Businesses in Omega, Illinois
Omega, Marion Co., Illinois
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Dolores (Ford) Mobley – Dolores@ford-mobley.com
208 Joan Dr.; Divernon, IL 62530; (217) 625-7527
Gladys (Corrie) See – firstname.lastname@example.org
408 S. Washington St.; Kinmundy, IL 62854; (618) 547-7731
(From "Omega (1823-1973)")
Early Settlers of Omega Township
Previous Marion County Histories give the following account of settlers coming to this locality for the years 1829 - 1836. It is hoped that the family histories which have been compiled from old deeds, land abstracts, and other family records will add much to the information already printed in these County Histories.
Adam Gallaway erected a good log house in Section 13 in 1829 and improved 40 acres. Frederick Songer bought this claim and moved with his family on it in the Spring of 1835. In 1838 he entered the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 13. Clyde Jones now lives on this farm. Henry H. Pyles, a native of Tennessee and wife Rachel (Tinkler) moved here from Iuka in 1830 and raised a family of nine children. Richard Pyles, with wife and several children from Kentucky, settled on Section 16. (He was a noted hunter,) A small daughter died and was the first grave in the Millican Cemetery. They moved to Missouri in 1834. It was there he was named “Dick, the Bear Hunter”. David England, wife and six children from Tennessee settled on Section 29 in 1832. They moved to Texas in 1857. Also coming to this township in 1832 was Daniel Lovell, born in Virginia and settled on Section 16 with his family. Some of his descendants are residents of the township. Israel Bozarth, wife and two children emigrated from Kentucky in 1832 and settled on Section 23. They moved to Iowa in 1846. Markham C. Lovell, son of Daniel Lovell moved to the township with his wife Polly (Hensley). He had moved with his father to the county in 1829, and to Omega in 1831. The early settlers all settled on public land. Beginning in 1836 land grants were given at a nominal price, usually $1.25 per acre. All lived in log houses which were poorly provided with light a hole cut in the wall serving as a window minus the glass. The fireplace was made to take in large quantities of big wood to make sufficient heat to keep the family reasonably comfortable. Many of the homes had no protection overhead other than the board roof. In some of them the only floor was mother earth. At that time the friction match was unknown. If the fire went out it had to be started with flaxtow. Their supply of cooking utensils consisted of a skillet, a teakettle, and a coffee boiler.
The farmers cultivated small farms with teams of horses or oxen. Corn was grown to feed cattle and horses. Hogs were fattened with white oak acorns and some corn. Both deer and turkey were plentiful. Small orchards of apples, peaches, and pears were grown. The women had to spin and weave the cloth to clothe the family. Flax was grown, cleaned, and spun to make linen. Sheep were raised to provide wool to be carded and spun for winter clothing. The stockings had to be knitted - all done at home. The stock had to be protected from wild beasts. Sheep and calves were penned near the house. The wolf was the most destructive of the wild beasts. There were three kinds, the small prairie wolf, the large black, and gray wolves. Not withstanding all these things, some of the pioneers laid the foundation for a good comfortable living in the after part of life. The first schools were subscription schools. The Lovell school in Section 20 was taught by William Hadden in 1838. It was a log building 26 x 20 feet. The next school was on Section 27, in a log cabin with no floor but the earth. Silas Litteral taught two terms in 1838 and 1839, at $2 per quarter for each pupil, largely paid in coon skins. About 1839 or 1840 in Section 23 a subscription school was taught by Alexander Kyle. Subjects taught were spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The early preachers were: Thomas L. Middleton, Vincent Wm. Chaffin, Joseph Hellems, Cy Wright, John A. Williams, and David R. Chance. Bee Branch Church, the first in the township, was erected in 1845 on Section 30.
The first mill was run by water power on Lost Fork on Section 14. It was built by Israel Bozarth at a cost of $50; its’ capacity was four or five bushels per day. The next was a saw and grist mill, built by John Onslott on Section 35, and cost $500, and had a capacity of forty or fifty bushels per day. This was on Skillet Fork and it sawed the first lumber of the township.
The first blooded cattle, of the Durham breed, were brought here from Tennessee by W.W. Sommers, who was an importer of blooded sheep of the Cotswold breed.
The first crime committed, within the limits of the township was the stealing of a horse from Richard Chaffin, about the year 1874. The thieves, Reuben and Robert Black, were both residing in the township. One broke jail and stole a second horse, but was overtaken on the Illlinois River, which he was trying to cross, having stolen a gun to pay his ferriage. Both received a sentence of eleven years in the penitentiary.
