The St. Clair County Courthouse
completed in 1861
St. Clair County Genealogical Society (SCCGS)
Helping genealogists discover their Illinois roots since 1977.
More 1881 histories
Precincts were those areas of the county that later became townships in 1884. Precincts defined the boundaries of polling districts for local and state elections. Justices of the Peace were elected for each precinct and carried out some civil legal functions. For example, a Justice of the Peace could peform a marriage and hear legal disputes between two parties. While all marriages were to be recorded at the county level, the J.P. was only required to keep a docket of minor civil disputes, not a full record of the proceedings. Very few dockets survive to this day.
The first settlements in this precinct were made prior to 1810, one mile south of the present site of Summerfield, in what is known as the Union Grove settlement. The earliest settler was Nathan Chambers, who located on section 33, near a small branch of Silver Creek, as early as 1806. Chambers was a man of some talent, and well adapted for the hardships incident to a frontier life. In 181112 he built a fort on his place, which was known as "Chambers' Fort," where the neighboring families gathered for protection against Indian depredations. Mr. Chambers held several minor county offices in early times. We will mention the names of some of the earliest settlers in this vicinity :-Robert and James Moore, John Broom, William Padfield, Robert Farar, Samuel and Alfred Ryle, Henry Hutton, John Dew, a Methodist minister; Thornton Peeples, also a Methodist minister; Dr. Anthony W. Casad, Edmond Randle, Malcom Johnson, Peter Wright, Wm. Lunceford and Samuel H. Thompson-a noted Methodist minister. William Padfield was a native of Kentucky, and settled here in 1815. He had quite a large family, most of whom married and left descendants. The sons were-Thomas, William R. (who lived in a fine residence in the suburbs of Summerfield); Henry, James R., a farmer, residing on section 34; Joseph, Hiram, and several daughters. Wm R. and James R. are the only sons now living. Mr. Padfield was a zealous member of the M. E. Church, and for a number of years had a camp-meeting ground on his farm. Joshua Barnes was an early settler, and also an early Methodist preacher and school teacher. Among the earliest settlers north of Union Grove may be mentioned W. W. Roman, Wm. Frazier, Michael Keith, J. McKeg, John Lord, Mr. Anderson, Joseph Schrougham, John Marney,. Capt. Morris, Preston Utley, James Paydon, and others. The following are the land entries (1) in this precinct in 1814, as taken from the county records: Daniel Simons, S. W. ¼ sec. 3 , 160 acres, Sept. 26; George Nichols, N. E. ¼ sec. 34, 160 acres, Sept. 15; Pleasant Nichols, N. W. ¼ sec. 34, 160 acres, Sept. 15; Nathan Chambers, S. W. ¼ sec. 34, 160 acres, Sept. 15; Francis Swan, S. E. ¼ sec. 34, 160 acres, Sept. 16. The above are in T.2 N. R. 6 W. Francis Swan, N. E. ¼- sec. 3, 153 43/100ths acres, Sept. 16; Nathan Chambers, N. W. ¼ sec. 3, 154 acres, Sept. 15; Robert Frazier, N. E. ¼ sec. 9, 160 acres, Sept. 10; John Brown, N. W. ¼ sec. 10, 160 acres, Nov. 24; John Nichols, N. E. ¼ sec. 4, 154 12/100ths acres, Sept. 26; Henry Hutton, S. W. ¼ sec. 4, 160 acres, Sept. 10, are in T. 1 N. R. 6 W. John Wordsworth, who resides on section 16, is a native of Clinton county, Illinois, and settled in St. Clair in 1830. G H. Appel, a farmer on section 35, was born in Germany, and came to this county in 1834. John H. Calbreath, who resides on section 11, is a son of William Calbreath, who settled in this county about 1804-5. He was born here in 1825. Judge James Whittaker, an honorable citizen who resides in the northern part of this precinct, was an early associate judge, and has held other minor offices.
