Montgomery County Illinois History

Some years ago J. J. Frey, associated with a dozen or more Hillsboro capitalists, erected and put into operation an electric light and power company. This plant has been in many respects a model enterprise of the kind. The spirit to grow seemed to possess the officials, hence as time went by an ice plant was added, and this was followed by a hot water system for heating the business part of the city. To these plants in course of time was added the street railway, and a line was also built by the plant to Taylor Springs. Not satisfied with these accretions, the company began the purchase of struggling electric plants in other towns and cities, building lines for carrying the current from Hillsboro to those cities and towns when their own power was insufficient. This process has kept on, a plant being added from time to time, until the present the company is running and owning over fifty plants, and doing in the aggregate, an immense amount of business and employing in Hillsboro and in the various places where the company owns branches, quite a large force of skilled and unskilled men.

The management of the electric plant while under the immediate control of Mr. Frey, ran a brokerage business of no small proportions and, as the manufacturing business grew, the brokerage business was reorganized into a bond and investment concern, the managers being largely the same as control the electric plants, and that company in its reorganized form is now doing a vast amount of business in making and selling loans to the larger loan buyers. These enterprises are very important industrial promoters and employers of laborers and have had a strong influence in building Hillsboro up to its present proportions.

The Hillsboro Electric Light & Power Company was incorporated in April, 1893, succeeding the granting of an electric franchise in December, 1892. The company was incorporated by William Wurdack, H. H. Humphrey, Charles Lampel, J. J. Frey and William A. Howett; Mr. Frey serving as president during the organization period and piloting the career of the company through its later period as its secretary and general manager. The plant at Hillsboro was constructed by a St. Louis construction company, the work being completed and accepted in June, 1894. Night service, only, was given at Hillsboro until 1903, when twenty-four hour service was established and an exhaust steam heating system built for supplying the business district of the town.

In 1905 the electric light plant at Raymond was purchased and two years later a transmission line was built to Witt, the plant being enlarged the same year. In 1909 the electric light properties at Coffeen and Witt were acquired. In 1913 the Southern Illinois Light and Power Company, came into existence as successors to the Hillsboro Electric Light & Power Company, which at, that time was serving Hillsboro, Irving, Witt, Coffeen, Taylor Springs, Schram City, Butler, Raymond and Harvel.

The Morrisonville Electric Company, and the United Electric Light & Power Company, serving Gillespie, Benld, Sawyerville, and the Collinsville Electric Company, serving Collinsville, Caseyville and Maryville; the Greenville Electric, Gas and Power Company, serving Greenville and the Hillsboro Railway Company, and the Sangamon Valley Railway Company, property were added and the O'Fallon Electric Light, Heat, Power and Water Company, the latter part of the same year; and the United Gas and Electric Company, of Litchfield in March, 1915. In 1916 the municipal plant at Troy was purchased as well as the Marine Electric Service Company, serving Marine and St. Jacobs. Taking into consideration the purchases outlined above, and the fact that several towns have been added by building a transmission line to them, the company now serves the following territory: Benld, Butler, Carbon, Caseyville, Coffeen, Collinsville, Donnellson, Fillmore, Gillespie, Greenville, Harvel, Hillsboro, Irving, Litchfield, Marine, Maryville, Morrisonville, Mt. Clair, O'Fallon, Palmer, Panama, Pierron, Pocahontas, Ramsey, Raymond, St. Jacobs, Sawyerville, Schram City, Taylor Springs, Troy, Witt.

Taken from: "Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Montgomery County" by A. T. Strange 1918

Posted in: Hillsboro
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