The Search for a Separate Identity: 1862-1890
1862 -In a fracas between angry citizens and railroad officials over a dispute about a gap that had been closed in the Ohio & Mississippi elevated roadbed, one person is seriously wounded and the rest are dispatched at bayonet point. Under guard, the gap is reopened and the flood waters once again ravage the town from the vicinity of Illinois Avenue to Market Street.
The city has a rail mill at this time for the purpose of rerolling worn rails for use again.
Henry Brundy's three-story, brick Western Hotel burns to the ground.
James B. Eads builds seven alligator-shaped ironclads for the Union forces at the Nelson-Eads ship yard in Carondelet, Missouri. Historian J. Primm says this enables U. S. Grant to capture Island Number Ten in the Mississippi and forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee River.
1863- First plank sidewalk is built on Collinsville Avenue and east on Illinois Avenue to Sixth Street.
The School Board establishes Lower School on the public square with Esther W. Pearson as principal. There are three teachers.
A fresh attempt is made to bring the Island area under municipal control of East St. Louis. However, the Wiggins Ferry people use their considerable influence in the state legislature to defeat a bill that would have enlarged the jurisdiction of the city.
The 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment is captured by Nathan Bedford Forrest's men. (After the war, Forrest will become one of the founders of the KKK.) The enlisted men took part in Sherman's Atlanta campaign. The regiment largely consisted of soldiers from St. Clair County and was dominated by East St. Louisans. The 82nd Regiment, with a large contingent of Germans from the area, fight as part of the Union's 11th Corps at Gettysburg.
A telegraph line is completed from East St. Louis to the Illinois Central Railroad office.
1864- The Lutheran group builds a frame St. Peter's church/school at English (8th) Street between Illinois and St. Louis Ave. Reverend W. Burfeind is the pastor. It is the second oldest Protestant church in the city. In 1869 a parsonage is added and an impressive brick structure is built in 1899.
Chicago, Alton & St. Louis R. R., formerly the Alton & Sangamon, builds a line to East St. Louis and a terminal on Front Street. It is in operation by Jan. 1, 1865.
The tract of land containing Monks Mound is purchased by Thomas Ramey, whose descendents own and live on the site until it is purchased by the State in 1923. He builds a brick house at the base of the northernmost spur that radiates from the west face of the mound.
1865- John Bowman seeks to force a total merger of the various cities that allied themselves in 1861. He makes an effort to achieve the consolidation (including the ferry landing area) via state charter. The Town Council authorizes a new charter to be drafted (by Messrs. John Bowman and S. M. Lount) which defines new boundaries for the city. The move is again opposed by the Wiggins faction but several concessions are made in the bill which softens their opposition. (Licenses for ferry boats are limited to one hundred dollars per annum.) The original charter is stolen from the committee room and Bowman and Lount are forced to rewrite it from memory. The Island area becomes a part of East St. Louis, whose boundaries extend from Piggott Ave. to St. Clair Ave. (south to north) and from the Mississippi to Tenth Street (west to east).
At the first public election for mayor, John Bowman is elected to a two year term. Bowman likes to ride a big white horse while wearing a large white hat to match. He is hampered in his long range plans for the city by local law that says he cannot succeed himself in office.
Click here to read more about East St. Louis's colorful political history
Wiggins Ferry Company hires surveyor Henry Holbrook. He subdivides a section of Bloody Island by laying out 734 lots and building inexpensive houses. This area is called the Ferry Division of East St. Louis and becomes the Third Ward of the growing city.
East St. Louis Real Estate and Savings Bank becomes the first financial institution in the city. East St. Louis Savings Bank will later combine with Illinois State Trust Bank, retaining the latter name. It evolves into Union Trust at the comer of Missouri and Collinsville Avenues.
East St. Louis Gas Light and Coke Company is chartered by the state of Illinois. The plant manufactured coal gas, water gas and tar. In 1907 the company is consolidated with Belleville Gas and Electric and assume the name St. Clair County Gas and Electric, headed by C H. Quackenbush.
First National Bank is established. It will forever be remembered as the bank with the huge clock above the main entrance.
By 1865 Bloody Island, though still connected with the Illinois shore by dikes, ceases to exist and becomes an integral part of East St. Louis.
School Board decides to open the Upper School in the basement at St. Patrick's church. Mr. P. I. Marion is the first principal.
At the end of the year, the first East St. Louis fire department is organized. There had been a volunteer Hook and Ladder Company organized in 1861, but it was disbanded due to most of its members enlisting to fight in the war. A year later they will purchase a horse-drawn engine with a steam boiler used for pumping. Prior to the formation of a fire department, fires are fought by bucket brigade volunteers.
Special census of the Island area reveals a population of nearly 800 people of French and English extraction.
Ohio and Mississippi R. R. begins ten year project to change from wide gauge tracks to standard gauge.
The city's second newspaper, the Sunday Herald, begins publication. It is owned and edited by James L. Faucett.
Stephen A. Douglas School, located on the Island at Fourth and Mullikin, is completed at a cost of $6,000. A feast and a ball are held to celebrate the event.
1866- The Sunday Herald ceases publication after eleven months, and the East St. Louis Gazette (owned and edited by John Bowman) prints its first issue. It is the official journal of the city and is Democrat in its outlook and editorials.
Due to another outbreak of cholera, the city authorizes the establishment of a hospital in the Third Ward.
The first Masonic Lodge, Order #504, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons is established.
The International Working Men's Association forms a union in East St. Louis. Abraham Lincoln gives the union movement a big boost when he makes a forceful declaration in favor of trade unions.
