Progress, Illinois, Union County

The Stafford Headstones, Progress Illinois. Photographed in 1940. The Stafford Headstones, Progress Illinois. Photographed in 1962. Progress Lane. Photographed in 1992. GEDCOM Files The Stafford burial plot, Progress Cemetery, Union County, Illinois. The first cameo shows the headstones for James Thomas Stafford and his first two wives. That should be James's stone in the center, with Martha Ellen's to his left and Manervia (the spelling on the headstone) Jane's to his right. Several other Staffords are buried in the same plot. The second cameo was taken in 1962; that is Margaret Frances Townes, daughter of Lola Stafford Townes, standing to the right of her ggrandfather's headstone. Her ggrandmother Martha Ellen, James's first wife, is to her right. Notice how much the foliage has grown up in 22 years. The third cameo shows her brother, William Warren Townes, standing in almost the same spot 30 years later. That's his ggrandmother Stafford at his right and his ggrandfather Stafford at his left. On the back of the photo William has written "Liberty Cemetery at Progress, Illinois, south of Grassy [Lake] and Devil's Kitchen Lake." The actual data for all people in this site is available in GEDCOM files, which can be downloaded and imported into any genealogical program. Just click the file cabinet icon at the right of this paragraph. Please send any comments, corrections, suggestions, etc., about these pages to Lee Hill.

Progress Lane. Photographed Summer of 2000 by Lee Hill. Union County has put up a "Progress Ln" sign that marks the narrow gravel road leading to the Progress "ghost town" and the cemetery. I took this last summer. The road we're looking down is running toward the east. It quickly breaks sharply south, and if we could draw a straight line from the road sign some 2-3 miles southwest, the line would pass through the Water Valley Cemetery. The remains of Progress and the cemetery are about a half mile back from this sign.

James Thomas Stafford's home in Progress Illinois, probably the southeast-facing side James Thomas Stafford's home in Progress Illinois, probably looking south The two photos at the beginning of this paragraph were taken in 1966. This was the home of James Thomas Stafford, postmaster of Progress. The nine Stafford children were raised in this home. As of this writing, April 2001, it has completely collapsed and only the cellar remains. I think Progress Lane passes closeby to the left of the second photo; Union County maintains this lane, and it is traversible by car for about one-quarter mile west, where it stops at the Progress cemetery.

Log cabin, Progress. Photographed about 1966. Log cabin ruins, Progress. Photographed Summer of 2000 by Lee Hill. These two shots are of a very early log cabin at Progress. It's on the left (south) side of "Progress Ln" just a few yards before you get to the Progress cemetery. The first shows it some 30 years ago, and the second shows it in 2001. I would love to know which family built it and lived there--but I don't. You can still see the adze marks on those hand-hewn timbers. I suspect it was built by an early settler in the first half of the 19th century, who preceded later settlers at Progress.

Collapsed barn at Progress. Photographed Summer of 2000 by Lee Hill. This is a shot of the barn, which is adjacent to what's left of the Stafford house at Progress. This is the roof, and it's obviously collapsed. As you can see, the woods are reclaiming it. This may be the barn where John William Stafford, the first son of James Thomas Stafford, was kicked in the face by a horse, creating a scar he carried the rest of his life. We are now looking back toward the Progress Ln sign. The barn has come down quickly; my uncle, William Townes, and I visited it in the early 1990s, and--like the much earlier log cabin--it was still standing then. I suspect storms brought down the barn and cabin, they have collapsed so quickly.

The Stafford burial plot at Progress. Photographed Summer of 2000 by Lee Hill. Paul Townes at the Stafford burial plot at Progress. Photographed Summer of 1997. Post Office at Progress, photographed 4 July 1971. Progress Cemetery, northwest corner. Only Staffords are buried in this corner. The large empty rectangle in front of the Stafford plot was once occupied by the Liberty church, which was moved at some point, maybe when Progress was abandoned. That's why no one is buried in that rectangle. Of the three large headstones, James Thomas Stafford's is the middle one. His first wife, Martha Ellen Hiller Stafford, is buried to James's right, and his second wife, Minerva Jane Hiller Stafford (sister of Martha Ellen) is buried to his left. I think the smaller stone to the left of Minerva's stone is that of a Stafford child. Other Stafford children are buried closeby; Flora May, a five-year-old girl, is buried about ten feet in front of her father, though her headstone doesn't show. I shot the first photo on a beautiful summer day in 2000. The brilliant green grass in the foreground obscured some details. Comparing this shot with the black-and-white photos in the first paragraph shows how much foliage has grown up. The second photo looks like it was shot on the same day, but it was actually taken during Barby Townes Hinkle and Rebecca Townes Vincent's visit to Illinois in the summer of 1997. The third shot was taken of the Stafford home/postoffice in 1971.

This link points to the pioneer routes into Illinois. The Cumberland Road is conspicuous in the map. Paul Halcott Townes once told me that the original Townes settlers crossed into Illinois and on to Missouri through the Cumberland Gap.

The following information is quoted from Glenn J. Sneed's Ghost Towns of Southern Illinois (1977):

"The Star mail route from Oakville to Makanda passed by the Mangram farm in 1890. Mr. Mangram built a store beside his farmhouse. Mangram opened Progress Post Office in his store January 15, 1891. A building was built of rough native lumber across the road from the store. A blacksmith shop was opened in it. All this was in the northwest quarter of section 1, township 11, range 1 east.

