History of the Village of Palestine

This was found in some papers found that were written for Crawford County History but never published.
Transcribed by Barbara Dix

The following history is taken from a manuscript written by Judge James C. Allen, during a period of time between January 26, 1905 and April 20, 1944, together with some other data written and compiled by William W. Allen, son of Earl Allen and a ------ of Judge Allen, which manuscript and other material was contributed by Earl Allen for use in this history relative to the Village of Palestine and community.

Lamotte Prarie, in Crawford County, covering an area of from three to four miles in width and eight to ten miles in length, surrounded by heavy growths of timber, possessing a soil of sandy loam, easily cultivated and wonderfully productive, and must have been favorite hunting grounds for the Indians, judging from the number of mounds (burying--places) before the advent of civilization. Judge Allen says he dwelt among the children and grandchildren of the early pioneers of Lamotte Prairie and the Village of Palestine for nearly thirty years. A short distance south of the Village was a creek, called Lamotte Creek, deriving its name from a Frenchman by that name, who had trading Post at a river about two miles southeast of the Village. The Prairie also took its name from the Frenchman.

On the east side of the Prairie, northeast of the Village, was a deep lake covering several hundred acres from a depth of from 15 to 20 feet, the outlet of the lake was through what was called Arthur Slough, taking the name from a colored family that soon after the war settled on its west bank.

The heavy timber surrounding this prairie where in the fall of the year furnished an abundant supply of hickory nuts, walnuts, butter nuts and pecans, and in the glades surrounding the prairie were found in the summer season wild plums, cherries, persimmons, strawberries, gooseberries, and blackberries in great abundance. Game was also abundant bear, deer, wild turkeys, otters, raccoons and other smaller animals of the cat kind, panther and wild cat.

On the south end of the prairie Indians raised their corn and thestake around which they held their "green corn dance" was left standing for some time after the Indians had left and this was a very paradise and native garden.

In 1811 the first pioneers invaded this prairie, three families coming from the state of Tennessee, their names being Boatright, Eaton, and Cullom, who only brought with them oxen and cows which they regarded as necessary in their new houses. For some time after their arrival their relations with the Indians were amicable but after the war with England these friendly relations were soon less cordial and the Kickappos (that being the tribe then occupying the section around the prairie) had among them lawless men.

The emigrants being apprehensive of injury from this tribe built two houses where they moved their families on the west side of the prairie where they remained secure until after the close of the war but when required to leave the fort to engage in their necessary work in the fields they took with them their rifles and the women kept watch through the day for the approach of the Indians, they would blow their horns when the men would make for the block house.

After the war there was an influx of population from Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

The Village of Palestine was laid out near the southern line of Lamotte Prairie where Joseph Kitchell and Wilson Lagow donated land for the public square and each alternate lot on the plot of the town to the county when it should be organized as a County Seat.

Judge Allen tells the Indian Terror in Pioneer times and the massacre of the Hudson family. "About the time of the close of the war in 1812, a man of the name of Hutson with his family settled at the mouth of Hutson creek, a small stream emptying into the Wabash River where afterwards the Village of Hutsonville was built. Both the creek and the Village take their names from the original settler, Hutson, who was a Quaker and did not apprehend danger and while absent from his home one day the Indians raided his home and killed his wife and three children and took the eldest daughter captive. He was determined to follow them and was not afterwards heard of and it is supposed he was killed by them while searching for his daughter."

In 1818 a convention was called in the County of Crawford, this county being formerly organized in the territory of Illinois, to form a constitution with a view of being admitted into the Union of States when Joseph Kitchell and Edward Cullom were elected under the act of 1818 with a full set of officers for the county as follows: David McGahey as Probate Justice of the Peace, J. S. Woodworth, sheriff, Edward C Pifer, Circuit Clerk, Joseph Kitchell, State Senator, and David Porter to the House of Representatives.

At the first session of the General Assembly Palestine was fixed as the County Seat and so continued until 1844.

The Kickapoo Indians that occupied the country along the Wabash River on either side from the old Post Vincennes to Fort Wayne, Indiana were less troublesome to the settlers than some of the other tribes that often made incursions into their territory and having a disposition to steal things that belonged to the settlement gave white settlers less trouble than the other tribes.

In Judge Allens' manuscript it mentions, I. A. Sweet who had papers in his possession for many years relative to many Statesmen from Palestine and the Village being conspicuous in the early developement of the State.

