The Historic Five Mile House  

Five Miles Southeast of Charleston, Illinois

 

 

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Local Legend and Lore of the Five Mile House

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     Local legend has it that Dr. Stephen Stone, blacksmith and veterinarian, outfitted twenty to thirty wagons per day headed for California, that this house served as a wayside inn and stagecoach stop, and that Abraham Lincoln stopped here to rest and water his horse during his travels on the Eighth Judicial Circuit.

     The lore of the Five Mile House is an important part of its history, and researchers will continue to tease apart the many stories that surround this local landmark in order to gain a better understanding of its role in Coles Country history.  The Five Mile House is a simple structure with a complicated past that reflects over 170 years of Coles County History.  It has much yet to teach us.

1849 GOLD RUSH

     We do know that Stephen Stone, farmer and veterinarian, owned the house from 1849 until his death in 1853. He may well have outfitted wagons headed for California and the gold rush, or for Oregon.  We know for certain that Stephen's widow, Nancy Stone, went to Oregon in 1863 with her son John Stone and his family and that they left from the Five Mile House.

WAYSIDE INN & STAGECOACH STOP

     The Five Mile House was located at the juncture of three roads, the Archer Road which is now Illinois Route 130, the Westfield/Hutton Road and the York Trail which ran southeast through the Stephen Sargent farm and on to Martinsville and West York, Illinois.  It was common for homes along major routes to take in travelers and provide overnight lodging and meals.  Being located at the junction of three roads, however, the Five Mile House would be in a prime location for doing this.  Perhaps that is why the kitchen ell was added on possibly as early as the 1850s.  The name Five Mile House would also indicate it's use as a wayside inn as stops along a route were often named based on their distance from the nearest town.  A wayside inn on the east side of Charleston was named the Half Mile House because it was a half mile from the Courthouse.  Located on Harrison street a block east of 18th, it was recently condemned by the City of Charleston and town down.

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN CONNECTION

     Historian Charles Coleman documented Abraham Lincoln's acquaintance with Stephen and Nancy Sargent who lived a mile east of Salisbury (now Hutton) and with James Rennels of Hutton Township.  Lincoln most likely traveled the York Trail from West York to Charleston which ran right in front of the Sargent house and right by the Five Mile House.  If the hour was late, or if there was visiting to do, Abe may have even stayed overnight at one house or the other.  In any event, with five miles to go into Charleston, the Five Mile House would have most like been a stopping point for him to rest his horse, get a drink of water or purchase a meal.