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Other Information

Other Information

  • Bank
  • U.S. Post Office
  • Village Park
  • Westville Churches
  • Westville Library
  • Westville Schools
  • Westville Gas & Water Co.
  • Prehistoric Westville

 

 

Bank

The first bank in Westville was the 1st National Bank founded in 1904.  The first president was George Robertson.  By this time Westville was a thriving community, and was much in need of banking facilities.  Many mines were in operation, and a “Bank” established the community as a full-fledged Village.

U.S. Post Office

           The Post Office has been located all over town.  The first Post Office was established in 1876, and S. W. Dukes was appointed the first Postmaster.  He was later succeeded by J.W. Lockett.  By 1889 the Post Office was in an old home where the Carp Store now (“now”…reader, please remember this is 1973 text) stands on W. Main St.  At that time Squire Cobb was Postmaster.  It was then moved across the street to the John Dukes Building, and from there to a small building about the size of a watchman’s shanty close by the Big Four tracks.  The shanty was so small that people had to get their mail from the outside window.  Squire Cobb was a small man and there was only room for him and his stove inside.  Squire Cobb wore a beard reminiscent of Abe Lincoln.  Mr. John Ashby was appointed Postmaster, and he moved the office across the Big Four tracks to a woodworking shop he ran as a carpenter.  This building stood near where Ss. Peter & Paul Church is now located.  From there it was moved to a residence at the corner of W. Main and Scott Sts.  It was moved to a building just across the street from its present location (“present” is 1973 text), and from there to the Dr. B. Taylor Building on the corner of W. Main and West Sts.  It was then moved to the Bank Building on State Street, and from there to its present location on W. Main St.

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Village Park

 

           The Westville Village Park was opened during the early 1920’s through the combined efforts of the Reverend Hershey of the Congregational Church, Lawrence Gaughran, Thomas Moses, and the many business people and individuals who donated money for the purchase of the land.

          During the early thirties and the depression years it was known as the Village or Community Vegetable Gardens.  Individuals helped plant and maintain vegetables in the park for a share in the crops.

          It has since served the community as a park and recreation area, and it is much in use by all members of the community.  Many individuals, businesses and organizations have contributed to make the park what it is today.  It is a truly a community park.

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Westville Churches

 The oldest Catholic Church in Westville, Ss. Peter & Paul was built in 1897 on 4 acres of ground on West Main St.  The first pastor was Rev. Joseph Maszotas.  The present rectory was built in 1919.  The statues of St. Peter and St. Paul which are placed on the main altar of the church were carved by parishioners from oak trees cut less than a mile from Westville.

St. Mary’s Church was founded in 1903, and Fr. R.P. Culleton was the first pastor.  A School Building was erected for $8,000; the upper floor was used as a church, and the lower floor as a school.  The first school building-church was known as St. Michael Institute.  The present Church was dedicated April 30, 1950.  In 1933 the School was closed and was reopened again in 1939.  In 1948 fire destroyed St. Anthony’s Church in Hegeler, and that congregation joined St. Mary’s Church.

St. Precopius Church was built on the corner of West & McKinley Streets about 1907-1908.  It is sometimes referred to as the Slavish Church due to the large number of Slavish people in the parish.  Records show that the 1st Mass was held on May 24, 1908, and Father Victor Barck was the 1st priest.  Through the years the parish continued to become smaller, and finally on March 25, 1951 the last service was held at St. Precopious Church.  The remaining parish members transferred to St. Mary’s Church or Ss. Peter & Paul Church.

The Westville Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized on June 17, 1871 by Rev. W.O. Smith at Brooks Point.   The Christian church known as Brooks Point Church was organized in April 1870 by Elder Martin.

First Congregational Church was organized in 1901 and the 1st building was dedicated in January of 1906.  Rev. Robert Atkinson was ordained as minister.  In 1940 they held a mortgage-burning ceremony for the debt of the 1st church building.  A reorganization and re-consecration of the church was held in 1950.  The present church building on Moses Ave. was dedicated September 23, 1962.

The Bethlehem Missionary Church was founded in November 1907 under the leadership of Rev. Allen White.  This church was located on E. Kelly Ave.  In 1909 the E. Church St. property was purchased, and two houses were joined together to form a place of worship, until 1918 when the present church was built.

