The Village on Downs, Illinois

There seems to be a difference of opinion in regard to the true name of this station. Priceville is the name by which the neighborhood was known for several years; when the station was established near the center of Section 4, in 1870, the railroad officials called it Downs. The same year, the Downs Post Office, which was for several years at Mr. Peasley’s house, was transferred to the station, and the post office authorities have since known it as such. Soon after, the small office of” Delta,” in Old Town; was discontinued, and all mail matter for that place was ordered sent to Downs. The reader will please take his choice. P. B. Price, son of old Father Price, laid out the town and platted fifteen blocks north of the railroad.

It is nine miles from Bloomington, on the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad, and is the only station and the only post office in the township.

C. D. Bellville, as soon as the place was laid out, built a store on the block north of the depot, and filled up with a general stock of goods. He now lives at Weedman, where he is engaged in trade. In the fall of the same year, J. A. Davis and Amos Allen built a store and put in a stock of merchandise- The following spring, the Killian brothers built and occupied another. These three were more than the trade would support, and this latter firm bought out the stock of Davis & Allen; and consolidated with their own. In 1874, the Killian Bros. sold to Craig & Rodman, who continued for about six months, when Rodman sold out; and, in the following spring, John Craig sold to his brother Joseph, who closed out the stock in 1376, and closed up the store. In the fall of 1876, Mr. Savidge moved the old storehouse from Delta, and Davis & Killian put a stock of goods in it. In the spring of 1877, C. D. Bellville made another mercantile venture, and six months later moved the goods to Kuniler, and sold the building to A. Anderson, who keeps a shoe-shop there.

In the fall of 1877, John Bellville traded his store for Kansas land to John Denham, who closed out the stock in six mouths, and sold the building to Davis; soon after this, Davis & Killian dissolved and Cowden took an interest; 0. Staten purchased the stock and good will in April, 1879.

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When Davis & Killian left the store they had so long occupied, Price Bros. opened a stock of dry goods and groceries, and ran it for a year, when they closed out the balance of their stock, and the store has not since been occupied.

In the fall of 1875, Drs. Montgomery & Chapin built and stocked the present drug store, and have continued to occupy, adding stationery, groceries and wares.

Dr. James Montgomery, the ” father of the town,” and the good physician ” for all the surrounding country, was educated in the ” Green Isle ” of his nativity, and after serving his adopted country fur three years in Capt. Walden’s company of the 94th, commenced the practice of medicine in this neighborhood. In the spring of 1871, he moved to Downs Station. His partner, Dr. S. L. Chapin, came here in the spring of 1875 ; that fall, he entered into partnership with Montgomery, and, in 1878, took up his residence in Holder, north of here, in order to better accommodate his large practice in that vicinity.

P. B. Price, either alone or with J. J. and B. R. alternately, has been engaged in grain, lumber and stock trade, at Downs, ever since the town was laid out. The business, some years, has been quite large and lucrative, but at others very unsatisfactory.

J. H. Robertson came, when the village of Delta migrated southward, in the spring of 1871 ; his blacksmith-shop was burned in 1873, and he rebuilt and took in Frank Lewis as partner. He has all the time carried on a considerable trade in agri cultural implements with his blacksmithing business. When the people of Downs wanted a Justice of the Peace who could ” temper” the spirit of the community, they elected Robertson ; he knows how to strike when the iron is hot.

J. K. Gardner sold implements here during the seasons of 1876 and 1877. The Postmasters of Downs, since the office has been located at. the station, have been C. D. Bellville, John Bellville, John A. Davis, and Oliver Staten, who was appointed April 1, 1879.

The railroad agents, successively, have been C. D. Bellville, from 1870 to 1873; J. A. Davis, till 1876 ; George Willhoite, until 1S77, and A. Daller since.

The `° Hopewell ” M. E. Church was built about 1867, at where the Hopewell Cemetery was and still is. It belonged to Old Town Circuit at that time, and became attached to Le Roy Circuit in 1873. A year later, it became a station. It is about 36×50, plain, and cost about $2,400. Thomas Twining, J. N. Savidge, John Rice, Dr. James Montgomery, J. H. Robertson, P. B. Price and James Brakey, were, among others, prominent in building this house of worship.

Revs. S. Middleton, W. C. Lacey, J. G. Bonnell, T. J. N. Simmons, assisted by George Reed, S. H. Whittock, William Willis and George Scrimger, have successively served the Church at Hopewell.

In 1878, the building was moved to Downs and repaired, at a cost of $300. Rev. Job Ingram is the present Pastor, under whose earnest ministrations the church and Sabbath school are in a flourishing condition. The church numbers 130, and the school about 100.

What is known as the ” Kickapoo Academy ” was chartered as an independent school district in 1867. The territory embraced is about four sections in Downs (including the station) and two or three in Old Town, including Gillum Station. This district has, by its charter, a Board of Education, of six members, and certain other privileges, which, by the other school districts, are deemed unfair. One of its inconveniences is, that the district embraces both Downs and Gillum Stations, and as there is but one schoolhouse, all the children which Gillum furnishes must take the railroad for two or three miles to school.

The present Board of Education consists of J. H. Robertson, President; J. B. Weaver, Secretary; J. A. Davis, Treasurer; George P. Wood, P. B. Price, John Cowden and S. Scott.

Miss Jennie Francis and Miss Wallace have been teaching; but for the summer term Miss Chatterton takes the place of Miss Francis.

The building is 24×40, two stories. Nine months’ school is maintained, and the pupils number from seventy-five to one hundred.


Le Baron, William., Jr. & Co. The History of McLean County, Illinois: portraits of early settlers and prominent men. Chicago. W. Le Baron, Jr., 1879.

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