Inventory Of The County Archives Of Illinois No. 9 Cass County (Virginia). Prepared by Illinois Historical Records Survey Division of Community Service Programs Work Projects Administration
From the Civil War to 1940 -- Political
Even before the Civil War the growing complexity in the work of the county administrative units was evident. The war merely accelerated this process until the county could not bear the burden of carrying on its normal functions without outside aid. The state government attempted to help the county out of its difficulties by passing special acts enabling the local government to increase its tax rates. After the turn of the century however, the state government found itself caught in the whirlpool of centralization. When the Federal Government stepped in after 1929 and took over some of the governmental functions formerly considered the sole province of the local regions, the county was not merely relieved of certain responsibilities but also of the right and privileges of determining directly the politics affecting public relief, roads, and other functions.
During the Civil War Cass County contributed its manpower to the military branches of the nation. The following army divisions had groups of men from Cass in them: 19th Illinois Cavalry; 32nd Illinois Regiment, Company G; 33rd Illinois Regiment, Company K; 47th Illinois Regiment, Company F; 19th Illinois Infantry, Company F; 33rd Illinois Infantry, Company K; and 114th Illinois Infantry, Company D. Charles E. Lippincott, a son-in-law of Dr. Charles Chandler and a resident in Chandlerville, was the captain of the 33rd Illinois Infantry Company K, and later was made a brigadier general. The county court in 1862 had ordered that a count should be made of the number of persons that entered the service of the United States from the commencement of the war up to September 1, 1862. The returns by precincts showed the following:
TABLE II: MEN IN U.S. SERVICE, 1862
|Precinct||No. of Men|
By 1860, 1 out of every 10 persons in the total population (1,312 out of 11,325) was in the army. (See Table II)
The county aided the families of the soldiers away from home somewhat; and the question of giving county bonuses was raised by James A. Dick and others in October 1864. This petition and the one of Patrick O'Brien in February 1865 were refused because "the people are already taxed; and...there is not authority in this Court to make such appropriation." The act of February 16, 1865, however, authorized the county court to levy a special tax for a bounty fund and to award drafted men or volunteers not more than $500 each. War orphans were provided for at the Illinois Soldiers' College at Fulton, Whiteside County.
The material dealing with the participation of the men from Cass County in the Spanish-American War and World War I is not readily available. Yet, we do know that the county was represented in both wars. The honor roll of Cass County in the Virginia Public Library lists 1,032 names of men who served in the World War.
Final Change in County Seat -- Establishment of Township System
A little over a decade before the Civil War the state constitution of 1848 had required all counties to change their form of government from the county commissioners' court to the county court and further provided that those counties that wish to adopt the township system may do so. Accordingly the last county commissioners, Henry McHenry, George H. Nolte, and George W. Weaver gave way to the first officials under the county court form of government (December 1849): James Shaw, county judge; William Taylor and Thomas Plasters, justices of peace for the county; and Lewis F. Sanders, clerk of the county court.
An effort to effect a township organization was not lacking. In 1849 an election was held upon petition on the question of township organization. A majority of those voting (286 to 178) decided in favor of the township form of government and laying out commissioners were appointed (F.A. Arenz, James Berry, and Charles Chandler) "to lay off the County into towns or townships, and to name each Township so layed off." The commissioners failed to perform their duty as scheduled since Berry died and Arenz an Chandler couldn't get together. Although the records do not mention the incident again it can readily be seen that the number that voted for township organization did not constitute over 50% of the total of legal voters in the county. Therefore, the first attempt to establish township government failed.
In the meantime the citizenry in the central and eastern parts of the county were dissatisfied with the removal of the county seat from Virginia to Beardstown in 1845. Elections on the question of returning the seat to Virginia were held in 1853, 1857, 1868, and 1872. Only in the last election did a majority vote to remove the seat to Virginia (1,458 to 1,330). The results of this election were contested by the Beardstown people in the circuit court and in the Illinois Supreme Court. In both cases the decision was in favor of Virginia--but it was not until 1875 that the removal was finally made and business begun at the present-day county seat. With the removal of the seat from Beardstown the courthouse in that city was turned over to school district no. 1 until September 15, 1877 when both the courthouse and the jail were sold for $300; and a new courthouse was received as a present from the City of Virginia. The new jail in Virginia was built by the county in 1876-1877 and cost about $15,000. The contractor was Joseph W. Black of that city.
