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Wish you were here!
(Postcards from Sullivan:
Moultrie County Court House )


(Click on the front or back of a card to see a full-size image.)

Title Front Back Transcription/Comments
This may be the remnant of the Moultrie County courthouse, version 2.5

Moultrie has had three official courthouses: the first, built in 1848, burned in 1864 and was replaced by a new brick structure completed in 1866. This sufficed until the early years of the twentieth century when, after much discussion and several referenda, the construction of the current court house was approved.

The new building, however, was to be erected on the site of the old, which meant that the county legal machinery had to be temporarily relocated during the project. According to a source I can't remember (but for which I will continue to search) an interim brick structure was put up on the northwest corner of the square; this was demolished when the new court house was completed, and salvaged bricks were incorporated in the new IOOF hall, on the right.

More on this card in a later installment when we get to The Square.
Courthouse dedication, 1906 Postally unused.

Moultrie County Court House

Corner Stone Laid
Oct. 14, 1904

Nov. 12, 1906

Compliments of E. A. Silver, Circuit Clerk

Edward A. Silver was born about 1850, in Cass County, MI, the son of Jedediah H. and Julia A. Silver. By 1860, the family had moved to Shelby County, where Edward's father took up farming, an occupation which Edward also pursued at first. However, he was apparently called early to politics, and was the Circuit Clerk of Moultrie County by 1900, an office he filled for some years, as he still occupied this position in the 1910 census. He died in February 1917.

This is the earliest postcard depicting the present court house of which I'm aware, though photographic cards from 1904 or 1905, showing the unfinished building may exist.

This is a somewhat fanciful image of the eventual court house, inaccurate in many architectural details from basement windows, through lintels and pillars, to the dome and clock. Thus, its early provenance is assured: it probably reflects some preliminary architectural renderings before details were finalized.

Additional information about the construction of the courthouse can be found in newspaper articles here, here, here, and here.
Courthouse, looking northwest, June 15 1908 Postmark:
Sullivan June 15 1908 - 8:00 pm

Mrs Walters
1330 N. Main St.

I got home all O. K. I just came up town so thought I would send you a card before going home


There are quite a few 'Mrs. Walters' in the 1910 Decatur census and without a given name it's difficult to determine who she might have been. The 1910 Decatur residents were listed by ward, but though this might help refine the candidates, I've been unable to determine which ward her home address was in.
Courthouse, June 19 1908 Postmark:
June 19 1908 - 7:30 am

Mrs. M.B. Arbuckle

Della is still improveing (sic) I think she will get along all right now. She can sit up a little.

Missouri B. (born 1857) and Emma E. (born 1859) were daughters of Jacob S. and Martha F. Vantreese, of Jennings Co. Indiana.

Missouri married Edward Arbuckle on 24 Dec 1875 in her home county, and they subsequently moved to Kansas, as demonstrated by the address here.

Emma married Edgar Bland several years later, on 5 Feb 1879, also in Jennings Co. They remained there, at least, through 1885, when their youngest daughter Della was born.

Emma and Edgar then moved to Moultrie County where, in 1900, Edgar was a farmer and later, in 1900, was a janitor at the Moultrie County Courthouse. Edgar died in 1942 and Emma followed two years later; both are buried in Greenhill Cemetery.

I have not yet been able to determine Della's fate: she does not appear in the 1910 census, and so she must have either died of the health crisis described here, or married. If the latter, the best suggestion is that she may have been the bride of Walter Storm, of Shelby County.

Courthouse, looking northwest, August 21 1908 Postmark:

Sullivan August 21 1908 - 9:00 pm

Mrs. I. Cawley
200 Main St.

Isn't it awful, the extremes to which one must sometimes go, to please the kid? Be indulgent to her -- it gives her so much pleasure to deliver this. I am having a good time.

M.Z. # Miss Markham

Ida Cawley, born in July 1875, was the wife of James T. Cawley. I have not yet been able to identify her maiden name, who Miss Markham might be, nor locate a Moultrie resident with the initials 'M. Z.'.
Courthouse, looking northwest, Nov 9 1908 Postmark:
Sullivan Nov 9 1908 - 12:30 pm

Miss Ada Taylor
St. add unknown
% Rev. R. N. Everett
F-Methodidist (sic) min.

My Dear Ada - I saw in todays daily you were in Dec (i.e. Decatur). I am coming there probably wed -would like so much to see you. could you be at the transfer house from 9:15 to 9:30 A.M. Wednesday. I'll come that day if possible

with love

Stella Jones

Ada was probably the daughter of Ewing and Emma Taylor of McLean County. By 1910, she was a boarder with Bert N. and Nellie R. Everett.

Stella, born about 1882, was the wife of Alva Jones. In 1910, they were living in Sullivan.
Courthouse, looking northwest, Sep 12, 1908 Postmark:
Sulivan, Sep 12 1910, 9pm

Mrs Sadie Humphrey
Streator Ill
114 Oak St.

On back:
Pub. by The Economic Store, Sullivan Illinois

Sullivan Ill

Dearest Friend
I was wishing you were along that night so I would not get sleepy we got here at 4 Oclock next morning We are stopping at a trainer place the (?) train here we had fried chick for supper fine eatinI guess we won't get back this week
It is far done here
J Wils

It is unfortunate that, for such a romantic note, I have been unable to identify neither the young lady nor her swain.

