The Fulton Democrat
Sesquicentennial Edition
"covering the news of Fulton County since 1855"
(with permission of the editor)

Below are a few of the many articles from this wonderful edition just released this summer.
If you would like a copy ($3.00 each) of this special edition, please write to:

The Fulton Democrat
P.O. Box 161
Lewistown, IL 62542

or email: mcdemo at

or call
309 543-3311
or 1 800 346-8554

 They take credit cards.

Thank you kindly!  


July 19, 1856
Lewistown Steam
Marble Works

     One of the institutions of Lewistown is her extensive marble works. Those who have visited our town and have called upon Mr. Tompkins at his manufactory, invariably speak in the highest terms of beautiful marbles there to be seen. One of the principal features of this manufactory is the splendid steam engine which noiselessly does the work of 10 or 15 men and a great deal better than could be done by manual labor. This engine facilitates work greatly by while it materially lessens the price of the marble. When you come to Lewistown don't forget to give the marble works a call when you wish to monument "the dust of a friend or relative."

March 13, 1868
Proposed Improvements--

     Messrs. Arthur Miles and J. W. Hyde will as soon as possible commence the erection of a large building on the lots east side of Main Street, second block south of the courthouse. The buildings will be devoted to an extensive furniture business.
     Mr. Henry Trickey contemplates erecting extensive buildings on the same block but we believe has not determined their extent. Hon L. W. Ross will have his large brick block, to be erected just west of the courthouse underway just as soon as the weather permits. N. Beadles, Esq. will put up a brick block during the summer, he has not given us the details upon the plan or locations. The Episcopal Methodists of Lewistown and vicinity contemplate the erection of a church in Lewistown during the present year.

October 6, 1871
Old Settlers' Meeting

     The annual meeting of the Old Settler's Society was held at Canton on the 27th ult. Following short impromptu addresses by Elder Henry Summers, Rev. Applebee, John Orendorff, Henry Waughtel, Harvey L. Ross, Henry J. Andrews, Absolem Maxwell and Dr. Curtis; the president read a paper relating to the early settling of the county. We extract from it the following facts:
     It is now pretty well determined that the first white men who settled in Fulton County were a man named Statler, and a Dr. Davidson, who were found in the spring of 1820, by John Eveland, living on the south side of the Spoon River in Isabel Township.
     In the spring of 1821 Ossian M. Ross moved to where Lewistown now stands, and in the spring of 1822 laid out that town. James Gardner came to Fulton County about that time, and now is the oldest living settler in the county. Mr. Ross found Statler, Dr. Davidson, John Eveland, and two brothers named Fenner, all living near Spoon River in Isabel Township when he came in 1821.
     The county was organized January 28, 1823, and the county seat was located in Lewistown February 14, 1823, by H. R. Colter, Stephen Chase and John Totten who were appointed by the legislature for that purpose.
     The first white child born in Fulton County was Lucinda C. Ross, wife of Judge William Kellogg, now of Peoria. The first white male child born in Fulton County was Abner E. Barnes, now an attorney at Bushnell.
     The first school was taught by Jacob Ellis in the lower story of the first Masonic Hall, which stood where the Presbyterian Church in Lewistown now stands.
     The first marriage license was issued to Peter S. Wood and Melinda Sidwell. The marriage was attended by H. L. Ross and others who were present last week at the Canton meeting. The first election was for sheriff, in 1823, the competitors being William Eads, of Peoria (then Fort Clark), and O. M. Ross of Lewistown. It is said that Ross received 16 votes to Eads 14 votes. The first deed on record in this county was dated February 4, 1822. Parties resided in New York, and the land now lies in Tazewell County

