Greenfield Area History


As a preface to this article, I have only scratched the surface of the long and rich history of this community. My research is taken from the Greene County Historical Society, The History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois 1885, my prized possession of the Greenfield, IL Sesquicentennial 1834 – 1984 and the Memoirs of George N. Cole. Jeremiah Hand with his wife, Mary Badgely Hand (eldest daughter of Rev. David Badgely) settled a quarter section of land on which the present city of Greenfield is located in 1827 and erected a log cabin. In 1830 Stephen Hand, Jeremiah’s son, who had married, began building an addition to the house, making it a double log house such as was the custom in that early day. However, before this was fully completed the property was transferred to James Cannedy. James Cannedy in the fall of 1831 moved to Tennessee and sold the property to George W. Allen. Geo. W. Allen, TN native, son of Zachariah Allen who came to Greene Co. in 1819 and settled SE of White Hall. Geo. Married Caroline Henderson, Jan 3, 1828. In the spring of 1832 he moved his family southeast of his first home, 40 acres SE of White Hall, to the 40 acres he purchased from James Cannedy. His brother-in-law, Rev. Amos Prentice, soon joined Geo. The two opened Greenfield’s first store. The stock in the store was the usual variety of pioneer days. Goods were brought up from Alton by teams. In a short time a frame 1 ½ story residence was built adjoining the store. It is recorded that his building was located about where the Masonic Temple building now stands (1884) at the extreme north end of the west side of the square. In 1832 all enterprises engaged by Allen were successful, his home, his store and mill were new, his stock of merchandise was enlarged and he invested in several hundred acres of land in this vicinity. The nearest post office was in Carrollton and mail was sent for weekly. It was in 1834 that the suggestion was made for a town and post office. So in 1834, George W. Allen surveyed and platted on his land a town site. He wished to name it Greenville, but another town in the state already had the name. He appealed to his hold friend, Rev. James B. Corrington, who standing in Allen’s’ doorway and viewing the beautiful verdant landscape said, “Let it be named Greenfield”. The Plat was filed for record Dec. 5, 1834. In 1835 Mr. Allen laid out a plat of 34 lots and in 1836 enlarged it to 208. In 1835 Allen secured the first mail route from Jacksonville to Alton. Greenfield’s post office was located in Allen’s store in 1835. He was commissioned the first postmaster and held this office until 1850. Greenfield continued to grow and prosper. The town was incorporated under the state laws in regard to the government of town and villages, in 1850 and in 1867 was organized under the special charter by the legislature. The first meeting of the council took place the 23rd of April, 1867. A proposed railroad line was halted by the Civil War. However, in 1870, the R., R. I. & St. L., owned and operated by the C., B. & Q. R. R. C., was completed through Greenfield. Greenfield was also the eastern terminus of the L. C. & W. constructed in 1883 and gave Greenfield a much closer tie with the county seat. In 1897 the Greenfield Electric Light Company was one of the leading industries of Greenfield and was located southwest off the city square. Greenfield had a coal mine on the west edge of town until 1937. On the east side of town were mineral springs that were used for healthful effects. One of the best historical descriptions regarding Greenfield comes from How I Remember Greenfield, from the Memoirs of George N. Cole, written in 1963: (With apologies, I have edited Mr. Cole’s account for the sake of space) As I remember Greenfield as a boy in 1880, 1890, and 1900, I am 85 at this writing. The Tremont Hotel was on the southwest corner of the square. Then came W.G. Secor’s and Clint Cato’s Grocery Store. Later they separated and Cato moved farther north in a store north of Knudsen’s Shoe Store. Upstairs was G.A.R. Hall, veterans of the Civil War. Some of the veterans I remember: Dan Pitman, Harvey Valentine, J.K. Samples, John H. Parks, Capt. Thos. Doyle, Jim and Chas. Boring, S.B. Cole, Abe Emmons, James Samples, Thomas Henderson, Dick Tyas, W.G. Secor, Wm. Jewel, Sam Wilhite, Van Cannady, John McQuerry, Tom Weisner, Jacob Green, Riley Gilleand, Wm. Haven, Chas. Arnold, and Jacob Daum. John Collin’s Store (Dry Goods and Men’s Furnishing) was next. Next going north, was: T.N. Knudsen’s Shoe Store (George Lorenzo, and