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Early Towns of Saline County

Brantley Ping
Eldorado Middle School, Eldorado

The first settlers in Saline County did not live in towns. Instead they lived apart in log houses.

The first settlers in Saline County included the families of Hampton Pankey, Francis Jordan, and Hankerson Rudes. Only Hankerson Rudes built a blockhouse. Blockhouses were for protection.

Garris Ridge was one of the first settlements in Saline County. It was settled just a few years before Illinois became a state. It was first started south of the Saline River because of the fertile land. In 1830 a watermill was constructed. The settlement quickly grew into an industrial community. The mill is still standing today.

Another important community in its day was Somerset. Somerset was one of the first and largest communities in Saline County. Its fertile soil and high land made it a perfect location for a community. Here Hankerson Rudes built his blockhouse and a gristmill. Somerset is located on the side of

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Coal Industry
The coal industry was an important influence on the development
of the Saline County community of Eldorado.

Eagle Mountain. One-half mile from Somerset was the only silver mine in Saline County; it operated until 1870.

Lakeview, once known as Pond Settlement, was an early black settlement located southwest of Carrier Mills. Later, the swamps were drained and the name was changed to Lakeview.

Galatia became famous in 1858 when H. Webber began a manufacturing company there. The company and Galatia soon became the best known tobacco dealer in Southern Illinois. Galatia produced one and a half million pounds of tobacco each year.

On November 29, 1847, Mitchelsville was founded. It is the site of the earliest hotel in Saline County. This hotel provided lodging for travelers along the nearby Saline River.

Harrisburg was founded in 1854. The first structure in Harrisburg was a small grocery store; slowly, other businesses began to develop. Harrisburg became the county seat in 1859, with a population of only five hundred.

Eldorado, a town named after its founders, William Reed and Samuel Elder, was chartered in 1858. At first it was called Elderedo, but it has not been called by that name since 1870. The name was changed completely by accident. The railroad company misspelled the name when it was applied to the sign on the train depot. The painters painted "Eldorado" instead of "Elderedo." The station is still in existence today; however, it is now a restaurant instead of a train station.

Saline County historian Clarence Borewell noted that a town that did not get any further than the sheet of paper on which it was platted was called Barnum. This town was founded by John Homecoch and Joe Robinson. Neither structures nor a road were ever built in Barnum.

The old village of Stonefort was founded in 1858. It was located southeast of present-day Stonefort. The first house was built in 1831, another in 1858, and another in 1859. The first store opened in 1859.

In 1853 a new village called Texas Station was layed out. It was nicknamed Texas City. Comp and Gran began a brick factory there in 1884. All of the products that were made by the factory were used locally. All that remains of Texas City is a few structures used for farming.

William H. Carrier platted Morillsville on November 19, 1872. The only house there was the home of William H. Carrier. The first two businesses were a grocery store and a general store. Morillsville is now called Carrier Mills because William H. Carrier built a mill there.

Hamburge, a town in Long Branch Township, was platted by Jamis W. Russell in 1877. It is located approximately one mile from the old settlement of Halltown.

Halltown, an early settlement, was one of the first ones in Saline County. Halltown was located on the Shawneetown-St. Louis Trail.

Saline City was a small village that included no more than a store and a saloon. Eldorado High School now stands in what used to be Saline City.

Saline County has a very interesting place in history. Part of this history is the county's small towns, including those that survived and those that did not.[From Lena Irvin, Early History of Galatia, Illinois; Glenn J. Sneed, Ghost Towns of Southern Illinois; Clarence Bonnell, Saline County a Century of History. ]

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ILLINOIS HISTORY / APRIL 1996


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