Otherwise similar to many other views, this one is interesting because of the figures in the foreground.
Arial view, looking southeast, about 1911 Postmark:
Sullivan ILL. Mar 30 9 PM (year not given)

Miss Pearl Hensle

Sullivan 30th
Spending this Sunday at Home

Pearl Hensley was born in 1897 in Illinois, the daughter of Andrew and Jane Hensley. Jane may have been Dennie Jane Hudson of McLean County, though this is not proven. She seems to have died by the time of the 1910 census, as Andrew had remarried.

The year isn't included in the postmark but was probably sent in 1911:
  • The Titus Opera House is missing (thus it must be 1910 or later)
  • Postmarks of other 1910 Sullivan postcards carry the year, but starting in 1911, they do not
  • The message 'Spending this Sunday at home' suggests that it was mailed in time for delivery before Sunday. March 30 fell on Thursday in 1911, and on Saturday (too late) in 1912. In the next few subsequent years, it fell early in the week.
This photograph was taken from the bell tower of the Northside School, on the present site of the Old School Essenhaus.
Courthouse, looking northwest, Oct. 17, 1910 Postmark:

(Town not legible) Oct 17, 1910 7 am

Mr. Amos Elwood
R.R. 7.

Oct. 17 - 1910 Chrisman Ill.

Mr. Amos Elwood dear Bro. I will send you a card and let your know that I have changed places. I was over at Sullivan Ill. and cut broom corn about three days while I was there.

I have just about made my expences (sic) since I come up here. I have not cut corn over four days in the last two weeks. I come to Chrisman today I am going to hunt for a job of corn husking to-morrow the corn will not do to husk for two weeks yet. Meaby (sic) I can get other work untill (sic) it will do.

the corn is all good up here this year and I guess they will pay 3 cts. a bu. (3 cents a bushel) I will close for this time. answer. good by from Eli E.

Eli Owen Elwood was born in 1885, a son of James T. and Jary J. Elwood of Harrison Co. IN. His brother Amos Vivian was born the following year. By 1910, Amos had moved to Sullivan Co. IN, where he worked as a farm hand. Though Eli still officially lived in Harrison Co. with uncle and aunt Ulysses G. and Emma Watson, he was, as he relates here, doing itinerant farm work around the Midwest

By 1920, both were established farmers in their own right, still in Harrison and Sullivan Counties in Indiana.

This card was undoubtedly purchased during the mentioned Sullivan visit.

Though it's difficult to exactly determine the value of 3 cents at the time, most sources indicate that this would be equivalent to about 60 cents today, a significant portion of the production costs of a bushel.
Courthouse, east facade, after 1910 Postmark:

Sullivan Sep (x)3 year unclear.

Mrs. C. D. Broadwell
Clinton Ill
Lock Box 97

Dear Mother. Have been pretty sick but am feeling better. go to Arthur Ill. next week on Tues & Wed Write me then. then we ship to Springfield. am all right don't worry


Charles and Amanda Broadwell moved west after their marriage, and were living with Illinois-born children James, Cash (Cassius?, and Carrie, in Livingston County in 1900. By 1910, they had relocated to DeWitt County.

The message is somewhat cryptic: the phrase 'then we ship to Springfield' suggests that he may have been among a group of recruits or draftees headed for Camp Butler, during World War I. His draft card, dated June 7, 1917 supports this possibility.

However, in 1917, he was 29 years old and married, and the round-about route from Sullivan through Arthur seems rather indirect for a group headed for induction.

This is an unusual four-square view of the east facade with an unfortunately truncated dome.

Though the year of the postmark is not legible, the Titus Opera House is missing (to the immediate right of the courthouse); thus this picture was taken after the opera house fire of Feb 20, 1910. I believe that this photo was taken from the roof of a long-demolished building, as early photos show no buildings taller than two short storeys here, and later pictures from as early as the 1920's show an empty lot.
Courthouse, looking southeast, 1927 Postally unused.

This is an unusual view from the northwest corner, showing the WCTU fountain. This card was published by Curt Teich & Company, Inc. (note the text in the divider between address and message spaces: 'C. T. American Art Blue Sky'), and was dated to 1927 by their company archivist. (Thank you!)
Courthouse, looking northwest, 1930s Postally unused.

Though the sepia tone and hand-written legend suggest an earlier date, I believe that this card is from the 1930s: It sports the extended southwest chimney first seen in the 1927 view, but is surrounded by the newer streetlights of the early 1940's, visible in the next card.
Courthouse, looking northwest, 1940s Postally unused.

Businesses which can be identified include The Mammoth on the west side of the square and the Hankla Meat Market on the north side. The new-fangled Grand Theatre, while offering Refrigerated Air to the populace, has wiped out an irreplaceable stand of cast-iron storefronts.
Courthouse, looking northwest, 1960s Postally unused.

Important detail: The Mammoth still lives! This was the classic drygoods/clothing store catering to those 'of a certain age', which, in my childhood, meant those (born in the 1870's or 80's) who still fancied high-button shoes. Oh, to be able to walk through that door once more!