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.