Chapter 32 - The Town of Middletown
This was laid out in the spring of 1837, by Major John Patrick and James Edmonston, Esq. The first house was erected by Major Patrick. The first settlers were James Edmonston and John Gibson. Andrew Cox started the first store. It was called Middletown from the fact of its being the central point or middle town between Beardstown, on the Illinois river, and Burlington, on the Mississippi river. It was also the crossing of the Beardstown and Burlington, and the Peoria and Quincy public roads. The first public sale of town lots occurred in April, 1837, lots realizing from $15 to $30 each. Very few have at any time commanded a higher price than this.
Although the town never grew to any considerable size or importance, it was at one time a busy and prosperous village, as will be seen by the following article taken from the McDonough Independent of October 31, 1853:
“A few days since we paid a flying visit to this beautiful village in the western part of this county. We were much pleased with the evidences of prosperity which the town presents. It contains about 180 inhabitants, 3 dry goods stores, 3 taverns, several blacksmith shops, and a splendid steam saw mill, which does a fine business. Col. Patrick, who is engaged in the mercantile business, has just received an extensive stock in store, which were shown us by Captain Lipe, his gentlemanly clerk.”
The country in the vicinity of Middletown is thickly settled by a good class of farmers, and is generally level prairie land, well drained and fertile. There was no portion of the county that labored harder to secure the line of the Northern Cross railway than Middletown, which was to be on the main line of the contemplated road. At an election held August 20, 1853, for the purpose of voting for or against the county subscribing $75,000 to this railroad, Middletown precinct cast 198 votes for and but 2 against the proposed enterprise. The road, however, when it was finally brought to completion, failed to be a benefit to the town; it was on the other hand, the means of taking her established trade from her, and causing many of her more prominent and enterprising citizens to seek other locations. The reason was, that, instead of the road running through the town, it ran five miles north, where new towns sprang up, which with the advantages of the railroad, commanded the patronage and interests of the people in the surrounding country. It is due the citizens of Middletown at the time the railroad was projected, to record that the failure of the road to pass through their town, was not a want of interest in the enterprise, or lack of earnest labor on their part to secure the road, for as before mentioned, none worked harder to secure it than they, but it was on account of the condition of the country through which the road would necessarily have to be constructed. The business interests are few at present and the postoffice is known as Fandon.
Douglas Dunsworth, dealer in general merchandise, commenced business in 1885. The store was started by Elias Hatfield in the spring of 1870. He was succeeded by Winston Hatfield, who sold out to the present proprietor. He carries a stock which he values at $2,500, consisting of such goods as are usually kept in a country store. The building he occupies is 16x48 feet in size.
V. Stookey, M. D., is located at Middletown.
Josiah H. Voorhees, blacksmith, commenced business in 1875, buying out the shop of W. W. Moore. He does horseshoeing and general repairing.
Source: The History of McDonough County, together with sketches of the towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; portraits of prominent individuals, and biographies of the representative citizens, 1885, pages 820-821. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen