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Village of Bluffs History

Henry Oakes founded the village of Bluffs in 1871. Charles Oakes established the first three additions. The original name for the town was Bluffs City. It soon became a booming railroad town.

Prior to the opening of the bank, Charles and Henry Oakes conducted a sort of bank for their customers in the grain business. It was called a pocket bank, but as far as is known there was never any dissatisfaction with the manner in which the brothers took care of the interests for their patrons. On August 3, 1893 the Bank of Bluffs was organized with a capital stock of $10,000. There were 12 original stock holders.

The Bank of Bluffs hit the pages of the "Chicago Banker" in the early 1900's with the following: "The Bank of Bluffs is not a place they give you a bluff when you call for money. you might think so if you did not know that the town of Bluffs is in Illinois and the Bank of Bluffs paid 10% to the stockholders last year besides transferring $15,000 form surplus to capital. No bluff about that kind of banking."

Around 1900 the Wabash Railroad was selling tickets for an excursion to Springfield, to the Illinois Sate Fair for $1.00 round trip. You could buy good cotton blankets for 85 cents each and unbleached muslin for 5 cents per yard. In Bluffs you could buy coal, American fencing, steel ranges, pianos, lumber and even a casket. In August 1904 a new cigar factory opened in Bluffs.

Bluffs began to change by the 1960's. The railroad was no longer the primary employer in the community. Many of the old businesses were gone, while new businesses were growing.

The Bluffs of today in many ways is like most small towns except, that we still have our community school with grades Pre K through 12th. Bluffs still has the charisma and community involvement of the past. We are proud to remain a small town.

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Meredosia History

Meredosia is a small town situated on the banks of the Illinois River in Morgan county, Illinois. It is believed to have been named after the French priest, Father Antione D’Osia, and “mere” the French word for lake. Meredosia was founded on December 26, 1832 by Thomas J. January.

By 1832 Morgan County was one of the most heavily populated counties in Illinois. At the time Meredosia had several general stores, a distillery, a blacksmith shop and a sawmill. There was no currency in circulation so the residents used coonskins, honey and beeswax to barter.

In 1833 the first school was opened in one room of a double log cabin. Tuition was two dollars for a three-month term. Since many families were still using animal skins as money, the teacher was often paid this way. Average attendance for the school was about twenty students a day. This was an excellent turn out considering there were only about twenty families in Meredosia at the time. Many changes have taken place since then. Today Meredosia and nearby Chambersburg share a Grade School and a Junior –Senior High School.

In 1838 the Northern Cross, which was the first railroad west of the Allegheny Mountains, began operating in Meredosia. Eventually the railway expanded and was acquired by the Wabash Railroad.

One of the largest industries in Meredosia was the fishing industry. In 1925 the Meredosia Fish Company shipped over 500,000 pounds of carp and buffalo to the eastern markets of New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

The pearl button industry was the only industry that remained in Meredosia for many years. In the 1930’s and 1940’s one button company employed as many as 34 people. The Meredosia Button Factory operated until September 1948, when the progress of plastic buttons made it impossible for the pearl button manufactures to survive.

In 1912 Central Illinois Public Service Company opened its doors. It is now Ameren CIPS and is still providing electrical service and natural gas to the town as well as the surrounding area. National Starch and Chemical Corporation began operations in 1955 and is still in business as manufacturing plant today. These plants are major employers of the area and add stability to the economy of Meredosia.

Meredosia is no longer the “boom town” of the past but has maintained it’s small town charm.

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