Jamesport is the metropolis of Jamesport township and was originally located on section twenty-seven of township sixty, range twenty-six, but owing to there being much land in that vicinity and a disposition on the part of the enterprising inhabitants to spread themselves, a portion of the town can be found on sections twenty-six and thirty-four, besides the original plat still located on twenty-seven. It was away back in ante bellum days that Jamesport was first settled. In the year 1858 it had a small gathering of settlers who concluded to build up a village, and with a store, a blacksmith-shop, and a few other necessary business cabins and some small dwelling-houses, Jamesport started out to achieve a world-wide reputation. Outside of its beautiful and commanding site, Jamesport had little to boast of up to the year 1870.
In 1860 it had fifty-nine inhabitants according to the census. In 1870 the census returns failed to mention the fact that the town or village still existed, but it did, nevertheless, and had grown in the last ten years from a small village of fifty-nine to the metropolitan size of about 120 inhabitants. There are very few towns with a prettier location or a more beautiful country surrounding it than has the town of Jamesport. Not only is the country around beautiful and picturesque in its appearance, but it is also rich and fertile. The town stands on a rising eminence, and on a clear day can be seen for many miles.
The year before the advent of the railroad, in 1870, its assessed valuation was $7,330. In the year 1870 the town began to throw off its sluggishness. The near advent of railroad communication with the outside world enlarged its ideas, and the people began .to realize the fact, that possibly there might be a prosperous future in store for them. Some were anxious to get rich very fast, especially those who owned real estate and wanted from. $300 to $500 per lot. This did not last long.’ A good many came, heard of the prices, and quietly left shaking the dust from their feet. This soon cured the cupidity of the real estate owners, and they learned that if they wanted the town to grow and their property to. become valuable, they must have more population, but that the new settlers would not come if they were to be robbed in the start.
In the year 1871, what was then known as the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad, now the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, was under way with a strong force, building from. Trenton, Grundy county, southwest, and James-port was to be a station on this line of road. In June, work was commenced on the depot building, to be completed by the time the cars reached that point. On July 25th the iron reached Jamesport, and the whistle of the engine of the construction train was the music the citizens heard that day. There was a general jubilee, and the smile was broad, and with some,. deep, over the great and joyful event. The population about that time had increased to 150 people, in round numbers. At that time the business was represented by four stores of general merchandise, two drug and grocery stores combined, two blacksmith shops, one harness shop, two wagon repair shops, two saloons, one photograph gallery, one hotel, one school, and a church building expected in the near future.
Among the building improvements in the summer of 1871, besides the depot building, was a warehouse by Franklin Callison, of the same size as the depot building; A. L. Willis put up a dwelling, a lumber-yard was fenced in, and Dunn & Miller commenced the erection of a large store. All this was under way before the arrival of the cars, July 25, 1871.
By Sunday night, October 10, 1871, Jamesport had so far become noted as to be visited by a genuine burglar. He called on quite a number of the business houses, and is supposed to have appropriated about $100. The merchants not being in the habit of leaving their wealth in their stores over night, he failed to make a very large haul, but as he did not appear again, the supposition was that he used his stealings to travel with.
By November 1, 1871, another drug store was added to the town, also a grocery and provision store, a hardware store, a tin-shop, and a furniture store. Jamesport was decidedly on the up-grade. Buildings were rapidly going up all over the town. From July 1 to January 1, 1872, forty dwellings and ten stores were built. In addition to these improvements a fine school building was erected, also two churches. These were pretty fair improvements considering the start; but were not all. Business kept pace with the improvements. Farmers on the west who formerly went to Gallatin, and on the east, who made Trenton, Grundy county, their place of trade, began to turn their eyes to the little giant of the prairies. They brought in their wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, and the merchants were wide-awake enough to purchase all that came and to sell goods cheap. To show something of what the business amounted to, the shipment by rail, to January 1, 1872, was thirty-five cars of hogs, ten cars of cattle, twenty car-loads of wheat and rye, three cars of potatoes, and three car-loads of hickory nuts.
That was probably the heaviest shipment of any station in the county. This was a business to be proud of; and Jamesport blowed her own horn in a way that made the sound echo and reecho over the county. They claimed to be a young Chicago, and stick to it until this day, although a decade has passed.
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