Histories - 1911 Souvenir of White Hall


The objects in the publication of this book are to show the industrial, financial and educational progress of White Hall during the past quarter of a century.

The information herein given will be found of a highly satisfactory character, and reflecting credit upon White Hall, showing as it does unsurpassed growth and advancement far in excess of any town in Central Illinois.

The Publishers. November, 1911.

White Hall came into being in the year 1832, and consisted of forty-eight lots laid out along the old state road, which served as a public highway the same as the railroads do today. David Barrow was the founder.

James Allen kept the first tavern, as hotels were called then.

The town was more of a country settlement than a village, with log houses.

Beverly Holliday was the first merchant and postmaster. Dr. S. H. Culver and Sam Higbee settled here in 1834-35. In 1836 there were only three business firms, consisting of Hogan & Goodcup, Ayers & Hogan, and Blackwell & Holliday.

White Hall became a town in 1836 by act of the legislature, and contained at that time less than fifty qualified voters. In 1840 there were about forty-five buildings and a population of some three hundred.

The first church was built by the Methodists, and stood near the McAvoy home, south of town. The first school house was built on what is now Carrollton street, and was a one-story frame structure, the first teacher being a man by the name of Barton. The first lawyer was Josiah Lamborn, who came here from Jacksonville, a man of great intellect.

Stoneware was burned here as far back as 1835 by a man by the name of Michael Baker.

It would be the height of ingratitude to omit from this book the name of the late Judge L. E. Worcester, who more perhaps than any other man figured in the early and later history of the town. He came here in 1836, the winter of the "deep snow," and entered into the work of building a town. He never ceased until his death, being always foremost in all enterprises calculated to advance home interests and make others prosperous regardless of his personal well being. Had others seen as he did, White Hall would have been a city of 25,000 inhabitants today.

White Hall never became prominent on the map until after the completion of the Chicago & Alton Railroad to this point January 1, 1866, and even then only locally. While it has always maintained a progressive tendency, her real progress did not become pronounced until the clay deposits were opened up.

In 1884 the town became a city, and Seneca D. Chapin was the first mayor.

August Pierce built the first shop and turned the first jug in 1863, which formed the foundation for the city's wealth. One followed another in rapid succession, and in 1865 Mr. Pierce and David Culbertson engaged in the manufacture of drain tile. In 1875 W. W. Arnold established the first steam-power clay plant in the city, and engaged in the manufacture of sewer pipe.

In the year 1878 there were 590,000 gallons of stoneware turned out, 560,000 drain tile and 200,000 brick, for which there was received $46,650. At that time all the industries gave employment to only ninety-five hands.

With one among our largest factories standing idle at the present time, we have five hundred men employed with a pay-roll of $390,000 annually. To this would be added another $150,000 should the Western Stoneware Co. resume operations, making a grand total of $530,000, or a trifle over a half million dollars. With a population of three thousand, this is a fraction more than $176.00 to every man, woman and child in the city.

No town in the state has finer homes and finer lawns than White Hall. A glance at a few of them as they appear in this souvenir will prove the truth of what is stated here.

The spiritual welfare of our people is well provided for, there being six modern church buildings, costing $95,000. They are Methodist, Presbyterian, Christian, First Baptist, Tabernacle Baptist and Catholic.

Our public schools are among the best in the state, and have graduated many of the most prominent and foremost men of the country. The building, a commodious brick structure, consists of a central section and two wings. The central section was erected in 1867, the east wing in 1888, the west wing in 1901. While the structure thus built may be considered old, it is modern in equipment, having up-to-date desks, electric lights, its own drinking water system, city water, modern toilet rooms, well-equipped laboratories, libraries, and other things that go to make up the equipment of a modern school. The high school department occupies the central and western wing of the second story, the seventh and eighth grades the east wing of the second story, the primary and first grades the west wing of the first story, the second, third and the fourth and fifth combined grades the central part of the first floor, and the fifth and sixth grades the east wing of the first floor. In the basement are located the toilet rooms, the janitor's work room, play room for the little folks, dining room, two gymnasium rooms, and the chemical laboratory. The superintendent's office and the library are on the second floor. The grounds are quite commodious, and have been laid out and beautified so as to keep the school premises in harmony with the esthetical growth of our city.

