History of Ancona, Illinois

The history of Ancona is quite similar to that of Reading. With the change of dates and names, the remarks which apply to one, might with propriety be repeated. Ancona was, however, founded on a different basis. The Great Air Line Railroad, from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Council Bluffs, Iowa, had been projected, surveyed and partially graded through this section and there was not a doubt entertained that it would be completed. Accordingly, in 1854, the town of Ancona was surveyed for Orson Shackleton and Joseph Gumm. Depot grounds were set apart and a street for a track surveyed. True to expectation, the road was graded through the village, and then Ancona real estate was held at high figures. Lots were sold out rapidly, and buildings went up as if by magic. Stores were opened and a hotel built. Orson and Benjamin Shackleton built the first house, a store, and occupied it with a stock of goods. The Shackletons were from New York, and remained here until about 1870, when they removed. L. B. Smith, who had been living in the township, and who was formerly from Pennsylvania, built the first dwelling, which was the second house in the place. He is still a resident, and occupies the same old house. William Boatman, also a Pennsylvanian, soon after erected a hotel and as this was but a short distance from the coal banks it was well patronized. Boatman afterward sold the hotel to Joel Willet, who had been living in the township. Boatman still resides in the village. Willet is dead, but the hotel is still kept open by members of the family.

Johnson Bradley came here in 1854, from Ohio, and started a wagon shop, and still carries on the trade at or near the old stand. C. R. Kyser, who had been living in the village of Reading, this year sold out his possessions there to Jacob Bussard, and came to Ancona and opened a blacksmith shop. Joseph Gumm had also been in business in Reading, and, seeing a bigger thing here, removed his store to this point. Gumm and Kyser have both gone further west.

The enterprise that did most to actually develop and give solidity to the town was the flour mill erected by Erastus Loomis, who came here from Ohio in 1857. At this time there was no such convenience in this vicinity, or for miles west, and it naturally drew a large amount of trade from the surrounding country. Wheat was then considered a good crop, and a great deal of flour was made, not only for home use but for the purpose of shipping abroad.

After a while, the railroad seemed to be a delusion; and, though it was a severe blow to the little village and the neighborhood, they did not continue to mourn. A few years subsequently, however, the mill was removed, and their hope of making this town of any great consequence went out.

Streator was built a few years ago, and has quite overshadowed this place and Reading. The Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern Railroad was constructed through here in 1872, and stations being made of these two places has given to them new life, and they are now convenient trading points.

Source: The History of Livingston County, Illinois, Wm. Le Baron, Jr. & Co., Chicago, 1878

Ancona 1898 Business Directory

Ancona is a enterprising little village of 350 people. It has Wells Fargo & Co. Express Office; Western Union day and night telegraph office and money order postoffice. The Advocate, a weekly newspaper established in 1883 is published by G. W. Mathis. There are two churches, Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. L.S. Kidd, pastor; Christian Church with 210 members, Rev. J. A. Armstrong, Pastor

During 1897, 326 cars of grain were shipped from Ancona.

1898 Business Directory:

Andrew Bradley, Contractor and Builder

Connell Thrasher, Contractor and Builder

R. H. Dodge, Dry Goods, Groceries, Hardware and Farm Machinery

G. W. Mathis, The Spot Cash Store, Manager, Dry Good and Groceries

John Coe, Grain and Lumber

Edward Miller, Grain and Live Stock

William T. Clark, Lumber and Coal

G. T. Brown, Coal

Miss Flora Wilson, Millinery and Dressmaking

Miss Nellie Stokes, Dressmaking

E. E. Perisho, Physician and Surgeon

Ancona Advocate, G. W. Mathis, Publisher

G. Fordyce, J. P., Real Estate, Loans, Fire Insurance and Collections

G. W. Mathis, Postmaster and Real Estate and Loans

Jerry Ammons, Hotel

Ancona Cooperative Creamery Company,

Joseph Bradley, Wagon maker

Hiram Sanders, Barber

Frank Bradley, Blacksmith

A. Lehman, Poultry

Edward Miller, Livery and Feed Stable

L. C. Wilson, Railroad Agent

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