Farm Country of Southern
Just four miles beyond
Staunton you will arrive at the small village of Livingston,
This old coal mining community got its start in 1905, but this small
community of just about 800 people is supported today by the numerous
farms surrounding the area.
This area was mostly farmland when the village of Livingston got its
start in 1904. After the Staunton Coal Company was established that
year, several people settled near the railroad tracks that ran
paralled to the mine site. The mine attracted workers from all over
the country and immigrants from around the world. The new settlement
was named Livingston after a farming family upon which large veins of
coal had been found. The village was laid out by the Livingston family
and the first post office was operated
from the Livingston Lumber Company office beginning in December, 1904.
David G. Livingston became the first postmaster and would hold various
other positions throughout the years including deputy sheriff, deputy
coroner and school treasurer. The village was incorporated in
November, 1905 and the following year, the town gained telephone
One of the most popular stops in Livingston today
is the Pink Elephant Antique Mall, Kathy-Weiser-Alexander,
In 1907, a village hall and jail were
constructed and a frame schoolhouse was built. In 1911 the first bank
and the first church were established. In 1912, a fire broke out a
large store, and burned both it and the village hall and jail. The
next year a new village hall was built in a two-story brick building,
which also contained a jail, firehouse, and a meeting hall. In 1917 a
new creamery was built as well as the town's first high school.
Over the years, more businesses and
churches were built, but, in 1930 the New Staunton Coal Company was
closed, signaling the first decline in the industry. Businesses and
people came and went throughout the years as more mining operations
The last class graduated from the Livingston Community Consolidated
High School in 2004 and the
Livingston School District consolidated with the neighboring Staunton
School District. Today, Livingston is called home to just about 850
village of Hamel,
just another eight miles down the road. However, before reaching
Hamel, you will pass the St. Paul Lutheran Church and its large blue neon
cross. Placed there by the Brunnworth family who lost their son
during World War II, the large cross seemingly sends a message of safe
travels along your journey.
Just across I-55 from the large blue cross
is the restored Hamel Barn. One of the few remaining
Meramec Caverns advertisements, the barn has now been restored by
the Route 66 Illinois Preservation Committee.
As you roll into Hamel, you will quickly
see that this is a town that proudly proclaims its
heritage with banners and
signs. Established in 1818, this small town of less than 600
souls wasn’t even incorporated as a village until 1955. While in
Hamel, be sure to check out the Scotty’s
Bar & Grill located at the junction of old
and Route 140. Built in the 1930's, as Ernie’s Roadhouse, this
old tavern continues to serve up a cold brew to the many travelers of
Just a short eight miles on down the road
you will come to the third oldest city in the State of
Edwardsville. The first building, in what would become
Edwardsville, was a log cabin built in 1805 by Thomas Kirkpatrick. Other settlers soon followed and one of the earliest cabins
constructed during this time still stands at 1712 N. Main Street.
In 1812 Ninian Edwards,
Illinois territorial governor, created Madison County and designated
Kirkpatrick’s farm as the county seat. Three years later,
Kirkpatrick surveyed the tiny settlement and named it
Edwardsville in honor of the governor.
More pioneers continued
to arrive and by 1816, the village had two stores. One of these was
owned by a man named Abraham Prickett, who had arrived in the area from
Kentucky in 1808. He would become the town’s first postmaster and
his son, George, was the first white child born in the settlement. The other store was owned by a man named Benjamin Stephenson who came from
Virginia. Stephenson would later build a home that continues to
Edwardsville today. The 1820 building, designed in the federal style
architecture and the first brick building in Edwardsville is now on the
National Register of Historic Places. Today, the building houses a museum
that features numerous hands-on period activities. The settlement was
incorporated in 1819.
John T. Lusk, who built
the first log cabin in what many years later was to become the luxurious
residential area of St Louis
Street, was the proprietor of the first hotel in the city at Main and
Union Streets. In its early years,
Edwardsville continued to grow and Governor Edwards eventually made
his home there, building a large house at the corner of Buchanan and
Vandailia Streets. Unfortunately, this house has not survived.
By 1834, much of the
town’s trade was being absorbed by nearby
and Alton and
Edwardsville's population began to decline. At the time, the
city had about 350 residents, four stores, two saloons, a castor oil
factory, and a female academy. By the mid 19th century; however,
Edwardsville began to grow again and after the Civil War, the town
supported some 2,000 residents. Thriving along the tracks of the railroad
line, more businesses began to be established along with several
In 1890, N. O. Nelson
relocated his plumbing and fixture factory on the outskirts of
Edwardsville. Surrounding the factory, he also constructed his own
model company town, based on the principles of the cooperation movement
and profit sharing between owners and laborers. Workers chose the name for
of Leclaire, after Edmund Leclaire of France, one of the pioneers of
profit sharing. The town ultimately occupied 150 acres and included an
abundance of educational and recreational activities.
Edwardsville is home to over 21,500 residents and provides numerous
peeks of history and architecture. The
Edwardsville Historic Preservation Commission has designated 40 local
landmarks, which include a number of historic homes. There are two
districts on the National Register of Historic Places including the Leclaire district that encompasses N. O. Nelson's company town, and the St. Louis
district, a tree lined residential area exhibiting a variety of
architectural styles. The downtown area of
Edwardsville has many commercial buildings built in the late 1800's
which are well worth a look.
As you leave
Edwardsville watch for the old Town and County Motel sign on the right
side of the road, just before crossing over the I-255 overpass.
Continue your journey of the
Mother Road to see the city of Mitchell, the
Chain of Rocks Bridge, Collinsville, and the Show Me State of
of America, updated July, 2008.
The old Wildey Theatre in
Edwardsville was built in 1909 and is currently being restored by the City of
Edwardsville. Located at
250-254 North Main Street,
Kathy Weiser-Alexander, October, 2010.
Meramec Caverns Barn courtesy Route 66
Illinois Preservation Committee.