Broughton / Effingham
On January 23, 2002 I was a guest speaker at the Effingham sesquicentennial kickoff lecture series. One of the comments I made was the foundation of Broughton and Effingham and why it became the county seat. While the evidence is circumstantial I think there is enough proof to make the following claim. That Broughton was dropped in favor as the town name for Effingham because of two early promoters wooing and securing the German Catholic vote in the area. Let me begin with a chronological order of what happened and you can decide for yourself.
Broughton would be the first
town platted by Mr. David B. Alexander and Samuel W. Little on May 16, 1853 and laid out
by George Wright the county surveyor. The two
men were business partners and speculated in land sales as well as about anything else
that a new community could use. They were a
curious pair: Alexander was the more quiet of the two and had the reputation of knowing
facts, numbers and figures and some folks almost found him to be somewhat diffident. He was known to take advantage or make an
advantage of just about any business proposition. If
he told you something you could take it to the bank. Little was of the opposite temperament, and was an
outdoorsman and known as a schemer and a dreamer, but also possessed an almost uncanny
ability to search out a new business venture. Together
what one lacked the other compensated for until they were an almost unbeatable team. These two men would be associated with
Broughton and Effingham until they left in 1873 to redo in Lincoln, Nebraska what they had
done in Effingham. From there they went to
Los Angles, California and repeated their success there.
Both of these men would die millionaires as a result of their business
In 1853 these two men fixed
their hopes on the fact that they would own the land and town where two future railroads
would cross. The Illinois Central
branch would run from Centralia to Chicago and its right away was already marked across
the prairie but its route was laid a little to the west of where Alexander and Little
thought it would go. The first railroad to be
laid out along and sometimes upon the old National Road was the Atlantic and Mississippi
Railroad in 1850. Two men in the Effingham area were Uri P. Manly of the land office at
Vandalia and Augustus C. French later the ninth Governor of Illinois. Together they bought up huge tracts of land
through Effingham County around Ewington and North of Effingham. Later Eastern backers bought out
interest in the Atlantic and Mississippi Railroad and appointed John Brough to promote
their interest in the road and the Atlantic and Mississippi became known as the Brought
Road. Brough was newspaperman, railroad
promoter and later governor of Ohio. By
February 1854 the road was under contract and work began but was stalled by the Schuyler
scandal that beset railroad financing of that period.
Also, the state of Illinois did not want a railroad going from Terre Haute
to St. Louis in Missouri, but to Illinois Town (later Alton) so the legislature would not
grant the charter.
The survey for this road would be run in this area in 1852 and 1853 and some right-of-way was secured. The line of this road would be open through Effingham up into the 1870's until the land was later sold. It would run from the northeast between St. Anthony Church and the courthouse to the southwest very near to where Jefferson Street would cross the Illinois Central. This line would roughly parallel about three to four blocks north of where the present CSX Railroad of today runs. If the old maps are right it would lie where Washington Street runs between Brooms and the Effingham Daily News parking lot is today. That is why Washington Street has a crook in it yet today. Thousands of acres were bought in the area from the local German farm families in a quest to have the right location for a town of which Alexander and Little were but two players.
The original property owners of Broughton were Joseph Busing and Joseph Hussman and they sold them 60 acres for $25 dollars per acre. Clemens Bussing sold them 100 acres for $10.00 per acre and the final 100 acres was bought from Mrs. John W. Lifelt. It was Mrs. Lifelt along with her husband John, which had sold the land originally to Bussing and Hussman for $1.371/2 per acre in 1851. It was a fairly sizable increase in the value of their land in a three-year period! It would be this part of Effingham that was called Broughton. It lay in two tracts with the Southern tract running east from First Street to the West by Fourth Street and from the North starting at Market Street to Section Street on the South. It would be in this tract that the courthouse square was located. The only thing that kept Broughton alive was the fact that the Illinois Central construction was underway and would be coming near the new town. When the Brough Road looked like it would not come to fruition when a the state legislature refused its charter after two tries and the Illinois Central was under construction Alexander and Little left their town for a development they had in Kentucky. Before they left they contracted to have three buildings built in their new town, the most substantial of these would later become the Funkhouser Trade Palace and stood where the new city hall stands today.
The last player upon this complicated stage would be Andrew Jackson Galloway of the Western Land Company. Galloway was the son of an Irish Immigrant who was of Scottish Protestant parents who had fled persecution to Northern Ireland and then came to the United States. Galloway received his degree as a civil engineer in April 1837. He was offered the charge of the Mount Carmel Academy at Mount Carmel, Illinois for one year. He then left and became an assistant engineer to the state of Illinois and worked on canals and railroads. In 1851 he became the assistant engineer under Colonel Roswell B. Mason of the Illinois Central Railroad. He located about 150 miles of the road and superintended the construction of the twelfth division until it was completed. He then was transferred to the land department of the Illinois Central Railroad and he superintended the survey of more than a million acres of the company owned lands and made a description of the character and quality of every tract he surveyed. He left the service of the Illinois Central in July, of 1855 and formed a company with two others called A. J. Galloway and Company. They bought sixty thousand acres of Illinois Central Railroad lands, and eventually all of the land passed to him and he formed the Great Western Land Company. Eventually his company would own 150,000 acres of Illinois Central land and 50,000 acres along other railroads. He would spend much time and effort promoting lands in Illinois to immigrants and anyone else that was searching for new land to farm. In September 1855 Galloway had platted the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 20 and named it Effingham during the absence of Alexander and Little. This tract was slightly larger than Broughton to the East. It would run from Kentucky Avenue South to present day St. Anthony Street and West from 4th Street to Maple Street. Broughton and Effingham were barely separated by a city block. He also would plat the towns of Farina, Edgewood and Pana in addition to Effingham.
