History

(excerpt from Centennial Book)

The land now occupied by the Village of Sherrard was originally purchased in September of 1839 from the United States Government by John Morey for $1.25 per acre. In May of 1854 Thomas and Olive Morey sold this land to David Sherrard for $2200.00. The land consisted of 119.62 acres. On the Second of January, 1894 this land was transferred to the Coal Valley Mining Company for $1.00 and "other valuable considerations."

The Village of Sherrard was surveyed on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of April, 1894. The plat of the Village was recorded in the county seat, Aledo, on May 1st, 1894.

The first child born in the new village was Tom Schofield. The second child born was on the day following Tom's birth and was named Bertha Youngquist. The first home built was at 204-Fourth Avenue, across the street to the east of the present fire station. This home was built by E.E. Sincox, who also built the livery stable. The livery stable was located between the present taverns. The third home built was located at 102-Second Avenue, and was the residence of James and Ada Schofield, parents of Tom.

An article in the August 20, 1895, Aledo Times Record, relates the following: "The bulletin reports that there are in the new mining village of Sherrard 375 men, women and children as ascertained by an enumeration made by Rev. Evans: 173 men, 79 women and 143 children, 82 of whom are of school age. There are in the school district 39 children who do not live in the village, making 121 for a school house made to seat about 50. The town is only a year old."

The town was a virtual boom town until the coal mine closed in 1918. The greatest population as per the Federal Census was in 1910 when the population reached 906. Of the 168 families listed in the 1900 Federal Census, a large number are listed as having "boarders" which is to be expected in a new booming coal mining town. This author met, some thirty years ago, a old carpenter who had worked in Sherrard in those early days. He described the town as quite a lively place, "It had seven saloons and an equal number of houses of ill-fame". I cannot verify this statement, but I'm sure that with the large number of single miners it well could be true.

One of the first automobiles in the village was a "Glide" owned by J.W. Young. Pfitzenmaier's Garage sold "Cole" autos. Kinsey's Garage sold Fords and Case tractors in the early years, later Chevrolets. The early business district extended from the present City Hall east for 3 blocks on both sides of the street. It also went north and south of main street on Fourth Avenue.

Many of the homes and buildings in Sherrard were moved from Cable as the coal mine there began to decline. Later, when the mine in Sherrard closed in 1918, many of the buildings were moved to Matherville, 11. The Free Methodist Church which stood on the south west corner of 4th Street and 4th Avenue was moved to Shale City in 1915. After the closing of the coal mine, the population of the village declined to half its population by 1910. The village, however, continued to be a center of commerce for the township.

The coal mine was state-of-the-art for its time, and the village was also very progressive, having electricity about 1901. It had telephone service very early on. The Home Telephone Company served the village; another phone company served the rural areas. If you wanted to communicate with both the town and rural residents you needed two phones. Later in 1958, the Farmers Mutual Telephone Company was taken over by the Western Illinois Telephone Company and Illinois Bell.

In those early days of the village, before television, entertainment was much different. Sherrard had an excellent baseball team. The ball park was first located in the same general area as the present Little League Park in the northwest part of town. This park had a large wooden grandstand with concession stands beneath it. The ball games and their results were given a large amount of space in the local newspapers. The ball diamond was later moved to a field at the south end of Third Street, presently the location of the South Lawn Addition. The land that the original ball park stood on was owned by the Coal Valley Mining Company. When the mine ceased operation, the land was sold to the Village of Sherrard for $1.00. This land which ran from First to Third Streets is now owned by Unit #200 School District. The Opera House was also a popular entertainment location. Stage productions, roller skating, movies and dances were held in the building.

At the conclusion of the First World War a large parade and celebration was held. A large bonfire was built in the intersection of 3rd Street and 4th Avenue. The residents brought pots and pans to bang together-an awful noise resulted. The village also celebrated the ending of the Second World War with a great deal of parading about and noise. During the Second World War there were scrap drives to gather metal for the war effort. Residents saved their newspapers, tin cans and old cooking grease. Many things were rationed including sugar, gasoline, tires and other items. The school children brought money to school to purchase war stamps which then bought war bonds. Many of the village residents went to the war. Some did not return.

After the war, the town's business district was quite busy with as many as four grocery stores, an automobile dealership, two restaurants, hardware stores and other businesses. The merchants were open on Wednesday and Saturday nights and were very busy. These merchants sponsored a free movie at the band shell in the park on Wednesday nights in the summer. There has been since the 1930s' a celebration at least once a year. In the early years it was at Labor Day. Later the Orangemen's Picnic was celebrated about July 12th. After the demise of the picnic, the Firemen have had a fish fry in July.

Since the 1930's, most residents have worked in the factories in the Quad City area. During the economic uncertainties of the 1 980's the population of Sherrard declined about 1 5%. The population has remained steady at about 700 during the 1990's.

Population according to the Federal Census Bureau:
1900-826 1910-906 1920-437 1930-327 1940-415 1950-484 1960-574 1970-808 1980-811 1990-697
Author Ron Parker: Information from Kenneth Lee, Ed Roberts, the late Doris Hansen and others.