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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory
Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon,
Mrs. Blanche Dulany Reporting ..
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.
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 Moores
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 1800s, 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!
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.
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. Dulanys 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 waybeing 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.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
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 ½ 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 Moores 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.
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 ¾ 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).
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.
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.
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:
Town, Sinks Street,
(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.
this time in Lovillas 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.
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 lifeonly
solitude and memories remain.
ends a tale of long ago,
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.
Blanch Moore Dulany,
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
company of men was made up at Lovilla to fight for the Union cause
during the Civil War.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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