The first Omega school-house was erected in 1856. It was a frame building 28 x 24 feet. William Duncan and Katie Elder were thought to be the first teachers.
Excerpts from an old school ledger gives the year 1891 as the date the above building was replaced by another. The school board, Wm. Southward, R.M. Schooley, and J.W. Arnold met and awarded the contract to N.B. Turner for building a new schoolhouse on the same location for $514 and $10 for the bellrey. Later seats and desks were bought for $45.00.
The first to teach in this building were Mrs. Wise at $30.00 per month for five months, and K.K. Boynton at $40.00 for four months. This building was used as a school until the rural schools consolidated. It is now the Omega Town Hall.
This is an agriculture township, consequently the population remains low. Modern machinery and better farming methods have resulted in larger farms. Many of the young people go elsewhere for employment.
In the early history of our country, once the eastern states ceded their overlapping “sea to sea” claims to the Federal Government, a great interest in western emigration was aroused. For the great “Northwest Territory”was a vast region of fertile land with virgin soil to be had for homesteading for very little monies”.
The Federal Government adopted the Ordinance of 1787 governing this territory which now comprises the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and this ordinance was one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history. It forbade slavery, it provided a generous plan for statehood rights, it guaranteed religious freedom and provided for schools in a clause which is today famous in our educational system “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever by encouraged”. Little wonder then that when such news reached the ears of families in the east, wagon trains and groups guided by “Land Companies” began their trek to this promised land.
In 1881 Omega’s land valuation was less than $100,000. A far cry from the rolling farms with modern homes, its’ State Park and Omega (Forbes) Lake, its’ camping grounds and fisheries. True, by the way of the pioneer was hard but in its path are generations of citizens of honor, hardihood, and distinction. The staunch pioneer families of this township have done their share toward a progressive Marion County.
When a group of Omega citizens, who were interested in a railroad, met in a town meeting an interesting proposition was adopted. Namely, to impress the railroad engineers with the virtues of the community it was decided to contact a steamboat captain in St. Louis and have him bring back from New Orleans a consignment of frozen fresh oysters - something hard to come by in those days, especially in towns far from the seashore. It was arranged and when a returned river steamer brought to St. Louis a box of oysters in ice, men on horseback went to meet the steamer and carry to Omega the consignment of oysters. The oysters were transferred from the iced box to leather bags containing ice. Then they rode from St. Louis to Omega with the oysters which were served to the railroad engineers at a banquet. They were impressed so much that the Omega people thought that the railroad would surely come this way. Later on, the engineers were feasted by citizens of Centralia, who in turn provided a banquet. Later on, the city of Centralia won the railroad. It was never learned what they fed the engineers.
A History of the Village of Omega
According to Brink’s History of Marion and Clinton County, the Village of Omega was founded by Timothy Baldwin in 1856. He was later killed in the Civil War in 1865. He built the first house which was of frame construction. It was located somewhere near the present house of Hazel See Millican, widow of Roy Millican. The basis for this belief is the fact that the land on that corner was bought from a son of T. Baldwin by Robert J. Millican, the father of Roy Millican.
The Post Office in Omega was established in 1855 and the first postmaster was a Ralph F. Baldwin. The Post Office at Omega was out of existence in 1904 with the event of R.F.D. (Rural Free Delivery). It is believed the last postmaster of the Omega Post Office was Samuel G. Copple. Mrs. Valeria VanCleve Schooley who moved to Omega Township in 1901 at the age of thirteen, remembers going over to the Copple Store to get their mail when they came to town to trade. Many Postmasters served the village. Among those were Ben Baldwin, father of Emma Barbee, a relative of Helen Wantland Millican’s mother, Margaret Earl Davis Wantland. Mark Hensley and Robert J. Millican were postmasters in the eighties. Helen Wantland Millican had a card sent to her great Uncle, E.B. Davis, signed by Robert J. Millican postmaster in 1880 telling him that he had a registered letter at the Post Office.
The first blacksmith shop in Omega was built by Captain Elder and operated by R.M. Rogers. In 1881, according to Brink’s History there were two blacksmith shops in Omega, Cox & Lockes, and R.D. Barnes. We believe that one of the above were wagon makers rather than blacksmiths. Mrs. Valeria VanCleve Schooley says that, “when the father of Robert M. Schooley ran the blacksmith shop that the shop building was two stories with a wagon shop in the upper story”.
