History of Olive Township, Madison County, Il
From: Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois and its People
Edited and Compiled by W. T. Norton, Alton
Associate Editors: Hon. N. G. Flagg, Moro
J. S. Joerner, Highland
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1912


Olive is one of the north tier of townships of the county. It is bounded on the north by Macoupin county, on the east by New Douglas, on the south by Alhambra and west by Omph-Ghent. For three fourths of a century it was strictly an agricultural community without an incorporated village in the township. Its inhabitants led a simple pastoral existence, content with raising bountiful crops of staple products unmindful of the fact that beneath their rich soil lay mines of limitless mineral wealth, far exceeding in value the returns awaiting the husbandman on the surface. But the era of mining operations, within the last decade, is a later story in the township's development.


According to Brink's history, among the early settlers of the township were the following: "Abram Carlock, John Hoxsey and John Herrington, 1817; Samuel W. Voyles, David Hendershott, James Street, James S. Breath, 1818; James Keown, Thomas Kimmett, Samuel McKittrick, Wiley Smart, 1819; Isham Vincent, 1820; Thomas Keown, W. H. Keown, 1824; John and Andrew Keown, Thomas Porter Keown, 1825; Tobias Reeves, Joel H. Olive, 1828; Robert Keown, Joel Ricks, 1829; John A. Wall, 1830; Robert Y. Voyles, 1831; Jarrett Cudd, 1832; Abel Olive, 1833; James Olive, John Coleson, 1834; Rev. Peter Long and Elisha Sackett were other early settlers."

William Jones, James Street and Thos. Ray were pioneer preachers in the township. The first school, in section 34, was taught by Matilda Thompson. The first cemetery was located on the William Olive place in section 34, and the first interment was that of Geo. W. Olive, son of Abel Olive. A church of the Christian denomination was erected in section 34 in 1862 and a Lutheran church in section 18 in 1870. There are at present three churches in the township, Lutheran, German Evangelical and Methodist. A glance at a late map of the township shows the disappearance of the names of many of the old families as the original land owners and the substitution of other names mainly those of Germans. Prior to the adoption of township organization in 1876 the east part of the present township was known as Silver Creek precinct and the west part as Worden. These were political divisions. With the adoption of township organization the name given to the congressional township was Olive, in compliment to the old and honored family of that name. The first supervisor was James Olive who held office from 1876 to 1882. He was chairman of the county board in 1881-2. He was succeeded on the board by James McKittrick. The present supervisor is A. E. Kroeger; Harry Gilbert is clerk. Olive has sent at least two of her citizens to the state legislature, Lewis Ricks in 1856-8 and William McKittrick in 1898.

Olive has increased rapidly in population since the inauguration of the mining industry. In 1890 the population was 697; in 1900, 773; in 1910, 2,627, and is now in 1912 not less than 3,000. Three fourths of it is grouped in the villages of Livingston and Williamson. The transportation facilities of the township are good. The Wabash and Litchfield & Madison railroads pass through the northwest corner of the township, and the "Big Four Cut Off" and the Chicago & Eastern Illinois railroads, on joint tracks, through the central part.* The topography of the township is that of a level plain, broken by occasional patches of timber skirting the banks of Silver Creek and its affluents.

* The Illinois Central passes through the east part of township and crosses the Big Four at Binney.


The mining development of Olive, on an extended scale, began with the completion, in 1903, of the "Big Four Cut Off" extending from Mitchell northeast through Madison county. The line is jointly operated by the C. C. C. & St. L. and the C. & E. I. A shaft was sunk in section 16, on the land of the John Livingston estate by the New Staunton Coal Company in 1904, and a railroad station established near by, and christened Livingston. The company struck a six foot vein of coal at a depth of 270 feet. Mining operations began with a complete modern equipment for digging and hoisting the coal, and under wise supervision developed into the largest coal producing mine in the county. The manager is J. E. Rutledge with T. G. Hebenstreit as superintendent; Chas. Gilbert, secretary; C. E. House, purchasing agent. The average capacity is 3,600 tons daily, or 90 carloads. It has a hoisting record of 4,395 tons in eight hours, the highest record in the county and next to the highest in the state. The mine employs 650 men. Its output in 1910 was 613,962 tons, valued at $582,432

The DeCamp Coal & Mining Company, some two miles west of Livingston mined 163,795 tons in 1910, valued at $188,364. It then employed 366 hands.