Now if you have stayed with me we get to the
mystery of why Effingham and not Broughton? When
the Illinois Central started running freight on a regular time table in the fall of 1855
and passenger service on January 1, 1856 Messrs. Alexander and Little returned to their
town of Broughton and found they had a problem: it was three city blocks too far to the
east and Effingham to the northwest was now bisected by the new railroad. Galloway was an absentee owner whereas Alexander
and Little moved to their town. In order for
their town to survive and indeed to prosper they needed to have the county seat. The present county seat, at that time, was three
miles to the west on the banks of the Little Wabash River called Ewington.
This settlement was to the west of the German Catholic settlers around the Broughton/Effingham area, and here I believe Alexander and Little saw their opportunity. These German settlers were quiet, diffident and somewhat ostracized by their English counter parts. Most had come in with the German Land Company to Teutopolis in 1838 and they quietly went about creating farms on the lands they settled. They followed their Catholic religion, spoke and wrote in German and schooled their children in their own schools. They were strongly Jacksonian Democrats in their politics and because there were so many of them they were often courted by the English politicians in the county who needed their vote. These Germans cared little for John Brough, whose politics were different from theirs and did not want his railroad through their quiet farmland. In reading the German settlers documents we get an interesting look at early Effingham history that is not to be found in the traditional printed material of Effingham County. Early in the German Land Company Settlement we find that the first Catholic Church to be built would be called Masqulets Place, named after their first Pastor Rev. Joseph Masqulet, November 1839-43. This first log church would be built South of route side of route 40 along with a cemetery where Kellers Town and County Furniture used to be. It would not be long before the Teutopolis Land Company Germans got into a squabble with their Reverend Pastor. Those residences to the east of Masqulets Place refused to pay their pastor and the pastor refused to hear their confessions until they did. Those to the west and north did pay their fees but eventually the pastor left due to strife and the church was abandoned and moved further east into Teutopolis itself. This made travel into Teutopolis father for those Catholics to the west. Those Germans in the Northwest part of the county organized Green Creek Parish and the Broughton/Effingham German Catholics built a log church behind the present city hall that doubled as a school during the week. The return of Alexander and Little coincided with all of the above and sometime in late 1856 or early 1857 the German Catholics in the area were going to build a new brick church, St. Anthonys, that they offered block 16 of their North Addition where the new church could be built. The plot was much larger than the plot the old log church was on and the German Catholics were grateful to the benevolence of the two Methodist entrepreneurs. In the summer of 1858 work on St. Anthonys Church was begun. This church would sit where the present Golf Gym is located today.
On February 14, 1859 Broughton and
Effingham were merged by an act of the Illinois legislature. For some reason the old records are lost or
curiously quiet but we know that the act consolidating Effingham and Broughton under the
name of Effingham only was passed. Broughton
was designated in the act as the Broughton Addition to Effingham. The act had a public square dedicated for a
courthouse by S. W. Little, John M. Mette, George H. Scholes, Gorge H. Wright, John J.
Funkhouser, and W. B. Cooper entered into a bond to build a new courthouse at Effingham. On the first Monday in September of 1859 a special
vote of the state legislature allowed the matter to be submitted to the voters of the
county to decide. It simply became a matter
of those whose interest lie with the new settlement vs. the interest of those in the
county seat of Ewington. In the heated
exchanges that took place the friends of Ewington claimed that the bond to build a new
courthouse would be invalid after the election. The
friends of Effingham obtained the opinion of a Judge Logan in Springfield that the bond
could be enforced. In the end the
Effinghamers won by a majority of 72 votes, although the allegation of fraud and illegal
voting was made by the citizens of Ewington. It
was claimed that the English voters of the county wanted Ewington, and that
the Germans and wealthy businessmen wanted the new location of Effingham and were more
than willing to pay for their votes. The
Ewington residents filed a bill in chancery and the case was settled by allowing an
Effingham County judge and two associate judges to enter an order to remove the records
once the courthouse was ready for the transaction of county business. And effective December 22, 1859 the court found
that by the April term of 1860 the courthouse would be ready and ordered the removal of
the records to Effingham, and Effingham would become the county seat effective December
The help of the Germans east of Ewington certainly played no small role in moving the county seat. They had little love for a town named after John Brough, but no problem with a town that was named after their own county. Most of them did not mind that the county seat would be three miles closer to them when it came time to pay their taxes or to conduct other county business. Alexander and Little, the town platters, were extremely generous to them by donating them church ground. It also would seem that Alexander and Little were more than willing to acquiesce to the renaming of their town when it would favor their own interests. Their generosity was soon paid off with the movement of the county seat to their town and their personal fortunes were to be made. While I do not maintain that Alexander and Littles motives were solely based on greed, it certainly gives a very plausible explanation of why Broughton died while the little plat of Effingham would remain. In 1859 it was nothing but a small hamlet with a few buildings and one railroad while Ewington was a town with over 200 inhabitants and the established seat of county justice that would fade into oblivion.