The school as an organization is second to none in Greene county, and the peer of any in Central Illinois. The high school, with an enrollment of upwards of 120 students, maintains two well-defined courses of study English-scientific-commercial and English-scientific-classical, and the corps of teachers, five in number, have charge of the several departments - English, mathematics, science, language and history. The grade work is covered by eight grades - ten departments or rooms, - with an enrollment of upwards of forty-five. The work in the grades is based on the state course of study, and since all are working to meet these requirements in full, the work being done is fully up to normal.

The school was graded and given a course of study as early as 1860, but not until 1874 was it given the dignity of maintaining a high school department. But this need not seem strange to us when we consider that in 1861, at the breaking out of the civil war, there were in the whole of the United States fewer than forty high schools.

In 1877 the first graduating class, under the supervision of Mr. E. M. Prindle, went out and became the nucleus for that honorable body - the White Hall High School Alumni Association, - which today numbers in the neighborhood of four hundred and fifty. Most of these honored members of former classes are in White Hall and vicinity, but many have moved to other states and not a few to foreign lands. Thirty-two have departed this life, passing to their reward in the "Great Beyond," but most of those living are doing well their part in life's toils and turmoils.

Since the first class went out, no aid has failed to add a class to the ever-increasing numbers of the W. H. H. S. A. A., the smallest class being that of 1900, when only two - Annie Richert and William D. Chapman - went out. The largest class was that of 1910, when forty-one honorable members were added to the alumni.

Since the organization of the high school in 1874, eleven superintendents have come, served their time, and gone their way - some to work in other schools and some to enter other lines of work, some to settle down in our midst and some to enter other fields of labor. The first, he who organized the high school, Mr. E. M. Prindle, left the school and entered mercantile life in our city in 1879. He was followed by J. M. Shearer, who served one year and surrendered the reins of government to A. C. Courtney. Mr. Courtney remained in the schools until 1884, when he was succeeded by T. L. Fansler, who remained at the head of the schools but one year. In 1886 G. W. Herrick took charge of the schools, and remained at the head for three years, when he resigned, and was followed by Geo. W. Smith, who served four years, and then resigned to enter the Southern Illinois Normal University at Carbondale, with which institution he has charge of the department of history. Since going to Carbondale he has written a text book on Illinois history that has been generally adopted by the schools of the state, and he is now engaged in writing a history of Southern Illinois. Prof. Smith has gained leading rank as a writer of Illinois history. In 1893 C. H. Andrews, who made the time record, serving eight years, took charge, and under his sway the advancement of the schools was very marked. He retired in 1901, and was followed by C. E. Joiner, who served five years. Under Mr. Joiner the high school was placed on the accredited list at the state university. Mr. Joiner resigned to enter work in the northern part of the state, and was followed by F. M. Beatty, who served one year, and then resigned to enter the federal service in the Philippines. Mr. C. E. Avis then took charge, and for three years directed the educational trend, then resigned to enter other lines of work. He was followed by J. P. Scheid, who held the reins of government four years, resigning in May, 1911. Under the supervision of Mr. Scheid the work in the school made marked advancement. He also had the honor of sending out the largest class in the history of the school, if not in the history of the high schools of the county, into the ranks of the W. H. H. S. A. A., that of 1910, which numbered forty-one. At the present time Heywood Coffield has charge of the schools, and though he has been at the head for only a short time, yet the enrollment, attendance and work in general indicate that our schools are not retrograding, but are in the lead.

For the last ten years the White Hall high school has been accredited at the state university. At first the work was not fully up to requirements, but constantly improved the rating until at the present the White Hall high school stands fully accredited, and has a number of additional points standing to her credit.

