submitted by
Janis (Jones) Hendricks
WAYNE  CO.,  IL

TOWNSHIP  HISTORY

Notes from Janis
Corrections:
Spelling of Jay Kromiller should be Jay Kronmiller.
Spelling of Rev. Alex Blakly should be Blakely or Blakley

Newspaper, Unknown
Author Unknown
Year: About 1945

First Settlers At Mt. Erie In 1818;
Took Name From Town In Carolinas
Village Platted in Year 1853

Mt. Erie is the site of one of the earliest settlements in Wayne County.  The first White settlers came to this vicinity in 1818 when there were still plenty of Indians roundabout.  As a matter of fact when Alexander Ramsey and the other original residents of this community came on Christmas night of 1818 to the hill on which Mt. Erie now stands a fire built by some red men was still smoldering.  The story is told that these pioneers used this fire to cook their first meal in their new home.

Besides Ramsey the original party included his son, James, Alexander Nisbet, William Farmer, William McCormick, and possibly Andrew Bratton.  Families of these men followed them to the new settlement.

The original party had come up the Little Wabash by canoe to Miller Creek and by way of this stream to the hill on which they made their home.  Although there were a good many Indians in the county at this time, these pioneers were not bothered by them very much.  They encountered the red men only occasionally and if the available records be correct, no Mt. Erie Township resident was killed by Indians.

Alexander Ramsey had lived at Burnt Prairie before coming to Mt. Erie.  He was a native of South Carolina.  For a number of years the settlement was called Ramsey’s Grove, but Ramsey himself liked better the name of a South Carolina town, Mt. Airie, and this was adopted.  At some later date the spelling of this name was simplified to the present form.

First Grave

A cemetery was started early in Mt. Erie’s history.  The first adult to be buried in it was a man named Thrasher, who came from Kentucky and died in 1819 or 1820.  In the years that followed a number of others were buried but the first marked grave is that of Mrs. Ellen Ramsey, Alexander Ramsey’s wife, who died in 1833.

Ramsey, who had fought in the Revolutionary War, built a log dwelling in the north part of what is now Mt. Erie soon after he came to this vicinity.  This was the first house.  In 1853 Ramsey sold ten acres to Nathaniel Travers and Jonathan Copley with the stipulation that they lay out a town on this tract.  Mt. Erie was platted the same year.  The first dwelling on the ten acres that forms the original town was erected a short time later by William Copley.  Copley also started a store.

Ramsey operated the first horse mill in Mt. Erie Township, and some years later in 1866 William Schwarberg started the first steam mill.  In 1856 the Mt. Erie post office was established with Andrew Crews as postmaster.  Mail for some years was brought to Mt. Erie from Clay City after having been brought there by a stage coach operating between St. Louis and Vincennes.

Trade Center

In the latter years of the nineteenth century Mt. Erie thrived as a trade center.  By 1900 the population was about five hundred and there were some fifteen or sixteen business houses.  The population now has declined to from 200 to 300 and the number of merchants to about nine.  Apparent reason for this loss in importance and prosperity has been the growth of other towns and the coming of paved roads, which thus far have passed Mt. Erie by and lured people to other places to do their trading.

Mt. Erie’s churches are three in number at the present time.  The Methodist Church was started about 1852 and a building erected six years later.  The Christian Church was organized about 1912 by Rev. Oscar Eaton.  The Pentecost Church was not started until recent years.  There also have been Presbyterian, Baptist, and United Brethren churches at one time or another.  The first Presbyterian minister was Rev. William Finley and the First Methodist, Rev. Alex Blakly.

The village now has a grade school and three-year high school.  According to the history of Wayne and Clay Counties published in 1884, the first school in Mt. Erie Township was taught by a man named Camp in a little log building not far from the present village limits. Russell Curry succeeded Camp.

A Masonic lodge was organized in Mt. Erie in 1858.  The charter members  were E. Boos, George Camp, E. McElry,  J. T. Price,  J. M. McCormick,  Ed Willy, and J. C. Williams.

Mt. Erie has had a bank ever since 1912 when a private institution was started.  This in 1921 was converted into the Mt. Erie State Bank. Ed Yohe, president; J. N. Allison, vice-president; and Leonard Carson, cashier; were the original officers of the latter institution.

L. S. Gardner has been postmaster fifteen years and has conducted a hardware business for sixteen years.  J. O. Van Fossin who has a general store and filling station, started in business in 1917.  S. R. Yohe, now one of the older residents, has been selling insurance for forty years.  R. D. Miller at 85 is the oldest resident of the village.

There have been two attempts to start a movie theater in Mt. Erie but neither of these show houses lasted very long.  One was established by Charles Shelton about 1910 and the other by John McCoy and Jay Kromiller, a couple of years later.

Recall Early Autos in Mt. Erie Village

One of the first automobiles to come to the village of Mt. Erie was driven by a Dr. Dunn of St. Louis, who married Miss Emma Ingraham, old timers recall.  It was a red, chain drive, two-cylinder vehicle and, of course, it attracted a lot of attention.  That was in 1903 or soon afterward.  The earliest Mt. Erie residentsto drive horseless carriages included Tom King, Charles Andrew, and Bernard Frederick.

Aug 31 2005
copyright 1999-2009; Dianna Williams
All rights reserved
Last revised
Tuesday, 24-May-2016 21:08:03 EDT