The following is an excerpt from my book Tales of Coles County, a collection of history, folklore, and true crime from one of the most interesting counties in Illinois. Order it in paperback or Kindle today.
Dog Town, on Clear Creek in Hutton Township, straddled Coles and Cumberland counties (Cumberland County separated from Coles in 1843) and was among Coles County’s earliest settlements, getting its nickname from the large number of dogs kept there. Among the first white children born in the county was a son of James Nees, a resident of Dog Town, in March 1827.
When Abraham Lincoln’s family first entered Coles County in 1830, they came through this quiet hamlet before ultimately settling west of Decatur. Nicholas McMorris was appointed its first postmaster on October 12, 1869.
According to The History of Coles County (1879), Dog Town was “an accidental collection of houses” with a store, post office, shops, and a Presbyterian church. It was also known as Diona. The L.D. Rothrock General Store, a two-story brick building with a meeting hall on the second floor, was erected in 1880. The post office closed in 1904.
Today, the remains of Dog Town can be found approximately 1.9 miles south of Fox Ridge State Park off Route 130 at County Road 1800 E and 1400 N (GPS coordinates 39.37572, -88.14027). Rothrock’s General Store building is still standing alongside a handful of homes.
Bachelorsville (aka Batcheldorsville or Dudley’s Settlement) in Ashmore Township was one of the first settlements in Coles County. Its postmaster, Laban Burr, was appointed on May 14, 1830. As its name implied, its first settlers were all single men. Guilford Dudley, who lent his name to a nearby creek and schoolhouse, opened a store where he sold cakes and pies, leading to the nickname “Pietown”.
Guilford and his brothers James and Moses were originally from New Hampshire. When they raised their first barn, they christened it “The bachelor’s delight, and the pride of the fair.”
Batcheldorsville appeared on maps of Illinois in 1838 and 1842, but like Hitesville and St. Omer, it died out when the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railroad went through Ashmore. Bachelorsville was approximately eight miles east of Charleston and three miles south of Ashmore along what is today N County Road 2420 E, south of the Dudley School. The old Dudley School is located on E County Road 860 N near GPS coordinates 39.503924, -88.031147.
“String Town” is another vanished settlement in Hutton Township. Never a formal village or town, The History of Coles County (1879) described it as a “thickly-settled neighborhood” with mechanic-shops, a saw mill, church, and store owned by Thomas Goodman. By 1879, only the church and a handful of houses remained. Stringtown Cemetery is located at the intersection of County Road 300 N and 1920 E (GPS coordinates 39.41996, -88.11565).
- Charleston and Mattoon Bicentennial Commissions. History of Coles County, 1876-1976. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1976.
- Coles County, Illinois Cemeteries Map. Coles County Genealogical Society, 2001.
- Coles County Map & Tour Guide. Phelps Map Service, 2011.“Discovering Coles County Driving Tours.” Journal Gazette (Mattoon) 22 June 1979.
- “Diona, Johnstown, Farmington Rich in History.” Daily Journal-Gazette and Commercial-Star (Mattoon) 7 January 1935.
- Perrin, William Henry. The History of Coles County, Illinois. Chicago: W. Le Baron, 1879.