History of Flat Rock

John W. Jones was the founder of Flat Rock. The Village was laid out April 20, 1876, according to the "History of Crawford and Clark Counties" published in 1883. There seems to be very little written record of its early years, but it is a well-known fact that Mr. Jones, founder and first merchant was very successful in his business venture. The first Post Master of Flat Rock was my Grandfather, William Thompson, who kept the office in his residence, a mile West of the present town as now located. A big Flat Rock, some where near his home gave it the name. At that time letters by the boys serving in the Army were sent to Lawrenceville and carried from there to my Grand Father's home for distribution. Other lines of business opened and for several years Flat Rock was considered one of the best trading points in the county. It reached its highest population during the "oil boom" of the earlier part of this century. For many years, it numbered among its enterprises, banks, a newspaper, a drug store, several hotels, bakeries, a blacksmith shop, a moving picture theater, millinery stores, and several grocery and dry goods stores which no longer exist. Flat Rock has had the excellent services of many Medical Doctors throughout its existence, but with the passing of Dr. L. B. Highsmith in 1953, it has been without the services of a resident physician.

At present Flat Rock has a population of 550. It is a nice residential town with an elementary school which includes the pupils of nearby rural districts. It has four churches; The Methodist, oldest of the four, 1956 Pastor, Rev. C. T. Cramer; Missionary Baptist (Southern), Rev. Otis Simmons Pastor; The Christian, Rev. Cain Smith, Pastor; and The Free Methodist, youngest of the four churches, Rev. Willard Frost, Pastor.

Flat Rock and surrounding community is in Central Community Unit School District # 7(?). The Elementery school is staffed with nine teachers, providing educational 0pportunities for pupils from Kindergarten through Eight grade--with an enrollment in excess of 200. A gymnasium is attached to the school. An excellent hot lunch program is maintained. Music is taught in all grades and Craft and Home Economics in Eighth Grade. An active Parent Teacher organization is maintained. This organization sponsors a year-round Scouting Program and a summer Recreation Program.

Flat Rock has several fraternal organizations; the Masons and Eastern Stars, Modern Woodman and Royal Neighbors, and American Legion and Auxiliary.

The Business Houses are Builders Supply Company, Reynold Crum, Manager; Bond Furniture Store, Flossie Bond, Proprietor; M. and M. Hardware Store, Ray Berg, Proprietor; Conway Filling Station, Vern Conway, Proprietor; Flat Rock Motor Service, Raymond Dayton, Proprietor; Studebaker Sales and Service, Guy Miller, Proprietor; Hutchinson's Grocery; Mayo Tohill's General Merchandise, Smith and Short Poultry House; Lester Miller's Barber Shop; Parker Wineman's Hardware Store; Crawford County Farmer's Exchange, August Wampler, Manager; Bond Funeral Home; Flat Rock Post Office; Glenn Weger, Postmaster. Marguerite's Cafe, Margeurite Norton, Proprietor; Recreation Hall, George Gilbert Manager; Dot Ford's Beauty Shop, Mildred Love's Beauty Shop, and Lila Crum's Beauty Shop.

One of the town's drawbacks has been the lack of a public water system but with the coming of 1957, work will start on that project and before many months water will be "on tap". This advantage will make Flat Rock an even better residential and business location.

John W. Jones built the first residence and store building there. When he was ready to open his store as the story goes, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to buy goods, and when he was asked where he was from, he said, "Flat Rock, Illinois"; they asked the question, "I never heard of it. Is it a large place?" "To give you an idea", answered Mr. Jones, "I live on Main Street, and the Post Office is a mile away".

In the beginning, Morea was the chief trading center south of Palestine. When the railroad was built it came through, hit Flat Rock, and missed Morea, that made all the difference.

Rachel Thompson, later Mrs. J. William Jones told of a tragedy which she witnessed, in her childhood. An Indian Squaw, carrying her papoose in its cradle on her back, came through the neighborhood begging, and she took the cradle from her back and leaned it against a tree while she went to the Thompson residence to beg for salt. When she returned to the tree, to get her papoose they heard her scream and found that an old sow had found the baby and had eaten it.

An incident which happened during the civil war which our future generations should know about in order that they can realize how awful it is that in civil strife neighbors will go to extreme violence and even bloodshed, some brothers enlisting on opposite sides and fighting in the same battles. For instance, in the battle of Chicamauga, two brothers in the Confederate Army and another brother in the Union Army. My Mother knew personally several southern sympathizers who took part in an organization in our county which called themselves "The Knights of the Golden Circle". Some say these things should be forgotten, but it is not the way of History to ignore disagreeable things, or to fail to relate the tribulations through which our forefathers have passed. I have heard my mother tell that the Good Hope Baptist Church was near her girlhood home where a Baptist Clergyman by the name of Allison heard rumors of a meeting that was to be held in the "Good Hope" Church west of Flat Rock where he was the Minister. Feeling in the neighborhood was running high and he feared that the southern sympathizers gathering there were plotting some violence, he crawled under the church and heard them plan to kill some members of the families of the Union Soldiers and he warned the intended victims and probably prevented an out burst of violence and bloodshed.

Another instance was the case of Marshall Maxwell coming home from the army on furlough, arrived in Lawrenceville and proceeded on north toward home, where gathered at the site of the Blackburn school house a crowd of southern sympathizers were holding a meeting and when they saw Maxwell's uniform, they yelled "Hurrah for Jeff Davis". This angered Maxwell and he fired into the crowd but it was not known whether anyone was killed or wounded. The crowd bent on revenge surrounded the Maxwell home meaning to kill the soldier. He managed to evade them but they fired into the house and killed his sister Elizabeth. She was buried in the Seceder Cemetery near the Union U. B. Church, where during my fathers time her grave bore a flag on Decoration day. Hannah Hope wife of William A. Hope and her sister Elizabeth Tedford told of the nights of terror during these raids. It is to be hoped and prayed that we will never again see another civil war and that is one reason that he have recited this incident so that we can realize how awful civil war was, which at this time is being threatened and is especially bad when neighbor and blood relatives fight and kill one another.

 

This page last updated on February 05, 2015.