We like the Highland Post Office, but it wasn’t always easy to get your mail.
The “Centennial History of Highland,” book of 1937 has a good explanation of the difficulties for the Koepfli-Suppiger Swiss group and the other early settlers had trying to get their mail: “Before there was a post office in this section of Looking Glass Prairie, Swiss and other settlers waited for a stage coach (going to or coming from St. Louis) to drop off mail near Clinton County.”
It said “near Clinton County,” which is Madison County. So when historians said Clinton County, instead of “near Clinton County,” it is an error, which I hope to correct with the new information from Don Rogier.
Don has rediscovered the original Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church and it has been found in Madison County and is corrected in his 2004 book, “History of Sebastopol, Illinois.” In it, Don wrote: “The log cabins in the Sebastopol area are gone, but there is one located in Section 22 of Helvetia Township, 13301 Buckeye Road, owned by Dr. and Mrs. Cecil Harris and his sister Beverly Harris ... This church known as the ‘Church of Sugar Creek’ was started and organized in a home in the area in 1829.”
This was probably Norris Ramsey’s brother, as he was known as the Elder James Ramsey, as he was a Presbyterian preacher.
“Then the congregation built the first log church in 1831, on the east side of Sugar Creek, with just one window and a door and the church was named, ‘Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church,’” Rogier wrote. (In 2007, we tried to save this log church, but could not get permission.) “Buckeye Road is one of the older roads or trails and this is where the settlers had to go to get their mail.”
This was also verified in the 1912 History of Madison County and used for one of my columns in 2003.) The History of Madison County of 1912 also states, “Another happening in 1843 was the building of the second Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church in Section 28.” This was done on a high hill, lying just east of Walnut Branch, which runs in an easterly direction and empties into Sugar Creek. This second Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church had a cemetery around it, the Sugar Creek Cemetery, which we restored in 2005. We have to thank the late Mary Ellen Voegele Dickhaut and her late husband Oscar Dickhaut, who owned the land around the cemetery and supplied the roadway back to the cemetery.
A column I wrote in 2005 told of the proud, preserved, picturesque cemetery, with over 55 tombstones which we cleaned, supplied with new bases if necessary, epoxied if broken and braced with stainless steel Us made by Highland Machine & Screw Products Co., free of charge courtesy of the company’s the late president, Edwin Frisse. We also found the corner stones of the second church and had them reset in concrete.
Now, back to update my post office story.
“After the Swiss arrived in Looking Glass Prairie, Joseph Suppiger’s younger brother, Anton Suppiger, was hired to go to Troy to make regular trips to pick up the mail and bring it back to Highland. It wasn’t until 1839, when Highland reached the population of 100 persons, that a post office was established and David Thorp was named postmaster and located in his store at Main and Walnut. In 1843, David Thorp was reappointed by the new U.S. President, John Tyler, after the death of President Harrison.
“In 1845, President James Polk, a Democrat, became president, and on July 3, relieved Thorp and appointed Jacob Durrer as postmaster. Durrer had the post office in his Eagle Hotel, at the southeast corner of Main and Walnut. Four years later, John R. Blattner was appointed by President Zachary Taylor. Blattner had the post office in his ‘New Switzerland Hotel,’ where the Masonic Temple is today… Blattner sold the hotel in 1856 to George Ruegger and on Nov. 24, 1856, Ruegger was appointed postmaster… On April 8, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Charles Kinne as postmaster, and the post office was moved to the C. Kinne Store… On Oct. 2, 1866, B.E. Hoffmann was appointed by President Andrew Johnson. Hoffmann moved the post office to the 800 block of Main Street… On March 4, 1869, President U.S. Grant appointed Dr. Gallus Rutz, a Civil War veteran, postmaster, and he moved the post office to his doctor’s office at Broadway and Pine. Dr. Gallus Rutz served three terms.
“On Nov. 4, 1882, President Grover Cleveland appointed Charles Hagnauer postmaster. He moved the post office to the west side of the Square, where the Journal Printers is today. The next four postmasters, Jacob Maechtlin, Robert Kamm, Louis Appel and John A. Leu, had their post offices in this building. Leu served eight years and later moved the post office to a building just east of the shoe factory (today U.S. Bank). The post office remained there when Frank Winter became postmaster in 1914, then Edward Suppiger until October 1923, and Leo Stoecklin then served for 12 years. It was during Stoecklin’s term that the present post office was built.”
(Quotes from “History of Sebastopol, Illinois” and “Centennial History of Highland.”)