Harry--sons)--they made most of boots and shoes; next was Seigel’s Bakery and Restaurant--they baked their own bread, later, Frank Allen and Andy Bubenhoffer, still later, Earnest and Wm. Barton. The next building north was P.G. Mook’s Drug Store, later Cooper and Temple Drugs. Also C.G. Cato had a grocery store when he and Secor split up. Then came J.B. Broadmarkle’s Hardware Store. After he had moved from the big wooden building north of the Sheffield Bank on the north side of the square. Chauncy Rucker was a boy raised by J.B. Broadmarkle. Lea Broadmarkle and Love Broadmarkle were his girls and Ed Broadmakdle was a son. He also raised a boy, Winton May. His daughter, Lea, married Wm. Parish who ran the store later. I think Frank Parks started his hardware experience under William Parish. Next, came J.H. Smith’s Dry Good Store. Later his son, Frank, ran the store. Later, Chas. Meng and Guy Secor worked there, also, Lottie Mullery Doyle. Later, Meng and Secor took over when Frank C. Smith died. Frank was the first president of Farmers’ State Bank, and he also owned a Pony Farm. Frank’s daughter married Dr. Seecamp, a veterinarian. Dr. Seecamp’s son now has the Pony Farm, and it is call “Ponyland”. I wish Frank could come back to see the change—especially the price, as then ponies sold for $10 to $25 each. The Masonic Temple is still above the store. Across the alley, north, was Kinkead’s Grocery & Notion Store. This building stood where the present Argus Office now stands. The Argus building was built in the early 1900’s. Dr. Diddle and Dr. Winters had their offices upstairs. Next north was Aunt Polly Smith’s house and millinery store. Thomas Henderson lived between her house and Kinkead’s. Then on the corner going east on the north side of the square was Burgardt’s Barber Shop. I remember Old Billy Burgardt cut my hair the first time. Later, his son, Billy Jr., took over, then his sons, Claude and Charley. The next store east was W.T. Wilhite Dry Goods—Earnest and Claude, his sons, were clerks. J. H. Gray’s Drug Store was next in which was E.N. McPherron’s Jewelry and Repair Shop; later, H.A. Shields, undertaker; then Richard Wilhite Appliance Store. Dr. Gary’s office and Dr. Harry Converse’s office were upstairs. Next was Mr. A.D. Rollins’ Millinery Shop—Maggie Finley and Maggie Strickland were Trimmers. The little store next was Tom Woodman’s Watch Repair Shop, later, A.D. Rollins’ Store, with stoves, pianos, and buggies. On the corner was the Old George Sheffield Bank, later Johnny Sheffield, later; Thomas Doyle had his tailor shop on the first floor. Dr. F.A. Clement’s office was in back, later Clement and Bulger, Dr. Powell and son, Harry, dentists. Above in front was the Greenfield Band Room. The Greenfield Band was a big asset to Greenfield as at this time it had the reputation of being the best small band in the state of Illinois. The leader was E.M. Middleton (who was blind), and the following are members of the band: Vic Haven, Newt Edwards, coronet; Leon Haven, piccolo; Dr. Madden and John Green, clarinet; Luther Valentine, Nelson Dickerman, Perry Entrikin, base; Joe Boring, snare drum. Gallager Boring, Harvey Wilhite, and John Daniels were some more of the members I recall when I, George Cole, was a member from 1897 to 1908. We played all around at towns in our territory, at fairs, rallies, and in campaigns; also in Labor Day Parades in St. Louis. Our biggest thrill was going to Shiloh Battle Field with high state officials to dedicate monument for Illinois Soldiers killed in Civil War. (This was in 1914). The Band Stand in the Park was dedicated in memory of our leader, E.M. Middleton. I can’t recall any member of the band now living but me who was a member in campaign of 1900. John Daniels joined in or before 1908. North of the square was the Old Methodist Church. Later this church was the Opera House run by B.M. Kincaid and Carson Metcalf. Carson’s wife, Gertie, played the piano for silent pictures. Also north of the square was Fred Quast’s Implement and Blacksmith Shop. J.B. Broadmarkle’s first store was just north of the old Sheffield Bank. Also Ed Hebner’s store and public laundry store, where Mrs. A.D. Rollins’ Millinery Store stood. Across the street on the corner was Pappy Liles’ grocery store. Mrs. Liles had her home there and her Millinery and Women’s Hats. Later, when the Liles moved to the south side of the square, this became Dr. Gobble’s and Dr. Kinkead’s office. The east side square going south was Jackson Drennen’s Tin Shop, later, A.D. Rollen’s Buggy and Piano Store, later, George E. Meng’s Hardware & Implement