Author Archives: Duffy

Beardstown’s Bachelor Maids

Beardstown, like many cities, was home to a Bachelor Maids club. These groups were formed by young women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The organization was one of the many social clubs that used to exist in Beardstown, and was sometimes referred to in the local newspapers as the W. B. B. M. (Women of Beardstown Bachelor Maids?). Club members were assessed fines ranging from one-cent to twenty-five dollars for numerous infractions, such as talking to a young man or getting married – the ultimate offense. This photo of the Beardstown group appeared on page 30 of the January 8th, 1899 edtion of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Those pictured are: Mayme Speaker, Mabel Miller, Mae Knight, Maud Morrow, Irene Shaw, Anna Smith, Alice Schweer, Edith Smith, Harriet Hocking, and Tillie Hendricker. All of the members except one, Ms. Speaker, would have paid the maximum fine. I could not find any reliable information about Ms. Shaw. From the photo caption:
The membership is now only 10. Miss Bernice Spring died and E. T. Hunter, J. T. Carpenter and A. F. Hogener captured three of the others.
Edward T. Hunter, postmaster of Bluff Springs, married Mayme Hendricker, Tillie’s sister, in October of 1897. Mayme Smith, sister of Edith and Anna, wed Jesse L. Carpenter in March of the same year. On September 16th, also in 1897, Albert Hagener and Suzanna Young were married at Ms. Young’s parents’ home in Grafton, Illinois.

5th and Adams – Then and Now



The greenhouse in the above image was located on the southwest corner of 5th and Adams Streets. W. H. Druse constructed a greenhouse at that address in 1893. Later, Frank Burtenshaw either leased or purchased the business. At the time of the photo, the greenhouse was most likely owned by the Frank Brothers.





The Fourth Ward School stood on the northeast corner of 5th and Adams, at 316 W. Fifth. The building was declared unsafe due to the effects of high water. In 1914 it was replaced by Beard School, located on higher ground – the site of Beardstown’s first city cemetery.


Willow Bugs

Many summers during the last century Beardstown residents and business owners had to contend with swarms of may flies, also known as willow flies. These insects, that only live for a few hours, were drawn by the hundreds of thousands to street lights and the display windows of downtown stores.

In July of 1907, five wagon loads of the dead insects were hauled away. A two and a half-foot pile of them stood at the corner of Main and State Streets, the location of the above, undated, picture postcard.

Other items of note in the image – S. L. Von Fossen‘s row of businesses is seen in the white buildings at the end of the block. His monument works, music store, and “Big Store” sold everything from pianos and and groceries, to grave monuments, one of which is visible in front of the stores, beyond an early automobile.

Further along, toward the wagon bridge and the river, there is a “Garage” sign. In 1913 R. C. Schell sold Ford and Moline automobiles at 116 N. State, and Cannon and Billings ran an auto livery service at the same address.

Wm. Comerford’s saloon can be seen nearest the edge of the photograph, in the building that was torn down prior the the construction of Beardstown’s U. S. Post Office. Information about Comerford’s saloon has been hard to find, but it was the scene of a murder. On July 25, 1914, Thomas Ratcliff was shot three times by the jealous former husband of a woman he had been seeing.

Central Illinois Adobe Homes

A 1935 Illinoian-Star newspaper article tells of an adobe house under construction near the Schuyler County village of Browning. The writer claimed that only two mud houses existed in Illinois, and that both were within a 14-mile radius of Beardstown.

Laurence Royer was building the Schuyler County dwelling, after his family lost their home in a 1931 fire. The Allendale house, constructed in the 1850’s and located a few miles from the city of Virginia, was the other home referred to in the story.

It might come as a surprise, but eighty years ago Mr. Royer was concerned about energy costs and wanted to replace his former dwelling with an economical and more energy-efficient home. His wife, who was born in a sod house, was originally skeptical of her husband’s desire to build a home made of clay.

The Royers had heard of the Allendale place and decided to travel to Cass County and see it for themselves. Many Virginia residents had forgotten that the house was constructed of adobe, but Mr. and Mrs. Royer finally got directions to the house from a man who recalled that there was something unique about it. Once she saw the “artistic, quaint house,” Mrs. Royer changed her mind and lent her approval to her husband’s plan.

Royer consulted information available from the U. S. Department of Agriculture before beginning his project. After his own experiments, he determined that yellow clay, mixed with straw and molded into bricks was the most practical method of construction. He used native lumber for the rafters and joists. Construction of the adobe house began in August, 1931 and by December of 1935, all that remained to be completed were the bathroom and the finishing of one bedroom.

Unfortunately, the roof and interior of the house burned some years ago and the adobe walls have since been bulldozed into the basement. The fireplace is all that remains.

Besides being a builder, Mr. Royer was a farmer, artist, and a writer. One of his stories, “More than a Horse,” is found on page 7 of Tales From Two Rivers II. He passed away in 1993.

There is not a lot of information available about the house built by Laurence Royer. That is not the case with Andrew Cunningham’s historic Allendale home:

The house on the Allendale farm was constructed in 1852 by Andrew Cunningham, a native of Scotland. His granddaughter, Miss Hilma Jones, resided in the home when the newspaper story was written. Cunningham was a contemporary of Archibald Job and both are interred in Robertson Cemetery, about a mile from Allendale.

