Early Effingham.Anyone even remotely interested in researching their family tree in Effingham must be able to visualize the terrain as it was then instead of now. First and foremost one must remember that there would be no Effingham until May 16, 1853. In point of fact it would not be called Effingham but Broughton, named after John Brough, who would later become governor of Ohio. Mr. Brough was a land speculator in the Mississippi and Atlantic Railroad which would run from Terre Haute to St. Louis. 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 and would run from the north-east from the Community Park area to the southwest very near to where Jefferson Street would cross the Illinois Central. If the old maps are right it would run about where Washington Street runs between Brooms and the Effingham Daily News parking lot is today. About this same time period the Illinois Central was being planned and speculation of where these two roads would intersect fueled a boom in land speculation. 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.
Roughly all of the land to the east of route 45 was bought up by John Waschefort of the German Land Company that founded Teutopolis. These early Germans would start moving into the area in the winter of 1838-39. What most people are unaware of is that there would be other Germans who followed them out of Cincinnati, who were not a part of the German Land Company itself but knew someone in it or felt a common kinship of tradition with them. Most of these people would settle to the southwest and northwest of present Effingham. The majority of these Germans would later form St. Anthony's Parish in 1858. Prior to that date they had to attend Teutopolis or Green Creek for services. It is highly probable that it was this group of Germans siding with Father Masquelet that encouraged him to build a new church farther west than St. Peter's in Teutopolis called Masquelet's Place.
It would be Messieurs David B. Alexander and Samuel W. Little who came here from Indiana and bought 160 acres of land in 1853 that started the ball rolling. The original property owners Joseph Busing and Joseph Hussman 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, that had sold the land originally to Bussing and Hussman for $1.371/2 per acre in 1851. It was a fairly sizable increase 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 state legislature refused the Brough Road its charter and after two tries it seemed as if the land investment would come to naught. 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. Alexander and Little commissioned the building of three buildings in their new town and then left for Kentucky to work their other investments.
Coinciding with the above another land speculator was Andrew J. Galloway. He was the organizer and head of the Western Land Company. He would spend much time and effort promoting lands in Illinois to immigrants and anyone else who was searching for new land to farm. In 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. With the Illinois Central opening up to freight hauling in the Fall of 1855 Alexander and Little came back to Effingham to push for their investment. It would be on July 1, 1858 that the last addition to Broughton was made.
The north addition would be directly to the east of Effingham and would encompass the area directly around St. Anthony Church. On February 14, 1859, the legislature would consolidate Broughton and Effingham into on town called Effingham. Several sources claim that the current Lord Effingham was representing a group of English investors of the Illinois Central around this time period. It is postulated that Alexander and Little allowed the change in deference to Lord Effingham to promote investor interest in the town. Whatever the story may be the change was made. There is also a small issue of the name Wehunka which is only listed in the Souvenir of Effingham, Illinois 1903 . It claims that the area was called Wehunka prior to Effingham. As far as I can find it is the only source to do so. Perrin does not mention it in his 1883 work, and I can not find it listed as a post office in the government records. This may have been a name much like Bull Flat or Fiddler's Ridge given to other areas in the county. Prior to the buildings by Alexander and Little in 1853 there were only two cabins along the old National Road. These belonged to Issac Slover and James Cartwright. Cartwright was Slover's son-in-law and lived east of Slover. Slover's cabin/house was torn down to construct the Banker Street overpass in Effingham in 1998.
The first log church/meeting house was erected in 1854 on the property occupied by the present city hall. It was here that the early Catholics in the area would meet to worship when a priest came into the area. It also served double duty as a school and meeting house as well. By Spring 1858 the congregation laid the cornerstone for their church where the present St. Anthony School now sits. There were forty families that contributed $100.00 each for the erection of the church. It would be these original forty families and their representatives that would influence much of the early history of Effingham.