Store. Above Jackson Drennen’s Tin Shop was the Old Greenfield Argus office—a paper edited by W.H. Haven. Later, Victor H. Haven, Leon Haven and Gilman Haven and Henry Schuyler and Wm. Arnold were helpers. Later, a building was built on the northwest corner of the square and became the Argus’s permanent home. Later Glen Haven was the owner and publisher. At present (1963) Clyde and Eileen Cole are the owners and publishers of the Argus. The next building going south on the east side was Wm. And Chas. Saylor’s Drug Store. The next building was Joe Boring’s and McClain’s Barber Shop. Above was Modern Woodman’s Hall; also, the Odd Fellows and Royal Neighbors Hall. Nest was the Grange Store owned by member of the Grange and run by Tom Brown. Above was K of P Hall. Chas. Meng’s Variety Store came next. They lived upstairs. In the back of the store was Hot Beds he raised and he sold garden plants. The next store was W.P. Ennis’ and George Green’s Tailor and Men’s Furnishing Goods. S.M. Wilhite’s Grocery Store, then J.D. Faith had a restaurant, and on the corner was Phillip Bauer’s Shoe Store. Before the turn of the century, a fire destroyed all the stores up to Chas. Meng’s Grocery. East of Bauer’s Shoe Store was A.D. Saylor’s Blacksmith Shop, later run by Chas. Boring. Old Wm. Melow made wagons and general wood repair work, later, Eckman’s and Perkins’ Carpenter Shop. Across the street south was Shady Cameron’s Harness Shop. He also kept stud horses and jacks in a barn back of the store. On the corner running south was the big old store, which I think was called the Wilson Building. In back of Wilson’s was where Pappy Hall lived in a house. Then came Wm. Wylder’s Barber Shop and Capt. Doyle’s Tailor Shop. These buildings burned in the 1880’s. They were rebuilt and occupied by Mellor Bros. Meat Market, on the corner, who had come over from England. Later, this meat market was run for a long time by George Holnbach. Then, Mrs. Simon Bryan’s Dress Maker Shop; then Henry Weinagan’s Photograph Shop; then Joe Dixon’s Tailor Shop. He was also a leader of the Republican Drum Corps of 1896. John Allen and Chas. Boring were Fifers, John Saxton, Chas. Godfrey, Roy Wade, John Sherman, George Knudsen, George Cole, Hal Howard, Mack Baker, and enough others to make twenty-four members. We did our practicing on the old railroad turntable north of the stockyards. Farther south on Main Street was Jim Boring’s Blacksmith Shop. South of him on the west side of the street was Dick Tyas’ Blacksmith and Repair Shop. A Carter had a Mattress Store across the street. Back to the south side of the square, C.O. and Lillie Fesler had a restaurant and ice cream parlor. Upstairs, Belle Ash had a Dress Making Room, later the Greenfield Blade, edited by M.G. Sisson. John Wahl’s Furniture Store was next, later, Howard Edwards, later still, Ed P. Metcalf with H.A. Shield’s help, took over in undertaking and furniture business. Still later, C.O. Daniels and Challacome’s Furniture and Undertaking. When E.P. Metcalf moved to Springfield, Illinois, H.A. Shields opened up in J.H. Gray’s building on the north side of the square. A small wooden store next, occupied by Pappy Liles and Tom Woodman, later, John Cooper’s Drug Store. The next store was Norman Wooley’s Hardware and Implements, John Calloway, clerk, and Billy Drennen, tinner. Then E.K. Metcalf and Calloway ran this store next with A. Robison as tinner, followed by R. Simmons with James Burns, Chas. Wahl, and George Cole as clerks. Then, George Arnett and Walt Collins. Later, John Vandaveer and Frank Parks. George B. Metcalf’s Grocery Store was next with Barber Stark, H.M. Chineowth, and Wayland Crouch as clerks, later, was B.B. Metcalf and son, Carson and two daughters, Edwina and Maude. The next store was Belknap and Metcalf Dry Goods. This Metcalf was Carl’s, Stella’s, and Mildred’s dad. Later Metcalf, Ed Cameron and Geo. Bauer built a new store on the west side of the square called “Model”, Callaway, Ed Cameron and George Bauer with Claude Hamilton as Clerk. The next store was Busy Bee Dry Goods. Next was J.P. Madden’s new building and when it was being put up, the basement was dug and one evening about 7:30 p.m. the Busy Bee Store caved in and fell into the basement. All the people got out and nobody was hurt. It was rebuilt and occupied by L.E. Middleton Drug Store. Across the street west was the Sheffield Bank—moved from the north side. Jimmy Hutchinson was cashier. George Hutchinson and Clyde Sheffield were clerks. Later this bank was reorganized to First National Bank with E.K. Metcalf, Ralph Metcalf, O.E. Converse, and