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History of Decatur, City of, and Township

The capital of Macon county was named in honor of Stephen Decatur, so famous in the naval annals of our country, a native of Maryland, born in 1779. On the 22d of March, 1820, this gallant, noble-hearted gentleman fell mortally wounded in a duel with Commodore Barron, at Blandensburg.


The land on which the original town of Decatur was laid out, was entered by Parmeans Smallwood, Easton Whitten and Charles Prentice, for which, at the time, they had not yet received a patent from the government. The commissioners appointed to select a site for the seat of justice were John Fleming, Jesse Rhodes and Easton Whitten. Mr. Whitten received ten dollars for his services, and the other members seven dollars and fifty cents each.

Benjamin R. Austin, the county surveyor, laid off the town in accordance with instructions, "after the form of Shelbyville," and for his services was allowed the sum of twenty-four dollars.

On the 20th day of June, 1829, Messrs. Smallwood, Whitten and Prentice entered into bond with the county commissioners, stipulating that, after they received their patent, they would convey to the commissioner a gift deed for the twenty acres of land on which the town had been located.

The survey was acknowledged on July 7th, 1829, and at the same term of court following order was made by the commissioners:

"Ordered, That a sale of lots take place in the town of Decatur, in this county, on the 10th day of July next, on the following terms, to-wit: a credit of twelve months will be given, and note with approved security will be required, and that the clerk of this court is required to advertise the sale in the paper printed in Vandalia until the day of sale."

At the sale on the 10th day of July, the first lot sold was No. 2, in block 3, where Priest's Hotel now stands, which being a corner lot, was bid in by John Manly for $53.50. The second lot was lot 6, in block 1, which was bid in for $12.00.

At the time Decatur was laid off, one cabin stood on the twenty acres composing the town site; but several more had been erected as early as 1824 and '25, on land included within the present limits of the city. The first store in Decatur stood on the site of the Priest House, and was kept by James Renshaw, who came from Shelbyville, and who has descendants in the county. The second merchant was Isaac C. Pugh, prominent in the history of the county and state, who came from Vandalia. These stores were established in 1829, and the goods were carted from St. Louis.

Decatur grew but slowly in the first years of its history, and in fact was little more than a hamlet, until 1836, when the state inaugurated the famous system of "Internal Improvements." Decatur was to be the crossing of the "Northern Cross" and Central railroads, and work was actually begun on both of these. Its growth from this year until 1842 was more rapid, and the population reached at least five hundred souls. In 1836 and '37 the spirit of speculation was rife. Town lots sold at fancy prices and additions were laid out. In 1842 all hopes of getting a railroad died out; and the burning of the steam-mill was a great blow to the properity of the place. From 1842 to 1852, when work was beginning on the Illinois Central R.R., it was at a stand-still. But from that time forward its growth has been continous and substantial.

*Painting of Stephen Decatur is in the public domain.