The first school-house was erected of logs in Union Grove at a very early date, and schools were held there for some time before other school-houses were built in this precinct. A church was also built in this settlement by the Methodist denomination about 1820; but soon after it was completed it was set on fire by some evil disposed parties, and completely destroyed. It was soon replaced by another, even larger and better than the one before. The first mill was built by William Padfield in section 2 of T. 1 N., R. 6 W., about 1826. It was an ox mill, and the largest of the kind at that time in this part of the country. The building was about 60 x 80 feet, and five stories high. It was a grist and saw mill, propelled by ten oxen. Padfield's mill was known and patronized by the settlers for thirty miles around. Mr. Padfield also had a blacksmith's shop and store at this point, and at that early day there was considerable trading done here. The store was kept by Thomas Padfield, and was opened as early as 1818.
Frederick Hecker arrived in the United States in autumn, 1848, a voluntary exile. Hecker was born in Eichtersheim, Baden, September 28th, 1811, had received a splendid education, became a most distinguished jurisprudent and ardent politician. Hecker was the acknowledged leader of. republicanism in south Germany, organized as such, an insurrection against the existing monarchy, in the spring of 1848, was defeated at Kandern, and fled into Switzerland. After a brief stay, he emigrated to America. Another revolutionary attempt, promising a better success, re-called Hecker to Europe, where he arrived in July, 1849, just in time to
learn that his most cherished dreams of freedom and popular sovreignty would have to remain dreams for ages yet. Hecker returned the same year and settled in this township, near Summerfield. His home was known as the most hospitable one far or near, and of the thousands that came in the course of years to pay their respects to the revolutionist and philosopher, not one departed but was most favorably impressed with the amiability of host and hostess. Hecker died on the 24th of March, 1881, and was buried on the 28th. His funeral was the largest ever witnessed in St. Clair county. A dozen states sent delegations, and the friends that participated in the solemnizing of the day, are to be numbered by thousands.
VILLAGE OF SUMMERFIELD.
This place, like many others in the west, sprang into existence with the building of the railroad through this part of the county. It was laid out in the spring of 1854, by Thomas Casad and B. T. Kavanaugh. At the time it was laid out, the site was covered with a growth of small timber and underbrush; not a house was within its limits. The first building was erected by Samuel S. Casad, soon after the survey was made, in the spring of 1854. It was a small one-story frame dwelling, situated on block eight, lot four, and is, still standing, and forms a part of Peter Kullmann's store-house. In one room of this building, Mr. Casad kept a small stock of general store goods, and it was only a few months until a post-office was established, and Mr. Casad was appointed post-master.
Samuel S. Casad was not only the first resident of the village, but also the first merchant, and did much toward building up the place. He soon erected a second house, on the lot just north of the first, and the following fall, John Wakefield, Rev. Thornton :Peeples and Dr. Walker, each erected dwellings about the same time. Dr. Walker was the first resident physician. The present large steam flouring mill was being built in 1854, and a blacksmith shop was also opened in the same year. In the spring of 1855, Andrew Hall and Thomas Casad erected several tenement houses, and this year the population was considerably increased. A twostory frame building was erected by H. Beetle, who opened a hotel, the first in the place. Mr. Casad continued the only merchant until the completion of a store-house by Rev. Thornton Peeples, in the summer of 1856, when Bradford & Brother, of St. Louis, laid in a stock of clothing. The next store-house was built by John Wakefield, early in 1857, and that spring Wakefield & Phillips opened a general stock of goods. In the same year Rev. Thornton Peeples erected another store, and a general stock of goods was opened in it by the firm, Peeples & Dew. This year a broom factory was erected by a stock company, composed of enterprising men, and operated successfully by Haven & White for several years. In a severe storm the building was blown down, and was never rebuilt. There were several stores and minor enterprises established in 1857 and '58, and since then the village has grown gradually, and like all places, there have been numerous changes in the business circle. S. P. Dew, Joseph R. Padfield, John M, Casad, Charles Wakefield, Henry Ruth, George Bumb, John Schupp, Dr. A. W'. Casad. Garrett and Jacob Vogt, Charles L. Dew, Julius Winkler, Joseph Trenz, George Peters and Jacob Schuster, were among the early residents, and business men not above mentioned.