German Catholics organize to build St. Henry's Church. Father A. B. Rinkes is the pastor. A two-story frame church is built at Collinsville and St. Louis Ave. Due to rapid growth, a new church was later built at Sixth and Broadway on land donated by Henry Oebike. Total cost of the brick building was $34,000. A two-story brick school is built in 1905.
Gaty Avenue is named after Captain Samuel Gaty of the Keokuk Packet Line.
Pittsburg Railroad Company constructs a dike by which the course of Cahokia Creek is diverted where it will enter the river just north of the dike. Before then, it wound its sluggish current along the old main shore for nearly three miles farther south.
The American Bottom Board of improvements is formed (a levee district) with Vital Jarrot as president, along with members John Bowman, Thomas Winstanley and Joseph Boismerme. The group works on plans for building dikes and diverting Cahokia Creek into the Mississippi River near Brooklyn, flanked on both sides by levees.
Hugo Feigenbutz and William Albrecht establish the city's first foundry, but it bums to the ground a year later and bankrupts the owners.
1867- John Lovingston begins serving a one year term as mayor. He will be a Bowmanite in the 1877 controversy.
Population of the city reaches 5,420.
The Wiggins Ferry people don't support either plan and devote their efforts towards blocking the construction of a bridge to protect their own interests.
There is evidence to suggest that Boomer was looking out for Chicago interests and merely wanted to acquire the right to a bridge he never intended to build. By the end of 1867 the two companies, after months of bitter legal wrangling, decide to set aside their differences and merge. James B. Eads is the principal stock holder in the new company. According to James Primm, Eads built ironclad ships for the Union during the war and was very familiar with the Mississippi River and its tricky currents. From the time that he was eighteen years old he spent the rest of his life on the river. A self-taught engineer, he invented a diving bell and entered the salvage business with William Nelson and Calvin Case. Over a fifteen year period, Eads and his partner scoured the Mississippi bottoms searching for sunken vessels. He personally made about 500 trips below the water.
Profits are good since insurance companies offer about 50% of the value of salvaged cargoes. Eads (1820-1887) will be the perfect person to build the first bridge across the Mississippi since he became a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge about the river and its currents.
Wealthy and influential citizens who oppose Democratic leader John "Napoleon" Bowman convince the state legislature to enact a Metropolitan Police Act that creates a second police force (known as Metropolitans) in opposition to Bowman's existing force of men. E. W. Wider, a Republican, is appointed by the governor to head this new board and Captain John McLean, the city's first police commissioner, heads a separate police force of four men. This will set the stage for the outrageous turn of events that will be known as the "battle of the police departments."
Click here for more on the battle over the Metro Police bill
The city gets its first chemical company, Commercial Acid Corporation. Located near Eighth Street, the company went out of production about 1890.
Thanks to East St. Louis, St. Clair County is the fifth richest in the entire state.
Third Protestant church (1st Presbyterian) gets its start in a school building at North B Street on the Island. In 1877 they move their location to the 300 block of Collinsville Ave., and in 1892 move to the site at 13th and Gaty. By 1940 it was the largest Protestant church in the area with 1,312 members. The bell in its steeple came from an ice-breaking boat used by the Wiggins Ferry Company.
1868- John Bowman begins serving one year term as mayor. First building and loan association established by John Bowman.
Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad is completed to East St. Louis. The opening is celebrated with a free all-day excursion to Highland for those who wish to go. The Illinois legislature typically grants 100 feet of right-of-way along with the option to purchase private property when necessary through eminent domain. There will be many battles between landowners and the railroads.
Following the example of other railroads, the Vandalia builds it own wooden water tank and fills in its depot grounds with dirt to raise them above ordinary high water.
James B. Eads reaches bedrock and lays the first 3,000 pound foundation stone for the western pier. The first Board of Trade is established. St. Aloysius College, a school for boys, is built by Father Zabell, just east of St. Patrick's church. This building later becomes the office of The Messenger, the official publication of the Belleville Diocese.
East St. Louis gets its own post office. Prior to this, letters coming to the city went to St. Louis first, then were carried back across the river for delivery.
The long expected roadway opens connecting Christy Avenue with Missouri Avenue across the slough, in effect extending Missouri Avenue in a straight line to Front Street. The upper ferry landing was built under John Bowman Who had recently replaced J. B. Lovingston as mayor. The road becomes known as Bowman's Dike.
1869- Heim's Brewery on 10th and State begins operations. There is a large cave for storage beneath one of the main buildings.
Due to rapid growth caused by railroads, the city secures a new charter from the state. The number of aldermen from each ward is increased from one to two; the mayor's term is increased from one to two years, and a higher tax rate and more police powers are secured.
Louisiana St. John, spinster sister to John St. John, founder of St. Clair, gives land to Methodists for the site of their church which is built a year later and is called the St. John Church. She died in 1879 and left assets totaling nearly $250,000. She was owner of the St. John Building at Third and Broadway which she acquired by her own industry. The largest cistern in the city was located at the rear of the building.
Vital Jarrot begins serving a one year term as mayor but he resigns before completing his term and is replaced by Michael Murphy. Jarrot later becomes President of the First National Bank of East St. Louis.
The Knights of Labor are formed in Illinois with strong ties to East St. Louis. The city will become one of the strongest union areas in America and East St. Louis becomes the birthplace of several international unions.
A post office is established in Centreville to supplement the one run by Wiggins Ferry.
The Ireland Debating Club is established. Its principal objective is to discuss suffrage for women.
Market House Hall, the first City Hall, is built.
The Mississippi River will rise nearly as high as it did in 1862, but the railroad embankments provided protection. A major casualty, however, was the washing away of the Bowman Dike. This incident gives rise to the "high grade" movement.