Partial List of Patrons

ARBUCKLE, A.R. Decatur Editor of Tomahawk OH 1874
ARNOLD, John A. Decatur Hatter VA 1875
ALLEN, D.L. Sec 23 Retired Loudon Co, VA 1828
REED, Julia E. Sec 23 Wife of D.L. Allen Charlo. NC 1830
ANDREWS, Thomas Decatur Saloon & Billiard Parlor ? ?
ALLEN, Samuel C. Sec 12 Farmer Loudon Co, VA 1832
GORE, Jane E. Dec'd 25 June 1880 Loudon Co, VA 1838
ALDRIDGE, H.A. Decatur Butcher Scott Co 1866
BUCKINGHAM, I.A. Decatur Attorney OH 1863
BARNES, W.A. Decatur Retired Physician NH 1853
BARNES, Albert Decatur Abstract'r Conveyancer IN 1853
BRENNEMAN, D.W. Decatur Wholesale Liquor Dealer IN 1865
BRANDOM, M. Decatur Oculist and Aurist IN 1870
BLENZ, Jacob Decatur Butcher Germany 1876
BRADLEY, A. Decatur Lightning Rod Agent OH 1862
BAKER, J.N. Decatur Deals in Boots & Shoes Macon Co 1844
BAKER, H.S. Decatur Contractor & Builder IN 1855
BLENZ, John Jr. Decatur Butcher Germany 1871
BARTHOLOMEW, E.D. Decatur Glassware, Toys & Notions CT 1869
BUNN, D.P. Decatur Universalist Minister OH 1854
BACHRACH, Henry Decatur Clothier MD 1877
BLUME, George P. Decatur Agent Gen. Singer Machine OH 1872
BRADEN, Boyd Decatur Prop. General Novelty Works PA 1879
BUTMAN, J.W. Decatur Supt. Gas Works MA 1871
BIRD, John Decatur Calciminer ALA 1856
BROWN, John A. Decatur Lawyer MA 1865
WEBBER, Albert G. Decatur Attorney Germany 1863
BLESSING, John Sec 23 Tile Manufacturer PA 1876
BRAMBLE, Onies N. Decatur Eng. City Water Works IN 1858
BARRACHMAN, C.J. Sec 5 Farmer & Stock Raiser MD 1861
TOPPING, Hannah Sec 5 Wife of C.J. Barrachman OH 1861
BUMSTEAD, Samuel J. Decatur Physician, Surgeon Phil., PA 1877
BROWN, Josiah Decatur Physician & Surgeon Canada 1858
BERING, Edward J. Decatur Mfg. Ag. Implements Berks Co, PA 1876
CLOKEY, Josiah M. Decatur Attorney OH 1873
CHAMBERS, Wm. E. Decatur Manufacturing NY 1862
BERING, Jas. E. Decatur Manufacturing PA 1876
QUINLAN, Wm. J. Decatur Manufacturing PA 1857
CURTIS, Ira B. Decatur Oculist, Aurist & J.P. OH 1840
CHENOWETH, W.J. Decatur Physician & Surgeon KY 1854
CHENOWETH, C. Decatur Physician & Surgeon KY 1854
CARRIGAN, John R. Decatur Painter KY 1864
CONKLIN, A.W. Decatur Cotton Bagging Mfgs. IN 1861
CALDWELL, C.M. Decatur Prop. Eclipse Stables OH 1871
CURTIS, O.E. Decatur Jeweler Christ'n Co 1855
CAMPBELL, John S. Decatur Saloon OH 1858
COLLADAY, Walter F. Decatur Prop. Billiar Parlor PA 1858
CORMAN, O.F. Decatur Dentist PA 1864
CAMPBELL, James C. Decatur Tobacconist Marion Co 1873
CAIN, Lew R. Decatur Prop. of Saloon NY 1856
CARDER, John Sec 8 Farmer & Stock Raiser Frank. Co OH 1863
PARK, Nancy J. Sec 8 Wife of John Carder Morgan Co 1867
DURFEE, B.K. Decatur Insur. & Real Estate Agent MI 1857
DURFEE, George S. Decatur Dealer in Farm Imp. & Seeds MI 1857
DAWKINS, R.C. Decatur Dentist KY 1865
DANIEL, John H. Sec 13 Farmer & Stock Raiser Belmont OH 1864
DODSON, Fannie Sec 13 Wife of John H. Daniel Green Co 1864
DODSON, Ben F. Decatur Prop. of Saloon IN 1861
DINNEEN, John Decatur Grocer & Co Coroner Ireland 1856
DANZEISEN, Jacob Decatur Butcher, Whole. & Retail Baden, Ger. 1871
DERINIT, James Decatur Contractor & Builder IN 1858
DUNSTON, A.J. Decatur Balcksmith OH 1855
DENNIS, W.A. Decatur Hardware Merchant OH 1859
