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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory
Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon,
Belle Rive Free Will Baptist Church
This church was organized in the old Missionary Baptist Church building. Having built a new church, they sold the old building to Rev. Leo Walton, who held services in it for two or three years. During the time he was holding services, it was known as the "Community Church.
In April 1959, Rev. Walton sold the building to Rev. Arthur Kerr to organize a Free Will Baptist Church. With nineteen charter members, Rev. Melvin Oathout, Rev. Arthur Kern and Bro. Joe Barefield organized this church, the first of its faith to be in Belle Rive. The first trustees were Bro. Joe Barefield, Everett Atchison and Zygmart Kawinski. Two new deacons were ordained, Ear Bullock and Morris Jones. Joe Barefield was already a deacon of like faith. Modine Kern was the first clerk. Elder Jouie Hanna was the first pastor. Sherry Frances Scott, daughter of Melvin and Frances Scott, was the first baby to be born to a family belonging to this church.
Brother Joe Barefield has been called home by God. The church misses him but knows he has gone to a better place.
The Wilbanks Stand
The Wilbanks Stand was a country store located in Moores Prairie Township and operated by Quincy A. Wilbanks. The store was established in 1848.
Quincy Wilbanks was reared a short distance from where he located his store. Quincy's father was a native of South Carolina, but later in life moved to St. Clair County, Illinois. After living in Illinois for some time, he decided to return to his native state, where he remained until his death. The dates of his coming to the Prairie State and of his returning to South Carolina are not available, nor do we know the date of his death.
Quincy Wilbanks did not return to South Carolina with his father, but remained in Illinois and made his home for a number of years with his brother, Daniel. Daniel Wilbanks was one of the founders of Sugar Camp Baptist Church, which is located about a mile from where the Wilbanks Stand was located.
Quincy Wilbanks served in the armed forces during the Mexican War. We do not have available the dates of his entry or discharge from service, nor do we have his rank or the name of the organization with which he served.
Sometime after Quincy Wilbanks had reached manhood, as stated above, he decided to enter the mercantile business. At the time he began his business career there were no railroads in his part of the country. As far as we have been able to learn, his closest competitors were at Spring Garden a few miles to the west and at Lovilla, a thriving village several miles to the east of the Wilbanks Stand and located in the west edge of Hamilton County.
As the Wilbanks Stand was the only place for local marketing for several miles in each direction, it was only natural that he build a business of rather large volume. Like most other stores of that era, his store sold most of the items that were used in everyday life in rural communities. It is reported that Quincy Wilbanks sold the first fireworks that were ever sold in that area. As horses were not accustomed to hearing firecrackers and other fireworks shot around them, it was advisable to keep the animal tied out in the woods quite a distance from the store for fear of their becoming panicked. On one occasion a man refused to listen to the advice about tying his horse some distance from the store, and some one shot some fireworks close to this man's horse. The horse was so frightened that it jumped in its own wagon and refused for quite some time to come down. Imagine the difficulty of getting a terrified horse back to the ground and ready to go home!
We have been informed that a post office was located at the Wilbanks Stand and was officially named "Moores Prairie, Illinois". This was before Congress enacted the legislation that provided for the rural free delivery system, and people for several miles around came to the Stand to get their mail.
A fraternal organization was formed at this place and held meetings for a number of years. We are unable to determine what fraternity this was. After the Civil War had come to an end, the men who were living in the vicinity who had served in the Union Army organized a post of the "Grand Army of the Republic" and held regular post meetings at the Wilbanks Stand for a number of years. Their meetings were held in the hall that was used by the local lodge.
There were countless acres of virgin timber in the vicinity where Quincy Wilbanks operated his store, and this timber provided a haven for fur bearing animals. The men hunted these animals for two or three reasons--it was great sport, the meat was good to eat, and the sale of the fur provided them with some additional income to supplement the other income derived from their farms. It was only natural that Wilbanks should provide a market for the pelts, as both he and his customers could benefit thereby.
Quincy Wilbanks also bought eggs and poultry from the local people. The marketing of cream had not come into being at the time that he operated his country store on the "Old Goshen Road" and therefore his buying of farm products was usually limited to the purchase of poultry, eggs and furs.
We have not been able to learn the different kinds of pelts that were marketed at Quincy's store, but as opossum, raccoon, muskrat and many other kinds of fur bearing animals were plentiful in the area, it only stands to reason that he furnished a market for all of them.
Many interesting things happened in the community during the period of about twenty years that Quincy operated his "Wilbanks Stand," and if history could speak audibly it could tell of many exciting happenings in the southeast part of Jefferson County.
About five years after the Civil War had been closed, the people of Jefferson and surround counties learned that a railroad was to be built from Evansville, Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri. This was wonderful news to every one and was hailed with much rejoicing. A little later, news was received that a town was to built a few miles west of the Jefferson-Hamilton county line. This new town was to take the official name of Belle Rive.
After Quincy Wilbanks learned that a town was to be built with rail connections a few miles north of his country store, he decided to move his business to the new town, so he too could have the services of the railroad. Thus ended the existence of the Wilbanks Stand that operated for about a score of years in the township that was named after Andrew Moore. However, the same business continued in the new village of Belle Rive.
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