Montgomery County Illinois History

Recollections of Zanesville

from the The Litchfield Monitor, January 13, 1888

Zanesville is located one mile from the west line of Montgomery County, midway from north to south on said line.  The town was laid out in the year 1829 by a Mr. Lee and was called Leesburg.  In 1839 when the post office was established, the name changed to Zanesville as there was one post office in the state by the former name. 

The growth of the town was slow until 1840 when a Mr. Shumway started a store of considerable size and established a good trade.  After a while (illegible) came to Zanesville and started a grocery store (whiskey shop), which he ran for a short time and then left the town. 

About 1848, Joseph Vignos started a store with a stock of merchandise consisting of dry goods, groceries and whiskey, which he exchanged with residents for game and coon skins.  Soon after, he was appointed postmaster.  In 1849, Dr. Mitchel came to the place and hung out his shingle and also started a grocery store.  He, like some of his predecessors remained but a short time. 

Among the first doctors was A. Miller, who sold out in 1850 to Dr. Greene.  About that time, the growth of Zanesville became suddenly active and several new buildings were erected.  Late in 1849, Manning Mayfield came from Morgan County and started in business with a stock of general merchandise and was soon followed by Dr. Fuller, Dr. Allen, three dry goods stores and a harness shop.  A wagon shop was started by W. S. Street and a blacksmith shop by William Peebles.  T. W. Barnett started a hotel. 

About that time, W. S. Raymond erected a little building at the northwest corner of the square in which he sold drugs and whiskey, more of the latter than the former.  It was at his store that A.J. Nash stabbed and killed Alex Lockerman in the spring of 1851, for which act he was hunted for two years and was finally captured in Texas and brought back to Carlinville, where he was tried and convicted of his crime and sentenced to be hung, but through the efforts of John M. Palmer, his sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life.  A mob gathered about the jail June 14, 1853, and Nash, rather than die at their hands, hung himself in his cell.

Dr. G. W. Caldwell located in Zanesville in 1854, where he has since resided, and began the practice of medicine.  In 1854, the Chicago and Alton railroad was built, and from that time, Zanesville began to decline.  The Terre Haute and Alton railroad followed soon after and gave the town another set back, and its destruction was completed when the Jacksonville and Southeastern railroad was built in 1881, two miles west of it.  The post office was moved to Atwater, a new town on the railroad, and Zanesville, after it had held a place in the county for fifty-five years, has almost ceased to exist, scarcely a land mark remaining. 

Notes: 

The 1874 Atlas of Montgomery County lists the following – Leesburg, now called Zanesville – situated NW1/4 Section 8 and E1/2 NE ¼ Section 7 T 10 N R 5 W. 

From “A List of Illinois place names”, published by Illinois Libraries April, May, June 1868, page 553.

Zanesville (Montgomery).  PO Established 2/23/1839; discontinued 8/22/1881; now RFD Raymond.  Illinois Central Railroad.  Includes East Leesburg, Hamlet, Leesburg, Middle Leesburg. 

Transcribed by Ann Stoddard, December 2010.

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