McDonough ILGenWeb ILGenWeb

Chapter 36 - The Town of Sciota

This town was laid out in September, 1867, by William B. Clarke, and, in honor of its founder, was named Clarkesville, but there being another town in the state, by the same name, the post office established there was called Amicus. Having the town known by one name, and the post-office by another, was not satisfactory to the people, and both were changed to the name given the township--Sciota--so named by settlers from Ohio, who in that state lived near a stream known as Sciota river. Notwithstanding it has now been some years since the name Sciota was adopted the town is familiarly known and often called by its former name--Clarksville. It is a bustling little town, situated on the T. P. & W., railroad, about 10 miles north of Macomb, and six miles east of Blandinsville, having a population of not less than 300 souls. It is entirely surrounded by prairie, which extends north for a distance of 30 miles, and south about one mile to a small body of timber land. The first plat of the town, made by Mr. Clarke, contained but 24 lots, 60x170 feet, but since, other additions have been made. Lots first sold at from $50 to $75 each. J. R. Seybolds purchased the first lot and erected a small residence thereon. Before the town was laid out, Mr. Clarke was farming upon the site, and a few years previous to this purchased the quarter second upon which it lies, for the sum of $800. During the first few years of the existence of the town, it made but little progress, but has since prospered and developed into a lively little place. It is noted for being one of the largest grain markets in McDonough county. The mercantile trade is better than is usually enjoyed by towns of its size, and her business men, as a class, are live, enterprising, and work for the prosperity of the place.


The first store building erected in Sciota, was by L. King. William H. Franklin, agent for George W. Smith, of Macomb, put in a stock of groceries, which was the first store opened in the place. He operated the business about six months, when Mr. Smith sold out to William Clarke. Three years later Mr. Clarke sold to R. L. Shouse, who ran the business about four years, and then went to Kentucky.

Kline & Painter started a lumber yard in 1869, and a year later disposed of the same to L. L. King. Several different parties afterward owned the business, and it finally was closed out, leaving Sciota without a lumber yard.

The first blacksmith shop was opened by Milton Russell, in 1867. He remained about five years, and now resides in Oregon.

The first shoemaker was N. J. Sheron, who came in 1873. He still resides here.

John Jones opened the first hotel, in 1871, which he called the Sciota house. The building is now used as a private dwelling.

The first livery stable was opened in 1881, by Al. Tipton. The business is now carried on by William Clarke, the founder of Sciota.

Jacob Obermeyer engaged in the general merchandise trade, in the Kline building, in October, 1868, being the second merchant in the place. A year later he removed the stock to the Henderson building, and in 1875, he erected a building of his own. It was a two-story, frame structure, 24x60 feet in ground area, and cost $2,000. In 1876, his brother, Herman, became a member of the firm, which is now known as Obermeyer Brothers. They carry a stock of dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, etc., which is valued at $10,000.

J. Obermeyer was born in Germany, December 11, 1837. His childhood and youth were spent in his native land, where he received a good education. He engaged in keeping books and clerking, until 1853, when he came to America, and located in Rockbridge county, Virginia, where he engaged in clerking two years. He then went to Rochester, New Hampshire, where he remained also two years, thence to Fincastle, Virginia, thence, three years later, 1860, to Bristol, Tennessee. In 1861, he entered the confederate army, and served two and a half years, then returned to Bristol, where he resided until 1868. At that date he located in Sciota, McDonough county, and engaged in business. He has for the past eight years held some local office, and is at present city clerk. He is a member of the Masonic order, and of the chapter.

Silas A. Webb, dealer in drugs, groceries, etc., commenced business in Sciota, in August, 1876. He carries a stock of $2,500, and is one of the leading citizens and business men of the place. He occupies a store building of his own, which is 24x60 feet, two-stories.