August 19, 1875
An Era of Magnificent Improvements Commenced--

     For weeks, the past spring, the Democrat struck sturdy (and perhaps awkward) blows at Lewistown's apathy, at its dormant capital, at its drowsy business men. Whatever brought the changes, the dead has come to life--the old Lewistown has vanished, and sprightly new, young Lewistown has come to reign instead.
     The contracts are all closed, and work is actually commenced on the Beadles Block. This will consist of a handsome two story brick edifice, 99 X 66 feet in size, with basements well finished and lighted under all, situated directly north of the  courthouse and west of Eichelberger's store. The first story above the basement will consist of a room for the First National Bank, 20 X 60 feet, and with a first
class vault. Next will come an elegant store room, followed by a spacious room 32 X 66 for Call and Wilcoxen's hardware store. And on the corner, facing the courthouse on the south, and Methodist church on the west, will be a room 21 X 66 feet and the basement, both handsomely lighted and finished expressly fitted up for the Democrat newspaper and job printing establishment. The first story will be 12 feet high, will have plate glass fronts throughout, and will be finished in first class city style.
     The second story will be devoted to an opera house 44 X 99, running the entire length of the building. The ceiling will be 20 ft., the stage 30 feet deep and will be first class in every particular. The south side of the second story will be cut up into three suites of double rooms, each 12 x 16 and a ticket office and coat room the same size. A splendid stairway, 10 ft. wide, runs up the center of the hardware store.
     This entire block is to be heated with steam, is to be supplied with an abundance of water in each room, with marble wash stands, water closets, and is to be first-class in every particular.
     Eichelberger's block will occupy the site of the present store, except that it will run west 80 feet and be built and finished uniformly with Beadles Block.
     Shope and Gray's Law Office, which is to be uniform in height and finish with the other buildings, and finished throughout in first class style. This virtually makes the entire square of buildings three stories, and afford splendid quarters for quite an army of business men.
Col. Ross' Block will occupy the northwest corner of the square, south of the M. E. Church. It will be 26 x 80 feet in size, and two stories tall, besides the basement.
     The Harris Block will be erected directly south of and adjoining his present store on Main street, will be 46 x 80 feet and two stories high.
     Manufacturing establishments of various kinds must be started at once to maintain these new and commodious business houses. It will take pluck, and money, and unity of action to accomplish these grand results for Lewistown, but they can and must be secured. If our citizens will stand together, and work in harmony to accomplish these brilliant designs, the fullest success is inevitable.

January 6, 1881
Twenty-Seventh Year

     As may be seen in the heading, this issue of the Democrat is No. 1 of its 27th year. It is also its 24th year under the sole control of its present editor. We have been a sort of newspaper pioneer in some regards. The Democrat opened out of a vigorous campaign against the liquor traffic in 1866, when it was very unpopular and hazardous to do so. At that time, Fulton County was overrun with saloons, and to be intemperate was the rule, sobriety was the exception.
     This has been the only paper within our knowledge to fight openly and persistently the twin robberies of the age, Life Insurance and the Lottery. We have saved Fulton County a good many thousand dollars by this course and these evils are almost unknown among our people. We have made a vigorous fight against the credit system and with good results.
     Lastly, The Democrat is, if possible, more thoroughly democratic than ever before. But the only hope of the perpetuity of our good republic is in the maintenance of the Democratic Party and its principles. Though defeated again and again, it is yet the one bulwark between the people and the oppression. Though defeated, it is a power in the land for good.

January 20, 1881
Contest of Muscle

     W. T. Davidson on last Wednesday accidently got up a contest of muscle with his cylinder power press and came out of the engagement minus the index finger of his right hand, and with his hand otherwise badly injured. Particulars (as well as the hand) are odious.

February 3, 1881
From the Carthage Republican

     The Democrat of Lewistown, Ill. recently entered upon its 27th year of publication. W. T. Davidson, its present proprietor and editor, took charge of it in 1858 and has therefore had it in possession and editorial control over 22 years. The last issue of the paper affords no indication of the recent loss of an index finger from its editors' right hand, the editorials being dictated to, and some of them doubtlessly written by the editor's wife, a smart capable lady who is equal to an emergency calling for her prompt and brainful work. The Democrat is a marvel of country journalism.

