Jefferson County

Mount Vernon, Illinois History
Submitted By: Mary Zinzilieta

Dated January 30, ____ and signed by GRAFF.

History and Characteristics of a Thriving City

Facts About the People and Prosperity of the Place Mt. Vernon, Ill. 
January 30 - (Correspondance)

In accordance with a act of the General Assembly, passed March 10, 1819, 
the following "commissioners" met at the house of William CASEY--Lewis BARKER, 
Ambrose MAULDING and James RICHARDSON.  The object of the meeting was to select 
a site for the seat of justice of Jefferson County.  The result of that meeting 
was that the South West Quarter of Section 29, Range 3 and Township 2 was 
selected--the land then owned by William CASEY.  The meeting occurred on 
May 12, 1819, and, on the 9th of June, the court proceeded to consider the 
expediency of laying off the town in town lots, and on that day the infant 
village, in accordance with the order of the commissioners, was christened 
"Mt. Vernon".

In a few weeks William HOSACK surveyed and platted the town into town lots, 
which, on the third Monday of September following, were sold, James E. DAVIS, 
a Presbyterian minister, crying the sale.  The contract of erecting the court 
house out of hewn logs--the building to be 18x20x30--was, on June 25, let to 
John SANDERS at a cost of $85.  At his period not a road lead out of the town--
only trails and footpaths.  The first church built in Mt. Vernon was erected 
by the Methodists in 1835, when there were only three Methodist families in the 
vicinity.  As early as 1837 there was a movement made to incorporate the town, 
but nothing was accomplished until 1864, when another effort was made and it 
was successful.  In 1872 the village became a city under the general law, and 
Honorable James M. PAGE (I think this may be PACE) became the first Mayor.

Mt. Vernon, IL History Continued - Railroads

In Jefferson County records several failures in the attempt to secure an outlet 
other than by the various wagon roads.  An effort was made in 1855, when a vote 
of the people was taken to donate some swamp lands, and the propostion after much 
hard work on part of the devotees of the cause, carried.  The track was cleared 
from Ashley to Fairfield, and the road-bed was nearly completed.  But the contractors 
contracted only heavy debts, and, as may be imagined the crash came and everything 
came to a standstill.  Effort followed effort toward securing a railroad, but each 
time a failure was recorded, and it was not until 1869, when the St. Louis and 
Southeastern was built that hopes in this line were realized.  The road afterward 
came into the control of the Louisville and Nashville Company, by whom it is now 
operated.  In 1882 the Air Line, having its western terminus at this place, was 
completed, and now runs its trains through to St. Louis over the L&N.

Just now and for some time past negotiations have and are going on by which the 
Jacksonville Southeastern will come here.  The J.S.E. is growing in popular favor, 
and Mt. Vernon will do welll to secure the road, which will give that which is now 
so desirable, viz., a northern outlet.  There are several other lines in embryo 
which may soon develop into something tangible.

Just now Mt. Vernon is suffering as her sister cities are suffering--from the 
repeated failure of the crops.  But withal, as I propose to show, she is a live 
city and is making rapid strides, which may, in the not far distant future, make 
her an Egyptian Wichita.