History of the Lower Hills 
Aden lies in the northeast corner of Hamilton County, Illinois, 
just south of the Wayne County line.

by Mrs. Lena F. Taylor
Published April 15, 1991
Wayne County Press

Contributed by Gail Hahn Hutchcraft.

          [My thanks goes to four of our residents now living in Aden, Cecil Musgrave, Leslie Dale Taylor, Mavis (Fields) Hall, Bernadine (Clark) Hall.]

          All this land at one time belonged to the State of Arkansas.  President Franklin Pierce elected to give it to the State of Illinois.  It was selected overflowed Swamp Land.

          Leslie Taylor's grandfather, T. H. B. Taylor, came from Milford, Il., thru this area on his way to Washington State to be a timber buyer.  His wife was born in Hamilton County May 22, 1854.  So her people were still here and they convinced Mr. Taylor to settle here.  This was in 1878 that he bought a farm here.

Was "Lower Hills"

          The first community was known as Lower Hills.  Most of the people settled here because of the prime timber.  There was also good fishing and hunting.  And many of the men and boys worked in the timber.  There were saw mills here and there throughout the area.

          According to "Glenn J. Sneed" who wrote "Ghost Towns of Southern Illinois", the Village Lower Hills Post Office was established December 1, 1875, and was discontinued August 15, 1891, and reopened November of the same year.  James Isaacs was the postmaster and Justice of Peace.  He and his brother, Steven Isaacs, would take turns riding by horseback to McLeansboro every day for the mail.  And during bad weather they would walk.  At this time there were few roads, many trails and foot paths.  The community was mostly woods.

          The Lower Hills School #1 was located a quarter mile south from where the old Aden school stands today.  This school was still in session in 1896.  Ana Hall was the teacher.  There were 71 pupils attending at this time, twenty-eight males and forty-three females.  (Leslie Taylor's father and one of Mavis Hall's aunts were attending school at this time).  The daily attendance was 43.  Teachers salary per month was $22.  This school was built of logs with puncheon (split logs).

An Old Store

          There was an old store still remembered just a half mile south of the Way-White substation, on what is still remembered as the Queen place.  When and who ran this store or built it is not known but it is believed to have been there during Lower Hills days.  Jennie (Garrison) Muehlenbein remembers her father whom everyone called Uncle Doug use to go over and site and talk to the proprietor.

          The name of Lower Hills was changed to Aden February 15, 1894, according to "Sneed's" book and as there seems to no known date for sure, I must believe this date is close, if not right.

          (Leslie Taylor remembers being told by George Isaacs that Aden was named after a school teacher that stayed at the home of his father, James Isaac).

          The oldest store remembered in Aden was located on the southeast corner of where the Leo Hall homestead once stood.  This was a quarter mile west on the south side from the old Aden school.  This store was run by John Hutchcraft.  When this store was built or who built it is unknown.

          According to a couple of the residents, an old school (not Log) was moved from where John Hutchcraft ran the store to where the Robert Musgrave homestead once stood.  They then built a shed on each side and used it as a barn.  The blackboards were painted boards.  The name of this school is unknown.  But wondering if it could have been the first Aden School.

          A. J. Poorman built the first rail road thru the bottoms. There was a stave mill in the bottoms south of Ernest Hawthorne's.

          The timber men at Egyptian tie and timber camp located around the south bottoms and "White City" and "Slap Out", traded Aden and other communities close.  Tram tracks ran from Mill Shoals and all thru the south bottoms.  Rail spikes are still appearing today.  So business was thriving for Aden.  The community was very thickly settled on and from Skillet Fork north to Haw Creek south.

          There was church built in Aden around 1890 known as Friendly Zion General Baptist Church today.  It was just one room then.  And the belfry was much higher then.  The church was built for the use of all denominations, as each denomination only had church once a month.  So everyone went to church was weekend, Saturday night and Sunday.

          James Isaacs donated the ground for the church.  Versa (Clevenger) Wilkerson remembers that her grandfather hauled the lumber by team and wagon from McLeansboro.  There were many from the community who contributed, and worked building this church.  The south addition was added around the early 1900s.  This made it in a T shape.

