Sneed’s Sugar Creek History

Sugar Creek Post Office was located in the southwest corner of section 18 of Grassy Township. It is not known just when the community started, or by whom. It had a post office in 1839 according to a county map of that date. There are no records of its establishment or discontinuation. There is a record that shows a post office opening September 22, 1846 but there is no record of its closing. A post office was established September 23, 1852 and discontinued November 10, 1858. The post office was named Sugar Creek.

The community built around Sugar Creek Store and Post Office was known as Ramseyville. The hamlet was not located on any main post road but the stagecoach did a side run off the Frankfort-Jonesboro Trail. A tavern was built at Sugar Creek along with a blacksmith shop. Jack Monroe bought 320 acres of land just north of the community for 25 cents an acre, a total of $80.

Horse trading began in Ramseyville in the 1850s. Stock pens were built and the village became a center in horse trade. Outlaws in the “west” were common and horse thieves ranked first among them. Most of the horses sold in Ramseyville were stolen in Missouri and brought to the hamlet for sale.

These horse thieves would sell their stolen horses and like all outlaw gangs, they lived high while their money lasted. Whiskey flowed free in the tavern the night of the auctions. One night the horse thieves arrived at the tavern and found that the new supply of whiskey had not arrived. All the whiskey had been made up into “Bitters,” a chill tonic made from bitter herbs and roots dissolved in whiskey. The outlaws ordered bitters. “Bring all of it and we will drink that if there is no whiskey,” they said. The next day they were all violently ill from the poisonous herbs.

Just before the Civil War, the vigilantes were organized along the Ohio River and began to expand. Ramseyville was no longer a safe trading for horse thieves. Also Missouri law enforcement was improved. The leader of the gang was caught and hung. This ended the horse trading m Ramseyville. Honest people were afraid of that market.

The railroads came to Southern Illinois in the 1850s and the stagecoach lines diminished. Ramseyville became merely a country trading post. It gradually declined and was absorbed by a store one-half mile southwest of Ramseyville. This store was called McGeeville. Here was the Cowthon Post Office. It was in the Sugar Creek Bottoms and did not last long. The mail was carried in and out on horseback.

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(Ghost Towns of Southern Illinois, by Glenn J. Sneed, published 1977)