After the adoption of the Constitution of 1870, counties under the county form of government automatically went back to the county commissioners' system. The last county court officials (1873) were F. H. Rearick, judge; Jeptha Plasters and Andrew Struble, county justices; Allen J. Hill, county clerk; an George Volkmar, sheriff. The first board of county commissioners met December 1873. They were Robert Fielden, John H. Malone, and William Campbell. James B. Black was the first clerk and George Volkmar continued holding the sheriffalty. Although elections were requested several times after 1849 on the question of changing to township organization, the county continued under the commissioners' form of government until after the World War.
The petition of F. C. Wallbaum in 1923 praying that the court submit the question of township organization again to the voters proved to be successful. At the election held on November 6, 1923 the voters decided, by a vote of 3,521 to 761, in favor of making the change. The commissioners appointed to divide the county were Jeptha Armstrong of Chandlerville, John Broeker of Beardstown, and Joseph E. Edwards of Oregon. They set up eleven townships: Arenzville, Ashland, Beardstown, Bluff Springs, Chandlerville, Hagener, Newmansville, Panther Creek, Philadelphia, Sangamon Valley and Virginia. The first meeting of the board of supervisors was held April 14, 1924. The supervisors in the eleven townships in 1940 were: Albert Nicol, Arenzville; George Jenkins, Ashland; Wesley Perry, William H. DeSollar, and Arnold F. Gramman, Beardstown; Gus A. Clark, Bluff Springs; C.F. Harbison, Chandlerville; Russell Nordsiek, Hagener; S. S. Monroe, Newmanville; George Cline, Panther Creek; R.E. Wankel, Philadelphia; T.S. Barber, Sangamon Valley; and Frank C. Fox, Virginia.
County Roads -- Federal Aid
Under both the county court and board of county commissioners new roads were opened in the 60's and 70's. Turnpike and toll roads appeared as early as 1841, and in 1866 the claying of the Beardstown-Petersburg Road was ordered. The first hard surface road was laid in 1909. By 1940 the total length or rural roads in the county was 527.7 miles. (see Table III).
TABLE III: RURAL ROAD MILEAGE
|TYPE OF ROAD||Total||Brick||Concrete||Low Type Bituminous||Gravel or Stone||Soil Surface||
|Primary (Federal Aid)||45.9||45.9|
|Primary (Non-Federal Aid)||1.0||1.0|
|State Aid (Federal Aid)||22.8||0.1||7.0||2.8||11.7||1.2|
|State Aid (Non-Federal Aid)||68.7||1.4||7.9||13.6||41.5||4.1||0.2|
|Local (Federal Aid)||0.0|
|Local (Non-Federal Aid)||389.3||0.3||0.6||0.4||130.5||27.3||224.7||5.5|
Increase of Poor Relief--Federal Program
The enlargement of the poor relief program also took place after the Civil War. Only two years after the addition to the poor farm was purchased (1852), the county board decided to build a poorhouse to replace the farm house on the poor farm. Jesse Rigginis was awarded the contract and completed the poorhouse in December 1854. He was paid $950. Some thirty years later, in 1888, a new poorhouse was erected by Henry J. Schroeder for $3,844. This three-story poorhouse was burned down in 1899, and a new two-story house covering a larger area was erected with the fire-insurance money received ($3,096.44) plus other county monies. The total cost of the poorhouse (still in use in 1940) was not stated in the records.
Within the last four decades the problem of public welfare has increased in complexity--especially after 1929 when the old local system broke down under the severe economic dislocation, and the Federal Government was forced to take over many of the local public welfare functions. The statistical data presented in Table IV shows to what extent this transfer has been effected.
TABLE IV: NO. OF PERSONS DEPENDENT UPON 5 PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
|Month||Number||% of Population||One in Every||General Relief||W.P.A.||O.A.A.||Mothers' Pensions||Blind Pensions|
TABLE V: COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF TAXABLE PROPERTY, 1879, 1902, 1920 AND 1938.