Robert M. Schooley operated a blacksmith shop in this building just south of the house of Mrs. Schooley. This building burned in 1937.
The front of the building was the original with an addition which was built in 1920.
After his father died, Ray Schooley continued to work at the trade in which he had helped his father these many years.
The last blacksmith to operate in Omega was Andrew Mulvany, the father of Howard Mulvany, who resides in Omega today. Andrew operated the shop for a couple of years around 1949 and 1950.
The first Grist Mill to be located in Omega was that of Robert Davis, and was built in 1868. The mill could grind 200 bushels of corn and 35 bushels of wheat a day. No note was made as to the location of this mill but we think that it was in the area of the old house just south of the present day Gunshop (Claude Rose’s Block Building). The reason for this belief is the fact that See Millican remembers skating on an old mill pond when he was going to grade school at Omega. This was also the site of the Schooley Mill, both grist and Sawmill. This was operated by Milt Schooley and Frank Schooley. In 1901 Mrs. Valeria VanCleve Schooley says “the sawmill there sawed the logs for my father’s house located in what was then called the Frog Pond Area”. John A. Phillips and Son were operating the Grist Mill in 1881.
In 1881 the Dry Goods and Grocery Store was operated by Hammond and Hensley. Later Mark Hensley operated a store in Omega followed by his sons Clark and Frank Hensley.
There was once a drug store in Omega but as to who the druggist was, there is no record. It was located east of the square on the north side of the road. Scott Kniseley also ran a store in Omega.
In 1901 there were three stores in Omega, one on the north east side of the square Samuel G. Copple operated, on the south east side Robert J. Millican had a store, and on the south west corner of the square John Walkington was in the store business.
The village of Omega has had a number of doctors during it’s history. In 1881 the village had two doctors, a J.J. McComb and a T.L. Smith. In the records of the Omega Church a Dr. Thomas was a member of the Omega Presbyterian Church in 1877. He was only in Omega for about a years time.
All the stores in Omega were used as Post Offices. At various times the store keepers were the Postmasters, Hensley, Copple, and Millican.
The old Copple Store Building was used for Church of God meetings with Samuel J. Miller sometimes preaching. Harry Sproat, Gale Boston, Nellie Walkington and Virgil See operated stores in the Copple Building. Leslie Eblin was the last to operate a store there until 1946 when he moved into a new block building that he had constructed. This building is now a store under the ownership of Eugene Mulvaney. The third store site was an old, now vacant, building located between the old blacksmith shop and Claude Rose’s store building. Maurice “Pete” White started out buying cream in this building. Joe Luttrell started a small store followed by Lloyd Fish, Robert “Bob” Sills, Howard and Buren Mulvaney. Zilpha See Jones bought them out and operated in this building for a short time. In 1947 she moved into the building owned by Claude Rose. The following merchants followed her: Leroy See, George Fisk, Verl Bartley, Pete White, Buren and Howard Mulvaney, Charles Sanders, and last Ronnie Luttrell. At the present time the building is occupied by the Trading Post, better known as the Gun Shop, operated by James R. Sommerville.
When Roy Millican started a store in Omega (1919) in the building where his father had operated, there were three stores in Omega. The store operated by Roy was a barbershop, Grocery Store, Dry Goods Store, Shoe Store, a buyer of chickens, rabbits and eggs. He also bought cream and did Notary work. He retired as a merchant in 1939.
John A. Kagy (schoolteacher) was running a store where the Hensley building was located. John had bought out Marion “Fuzz” Phillips, who had bought out C.L. Millican, the grandfather of Margaret Millican.
The first garage was operated by Claude Beard in the old store building vacated by J.A. Kagy. This later became Hugo Wagoner’s Garage, which because of the new pavement coming into Omega, was moved to the north east corner of the square. The Millican store building was also torn down by the Highway Department to make way for the new road. The Copple Store and adjoining house had been torn down some years ago.
For many years, Omega had a telephone switch board with many lines coming into it. One of the early switch board operators was Mary Copple, wife of Samuel G. Copple. One of her early day operators was Anna Keller Shaffer. Mrs. Robert J. Millican also operated the board. Some of the other operators were the Forrest Cheeley family, on several different occasions, Mrs. Bert Wantland Prather, Mrs. Neil Ferrell, Ervin and Maria Hays Long. The last operators were Douglas and Eileen Marlow. After this two drops were purchased in the Iuka exchange, until finally the Bell Telephone took over.