Excavation begins on east pier of Eads Bridge.
1870 -Vital Jarrot is reinstated as Mayor and will be succeeded by John Bowman.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church is built at Ohio between 5th and 6th Streets.
A large contingent of heathen Chinese" laborers pass through the city on their way out west to perform contract labor for the railroads. This same year, a large group of Indians come through East St. Louis, headed for talks with government leaders in Washington D. C.
Rivalry between two competing police factions breaks out into open warfare resulting in two lawmen being killed and several wounded. Headquarters of the State-controlled troopers are stormed by city police in a vain attempt to gain control. The skirmish ends with the arrest of fifteen police officers who are fined $500 each.
Click here for more on the battle over the Metro Police bill
State Supreme Court rules that the bill which created the Metropolitan police is invalid.
The Workingman's Bank, later Southern Illinois National Bank, is established.
Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad builds a new brick roundhouse, big enough to house twenty locomotives near the river front.
Repair work begun on Vaughan Dike (named for Patrick Vaughan, first ward councilman) and the rebuilding of Bowman's dike. The project will be completed in 1876.
The Sharp Shooters Club is organized. Other shooting clubs that will be formed include the Archery Club in 1878, the St. Clair Gun Club in 1980 and the East St. Louis Rifle Club in 19 10.
Population of the city stands at 5,644 inhabitants. By this time, the German and Irish elements are becoming a significant force in society.
New Illinois constitution prohibits private bills which do not benefit the state as a whole. It also prohibits the legislature's ability to forgive debts owed the state. This turns patronage powers over to local and county governments.
St. Louis and Southeastern Railroad, running from East St. Louis through Belleville and Mascoutah to Mount Vernon, then through McLeansboro and Equality to Shawneetown on the Ohio River, is completed. A roundhouse shop and a way station is built at Illinois Ave. and 4th Street. The Mascoutah brick yards provide much business.
Both piers of the Eads Bridge are protruding above the water line. The west pier is 70 feet deep and the cast pier is 110 feet deep. By 1871 the piers will be completed and work will begin on the bridge superstructure.
In response to the threat of a railroad bridge and the example of a small ferry company farther north, the Wiggins Ferry Company installs inclines at Mound Street and Chouteau. in St. Louis. This enables railroad cars to be run onto barges equipped with rails. Within two years, these barges will process about 450 cars a day.
1871 - Dennis Ryan is elected to a one year term as mayor but becomes incapacitated due to illness and is replaced by John McMullan. Near the end of the year Ryan will be reinstated, but he dies in office in 1872.
Chicago Fire causes an increase in East St. Louis passenger train travel. City natives are anxious to see the destruction wrought by Mrs. O'Leary's infamous cow.
A destructive tornado hits the city with great loss of life and properly.
Wiggins Ferry Company suffers extensive damage, but donates $5,000 to the relief fund in an effort to lessen criticism about their monopoly. Witnesses say that George W. Hassett, driver of an express, was blown fifty feet. One man, Lee Barrowman, claimed that he thought it was the end of the world and the sight of the horrible destruction turned his hair white. Another man was trapped when the roof of the train roundhouse collapsed and timber fell on his hand. He told a co-worker to get an ax and cut it off before the burning timbers reached him. But the engineer was consumed by the flames before this could be done. All that was left was a roasted lump. The tornado damaged some of the structure of the Eads Bridge which was still in the process of being built.
The tornado also hits the village of Nameoki, hurling railroad boxcars into the air. The place was named Nameoki (the local Indian word for smoky) by a railroad conductor because the air was clouded due to soot from the steam engines.
The new Relay Depot is built on 1st Street.
The School Board opens Brady School in the colored Baptist church on Brady Avenue. Miss Frances Moss is the first teacher at a salary of$40 a month.
Wiggins Ferry is forced to move its operation further south due to a change in current of the Mississippi caused by the river striking the piers from the Eads bridge, still in the course of construction.
City Council begins paying police officers with script in lieu of hard cash. These are notes stating that the men have a certain amount of money coming to them in the form of salary, and are to be honored by merchants in the city. However, business interests in the city have little confidence in the city government- and refuse to accept the script. The cash/script feud will be an on again, off again thing for about four years.
Work progresses slowly on the bridge superstructure because of the rigid requirements Eads expects his steel suppliers to meet. Eads uses carbon steel and a new chrome steel for the arch-tube sections. American steel companies are not ready to meet Eads' high standards and ultimately the great steel bridge will be more than half wrought iron. Much of the steel is supplied by Carnegie-Klornan Company and Andrew Carnegie becomes a shareholder in the St. Louis Bridge Company.
1872 - John Bowman is elected mayor again and will serve until 1875.
A railroad line runs through the middle of the yards and a hotel is built (run by John and Inez Scovil and later by their son Jack) along with an exchange building. It quickly became the largest horse and mule market (developed by the Harry Sparks family) in the world and ranked second only to Chicago as a stock market. It is the most centrally located stock yards in America.
East St. Louis promises never to attempt to annex the area, but pledges to provide city services such as fire and police protection.
Work on the wooden, two-story, East St. Louis High School is started at Fifth and St. Louis Avenue.
Policemen begin wearing blue uniforms. They wear a matching cap similar to that worn by riverboat captains. In the 1880s the style will change to a helmet similar to those worn by the Keystone Cops. In the early 1900s caps of the peaked variety, like those worn by officers in World War I, are used.