|ITEM||No. or Acres||Amount
|No. or Acres||Amount
|No. or Acres||Amount
|No. or Acres||Amount
|Mules and Asses||27,293||832||9,219||1,435||59,370||see
|Sheep and Goats||2,400||8,143|
|Fire and Burglar-Proof Safes||22||994||132||1,304||176||3,567|
|Carriages and Wagons||1,401||23,999||3,431||15,337||1,400||17,523|
|Watches and Clocks||418||1,329||2,319||3,618||1,249||5,008|
|Sewing and Knitting Machines||759||6,391||1,931||3,688||1,549||7,515|
|Melodians and Organs||123||3,033||439||1,861||446||8,289|
|Office, Store Equipment||36,989|
|Machinery and Equipment||235,597|
|Trucks and Busses||299||30,995|
|Capitol Stock of Corporations||11,700||21,950|
|Mdse. Goods in Process||176,284|
|Money-Cash and Bank Deposits||45,042|
|Taxable Stocks, Bonds||17,475|
|Mortgages and Notes||86,105|
|Shares Bank Stock||39,290|
|Public Utility Personality||283,260|
|Assessed Value of Enumerated Property||281,961||254,665||1,349,345|
|Assessed Value of all Personal Property||630,521||972,731||4,568,230|
|Coal Rights||Listed without amt.|
|Assessed Value of Lands||239,168||2,866,244||239,220||2,040,483||215,280||7,964,000||237,670||7,366,550|
|Improved Town and City Lots||3,194||808,320||3,014||676,079||6,246||948,800||1,096,190|
|Unimproved Town and City Lots||3,397||74,242||2,877||63,353||17,520|
|Assessed Value of Town and City Lots||6,591||882,562||5,891||739,432||6,246||2,647,800||3,632,340|
|Assessed Value of RR Personality||8,760||953,947|
|Assessed Value of RR Lands||100||6,550||18,000|
|Assessed Value of RR Town and City Lots||12,970|
|Total Value of all Property in County||4,401,157||3,759,196||15,198,030||13,058,800|
|Total RR Assessments by Tax Commission||1,675,950|
|Total Capital Stock Assessed by Tax Commission||15,070|
|Total Equalized Value all Property in County||4,203,412||3,983,444||16,721,157||14,749,820|
Growing Complexity in County Finance
The additional expenses incurred by the county as a result of larger expenditures for public buildings and their furnishings, road and bridges, public welfare, and railroads meant an increase in tax rates. Tax rates rose from below $1.00 per $100 valuation on personal and real-estate property to as high as $2.15 per $100 in 1860. After the war, however, the rates fell to about $1.50 in 1870 and remained at about $1.25 per $100 for the next seven decades. The amounts of receipts and disbursements passing through the hands of the county treasurer each passed the $30,000 mark in 1880 and the $100,000 mark in 1920. The items in the lists of assessed taxable property changed during the last eight decades; and such significant property items as automobiles, machinery and equipment, capital stock of corporations, railroad properties, and public utility personalty became more and more important in the later lists. From these same lists, however, it is also evident that the county still remained a predominantly agricultural region. (See the comparative statement of taxable property, 1879, 1902, 1920, and 1938 in Table V.)
County in National Politics
The close division of the vote of the county in national elections visible in the ante-bellum period and during the Civil War continued for the next five decades. Yet, during all the elections from 1868 to 1916 inclusive the Democratic presidential candidates carried the county. In some years the margin of victory was substantial as in 1868, 1884, 1892, and 1912. In other years, however, the defeated candidate failed to carry the county by a few hundred. IN 1872 Greeley defeated Grant by only 5 votes (see Table VI).
TABLE VI: VOTES CAST IN CASS COUNTY FOR PRESIDENT, 1868-1916
After the World War, in the elections of 1920, 1924, and 1928, the county switched to the Republican column; but in the last three elections the Democrats were again the victors. The proclivity of the majority of voters in the county toward the Democratic Party since the disintegration of the Whig Party in 1852-1854 is interesting--especially in view of the general contention of some political historians that Whig area usually (except in the South) became attached to the Republican Party.
Return to the Table of Contents
 Perrin, ed., History of Cass County, p. 119, 163-65.
 County Court Record, v. C, p. 92, 95, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3.
 D. W. Lusk, Politics and Politicians, p. 172; U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Eighth Census of the United States , 1860, Population, p. 79.
 County Court Record, v. C, p. 188.
 Ibid., p. 202.
 Priv. L. 1865, I, 117.
 County Court Record, v. C, p. 363, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3.
 Soldiers' Discharges, v. 1, see entry 98; Miscellaneous Record, see entry 78 (ix).
 Const. 1848, Art. VII, sec. 6, L. 1849, p. 62-67.
 Commissioners' Court, v. 1, p. 543; County Court Record, v. B, p. 1, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3.
 County Court Record, v. B, p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 2, 13.
 Only 286 voted for the adoption of the township system. The total vote cast in the election of 1848 was 1,485. See The Whig Almanac and United States Register (1849), p. 62.