Links to further information about Mr. Cunningham and his home:

Allendale Home
Old Illinois Houses
Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress

Andrew Cunningham
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois

Beardstown’s Last Surviving Civil War Soldier

James M. Lowder’s story shares some similarities with other Civil War servicemen who resided in the city. He was  born elsewhere, came to  Beardstown after the war ended, and spent a few years working for the C. B. & Q. Railroad. One thing that James M. Lowder did not share with those other gentlemen – he was a confederate soldier.

Mr. Lowder left his Tennessee home to fight for the south and remained in the army until the end of the war, despite being shot several times and suffering a saber wound, attested to by the scar on his bald head. One of his cherished war memories was of the night he was called upon to guard the tent of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Despite his Confederate roots, Lowder bore no ill-will toward the north and took part in many Memorial Day observances in the city. For a couple of years, he was Beardstown’s last living link to the Civil War. That he was well-liked and respected by his former adversaries could be seen through his membership in local veterans’ organizations.

James Lowder died at his home on May 13, 1939, after celebrating his 95th birthday in January. The American Legion was in charge of services at his burial. He was interred in the Beardstown City Cemetery next to his wife of nearly 67 years, Parthenia, who passed away in 1938. Evidently, Mr. Lowder’s grave is unmarked in 2018, as several cemetery readings make no mention of it.

Long-Lived Cass County Civil War Veterans

SiHagertyBy 1934, there were only four Civil War veterans living in Beardstown. On September 1st of that year, the number fell to three with the death of Silas Haggerty.

Corporal Haggerty served in Company H, 137th Illinois Infantry.

Mr. Haggerty was born in Cooperstown, IL in 1845. After the war, he moved to Beardstown and was employed by the C. B. & Q. railroad.

He was survived by one daughter, a nephew, several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Services for Corp. Haggerty were held at Beardstown’s Oak Grove Cemetery on Monday, September 3, 1934.


jcw John Weber was born in Germany in the year 1843, coming to the United States when he was 17 years of age. The brave and adventurous young man joined the 46th Regiment of the New York Infantry shortly thereafter. (The veteran’s obituary stated that he was in the cavalry, but his military headstone indicates that he was an infantryman.)

He served in many major engagements and suffered a saber wound at the battle of Petersburg. Mr. Weber recovered and returned to duty under General Grant.

Shortly after the war, he settled in Beardstown and went to work for the C. B. & Q. Railroad. Weber retired from the railroad after a forty-one year career.

JCWeber_thumb.jpgHe married his wife, Kathryn, in the year 1875. She preceded him in death in September, 1935, and he lost a son just one month later. Mr. Weber was survived by two other sons, three daughters, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

At the time of his death, February 26, 1936, he was very much looking forward to his ninety-third birthday, which was less than a week away.

Mr. Weber was a charter member and an officer of the local G. A. R. post until the death of most of the members caused the group to be dissolved.

Services for John Weber were held at the Methodist Church. Military burial rites, including a rifle salute, were performed by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Beardstown City Cemetery.



As mentioned before, by 1934 there were only four Civil War veterans residing in Beardstown. The deaths of Silas Haggerty and John Weber left two names remaining on that list.

The third soldier, William Peacock, must have moved to Rushville, in Schuyler County, before his death, in 1939, at the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home, at Quincy, Illinois. He was interred in the Rushville City Cemetery.

The last Civil War veteran residing in Beardstown was James Lowder.


CKikendallThe November 19, 1937 issue of the Jacksonville Daily Journal brought news of the death of Charles Kikendall, Virginia, Illinois’ last surviving veteran of the War Between the States.

Mr. Kikendall came from Kentucky to the town of Virginia with his family as a young man. When he was 15, Charles ran away to enlist in the Union Army but his father followed and brought him home. At the age of 16, he left home again and served in the 114th Regiment throughout the war. His brother, John, also belonged to the 114th and suffered the misfortune of being captured and spending time in the infamous Andersonville Prison.

CKpostKikendall’s wife, Amanda, preceded him in death in 1933. The 90 year-old veteran was survived by four daughters and three sisters.

“Charley” was well known on the town square in Virginia and was renowned for his skills as a fisherman.

He died in Mississippi, where he had been living with one of his daughters, and his remains were returned to Virginia for burial.

Mr. Kikendall was a former commander of Downing Post No. 321 of the Grand Army of the Republic and the last member to pass away. He was laid to rest on March 21, I937, not far from the G. A. R. plot at Walnut Ridge Cemetery in Virginia. Military rites were accorded by members of the American Legion.


Stories about a couple of Ashland, Illinois Civil War veterans appeared in the Illinoian-Star newspaper during January, 1934. Those men were Hiram Baxter and Daniel Jones.


Hiram B. Baxter was born in Indiana in September, 1840. He was one of seven brothers who fought for the Union, all of whom survived the conflict.

