Carmi is 15 miles west of New Harmony, Indiana. It is about 40 miles north of (Old) Shawneetown Illinois' first settlement on the Ohio River. This town was largely abandoned after the 1937 Flood, but its 1840 bank building, badly in need of restoration, impresses travelers crossing the Illinois Route 13 bridge.
The oldest house in town, originally a double-pen log cabin built in 1814, sets just beyond the city park. It was used as a courthouse when White County was founded in 1815, and Carmi was chartered in 1816.
|Double-pen log cabin built in 1814.|
James Ratcliff, known as "Old Beaver" served in many county offices from 1818 to 1848. Abraham Lincoln stayed at the Ratcliff Inn on September 1, 1840 and spoke for the Whig Party at a rally at the western edge of Carmi.
|Ratcliff Inn, Carmi, Illinois.|
|Abraham Lincoln photograph 1846.|
The home was built by Rep. James Robert ("Dollar Bob") Williams, who oversaw the construction of the Courthouse while serving as County Judge from 1882-1886. Williams served several terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and spoke for his friend William Jennings Bryan in his presidential campaigns.
|The "Castle" built in 1896.|
To the east of the Castle is the James Robert Ready building, a small office building built in 1940 to the design of the Ready family storefront of 1840. The new building was needed to allow the Williams family to manage its oil interests, which was discovered in White County in 1939.
Carmi's population grew from 2,700 to 5,500 in a matter of years during the Illinois Basin oil boom, and is now about 5,100 (in 2014). Many of these residents came to Illinois from Oklahoma and Texas, where the oil business was already established. West of the city park are the 1828 Ratcliff Inn and the 1896 L. Haas Store, both maintained as museums.
|L. Haas' Store (with banner) is next to the Schoemann's store in 1910.|
|Robinson-Stewart House, Carmi, Illinois.|
|The Webb-Hay house in Carmi, Illinois looking towards the Old Graveyard. Across the street is the Robinson-Stewart House.|
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.