Palestine was an important commercial and trading point commanding the trade of large section northwest and south but the small village labored under great disadvantage until steam boats began to ply the Wabash river, the skiff, the perogue and the battau being the sole means of transportation. when the steamers were introduced merchants could obtain their supplies more readily and at cheaper rates than by the old methods.

C. H. Bristol, an enterprising merchant of Palestine built a warehouse at the mouth of Lamotte Creek in which merchants could store their goods and farmer their produce to await removal to their stores or to distant markets. The village contained an enterprising class of merchants and mechanics and continued to increase until it lost the County Seat, however it put on new life when it had completed the Effingham Southeastern Railroad, and it became one of the most attractive towns in eastern Illinois with its business houses, electric lights, shops, schools and churches surrounded by a prosperous farming community.

Palestine was not only the first village settled in this section of the state but has furnished many officers of the state and had the Land Office for many years. The office of Register and Receiver were citizens of Palestine under appointment of the President it had a delegate in every constitutional convention of the state except that of 1848; it had a majority of the State Senators and Members of the House for more than fifty years; it had the Judge of the Circuit Court elected for the second term; it had the Attorney General, Wickliff Kitchell for one term; A. C. French was twice elected Govenor of the State; one of its citizens was three times elected to Congress of the U.S.; twice from the district and once from the State at large; it furnished the clerk of the house of Representatives of the U.S. for one term of Congress, besides Clerk of the Circuit and County Court for much of the time since the county was organized.

The Kitchell Cemetery near Palestiine holds the remains of many distinguished citizens, five daughters and two sons, the wife and children of Joseph and Rachel Kitchell, their daughters being the wives of E. S. Janey, O.H. Bristol, Dr. Harmon Alexander, Judge Presley, O. Wilson, Governor A.D.French and J.C.Allen. It is also the resting place of Judge John Looker, a Revolutionary soldier under General George Washington, who is his declining days lived in Palestine and spent his last days with Rachel Kitchell, widow of Joseph Kitchell.

In an issue of the Palestine Enterprise published in 1886 appeared a summary of business establishments in Palestine which is interesting; E. C. Haskett and Son was listed as an old established firm located on the east side of Main Street who carried in stock of Dry Goods, Clot hing, Boots, Shoes, etc. ; A. Malone operated what was known as a Jumbo line of General Merchandise: H. H. Haskett, Grocer; A Salesberry , a General store on the east side and John Overholsers Grocer on the west side; H. T.Beam a Grocery store, succeeding R. H. Kitchell, deceased; A.A. Newland operated the City Restaurant and Grocery and J. A. Anderson conducted a similar business; J.L. Woodworth was the Big Hardware Dealer and Undertaker"; A. D. Foreman was a Boot and Shoe Maker, and A. Purcell operated a Harness Shop and Boot and Shoe Repair business; A. Misenhelder & Company were operators of the Lamotte Flouring Mills; John T. Bathe was running the Cawood Mills; G. A. Fox proprietor of a Flour and Meal Exchange; R. B. Newland operated a Meat Market; William Alexander was Postmaster and kept a supply of stationary, confections, cigars, etc. in the Post Office Lobby; N. Vane ran a drug Store one door south of the Post Office; Mrs. M.A. Gogin, known as "Aunty": operated a Millinery and Dry Goods Store and Kate Griffin had a similar business; B. H. Garrard ran a livery stable and was Proprietor of the Garard House called "The Principal Hotel of the city". Bob Richards was listed as the city's best and only tonsorial artist"; Isaac Robinson operated a Tin Shop on Smokey Row; Jerry Caley's Blacksmith Shop was in the Joe Freeeman building and Hope Beecher, Karl A Erfft and Willaim Green also were in the Blacksmith business; Palestine's physicians were J. A. Martin, N. Steele, J.S. Thompson and A. Malone; Carpenters and Builders were A. B. Corbin, T. C. Alexander, F. M. Martin and M. J. Murphy; Grain Dealers were G. S. Wilson, M. W. Curry and John Hill; Dressmakers were Misses Kate Purcell and Rhoda Harper.

Half of Palestine's business section was destroyed by fire on Sept. 23, 1887, twelve buildings being destroyed in two hours time.

A list of Postmasters in Palestine from the beginning of Postal Service are as follows: William Wilson, Mary A. Flood, Enoch Gogin, Norton Vane, William Alexander, Harlin Haskett, C. P. Haskett, S. G. Richards, John A. Johnson, H. K. Alexander, O. C. Seeders, Claude Nethery, O. C. Seeders.