Jacksonville Daily Journal

Baxter re-enlisted after recovering from a wound suffered at the battle of Perryville, KY. He was wounded again at Rome, GA and was honorably discharged. After convalescing from his second injury, he again returned to the service of his country.

After the war, Capt. Baxter moved to Illinois and lived in Jacksonville and Literberry, before settling on a farm a few miles from Ashland. He married Lydia Ellen Crum in 1876, and she preceded him in death in the year 1907. They were the parents of two sons.

Hiram Baxter passed away at the age of 98 on November 16, 1938 at the home of his son, William, in Ashland. He was interred at Arcadia Cemetery in Morgan County.

He was the first commander of the John L. Douglas G. A. R. post in Ashland, and was its last surviving member. After the Douglas Post disbanded, Baxter joined the Stephenson Post, of Springfield. His death left six members of that organization.



Daniel A. Jones was born in Golconda, IL on February 27, 1845. He enlisted in Vienna, IL in August, 1862 and spent the winter training at Camp Butler, near Springfield.

Jacksonville Daily Journal

Mr. Jones spent some time at the infamous Andersonville Prison after being captured following the battle of Guntown (Mississippi). He and several other men escaped while being moved from one prison camp to another. He kept a notebook of his war experiences.

Mr. Jones’ wife, Fannie, died in 1918. In 1934, he was said to enjoy tending his garden and was still able to read without the aid of glasses.

When he died at his Ashland home on June 1, 1940, at the age of 95, perhaps he was the county’s last surviving Civil War veteran?

1908 Fish Fry & Carnival

Looking east, toward the corner of 2nd and State, August 21, 1908 –


Fish Fry, long looked forward to, long remembered, dawned bright and clear, and the early morning brought a line of teams from every road leading into town. By ten o’clock the streets were crowded, and the noon trains brought added thousands to spend the day.

The Beardstown Cadet band rendered excellent concerts during the day, and the different places of amusements did a rushing business. It was estimated that 6,000 people were served fish at noontime.

The usual scenes attending the serving of the fish and bread were re-enacted this year and it was one grand rush from the time of serving of the fish until the last bit had been disposed of.

Miss Mazie Link, a young lady very popular among the younger set, was elected queen of the Carnival, after a contest of about two weeks’ duration. A great deal of interest was manifested in Miss Link from the first and her success was no surprise. Miss Blanche Hagerstrom was second. The vote stood: Miss Mazie Link, 7,997; Miss Blanche Hagerstrom, 5,500; Miss Gertrude Evans, 3,198; Miss Chloe Miller, 2,100.

The queen crowning ceremony will take place in the Wild Animal show at 9 o’clock this evening.

The Cosmopolitan Shows have demonstrated their ability to entertain the crowds, and a cleaner, more agreeable and acceptable Carnival company never visited the city. All the shows are good, and are well worth the price of admission. The Wild Animal show in particular is a feature attraction, and draws large crowds. The three free attractions are well worth seeing and are given twice daily. One is at the corner of Main and Jefferson, another at the corner of Main and Lafayette, and the third at the corner of Third and Washington.

During the early part of the week not much interest was manifested, but Thursday the usual Carnival conditions prevailed, and the people commenced to arrive from everywhere. The weather is ideal and barring Wednesday, has been good all the week. The mayor by his warning as to confetti, has removed one of the most objectionable features of the Carnival, and tonight, the big night of all, will undoubtedly be one of the best ever given here.

Kennedy’s Window the Best
It was the decision of the judges that had been appointed, that the window of C. F. Kennedy’s store was the best in the city. The window in purple and white was the one awarded the prize, and the attractive display of the goods for sale was the basis of decision.

Confetti Warning
L. W. Pilger, Chief of Police:
I hereby ask you to instruct all police officers under you to arrest any one found or caught throwing confetti or other articles in people’s faces or at them in any way.
R. H. Garm, Mayor

LOST – A purple crochet money bag trimmed with beads. Finder can have money if purse is returned to Mrs. C. J. Baujan.
The Illinoian-Star – Friday, August 21, 1908


With the closing performance of the different carnival attractions the Cosmopolitan Company, like the silent Arab, will quietly fold its tent and steal away in the night, bound for Burlington, Iowa, where they will hold forth next week.

It has been a good week taking all things into consideration, and the attractions furnished by the Cosmopolitan Company have been morally clean. The streets this morning were quiet as compared with yesterday, but during the afternoon the crowds increased in size. But after all, there is only one banner day in a week’s celebration, and that is Fish Fry day. This one day in Beardstown history has become familiar to people residing for many miles in all directions. It was established years ago, away back in Aug. 1891, when the first public free fish fry was given on Thursday, August 27, under the direction of the Illinois Rivermen’s Protective Association and attracted some 2,000 or 3,000 visitors from nearby towns. The fish and bread were served from 10 o’clock in the morning until 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The Browning Band furnished the music.

In 1892 there was no celebration, but in 1893 the business men gathered together and had a rousing celebration on the twenty-third of August. The next year it was held at what was then known as Woodland Park, near Wood Slough, but the following year the business men again took a hold of the affair and it has been an annual event each year. . . . .
The Illinoian-Star – Saturday, August 22, 1908