"The Illinois Central Railroad built a branch from Carbondale to the newly sunk coal mines in Williamson County. Then mail moved by rail and the Star route was discontinued. Progress Post Office was closed December 15, 1917. A few years later the farm tractor replaced the horse for farming. There were no horses to shoe and plough sharpening alone would not support the blacksmith and his family. The shop was closed.

"The store passed from Mangrams to Loria Treese. She closed it in 1929. In 1934 Progress was sold to the federal government as part of Crab Orchard Lake Reservation. Treese moved away and the house, store and the blacksmith shop were left standing. In the forty years since that day it has deteriorated into ruins.

"Today it is leased to Southern Illinois University and is part of the school's Outdoor Laboratory. Students often visit Progress as a 'ghost town'. Ghost town it is for the clang of the anvil and the neigh of the mail horse is heard only in the memories of those who once came here for mail, to get a horse shod or a plough sharpened. A wall of the store has fallen down and the mail boxes can be easily seen. Soon Progress will be moldered away."

John Stafford's Second Grade Certificate I'm not sure when John William Stafford left Progress. He was apparently educated in Jackson County, somewhat to the north. (Carbondale is in Jackson County.) I found a Second Grade Certificate, signed on 18 August 1892 by the Jackson County Superintendent. (I later found second-grade certificates for 1889 and 1891 and a Union County first-grade certificate for 1890.) John would have been 24. I am guessing that this second-grade certificate entitled him to teach second grade. It had to be renewed once per year, probably just before school started. From a possible 100 points, John scored 89 in Orthography, 85 in reading, 86 in writing, 90 in arithmetic, 87 in grammar, 91 in geography, 92 in history of the United States, 90 in physiology and hygiene, 85 in methods of teaching, with an overall average of 86. He had 13 months experience in teaching. Later in his papers, I found a contract (dated 12 September 1892) between himself and school district 7 of Jackson County, to teach school for $35 per month for six months.

Dr. Frank M. Agnew in front of his home in Makanda, Illinois. Image size is 277 KB We know he lived a while on the farm in rural Union County, whose ruins the Townes children visited in the summer of 1997. Correspondence to him in the 'teens is to a Carbondale address, RFD 5 or 6. I think he bought a house (or the land for a house be built) at 407 W. Sycamore street in Carbondale for $545 from an F.M. Agnew, MD, who lived in Makanda, IL. It looks like his payments were $38.15 per month to pay off the house in three years at 7%. I have a mortage signed by the Staffords and Dr. Agnew dated 2 December 1916, so I'm not too sure about these numbers. He paid the house off on 26 September 1924 to H.E. Agnew, maybe Dr. Agnew's brother or son. I have two typed letters from Dr. Agnew to John, dated 4 December 1917 and 4 December 1918. They are good to read because they provide a look into the character of Dr. Agnew and indirectly into the character of our ggrandfather, whom he chose to address as "Friend." The image at the right of this paragraph points to a large photograph of Dr. Agnew in front of his house; the photo was provided by Mark Lee of Carbondale. The house was built in 1865, and the photo was taken in the 1870s or 1880s.

"Dear Friend of Old : - Your letter with P.O.M.Order came to hand this morning and was received with thanks, and I enclose receipt for the same. We would appreciate your coming to see us at any time, regardless of any business there may be in it except an old fashioned visit, for we got used to have our friends come in until we had to make pallets on the floor to accommodate the little ones, and people fared as well then as now, but selfishness is much more apparent that it used to be. Well, if the front had not come and blocked out the coming of a million dollars to Egypt, many people would have been happier possibly, and probably not, for the ordinary run of people can not stand prosperity, but many more would have had cars than now will, but they can save more money by not having them, and probably their limbs or lives. Will be glad to see you or yours at any time you can make it convenient, and with kind regards and best wishes will close, F.M. Agnew".

A second letter from Dr. Agnew, dated 4 December 1918, reads:

"Dear Friend : - Your excellent letter containing Am Exp Mon Order for Thirty Eight and 15/100 was received with thanks, and I hasten to enclose receipt for the same. I was glad to learn that you were all well, as there are so many people that cant say that just now, and everything from a splinter in the hand to a corn on the toe is "The Flu". I have a very severe case of Typhoid Fever in Offie Heern, and I am quite uneasy as to the result, and I vaccinated four of them yesterday to make them Immune to the disease as it is sometimes Contagious. While we can yet we shouldnt grumble at this beautiful weather, more like Autumn than winter, and I am certainly enjoying it as I must drive every day. We thought that you would come this fall certainly and bring the Madam, but were disappointed, but get up courage to drive over any time and we will be glad to see you. With best regards I remain Your Friend F.M. Agnew"

I have a handwritten promissory note of some type written/signed by the W.E. Crider and Nora Crider, dated 28 November 1927. Paul Townes once told me the original owners of the house at 616 N. Allyn, which was built in 1920, were Criders. Correspondence dated October 1927 is now addressed to John W. Stafford, 616 Allyn Street.

Last updated 12/22/04