others as stockholders. Later Carson T. Metcalf was cashier. Harland Edwards, Leo Smith and M.B. Metcalf were helpers. Dr. Black, dentist, was upstairs in the back. Next going west, was old Peter Hobson, I think undertaker and furniture. He made his own coffins. Greenfield Post Office came next. John Berry was the first postmaster I remember. Roe Meddleton’s newsstand was up front. Joe Stover and Cannady’s Butcher Shop was next, later, Rices’ Photo Gallery. Going on west, Maggie and Myra Edwards’ Dress Making. The little store, still here was O.B. Edwards’ Real Estate. Newt, Maggie, Myra and Billy were his children, later, Crip Lansaw’s Shoe Repair, still later, Arron Hottes’ Shoe Repair. Next was a vacant lot where Piper’s Garage now stands. I believe it was build by George Batty and Leroy Piper. Back south of the garage was Wm. Slaughter’s Woodwork and Blacksmith Shop. Chas. Arnold was the Blacksmith. Later, John and Lewis Solomon’s Electric Light Plant. Across the street north was Jack Eakes’ Livery Stable in back of the hotel, later, A.D. Rollins with Jesse Ash, Hostler. At that time, Mrs. Ash and the girls ran the hotel.The Greenfield Mill was on the north owned by John Ardinger and his son George with Mike Caffrey as engineer. I can see him yet with his whiskery head stuck out of the engine room. Briggs and Cunningham ran the mill next; then McGrey and Shoemaker; then, Heck Bros.--the last millers. Next going west on Chestnut Street was Cris Gemmp’s Shoe Repair Shop, later, Sally Brown, trimmer. Next, was Jim Adams’ Blacksmith Shop. A Delancy worked for him; he had a daughter, Pearl. Next going west was Entrekin’s Lumber Yard. Across the street, on the south side was Dr. Martin’s fine residence. Later, Sumner Gay lived there and kept two Cleveland Bay Stud horses in the barn on the lot. Still later, B.U. Bassham bought it and his son, Jack, lived there. Down the alley, south, was J.J. Crouch and H.M. Chineowth’s Poultry Dealers. They shipped some poultry by the carloads. On west in the next block, was Bassham’s Livery Stable and Hotel. I sure can remember Betsy Bassham who was the boss of the hotel and of Ben. Jack Bassham was a scrapper. How well I can remember Jack and Gim Haven getting in an argument. Jack said to Gim, “Hit me right here,” pointing to his nose. Gim did, but was a mess afterwards. West, across the street, was a small building belonging to Dick Simmons. Jack Bassham had the first nickelodeon in Greenfield, located somewhere on the north side of Chestnut Street. C.O. Dannells and Wm. Arnold had a Feather Cleaning and Mattress Factory. Then came Wooley’s Grain Elevator. South across the street was R. Simmons’ Lumber Yard. Later, Bob Mitchells Lumber Yard. Simmons then bought Calloway’s and Metcalf’s Hardware Store on the south side of the square. On northeast side of the tracks was Allen’s Grain Elevator, south of the Stock Yards. W.G. Allen was owner. Built at the time the C.B. & Q. Railroad was built. This Elevator was bought by Greenfield’s Farmers’ Coop. Grain Company in 1919. They ran it until Sep. 20, 1929, when their new Elevator was built. This old Allen Elevator was wrecked and the lumber sold. The Greenfield Elevator also bought later, from Sophia Wolley, the Wooley Elevator, and it was torn down. E.K. Metcalf was the first president and George N. Cole, secretary and treasurer and manager of the new Elevator. When we applied for a charter, we found the same person couldn’t be manager and secretary and treasurer. K.T. Smith was elected to secretary-treasurer’s office and held that office until his death. Also, E.K. Metcalf served as president until his death. North of the Elevator, the first agent I can remember at C.B. & Q. Station was E. Wahl. The next one was John Beaty, who had a son, Wilbur. Next, was Hod Sperry, who was there a long time. His son, Harry, was night operator. Then came Ray Haney. Jim Bryan was the first agent of the C. & A. or old L.C. & W. Railroad, which ran through the south part of town. As I remember, Jim Sherman was Section Boss. George Adams was Section Boss on C.B. & Q. John and Mace Pointer were section hands. A man by the name of Reno (Arthur, his son) sold bedsprings around the country. John Stansbury and sons had a brickyard in the north part of town. Baker, Barton & Sons had one in the southeast part of town. Edwin Griswold had a cider and feed grinding mill in the north part of town. Also Hall Howard had one west of the depot. Mellor Bros. had an Ice House east of the schoolhouse. B.M. Kincaid also had an Ice House on the C.B. & Q. J. H. Sykes had a Saw Mill on the