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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 D-15

Mrs. Ida Hughey Reporting………

 Joseph A. Zahn

Joseph A. Zahn was born October 17, 1847.  He came to Illinois from Indiana, and most of his life was spent in Jefferson County, Illinois.

He conducted a shoe shop in Belle Rive for some time, but retired from that business to enter general farming and stock raising, in which he was very successful.  He dealt largely in stock as a buyer and shipper, and farmed extensively in Moores Prairie Township.  He was very energetic and industrious and a man of excellent business judgment.  His farm was one of the best in Jefferson County and thoroughly cultivated and always kept in the best of order.

For ten years held a position of great responsibility at the Chester Penitentiary, where he was in charge of the farming interests of that institution.  He also had charge of the purchase of cattle and other stock of the institution, and saved the State of Illinois much money with his knowledge of the department with which he was connected.

Mr. Zahn was Supervisor of Moores Prairie Township, and held other offices of importance in the township.

He was married to Miss McPherson, and they were the parents of the following children: Van A., Fred R., Dene W. and Goldie.  His son, Van A. Zahn, served his country during the Spanish American War and for many years worked for the Federal Government in Washington, D. C.

Mr. Zahn died of blood poisoning on March 24, 1921, and was buried at Richardson Hill Cemetery.


Page D-16

Bernadine Dale Reporting…..

  John Dale

John Dale was born on December 16, 1866, at Hoodville, Illinois, a community south of McLeansboro, which is located not far from the village of Dale, Illinois.  His family had the honor of furnishing Dale the official name that it was to carry.

One of his ancestors operated a sawmill in this vicinity, and no doubt sawed much of the lumber that was used to construct many of the early buildings in this community.  It is reported that the engineer of the sawmill on one occasion got careless and let the boiler get dry of water, then did some hammering on an injector, thus allowing fresh water to enter the boiler.  The result was an explosion causing one fatality.

John Dale’s parents moved to McLeansboro when he was quite young.  John decided to take up flour milling as an occupation years before he had reached manhood.  He began his milling career with the McLeansboro Milling Company in the twentieth year of its existence.  He was fourteen years of age when he started with the company.  He was employed by Billy Coker.

John and Elizabeth Grace Dale were married on April 27, 1891.  To this union were born the following children:  Frank R., John C., Grace, Genevieve, Bernardine, and Anne.

The mill where John Dale began his vocation was a landmark in that community.  This enterprise operated continuously for a period of ninety years, beginning operations in 1860 and remaining in business until 1950.  If this old mill could only speak it could tell some interesting experiences.  It saw the beginning of and the closing of the Civil War.  It saw the reconstruction period following the close of the War Between the States.  It later saw the United States enforce the “Monroe Doctrine” when we became engaged in the war with Spain.  After the close of this conflict, this milling company saw the turn of the century.  Seventeen years after the coming of the Twentieth Century, this Hamilton County industry witnessed the coming of World War One; then in about a quarter of a century later it aw the beginning and ending of World War Two.  The industry with which John Dale began earning his livelihood served the milling needs of countless hundreds of families during the ninety-year period that it operated in McLeansboro.

Mr. Dale spent thirty-three years of his life with the McLeansboro Milling Company.  Much of the success of this industry can be attributed to the skill and interest that John Dale put into it during the years that he spent in this particular business.  He was superintendent of the mill for General Coker.

As the Dahlgren Milling Company was doing a thriving business during the early years of the Twentieth Century, and as John Dale had thirty-three years of milling experience behind him, he decided to expand in this field of activity; so he moved to Dahlgren and purchased an interest in that mill.  He and his family moved to Dahlgren in August 1913.

With the vast amount of experience in the milling vocation, it was natural for the management to request him to accept the position of superintendent of this company’s business.  He assumed the responsibility of the operation of this plant, and it became one of the most profitable milling enterprises for many miles around.  He remained in Dahlgren until 1924.

A member of the personnel of this Bureau can recall going with his father to the mill at Dahlgren to purchase flour in its heyday and listening to Mr. Dale and the customer carry on one of their jolly conversations as they both delighted in doing.  They were very close friends for many years.  John Dale is remembered for his keen interest in people and the skill that he exhibited in making the “old mill” the service that it rendered of so much value to the Dahlgren community.

In 1924, Mr. Dale moved his family to Mt. Vernon, and was a partner in the Dale Motor Sales Company in that community until his retirement in 1930.

John Dale died January 28, 1949, at the age of eight-two in Mt. Vernon.  He was an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

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