The ABCs of Clark County
|The ABCs of Clark County|
Thanks to the help of Clark County Historical Society Members, Edie Breneman and Eleanor Macke, we have put together a fun way to learn 26 things about Clark County. Some things are historical; others are for tourists and community residents to enjoy, but all of them involve Clark County. So get ready to learn some of your Clark County ABC’s!
A is for the Archer House. It was built in 1841. It is the oldest hotel in Illinois still in operation. Colonel William B. Archer served in the legislature for 16 years as well as in both the Black Hawk and Mexican War. Both President Abraham Lincoln and President Grover Cleveland were guests at the Archer House. The Archer House located at 717 Archer Avenue in Marshall and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
B is for bridge. Tthe Stone Arch Bridge. It was constructed by Army Engineers between 1834 and 1837. The stones were precisely cut and fit together without bond or mortar. It is located on Archer Avenue (the Old National Road) at the West edge of Marshall and is the only stone arch bridge in use on the Old National Road today. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
C is for the current Clark County Courthouse. It was built in 1904. It is the fifth official courthouse for the county. The first was the log house in Aurora. The second was built in Darwin around 1825. In 1838 the county seat was moved to Marshall by a “vote of the people”. The third courthouse was built in 1839. Abraham Lincoln tried court cases in this courthouse. Reproductions of several of his court documents are on display near the current Clark County Treasurer’s Office. In the late 1800’s the county felt they were outgrowing the building, so a fourth courthouse was built in 1887. That courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1902.
D is for the Darwin Ferry. The ferry was established in 1818 by John McClure. The main purpose of the ferry was to benefit farmers. At the time there were 30 other ferry boats operating on the Wabash River. Now the Darwin Ferry is the only one left. The ferry has been in its current location for over 60 years. The last time the Darwin Ferry was rebuilt was in 1988. It is made of steel with 65 miles of welded wire. It weighs 32 tons and is 3 feet tall by 20 feet wide. This ferry is expected to last three decades. Today it costs $1 per person to ride the ferry. In 1833 a man on foot cost 6 & ¼ cents to ride across the river. ref. Area History Projects by MHS Students 1998 –Darwin Ferry by J. Arthur, J. Francis, N. Goodman and P.Patel.
E is for education. The first educational effort in Clark County was a school taught by Peleg Spencer, west of York on Union Prairie about 1820. The first public school was on Walnut Prairie, taught by Robert Taylor. Other schools were soon put in to operation, one in Washington now Wabash Township, one near Westfield and one near Charleston, which was then included in the county. Clark County currently has three excellent school districts that exceed academic standards year after year. Residents also have easy access to higher education facilities. Seven colleges and universities are less than one hour away from the county. ref. History of Crawford and Clark Counties, Illinois by WH Perrin 1883 pg. 269
F is for fishing in the Wabash. In the late 1800s settlers in Clark County had a rich fish and pearl commerce that had grown up from the sand bars, mussel shoals and placid depths. Hundreds of people made a good living from fish and pearls. Pearls had been found ranging in selling prices from a few dollars to $1,800 each. “Slugs” taken from mussel shells would bring from two to two dollars and fifty cents per ounce and the shells themselves were disposed to pearl button factories at Vincennes, Indiana. Today we can still enjoy great fish in Clark County at several local restaurants. ref. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and the History of Clark County edited by HHC Bell -Pg. 625
G is for Green Moss Church. The Green Moss Church, also known as Dolson Chapel is located eleven miles west of Marshall, just southwest of the entrance to Mill Creek Park. It is one of the oldest churches in this part of Illinois, according to an undated clipping from the Terre Haute (IN) Tribune-Star. There was a combination church-school log building used by the community until the present building was built in 1865. ref. research by Edie Breneman.
H is for Harlan Hall. It was built in 1872 as a livery stable and opera house. Through the years the building served as a skating rink, truck and tractor dealership, a paint company, the local Moose Lodge an more. It is currently owned by the City of Marshall and is being renovated by dedicated volunteers for use as a community center and future welcome/interpretive center for the National Road.
I is for Indians. Before the Europeans came to the Wabash Valley, many Native American Indian tribes ruled the area of Clark County and along the Wabash River. The Potawatomi and Kickapoo were two such tribes. They lived in mixed villages and grouped together to conquer small Illinois tribes. Most tribes were seasonal hunters and gathers. The Indians gathered wild nuts, berries and plants. They hunted animals like deer and grew gardens along the river and streams.
J is for James Jones. James Jones was one of the major novelists of his generation. He has the distinction of being the only individual who would become a major writer to witness the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. Jones most famous novel is From Here to Eternity. He helped create the Handy Writers' Colony located in Marshall. His other novels include Some Came Running, The Pistol, The Thin Red Line, Go to the Widow-Maker, The Merry Month of May, A Touch of Danger, and Whistle.
K is for Kickapoo Cemetery. There are over 160 known cemeteries in Clark County. There is the Kennedy, Kettering, Kickapoo and more. Many volunteers have spent countless hours visiting sites, reading stones inscriptions and indexing names, locations and histories. All of these records can be found at the Clark County Genealogical Library on the south side of the square in Marshall. It is a great place to find your roots!