“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

St. Jacob in Madison County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

St. Jacob

The St. Louis Wagon Road

St. Jacob Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, December 25, 2019
1. St. Jacob Marker
Inscription.  In the mid 1800s, roughly a quarter-mile east of where you stand, Madison County residents carved a settlement from farm fields, prairie grass, broken forests, and the National Road.

Here, the National Road was little more than a scraped-earth track. But the track carried people, produce, mail and merchandise to and from growing markets on the Mississippi River.

Known locally as the St. Louis Wagon Road, this primitive highway brought customers from surrounding towns to St. Jacob's first businesses, and helped a smattering of shops grow into a small but viral community.

Whiskey and the Wagonyard

For early entrepreneurs Jacob Schutz, Jacob Schroth, and Jacob Willi, the National Road was a highway in need of whiskey, lodging, and a blacksmith.

Schutz, a farmer, built the town's first house on the National Road, where he sold whiskey by the gallon to passersby.

In 1849, Jacob Schroth bought land from Schutz and opened a store, tavern, and hotel complete with barn and wagonyard on the National Road. The following year, blacksmith Jacob Willi opened a shop in the growing
St. Jacob Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, December 25, 2019
2. St. Jacob Marker
Located at St. Jacob Township Park.

The businesses built by three men named Jacob- Schutz, Schroth and Willi----started a settlement that grew into the village which now bears their name.

Photo captions:

Identified by the photographer as Main Street, Douglas Street connected the National Road to the St. Louis, Vandalia and Terre Haute rail line. Built in 1879, the Commercial Hotel (right) offered a restaurant, dance floor, and pool hall. The building still stands on the 300 block at North Douglas Street.

Founded by Jacob Schroth, St. Jacob's House served as a hotel, dry goods and grocery store on the National Road.

By 1870, the St. Louis, Vandalia and Terre Haute Railroad was carrying passengers between St. Louis, Mo., and Terre Haute, Ind., with stops in National Road communities, including St. Jacob. St. Jacob's business and residential growth shifted north, moving from the National Road to the rail line.

St. Jacob Mill operated as a flour mill from the late 1800s through the late 1930s. It was refitted as a grain elevator in 1942. Remnants of the mill still stand on the north side of St. Jacob.

E.N. Peterson Lumber Yard served residents of the growing town. In this 1866 photo, the company's products are posted in English and German, an indicator of Madison County's significant German population.

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& Co., a dry goods and general store on the National Road, provided merchandise in exchange for produce. The store also offered home delivery. This 1895 photo shows proprietors Louis Rhein, Louis Frey, and Daniel Widicus, Sr.


A Road of Dirt, Rock, And Dreams

In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation to provide federal funding for a National Road. Surveyed from Cumberland, Md., to the Mississippi River, the National Road was a highway for pioneers eager to settle the West.

Today, as US 40, the National Road in Illinois spans 164 miles. From Indiana to East St. Louis, you can still see how the ambitions and accomplishments of early Illinois immigrants shaped our communities. You'll find their influence in our art and architecture, our industry and agriculture, and in our way of life. Enjoy your time on the Road.
Erected 2015 by National Road Association of Illinois.
Marker series. This marker is included in the The Historic National Road marker series.
Location. 38° 42.814′ N, 89° 46.402′ W. Marker is in St. Jacob, Illinois, in Madison County. Marker is on Park Drive just south of West Main Street, on the right when traveling south. Marker is located near the
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entrance of St. Jacob Township Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 239 West Main Street, Saint Jacob IL 62281, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Capt. Curtis Blakeman and the Marine Settlement (approx. 2 miles away); Troy (approx. 5.1 miles away); Highland (approx. 6 miles away); Illinois Remembers POW/MIA (approx. 6.2 miles away); The Deneen Family (approx. 7.8 miles away); Mermaid House Hotel (approx. 7.8 miles away); Goshen Road Terminus (approx. 10 miles away); a different marker also named Illinois Remembers POW/MIA (approx. 11 miles away).
Also see . . .  St. Jacob and Troy. From the Illinois National Road's YouTube channel, this is a short video that talks about the two villages that were on the Historic National Road. The video starts with St. Jacob.

(Submitted on January 3, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 
Categories. Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers

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Credits. This page was last revised on January 3, 2020. This page originally submitted on January 3, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 3, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
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