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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory
Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon,
Mrs. Arthur Cook Reporting.......
One of the early residents that lived near McLeansboro went to Ashley on horseback and left a colt in the barn at home. He stopped in Ashley that night, and the mare got out of the barn during the night and went home. The road between McLeansboro and Ashley ran south of the village of Lovilla and went near Sugar Camp Church and the Cemetery. The mare, following her instinct for her colt, took the shortest route home. Her owner and some others followed her hoof tracks in the snow. The route that she took was from Ashley to Mt. Vernon, then a southeasterly course to where Lowery Hill is located; from there she went about a half-mile north of Richardson Hill; from there, she went by what was later Lovilla, and from there she took a straight course of McLeansboro where he colt was. A highway was built on the path that the mare took from Ashley to McLeansboro, as her path was much shorter than the original road that went farther south. A stage coach operated over this line, making regular runs from McLeansboro to Ashley and return.
John Halley operated a store at Lovilla, and when the L & N Railroad caused Dahlgren to be built, he moved his store to the new town. Prior to this, merchandise coming to Lovilla had to come by wagon from Shawneetown or Ashley.
Oscar Brake Reporting.....
David Usry operated a hotel and livery stable in Dahlgren for quite a period of time. He was a native of Kentucky, and while there he had been a tobacco grower and slave owner. He had some unhappy times with the Klu Klux Klan and the Night Riders during the Civil War.
Mr. Usry saw the first L & N train as it came though Dahlgren. The train crew quite often stopped in Dahlgren and took their meals at Usry's hotel.
Mr. Usry later in life often told of the first time the "iron horse" came through the new town of Dahlgren. It was such an unusual thing that the local people could hardly believe their own eyes. One man in the crowd as the train was approaching was asked what he thought of it, and he replied, "It will never stop." After the new train stopped, the same bystander was heard to say, "It will never start!"
Mr. Usry bought a farm from the government at $1.00 per acre. To determine the length and width of the estate they used the system of "chain links". This was done by using a chain of a certain length and laying it on the ground to reach to a designated tree that was to serve as a boundary line.
Usry recalled that his first threshing of grain on his farm was done by tread mill. Mrs. Usry did her first home lighting with grease lamps. If coffee was scarce (and it often was), they would cook ground wheat and use the liquid for beverage.
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