Silas A. Webb is a native of Warren county, Illinois, and was born November 7, 1845. He resided in that county until 1862, when he removed, with his father's family, to Blandinsville, Illinois, where he learned the millers' trade, which business he followed for seven years. He came to Sciota in 1876, and engaged in his present business. He is the present township clerk of Sciota, and the first republican ever elected to office in this township. He is a member of the Masonic order of Blandinsville, and of the G. A. R. During the late war he joined the 83d Illinois regiment, being too young to enlist, and served as groom for Colonel A. C. Harding, afterward, General Harding. After six months, he enlisted in company H, of the 2d Illinois cavalry, and served until he was mustered out at San Antonio, Texas, at the close of the war. He was married February 13, 1867, to Mary Filson, a native of Illinois. They have had six children--Quinton A., Nellie E., Ella G., Silas A., Aura and Cora.

Head Brothers established business here in April, 1882, the firm being composed of Albert and Joseph M. Head. They carry a stock of groceries, crockery, queensware, etc., valued at $2,500, and are doing a thriving business.

Albert Head, the senior member of the firm of Head Bros., was born January 14, 1849, in McDonough county. His father, Thomas W. Head, was one of the pioneers of the county. Albert has spent his life in this township. He received a good education in the public schools, and engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1882, when he embarked with his brother, in their present business. He is a member of the Masonic order, and of the I. O. O. F. of this city. He acted as township collector, in 1874. He was married May 10, 1876, to Maggie Perrine, a native of Henderson county, Illinois. They have one child--Ora A.

J. M. Head, of the firm of Head Bros., was born here, August 18, 1855. He was reared and educated in this county, and followed farming until 1882, when, as before stated, he engaged in his present business. He was married December 23, 1880, to Jessie Gutick, a native of Beardstown, Illinois. They have one child--Della K. Mr. Head is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and of the I. O. O. F. The Head Bros., are live, active business men, and have already built up a thriving trade.

C. D. Elting & Company, dealers in groceries, hardware and agricultural implements, commenced business in January, 1884. The firm was composed of C. D. Elting, C. A. Warren & Co., of Peoria, C. A. Warren being the manager of the firm's interest at this place. In June, 1884, they completed the store building now occupied by them, which is 48x70 feet in dimensions. They are also engaged in buying and shipping grain.

The boot and shoe establishment of John W. Tipton, was established October 21, 1881, by his son, Albert, who operated the business until his death, in December, 1882, at which time John W. took the stock. He carries a stock which will invoice about $1,000, and owns the building in which he is doing business.

Harness and saddlery are represented at Sciota, by G. A. McCartney, successor to McCartney Brothers. The latter firm were successors to W. I. Platt, who established the business in 1873. The present proprietor assumed sole charge, March 9, 1885.

G. A. McCartney, harness maker at Sciota, was born July 13, 1857, in Warren county, Illinois, where he remained until 14 years of age. His parents then removed to Prairie City, McDonough county, where he worked at his trade. In July, 1879, he came to Good Hope and purchased his present business. He is a member of the I. O. O. F., of Sciota, of which he is at present N. G. His father, George M. McCartney, is a native of Blount county, Tennessee, where he was born April 24, 1811. In 1839 he removed to the state of Illinois, locating in Warren county, and has, since that time, lived in Warren, Henderson and McDonough counties. He was married June 19, 1834, to Elizabeth Hoge, of Tennessee. They have five children--John W., Samuel H., Mary L., Edward C., and Gustavus A., the subject of this sketch, who is a skilled workman at his trade, a worthy young man, and well deserving of the patronage which he receives.

William B. Clarke, livery stable keeper at Sciota, is a son of James Clarke, a native of Kentucky, who was born September 26, 1877, and there married, in May, 1818, to Polly Lewis, a native of North Carolina, but reared in Kentucky. In 1829 the family emigrated to what is now known as Cass county, Illinois, where they remained one year; then, in 1830, moved to McDonough county, and located in Chalmers township, two miles south of where Macomb now stands. Two years later they removed to Macomb, where James Clarke died in 1877, his widow surviving until 1881. William was the eldest of a family of 10 children. He was born in Washington county, Kentucky, March 31, 1819, and was ten years of age when he came with his parents to Illinois. He grew to manhood in this county, and in 1850 located in Emmet township, where he operated a saw mill four years. In 1854 he located on section 29, Sciota township, and here opened a farm, a part of which is now the town of Sciota, and upon which he still lives. He engaged in his present business in 1883. He has been a justice of the peace of Emmet and Sciota townships for 32 years. He served for a short time in the Mormon war. Mr. Clarke was married, November 15, 1848, to Emma Jacoby, a native of Pennsylvania, and by this union has seven children--Henry, Alice, Jeremiah, John, William F., Samuel and Eva. Mrs. Clarke died July 15, 1857. March 7, 1878, Mr. Clarke was married to Mrs. Rebecca E. Hainline, nee Bugg. Mr. Clarke is one of the earliest settlers of McDonough county, and a highly esteemed citizen.