The first school was a private one, taught in the rear of Rev. Peeples' store-house, in the summer of 1856, by Miss Lucy E Dew. It was a three-months' subscription school. The first public school building was erected in 1860. It is still standing near the new one, and is now being used by the German parochial school. It is a brick, one story high, 36x40 feet, with two rooms, and cost, when built, $4,000. The present fine brick structure was erected in 1874, at a cost of $10,500, including furniture. It is 40x60 feet, and two stories high. The entrance projects from the main building and runs above the roof, forming a tower, in which swings a bell. It has four school-rooms and employs four teachers.
The Methodist denomination built the first church, which was completed in 1857. It was constructed of brick, in size about 40x60 feet, with basement, where the public schools were first held. This building was torn down in 1874, and their present fine brick church was built on the same spot.
The Mennonite church is a one-story brick structure, about 30x45 feet, and was erected in 1858.
The German Methodist church was erected in 1864. It is a brick building, about 24x36 feet. The Evangelical Lutherans have a brick church about 30x40 feet, which was erected in 1865.
Summerfield was incorporated under the general law as a village in 1866.
A coal-shaft was sunk at this point several years ago, but was never successfully worked. Coal was discovered at a depth of three hundred and eighty feet; the vein, however, was but three and a half feet in thickness, which was too small to be profitably worked. Summerfield, situated as it is in the heart of a rich and populous farming district, makes it a good point for shipping and general mercantile business. The precinct and village together have a population of 1,676, both well supplied with churches and school, which are liberally maintained. Summerfield has two secret societies; the Summerfield Lodge, No. 342, A. F. & A. M., was chartered in 1860, and has a membership of twenty-four. The Summerfield Lodge, No. 163, A. O. W. M., was chartered March 12, 1880, and has twenty-eight members. Both societies are in good working order.
The Summerfield Mills as stated above, was built in 1854, by Casad, Wakefield & Co. In 1859 it was purchased by C. Eisenmayer, the present owner, who enlarged the building and capacity. It is an excellent mill, and contains seven run of burrs and six pairs of rolls, with a capacity of manufacturing two hundred and fifty barrels of flour per day. Several fine brands of flour are manufactured, most of which is shipped to the eastern states and to various parts of Europe. The building is about half brick and half frame, five stories high. Everything is well arranged, and it is among the best mills in the county. A large cooper shop is carried on in connection with the business. Employs in all about thirty-five men.
In 1880 Ruth & Whitaker erected an elevator on the railroad, just east of the depot. It is constructed for handling all kinds of grain, and has a capacity of 5,000 bushels storage.
PRESENT BUSINESS FIRMS-TRADE OF 1881
General Stores-J Winkler, S R. Whitaker, E. Pausch & Bro., J. E. Kreihbiel and P. Kullman.
Drug Store-W. B. Taggert.
Physicians-J. H. Hewitt, J. A. Close.
Bakery- William Bloch.
Hardware and Stoves-Jacob Braundel.
Hotel -Sewell House; Prairie House, Joseph Trenz, proprietor; Tremont House, John, Miller, proprietor.
Shoe Shops-Louis Tecklenburg, Jacob Seitz, Charles Antoine.
Blacksmith Shops - George Bumb, Frank Grimm, Sen., Frank Grimm, Jr.
Wagon Shops-Phillip Bauhenz, Louis Landwehr.
Barber Shop-Jacob Schuster, Jr.
Harness Shop-Christian Trost.
Saloons-A. Lerch, A. Seger, John Appel, T. McDonald, Phillip Fischer.
(1) These lands are the Public Domain Land Sales (PDLS) which began in 1814. Some lands were granted as Preemption (Squattors’) Rights, grants or donations prior to the PDLS. The Illinois State Archives has an online index to all Public Domain Land Sales in Illinois and can also provide documentation for Preemptions.