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Macomb City

City of Macomb municipal offices are located at 232 East Jackson Street, Macomb IL 61455; phone: 217-833-1827.

Beginnings [1]

When John Baker erected his log cabin near where the high school building in the fourth ward now stands, little did he think there would spring up around it a busy little city, with all its varied industries. Time, in its unceasing round, brings many changes, and the wild prairie land, with its beautiful flowers, the perfume of which was wafted on every breeze, is now dotted over with home-like residences, from the lowly cottage to the stately mansion — the homes of those who have prospered in this life. Elegant buildings, filled with products gathered from the entire world, surround a beautiful temple of justice; while the sound of the hammer and hum of machinery are heard upon every hand.

Having a population which entitled them to the benefit of the act which authorized the organization of the counties, in the year 1830 the citizens of McDonough voted to organize. The present site of Macomb, being part of a county that was square, was selected as the place of meeting of the newly-elected Board of County Commissioners. On the third day of July in that year, the Board met and resolved that "the present seat of justice be at the house of John Baker, and that for the present the same be known as the town of Washington."

The first sale of lots in the town was in May 1831. Eleven sales were made before the entire quantity was disposed of, but which was realized $4,903.55. The cost of the same was $186.88 thereby netting $4,816.67. The assessed value of the same property is now (1877) over $600,000.

In 1831 a considerable increase to the inhabitants of the town was made. In the spring of this year James M. Campbell erected the first store building in the county, about sixty feet south of the residence of John Baker. The building was of hewn logs, covered with boards, with a puncheon floor. It was in size 18 x 18. The stock contained in that store was a wonder to behold! A conglomeration of dry goods, boots and shoes, hats and caps, hardware, iron, nails, queensware, groceries, and the inevitable barrel of whiskey, occupying a prominent place, and quite handy to the thirsty customers of the store. Moses Hinton and G. E. Robinson shortly after erected a building on the northeast corner of the square, to be used for general trade. This was a portion of the building long known as the "checkered front," and which now stands on the corner of Randolph and Carroll streets. James Clark, who had up to this time been living a little southwest of Macomb, erected a log house on the corner of West Jackson Street and the square, to be used as a tavern. Originally it had but two rooms in it, but others were added from time to time. The St. Elmo now occupies the site of this old tavern. Although the "accommodations for man and beast," so far as lodging was concerned, was limited, the culinary department was excellently managed. Wild game was abundant in those days, and the "bill of fare" always contained venison, turkey, quail, prairie chicken, rabbit, squirrel, etc., and the bread baked in those old covered skillets cannot be beat for sweetness. A "tavern," or ""hotel," has always stood upon that site, and thousands of weary travelers have found a comfortable resting place therein, and a hearty welcome.

  1. Clarke, S. J., History of McDonough County Illinois, Its Cities, Towns and Villages, 1877, Macomb Illinois
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