History of Arenzville, IL
By Judge J. A. Arenz, Chapter XIV, History of Cass County, Illinois, edited by William Henry Perrin, Chicago, O.L. Baskin & Co. Historical Publishers, 1882.
Miscellaneous, Etc., Etc.
The citizens of Beardstown, and the northern portion of Morgan County had become aware that their interest would be better promoted by a separation from Morgan, because every public improvement, and particularly the contemplated railroad, running from Springfield, by Jacksonville to Quincy, which in their opinion, ought to have been located by way of Beardstown, being the nearest and best route between Springfield and Quincy.
Morgan had at that time six and Sangamon nine members in the Legislature, and the two counties combined, could carry most any measure, and Jacksonville and not Beardstown, would be the recipient of its benefits, for all the members from Morgan were either citizens of Jacksonville or vicinity. For these and other reasons, a division of the county was agitated, and continued until 1837, when the county of Cass was formed. In all these matters Mr. Arenz was the leader and main worker. In the year 1835, he gave up his mercantile business in Beardstown, and took up his residence on his farm, about six miles southeast of Beardstown, which he named "Recluze." Here he had a house built, which had a good sized room in the center, surrounded by shed rooms and a porch. It was covered by shingle roof, weather-boarded and painted, and was built on the brow of a high hill, near the edge of the timber, commanding a very fine view. It was certainly the hottest place in the summer and the coldest in winter, and the house appeared from a distance very much like a good sized tent. Here he resided until 1839, when he made his permanent home at Arenzville.
In 1833 he purchased of a Mr. Smart, who had a little mill on Indian Creek, that mill and a large tract of land in Section 31, Township 17, North of Range 11 West, where now Arenzville is situated.
Indian Creek forms here a considerable bend, and to increase the volume of water, a large ditch was cut between said bend, and at the upper end a dam was constructed. A new saw mill was built on said ditch, Mr. John Savage, afterward Sheriff of Cass County, being the builder. It was a difficult matter to keep up the dam, which was constructed of timber and earth, not stone being at hand. The soil being rich and alluvial, the minks, musk-rats and crawfish in some way undermine or work around the edges of the dam, so that at times of high water it would be damaged or carried away entirely, which required the time of low water for making repairs.
When the timber yielding saw-logs had been consumed, the saw-mill was turned into a flouring mill and rebuilt; but the dam still proved a failure, until finally steam power was applied. These drawbacks would have discouraged most men, but not him, although he had several times either sold or leased the property, but it always came back to his hands, like counterfeit money.
Mr. Arenz was pretty successful in his many enterprises, but in the milling business he proved to be a complete failure, and by it sunk a great deal of money.
In 1838 he engaged also in the mercantile business, and took in partnership his brother, J. A. Arenz, and the name of the firm was F. Arenz & Co. This partnership continued for about six years, when his brother withdrew from the firm. Finally in 1853 he sold the mill and store with a tract of land, to Herman Engelbach and Peter Arenz, in whose hands the concern proved very profitable.
It seemed to be a great relief to Mr. Arenz, when he got rid of his business and obtained more leisure time for other matters. He was very often absent from home, attending meetings of all sorts, having an object for the improvement of the country. He was very fond of politics and a member of the Whig party. He liked company, was of a very generous and social disposition, and his house was scarcely ever without visitors. There was no session of the legislature, when he failed to go to the capital of the State, to be on hand whenever anything could be accomplished for the benefit of Cass County. He was acquainted with the leading men of the State, and many of them were his warm friends.
In 1852, he was the bearer of dispatches from the Secretary of the United States, to the embassadors at Berlin and Vienna. He was one of the organizers of the State Agricultural Society at Springfield, on January 5, 1853, and was elected one of its vice-presidents, which position he continued to hold to time of his death.
He also organized, on January 5, 1855, the Cass County Agricultural Society, and was elected president thereof.
Men of the stamp and character of Francis Arenz, gifted with power to look ahead, and shaping matters for paving the way to accomplish praiseworthy results, have to encounter and overcome a great many obstacles; such men necessarily have and gain many friends, but they will also have envious, bitter enemies. This was also the case with him.
Mr. Arenz died April 2, 1856.
The executive committee of the State Agricultural Society, then in session in Springfield, adopted April 3, 1856, the following resolutions:
Resolved, That in the death of Francis Arenz, late member of this board, it lost a co-worker, kind, courteous and able, and always in his place; the society, one of its most talented, energetic and ardent friends; the State and community at large, one of its most honorable, respected, and revered citizens; and that while we bow in humble humility and awe before Almighty god, we tender our most sincere and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased, hoping that their loss and our loss is his gain.
Resolved, That a copy of these proceedings be sent to the family and friends of the deceased, to the Prairie Farmer, and to the papers in Beardstown, Jacksonville and Springfield, with the request that the same be inserted in the papers indicated.
There are now eight children of Mr. Arenz living, four boys and four daughters, all of whom are married.
Among the men who contributed their share to the development of the town of Arenzville, must be mentioned the firm of Kircher & Goedeking.
Mr. Jos. Kircher came in 1834. He had received a collegiate education, and settled on a farm near Arenzville. When some years afterwards Mr. Henry Goedeking arrived, he took up his residence on the same farm. Mr. Goedeking was a native of Berlin, Prussia, where his father was an officer of the royal mint.
After farming a few years, they arrived at the conclusion that such employment was neither suitable nor profitable for them, and they moved to Arenzville and engaged in mercantile business. About five or six years afterward they took up their permanent residence at Belleville, Ills., where they established a hardware business. Mr. Goedeking became Mayor of Belleville, and died some years ago, never having been married. Mr. Kircher is still living and is the father of five children, honored and loved by all who are acquainted with them.