Among Palestine Business Establishments operating in 1906, were J. H. Maddox, Ideal Furniture Store, Palestine Meat Market, M. & R. Fife Proprietors, Home Bakery, operated by G. W, Mills, William H. MacHatton Mercantile Co., E. C. Haskett & Son, The Palestine Bank of Fife & Son, Clell Foreman Jeweler, G. W. Bishop, Clothier, E. H. Burridge Drug Store, F. L. Freeman & Co., E. Jennings Grocery, W. F. Renchen, Barber, David Fife Hardware, G. Casselmann, Tinner, Fox Sisters Millinery, Mrs. E. Edgington Millinery, John Richey & Co. Cash Hardware Store, McKees Gem Tonsorial Room, G. W. Bishop Clothing and Furnishings and O. F. Bussard Electric Wiring and Repairing.

Most Palestine citizens know that Walnut Street is the official name of our northermost street, but to nearly every one it remains "Catagoola Avenue" and no one seems to know what the origin of that name is.

Some of the Editors and owners of the weekly newspaper in Palestine after the turn of the nineteen Century were Duane Gaines, Henry O. Smith and D. A. Boatwright under the name of the "Wabash Pearl"; E. R. Alexander, with his brother, H. K. Alexander, published the Palestine Enterprise in the late 1880's.

E. R. Alexander's description of Main Street in Palestine in 1869 as it appeared to him as he entered Palestine in 1869 as a salesman on a stage coach at the Lagow homestead where John, Bob Beatty, the veteran stage driver announced our coming by the notes of his bugle, he is bringing the mail and visitors from the outside world. He first stopped at the Post Office to discharge the mail to the Postmaster, Uncle Enoch Gogin, the coach then going to the hotel kept by Norton Wilson. I visited the old Town Well which stood at one of the busiest corners of the Village. My first call was upon the firm of E. E. Murphy & Company, where we met Dr. Harmon Alexander and his son, Charley, the jolly little dwarf about 4 feet high, proceeding down the street the next call was on Uncle Tommy Boatright, a quaint old character who kept an old fashioned Grocery. Then I visited the busiest store within 30 or 40 miles being the firm of Haskett Bros. doing an immense business and with their packing house taking the products of farms for miles around and making shipments to all points west and south, next being the firm of Roach & Nichols and directly across the street was the hotel of S. W. Hutchings which was one of the leading hotels of Southern Ilinois, then we called on Peter Griggs, the jeweler, then we went to the Seat of Justice where we met Squire Logan, one of the shrewdest justice of any court in the west, then to Uncle Norton Vane, who was conducting a grocery and Ice Cream parlor and next was Jim Anderson where we were entertained by his comrades telling of their recent experiences in the Army, then we dropped in on Dr. Thompson, Dr. Rafferty, A. G. Marckle, L.V. Chaffee, John Kitchell and a few other kindred spirits and our last call was at the flourishing hardware and implement store of Judge J.C. Allen under the management of John Kitchell.

In the diary of Oliver W. Gogin is found an item ;"and on the evening of the 2nd day of April 1841 we landed at Palestine Landing in Crawford County, Illinois."

Taken from an item written by R. M. Wright is the following; "Capt. John LaMotte with LaSalle, lost from the original party came down the Wabash in the early spring of 1678, the prairie to the north and the woodland to the south reminds me of the land of milk and honey. This must be Palestine". His son. Laverne LaMotte also did some exploring down the Wabash and a Grandson, John Lamotte and a William LaMotte was in the Garrison of Fort Sackville (Vincennes, Indiana)

Mrs. Nellie G. Haskett told about her Father, Mr Gogin making a trip to Chicago in a wagon in 1845. Like most Villages in the early days Palestine, had the Old town Pumps on Main Street one at the corner of Main and Grand Prairie Streets, next to Ben Martins store and another at Main and Harrison Streets, next to McCormacks Grocery. Citizens and animals gathered around these pumps and very nice hog wallows were there for many years until the Village Fathers framed an ordinance prohibiting swine from roaming at large in the Village of Palestine. Another ordinance prohibited the sale of cigarettes in the limits of the village. These old ordinances rest securely in the vault at the Village Hall where people can find much interest in leafing through them.


This page last updated on February 05, 2015.