White Hall being in an agricultural community, a strong agricultural section has been added to the high school course, and to meet the further demands, steps are being taken looking to the organization of manual training and domestic science departments.

Though the White Hall schools have maintained their rating at the top in educational lines, they have not taken a secondary place in athletics. True foot ball has been for some years a tabooed luxury, yet in other lines of athletics the school has held its own, and at present the school is in a position to maintain the lead in all lines of athletic sports.

The ethical standing of the school is very high, being as it is a leader in all things tending to elevate social, moral and intellectual growth.

The corps of instructors, with the positions they hold at present, is as follows:

High School - Heywood Coffield, superintendent and instructor in mathematics; Miss Nita Robinson, principal high school and instructor in language; R. V. Smith, instructor in science; Miss Martha Connole, instructor in history and commercial branches; Miss Louise Roberts, instructor in English.

Grades - D. Noel King, eighth; Miss Mary Baker, seventh; Miss Lucy Baker, sixth; Miss Edna Vosseller, fifth; Miss Maud Tanner, fourth and fifth; Miss Mabel McGown, fourth; Miss Naomi Auten, third; Miss Ethel Rickart, second; Miss Grace Campbell, first; Miss Norma Strode, primary.

Our public school building and grounds cost the district $75,000.

White Hall is the pioneer temperance city of Central Illinois, having had no legalized saloon since 1871, with the possible exception of 1873. During the life of the "club room" that followed the abolition of saloons, White Hall occupied a prominent place on the docket at each session of the circuit court for a number of years. John S. Judd, being president of the village board, led the fight to oust the saloon, and led in the prosecutions for the illicit sale of liquor. He fought the demon from every available point until bankruptcy looked him in the face. The taxpayers were weakening on account of the increased tax, yet Judd never ceased in his efforts, and continued the warfare. His oft-repeated defeats finally turned to victory through the aid of a fire that proved more successful than the courts in bringing an end to the "club room." This ended the whisky business in White Hall. Popular opinion is no longer divided on the saloon question, but has long since become thoroughly united against it. With the closing of saloons, a wave of prosperity set in, the accumulated debt was soon paid off, and today we are in a better financial condition than ever before. We have better streets and more miles of concrete walks than any city of its size in the state.

We have a water system extending over the entire city. The supply is obtained from a large reservoir located one mile east of the city, affording an inexhaustible supply for all industrial purposes. The city is practically out of debt, with funds for making further improvements.

The electric light and power service at White Hall has no superior. The plant is operated day and night, enabling the factories to operate their machinery by electricity. In addition to supplying our city, Greenfield and Winchester receive their light and power from the White Hall plant.

A splendid system of hot-water heating has also been put in operation. Nearly all the business houses and offices and the residences reached by the heating mains have adopted this economical and convenient method of securing heat, it having proven far superior to the old method of stoves, saying nothing of the saving of labor and dirt. The public school building has been heated by this system for several years. The heat is supplied from the central power plant of the White Hall Sewer Pipe and Stoneware Co.

The above company operates an artificial ice plant with a capacity of fifteen tons of congealed water every twenty-four hours. This institution has been in operation only a few years, but it promises a very successful future. During the past summer its value to the community asserted itself in no uncertain manner. While other communities suffered for want of ice at any price, White Hall was constantly supplied with not a cent advance in price.

The White Hall Orphans' Home Society was established by J. N. Dewell November 15, 1902, with a full roster of officials, representing White Hall's best citizens. It has prospered from its organization, and grows in popularity with each year of its usefulness. It has no endowment fund, being supported by private subscriptions through the various field representatives located in various sections of the state. These subscriptions have always proven ample to meet expenses, with sufficient accumulations to enable the society to purchase a site for a more convenient home, located at the south edge of the city, and plans for a new receiving home are now under consideration.

