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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory
Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon,
Charles W. Horton
County records show that in the year 1960 Charles W. Horton was the oldest Democratic voter in Jefferson County who has been voting continuously since he cast his first vote. His very first voting was in 1896, when he cast his vote for the well-known "Commoner", William Jennings Bryan. His voting for the past sixty-four years has all been in Jefferson County, Illinois, in either Pendleton or Moores Prairie Township.
The Belle Rive community has been fortunate in having the honor of having had an inventor living in their midst. Mr. Horton has catered to the work of invention for many years. Among other things that have come into being during his inventive career, he has invented and perfected an instrument that is known as "The Magic Indicator". This indicator operates in the field of person magnetism. Testimonials from many people in different parts of the nation point out that it works excellently in locating hidden minerals that lay deposited below the surface of the earth. This indicator is very sensitive, and when used in search of various kinds of minerals, particularly metals, the performance of the instrument will indicate to the handler that he has come in contact with some kind of mineral. The inventive ability of Mr. Horton has enabled numerous people in many localities throughout the nation, when doing exploration work of mineral deposits, to avoid what would have been costly drilling and excavation pursuits. The work of Mr. Horton in perfecting a device of this kind has caused Belle Rive to be known in every state of the nation. This instrument is in constant use by men in different states to locate deposits of gas and oil. "The Magic Indicator" has been in use in other countries for some time. The wide distribution of this device has caused this vicinity to become known in foreign lands.
Frank Chaney Reporting.......
Some land about three miles south of Belle Rive is said to be virgin soil. For some reason, it has never been cultivated. It is in the heart of Moores Prairie, not far from where the Wilbanks Stand was located.
William S. Chaney, born August 8, 1838, in Tennessee, came to Spring Garden in 1862 and operated a store. He moved to Hams Grove Corner about 1871 and operated a store there until about 1885.
Mr. Chaney left Tennessee when the Civil War began because he was in sympathy with the Union cause. He had $300.00 in gold that he hid in the sand bolster of the wagon to keep the Rebels from finding it. He went back to Tennessee and joined the 9th Tennessee Cavalry, Company B. in 1864. We shall tell more of his Civil War adventures in a moment.
William Chaney never liked to walk, but rode everywhere he possibly could. He first married at the age of nineteen, and had two children by his first wife. After his first wife and one child died, he married a second time to Matilda Vaughn.
While serving in the Union Army, William Chaney was in Gillan's Brigade. Quite often the Brigade was away from the other Federal troops.
Once Chaney's group rode all night in a rainstorm to a town where the Confederate general Morgan was hiding. They got there near daybreak and surrounded the place with Union troops. General Morgan started to run out of the house, when he was shot. Morgan's body was tied on a horse and taken into town to a Union officer, who was told, "Here is Morgan." The Union officer said, "To Hell with Morgan." The men thereupon dropped General Morgan's body in the mud and left it there. William Chaney was an eye witness to this scene.
When William Chaney was at Cumberland Gap, the Union men were surrounded by Rebels for three days and nights. The Union men attempted to escape. They started out in a line, and the Rebels let them get a considerable distance from their camp before the Rebels opened fire. A Union order was finally issued for every man to take care of himself. Chaney found that of all the mules that had been hitched in the area, all of them had been seized by the troops but one. He mounted this last mule and started for home, as his home was not too far from the place where this incident took place. He stopped at the home of a man who was his personal friend but who was known to be a Rebel sympathizer. Chaney got the friend out of bed in the night and told him he was hungry. His friend said, "Bill, you can't stay here. The Rebels are camped a quarter of a mile from here." Chaney remarked, "It makes no difference. I'm hungry!" So his Rebel friend furnished him some food and sent him on his way.
Chaney, after many other amazing and amusing episodes, was discharged from service at Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 11, 1865.
William Chaney came to Belle Rive in 1871, before the rails were laid in the village, though some of the track of the new railroad had been laid in other places. He engaged in the mercantile business for about eighteen years. The present Chaney's store in Belle Rive is on and adjoining lot of the store owned by William Chaney. He later began farming and livestock raising exclusively.
William Chaney often told of driving hogs to the St. Louis market, crossing the river on the ice. There were as yet no stockyards at East St. Louis. On one occasion he drove a bunch of turkeys to St. Louis, presumable crossing the river by boat. Before he had the store at Spring Garden, Chaney once drove a herd of cattle from East Tennessee to Central Illinois.
The Methodist Church in Belle Rive is located on land that was owned by William Chaney. This church was organized in 1884.
It is reported that whiskey could be bought from William Chaney's store for one dollar per gallon. Many families would buy a gallon or more for medical use, as this was a common practice in the area.
Chaney reported people from the northeast part of the county would come twenty miles, hauling hoop-poles to make barrels and ties that were sold to the L & N Railroad.
He reported that in his early days in the vicinity deer were in abundance, and that here was an Indian camp located a short distance north of Belle Rive. It is not known what tribe of Indian they were, and the dates of their camping there is not known. William Chaney died on August 20, 1920, and is buried at Flint Cemetery approximately a mile north of Belle Rive.
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