July 5, 1883
Twenty-Five Years

     This issue of the Fulton Democrat appears on the 25th anniversary of its present editor's connection therewith as editor and proprietor. A quarter of a century is a good while. Confessing that in our glance backward, we see more to regret than to approve, we yet look forward with high hope that in the future we shall have time and opportunity to fairly balance the account by more faithful doing our duty by the people whose obedient servants we are.
     His nephew and biographer J. D. D. Davidson wrote that W. T. Davidson had a "trenchant, caustic, meat-axe style of writing" that enabled him to make good his proud boast of printing a paper which everybody wanted to "snatch hot from the press and read to tatters." In his later years, however, as indicated above, he softened his tone, and created a character- Uncle Zeb - to be his occasional mouthpiece when he had something to say.

December 1, 1887
From Avon
Miss A. Churchill, Editor

     A great craze for chewing gum has struck this town lately. At the Thanksgiving Ball, nearly every person had a piece of gum in his or her mouth and was chewing as if for wages. To the audience it must have looked disgusting and laughable to see about fifteen young ladies sitting in a row chewing gum. It must have looked like a lot of cows, chewing their cud. We hope this craze will leave the town as suddenly as it came in.

November 15, 1888
County Seat Contest

     Fulton County seat battles: Lewistown heretofore has had five county seat battles-two with Centerville (now Cuba) and three with Canton. The last one was in 1878. Under the constitution it could not come up again for ten years. This limit was reached the present year. It was expected that Canton would again petition for a vote upon the question; but the village of Cuba (near the center of the county) suddenly "shied its castor into the ring", completely upsetting Canton's plans. To the general public amazement Cuba's petition was signed by the requisite number of electors, and the election was duly called by Judge Bagby for November 13th.
     There was in most townships tremendous excitement on election day, although but about three-fourths of the vote was polled. The returns began to come to Lewistown shortly after 7:00 PM, by courier, telegraph and telephone. However, our leaders were well advised long before the polls close that the victory was Lewistown's. A vast crowd of men and women filled the court house to hear the news. As town after town was reported, each with a vote close to Lewistown's previous rosy estimate, and each favorable to our cause, the enthusiasm was unbounded. By 10:00 PM enough returns were received to show that Lewistown's majority could not be less than 700. By this time a vast crowd of men and women thronged the streets, and most of these were wild with enthusiasm. A huge bonfire lit up the streets, the band came out and played its jubilant airs; impromptu marching clubs of ladies and gentlemen paraded the streets with flags, brooms, tin pans, & etc. and some of our people were serenaded in a noisy way. For two hours the rejoicings were infectious, extravagant, memorable.

April 4, 1894
Billiard Hall Loafing

     The one thing our young people need to watch is the saloon and the gambling houses and the billiard halls. They involve everything that is bad and ruinous.
     The objection to a billiard hall in such a town as Lewistown is that it is simply a loafing place for boys and young men who cannot afford to play billiards. The influence is very bad upon them. Where is there a city large enough to make the billiard hall and the bowling alley a necessity for business and professional men who need recreation for an hour or more a day, then they become a blessing and not a scourge. Any game of recreation becomes a sin when it involves a waste of time or becomes a source of irritation.
     That is the trouble with the game of croquet. It is a beautiful and harmless game except as it makes loafers of its devotees.
     So don't you see that it is the abuse of cards, dancing, ball, croquet, billiards, checkers, chess and all these things that constitute the sin?

April 18, 1900
Egg Rolling

     The M. E. Sunday school gave an "Easter egg-rolling" at the Methodist parsonage Saturday afternoon. The ladies had provided 30 dozen hard boiled, colored eggs. A committee of ladies stood at the crest of the hill rolling the eggs down the incline while some 50 or 60 little girls and boys were in a jolly scramble for the eggs that became the property of those who picked them up. This "egg-rolling" is annually observed at the White House in Washington. Lewistown Methodists will keep up the custom in the the future.
     Lewistown's first Easter Egg Hunt?

(transcribed by Claire Crandell on Aug. 8, 2005)

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Updated August 8, 2005