Cambria History

Cambria, the village in sections 32 and 33 of Blairsville Township, has the Medieval Latin name for Wales, much used by poets. Evan D. and Thomas John, natives of Measteg, Glamorganshire, South Wales, gave the name to a railroad station that served the mines of their company, the Carterville and Big Muddy Coal Company.

The Tom Johns shaft at Lauder was opened by this company about 1904. Tom John was prominent in politics at Murphysboro, where his father came as a miner about 1880. The other son, Evan D. John, entered the mines of Wales as a trapper boy eight years old, worked in many coal fields after the family came to the United States, and became mine manager in central Illinois. Governor John R. Tanner appointed him a state mine inspector, and Governor Frank O. Lowden promoted him director of mines and minerals. Evan John’s home was in Carbondale during his activity as operator in the Williamson county coal field.

The Chicago and Carbondale, succeeded by the Chicago and Texas, first opened the country near Cambria to mining development and in 1902 the railroad was conveyed to the Illinois Central. At that time the station, Lauder, was changed to Cambria at the John brothers’ suggestion.

The post office established under the name Reeves in 1905 was changed to Cambria July 22, 1911. Marshall F. Emerson had been postmaster since January 27, and continued to serve until 1917. Albert H. Hesse was appointed April 19, and moved the post office into his grocery and notion store. On September 16, 1922, he was succeeded by Delia M. Green.

William Albert Perrine opened the mine at Cambria on the farm of his father-in-law, John M. Cruse. Mr. Cruse came from Christian county, Kentucky, in 1868 after serving with a regiment from that state in defense of the Union. He developed his farm in sections 28 and 33 from virgin timber. Among Mr. and Mrs. Cruse’s sons (her maiden name was Rebecca Sizemore) were Grant and Robert R. Cruse. The latter was mine manager at Cambria, while Grant Cruse went into the office of the Carterville Big Muddy coal company in 1903 when they leased the coal on the farm where he was born. Mr. Cruse was elected county treasurer for the 1926-1930 term.

See also, Reeves History

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)