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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory

Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon, Illinois
December, 1960

Page L-1

Mrs. Blanche Dulany Reporting…..

Lovilla, Illinois

The little town of Lovilla, Ill. was located in Hamilton Co., in the SW quarter of the SW quarter of Section 21, township 4 S, range, 5 E of the third principal meridian.  This is 2-3/4 miles south and 1 mile east of the present site of Dahlgren.

Lovilla was surveyed June 21, 1854, but it is probable that it was a trading post for a good many years previous.  It is not known who surveyed the site, but it may have been Enos T. Allen, who lived at Lovilla, and who was an authorized surveyor for Hamilton Co., or it may have been John Judd, who lived in the Moore’s Prairie vicinity.

The exact origin of the name of Lovilla cannot be traced, but one belief is that it was named after a certain Lovilla McLean, the daughter of Dr. William B. McLean, one of the first residents of McLeansboro.  If this be the case, then it is evident that Dr. McLean may have established, or had a hand in establishing, the first place of business there.  History reveals that Dr. McLean was a far sighted and civic minded man, and since land speculation and surveying of town sites seemed to be quite a money making investment during the 1800’s, it is only natural that he would have been interested enough to venture into such a project.  Another theory is that the word Lovilla simply meant “Low Town” in reference to its location in the lower part of the state.  Others have suggested that since Lovilla was located at the top of a hill, and you traveled up and out of the valley before you could see it, hence “Lo Villa,” or, “behold, the village!”

The greater part of this town lay on the east side of the old “Fairfield Road” which ran north and south and connected with the “Old Goshen Road” just south of Hebo Church, and with the “George Rogers Clark Road” near Fairfield.  This old “Fairfield Road” was a route of travel long before the surveying of the “Old State Road” which passed through Lovilla at a NW – SW angle.  This road was completed about 1850, and extended from East St. Louis to SW of McLeansboro, where it connected with the “Old Goshen Road” somewhere near Reed School.

Lovilla, according to an old plat, had three streets running in a NE – SW direction. (Note by Continental Historical Bureau:  Actually, these streets ran SE-NW, if our information be correct, which is borne out by looking at Mrs. Dulany’s copy of the town plat.), and one street, called Franklin St., running ins NE-SW direction and intersecting the others.  The old “Fairfield Road” was called Market St., and crossed Main St. in the center of town.  The west half of Lovilla was known as the “Goodridge Addition,” and was never laid off into lots but the original town had thirty-one lots.

Lovilla, then, being situated at the crossroads of two main routes of travel, had the promise of becoming a thriving little town.  The stagecoach came that way, bringing mail and passengers from St. Louis, Vandalia, and Mt. Vernon to McLeansboro and on to Shawneetown, which was at the time the most important city in southern Illinois.

As the stagecoach approached Lovilla, the driver blew a blast on a bugle, and the inhabitants swarmed out to greet him.  Here the mail was delivered to the post office, and other mail and passengers picked up.  Often the driver and passengers spent the night her, which must have been quite an event in the lives of the townspeople, since news was scarce and traveled slow in those days.

At one time the stagecoach station, where the driver changed horses, ate, and sometimes spent the night, was operated by Thomas Burton, grandfather of John T. Wood, Carson (Jack) Wood, and O. B. Moore of Dahlgren.  It is easy to understand why Grandfather Burton would enjoy such a position, since loved to converse with strangers and has often been known to stop passerby, invite them in, feed and bed them, just for the sake of company and news from other localities.

At this point in my story, it would be well to mention that often shows and circuses passed through this little village.  Their steam calliope would play loudly as they traveled along, and its music could be heard for miles around.  Often the country people went into Lovilla that evening in hops that “the show” had stopped for the night.  Gypsies, too, traveled this way, begging, stealing and swapping horses, and often getting the worst end of the deal, for the Lovilla pioneer had plenty of “horse sense”, and was not easily “outsmarted” even by the cunning gypsies.

The people of this little community, like all other early settlements, had few conveniences.  Before the days of the stagecoach, they had to travel by horseback to Shawneetown to get their mail.  They also made trips there after salt, and carried it back in a bag tied to the saddle horn.  The meal was home ground, and of course there was sorghum and New Orleans molasses, the last being quite a luxury, since it had to be hauled a long way—being made from the juice of Louisiana sugar cane.  The nearest bank was at Shawneetown.  The United States land office was also located there, so these people often had cause for a long and dangerous trip to Shawneetown.  All dry goods, groceries, etc., were hauled in wagons, over bad roads, either from St. Louis or Shawneetown.  Almost all commodities came in barrels, such as barrels of flour, barrels of sugar, barrels of unground coffee, and last, but not least, barrels of whiskey.  (The late Enos A. Burton, as a young man did much of the hauling for the John Halley Store at Lovilla.)