The Mt. Olive and Staunton Coal Company Mine No. r, located on the L. & M., mined 282.715 tons in 1910 valued at $258,226. It employed 299 hands.

The Mt. Olive and Staunton Company, mine No. 2, at Williamson, on a spur of the Litchfield & Madison, has a daily capacity of 2,750 tons and employs 550 hands. Thos J. Brewster, manager; John Westwood, Sr. superintendent. Its output in 1910 was 548,220 tons, valued at $507,826. This is an annual coal product for the township of 1,608,692 tons, valued at $1,536,848. This is one half the total coal product of the county.


As soon as the station was established and the mine opened a settlement sprang up. The first five houses were built in 1904, two of which are still standing, the others having been burned. A town was laid out on section 15 and 16, by the heirs of John Livingston on the lands bequeathed them by their father. It was incorporated as a village in 1905: The first president of the village board was David G. Livingston, son of John Livingston, who served from 1805 to 1911. The present village government is constituted as follows: Joseph Healey, president; John M. Arkabauer, clerk; Joseph Hebenstreit, treasurer. Board members: Harry Gilbert, Thomas McCollister, Joseph C. Spencer, Ernst Zamboni, George Kreuter and Mat Bertulis.

A schoolhouse was erected in 1907 and enlarged in 1912. It now contains six rooms. The board of education elected in 1912 consists of Thos. McAllister, president; John M. Arkebauer, clerk; E. A. Hill, D. E. Aylward, W. S. Horton, B. Finer, Joseph Hebenstreit.

The population of Livingston, in 1910, when the village was five years old, was 1,092. It is now over ',zoo. It is provided with concrete sidewalks on all the principal avenues and one walk extending to the coal shaft in Williamson is two miles long in a straight line. The Bank of Livingston occupies a neat two story brick building. It was established September 15, 1911, by D. E. Aylward & Company, P. J. Aylward is president; D. E. Aylward, cashier; J. V. Mullen, assistant cashier. Capital stock $10,000, responsibility $40,000.

Livingston has one church, of the Methodist denomination, erected in the fall of 1911. It is near the line of Williamson village and supplies the spiritual wants of both communities. Livingston has thirteen saloons and the usual complement of stores. The population is largely foreign. The village has many inviting little homes and a good hotel. The railroad depot and grounds are much more attractive than the usual run, of country railway stations.

D. G. Livingston, the leading man of the village and for whom it was named, president of the board of trustees for six years, is also postmaster. His brother, Robert Livingston occupies the same Federal position at New Douglas. Their father, the late John Livingston, was born in Ireland December 25, 1830, and came to this county with his mother in 1846. He at first supported himself by working as a day laborer. He was upright and industrious, saved his money, and in 1861 was able to buy a fine farm in sections is and 16, and was eventually the owner of 30o acres of highly improved land. He was married in 1857 to Mary A. J. Brown. He and his wife were members of the Staunton Presbyterian church. Mr. Livingston was a Republican in politics and filled various local offices with credit. He left a large family all of whom reflect the virtues of their parents and are filling honorable positions in life. Three of the daughters are, or have been, school teachers.


The village of Williamson lies immediately north of Livingston in sections 9 and 10. It was laid out by the Mt. Olive and Staunton Coal Company on land purchased from Henry Lithe. The village is entirely dependent on the coal industry. Mine No. 2 of the company is located here and ranks next to the Livingston mine in tons hoisted and hence is second in the county. The great proportion of dwellings in the village are owned by the coal company and are characterized by simplicity of architectural design and finish. The majority of miners in these villages are Slays or Italians. The village has a neat school house Morgan E. Reece, who recently took the school census, found 350 children of school age. He says the children of the foreigners are bright and eager to learn, and their parents anxious to have them in school. Williamson takes its name from the family of John and Mathew Williamson whose farm land is included in the village site. The village was incorporated in 1907. The first board of trustees consisted of John Commit, president; J. Crassen, M. Krupp, George Dyzorus, R. T. McAllister, Joseph Farrimond and H. Gray.

The present village board is constituted as follows: Joseph Farrimond, Jr., president; John Westwood, Sr., George Dyzours, Sr., Wm. Herbert, Sr., Joseph Runner and Edgar Neal. Joseph Farrimond, Sr., is treasurer; John Westwood, Jr., clerk; J. E. Dixon, police magistrate.

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