The expense of conducting the society has always been light, there being no salaried officials, except the superintendent and the matron of the home and the secretary, the bulk of the expense being in receiving and caring for the orphan children until suitable homes can be found for them. In many states this work is carried on by state appropriation, and a move has been made to secure from the state of Illinois an appropriation of $15,000 to aid in the construction of an orphans' home and industrial school at White Hall.

Every child placed by this society is constantly looked after until it maintains its majority. If perchance a child should be improperly treated, or its education neglected by its foster parents, the society cancels the contract and replaces the ward.

During the nine years of its existence the society has found homes for four hundred orphan children, many of whom have been saved from becoming wards upon the state and trained to useful citizens.

W. J. Roberts, a former newspaper man, was made state superintendent on the death of Mr. Dewell a year ago, his duty being to look after the receiving and placing of children and supervising the field work of the agents scattered in all parts of the state. Several county and other officials throughout the state have enlisted in the work, and the last annual report of the state board of charities showed the work of the White Hall Orphans' Home Society to be second to none among like organizations in the state, with the single exception of a Chicago institution which handles children from all parts of the county, the work of the White Hall society being confined strictly to Illinois.

White Hall has long contemplated the construction of hard roads, both in the city and along the main roads leading to it, but no definite move was made until the present year toward carrying out the plans. Contracts were entered into with the state highway commission, and there has already been completed a stretch of rock road leading from the C. & A. track west along Bridgeport to a point two miles distant. Work has now begun on a like road running south from the city to the bridge over Seminary creek, where it will connect with an experimental mile of hard road constructed some three years ago, giving a continuous stretch of permanent road to the famous Gregory Farm. There is now a demand for a hard road running east from the city.

White Hall has come to realize the urgent need of a complete system of sewerage, and the preliminary steps have been taken to meet this necessity, and the administration of Mayor Roodhouse is now furthering the project in earnest.

After several efforts to establish a newspaper, the White Hall Register was established in 1867. The Register was financed by the late Judge L. E. Worcester. S. H. Davis and C. H. Johnson were brought here from Chicago to take charge, the former as editor and the latter as compositor. Davis remained with the paper less than a year, returning to Chicago, where he assumed the editorship of an insurance paper. Johnson then took charge, and with the help of Henry Johnson of Carrollton as editorial writer, continued the publication for several years. Henry Johnson finally bought the plant from Judge Worcester, and assumed the proprietorship, C. H. Johnson returning to Chicago. The Register has the distinction of being the only newspaper that ever succeeded in defeating the regular county democratic ticket in Greene county, electing an entire independent ticket. A few years later Johnson lost his prestige, and the paper took the downward course, so continuing until finally sold to W. J. Roberts. It was Johnson who inaugurated the present style of personal journalism, and, proving popular, became general. Roberts sold the paper to McFarland & Rowe, who in turn passed it over to H. E. Bell, the present proprietor, some twelve years ago. The paper was established in August, 1867. It has always maintained the usual standard of local journalism, and today is looked upon as one of the leading local papers of the county.

The Republican was established in February, 1877, by Capt. E. J. Pearce, the paper for some months being printed at Carrollton. Later the plant of the White Hall Tribune was bought from Charles Weis, and its publication removed to White Hall, where it has since remained. The paper never changed ownership until after the death of its proprietor in 1907, when it came into possession of the Pearce brothers - F. V., E. C. and R. B. Pearce - who grew into manhood in the office. It can hardly be said that even after the death of the father any change in ownership took place. The paper has always prospered, and its prosperity has clung to the Pearce brothers since the death of their father. The policy so long maintained has been strictly followed under the new management, so well trained for following in the footsteps of an honorable and illustrious father. Capt. Pearce never hesitated in condemning wrong through fear of losing a subscriber or patronage, and the man who did a public wrong received as strong a denunciation as words could be made to apply. He was also as quick to give credit for a just and honest act. No man ever had a higher conception of duty to society than Capt. Pearce. He was scrupulously honest and truthful in the conduct of his paper, as he was personally in his dealings with men. No man ever had the unforgiving and eternal hatred for the whisky traffic than did he. His power and that of his paper for good could not be measured. His influence was always in the direction best calculated for the uplifting of humanity. A few months ago the business was organized into a corporation under the name of Pearce Printing Co., with $15,000 capital, and the equipment has been enlarged to an extent that makes this the leading printing plant in this section of the state.