Aden School

          Just when the Aden School Dist. #60 was built is not known for sure.  But two residents remember hearing (Henry Garrison) saying he went his first year to the new Aden School.  This is believed to have been around 1910.  The Lower Aden School Dist. 59 was built about the same time.  The Lower Aden School was located a mile and quarter east and a half mile south of the Aden School.  Leslie Mavis and Bernadine remember being in school when there were eighty pupils in school one year, the largest attendance of any rural school in Hamilton County at that time.

          A restaurant can be remembered on the northwest corner on the edge of where the church stands.

          After John Hutchcraft's wife died Mr. Hutchcraft sold his store to Walter Musgraves, who then moved it on the east side where the school is today.  Mr. Musgraves built a room onto the store, where they lived.  A creamery building was built east of the store.  This building also had two sheds built on--one on each of the creamery.  So the store was moved a quarter mile east.  The post office was in this store at this time.

          James Green owned and ran a blacksmith shop east of the creamery building.  Some say that there was another smithy before Mr. Green.  But his name has been forgotten.

          Other owners of the big store after Walter Musgrave were Will and Robert Hall, Avery Hall and Lester Parker.  The store burned while Lest Parker owned it.  George Isaacs then opened a store by enclosing a shed onto the creamery building.  Then Mr. Isaacs sold this store to James Donoho.  George Isaacs then built another store on the south side of the road across from the school.  This building still stands and is now a home.

Moved His Shop

          James Green, the village blacksmithy (about the time Walter Musgraves was killed) moved his blacksmith shop across the road on the southwest corner close to the store and about in front of the road that goes up to the church.  Later on Mrs. Green built a small building for an ice cream parlor.

          Those running the store after George Isaacs were Charley Webber, Victor Hall and Willis Davis.  The store that James Donoho ran only lasted a couple of years.  For a few years the mail was brought to the community by carrier.  The mail was addressed to Garrison, Il.  then by carrier.  There were rows of mailboxes close to the store at this time.

          Willis Davis bought the Garrison Store around 1943 during World War II and moved back to the north side of the road next to the school.  Mr. Davis' father-in=law, Bill Darnell, had built a home on the east side of where the creamery once stood.  The Aden Post Office was bought to Aden after the Garrison store was moved, March 1, 1943 and discontinued on December 31, 1953.

Began Oil Leasing

          The Texas Oil Company began leasing in 1937-38, and the first well that the Texas Oil Company drilled was the Silverman #1 around 1938.  The North bottoms and to the east.  The bottoms north and parts of Aden were booming again.  Several of the Aden people were working for the Texas Oil Company.  There were even homes built for the residents working for them.

         After Willis Davis sold the store, other owners were Bill Pierce, Raul Petty, Homer Robertson, Clarance Drew, and then back to Willis Davis.  The last owner was Ruth Minor.  The store once again burned, not be build back.  Our post office closed in 1953.  Our address became RFD 1, Wayne City, IL.

          There were free movies shown in the late 40s, during bad weather in one side of the building of the store, that was no longer used on the south side, and during good weather behind the store building on the north side.

          By the end of the oil boom people began moving out.  There were empty houses everywhere.

A New School

          A new Aden Community Consolidated Dist. #106 was built in 1956, a little over a mile from the old Aden School.  All the small Schools closed at this time.  Schools closed were Lower Aden, Aden, Ellis Mound, Garrison, Belle Prairie, Dog Town and Lakeside.

          Around 1962-63 Clifford Means came into the south bottoms and began clearing all the great timber, which were pushed down; wind rowed and burned.  The same thing happened to the north bottoms by Ben Nations's and others.  This is about the time our big store burned.

          The Aden Community Consolidated School #106 closed its doors around 1973.  Part of the children went to Beaver Creek and the rest to Oak Grove school.  The Aden School #106 was sold and was made into a machine shed.

          After the should was gone there was no longer a gathering place where al could socialize other than their two churches, Friendly Zion and Ellis Mound.  All that's at Aden today is five houses, the church and the old Aden School.

          The Lower Aden School along with two homes in the community burned when some men came by about 5 a.m. about twelve years ago.  Now there are only memories of a once bustling place.  And all the bottom land north and south is being farmed.

Thank you for visiting "Yesterdays"!


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