Courtesy of Keith Parks
The following article
There is a beautiful
scope of country in the northwest portion of
All that is now changed. Last fall, the Jacksonville Southeastern railroad was built through the prairie and a few weeks later the Narrow Gauge road made a crossing there. A town was at once laid out and great preparations made to establish a trading point such as would naturally grow and grow up and thrive at the crossing of two railroads in the midst of a prosperous farming community located at that distance from all trade centers. The first house was erected last October, about seven months ago, and now the place already contains nearly 40 houses, finished and in course of construction. Besides a score more dwellings and business houses are already contemplated and contracted for. Every branch of business almost is represented and the several trades are being pursued by able and willing workmen.
One hotel, which has from 35 to 40 boarders has been running all winter and a second will be opened in a few weeks. A lumber yard has existed from the beginning and up to the present date has sold no less than 60 cars of building material of every description. Two brick yards are making brick with machines that have a capacity of turning out 25,000 each daily. Three general stores are in operation and four more will open as soon as the rooms are prepared. Two restaurants are also awaiting the finishings of buildings. A public hall of good size will also soon be ready for use. Of the businesses which are without competition are a barber, butcher, harness maker, hardware and agricultural implements, shoemaker,, tinner, blacksmith, a boot, shoe and clothing store, and a drug store. A firm is buying and shelling corn for shipment and several and several contractors and builders are reaping a harvest that will doubtless last all season.
On last Tuesday, a
member of the Sun newspaper took a buggy ride to the new town for the purpose of
seeing the booming village as well as become acquainted with the people and
business men who make up the population of that enterprising town. It would seem
strange that one would choose to make the trip in a vehicle over a long and
dusty road when a railroad runs within five short miles of our door and reason
is obvious. In order to catch a train going north on the
write, but having reached Sorento by this morning train, if we wish to remain longer than two hours, we cannot again return to Smithsboro before in the evening, which is too late for the west bound train on the Vandalia line. With the railroad trains running as they do time is saved by going "by land."
The people of the place were found very busy, and all are elated over the success attained and particularly elated over the success anticipated.
The newspaper man was cordially received and although he sought not after patronage particularly, the opportunity afforded to deal directly with one of the firm was embraced by a number. A stroll over the place and an interview of the several business men discloses the following directory:
Siemen and Gracy Lumber ...... these gentlemen have an advertisement in The Sun, not withstanding the fact that they are taxed to supply the demand for building materials. They are
natives of the prairie.
A.F. Gwvn is postmaster and keeps a general store. His post
office outfit is part of that formerly used in
Jesse Driskill is the proprietor of the Central Hotel. His
building would be a credit to
S. L. Elliott has a
boot, shoe and clothing store and moved from Raymond,
M. A. Griffith came from Vandalia and is running a general store and promises to advertise in The Sun soon.
J. W. Beeson has a drug
and grocery store and came down from Litchfield. M. Rutledge, lately from
John Roper, a
William Bone is a
harness maker who came from Vanburensburg,
G. D. Ferree, also a Walshville man, is the village shoemaker.
E. Ogan, who has been an employee of Theo. Smith in
J. P. Sand, blacksmith,
Dr. J. H. Mason is a physician, formerly from Watteka.
Martin Reason contractor
and builder, is rushed with business and employes
several workers. He came from Brownstown,
Jesse Driskill, grain buyer. Mr. Driskill now has a corn shelter running by steam.
T. E. Bilyeu, late of Litchfield, but formerly of Pocahontas, is station agent and telegraph operator for Jackonsville railroad. He is a most pleasant and obliging gentleman. Andrew may is employed by the railroad office as assistant and is learning telegraphy. Mr. Bilyeu also has a portable photographer's house and outfit and takes pictures during odd moments for amusement."
Among the businesses who will open soon and are awaiting the completion of buildings are the following:
S. M. Shivers will open a store at one of his three buildings and will have a public hall above. Mr. Shivers is from Taylorville.
Mr. Lilly, another
Taylorville man, will open a general store. J. F. Whitworth of Wonurn, will also open a general store. John Burkhardt, formerly of
John Long of Old Ripley will open a general store.
J. Wright of Vansburensburg will open a general store. John Sutton of Mulberry Grove, a restaurant.
All the buildings in town are frame but very large, roomy and neat in appearance. The streets are wide and straight and run "square with the world." The real estate market is brisk and as high as $300 is asked for some lots.
One very humiliating
fact became known during the visit to Sorento and that
was the apparent damage the Jackonsville railroad is