Matilda Johnson Plews.

Some interesting Menard County homes online

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•'""""^•^^inRICAl SURVEY


Dr, G Mrs. Lynn S. Miller
Old Salem Chautauqua
Rural Route 3
Petersburg, Illinois 62675




Matilda Johnson Plews

Petersburg, Illinois

First Printing— 1967

Second Printing — 1 974

Printed by The Petersburg Observer Co.



y greatest joy in the preparation of this booklet has been time which I
have spent listening to the gracious and kind people who were able to
give me facts regarding many of the old homes and their occupants. In

many instances my information has been wholly dependent upon the memory

of some of these residents.

One discovers while driving through the county, all sorts of delightful old
houses. I only wish that it had been possible for me to do research of them all.

One regrets the passing of many landmarks of the county. Fearful lest
most contacts with the past would be impossible in a very few years, I under-
took the task of gathering all of the information possible for this booklet. The
labor involved in compiling it has not been without its compensations, the re-
search having been both interesting and enjoyable.

1 am indebted to the excellent memory of my good friend, the late J. Colby
Beekman, for much of the information regarding many of the old homes.

I am also grateful to Barry Kiel, a student at McCormick Seminary in Chi-
cago, who sketched the pictures on the front cover.

I wishto express warm and heartfelt thanks to the mauiy kind people, whose
responses to requests for information were prompt and gracious.

This booklet is dedicated to my sister Ruth, my severest critic, since
only through her insistence and encouragement, did it become a reality.

