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A Glimpse into 1872

The local history room of the Decatur Public Library recently acquired a large map of Decatur in 1872. The map shows the different ward districts, subdivisions, and area businesses. Our area was at the forefront of economic development at the time, as the Decatur Rolling Mill Company had recently opened. Three subdivisions were established with the name "Rolling Mill Addition."

Looking at these photographs, beginning at the top left, you see the Rolling Mill and the area for the Decatur Agricultural Works just north of the railroad along North Jasper Street. In the vicinity of 16th and Pearl (the street just North of Eldorado street) was the first mine shafts for coal in Decatur.

In the top right photo you see the subdivision between Eldorado Street and Pearl, dotted with homes and a building marked "Baptist church." This is the first time a church is listed in the area. The street names are Rolling Mill Officials surnames: Witt, Stone, and Chisholm (it later was named East Avenue). On the edge of the subdivision is the Allen subdivision, and 16th street was once named Allen Street). A large region between Eldorado and William street is undeveloped.

The lower right photo shows the intersection of William and Jasper Street. There is the twenty-foot "jog" already in place as Mrs. Ann Beman, widow of Dr. Beman, had refused to sell any portion of the 40 acres between William & Wood streets. The pink line apparent along Jasper Street is the 5th Ward boundary line and official limit of the city of Decatur. The 5th Ward would later be expanded eastward.

The lower left photograph reveals the home of D.W. Samuel, superintendent of the Decatur Rolling Mill, at the northeast corner of William and present-day 16th Street. 1546 E William is the likely address of the superintendent's home. More historical research is needed on this property, as it is still standing!


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