City removes last barrier to northward expansion by razing an ancient Indian mound causing a jog just north of Ohio Avenue. Dirt, rock and bones from the mound are carried by wagon to fill a small lake that had been blocking the extension of Illinois Ave. between Seventh and Ninth.
The City Council authorizes construction of the first street railway system. The initial section of the horsedrawn car line ran down Missouri Avenue between Front and Collinsville Avenue.
Fire fighters have their hands full with the most costly fire of the era. A row of wooden stores and houses at 3rd Street and Broadway is destroyed, along with a brick mill and toll gate on the County Turnpike.
The incumbent mayor, Dennis Ryan, dies and is buried with imposing ceremonies.
Front Street is filled to a grade higher than the 1844 flood and its full width is "macadamized."
Vital Jarrot is elected president of the city commissioners. He is the first Republican to hold this office.
The American Bottom Board of Improvement, formed to improve drainage and flood control, contracts with the East St. Louis & Carondelet Railroad to build a levee from East St. Louis to East Carondelet. In return, the railroad is allowed to build tracks on the dike. Other railroads will be allowed to use the tracks under a regular tariff. John W. Conlogue is the contractor. Nearly all of the Board of Directors of this company are East St. Louisans, including John Bowman, ex-mayor J. B. Lovingston, Thomas Winstanley and John Trendley.
The office of Fire Warden is established and the City Council appoints John Degnan to fill the post. Early fire districts become great social and political forces in the community. Whole organizations are built around them. The picnics and other festivals of the fire companies are among the greatest of the day, usually highlighted by contests between firemen, companies, and departments. They often end with smashed heads and black eyes as athletic endeavors go far beyond the pumping contest.
1873 - Former German worshipers at St. Patrick's, having separated seven years earlier with the blessing of authorities, build St. Henry's Church on Broadway.
McCormick, Adams and Armington Company builds a grain elevator on the Island near Front Street on the Chicago and Alton rail line.
The depression of 1873 hits America. Business and commerce in East St. Louis is greatly affected by the economic downturn.
Wiggins Ferry Co. has a fleet of eight steam ferry boats for people and horses and three transfer boats for trains. The business has become synonymous with monopoly and is the target of attack by liberal politicians. The company continues to bitterly oppose the bridge construction that is rapidly nearing completion. By 1895 their fleet will have grown to more than twenty vessels and three tugs making continuous crossings across the Mississippi.
The first high school, an unimposing structure at Fifth and St. Louis Street, begins operation.
The opening of National Stock Yards is delayed from October 2 to November 20 due to the Panic of 1873.
National Hotel is built by the Stock Yards at a cost of $150,000. It was originally called the Allerton House in honor of Samuel Allerton.
The Railroad Brakemen's Union is organized. They win a wage scale of $1.75 a day. The other railroad unions followed suit.
Wages, employment and union organizations are harmed by the Panic of 1873. Railroad companies doing business in East St. Louis suffer due to over-expansion and over-capitalization. Squeezed by declining business and harassed politically by outraged farmers due to exorbitant and discriminatory rates, they cut back on costs wherever they can. Rolling stock, track and equipment are allowed to deteriorate. Wages are cut. Crews are reduced to minimum levels and remaining workers are forced to perform overtime without pay.
A suspicious fire destroys the toll gate house on the dike road leading to Wiggins Ferry. A group of citizens file suit in court to try and prevent the hated structure from being rebuilt.
The first school board is elected, consisting of six members. By 1921, the number will, grow to twelve.
A fire starts under the sidewalk at the mill of John Lovingston, businessman, politician, civic leader and one of the city kingpins. Before the day is over, two million board feet of lumber are consumed, and the offices and sheds are gone. The loss is established at $75,000 - a great fortune. Only a third of the loss is covered by insurance. Lovingston is away in Europe at the time of the fire.
East St. Louis and Carondelet Railway completed. It was chartered as the American Bottom Lime, Marble and Coal Co., and will be commonly referred to as the "Falling Springs Railroad."
Vital Jarrot is ruined by the Panic of 1873. Destitute, he travels to South Dakota, lured by General Custer's tales of gold deposits. At age 71, he found no gold, fell ill and died that same year.
1874 - Stockyard statistics: Cattle - 234,002; Hogs -498,840; Sheep - 41,407; Horses/mules - 2,335. The year 1943 by comparison: Cattle - 1,065,556; Hogs 3,334,825; Sheep, -904,487; Horses/Mules - 40,412; Calves - 416,442.
President Grant takes a personal interest in the construction of the Eads Bridge. He visits the site and is given a VIP tour of the construction. He fearlessly walks out on the planks with Captain Eads to inspect work on one of the arches.
The city of O'Fallon, Illinois, is incorporated.
East St. Louis and Cairo Short Line becomes the 11th railroad in the city. It is a narrow-gauge line, three feet from rail to rail. The purpose of this line is to break the monopoly of the Illinois Central line to Cairo, and to aid in easing freight congestion in East St. Louis when the river is frozen or when it gets low. Its depot and roundhouse is on southern part of the Island. This railroad will be taken .over by the G M & 0 in the 1940s.
East St. Louis becomes a naval power on the Mississippi when the police force charters a steamer to chase after wrong doers. The steamer "Continental," moored across the river at St. Louis, was to be the scene of an illegal prize fight (Hogan vs. Allen) which had recently been outlawed. A rousing brawl broke out between opposing factions on board the "Continental." Before the amphibious city police could respond, the "Continental" cast loose from its moorings and made a circle to head downstream. A gale-like wind caught the ship and forced it against the wharf in East St. Louis. Mayor Bowman, various civic officials, and twelve other police officers boarded the ship and made mass arrests. Our dauntless police force captured their first and only aquatic prize in the city's history. It seems that other awful crimes continued to be committed in East St. Louis, but city authorities let it be known that prize fighting would not be tolerated.
