those who arrived here in 1831 and survived to an honored old age in Alton were Samuel Wade and William Hayden.
Mr. Wade served four terms as mayor.
Of the pioneer business men named above Charles Phinney was the last survivor. He died in 1904, aged 94 years.
He established himself in the grocery business here in 1838 and conducted it personally until his last illness
in 1904, a period of sixty six years - a record almost without parallel - of active business life.
INDUSTRIAL NOTES OF TODAY
The industries of the Alton of today are many and various. They are headed by the Illinois Glass Co., employing
3,500 hands. This is a monument to the wonderful enterprise of Edward Levis, Sr., William Eliot Smith and their
successors, the five Levis brothers, who now head this great enterprise the largest bottle factory in the world.
The Glass Company turns out ten million gross of bottles annually, equal to 144,000,000. Value of product, $2,500,000.
The officers are: Geo. M. Levis, president; R. H. Levis, vice president; Charles Levis, secretary; and J. M. Levis,
The Sparks Milling Co. and Standard-Tilton Milling Co., give Alton rank as the fifth Milling centre in the country.
Their output in 1911 was 938,271 barrels of flour of which the Standard-Tilton turned out 534,390 barrels and the
Sparks Co., 403,881.
Each mill has a capacity of 3,000 barrels of flour per day. James T. Corbett is superintendent of the Stanard-Tilton
mill. The officers of the Sparks Company are: H. B. Sparks, president; F. R. Milnor and W. L. Sparks, vice presidents;
C. F. Sparks, treasurer; Geo. S. Milnor, secretary.
Other great idustries are Beall Bros.' three factories, the first of miners' tools and miners' supplies; the second
of high grade shovels, spades and scoops; the third (at East Alton) of heavy hammers and railroad track tools.
The value of the output of the three factories annually is $1,000,000. The officers are J. W. Beall, president;
A. M. Beall, vice president; E. H. Beall, treasurer; and Charles L. Beall, secretary and manager of East Alton
The Alton Brick Company conducts a mammoth plant turning out 185,000 brick daily. Edward Rodgers is president and
Eben Rodgers, secretary of this enterprise which is revolutionizing road building in Illinois.
The Duncan Bros. Foundry and Machine Shop is another notable enterprise of vast dimensions, of which the three
brothers, James, William M. and George D. Duncan, are the proprietors. They operate the American Coal Washer Co.,
with James Duncan, president; Geo. D. Duncan, vice president; W. M. Duncan, secretary and treasurer. Also the Illinois
Stoker Company, with James Duncan, president; W. M. Duncan, vice president; and Geo. D. Duncan, treasurer. The
annual output of these factories is valued at $500,000, and is shipped to all parts of the United States and Canada.
The Illinois Corrugated Paper Company manufactures strawboard products of all kinds and although a new enterprise
is one of the great industries of the city.
In 1873 the Hapgood Plow Company established their famous factory in Alton. The original partners were Chas. H.
Hapgood, John Lane and Geo. R. Laughton. As the years passed on they revolutionized the industry by putting on
the market the Riding Plow and the Hancock Disc Plow which swept the country. The concern has patronage from all
countries of the civilized world. It is now owned by H. L. Black, C. H. Hapgood having retired, but retains the
Other industries of note are: Luer Bros. Packing plants, the C. F. Sparks Machine Co., which has built many of
the finest yachts on the river, four planing mills, four ice plants, mammoth box factory, two carriage factories,
three bottling plants, numerous lime kiln and stone crusher plants, two breweries, a broom factory, rug factory,
several extensive quarries, etc., etc., in all some seventy plants with an aggregate output in value of some $35,000,000
per annum. Adjoining Alton are The Stoneware Pipe Co., the Equitable Powder Manufacturing Co., the Western Cartridge
Co., with branch in Alton city, Beall Bros.' Tool Works, the Federal Lead Works, the largest smelter of the Guggenheim
system, the Alton Boxboard and Paper Co., a new but immense concern, the Standard Oil Refinery, the largest western
branch of that great corporation. Wood River, town, and Benbow, city, are the outgrowth of this great industry.
Other features: City hall, twenty five churches, modern theatres, two public libraries, two Old People's Homes,
two public parks, Rock Spring park, containing 75 acres; large hospital, 200 mercantile houses, fourteen public
school buildings, one college, one military school, three academies, several parochial schools, two business colleges,
modern hotels, Y. M. C. A. building, cost $50,000, nearly one hundred social, fraternal and literary organizations,
seven building and loan associations, five banks with resources of $5,490,303 and deposits of $4,889,403
[Return to part 1 of Alton, Illinois history]