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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-21

Lowry Hill 
(John Lowry, Sr. and his descendants)

The Lowry Hill Church and Cemetery had its beginning with the well-known Lowry family (sometimes spelled Lowery) that emigrated from Kentucky to Hamilton County, Illinois during the first half of the Nineteenth Century.  There were four brothers of this family, as follows: (the order of listing is not necessarily the order of births) John Lowry, Sr., Light Lowry, David Lowry and Young Lowry.

JOHN LOWRY, SR., is reported to have been the eldest of the four brothers.  He was one of the oldest residents of Jefferson County.  He was born in Warren County, Kentucky, on May 3, 1803.  His parents were John and Elizabeth (Reese) Lowry.  In 1806 his parents moved to what was at one time Franklin County, Tennessee, but was later named Coffee County, Tennessee.

In early life John, Sr., attended subscription schools, but in later years he obtained some self-education.  Prior to the time that he reached manhood he lived with his parents, working with his father on the farm and also assisting his father with the work in their cooper shop.

John Lowry, Sr., was married in Franklin County, Tennessee on July 3, 1823, to Nancy Martin who was the daughter of Alexander and Nancy (Dabney) Martin.  Both of Nancy’s parents were natives of Pennsylvania.  A few months after John and Nancy were married they decided to leave their Tennessee home and come to Illinois.  They arrived at Lovilla on January 24, 1824.  This was before Lovilla was surveyed and became a legalized village.

John and Nancy lived at their Lovilla home for about a year when they decided to establish for themselves a permanent home.  The place where they settled which was to become their permanent home was located about two and a half miles southwest of where the village of Dahlgren is now located.  This farmstead, which was located on a high knoll, was later known as “Lowry Hill.”

According to reports, John, Sr., had inclinations of a builder and had the ability to construct homes.  As he knew the carpenter trade and timber was plentiful at that time, it was only natural for him to begin at once to build a permanent home for himself and his family.  This was to be the home where he would remain the rest of his life.  He continued to acquire land until he owned over three hundred acres.  His new home was located on the Jefferson County side of the Hamilton-Jefferson County line and it was convenient for him to own and operate farms in both counties.

John, Sr., and Nancy (Martin) Lowry were the parents of fourteen children, as follows:  Sons: William, Daniel, John Jr., Thomas, Elisha, Jefferson, Alex, Levi, Jessie.  Daughters: Sarah (who married Zachariah Sinks), Elizabeth (who married Alfred Dees), Mary (who married Gabriel Jines), Nancy and Hanna.

Nancy (Martin) Lowery passed away on November 16, 1880.  John’s second marriage was to Nancy Willis, and this marriage was solemnized on June 9, 1881.  John’s second wife was the daughter of James and Nancy Willis, who were natives of Virginia.  John and his second wife were the parents of one daughter, Susie (Lowry) Thomas, who was born May 20, 1882.  She lived to be 102.

In the earlier years of his life in Illinois, John Lowry, Sr., was a member of the Sugar Camp Baptist Church, one of Jefferson County’s oldest landmarks, which is located on the historic “Old Goshen Road.”  John, Sr., took considerable interest in local government and community affairs.  He served as Justice of the Peace, Constable, Township Trustee and Director.

During the time of the old Illinois State Militia, which dates from 1832, he was elected Lieutenant of a military company and held that office for about five years.  (It was the practice in those days for unit commanders to be elected by the personnel of the unit instead of being appointed by commanders of army organizations).  After John, Sr., had settled on what was later to be known as “Lowry Hill” he like this location and the surrounding locality so well that he made it his home for the remainder of his life.  In addition to being quite active in local political affairs and community activities, he spent the most of his time on the farm, as that was his chief source of livelihood.

As was stated before, John Lowry, Sr., was an active member of Sugar Camp Missionary Baptist Church, which was located several miles from his home.  As he was a firm believer in the Primitive Baptist faith, it was his desire that church of that faith be organized in the community where he resided.  There were several families who had joined Missionary Baptist churches who were believers of the same faith that John Lowry was, and they too were interested in having a church of their own faith in their local community.  With this thought in mind John, Sr., along with some of his relatives and friends, proceeded to organize a community church of their choice so that they could worship their Creator as they saw fit.  As John had acquired a large amount of farmland, he felt that he could easily spare some acreage to be used to erect a church building and establish a public burial ground.