Lovilla seems to have reached the height of its advancement during the Civil War days.  During this time there was a recruiting station at Lovilla, army officers from Shawneetown coming up to “muster the boys in.”  Captain Samuel Hogue was recruiting agent.  John J. Wood, who had just recently arrived here from Ohio, enlisted in Co. G, 40th Ill. Infantry, at Lovilla early in the war.  Captain Thomas S. Campbell of Lovilla belonged to Co. G, 56th Regiment.  He resigned June 10, 1864.  Other Civil War soldiers who enlisted at Lovilla are: Enos Allen Burton, Albert Judd, Edward Newby, Edward Learned, Austin Learned, William R. Burton, Archibald Stull, Simon McCoy, Thomas Drew, David Risley, Hiram Angel, Bill Thorpe, and Joshua Epperson.  (Note by Continental Historical Bureau: In pencil, the name of Alec Shipley is written at the end of the above list.)

Some of those who went to Shawneetown to enlist were: Martin Moore, and Steven Moore.  Steven Moore was lost on the Battleship, “General Lyon”, which burned and sank off the Atlantic Coast, as it was enroute home with a large number of Union soldiers at the close of the War.  Most of these soldiers were from southern Illinois.

It was during the Civil War that a certain lady at Lovilla was expecting a registered letter, containing money, from her husband in the service.  She never received the money, and after reporting it to authorities, an investigation began.  A certain Widow Doughty was postmistress at the time, and when the government agent arrived to investigate the case, Mrs. Daughty was doing the family wash at a nearby well.  The agent decided to stop at the well to water his horse.  As he stooped to sink the bucket, he spied an envelope from the missing letter.  After some questioning, Mrs. Doughty admitted taking the money.  It seems she had used the money and had been carrying the letter upon her person; but upon seeing the agent approaching, became frightened and wrapped the letter around a rock and threw it into the well.  She was sent to a government prison for crime. (This lady was not a relative of Dr. Doughty of that place.)

At one time Lovilla had three saloons, or “jug groceries”, as they were called.  Charley McGrath operated one of these saloons.  Some merchants who had general stores there were John Halley and James Burton.  George Miller had a blacksmith shop there shortly after the close of the War.  This shop was located on the west side of the road in the Goodridge addition.  This George Miller was the grandfather of Mrs. O. B. Moore, and Mrs. C. O. Upchurch of Dahlgren.

Other early residents of Lovilla were: Thomas J. Burton, Enos T. Allen, Rueben Oglesby, Philip Bearden, Sam McCoy, O. L. Cannon, George Irvin, Henry Runyon, and James Lane, one time judge of Hamilton County and inventor of the Diamond Plow.  Some other well known family names from that vicinity are: Cook, Preston, Learned, Sturman, Venerable, Miller, McCarver, Lowery, Tarwater, Thomas, Angel, King, Oliver, Dale, Dewitt, Allen, Moore, and McKnight.

  From Washington, D. C. Post Office Department, I secured the following census records for Lovilla in 1850 and again in 1860:

1850 Census

NAME

AGE

OCCUPATION

Value of REAL ESTATE

WHERE BORN

James Ellis

37

Blacksmith

$480

Ill.

Elizabeth Ellis

38

 

 

Iowa

William Ellis

19

Laborer

 

Ill

Langston Ellis

17

 

 

Ill

Abram Ellis

14

 

 

Ill

Nancy Ellis

12

 

 

Ill

John Ellis

9

 

 

Ill

Hiram Ellis

7

 

 

Ill

Cabb Ellis

3

 

 

Ill

James Halley

40

Farmer

$300

Va.

Barbra Halley

40

 

 

Va

John Halley

19

Laborer

 

Ohio

Marie Halley

16

 

 

Ohio

Jeremiah Halley

6

 

 

Ill

Catherine Halley

4

 

 

Ill

Hiram Caps

24

Laborer

 

Ky.

Elvira Caps

22

 

 

Tenn.