The restauranteurs of Omega were Lewis Hampsten, Gertrude Nauert, Cecil Branch and wife Betty (Simer), Lester and Marie Branson Mulvaney, Douglas and Eileen Marlow. The last was Edward Herrington.
Margie Wright ran an ice cream stand for a number of years in Omega.
At the present time the following businesses are being operated: Eugene Mulvaney has the only grocery store, located on the southwest corner of the crossroads. A garage on the lot where the Copple Building is owned by Hugo Wagoner. Charles Hanks owns a bait and fishing equipment shop. His daughter, Sharon, operated a beauty shop in his home. Ford See Millican has a greenhouse. The Gunshop is operated by James R. Somerville.
Omega Lake and Stephen A. Forbes State Park
About 1955 rumors were circulated that a lake and park were proposed for the Omega area by the Illinois Conservation Department.
The news was received with mixed emotions by the home and landowners. While they realized that we have to yield to change and progress, many would have to seek a new home. Some of the older people living on small farms were unable to buy a modest home in neighboring towns for the offer received for their present home.
They did expect the park would receive a local name such as Marion County Conservation Park, like the McLean County Conservation Park east of Bloomington, or the Sam Dale Conservation Area in Wayne County. When it was learned that another name was proposed, a group of women circulated a petition which was sent to the State Department of Conservation asking that this park and lake which had been placed in our community be given a local name. An answer was received saying that it was too late to change the name of the park, but the lake would be named Omega Lake.
The Old Sorghum Mill
Years ago south of Omega, where Mr. and Mrs. Harold E. Long now live, was the old sorghum mill last run by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Correll, Albert Correll’s mother and father. People came from a distance with their cane, raised in their fields to make old fashioned molasses. At the close of the season a party night was held and a taffy pull took place. All were invited and enjoyed this candy making. Molasses was used on biscuits for cookies, ginger cake, etc. in the good old days.
The Cider Making and Apple Butter Mill
The cider making and apple butter were old timers and everyone enjoyed them.
This was on the Mike Cane farm south of Siloam School just in the edge of Iuka Township. People came from far and near. The women spent a day peeling and coring apples to make up the next day’s butter. You used the apple peeler for faster work and you had an appointment to get your butter made. Here was where you met new acquaintances, for you were there for hours sometimes with strangers. Wagons were drawn with horses or mules for miles to make the trip. Large 5 gallon jars or larger were used to store the apple butter in and a cloth tied over the jars and a board over the top, then stored for winter use. Imagine the fact of that kind of care.
The cider was made here and people took sugar and Mr. Cane knew how much to put in each and also some spices helped turn out a lovely lot of cider apple butter.
Lovell Grove Christian Church (also known as 1880 Church)
History records that the members of this early congregation met in the early 1850's and worshipped in a log house about two miles southwest of the present chapel. William Chaffin organized this group and it was known as Bee Branch Church. After fire destroyed this log building, services were held for a time in the Omega School House. This school house, a log building, stood southwest of the village. The church register lists the following names as members of the church at that time and the year of their baptism. Henry F. Kelchner, baptized 1850; Lucy Kelchner (Henry’s wife) 1855; Frances M. Farson (Mrs. H.C.) 1860, H.C. Farson 1862, Julia Lovell (Lacey) 1867; Ida M. Kelchner 1878; Mrs. James Presgrove, 1878.
On Dec. 11, 1879, a business meeting was held at the residence of H.A. Vandusan and plans were made to purchase land and build a new church building. The building committee was S.W. Lovell, John Beck and H.A. Vandusan. Soon after this meeting, the following land transaction took place. This is the description:
The Grantor, Markam C. Lovell of the County of Marion and State of Illinois for consideration of $5.00 conveys and warrants to James Kennedy, J.R. McGraw, H.C. Farson, Trustees of the Church of Christ in Omega Township and their successors in office, the following described real estate, one Sq. Acre off the N.E. corner of the S.E. quarter of N.W. Quarter of Section 20 in T.3NR 4 E in Marion County, Illinois signed Dec. 29, 1879 by M.C. (X- his mark) Lovell; W.W. Rogers, J.P.
Mr. John Beck was the carpenter and the church building was completed late in the year 1880. For many years the church was referred to as 1880 and occasionally we still hear it called the 1880 Church.
The first meeting held in the new building was Dec. 11th of that year with R.P. Henry of Flora, Ill. giving the dedicatory discourse. Wesley McGraw was assisting elder. James McGraw and S.W. Lovell were chosen as deacons.
