Elkhart Centennial, 1855-1955

Farm residence of John D Gillett on Elkhart Hill
Farm residence of John D. Gillett on Elkhart Hill

The village of Elkhart City, nestled on the western slope of a long wooded hill in the heart of Illinois, celebrated its centennial anniversary in 1955. This book, “The Village of Elkhart City, Elkhart, Illinois, Centennial History, 1855-1955,” is a comprehensive chronicle of the village’s first hundred years, compiled and written by the Elkhart, Illinois Centennial Book Committee and published by Feldman’s Print Shop in Lincoln, Illinois.

Founded in 1855, Elkhart City takes its name from the nearby Elkhart Hill, the highest point in Logan County, standing at 777 feet and covering over 600 acres. The hill, once the only timbered land between the Sangamon River and Salt Creek, was named by the Illinois Indian tribe whose totem was the Elk Heart, reflecting their belief that the hill resembled an elk’s heart.

The history of Elkhart Hill and the village is rich with early settler stories and Native American lore. One of the earliest recorded encounters involved Anne Gilham and her children, who were captured by Kickapoo warriors in 1790 and taken past Elkhart Hill to their village on Salt Creek. This dramatic episode marked the beginning of the area’s documented history with white settlers.

By the mid-19th century, Elkhart had grown from its humble beginnings into a thriving community. John D. Gillett, a prominent figure in the village’s development, moved to Elkhart Hill in 1869, and after a fire destroyed his home in 1871, he built the enduring Gillett residence. The arrival of the Illinois Traction System in 1904 and the construction of the depot in 1888 were pivotal in the village’s growth, further integrating it into the broader economic and social fabric of the region.

This centennial history book briefly details the village’s evolution, from its founding and incorporation to the growth of its infrastructure and institutions. Each segment explores different facets of the community, including its churches, schools, businesses, notable residents, and significant events such as the storms of 1870 and 1882, and the 1910 Fourth of July celebration.

Elkhart City’s centennial history also pays respect to the many individuals and families who shaped the village. The contributions of prominent citizens, such as Governor Richard J. Oglesby and Captain A. H. Bogardus, are highlighted alongside those of everyday residents whose lives and stories are interwoven into the fabric of the village’s heritage.

Through the dedicated efforts of the book committee members—Mrs. Gladys Hutchcraft, Mrs. Eleanor Lanterman, Mrs. Harvey Allen, Miss Karen Svenson, Mrs. John Merritt, Mr. James Anderson, Jr., Mr. Robert Buck, Mrs. Hugo Svenson, and historical consultant Mr. James T. Hickey—this centennial history captures the essence of Elkhart City’s first century. It serves as a lasting tribute to the village’s past, preserving its legacy for future generations.

Articles in order of appearance

The Elkhart Hill
Indian Lore
First White People
The Lathams
Kentucky House
The Edwards Trace
Town Site
John D. Gillett
Growth of Town
Business Men of Elkhart – 1885
Thomas Brennan
Elkhart Robbery
St. Patrick’s Church
Captain A. H. Bogardus
Christian Church
Elkhart Methodist Church
St. John’s Baptist Chapel
Fire Department
Elkhart’s Water Works System
Henry Stahl
William Dolvin
Samuel B. Hunter
Elkhart Cemetery
Latham Grave Yard
American Legion – Elkhart Post No. 616
First Telephones
Richard J. Oglesby
Governor Oglesby
Elkhart Public Library
Arthur Armington
Peter Lampman
Michael Tierney
James Thomas Peratt
The Elhart FFA
Future Homemakers of America
Storm of 1870
Storm of 1882
Elhart Parent Teachers Association
Home Bureau
4-H Clubs
Elkhart Grade School
Elkhart High School
At the Turn of the Century
Mrs. Lydia Cook
John C. Thomas
William J. Fulcher
James Bohan
Peter Lee
Nils Svenson
Abraham Bock
Nils Larson
Abraham Lincoln and Elkhart
Elkhart Household Science Club
American Legion Auxiliary – Elkhart Post No. 616
Elkhart Chapter no. 903 – Ancient Free and Accepted Masons
4th of July Celebration at Elkhart in 1910
John Wesley Gard
William R. Leach
Dennis Dee
Martin Raholitz
Thomas Dains

Drawing of Elkhart at the Turn of the Century
Drawing of Elkhart at the Turn of the Century


Elkhart, Illinois Centennial Book Committee, The village of Elkhart City, Elkhart, Illinois, centennial history, 1855-1955, Lincoln, Ill., Published at Feldman’s Print Shop, 1955.


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