Matilda Johnson Plews
Petersburg, Illinois

Some Inferesf'mg Menord County Homes

Antle House . , <> 4

Aylesworth House (Lucille and Vida Primm) 6

John Bennett House (William Menichetti) 8

Dr. Richard Bennett (Richard Melton) 10

Bishop House (Mrs, Walter Watkins) 12

Bonnett Inn (Conrad Gebhards) , 14

Branson House (Jefferson Lewis) 16

Clark House (Kermit Grosboll) 18

Jonathan Colby House (Paul McCubbin) ,....,.. 20

Conant House (Paul Cherry) , 22

Conover House (Loren Grider) . . , 24

Davidson House (Mrs. Harold Smoot) ...... ..o ,....,.. ,.o 26

George Davidson House (B. E, Willis) 28

Dowell House (Mrs. Martha Hopwood) j 30

Edmunds Springs Bath House (Mrs. Ernest Fillbright) , 32

Dr. EUiott House (Mrs. D. B. Finney) 34

Estep House (Arthur Reiser) 36

Diedrich Fisher House (Dr. Alvin E. Davis) 38

David Frackelton House (Millard F. Bingham III) 40

Robert Frackelton House (Fred Krueger) , 42

Gault House (Milo F. Vogt) 44

Godbey House (Edward Simmering) , . 46

Mentor Graham House (Leopold Eberhard) 48

Scott Greene House (Kenneth Morris) 50

Hamilton House (Dr. Robert Schafer) « 52

Judge Harrison Rooming House « 54

Samuel Hill House (Charles White) 56


Horner House (Dr. Charles Horner) .58

Malkom Hubly House (John Hubly) ....<, 60

William John House (Mrs. Glenna Brass) 62

C. B. Laning House (Mrs. Walter Sewell) 64

Edward Laning House (H. P.Satorius) 66

Edward Laning House (Ross A. Nance) 68

John H. Marbold House (Carl Miller) 70

Home of Edgar Lee Masters 72

McNeely Home (Mrs. T. V. Plews) 74

Montgomery House (Lor en Anderson) 76

Martin Neff (AKred LaBarre) » . 78

Pillsbury House (Bert Kramer) 80

Purkapile House (James S. Miles) 82

Wm. C. Smoot House (Arthur Johnston) o . 84

Spears House (John Walker Estate) 86

John Haley Spears House(CarlKirby) 88

Major B. F. Stephenson Home (Mrs. John Rigdon) 90

Stith Home (James Hawks) 92

Talbot House (Mrs. Otto Treseler) 94

Tice House (Ira Theobald) 96

Walter Turner Home (William Wertheim) 98

Samuel Watkins Home (Mrs. Elias Watkins) 100

Isaac White Home (Arthur Finney) 102

William White Home (Eugene Watkins) 104

Wernsing Home (Carl Miller) 106

Dr. Whitley Home (Savina and EdaMenichetti) 108

Willson Home (GeraldBasso) 110


Anfle House

Dr. Francis P. Antle, who had the honor of being elected in 1882 as the
first mayor of Petersburg, was the builder of this large square brick
house which is located at the corner of Antle Street and 7th Street in
Petersburg. This house had nine large rooms with large halls running the
length of the house upstairs and downstairs. The original portico was removed
and a modern porch was built in later years on the front of this house.

Dr. Antle was the son of Michael and Mary Ann Buchanan Antle and was
born near Jacksonville, Illinois in 1824 on his father's farm. His mother was
a cousin of President James Buchanan, the Buchanan family coming originally
from Scotland, arriving in America in 1630.

Dr. Antle taught school for four years, and at the age of 24 years, b^an
the study of medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio. He later established a drug store at
William sville in Sangamon county where he also engaged in the practice of
medicine. He later returned to Cincinnati for additional courses and lectures,
after which he came to Petersburg to practice medicine.

Dr. Antle was married in 1858 to Miss Dorcas Ann Mosteller of Rock
Creek. They were the parents of four children, lona, who married Charles C,
Frackelton, Thomas Powell Antle who married Anna M. Smoot, who was the
daughter of William Smoot, Hattie and Ella who died in childhood of diphtheria.
Dr. Francis P. Antle had only one grandchild, William Smoot Antle, who was
the son of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Powell Antle.

Dr. and Mrs. Francis P. Antle united with the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church, which at that time had no church home, holding their Sunday School,
prayer meetings and preaching services in the court house. Mrs. Antle was
determined that the congregation have a church home, and worked tirelessly
with the congregation until the church (now the Baptist Church) was built. Much
credit was given toherthatthe venture was successful. Mrs. Antle also allow-
ed members of the newly organized Episcopal Church Sunday School class
which was organized in 1867, touseherhome as a meeting place. The present
Episcopal Church was built in 1873 on land donated by Mrs. Thomas L. Harris,

Dr. Antle died in 1890 and Mrs. Antle in 1895.

At one time this house was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Collier, Mr,
and Mrs. C. W. Shipley and family moved in from their farm north of Peters-
burg and lived here for a time. The house was later sold to Mr. and Mrs, W, T.
Willis, parents of B. E. Willis.

When the Willis family moved to Missouri, the house was sold to Mr. and
Mrs. J. B. Jiskra, who lived there until their deaths, which occurred two days

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Aylesworfh House

One of the landmarks of Athens is this attractive eight-room house, lo-
cated on West Jackson street. Sturdily built of brick, the interior walls
are 13 inches thick, Ezra Aylesworth and his wife Melinda bought the
land where this house stands and started its construction in I860, Shortly after
its completion, Mr. Aylesworth died, leaving the house to his wife, Mrs. Ayles-
worth died soon thereafter, and the house was willed to their son. Barton
Aylesworth, a minor.

In 1874 the thirteen_room house was purchased by Alexander Hale. Alex-
ander Hale at onetime owned and operated a saw mill, which was located where
the Athens Methodist Church parsonage now stands. At that time Mr. Hale
owned hundreds of acres of timber land. Mr. Hale was also in the milling busi-
ness. In 1856 Alexander Hale and John Overstreet built a brick steam grist
mill at a cost of $11,000 and began operating the mill in 1857.