Some of the more prominent families of the church the next few decades, in addition to the above named, were the Millicans, Smiths, Brandeburys, S.G. Copple and wife, Morrows, Robinsons, Simers, Swalleys, and Walkingtons.
In the early days, the church ministers included Henry Vandusan, William Chaffin, John A. Williams, John Tinkler, David R. Chance and W.J. Simer. The latter served perhaps for a longer period of time than the others, as records show he ministered to the Lovell Grove congregation for thirty years. Too, it is reported, he often gave to the church half of the pay he received from them.
Some of the later ministers were Albert Millican, Paul Marteeny, George Kelley, Irvin Hays, Chester Edque, Thomas H. Wilson, Russell Ross, Floyd Stabler, Cecil Cochran, Glen Hawkins, Terry Graham, Tim Fry, and James Flanigan. Brother Ernie Donoho, our present minister, has filled the pulpit faithfully for over five years. He was ordained a minister of the gospel Aug. 11, 1968 at our church by Brother Phil Young of St. Louis Christian College.
Elders and deacons at the present time are Ole Anderson, Merle Walkington, Howard Mulvaney, Merle See, Virl See, Leon Baker, and Gene Baker.
We are a small country church located one mile south of Omega, serving the community and providing spiritual need, meeting Sunday morning and evening each Lord’s Day. We invite all who wish to come and worship with us.
Omega Presbyterian Church
One hundred and twenty-nine years ago (from Nov. 1973), the Omega Presbyterian Church was organized by the famous Presbyterian Circuit Rider, William Finley. This was the year of 1844. All this happened in the home of Jacob Earl who lived in Lovells Prairie.
The first members of this original church were Jacob Earl, Thomas Hadden, Elizabeth A. and Sarah A. White, Alexander Millican, Jane Howard, William Howard, Isaac Eagan, Martha Hadden, James C. Lackey, and Eliza L. Morris. John Walls was the first minister of this congregation. Sept. 5, 1863 is the first record relative to building a church. The church building was completed sometime in the sixties.
From 1844 to 1884 Alexander Millican was clerk of the session. The first babies baptized into the Omega Presbyterian Church, according to the existing records, were Galvin E. Morris, son of Mrs. Eliza Hadden and Maria E. Millican, daughter of Alexander Millican. These took place on March 7, 1845. The last recorded infant baptisms were those namely of Dorothy and Harold Fields and Willadean Kniseley on June 8, 1919. Rev. William Finley did the honors for the first two, and Rev. John Hamerson did the last three.
Upon perusing the records of the Omega Presbyterian Church, we find the names of many of our ancestors. Here are some that might be familiar to you: Millican, Hadden, Beard, Phillips, Kniseley, Smith, Baldwin, Gramley, Stockley, Southward, Davis, Painter, See, Walkington, Schooley, Cheeley, Marlow, Ravens, Rose, Rolf, Kelchner, Bosley, Alderson, Baker, and Hensley. This is not all the members by any means, but the ones we all are probably most familiar with.
As late as 1898 the church was dismissing people for dancing. Sister A. Hudson was cited and read out of the church for dancing.
The original church building burned in 1916. The present church was built by Ed Bosley and was finished and dedicated in 1918. The Rev. John Hamerson preached the dedication sermon. As was and still is the custom, a basket dinner was held after the morning service.
In May 1961, the annex or addition to the present church was started. On Nov. 22, 1961 the addition was completed at a cost of $1,048.81, with all labor donated.
The names of five generations of Millicans appear on the rolls of the Omega Presbyterian Church. These are Alexander, Robert, Roy, See, and Richard.
(from the book "Omega (1823-1973)")
Copple Store building
(from "Omega (1823-1973)")
Picture taken in Village of Omega May 22, 1915 shows a 1910 Model Aultman-Taylor Steam Engine belonging to Clarence Smith, the larger man standing on the platform. Next to him is his brother Bryan and seated on the coal box is Amos Wilcoxen. In the rear is Raymond Smith on the water wagon, and through the tree boughs one sees the Star Cut Plug Tobacco sign on the side of an Omega Store Building.
(from "Omega (1823-1973)")
Omega, Illinois photo
Omega, Illinois photo
(BO-1) Millican store in Omega
(BO-2) Fisk's Store
(BO-3) Fisk's Store
The Omega Townhouse (from "Omega (1823-1973)")
Mulvaneys grocery - 1971 (Owners: Eugene & Sue Mulvaney)
Mulvaneys grocery - 1972
Omega Grocery - 1984
Omega Grocery - 1988
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