Of the roughly 600 men who worked in the caissons, fourteen men died and 118 suffered severely from the mysterious "bends" due to going below the water level in caissons with compressed air during the construction. Caisson disease was caused by nitrogen forming in the bloodstream during decompression. At the depths the men were working, they should have undergone about two hours of decompression before returning to the surface. Many of the men begin wearing copper bracelets to ward off the sickness.
Eads almost had a nervous breakdown during construction and went to Europe to get ideas from their bridges while he recovered from the intense pressure of the job. The eastern approach to the bridge was done by the Baltimore Bridge Company. Parties whose land was damaged or changed by the eastern approach were reimbursed sums totaling $60,000. Built at a cost of $9 million, it was also the first major bridge to span the Mississippi. It was the first major bridge in the world to be built of arched structural steel. From its inception, the project was subjected to scorn and ridicule, but Eads was now praised and hailed as a visionary who built an engineering marvel. The total cost of the bridge was about $13 million. It is 54 feet wide, slightly over 2,000 feet long and towers 50 feet high above the city. The bridge is connected to Union Station on Market Street in St. Louis by a 4,866 foot tunnel.
The bridge is to St. Louis what the Eiffel Tower would be to Paris. It was hailed as the Seventh Wonder of the Modern World. A saying soon developed - "The Mississippi: discovered by Desoto, explored by Marquette, spanned by Eads." The bridge is christened by Mrs. Julius Walsh, daughter of Charles Dickson, the bridge company's first president. The project took five years to complete and Eads was the first engineer to use compressed air caissons.
The Bridge Company begins charging 30 cents a ton to move coal across the river. Wiggins had been charging 60 cents and he is forced to drastically lower his rates to survive.
The Howe Baptist Building (10th and College), part of which will later become the new high school, is dedicated. Mr. Lyman Howe, from Greenfield, Mass., came to East St. Louis and made his fortune in the lumber business. In his will, he leaves $10,000 for the construction of a church and school. His firm built the Douglas School at Fourth and Mulligan.
The city is divided into three school districts. District one (Island Dist.) has Douglas school. District two (Illinois Dist.) has White School and covers area from Armour plant to Ninth and Summit. District three (East St. Louis) covers rest of city. It has 8th Street School, St. Patrick's on Collinsville and St. Louis, Franklin School at Fourth and Converse, St. Henry's school at Sixth and Broadway and a colored school at 6th and Brady.
Numerous railroads lease land from Wiggins Ferry Company for the site of their terminals, machine shops and roundhouses. The leases are structured so that Wiggins Ferry has a monopoly of the train company's business, both passenger and freight.
The new St. Henry's Church is dedicated by Bishop P. J. Baltes at -the comer of 6th and Broadway to serve the German community.
The first public library opens with John Bowman as President.
The city gets its first ice house consisting of two buildings at the comer of Cahokia and John Streets, owned by James Smith. Supplies are secured by taking ice from the river when it is freezes to a depth of ten inches.
The first horse-drawn streetcar begins operation on wooden rails. Thomas Winstanley of the East St. Louis Railway Co. was the promoter. The line ran from the Stock Yards to the Eads Bridge approach.
The city erects 303 lamps on various street locations that are illuminated by the coal gas of the East St. Louis Gas Light and Coke Company.
1875 - Samuel Hake begins serving a two year term as mayor (state of Illinois grants two year terms again).
Six railroads enter into agreement to use St. Louis Union Depot Company at 12th and Poplar. The East St. Louis sites soon become only relay stations.
First high grade ordinance, pushed through the Board of Aldermen by John Bowman, calls for streets to be raised 12-20 feet above existing grade and the Flood of '44 water mark Prominent high graders are industrialists and land speculators. John Lovingston, Melbern Stephens and Thomas Winstanley are in this group. Councilman Maurice Joyce and Louisiana St. John were adamant in their opposition to the plan.
Opponents, known as "Low-Graders," accused the "High-Graders" of being in the pockets of profit-hungry construction companies and resisted the move because it would have required a huge increase in taxes. They cause a fifteen year court delay in implementation.
Memo from Thomas Furlong, special agent for the Jay Gould Railroad Co., calls East St. Louis "the toughest of tough towns - tougher than Dodge City."
St. Henry's Catholic cemetery at 29th and State is established.
The Island area now has four streets parallel and eleven streets perpendicular to the Mississippi.
The city has eleven railroads: 1. Illinois and St. Louis Coal 2. Ohio and Mississippi 3. Terre Haute, Alton & St. Louis 4. Illinoistown and Belleville (Cairo Short Line) 5. Chicago, Alton & St. Louis 6. St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute 7. Toledo, Wabash & Western 8. Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis 9. St. Louis Southeastern 10. American Bottom Lime, Marble & Ca (East St. Louis Railroad) 11. Cairo Short Line.
Willis Finch and his brother start the St. Clair Tribune, a Republican newspaper with the motto "Republican, Protestant and Progressive."
High Grade Ball, a swank dance, is held at Turner Hall on 9th and St. Louis.
The Vivian Club is established.
Hyer Brothers establish Glucose Works at head Island on present site of water works.
The city builds its first fire house, located in the 100 block of Main Street.
The town plat of Illinois City is added and made part of East St. Louis.
B. Goedde & Co. opens a sprawling, brick building for the purpose of selling lumber and Millwork at 2040 Illinois Avenue.
Democrats and Republicans hold a public debate on the topic, "The Perpetuity of our Free School System."