Alexander Hale married Elvira Lemmon. They were the parents of twelve
children: Edmund, Matthew, Daniel, Nyra Luna (Mrs. George Boyd), Anna Mae
(Mrs. Charles Evans), Cynthia (Mrs, John Culver), Lela (Mrs, Colonel Holli-
day), Lola (Mrs. Theo. Kucher), Susan (Mrs. George Hunt), Elizabeth, Mar-
garet (Mrs. Chas. Pierce), and Alexander who died in childhood.

In 1920, the house became the property of their daughter, Lola Hale
Kucher, who moved back to Athens following the death of her husband, and re-
modeled the old home. The five room frame structure to the west was removed,
and additional changes were made in the interior.

Two of Alexander and Elvira Hale's grandchildren are now living in Ath-
ens: Julian Hale Boyd and Mrs. George Streckfuss. J. Hale Boyd is the son of
Nyra Luna Hale and M. George Boyd. His wife is the former Hathaway Ben-
nett, Mrs. Elizabeth Streckfuss is the daughter of Cynthia Hale and John

In 1937, Mrs. Kucher returned to her former home in Peoria, selling the
home to Mr. and Mrs. James B. Primm. Mrs. Primm was the former Mar-
garet England. The Primms had three daughters, Lucille, Vida and Eugenia,
who married Henry Miller. Today the house is owned and occupied by Misses
Lucille and Vida Primm.

J "^j

Photo of House when occupied by Hale Family

John Bennett House

Overlooking the city of Petersburg from its wide lawn, and shaded by
large trees, stands thehousewhich was built by John Bennett, one of the
leading citizens of the community. This beautiful old home with its Vic-
torian porch on the east, has been changed very little throughout the years.
This house has a very fine walnut spool staircase, two glass enclosed porches
and eight largerooms.Whilethis house was under construction, Lincoln is said
to have made a speech here, using a part of the foundation as a platform,

John Bennett was the eldest son of Richard E. and Ann Carter Bennetto He
was born in 1805 in Halifax county, Virginia. His boyhood was spent in Vir-
ginia and as he grew older he clerked in his father's store. After his father's
death he continued to run thebusinessuntill835 when he removed to Rochester
in Sangamon county. Here he stayed for one year when he removed to Peters-
burg where he purchased a drygoods establishment from John Taylor. This
store, the first store established in Petersburg, was opened in 1833 by John
Taylor. John Bennett also builtthe Menard House, which stood on the east side
of the square where the R.E.A. building now stands, which he ran for several
years, and after selling the Menard House he returned to the merchandising
business. He continued in this business until 1858 when he retired, his son
Thomas Bennett, taking over the business.

John Bennett was a brother of Dr» Richard Bennett and William Bennett,

John Bennett served one term in the State Legislature in 1840-1841, hav-
ing been elected to that place as an Old Line Whig. He had the honor of being
the first Representative to the General Assembly from the new county of Me-
nard. He assisted in the organization of Clinton Lodge No. 19 A.F. & A.M. at
Petersburg in 1842. He served as Worshipful Master for 15 years. Clinton
Lodge was named in honor of Gov. DeWitt Clinton of New York. He was also
District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Mr. Bennett was
one of the original directors of the Tonica & Petersburg Railroad (now
G. M. & 0.).

John Bennett was marriedto Miss Mary Amistead Boyd, daughter of Alex-
ander and Matilda Boyd. They werethe parents of ten children: John, Thomas,
Harry, Anna E., Mary M., and five children who died in childhood. Mr. Ben-
nett's first wife died in 1849, and in 1850 he was marriedto Miss Mary
Cabanis, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Z. P. Cabanis. Dr. and Mrs. Cabanis are
buried in the old City Cemetery in the southeast corner of Petersburg.

The house was occupied for a time by Mr. and Mrs. T, W. McNeely while
their home on the south hill was being built. It was also occupied for a time by
Capt. and Mrs. W, H. Weaver and family.