DODSON, William Decatur B.M.U.D. for past 23 yrs. England 1852
ELDRIDGE, E.R. Decatur Attorney IN 1870
ELWOOD, C. Decatur Clothing & Dry Goods NY 1857
EHRMAN, I.W. Decatur Clothing Manufacturer Germany 1853
EWING, E.F. Decatur Jeweler McLean Co 1866
ECKART, Mathias Sec 9 Farmer, Grain Baden, Ger 1854
REFLEN, Mary Barbara Sec 9 Wife of Mathias Eckart Baden, Ger. 1854
EICHOLTZ, E.B. Sec 10 Fruit & Veg. Grower York Co PA 1864
STARE, Lory A. Sec 10 Wife of E.B. Eicholtz York Co PA 1864
FOSTER, W.W. Decatur Collector OH 1866
FREEMAN, James Decatur Boot & She Merchant MA 1878
FROSTMEYER, Martin Decatur Sheriff of Macon Co. Bavar. Ger. 1854
GEDDES, James Sec 12 Farmer & Stock Raiser Leban. Co PA 1835
BURNETT, Mary J. Sec 12 Wife of James Geddes KY 1833
GALLAGHER, Arthur J/ Dec'd Judge - Died 23 Jun 1879 Ire. 1854
GALLAGHER, Rachel R. Decatur Wid. Judge Gallagher Macon Co. 1843
GASTMAN, E.F. Decatur Teach. & Supt City Schools NY 1860
GREER, Samuel F. Decatur County Judge OH 1854
GAY, Edward C. Decatur Insur. & Loan Agent Piatt Co. 1879
GRINDOL, W.H. Decatur Marble Dealer OH 1864
GOODMAN, Charles Decatur Builder Macon Co. 1847
GEHRMANN, Theod. A. Decatur Dry Goods Dealer Prussia 1868
GRING, I.B. Sec 17 Farmer & Stock Raiser PA 1850
HAMSHER, B.K. Decatur Ed. & Pub. Republican PA 1856
MOSSER, J.R. Decatur Ed. & Pub. Republican PA 1856
HAYWORTH, L.L. Decatur Check Rower Mfg. OH 1857
HAYNES, N.S. Decatur Disciple Preacher KY 1873
HAMMER, Wm. L. Decatur Retired KY 1854
HARDY, A.W. Decatur Livery & Feed Stable PA 1850
HARDY, George P. Decatur City Register PA 1852
HEWES, J.S. Decatur Eng. F.C. Buildings OH 1864
HARPSTRITE, E. Decatur Steam Brewery Ger. 1855
SLAUDEMANN, Henry Decatur Steam Brewery Ger. 1856
HARWOOD, Kilburn Decatur R.R. Agent Mass. 1865
HAND, J.T. Decatur Books & Music Dealer NY 1879
HEILMAN, D.H. Decatur Grocer PA 1865
HAYS, F.L. Decatur Dry Good Merchant OH 1855
HOUSTON, Edward Decatur Furniture Dealer Ire. 1876
HAMSHER, John Decatur Harness & Saddle Maker PA 1853
HARRIS, Henry Decatur Shirt Mfg. NY 1879
HAWS, J.H. Decatur Photographer KY 1870
HAWORTH, George D. Decatur Man. of Check Rower OH 1857
HATFIELD, John Decatur Prop. Oil Mills OH 1860
TAYLOR, B.Z. Decatur Prop. Oil Mills Macon Co 1848
HATFIELD, James Decatur Prop. Oil Mills OH 1860
HAWORTH, Mahlon Decatur Man. Check Rower OH 1858
HAWORTH, James W. Decatur Man. Check Rower OH 1858
IRWIN, S.M. Decatur Druggist Mont. Co IL 1877
IMBODEN, C.M. Decatur Butcher PA 1855
IMBODEN, J.G. Decatur Butcher Macon Co 1856
JONES, E.A. Sec 3 Farmer & Real Est. Dealer OH 1854
JOHNS, W.C. Decatur Attorney OH 1854
JACK, S.S. Decatur Editor Review PA 1869
JONES, Daniel W. Decatur Prop. Dan's Bank WV 1870
JOHNSON, Frank S. Sec 16 Farmer & Stock Raiser Macon Co 1856
JOHNSON, Willis Sec 16 Farmer & Stock Raiser Madison KY 1837
ST. CLAIR, Demaras Sec 16 Wife of Willis Johnson Botet. VA .
KEPLER, Jr., E. Decatur Man. Cigars & Tobacco Ger. 1854
KUNY, Fred Decatur Bottling Works Ger. 1866
KRAMER, Abram Decatur Carriage Mfg. OH 1854
KING, J. Stebbins Decatur Physician & Surgeon IN 1874
LYTLE, R.P. Decatur Postmaster PA 1866
LAUX, Charles Decatur Prop. St. Nicholas Hotel Ger. 1854
LAUX, N. Decatur Prop. Livery & Undertaker Ger. 1854