The city has six public schools, twenty-one teachers and 1,093 pupils, almost equally divided between boys and girls.
Due to the aftermath of the Panic of 1873 and stiff competition from the Wiggins Ferry, the St. Louis Bridge Company defaults on its debt. A federal court appoints eastern businessmen, Solon Humphreys and J. P. Morgan as receivers.
Samuel Hake, who makes cars for the and Mississippi Railroad, is elected mayor. single city councilman elected is also closely associated with railroads.
1876 - First "high grade" buildings constructed - the new Wies Bldg. at 3rd and Broadway, the Schaub Bldg., and the Ideaux Bldg. In the '20s the Wies Building became the Southern Hotel.
Louis Weiss is a successful businessman and a friend of Mayor Bowman.
St. Peter's Cemetery established at 34th and State.
Missouri Car and Foundry relocates from St. Louis due to the cheapness of coal and moves into the abandoned machine shops of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.
St. Louis Bolt and Iron moves to East St. Louis for the same reason.
It is predicted that the city of St. Louis win grow to a million and the population of East St. Louis will grow to 250,000.
The following railroads are in existence in 1876, the centennial year of the United States: Chicago & Alton, Jacksonville, Alton & St. Louis, Indianapolis & St. Louis, Toledo, Wabash & Western, Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis, St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute, Ohio & Mississippi, Cairo & St. Louis, East St. Louis & Carondelet, Illinois & St. Louis, Union Railway & Transit.
East St. Louisans celebrate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. Many of them go to a church on Kaskaskia Island to attend special ceremonies and hear the pealing of the "Liberty Bell of the West." This is a bell given to the French by King Louis XV and rung when George Rogers Clark freed the area from British rule when he captured Kaskaskia in 1778.
St. Henry's School opens and is attended by children of the parish.
1877 - John Bowman is elected to his fourth and last term as mayor under General Law. Bowman is elected mayor by proclaiming that the city is under "General Law."
Nationally, this is known as the year of railway strikes. East St. Louis railroad workers are forced to accept ten percent cut in wages. Eastern railroads are still suffering from the aftermath of the '73 recession. Local newspapers are critical of work stoppages and damage by striking workers, but are somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the labor class. On July 22, Eads Bridge railway and transit workers select a strike committee and stop all freight traffic and take control of the depot and rail yards. This is accomplished without violence or property damage. The socialist Workingmen's Party came in and took political control of the strike which also affected St. Louis. The strike spread to other ordinary workers but most craft unions did not join in the stoppage. Huge rallies were held and there was talk by radical speakers of mob action similar to the French Revolution. One Negro orator pleaded for support of Negro levee workers. Another speaker called for the nationalization of railroads. The squalor of shacks and tenements on the Island and in the south end stood in stark contrast to the ostentatious mansion on Ohio and Pennsylvania Avenues. Strikers ruled the streets for several days but by the weekend the strike had been broken.
Fortunately, the leaders of the Workingmen's Party did not believe in violence. Owners refused to make concessions and only river and levee workers made any gains. Strikers were restrained in their actions by the knowledge that eight companies of U. S. Infantry stood by at the federal arsenal in St. Louis.
James Primm tells us that J. P. Morgan and Solon Humphreys arrange a "pooling" agreement with Wiggins Ferry to increase profits. The bridge company receives 75% and the ferry company receives 25% of combined net earnings. When the net earnings figure goes past $400,000, the bridge company receives an even higher percentage that approaches 95%, once the figure passes the million dollar mark. After the deal is completed, the new monopoly increases the price for transferring freight cars across the river from $1 to $5.
1878 - Levi Baugh (Baugh Ave.) is elected councilman of 4th ward.
The East St Louis Herald is started by Maurice Tissier.
YMCA locates inside the Relay Depot building on First Street.
City Council, opposed to Bowman, convinces the Governor to "revive' the Metropolitan Police Bill creating a rival police force for a second time. For a while, there are two city councils, each with their own police force trying to control the city.
"Captain" John Robinson comes to East St. Louis from Harper's Ferry, Virginia. He was an ex-slave who witnessed the execution of John Brown after his unsuccessful raid on the federal arsenal there.
The Knights of Columbus is organized by East St. Louis priests to help stricken flood victims. It grows into an immense organization dedicated to helping the needy and other charitable organizations. They hold an annual ball, set up clothing drives for flood victims, and sponsor an orphanage picnic once a year.
Through slick legal and financial maneuvering, Morgan and Humphreys win a federal suit to secure the dissolution of the St. Louis Bridge firm and the sale of its assets. Morgan and Company have one of their agents, Charles Tracey, do the bidding for them at the auction. Solon Humphreys becomes the new president of the St. Louis Bridge Company. The $10 million Eads Bridge now belongs to New York, a victim of what historian James Neal Primm calls "Morganization."
East St. Louisans flock to St. Louis to see the first annual Veiled Prophet celebration. Alonso and Charles Slayback, two former residents of New Orleans, bring all of the floats from the March Gras and convince St. Louis businessmen that an annual event marking the beginning of a new social season in the fall will be a spectacular occasion for tourists.
1879 - Thomas Winstanley (Winstanley Park), a Bowman supporter, serves as mayor for one year under General Law. The Supreme Court will later declare General Law invalid.
Charter adherents (anti-Bowmanites) elect Maurice Joyce mayor and a separate council of their own.
Bowman's police force (organized by law in 1867 at the insistence of large taxpayers who insisted the city was being mismanaged) located at the police station on Main Street, engages in battle with the rival Metropolitan Police garrisoned at the city prison. When it is over, Bowman's marshals flee, leaving two of their dead behind.
