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Blog post by Randi Richardson


Early tintype of Abraham Lincoln with his wife and family in front of the White House.

There is no one yet living that can recall firsthand memories of Bloomington in 1860.  And, unfortunately, newspapers aren’t of much help because Bloomington newspapers during that time mostly don’t exist.

We might, however, glimpse one small window into the past with the publication of a column titled “Fifty Years Ago” published in the Bloomington Evening World on June 19, 1920.  It was a reprint of a short article from the Bloomington Republican dated October 20, 1860.   In November 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected president and a few months later the North and South would engage in a Civil War.

The principal business firms in Bloomington at that time were:  hardware–D. Batterton and James Small; dry goods—Tuley & McCrea, G. H. Worley, W. O. Fee, Marsh, Cox & Co.; jewelry—M. J. Smith; clothing—Kahn Bros.; bakery—J. Misener, A. P. Helton; grocers—W. R. Mason, Dunn & Co.; drugs—J. O. and M. L. McCullough; furniture—Showers & Moffet, A. W. Batterton, J. W. Bower; tailor—Ben McGee.  Attorneys were Young and Mulky, M. C. Hunter & Bro., David Sheeks and Paris C. Dunning.  A. W. Reeves was sheriff of the county and P. L. D. Mitchell was treasurer.

There was one saloon on the levee, the Arcade.

Market prices at that time were:  wheat, $1 a bushel; oats, 25 cents; corn, 35 cents; potatoes, 35 cents a bushel; bacon, 12 cents; lard, 12 cents; butter, 15 cents; eggs, 7 cents a dozen; flour, $3.00 a hundred; sugar, 7 cents; dried apples, 80 cents a bushel; coffee, 16 cents; corn meal 60 cents a bushel.

To read more articles about early Monroe County, scattered issues of early Bloomington newspapers dating from 1827 can be accessed online at, a nonsubscription website.