Isaac Caps

5

 

 

Ill

Thomas Caps

4

 

 

Ill

William Caps

3

 

 

Ill

John Caps

1

 

 

Ill

 

 

 

 

 

1860 Census

Squire Hilman

65

Farmer

$1850

Va.

Nancy Hilman

52

 

 

Ky.

Joseph Hilman

14

 

 

Ill.

Nancy Ann Hilman

15

 

 

Ill

James Conner

70

Shoe & Boot maker

 

Md.

William Morgan

26

Farmer

 

Ky.

Harriett Cook

4

 

 

Ill

James Cates

30

School teacher

 

Ohio

Benjamin McMahon

62

Blacksmith

 

Pa.

James McMahon

23

Blacksmith

 

Ky

Robert Doughty

52

Physician

 

Pa.

Wesley Hotdier

45

Merchant

 

Pa.

Thomas S. Campbell

24

School teacher

 

Ill

Harry A. Greer

26

Saddler & harness maker

 

NY

Thompson Atcheson

70

Grocer keeper

 

Md.

Samuel A. Hogue

25

Blacksmith

 

Ind.

Jacob Helans

25

Wagon maker

 

Tenn.

John Temple

74

Wheelwright

 

N.C.

Lorenzo Goodridge

43

County Judge

 

Vt.

John Holla

40

Merchant

 

Ohio

Chas. F. Class

40

Farmer & Physician

 

Germany

Lube S. Wilbanks

33

Teacher of Music

 

Ill

Chester Judd

45

Miller

 

N. Y.

William Sturman

47

Miller

 

Tenn.

John Cox

48

Miller

 

Tenn.

C. B. Harwood

22

Iron Moulder

 

Ohio

Hiram Anglier

21

School teacher

 

Ohio

David Richison

30

House Carpenter

 

Ohio

Plenson V. Cross

62

House Carpenter

 

S. C.

William Hobbs

34

House Carpenter

 

Ohio

William H. Mitchell

24

Engineer

 

N. Y.

John O. Judd

34

Millwright

 

Ohio

Joseph A. Hewlett

45

School teacher

 

Ky.

There is no record that Lovilla ever had a school or church, but church services were held in the homes by preachers who resided there or were just passing through (Sky Pilots).  The nearest church was Little Prairie Church about 2 miles north of there and organized by Eld. T. M. Vance in 1844.  Later, Middle Creek Church, southeast of there, was organized.  The nearest school was Old Moore’s Prairie.  Some of those from the Lovilla vicinity who attended school there are: Myrtle Learned, O. B. Moore, Hattie Learned, Ora Barbee, Omar & J. K. Goin, Arthur Hall, Charlie Goin, Frank Irvin, and Vada Grigg.

About 1870 the news was received that the L & N Railroad would be built from St. Louis to Louisville, Ky. And Nashville, Tenn., and that it would pass through Cottonwood, 2 miles NW of Lovilla.  The people of Lovilla were very much disappointed, for they had hoped it would pass their way; but the railroad officials decided that the shortest and smoothest route was through Cottonwood (no Dahlgren).

Almost immediately the merchants began to leave Lovilla to locate in Dahlgren.  Two of the first to do so were John Halley and James Burton.  One by one the others left or went out of business.  The buildings were later torn down or moved away, until only a few dwellings remained.  Finally, they, too were deserted.

Then followed a period of fifty or sixty years during which Lovilla ceased to exist.  Then, in 1906, a man named Zugler erected a store building there, in the Goodridge Addition.  It was a general store.  Later, Elza Cross and his daughter were in business in this same building.

The next operator of this store was Bill Hullinger.  He was in business there for several years, until about 1920-21.  Also, about 1918-19, Pete Sinks had a general store there, located directly opposite from the Hullinger store.  I remember that this building was painted yellow.  There were hitching posts in front of it, and also in front of the Hullinger building, which was a long two-room affair with the store in the south end, and living quarters in the north end.  West of Lovilla about a quarter of a mile was where the Taylor family lived.  Since these three houses made up Lovilla at that time, the school children at “Sunny-Side School” used to chant this rhyme:

“Hull Town, Sinks’ Street,
Taylor Hotel, and
Nothing to eat.”  

(This was only in fun, of course.)  Arthur Cook lived just east of Lovilla at the time, and F. M. Cook the first house south.