Bob Ingersoll (a noted agnostic) says that there is no Hell but that he'd "probably change his mind if he had to go on riot duty in East St. Louis."
First Board of Education elected with a membership of six. Previous boards have been appointed. In 1902 the number win be raised to thirteen, but by 1961 the number had been reduced to seven.
1880 - Bowman has fallen out of favor with voters and a new administration is in power. The city becomes wide open as prostitution flourishes and gambling dens sprout all over the city. St. Louisans flock to East St. Louis to participate in activities denied them in Missouri by "blue laws." Money from these illegal enterprises is used to bribe aldermen, police, and city officials. Andrew Wettig, a prominent citizen of the city is murdered.
East St. Louis population stands at 8,185.
The city has so many legal battles with the Wiggins Ferry monopoly that the local newspaper inquires heatedly: "Who rules the city - the Wiggins Company or the people" The first recorded instance of prostitution takes place when a woman is sentenced to forty days in the "workhouse' for keeping an immoral establishment.
Future East St. Louis businessman, Illinois State Treasurer, and Republican Congressman, Edwin Miller, is born in Iowa. Miller served as Director of Transportation the Red Cross before he died in 1946.
John Robinson leads a march of Negro children from their cramped quarters above a blacksmith shop on Collinsville Avenue to the all-white Henry Clay School at Collinsville and St. Louis Avenues. The protest leads to the school district building the first school for the colored at Sixth and St. Louis. This building was later used as the central office for District #189 schools. Robinson was assisted in his efforts financially by a railroad porter named Morton Hawkins.
Eads Bridge and tunnel are leased by J. P. Morgan and Solon Humphreys to Jay Gould, owner of the Missouri Pacific and Wabash Railroads. in return, Gould agrees to pay taxes. bond interest, and preferred stock dividends amounting to almost $750,000 annually. Gould is the most notorious railroad builder/speculator in the entire nation. The general offices of his railroad empire are in St. Louis. As a whole, Gould is an asset to the developing cities of East St. Louis and St. Louis, but, in the words of historian Primm, "He toyed with railroad empires the way other men gambled with cards." The Wiggins Ferry people are forced to cooperate with Gould since he controlled many of the railroads both east and west of the bridge. An Illinois court invalidated the pool agreement but it secretly continued until 1887 when "pooling" was outlawed by the Interstate Commerce Act.
1882- John Robinson organizes the Afro-American Protective Emancipation League for the purpose of celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation. Each year he uses his prestige with merchants and friends to help organize a parade through the city. The procession ends at a park where he delivers a speech while dressed in a Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria) costume.
1883 -O. R. Winton elected mayor for two years. His political leanings toward one of the two factions are not obvious.
The police station and city jail are destroyed by fire in the greatest conflagration of the century. The fire starts at Collinsville and Division Avenues and destroys twentytwo houses and a number of business establishments. John Bowman's quick action is credited with saving the city from total destruction. He jumped into his carriage and made a "Ben Hur" chariot drive across the Eads Bridge in order to secure help from the St. Louis fire department.
Funeral home is founded by Joseph A. Kurrus.
Railroad war breaks out January 20th due to a bitter struggle between the East St. Louis Connecting Railroad and East St. Louis Union Railway over rights to lay track on Front Street. The war involves factions from both lines as well as a large group of city and state marshals. At one point, men from the Wiggins Ferry Company come in and rip up tracks already laid since they were too close to their economic interests on the river.
1884- Commissioners divide St. Clair County into 22 townships which still exist today.
The vault in City Hall is "burglarized."
Railroad war ends when the courts decide in favor of Union Railway, allowing them to lay tracks. Some $8,000 in damages are awarded for losses during the "war."
East St. Louis will become infamous for its unsolved crimes and murder cases. Former four-time mayor John Bowman is assassinated while walking to his home (the gothic house) at the Howe Institute on 10th and College where he lived with his third wife. He is shot one time at close range (the bullet struck his spine and killed him instantly) by a .41 caliber American Bulldog revolver. He had recently organized a Citizen's Committee to put an end to the corrupt practices and rampant crime that had a stranglehold on the city.
He was a graduate of the University of Heidelberg and fled the country after participating in the ill-fated liberal revolutions of 1848. He was a tireless promoter of the city. The former mayor gave the site for St. Patrick's church and contributed a generous sum for St. Henry's church. He established the city's first public library.
Each year he personally gave $1,000 to be distributed to the poor of the city. Bowman was responsible for bringing the Vanderbilt interests to the city by promoting the stock yards. He made East St. Louis be to St. Louis what Brooklyn was to New York City.
He made many enemies by fighting the river front monopoly held by Wiggins Ferry and by pushing through the high grade ordinances. Bowman was the city's leading booster and as a lawyer he had his hand in everything. His estate at the time of his death was worth over $200,000.
Another tragedy befalls the city. Thomas Winstanley dies after being gored by an ox on his farm.
Charles Hissrich establishes the First Mutual Savings and Loan Association. Other prominent incorporators included former railroad engineer Melbern M. Stephens, proprietor of a new hotel called the Fourth Ward House, Anthony Isch, Daniel Sullivan, M. Baker, and two brothers active in insurance and real estate, Stephen and Henry Sexton. The company became the forerunner of Illini Federal, which was located on Route 159 near St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights.
Live Stock Exchange is organized at National City.
The Women's Excelsior Club is organized for the purpose of combating the consumption of alcohol.
C. W. Spiesbach begins a manufacturing firm specializing in hardwood stairs, office furniture and interior wood fixtures. They made the fixtures for Southern Illinois Bank and National Stock Yards Bank, as well as the M. L. Harris Real Estate office.
