Marion Post Office History (MDR 1960 Article)

The following appeared in a June 1960 Marion Daily Republican article and is as published.

Marion Post Office Was Closed during Civil War

Postmaster Closed Office and Moved to Bainbridge for Protection

(by John Wayne Allison)

Marion and Williamson County were a long way from the active battlefields of the Civil War 99 years ago. Still, the war had its unique effects on the community and its citizens.

Research in the annals of time have brought forth the relationship of Marion and Bainbridge now an extinct community living only in the pages of history, came to the rescue of Marion during a crisis in postal service in the year 1861. In fact, Bainbridge can be regarded as the parent stock for all of Williamson County as well as being the first community in the county to have postal service established.

The records show that Bainbridge was situated in Section 16 of West Marion Township. It is difficult to visualize buffalo trails as the main route of transportation in the area and that Indian camps dotted the landscape. This picture was presented of the territory here prior to the pushing of the nation westward. Bainbridge became the natural spot for settlers to pick out in 1813. The location was near the edge of Phelps Prairie, where one of the trails from the Fort Massac to Kaskaskia was situated. Even George Rogers Clark passed this way in July of 1783 on his way to Fort Kaskaskia.

It was only natural that a trading post should spring up at a place where such important trails carried the commerce of the day. This was the main route from Jonesboro to West Frankfort. A post road was established by 1839. In later years, Bainbridge was only 15 miles by stage line from Frankfort. Continue reading

The Illinois Confederates

Southern Illinois in 1861 was inhabited to a great extent by families who had migrated from Virginia and Kentucky in search of new farm land. It is not surprising that when secession came there should be considerable sympathy for the South in this section of a Union state.

On April 15, 1861, a resolution was passed by a local citizens’ committee in Marion, Williamson County, Illinois, supporting the Confederacy and protesting the use of Illinois troops in suppressing the Southern states. Thorndike Brooks and Henry C. Hopper were among the leaders of this pro-Southern group and soon set about recruiting a company.

The company was raised in Williamson and Jackson counties. Great precautions were necessary to prevent the entire group from being arrested before they even got started. By this time Union forces had occupied Cairo and more troops were pouring into Southern Illinois.

About 45 men were recruited and met six miles south of Marion on May 25. The scene that followed must have been similar to that enacted in many Southern towns during this period. Speeches were made by the leading citizens of Marion encouraging the men to go forth and defend the rights of the South. Some members of the company even alleged after the war that John A. Logan, who was then Congressman from the district in which the company was raised, knew about its organization and gave encouragement to many of its members. It was with some bitterness in later months that the members of the Illinois company learned that Logan was a Union general and many of the same citizens who had addressed them as they left had also joined the Union Army. Continue reading