A deed record filed with the recorder’s office of Jefferson County shows that John and Nancy Lowry conveyed two acres of land adjoining their home.  This is located in Section Thirteen, Moores Prairie Township, within a “Stone’s throw” from the Jefferson-Hamilton County line.  This land was conveyed to the Trustees of Sugar Camp Church.  This church was first called Sugar Camp, but was later named Lowry Hill as there was (and is) the Sugar Camp Missionary Baptist Church still in existence.  The original trustees were T. L. Hunter, Martin Sewell and William J. Taylor.  The deed provided that the land would be conveyed to the trustees and their successors forever.  This two-acre tract of land was conveyed on March 15, 1877.

It is reported that John Lowry, Sr., was not only very active in organizing the church but was very active in the affairs of the new church for the remainder of his life.  He contributed generously to the expense of the church and attended services regularly.  His home was considered as a headquarters for visiting ministers.  If clergymen from other parts of the country were at services at Lowry Hill, they could always find lodging at the home of John Lowry, Sr.

John Sr. was privileged with the opportunity of remaining on this earth fourteen years and one month from the date that he and Nancy conveyed two acres of their estate for $20.00 for the establishing of the church and cemetery of their choice.  He passed away on April 14, 1891.  Thus ended the career of the man that played the predominant role in the founding of what is now known as “Lowry Hill”.  His body was laid to rest in the Lowry Hill Cemetery.


Page D-24

Albert Lowry Reporting……

John A. Lowry

John A. Lowry, a native of the Dahlgren, Illinois community, was born May 4, 1852.  He was a son of Young Lowry, a younger brother of John Lowry, Sr. John A. Lowry grew to manhood on a farm in the vicinity of Dahlgren.  As he was mechanically inclined, he took an interest in the blacksmith and carpenter trades in the early years of his life.  It is reported that he had developed skill in both of these trades before he had become of legal age.  

As farming, blacksmithing and carpentering seemed to be his callings in life, he spent the most of his stay on this earth following those vocations.  We do not know how many of the early homes he helped to build in the Dahlgren area; neither do we know how many plowshares he sharpened for the farmers in the area during the early days of his life, but they were many.

John A. Lowry was married to Melissa Jane Latham; the date of their marriage is not available.  Like his uncle John Lowry, Sr., John A. Lowry believed in bringing up large families in the world.  He and Melissa were the parents of eleven children, seven boys and four girls, as follows:  William A., Ida May, Mary Jane, Charles A., Marion F., Thomas H., Walter O., Delilah Jane, Albert W., John F., and Goldia J.

John A. Lowry continued to live in and near Dahlgren until the year 1894, when he purchased a farm near Wayne City, Illinois, where he made his home for two years.  He sold this farm and moved to St. Clare, Missouri, in 1896.  

Prior to the turn of the Century, some of that land in Missouri could still be homesteaded, and John was successful in homesteading a forty-acre tract in the new area.  He and the sons who moved with him to Missouri cut and hewed logs and built a home for themselves.  There was a demand for railroad ties in the vicinity of their new home and, as this work provided an income for the family without having to go to distant places, John A. and his sons made ties and sold them to the railroads.

Mr. Lowry did not get to live long in his new home.  He was delivering a load of ties to market when he contracted pneumonia and passed away in the year of 1898.  He was buried in Lost Creek Cemetery in Wayne County, Missouri.


Page D-25

  Erma Pearce Reporting…… 

William Shelton Lowry
Alvis Taylor

William Shelton Lowry was born September 13, 1873, in the vicinity of Dahlgren, Illinois.  He was the eldest child of John A. and Melissa Lowry, who were pioneer members of that community.  “Willie”, as he was commonly known to his numerous friends, was a grandson of Young Lowry, who was a member of the first Lowry family that settled in the Dahlgren area.