 L. 1853, p. 152, 153; L.1857, p. 193; Perrin, ed., History of Cass County, p. 51.
 County Court Record, v. D, p. 131, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3. The sectional division over the location of the county seat can readily be seen from the vote by precincts. Those nearer Beardstown opposed the removal by a vote of 1,201 to 110; those near Virginia voted 1,348 to 128 for the removal. Ibid., p. 140.
 76 Ill. 36, 37; County Court Record, v. D, p. 123, 124, 132, 287, 288, 289.
 County Court Record, v. D, p. 430, 504.
 Ibid., p. 292, 306, 316, 344.
 Ibid., p. 383, 384.
 Art. X, secs. 5 and 6.
 County Court Records, v. D, p. 196, 198, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3.
 Ibid., p. 303.
 Petitions of Peter Richard (1857), Kelling Berry (1871), and Levi Horton (1901). See ibid., v. B, p. 457; ibid., v. D, 73; Martin, ed., History of Cass County, p. 660, 661.
 County Board Minutes, v. 5, p. 546.
 Ibid., p. 557, 558.
 Ibid., p. 583-86.
 Martin, ed., History of Cass County, p. 583-86.
 Figures furnished by Illinois Division of Highways, Bureau of Highway Research.
 Record of Officers Elected, v. 1, p. 4, see entry 51.
 Commissioners' Court, v. 1 p. 130; County Court Record, v. C, p. 308, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3.
 Martin, ed., History of Cass County, p. 781.
 County Court Record, v. B, p. 229, 238, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3.
 Martin, ed., History of Cass County, p. 672, 673.
 A man named Knapp was tried for arson in connection with the burning of the almshouse, but was acquitted, October 1849. See Criminal Case Files, nos. 1730-1820, entry 166. For the 1899 poorhouse, see Register of Warrants, v. D, nos. B7827, B7828, B8138, see entry 8. C. H. Sexton, the contractor, received $2,200 plus an unspecified amount.
 Illinois Emergency Relief Commission, Monthly Bulletin on Relief Statistics, VI (1939), Nos. 4-12, p. 64, 78, 96, 112, 128, 144, 164, 180, 196; VII (1940), Nos. 1-12, p. 10, 40, 56, 72, 88, 102, 120, 136, 152, 172, 192, 212.
 Illinois Board of Equalization, Proceedings (1879), p. xx, xxiv, xxvi, xxxv, 19, 23, 26, 30, 32, 38, 58, 60, 64, 66, 611; ibid. (1901), p. 34, 38, 42, 53, 59, 61, 63, 157, 163, 167, 201; Illinois Tax Commission, Annual Report (1920), p. 37, 40, 43, 45, 48, 54, 319, 323, 327, 329; ibid. (1937-1938), p. 99, 121, 123, 248.
 County Court Record, v. B, p. 654; ibid., v. C, p. 574, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3.
 County Board Record, v. E, p. 207; ibid., v. F, p. 220. County Board Minutes, v. 2, p. 187, in Supervisors' Minutes (Record), see entry 3. Collector's Books, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1938, see entry 27.
 County Board Record, v. F, p. 228; County Board Minutes, v. 5, p. 325.
 The Tribune Almanac and Political Register (1868), p. 71; (1873), p. 68; (1879), p. 64; (1881), p. 46; (1884), p. 52; (1889), p. 62; (1893), p. 270; (1897), p. 235; (1901), p. 323; (1903-1905), p. 312; (1909), p. 323. The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Yearbook (1913), p. 436; (1917), p. 431.
 Ibid., (1921), p. 729; (1925), p. 713; (1929), p. 690; (1933), p. 688; (1937), p. 795. Illinois Department of Secretary of State, Official Vote of the State of Illinois Cast at the General Election, Nov. 5, 1940, p. 8. The total vote for the elections held during 1920-1940 was: 1920, Republican, 3,956; Democrat, 2,861. In 1924, Republican, 3,139; Democrat, 2,909. In 1928, Republican, 4,009; Democrat, 3,461. In 1932, Democrat, 5,669; Republican, 2,745. In 1936, Democrat, 5,786; Republican, 3,209. In 1940, Democrat, 4,854; Republican, 4,490.
 See Theodore Clark Smith, Parties and Slavery 1850-1859, p. 108-20; Jesse Macy, The Anti-Slavery Crusade A Chronicle of the Gathering Storm, p. 98-111.