William Pell, Jr. first settled here in 1832, and the settlement formed around him was called Pell's Landing. The village was later name Rose Clare and eventually became the City of Rosiclare. The first discovery of lead ore about one mile south of Rosiclare was made in the fall of 1839, in sinking a well near the river on the farm of Mr. James Anderson, which was then referred to as "Well Lode." In the early part of 1842, Mr. Pell discovered fluorspar and galena (lead) about 3/4 of a mile back of Rosiclare on his own land at the place known as "Harrison's Diggings." Throughout the next 156 years more discoveries were made in our area and mining continued with ups and downs in the industry. In 1995, the US ended 158 years of fluorspar mining and the Rosiclare mining district ceased to be.
Fluorspar mining was the life blood of Rosiclare. By the 1930's Rosiclare had grown into a prosperous little community with a number of fluorspar mines. There was the Rosiclare Lead & Fluorspar Co., Fairview Mining Co. (which was later bought by Alcoa), Hillside, Blue Diggings, Knight, Knight & Clark, and later Mahoning Mining Co. which became Ozark-Mahoning Company from 1940 until 1996.
In her book on the Knight's geneology, Katheryn Knight Hargan wrote about her memories of Rosiclare "back in the day." Following is her description.
"The Rosiclare Lead & Fluorspar Mine had a tram that ran from the mine down Main Street to the river carrying spar to the river and bringing back coal. Fairview Mining Co. loaded railroad cars on barges which were towed to Metropolis and put on the Illinois Central Railroad and shipped to market. The Rosiclare Hospital, with our much respected Dr. John R. Develling, and his head nurse Miss McCormick, delivered many and cared for most of us. The Rosiclare Hotel, on Main Street adjacent to Dr. DeVelling's home, was owned and operated by Miss Maudie Bolen. She always had a few guests plus the traveling salesmen when they were in town. She also served an excellent Sunday dinner complete with white tablecloth and cloth napkins. On the curve in Rosiclare were several houses where the mining engineers lived. Also there was the Rosiclare Lead & Fluorspar Co. staff house built by E. A. Knight in 1912. At first it was a three story house, but after a fire, it became a two story house and later a porte-co-chere was added. Today, it is still a love home.
There was a baseball field across the street from the Rosiclare Hotel and across from the hotel on Main Street was the YMCA (now Masonic Lodge) which was a hub of activities for many years and it even had a bowling alley. There was an active Rosiclare Women's Club who usually met and had their events at the YMCA. There were dances there on Wednesday nights when Charles "Fid" Ledbetter and his orchestra rehearsed. The dances were great fun for the young people and the mothers sat on the sidelines chaperoning!
We had several grocery stores: Pritchard's, Brown's, Addis' and later a Kroger. For many years the Travis Drug Store on Main Street (now the Visitor's Center) was operated by Roy Travis and his brother Hobart. Here is where we shopped for our medicine, advice and many of our necessities. Many gather here after school to pick up their mail at the post office, drink a Coke and just visit. On Saturday night it was where all the young people gathered to drink a Coke, listen to The Kay Kayser Lucky Strike Hit Parade radio program and to hear the #1 song of the week! We also waiting to see if anyone had a car so we could go to Elizabethtown to dance! There was also another cafe on Main Street where we danced to the juke box for as long as anyone had money for the box--we came early to get a booth or table. On Saturday night, our parents parked their cars early on Main Street in front of the drug store or close by to watch the "passing parade."
There were several auto dealers in Rosiclare. Mr. Will Karber had the jewelry store where we all bought our graduation and birthday watches and gifts and he also fitted our glasses. Walter Dimick owned the Capitol Theater Building on Main Street. Mr. Clemens had his barber shop on one side of the theater and Tiny Pritchard had a sandwich shop on the other. Dr. Birch had his dental office over the theater. Mr. Goetzman ran the clothing store across from the Rosiclare State Bank. There was the E. A. Knight & Bro. Lumber Yard, Bosty Pell & Earl Kibler were in the insurance business, and there were many churches. In those days it seemed most everyone went to church on Sunday--if you were not well enough to go to church, you were not well enough to do anything the rest of the day!
We had a grade school and high school. The Rosiclare Community High School was built in 1918 but closed in 1978 when the Hardin County School was built for the entire county."
Rosiclare has always been a great example of "small town America." A lot of good, smart and industrious folks have their roots here and are proud to say that Rosiclare is their home town. Lots of great memories!