Deputy sheriffs kill six in a riot on Cahokia bridge due to a bitter railroad strike. A crowd of railroad strikers had been using the bridge to bombard trams below with huge stones and brick bats.
Charles Cannady becomes County Superintendent of Schools. He and his wife, Ella Wise, lived for a while in East St. Louis. His daughter, Arah, taught at East St. Louis High until her death in 1936. Cannady School was named for him in honor of his improvements in the educational system. He is buried at Mt. Hope in Belleville.
There is an attempted assassination of James W. Kirk who protested Bowman's murder in his newspaper.
Knights of Labor makes its voice heard in local politics for the first time. Campaigning against what was perceived to be a corrupt city government, Labor ran a full slate of candidates and won all but two of the offices at stake. One of the Labor-backed constables was a Negro.
There is widespread corruption on the police force. Chief Halloran is indicted for conspiring to defraud the city. A month later, the militia is brought in to handle policing .responsibilities until matters can be straightened out.
Fourth oldest Protestant church is started - St. Paul's Episcopal Church. It grew out of a meeting in 1885 at the home of Dr. Henry Fairbrother. At the time, it was known as St. Mary's Episcopal Church, and was located at Sixth and Ohio. The church was sold in 1898 and for a while the congregation met at Abt's Music Hall. They built the new stone structure on 9th and Summit in 1903.
Bellevillian/East St. Louisan Mike Mulconnery is the engineer of the train that brings the President of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, from DuQuoin, through East St. Louis, across the Eads Bridge to St. Louis.
1888 -Grade of streets in the downtown area raised about one story above the high water mark. Rock and dirt were carried from the bluffs in railroad cars. Half way through the process, Eastern industrialists, encouraged by the bootstrap operation, begin building and investing in real estate causing a growth boom. Lots jumped from $40 a front foot to $200. Some homes in the area have second stories that are now on the same level as the streets. The project takes about ten years to complete. The city takes on an unusual appearance because lots between the streets and buildings are left unfilled.
First Christian Church at Belmont and Washington becomes fifth oldest Protestant church in the city. It was organized by a group of women who met at the home of Mrs. Mary Daniels who lived on 8th Street near Summit. Their first building is located on the site where the Polish Hall will be built. They later move to Washington Place oust off State) on the north side of the Knights of Columbus. Rev. Bryant Young is the pastor in 1940.
The high school moves from 5th and St. Louis to the third floor of the Howe Institute. It was built by the Baptists and is located at Tenth and College.
St Patrick's, a public school established in 1862, becomes a parochial school in East St. Louis with the arrival of the Sisters of Loretto.
A unit of the Salvation Army is organized in the city.
Henry Clay Middle School moves into the Howe Institute at Tenth and College.
East St. Louis becomes a separate township. The remainder of the old township was given the name Brooklyn, but it is later changed to Stites.
A group of East St. Louisans obtain a charter from the national parent organization and form Division I of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Its officers are Patrick Berry, President; P. W. MacHale, Vice-president; Daniel McGlynn, Secretary; Edmund Wallace, Treasurer and M. J. Carroll, Financial Secretary. It is an organization for Irish Catholics committed to promoting the interests and welfare of Americans of Irish descent and aiding the people of Ireland to achieve independence from England.
Reform Evangelical Church is organized by a handful of families. By the mid-sixties, they will be located at 463 N. 88th Street with the name Immanuel United Church of Christ with a membership of 650. They will have had six ministers: Wishman, Fraizman, Ballman, Boady, Yager and Bauln.
Total city income from taxes, licenses and fines amount to $145,578. About $10,000 is appropriated by the city to pave Front Street with granite stones.
East St. Louis indebtedness stands at $74,120.
1889- The population of East St. Louis reaches 14,272. East St. Louis becomes the fastest growing city in America. Its population will double every decade for the next thirty years.
First copy of the four-page East St Louis Journal is published by James W. Kirk. Kirk, the city comptroller, started the paper to gather support for the high grade proposal made by Mayor Stephens. A little over a year later, the newspaper will be printed daily instead of weekly. In its early years, the newspaper will be highly partisan and support the mayor and his party.
The first electric street-car crosses Eads bridge.
The city buys a farm called Pecan Grove. It is turned into a tree-filled park off Broadway between Sixth and Ninth that becomes the site of celebrations of national holidays.
C. C. Molla starts Molla Coal and Ice business at 817 Bond Avenue where residence, stables, barns and office are all located. One of the sons, John Molla opened a similar business at First and Missouri.
Real Estate Exchange organized by J. T. McCasland, H. D. Sexton and J. W. Renshaw.
Franklin School at 700 Bond replaces school built in 1869. Webster School is built on 10th and St. Louis.
City appropriates an astounding sum of $200,000 to be spent on street improvements. Total income for the city is $552,932. The city's indebtedness is $99,675.
The assessed valuation of property in the city is $3 million.
East St. Louisan Everett Murphy serves as warden of the state penitentiary at Menard in Chester from 1889-92. He will serve the district in Congress from 1895-97.
1890- St. Patrick's and St. Mary's parishes combine to buy Mt. Carmel Cemetery up on the bluffs on present West Main Street in Belleville.
Merchants Bridge, just north of present day McKinley Bridge, and three miles north of the Eads Bridge at Ferry Street (Bissell's Point) is opened to railroad traffic.
Promoters laid tracks along the levee, hoping to draw business away from the Eads Bridge and its smokefilled tunnel. In 1893, the Terminal Association purchases the Merchant's Bridge and restores its monopoly.