For many years the home was owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. L. A,
Whipp and family: Ellis (married Jessie Weaver), Leslie (married Myrtle
Blane), Ora (Edwin Waterbury), Nell (Paul Watson) and Virgil (Allie Mc-
Michael). Following the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Whipp, their son Virgil and
wife and two daughters Virginia and Dorothy occupied the home.

Today the home is owned and occupied by Mr, and Mrs. William Meni-


313 North 9th Street, Petersburg

Dr. Richard Bennett Home

Dr. Richard Everard Bennett was born in Halifax, Virginia in 1807, and
came to Illinois in 1835, settling at Rochester. In 1836 he came to New
Salem and the latter part of 1836 moved to Petersburg with his family.
Dr. Bennett had the distinction of being Petersburg's first resident physician.

This house was built by Dr. Bennett in the 1840 's. The original two-story
brick structure had four large rooms, two rooms and a large hall downstairs,
and two upstairs, with a winding walnut stairway. Each of the original rooms
has a fireplace. Three rooms of frame construction were added later. The
house faced the north as it does now, however the original house had no porch.
Old pictures of the house show the old Bennett Inn which was owned by Dr.
Bennett and stood just east of his house. The Inn faced east and was previously
owned by Peter Lukins, for whom the city of Petersburg was named. This was
the first inn ever kept in Petersburg. Its roof sheltered many men who after-
ward became famous: Lincoln, Douglas, McDougall, Hardin, Herndon, Fergu-
son, Stuart, and other noted lawyers who stopped here when attending court.

Dr. Bennett was married to Miss Maria Carter, his first cousin, daughter
of Alexander and Margaret Stevens Carter. They werethe parents of ten chil-
dren: Margaret Ann, Richard, Margaret B. (married David Bell), Theodorick
(married Martha Jane Jenkins), Virginia (married James H. Thornton), Robert,
Walter, Susannah, David and James. Theodorick and Martha Bennett had four
children: William, David, Bertha, and one child who died in infancy.

Dr. Bennett was married the second time Oct. 18, 1855 to Mrs. Margaret
White Phillips. She was the daughter of Aaron White. She had two sons Aaron
Francis and William Jefferson Phillips by her first marriage to William C.
Phillips. Aaron Francis Phillips, called Frank, is the artist who painted sev-
eral pictures of New Salem which now hang in the Ralph Newman Museum in
Chicago. He also made many wood carvings, carving the much talked of pro-
file of Lincoln on the sycamore tree at New Salem. He was married to Ella

Dr. and Margaret Bennett weretheparents of eight children: Ellnora, who
married Septimus Weatherby; Mary, who married J. R. Gurrad; John, who
married Barbara Farber; Richard; Margaret, who married Will Rayburn;
Charles, who traveled with Shipps Circus; Richard who died in infancy; Georg-
ana, who married John B. Dennis. Mrs. Dennis is 93 years of age and the only
living child of Dr. Bennett.

Following the second marriage of Dr. Bennett, the family moved to Sand-
ridge, where Dr. Bennett died in 1875. Dr. Bennett is buried in the old City
Cemetery in the southeast corner of Petersburg.

This house was occupied at onetimebythe Riseman family, who operated
a store on the north side of the square.

The house was later occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Hueffner, who
moved here from Virginia, 111. in 1901. Mr. Hueffner, a Civil War veteran, was
born in Neine Kirchen Baden, Germany in 1844. He owned and operated the
Eagle Roller Mills, where the well known "Snow Patent" flour was milled.
The Hueffners were the parents of eight children: Elizabeth (Boyd), Arthur,
Mrs. John Leigh, Rose (Andervont), Beulah (Smith) and three children who
died in infancy.

Today the house is owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Melton
and their daughter Ada Marie.


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106 E. Madison Street, Petersburg


6 is flop House


ost happily for house and grounds, this house was purchased by Mr. and
Mrs„ Walter Watkins in 1948, and was carefully restored. A downstairs
bedroom and garage were added to the back of the house, in no way
changing the lines of the house.

