Coal Mining in Illinois


The village of Braceville, Illinois was platted by Nathan Cotton in 1861 and was populated by people directly interested in mining coal, especially after 1870 when several mines were opened and the town became a center of the mining area. The village developed rapidly, reaching its peak at 3,500. In 1888, the town consisted of six general merchandise stores, two boot and shoe stores, one bakery, one news depot, two drug stores, three confectionary stores, two restaurants, four butcher shops, two hardward stores, two millinery and dressmaking establishments, one harness shop, two banks and one hotel.

The town was also supplied with a water works system, which was put in by the village at a cost of about $10,000. This system gave a sufficient supply of water for all necessary needs.

There were many other organizations located in Braceville. Of the social socities, there were Braceville Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, No. 679; Rebekah Lodge, Dinah; Court Pride of Illinois, A.O.F., No 7201; St. David's Lodge, K. of P., No. 90; Swedish Beneveloent Society; Deutscher Unterstutzungs Verein; St. Andrew's Lodge, I.O. of G.T.; K of L. Assembly, No. 1750; M. and L. Protective association; Sick and Accident Association; Philharmonic Society, and Young Folks Literary Society.

Braceville flourished until the summer of 1910 when a strike was called and the Braceville Coal Company, which owned 1100 acres of coal land, decided not to reopen. Within a few months of the mine closing most of the miners had moved away to seek work in other areas and the town began its decline. Left behind were a big opera house, a large frame school and many empty stores, saloons and houses.