In a few years the dairy business at White Hall has grown to huge proportions, placing it side by side with many of the older institutions of the city, as is shown by the books of the White Hall Condensed Milk Co., which operates stations at Berdan and Barrow in addition to the plant at White Hall. During the month of May, 1911, there were one hundred and twenty farmers marketing their milk at White Hall, fifty at Berdan and forty at Barrow, a total of two hundred and ten patrons. In August, 1911, there were handled 745,818 pounds of milk, for which the farmers received $9,371.28. At the White Hall plant there were 479,981 pounds of milk handled, for which the payment amounted to $6,005.91. The month of August, although an unusually dry month and pastures short, was the largest month since the establishment of the condensing plant. During the same month in 1910 there were only one hundred and twenty-five patrons. These delivered 381,482 pounds, receiving $5,348.56, the increase in 1911 over 1910 being $4,022.72, with the price remaining the same for both years - $1.30 per hundred pounds for four percent milk. This is certainly a fine showing for such a young institution.

White Hall has three banking institutions, all of which enjoy the confidence of our business men and farmers, being as they are among the best officered and strongest financial institutions in the state. We have the First National and the White Hall National, both organized eleven years ago, each with a paid-up capital stock of $50,000, and the People's Bank, a private bank established in 1877, yet known to be one of the strongest, its officers and stockholders comprising our best and most substantial farmers and citizens. The condition of the two national banks is best shown by their quarterly statements. The First National's first report eleven years ago showed deposits of $65,174.96. The intervening statements show a gradual and healthy increase in its holdings. The last report on September 1 shows deposits of $204,288.81. The White Hall National started out the first year with $180,552.00, and on September 1 last had $371,987.00 in deposits. The combined deposits of both national banks reach the total of $576,275.81, a gain in nine years of $330,549.85. The People's being a private bank, no figures are available, though a very conservative estimate places it $250,000, perhaps several thousand more. On this basis we have in the three banks a cash holding of more than $826,275.81, not including capital stock. It can be said that no town of three thousand population in the county can excel the showing of accumulated wealth attained by White Hall, the result of her clay industries, combined with her vast agricultural, stock-raising, fruit-growing and stock-raising facilities, the finest in the world.

The Chicago & Alton and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroads, passing through here, give a direct competing outlet to the great lakes on the north, the Gulf south, the Atlantic east and the Pacific on the west. We have ten passenger trains daily with ten mails, thus affording all the needed facilities for the speedy and prompt dispatch of business by mail and train. White Hall is only twelve miles from the great Illinois river.

The humble hen is no longer an obscure bird. During the past year there has been shipped from White Hall 75,000 dozen eggs and 145,000 pounds of dressed poultry, $30,000 being distributed therefor among the farmers in this immediate locality. The year just closed has not been as good one as many former ones, as the hen suffered from the effects of the heat and the excessive dry weather. There have been several years when these figures have gone to ten thousand dollars above that of the present one.

We have an excellent flouring mill, one hundred barrels capacity, that is kept running the year round, turning out a high grade of products which finds a ready market here and nearby towns along the Burlington and "The Only Way." While there has been an unusual quantity of wheat, corn and other crops marketed here during the past season, no figures could be obtained from the dealers.

There are fifteen miles of concrete sidewalks in the city, and eight miles of water mains.

The city has fire-fighting apparatus of ample proportions manned by a splendid volunteer fire department.

White Hall is the location of the famous Gregory Farm, which has an international reputation for the breeding of the highest grade of Percheron horses and Berkshire hoge. At a recent public auction forty-nine head of Percheron horses from this farm brought a total of almost $35,000.

Extracted 10 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from Souvenir White Hall Illinois published in 1911, pages 1-9.

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