This beautiful red brick Georgian home was built between 1845 and 1849
by Robert Bishop, a soldier of the Mexican War. The Bishop family moved into
this home after living in a log cabin which stood on the adjoining lot.

Robert Bishop was born in Portsmouth, England in 1815, and came to the
United States with his parents when quite youngs His father was the first to
invent and put into use the cylinder for revolvers and guns, but died before
they were put into general use. After spending some ten years of his early life
as a whaler along the coast of Chile, Peru and Panama, he located in Peters-
burg and became the proprietor of a gun shop which he operated on the south
side of the square, where the Menard County Mutual Fire Insurance office is
now located. The following two paragraphs, reprinted from the Petersburg Ob-
server, describe the first Bishop gunshop.

"This frame building, timbers of oak, ceiling of sycamore and weather
boarding of walnut, was occupiedby Abe Lincoln as a store at New Salem from
1832 to 1835. Here also he kept the post office of which he, himself, was the
postmaster. In this building he studied law and mastered the intricacies of
surveying without a teacher."

"About 1836 this building was bought by Robert Bishop for a gunshop and
moved to this city. Mr. Lincoln assisted inthe removal. Sometime later when
Mr. Bishop built the brick building now occupied by his son, L. W. Bishop, on
the south side of the square, the old Lincoln building was pushed to the rear."

Here the building remained until April 1906 when it was taken down and
hauled to the Bishop residence. High winds finally carried off the roof, so that
its demolition became necessaryo

Mro and Mrs» Robert Bishop were the parents of one daiighter, Olive B.,
who married Fred Wilkinson, and two sons. Jay C. Bishop and Louis Bishop.
Jay married Miss Mary Momeyer and they were the parents of one son, Rob-
ert Bishop. Louis Bishop was never married. He was associated with his father
in business.

This house remained in the Bishop family until it was sold to Mr. and Mrs^
WatkinSo The Watkins were the parents of one son, Juhl Watkins,

The staircase is of walnut, and gracing the original old walnut fireplace
are two oil lamps which were originally used in a chandelier when the house
was builtc The interior, like the exterior, is sturdy, simple, and in excellent

Standing to the west of this house is a magnificent old evergreen, which
is said to have been planted when the house was built„


217 W. Sheridan, Petersburg


Bonneff Inn

Shis old Inn, built in 1842, is all that remains of a settlement called Rob-
inson's Mills (now known as Bobtown). This is where the stage coach
stopped in days gone by.

The following excellent article describing Robinson's Mills was prepared
for the writer by William Eugene Boeker of Oakford:

In 1826, Abraham Mounts built a water and horse mill on Clary's Creek
below the confluence of Little Creek and Clary's Creek. He was one of the earl-
iest settlers of this community.

During the year 1829, James Watkins settled in this area and bought the
mill from Mounts, who moved to Crane Creek district and established another

In 1836, A. Lincoln as deputy surveyor of Sangamon county, especially
the northwest section, established a road beginning at a point near Watkins
Mill, heading east by northeast through the later town of Oakford, (founded in
1872) to the town of Huron, which Lincoln had just surveyed this same year.
The road crossed theSangamon at Miller's Ferry (at Huron) and headed north-
east toward Pekin.

In 1836 or 37 Ebenezer Robinson, another miller, bought the 40 acres
(that the Watkins Mill was located on) from Watkins, rebuilt the mill, added a
saw mill also and from that time on the community was known as Robinson's
Mills. He built a double log cabin and in 1842 or 43 began the construction of
the brick structure. This mill was located on the road leading from New Salem,
northwest to Little Grove Creek and followed its course nearly all the way to
the mill, passing the "Pecan Chapel" one mile north and headed north to the
Sangamon where the Purdy McGinnis Ferry was located and from there toward
Bath and Havana.

It is known that a store, mill, saloon, blacksmith, Inn and several other
occupations were established here and became known as Robinson's Mills, Ill-
inois when the post office was established there.

