By Tom Emery
CARLINVILLE – A pair of recently-discovered old postcards may provide some clues to research on the cannon that adorns the grounds of the Macoupin County courthouse.
Organizers of an effort to restore the cannon have asked for the public’s help in locating information on the six-pound, 1841 cannon, including historical background such as its age and the date of its placement on the courthouse grounds.
The effort is spearheaded by members of the Macoupin County Civil War Round Table, which recently completed two successful drives to restore the flags of the 122nd Illinois Infantry, a top Civil War unit from the area.
Alan Ashby, who operates Plaza Truck Service in Carlinville and is one of the leaders of the cannon effort, has acquired two postcards that offer some insight on the gun.
One postcard shows the Carlinville square looking northward and appears to be from the 1920s, based on the age of automobiles shown around the square as well as some of the buildings. That postcard clearly shows a cannon, mounted on a wheeled carriage.
“It looks like a six-pounder,” remarked Ashby. “And that’s the same size of the one that is on the courthouse grounds. It may be the same one, but we obviously don’t know for certain.” The view in the postcard is also dominated by a towering flagpole, which appears to be at least fifty feet in height.
The other postcard, which carries a postmark from 1919, also depicts the Carlinville square looking northward. However, no cannon is visible.
“So it would appear that the cannon had been placed in the square after that,” commented Ashby. “It’s possible that the city originally owned the cannon and donated it to the county, but, again, we don’t know for sure.”
The cannon, located on the south side of the courthouse block, is a local landmark. A new aluminum carriage will replace the current concrete mount, and the barrel will be completely restored.
In addition to Ashby, bookstore owner John Alexander of Virden, Civil War re-enactor and collector Steve Hicks of Roodhouse, and Carlinville businessman Norman Crays are heavily involved in the cannon restoration effort.
Ashby has theorized that the cannon was possibly used in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Civil War, or both. Anyone with information on the cannon may contact any of the four leaders of the fundraising effort.
The cost of the new aluminum carriage is estimated at $15,000, and total costs for the project may reach $25,000. Around $7,000 has been raised to date.
Donations to the cannon effort are being coordinated by the Macoupin County Community Foundation, which is working in conjunction with the round table. All donations are tax-deductible and should be made to the MCCF at P.O. Box 45, Carlinville, IL 62626. Receipts will be given for all donations.
Anyone with information on the history of the cannon, or wanting to discuss a donation, may call Alexander at 217-965-5443, Ashby at 217-854-4758, or Crays at 217-854-6706.