LEFORGEE, Jesse Decatur Real Est. & Insurance KY 1856
LEFORGEE, F.A. Decatur Real Est. & Insurance KY 1858
LYON, George S. Decatur Plaining Mill NJ 1865
GIPSON, Wm. H. Decatur Plaining Mill IN 1865
AMRSTRONG, John Decatur Plaining Mill OH 1867
LUNN, Henry Decatur Brick Mason & Builder Eng. 1872
LOWER, George Decatur Real Estate Agent OH 1876
LITTERER, Frank Decatur Grocer Baden, Ger. 1859
LINTNER, H.C. Decatur Farmer & Stock Raiser Macon Co. 1859
LINN, Wm. H Decatur Dry Goods Merchant VA 1869
SCRUGGS, Wm. R. Decatur Dry Goods Merchant VA 1869
LUTRELL, Edward Decatur Grocer & Painter Ire. 1867
LEISLE, David H. Decatur Tile Draining OH 1878
McCLELLAN, Edmiston Sec 16 Circuit Clerk PA 1835
McDONALD, E.S. Decatur Attorney VA 1854
MOORE, E.W. Decatur Physician & Surgeon Monroe Co 1856
MILIKIN, J. Decatur Bank President PA 1852
MONTGOMERY, Robert R. Decatur Real Est. & Insurance Macon Co 1844
MICHL, Joseph Decatur Man. Cigars & Tobacco Ger. 1858
McEVOY, John Decatur Prop. Hotel & Farmer Ire. 1856
MYER, M.A. Decatur Sign & Fresco Painter Bavaria 1857
MAFFIT, D.A. Decatur Highway Com. & Ice Dealer Macon Co 1848
MARTIN, David Decatur Lime & Cement Dealer KY 1858
MUELLER, Hierouymus Decatur Plumber & Mach. Ger. 1858
MINCKLEY, Charles A. Decatur Auction & Com. House NY 1874
MILAM, Buford B. Decatur Baker & Confectioner Macon Co 1853
MORITZ, Solomon Decatur Fancy Goods Ger. 1879
McGINTY, Michael S. Decatur Prop. of Saloon Ire. 1875
MILLS, H.H. Decatur Book-Keeper NY 1873
MOORE, E. Decatur Fish & Veg. Dealer Fayette Co. 1864
MEISENHELDER, Aaron Dec'd Died Oct 1, 1876 York Co, PA 1854
MEISENHELDER, Angeline Decatur Wid. of A. Meisenhelder York Co, PA 1854
MILLS, Joseph Decatur Lumber Dealer NJ 1853
MOSER, Frank Decatur Dairyman Baden Ger. 1868
DUNNER, Julia Decatur Wife of F. Moser Prussia Ger. 1868
McDANIEL, E. Decatur Blacksmith Macon Co 1850
McNABB, E. Decatur Architect & Builder PA 1854
MAY, H.F. Decatur May Bro. Grocers Macon Co 1855
MAY, S.D. Decatur May Bro. Grocers Macon Co 1855
NEIDERMEYER, William Decatur Grocer MO 1858
NICHOLS, A.C. Decatur Blacksmith IN 1856
NEBINGER, A. Decatur Dealer in Leather & Shoes PA 1855
NEWELL, R.A. Decatur Ret. Wh. Groc., Twp. Sup. OH 1856
NIEDERMEYER, T.W. Decatur Grocer Ger. 1858
OGLESBY, R.J. Decatur Retired KY 1836
OUTTEN, W.C. Decatur Attorney Cass Co 1853
OVERMIRE, S. Decatur Insurance & Real Est. Agent OH 1875
KAUFMAN, J.S. Decatur Insurance & Real Est. Agent Macon Co 1844
O'NEILL, James H. Decatur Plumb. Steam & Gas Fitter NY 1875
OAKES, Wm. L. Decatur Prop. Novelty Works IN 1865
PRIEST, Franklin Decatur Prop. Hotel & St. Railway NY 1854
PEDDEFORD, Jasper J. Decatur Banker & Mfg. MD 1838
PEAKE, James L. Decatur Watchmaker & J.P. D.C. 1853
PERRY, R.L. Decatur Wabash RR Road Master NY 1868
PRIEST, George R. Decatur Man. St. Car Lines Sangam. Co 1852
PAHMEYER, Fred. Decatur Tobacconist Prussia 1870
POST, H. Decatur Jeweler WI 1872
POST, J.S. Decatur Attorney NY 1839
PHILLIPS, J.W. Decatur GT Agt. Haworth Ch. Row OH 1865
PENNIWELL, Wm. B. Decatur Prop. Marble Works Warren Co IN 1865
POWERS, Samuel Decatur Farmer & Stock Raiser NY 1837
ROWELL, H.W. Decatur Editor & Prop. Herald VT 1880