Robinson became a very important man of the area. In the year 1846 he
was elected to the State Legislature from Menard county for one term. Some
time between this time and 1870, he left Robinson's Mills and living with his
daughter, Mrs. Eliley Burton of Lincoln, 111., died February 22, 1871.

When Robinson left Robinson's Mills, John Bonnett became owner of the
land of Robinson's Mills. He had been living here since 1842, having helped
build the brick inn. His grandson, George Bonnett, tells that the family story
handed down is that during Lincoln's politicing, he stopped several times over
night at Robinson's Mills, where he met many old friends. John Bonnett was a
blacksmith, coffin maker and farmer by trade. This trade was handed down
through the family. When the Bonnetts came to Robinson's Mills the building
was being built, the bricks being molded northwest of the house.


Bobtown Read, Oakford

After the Civil War, several residents lived in the village. In 1866 Dr.
J. D. Whitley was practicing medicine here as well as postmaster until the
year 1872 when he moved to Oakford and later on to Petersburg.

As soon as lots were put up for sale in Oakford, everyone left Robinson's
Mills. Calvin Atterberry, the merchant, moved his stock of goods to Oakford,
the saloon keeper moved, as well as Dr<, Whitley. It was a matter of months
that all that was left at Robinson's Mills was the old brick inn, the owner, John
Bonnett, the postmaster and blacksmith by trade. In fact it disintegrated sim-
ilar to New Salem, when Petersburg became the county seat.

The farm remained in the Bonnett family for years. Today it is owned and
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Gebhards.

Ebenezer Robinson's daughter Caroline was first marriedtoa Mr, Buck-
ley. Her second marriage was to J. C. McDole, She was the grandmother of
Mrs, Norma Booties of Petersburg.


Branson House

Nathaniel W. Branson, builder ofthishouse, wasa native of Jacksonville,
Illinois, where he was born in 1837. His father, William Branson, was
born in North Carolina and his mother, June Cooledge Branson was a
native of Kentucky. They lived in Jacksonville where William Branson, a furni-
ture dealer, was at one time mayor.

N. W. Branson graduated in 1857 from Illinois College where he studied
law and was admitted to the bar three years later. He came to Petersburg
where he met and married Miss Frances Regnier, daughter of Dr. Francis and
Ann Goldsmith Regnier. Dr. and Mrs. Regnier were former residents of New
Salem and upon moving to Petersburg, lived in the house which stood north of
the Library. This red brick house, built by Dr. Regnier's brother, was used
for many years as the city hall.

Mr. Branson was twice elected a member of the State Legislature and in
1876 was a delegate to the National Convention in Cincinnati which nominated
Hayes and Wheeler for the presidency.

This large white frame house stands at the top of what is known as
"Brahm's Hill", and is located where once stood the home of Dr. and Mrs.
John Allen who moved to Petersburg from New Salem. A two-storied square
pillared porch extends to the roof line. Behind the imposing facade lie an
equally imposing series of rooms. This house boasts eight marble fireplaces,
four downstairs and four in upstairs bedrooms.

Mr. and MrSo Branson were the parents of six children, four dying in
childhood, Edward R. Branson and Miss Ella Branson, who married Dr. W. M,

Following the death of Mr. Branson, the house was sold to Mr, and Mrs,
George Warnsing of Greenview.Theywerethe parents of two daughters, Laura
Marie and Hermine.

The house is now owned and occupied by the Warnsings' granddaughter
and husband, Mr. and Mrs, Jefferson Lewis and their three sons, Warnsing,
Peter and Clark.



Clork House

Shree miles north and west of Petersburg stands a stately old eleven
room house, built of brick which was burned near the house. Built by a
man named Clark, it was occupied by this family for a few years until
the family moved to California,

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Online LibraryMatilda Johnson PlewsSome interesting Menard County homes → online text (page 1 of 7)