The Church of Christ, located 1-1/2 miles west of Westville was organized in 1955.  The first phase of the building program was a basement, where the congregation worshipped for several years.  With much work from members and friends, the church was finished and dedicated on April 3, 1965.

The white Frame Church on West Main St. was built in the early 1870’s as a Presbyterian Denomination Church.  Later it was used as a Church of Christ, and still later as an independent Catholic Church at which time it was known as the Holy Cross Church.

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Westville Library

It was from an idea in the mind of Nellie Taylor Raub that resulted in the Library we now enjoy in Westville.  It was under her sponsorship that Tri Lambda Sorority was organized 1937.  The primary purpose of this organization was to provide a Library to the community.  It all started with a group of donated books which were put in circulation.  This organization held rummage sales, bake sales, dances, tag days, and other fund raising projects to raise money to establish the Library.

          Donations of books from individuals and neighboring libraries continued to accumulate, and as the collection grew, space was obtained in the Post Office building, which was lighted by an Aladdin Lamp, and was carried from place to place for the use of patrons.  Members of the Sorority gave volunteer service of two hours per month to serve in the Library.

          A village tax was voted in April 1939, and the first Library Board was appointed.  Members of this first board were:  Frank Dugas, Paul Sommers, Miss Opal Howard, Miss Ann Columbus, Miss Anne Chromis, and Miss Helen Redulis.  The Aladdin lamp was sold, and local merchants agreed to pay the electric light bill.  In 1942 a building on the present site of the Library was offered for sale and purchased by the Library Board.  With the aid of various Sorority projects the cost of the building was cleared by 1947.  The building was in poor condition and it became a goal of prime importance to build a new building.  By May 1949 enough funds were on hand to start construction of the present building.

          It is indeed a feat of no small proportions that the dedicated people of the Sorority and of the Library Board, that Westville has such a fine Library to serve the community.  There will ever be new goals for the Library and behind them a community spirit to bring them to reality.

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Westville Schools

 

Before the turn of the century at Brooks Point, East of Westville, the first school was built, as Westville began to grow.  A four room frame building was erected at the site of the old Central School, and a two-room building where Edison School was later built.  In 1909 the new eight-room Central School was completed, the old four room frame building was sold to Ss. Peter & Paul’s, and moved to their property west of the Big 4 tracks, where it was used as a school.

 †A High School District was founded in 1910 after much opposition, and in 1911 High School was started in two of the rooms of Central School.  In 1913 Edison School of eight rooms was built, and four rooms were added to Central School. The last class to graduate from Central High School was in 1918.  The present High School was completed in 1917-1918, and at that time the school system consisted of Edison School, Central School, High School, two rooms at Derring Coal Co. office building, (presently Checker Oil Co.), one room at West Side Tavern Building, (presently Silver Dollar Tap), and Washington School on E. Kelly Ave.  St. Mary’s School was also operating, but was closed in 1933 and reopened in 1939.  In 1929 an addition was added to the High School, and in 1956 Jr. High School was built on Moses Ave.  In 1967 Judith-Giacoma School as completed on Walnut St.  In the 1920’s McMillan School was built, and during the 1930’s a new brick McMillan School was built with W.P.A. funds and labor, and added to the Westville School System.  In 1920, Miss Hallie Magill opened the first Library and Kindergarten serving the church and Community until 1942.

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Westville Gas and Water 

Westville Gas Company

 

            During the early 1950’s when coal mining in Westville reached a new low and ceased to be a source of employment for Westville residents, Natural Gas entered the picture for heating and cooking.  There was considerable controversy over the best method of supplying this service to the Village.  Some held the opinion that an outside Utility Company could best serve the needs, but it was finally decided by the Village Board that the Village should handle this as a Community Utility.

          On February 1, 1955, ordinance #1060 was drawn to provide for the issuance of Gas Utility Refunding Revenue Bonds in the principal amount of $480,000.00 at 5% interest to mature between May 1961 and May 1989.  A Board of Commissioners, consisting of 4 members, and the existing Village President was formed.  Ordinances containing strict regulations were drawn to govern the operation of the Gas Company.

          Finally, on February 1, 1958, Natural Gas was furnished to customers in Westville.   At that time there were approximately 725 customers, which represented almost 98% of the resident households.  Today there are over 1500 customers in the Westville Area using Natural Gas furnished by the Gas Utility.