Ephraim Dice is engaged in the manufacture of wind mills, pumps, etc., establishing the business in March, 1881. He is the inventor and manufacturer of the Economy wind mill, and is also the inventor of a tile ditcher. He has a capital of $2,500 invested.

Ephraim Dice was born July 10, 1836, in Seneca county, Ohio. His early life was spent in his native county, where, in his youth, he learned the carpenter's trade. In 1857 he came to McDonough county, Illinois, and located upon a farm in Walnut Grove township. Four years later he moved to Sciota township, and settled on section 5, where he still owns a farm of 160 acres, upon which he resided till 1881. He then removed to the village of Sciota, and engaged in his present business. He has been for two terms a member of the board of supervisors, and has held the offices of collector, commissioner of highways, and township clerk. He was married November 8, 1860, to Caroline Wilson, a native of Ohio. They have three children--Maria J., Charles J. and Susan A.


At an election held March 15, 1870, a vote was taken for or against incorporation, which resulted in the adoption of the measure, and on the 1st Monday in April of the same year, the following trustees were elected: John W. Tipton, R. N. Henderson, John Walsh, J. R. Hunt and George B. Painter. This board met on the 1st of May and elected John W. Tipton, president and R. N. Henderson, clerk. From want of interest and the opposition against incorporation no further election was held until the spring of 1874, when the following named gentlemen were elected members of the board of trustees: William B. Clarke, M. W. Lavens, John R. Seybold, William Trower, and J. Obermeyer. After this, elections were held regularly every year. The present officers of the village are J. H. Shryack, president; Dr. H. Knappenberger, J. B. Duncan, Ira Bonwell, William McKinley, Albert Head, trustees; J. Obermeyer, clerk.


One of the largest elevators in McDonough county was built at Sciota, during the summer of 1883, at a cost of $8,000. It is 40x110 feet in ground area, 28 feet high and has a capacity of 40,000 bushels. It was erected by U. T. Douglass, but is at present owned and operated by Douglass and Elting, who engaged in handling grain in 1883, as successors to C. D. Elting. They also handle and store the grain purchased by C. D. Elting & Co.


J. C. Clarke, son of William, was the first child born. The event occurred February 22, 1855, before the town was laid out, but was on the present site.

The first death occurred in 1873, being H. J. Kline. The body was buried in the Spring creek cemetery.

Emma Atkinson taught the first school ever held in the town.

Rev. John McGinnis preached the first sermon in the town. He was a preacher of the M. W. church.

The first postmaster was William H. Franklin.


Sciota lodge, No. 552, I. O. O. F., was organized October 4, 1874, with the following officers: J. M. Harrington, N. G.; T. S. Hainline, V. G.; A. V. Ramsey, secretary; Albert Head, treasurer. Including the above officers, the following are the balance of the charter members: W. W. Ragon, J. H. Head, William Perrine, M. M. Head, A. Gist, J. Roberts. The present officers of the lodege are R. E. Wilson, N. G.; Ira Bonwell, V. G.; Henry Arbogast, secretary; Ira Bonwell, treasurer. At present the lodge is in a flourishing condition with a membership of 34. They own the hall in which they meet, which is 28x58 feet in dimensions.


In 1872, a good school building 24x36 feet in size, was erected at a cost of $1,200. In 1875, an addition 17x22 feet, was built, at an additional cost of $600. The building has now two large, comfortable rooms and two teachers are employed regularly eight months in the year. The school has a large average attendance and is known as district No. 10. It is two miles in length, north and south, and one mile in breadth, east and west. The first term of school in the present building was taught by H. G. Boles.

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 953-958. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen

McDonough County ILGenWeb Copyright