south part of town. Stock buyers in those early times were Judge J.H. Rives and Peter Achenbach. Later, C.W. Holenback, Fred Achenbach, Jasper Johnson, and Frank McChesney. Later still, Holenback and Haven, Jaynes Bros., Frank Strang, Peter Achenbach and Peter Holenbach. Carpenters in the 1880’s and 90’s were Hardin and Ben Thorpe, George Hammack, Fred and Ed Stock, and J.M. Shields. John Green and Charles Howard & Sons were well diggers. Guthrie Secor and Abe Emmons each kept 40 to 50 stands of bees on lots near their home. Greenfield had a Methodist, a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Catholic, as well as a Negro church. A.P. Stover was the first minister of the old Methodist Church, later, J.J. Dugan and Rev. Davidson. James Winterbottem was pastor o the Presbyterian Church. Father Metzler was pastor of the Catholic Church. We had several Negro families here. Grandpa Burghardt, Bill, his son and family, Ann Alexander, Jim Hickman’s, Mike Webb, Willis Joe, and one other boy, his sons. Bob Page Kirkendoll and Sophie, his children, Lawson Duncan and family. Greenfield had two parks, one in the center of the square with the old Pagoda, and the present south park. I remember when my father, S.B. Cole, T.G. Capps, George Adams and the City Marshall laid off and set out trees. Some few are still living. I had not started to school yet. Sam Dixon’s Nursery (strawberries, apples, peaches, and blackberries) was on the south end of town, south of L.E. & W Railroad. Martin Weaver’s Nursery was on the west side of town. Jacob Green, John Green, James Murray and Uncle Billy Good (Tim’s dad) put in tile on farm. Abe Emmons, Lon Hall, Richard & Son, Pete Richards & Son, painters. Tom Smith was our plasterer. George Faith and R.C. Fisher were our draymen. I remember, later, Henry Myers and John Shepard, Hugh McHelern and Jim Rives had a big barn in the alley north of the old Methodist church. They bought and sold horses and kept stud horses. Hi Hamilton and Heziki Light ran peddling wagons. Except for Entrekin Lumber Co. no one or any relation in business in the 1880’s are in business today. Willard Hamilton is the nearest; his grandfather ran the peddling wagons. Greenfield had several doctors. Dr. Finch, Dr. Martin, Dr. Clement, Dr. Converse, Dr. Kinkead, Dr. Stubelfield. Later Dr. Gobble, Dr. Bulger, Dr. Cravens, Dr Gary. Jim and Faye were Dr. Gary’s son and daughter. The above are some of the doctors we had in those days. We had a racetrack and horse races on James Rives’ Farm on the south side of town. Also a good baseball team—Haven Bros., Bill Burghardt, John Teany, Deo Duggan, Harry Sperry Bert Doyle—were some of the players at that time. In those days, everybody burned wood. It had to be sawed up. John Range, Chas. Green, later Phillip Green, Jake Green and myself sawed a lot of wood with bucksaws. We got 50 cents a load and you were a weakling if you couldn’t buck up 4 loads of pole wood a day. In the early 1900’s we had a Chautauqua in Greenfield for several years. Then in 1914, the year of the cyclone, we started having homecomings every three years. This homecoming has been continued every three years since, except during World War I. Beginning, it was great enjoyment to meet our friends and relatives who came back home and still is for next generation. But for others, and me not many can come back. I believe the last Homecoming only two or three of the old ones came back. The two big days in Greenfield were Decoration Day and July 4. Decoration Day Civil War Veterans met at their hall about 10 o’clock in the morning and, headed by the Greenfield Band, marched to the north cemetery. They had a program. Then in the afternoon, they met in City Park and had another program with singing, Gettysburg Address and other speakers. The 4th of July was celebrated withy speakers, singing, all kinds of Sack and other races, climbing a greased pole, and at night, lots of fireworks and firecrackers on the square. I saw the Park and side walks an inch deep with burnt firecrackers. Tommy O’Donnell, and later Charles Green, shoveled coal in coal chute for engineer on C.B. & Q. Railroad. Down south on Mill Street was Professor Wylder’s College. It stood where hospital not stands. The Greenfield School over on the hill was built in 1874. South of it stood a little old brick building for the first, second and third grades and home for the janitor. Later on, the old building was torn down and an addition was put on the 1874 building. Mrs. Berry was my first grade teacher and D.O. Whitmer was the principal. Signed: Geo. N. Cole

GreenfieldILLINOIS