Montgomery County Illinois History

Big Four Depot in Nokomis Illinois

Early History of Nokomis Illinois

From “Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Montgomery County” Volume 2 – 1918

     With the building of the Alton & Terre Haute Railroad, Nokomis came into existence. T. C. Huggins of Bunker Hill came here, and with his keen prescience and foresight saw that the rich soil of the section was sure to attract settlers and business would result from their coming, so proceeded to lay out the site for a town. This was seventeen years before the township was set off and named for the town which by that time had attained to considerable growth. On March 9, 1867, the village was incorporated and out of this small beginning has come one of the best towns in the county. The first incorporation was under the act for the regulation of villages, and later, the growing village was re-incorporated as a town under different provisions of the statute. On Feb. 6, 1893, the town was large enough to desire certain advantages not conferred in the acts under which it was then incorporated, and incorporation papers were taken out as a city. Henry N. Randle was elected as the first mayor; George Schaffer, clerk; George E. Whitten, treasurer and Thomas M. Jett, city attorney, with the following as the board of aldermen: M. Quick, J. S. Weekley, John Hukill, Luther Manning, W. E. Stokes and Peter Moss. The election at which these officials were elected was held April 18, 1893. The officials have been changed from year to year, generally for the best interests of the city and the satisfaction of the people, and today the board consists of: Joseph Weinstein, mayor; H. G. Frerichs, city clerk; August Weber, treasurer and W. G. Webster, city attorney; aldermen: E. W. Tooley, C. K. Kempton, R. L. Kelley, Thomas Umpleby, John Pier and Thomas Wolters. Oliver Boutwell was the first merchant, and after a short time he sold to H. F. Rood, who in addition to the stock of goods thus secured, built another storeroom and opened up a second store. The first hotel was built and operated as the Eureka Hotel. It was North of the railroad. In 1865 James Bone built and ran the second hotel continuing till a fire in 1881, when it was burned to the ground. In 1856 a post office was established in Nokomis With Oliver Boutwell as the postmaster; he served 2 years being superseded in 1858, by H. F. Rood, who held office till 1861, when W. F. Mulkey was put in, only holding office for one year, when Mr. Rood was re-appointed, holding the office in 1864, when Thomas Judson superseded him serving till 1865. By another turn of the government machinery D. P. Brophy superseded him. Mr. Brophy held office till 1888, when Robert Gelly began a four-year term. At its close Mr. John Monaghan got the plum, holding for a four-year term, to be succeeded by Charles F. Best. Mr. Best had hanging on qualities and continued to grace the office till 1915, when he was ousted to make way for A. J. Echoff, who now fills the position.

Nokomis Of Today

     We have given a few of the beginnings of the progressive city and now give some account of it’s activities today. The city is on a slightly rolling land. It’s streets are wide with fine borders of maple affording abundance of shade. Well lighted by electric power, it manifests at all times a general air of prosperous importance natural with the knowledge that there is wealth and culture in the midst. It has a population of 3,500 without counting its suburbs, Coalton, a mile South, has about 300 population and Wenonah on the North, something like 200, making a total population of 4,000. Its schools are among the best in the country, there being twenty-one rooms, employing twenty-two teachers, of which Prof. W. P. Thacker is the superintendent. Its churches are large and plentiful, and are the Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran and German Lutheran. Lodges in abundance are in active operation including the Masonic, Eastern Star, Woodman, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Court of Honor and others. In business there are eight dry goods stores, three hardware stocks, two drug stores, two jewelry stores, two hotels, two garages, two livery stables, four restaurants, one laundry, three banks, eleven saloons, four barber shops, two picture shows, six public halls, and numerous other places of business such as offices, rooming houses and business lines. The school funds are at present under the management of J. M. Shoemaker. The insurance business is well represented by several local representatives, besides the farmers have a Mutual Insurance Company, the oldest and second strongest in the county, of which Samuel Shoemaker is the active secretary and manager. The perpetual fight of the whiskey devotees to keep the saloons for the sale of liquor in the city, has retarded its growth somewhat, but with all this Nokomis is one of the best cities of its size in the state.

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