Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lost Towns of Illinois - Griggsville Landing, Phillips' Landing, Phillips' Ferry, and Phillipsburg, Illinois.

Griggsville Landing was later known as Phillips' Landing or Phillips' Ferry or Phillipsburg, then the landing for Valley City, which was located in Flint Township on the Illinois River in Pike County.
Pike County, Illinois, was surveyed by the United States government in 1817-1819. In 1822, Garrett Van Dusen, the second settler in Flint Township, started a ferry using a canoe, ferrying footmen and swimming horses.

The town was a steamboat stop that began sometime in the mid-1820s. Mr. Van Deusen sold his claim to Mr. Nimrod Phillips, many of whose descendants are still residents of Pike County. By 1832, the site was referred to as Phillips' Ferry.
Steamboat at Griggsville Landing. Photograph by O.W. Taylor 1915.
The great Erie Canal, 365 miles long, completed in 1827, linked the Hudson River with Lake Erie at Buffalo; the Ohio & Erie Canal (1830) took the passenger from Lake Erie at Cleveland to the Ohio River at Portsmouth; and a canal at Louisville, Kentucky, circumvented the rapids on the Ohio River where river pirates had been such a bane to flatboatmen. The route continued down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi and Illinois to Griggsville Landing. What had been a torturous land route over the Appalachians was now a pleasant boat ride by river, lake and canal with plenty of room for household and farming equipment. This water route from Boston to Griggsville in 1834 cost $119 (today; $3,000) for two people and took forty days. It took about 12 days from New Orleans by river steamboat to Griggsville Landing.

Griggsville (4 miles to the west) was platted by David R. Griggs in 1832-33. Phillips' Ferry was used by Hyrum Smith and his family during the Mormon migration from Missouri eastward to Illinois in 1838-1839.
Griggsville Landing Lime Kiln was built around 1850.
The town at Griggsville Landing was home to a boat yard, a lime kiln, a grist mill and a hotel. James McWilliams owned the lumber yard in the early 1840s. In 1844, Captain Samuel Rider designed and built the Olittippa, a paddle­wheel boat of shallow draft (10") powered by horses on deck. The Timelian and Prairie State, steam-powered, were also designed by Captain Rider and built in 1847.

The Griggsville Landing Lime Kiln was built around 1850. Local traditions hold that English stonemason William Hobson used the Griggsville Landing kiln. It is said Hobson used the kiln in conjunction with the construction of homes, barns and stone arch bridges in the area during the 19th century.

The first and only church ever built in the township was erected at Griggsville landing in 1871 and was known as Union Church.

Griggsville Landing was eventually abandoned by the late 1870s.

The little village of Valley City, the only one in Flint township, was founded close to Phillips' Ferry by Wallace Parker in the year 1877. Wallace Parker also ran steamboat ferries from where Griggsville Landing used to be. The post office at Griggsville Landing changed its name to Valley City. The village of Valley City contained one store and post office. Valley City was incorporated in April 1956.

The book "Past and Present of Pike County, Illinois" (1906) states that "Valley City is the only town in the township and is on the Wabash Railroad."

The town was eventually abandoned, rendering it a ghost town due in part because, by Congressional mandate, the United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed levees along the Illinois River, leading to flooding of lower elevation settlements along the river. The annual floods were due to the levees wreaking havoc on Valley City, leading to the decimation of the town's businesses, abandonment of homes, and the eventual death of the town.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

1 comment:

  1. I am told the library in Griggsville has a collection of images of steamboats calling at Griggsville Landing. There are a few on the wall in their Historical Society home. My dad and his were born in Valley City. Milburn Emmett and Emmett Fay Biddle respectively. I was last there in 2012. Was unable to find the landing site.
    I’m a maritime historian and ship model builder. Thanks very much for posting this capsule history.


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