ROBY, K.H. Decatur Attorney NH 1860
RACE, J.W. Decatur Clothing & Dry Goods VA 1857
RISLEY, A.F. Decatur Surveyor NY 1856
RACE, J.R. Decatur Clothier VA 1853
ROACH, J.T. Decatur Dry Goods Merchant KY 1864
McREYNOLDS, B.O. Decatur Dry Goods Merchant KY 1865
RAGAN, W.A. Decatur US & Pac. Exp. Agt NY 1870
RUE, Henry Sec 4 Farmer & Brick Maker Mercer Co NJ 1867
THOMPSON, Mary Ann Sec 4 Wife of Henry Rue NJ 1867
STONER, A.J. Decatur Druggist & Physician OH 1867
SMICK, Aaron Decatur Insurance Agency Macon Co 1840
SHELLABARGER, D.S. Decatur Merchant Miller TN 1856
SILBEY, B.F. Decatur Physician & Surgeon CT 1856
SMITH, Fred J. Decatur Grocer NY 1860
STEPHENS, E.A. Decatur Grocer, Wood & Coal VA 1867
STEPHENS, C.H. Decatur Grocer, Wood & Coal VA 1867
STEINBACH, W. Decatur Prop. of Saloon Austria 1870
DEICKHOFF, C.D. Decatur Prop. of Saloon Ger. 1865
SKELLEY, Francis Decatur Grocer & Queensware VT 1861
STINE, B. Decatur Clothier Baden, Ger. 1866
STEWARD, Dalton Decatur Tonsorial Artist NC 1853
SWEARINGEN, J.A. Decatur Druggist OH 1866
STERRETT, B.I. Decatur Attorney PA 1867
STARR, J.G. Decatur Saddlery, Harn. & Leather . .
STARR, W.H. Decatur Saddlery, Harn. & Leather PA 1873
SHLANDEMAN, Henry Decatur Prop. Decatur St. Brewery Ger. 1858
SEITZ, Simon Sec 7 Farmer & Stock Raiser PA 1854
KOZER, Eliza J. Sec 7 Wife of Simon Seitz PA 1854
STRAUSBAUGH, E. Decatur Man. Niagra Force Pu'ps PA 1856
SMITH, G.A. Decatur US Internal Rev. Col. Phila. PA 1837
TRAINER, John Decatur Supt. Co. Schools OH 1869
THORNTON, Anthony Decatur Attorney KY 1879
TURNER, F.B. Decatur Farmer & Stock Dealer St Clair Co 1865
TUCKER, Howard Decatur Tinsmith MD 1865
TOWLEING, William Decatur Book Binder NY 1859
TUTTLE, B.B. Decatur Prop. Saw Mill CT 1856
ULLRICH, John Decatur Wholesale Grocer Bavaria 1856
USREY, W.J. Decatur Journalist Miss 1842
VENNIGERHOLZ, J.H. Decatur Coal Dealer Miss 1874
WAGGONER, H.W. Decatur Mayor of Decatur & Co Clk PA 1855
WOOD, G.M. Decatur Co. Treasurer KY 1854
WARREN, John K. Decatur Insurance & Real Est. Agent PA 1855
WAYNE Brothers Decatur Carriage Mfg. PA 1872
WEEMS, E.W. Decatur Physician & Surgeon IA 1879
WHITMER, H.M. Decatur Brick & Tile Mfg. PA 1860
WALSTON, R.L. Decatur Physician & Surgeon Vermill. Co 1873
WINGATE, Thomas H. Decatur Dealer in Lamps NH 1850
WILLIAMS, P.E. Decatur Mill-Wright Christ. Co 1879
WOOD, E.W. Decatur Conf., Rest., & Ice Cream Sangamon Co 1855
WILHELMY, Jacob Decatur Tonsorial Artist Ger. 1878
WHITE, Charles . Mining Engineer GA 1880
WIDICK, Ephraim Sec 18 Farmer & Stock Raiser Macon Co 1844
TROUTMAN, Phoebe Sec 18 Wife of Ephraim Widick IN 1858
WALLACE, John M. Sec 7 Farmer & Stock Raiser Ark 1870
DAILEY, George Dec'd Died Jan 7, 1841 Ire. 1840
HARDY, Jane Sec 7 Widow of Geo. Dailey PA 1840
WILSON, John M. Decatur Mfg. of Boilers NY 1866
WELLS, T.M. Decatur Photographer Adams Co 1879
WILKINSON, Chancey Dec'd Died Jan. 15, 1844 NY 1844
WILKINSON, Mrs. L. Decatur Widow of Chancey Wilkinson NY 1844
YOUNG, William Sec 16-2 Farmer PA 1856
YOUNG, Sr., J.J.H. Decatur Attorney VA 1856
ZELLER, John Decatur Butcher & Packer NY 1862
ZIMMERMAN, W.N. Decatur Prop. Zimmerman House PA 1856

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