Montgomery County Illinois History

Forgotten Towns of Montgomery County

by Walter Sanders (date unknown)

Montgomery County was never a county overrun by land speculators, land agents, or land companies. John L Hayward and John Tilson were two of the few buyers and speculators in this area. Only one reference is found concerning a land company formed to establish a community in this county.

In 1838, John L Hayward of Hillsboro was treasurer of the Audubon Land Company, which issued bonds of value of five hundred dollars with interest compounded at six per cent. One bond which was dated June 1st, 1840, bought by Henry Wright, promised to pay twelve percent per annum.

This company formed a community in Audubon Township in 1834, lots were laid off, stores were opened by Patch and Cushman; a mill was erected, and a public house or hotel was built by capitalists from St. Louis. When a move to secure the courthouse failed, people began moving and soon the village disappeared.

Hamilton was probably the first, or one of the first settlements, in the center of the county. It was some four miles west of Hillsboro; but again, when the county seat was established at Hillsboro, the few settlers moved into the new town of Hillsboro and Hamilton disappeared.

Woodsboro started with the opening of a small store, some eight miles from Hillsboro. If one takes the "washboard" road, which is just to the west of WSMI, travels south until he comes to the "T", drives east to the main road, then right a half mile - there he is. Today nothing remains of Woodsboro, but a memory. The village at its height had a store, public house, a wagon shop, tin shop, blacksmith shop, cooper shop, post office, saw mill and grist mill. When the Big Four Railroad was built from Litchfield to Butler and Hillsboro, the town disbanded.

In Zanesville Township one Robert Palmer in 1824 opened a public house; this location was on the main road from Springfield and Vandalia. Stores were opened, homes built, a public square laid off, mills built, post office opened. The town was called both Zanesville and Leesburg. When the railroad missed the town, its importance grew less. Today, only a field is found where so many lived.

James Cunningham opened a public house on land he owned which was several miles southwest of present Litchfield. This became Hardinsburg. Inasmuch as it was on the main road between Hillsboro and Alton, it had prospects of growing, so the village grew with the usual post office, public house, shops established, drug store opened, and a doctor hung out his shingle.

In the estate of William Ezell statements of his property indicate the names of Hardinsburg dated Sept. 1, 1853; Huntsville on document dated Feb. 10, 1854; and Litchfield August 10, 1835. When talk of a railroad was being voiced in the area, land survey of what is present Litchfield was made, and Hardinsburg began moving into the new village of Litchfield.

In all the instances of the infant towns of this county, the railroad seems to be the factor which ended their brief life span. Nothing remains of any of the aforesaid villages; it is difficult to even locate where the early settlers built their homes, stores and post offices. Plowed fields and timber mark their locations today.

For more information, check the 1918 History of Montgomery County pages 887, 946-948, 656-657.

Transcribed by Ann Stoddard, Dec. 26, 2010

Posted in: Montgomery County
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