At this time in Lovilla’s history, many will remember the lawn parties and ice cream socials there.  Young folk came for miles around and “Snap”, “Four-in-the-Boat”, etc., were the games played on these occasions.  Most of the young men arrived in buggies or on horseback since very few had cars.  The young ladies were usually on the “lookout” for the fellow who had a rubber-tired buggy and a spirited horse with red tassels on its bridle.  At these gay events, after you had eaten all the “home made” ice cream and cake that your “beau” could afford and had played “Snap” with every boy there, your sweetheart escorted you home, with the stars and a romantic moon overhead and the smell of honey suckle in the air.  You always reached home by 10:30 or 11:00, which was “shamefully late” in those days.

Today, nothing remains to show that Lovilla ever existed.  You see only neglected fields on all sides.  The roads are almost impassable, with trees and bushes overhanging and bridges and culverts broken down or washed away.  There are no buildings, no sounds, no signs of life—only solitude and memories remain.

Thus ends a tale of long ago,
A tale that only few could know,
For those of Old Lovilla’s day
Long years ago were “laid away.”
But we recall how they could tell
This story that they loved so well.
So, we can only hope and pray
We’ve told it half as well as they.

The above facts were obtained from an old “History of Hamilton, Saline, Franklin, & Hardin Counties” published in 1905.  Other material I obtained from my father and John T. and Carson Wood of Dahlgren.  The census of 1850 and 1860, I obtained through the help of a friend, V. A. Zahn of Washington, D. C. and formerly of Dahlgren.

Mrs. Blanch Moore Dulany,

Dahlgren, Illinois  

Page L-8

  Mrs. Arthur Cook Reporting…..

Lovilla Continued.

Lovilla had two or three stores at its peak of existence, several saloons, two (some say three) doctors, a star route post office; a Baptist church, a Methodist church, and possibly another church (again, there is disagreement).

For a number of years, Lovilla had no mill.  One farmer would take a load of wheat and corn to Shawneetown to trade it for flour and meal for himself and his neighbors.  The next month another neighbor would take a load of the same grain for the group.  This was carried on month after month, with all the men taking turns in “going to mill” at Shawneetown.  

Some years later, the village got a great improvement, when a man named Sturman brought a flourmill and grist mill, making it possible for the local people to get their meal and flour at home.  It is reported that Sturman included a sawmill in his industry.  This was also a great improvement to be able to get lumber sawed locally.  Like other communities of the time, timber was plentiful on all sides of Lovilla.

This community was blessed with a blacksmith shop, and could get blacksmith service of all kinds.  A man by the name of Hogue operated a blacksmith service of all kinds.  A man by the name of Hogue operated a blacksmith shop there for quite some time.

Thomas Burton and his wife kept an inn for traveling people.  A stagecoach left McLeansboro daily, leaving there early in the morning.  The driver of the coach carried a bugle, and when he got in hearing distance of Lovilla he would sound the bugle the number of times that he had passengers, and this was the way he notified the inn how many people needed breakfast.  Many traveling men when passing through took their meals and spent the night at Lovilla.

Lovilla was a stopover place for farmers driving livestock to Shawneetown to market.  Many farmers who lived as far as Mt. Vernon would drive their hogs and cattle to Shawneetown, and would stop at Lovilla to spend the night.  They took wagons along, and when the hogs became exhausted they loaded them in the wagons.  Lovilla was equipped with stock pens so that the farmer who stayed overnight could keep his animals from straying away.

A company of men was made up at Lovilla to fight for the Union cause during the Civil War.

At one time Lovilla had a subscription school.  A teacher was employed by the parents, and he was to teach a three-month term.  The contract provided that the parents were to pay a certain amount of money and the teacher would board with one family for a certain length of time, then with another family the same length of time, and rotate in that manner during the whole term.  Simon D. McCoy, a resident of Lovilla, was employed to teach at least one of these terms.

During summer months, both churches were host to a large meeting that would last three or four days.  This event was participated in by all Protestant faiths from many miles around.  Basket dinner was served during the noon hour, and people from more distant communities would stay overnight with some of the local brethren. 

Moores Prairie School, located near the village, was the scene of literary society meetings every week.  The more cultured people could exhibit their knowledge at these events.

Deer hunting was a common thing, as deer were plentiful all around.  Wild turkeys were also plentiful, and the hunting of these elusive and beautiful birds was quite a sport.

Weddings in the community were gala events.  The wedding and the merrymaking that went with it usually lasted at least two days.



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