          Even though the last Revenue Bonds are not due until 1989, the Gas Commission has enough money held in escrow to fully refund the Gas System.  It should be further noted that since the inception of the Westville Gas Company, and in spite of numerous price increases from the suppliers, and mounting operating costs, the Gas Commission has never increased its prices to the Customers.  As a result, gas users in the Westville Area are enjoying the lowest gas rates in a wide area of the nation.

          It is through the diligence and great efforts of the Water and Gas Commissions that the residents of Westville have a good income for the various operations of their Village.  The Commission members are to be commended for their unceasing efforts.

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Westville Water System

             Our water system began in 1926, at which time water revenue bonds were issued in the amount of $170,000.00 at 5% interest, to be paid in 18 years.  However, during the 1930’s various financial difficulties arose that forced the system into receivership, which lasted until the early 1950’s.  On October 1, 1950, the unpaid principal of $170,000.00 and accumulated interest of $123,250.00 amounted to a total of $293,250.00.

          On October 1, 1950, 4% refunding water revenue bonds were issued in the amount of id="mce_marker"92,000.00, payable from then to October 1, 1979.  A Board of Water Commissioners, consisting of 4 members, and the existing Village President, was formed.  The new Board held their first meeting on March 20, 1951.  Ordinances containing very strict regulations were adopted, and have since been followed by the Board.  Since 1950 when the Water System was reorganized, at which time there were approximately 800 customers, it has grown to present day with over 1700 users.

          Although the final bonds will not be due until 1979, the Westville Water System has enough money held in escrow to fully refund the revenue bonds.  The commission is also mindful that adequate funds must be held aside for improvements and necessary repairs to a water system that is over 45 years old.  They have funds set aside for this purpose also.

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Westville, Illinois

(~299 - 325 million years ago): A Rain Forest

 ~300 million years ago, when Illinois was near the equator, Westville was covered in lush, peat-forming swamps and green vegetation.  It was the age of insects, with 6-foot-long millipedes and dragonflies with yard-long wingspans (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History).  

            It is common knowledge that there is an abundance of coal underground in the Midwest formed from fossilized plants buried in swamp ecosystems.  It is not unusual to find fossils in any of our coal mines.  What is unusual is to discover a huge geographic area of preserved trees and ferns from 300 million years ago, providing scientists with an ecological view of "what plant species were present and how they were distributed across the landscape" (Illinois State Geological Survey).

            Scientists DiMichele, Falcon-Lang, Nelson, Elrick and Ames recently discovered plant fossils in local mine ceilings that show a rain forest existed on top of a Herrin (No. 6) coal seam (Geology Science World).

According to ISGS (Illinois State Geological Survey), the Geological Society of America journal published a paper showing that paleobotanists discovered a spectacular four square miles prehistoric plant-life fossil area on the roof of two local adjacent underground Riolaand Vermilion coal mines, just southwest of Danville, Illinois.  A schematic rendition of this report was published in a Milwaukee newspaper (Arbanas):  It was the age of insects, with 6-foot-long millipedes and dragonflies with yard-long wingspans (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History).  

            It is common knowledge that there is an abundance of coal underground in the Midwest formed from fossilized plants buried in swamp ecosystems.  It is not unusual to find fossils in any of our coal mines.  What is unusual is to discover a huge geographic area of preserved trees and ferns from 300 million years ago, providing scientists with an ecological view of "what plant species were present and how they were distributed across the landscape" (Illinois State Geological Survey).

            Scientists DiMichele, Falcon-Lang, Nelson, Elrick and Ames recently discovered plant fossils in local mine ceilings that show a rain forest existed on top of a Herrin (No. 6) coal seam (Geology Science World).

Although the specific mine names are not stated, date information from these articles suggest that the mine(s) the scientists might be exploring are the Catlin Coal Company [mine name RIOLA, operated 1996-1999] and/or the Black Beauty Coal Company [mine name Riola Complex-Riola Portal, operated 1999-present] (Directory of Coal Mines in Illinois).  The mines presently are not open for public viewing.  However, you can visit the coal mining exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to see a fossil covered slab of gray roof shale from the Riola mine on display (Illinois State Geological Survey). (Contact the Village Clerk for a list of works cited and websites for those organizations.)

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