Willie carried a trait that was quite common among the Lowry family.  He was mechanically inclined, and early in life he learned to work with carpenter’s tools, blacksmithing equipment and machinery of various kinds.  He was rated as a skilled carpenter and a competent blacksmith.  At an early age he learned the operation and servicing of steam threshing machines and was very efficient in both.  He became a skilled sawmill operator and sawed countless thousands of board feet of lumber for people in the locality where he resided.  His principal occupation after reaching manhood was farming, although a great portion of his life was devoted to carpenter work in which he assisted in the construction of homes.  

As is stated in another section of this book, his father's family moved to St. Clare, Missouri, in 1896.  Willie lived with his father's family at their Missouri home for a few years, but returned to Illinois near the turn of the century.

He was first married to Maude Taylor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alvis Taylor of Northern Township, Franklin County, Illinois.  Willie and Maude first located at what was known as "Tittle Hill," a few miles southeast of of Mt. Vernon.  They later moved to a farm in Northern Township, in Franklin County, in the vicinity that was known as "Need More."  After residing here for a few years, they purchased the farm where Maude had been brought up.  For many years this farm was commonly known in that community as "Taylor Hill."  Willie Lowry held ownership of this estate until the year of 1955, when he retired because of impaired health.

Willie and Maude Lowry were the parents of three boys and three girls: Caleb, Clarence, John, Erma, Vera (who died when young), and Una Pearl.  During the severe epidemic of influenza that plagued the country from 1918 through 1920, Maude Lowry was taken seriously ill and passed away on March 7, 1920.  Willie was later married on September 6, 1922, to Anna Hopkins, who survived him.

The farm home at Taylor Hill where Willie Lowry and his family lived had a considerable amount of local history connected with it.  Alvis Taylor, Maude Lowry’s father, lived at this place a number of years.  Alvis Taylor was a veteran of the Civil War.  A star route post office was established at his home, and he was named postmaster.  Prior to the time that rural school districts were required to be two miles square, a rural school was located a short distance from Alvis Taylor’s residence.  The school, too, was known as “Taylor Hill”. There are people still living at the time that this is written who were pupils of “Old Taylor Hill School”.

Alvis Taylor also operated a blacksmith shop at his home in addition to being the community’s postmaster.  It is reported that he rode horseback to Ewing a distance of approximately four miles, to get the mail for the Taylor Hill Post Office.  The people of the local community had to come to the post office to get their mail.  Mrs. Taylor became accustomed to serving dinner to many of the mail patrons.  Many people who cam to “Taylor Hill” for their mail would stay for lunch, as they soon learned that the Taylor’s would invite them to eat if they “happened” to be there at the appropriate time.

Willie Lowry had a generous father-in-law.  It was reported some years ago that Alvis Taylor stated that he guessed he had the finest neighbors in the country.  He said, “If my neighbors borrow some of my tools or implements and keep them for a while, when I go to their place to get them they never refuse to let me have them.”

When the legislation was enacted that required rural school districts to be located two miles apart, a new Taylor Hill School was built.  It was located one mile due north of the site of the old Taylor Hill Post Office, thus enabling the home of Willie Lowry to still be in the historic Taylor Hill School District.

All during his life Willie Lowry showed an interest in the affairs of the local community.  He held various local offices.  He served as Justice of the Peace, president of the Frisco Telephone Company (now discontinued), was active in the work of the Frisco Baptist Church where he was a member for many years.  If a committee needed to be appointed for some special project, he was always willing to give active service.  As he was a mechanically inclined person, there were times when the telephone exchange at Frisco would need servicing, and it would fall his lot to furnish the repair service for the switchboard.  (Frisco is located two miles from the old Taylor Hill Post Office.)

“Bill” Lowry was the kind of citizen who tried to make the community a better place for humanity to live in that it was when he arrived.  During the span of his life he exercised concern for the welfare of his fellow men.  He made a mark of distinction in the communities where he resided.

He passed away February 11, 1958, and was buried in Thurmond Cemetery near Ewing, Illinois.  Thus ended the career of one of the descendants of the Lowry family that played such a prominent role in the settling and developing of Southern Illinois.

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