Sneed’s Wolf Creek History

Wolf Creek was a crossroad village in section 25 of Grassy Township. It was named for Wolf Creek that flowed a short distance away. This creek was thickly wooded and abounded with cougar and wolves. Much of the land around it was owned by the Federal Government. This was given to the Illinois Central Railroad as a subsidy. When the railroad began selling the land in Grassy Township in the 1850s, settlers came to this area rapidly. Wolf Creek soon boasted of a general store, blacksmith shop, a coffin shop, inn, post office, school, Masonic hall and a church.

Eli Lance came up from Union County in 1861. He was a blacksmith. His shop was built about fifty yards west of Walker’s Store. The Palestine Southern Baptist Church was organized in Wolf Creek in 1864. Eli Lance opened Wolf Creek Post Office in a small building he had erected on his front lawn, just across the street from the blacksmith shop, June 12, 1871. Lance was the first postmaster. Dr. Treese practiced his profession as a veterinarian in Wolf Creek.

Isaac Newton Walker ran a general store. Just when he opened it is not certain. Isaac Walker was old enough to have sons in the Civil War. His birth was never recorded and the exact date is not known. He died quite old, according to his granddaughter he was 102 years old. His store was in a two story hewn sandstone building. The store occupied the lower floor. Upstairs was the living quarters of the Walker family. Some spare rooms were rented to travelers and peddlers. In one large room upstairs Mr. Walker stored coffins. Later Mr. Walker built a frame house just east of the store. The family lived there during the last years they ran the store.

James Walker, better known as “Jimmie Walker”, who managed Brown and Columbo Feed Store in the 1920s, was a son of Isaac Walker. Walkers Markets in Herrin, Marion and Energy are kept by Isaac Walker’s grandsons.

Wolf Creek had no railroad and in winter and spring the roads became quagmires. Bringing in goods by tram and wagon became a problem. Isaac Walker died in the 1930s and the store was closed. Eli Lance closed the blacksmith shop. Dr. Treese moved to Marion. More than fifty residents died or moved away. The town fell into decline.

Today Eli Lance’s house still stands. It is the only occupied house in Wolf Creek. The post office building stands and is used for storage. The Dr. Treese’s house stands empty and deteriorating. The Walker store is in ruin. The back wall and two front corners are standing. The roof and floors have long collapsed and rotted away. The Walker house is a heap of ruin. The roof and porches have collapsed and the walls fallen down. The Masonic hall still stands and is used. The Palestine Southern Baptist Church no longer meets in the lower floor. A new church building was erected across the road from the hall. It is in excellent repair, has a full basement, a full-time pastor and an active Sunday school.

W. Reed runs a country garage and shop, in which he repairs automobiles and farm tractors. He lives in a mobile home beside the Dr. Treese house. He and his wife and Mr. Bush and his wife are the only residents of Wolf Creek. The sound of the houses and the clang of the blacksmith’s anvil are gone. With them went the pioneers who built the village.  The ruins stand as a monument of the past.

Back to the top

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