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Many St. Paris forefathers arrived from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Pennsylvania and the Virginias. David Huffman arrived in 1831 with his wife and 11 children from Culpepper County, Kentucky. They were the first family in St. Paris. The Apples, Peter
and Catherine were second.
David Huffman built the town's first home on what is now the northwest corner of Main and Springfield Streets. Platted by Huffman on September 21, 1831, the village was incorporated in 1859 and had its first mayor, John Riker, who had just returned from the California Gold Rush. By 1878, the railroad had arrived and the population had grown to just over 1,500. By 1880, the census figure had risen to 1,749 residents. The second family to arrive in St. Paris, the Apples, delivered the first child born there. They named him Adam Apple. On November 28, 1883, St. Paris had a tragic fire. It began in the rear of Gordon's Feed Store and quickly consumed most of the town's businesses and several residences. From a historical perspective, St. Paris' greatest claim to fame is its tradition as a center for carriage manufacturing in the late nineteenth century. The most prominent "Pony Wagon" manufacturer was the Walborn and Riker Company whose carriages were considered to be of the finest quality, a fact attested by the display at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Other St. Paris carriage builders were the Sturm and Mattoon Co., Kump and Fry, and Charles Smith.
Another booming industry in St. Paris was the distilling of alcoholic beverages. At one point there were three distilleries operating in town at the same time. The largest was the Runkle and Ellston Distillery, which in 1877 was making 800 gallons of liqueur a day. The mash from the distilling process was then fed to hogs in a cooperative agreement with local pig farmers.
In 1897 the first municipal power plant was installed. It had 500 subscribers and two rates of charge, one for those who turned out their lights by 10 PM, and another for those who let them burn all night.
One of the most distinguished citizens of St. Paris was the late John Kiser. His many contributions to the community include the donation in 1933 of 1,200 acres of land for the construction of what is now Kiser Lake. Today the lake provides an easily accessible recreational facility to the residents of St. Paris and surrounding vicinity. Because it is restricted to man powered boats and sailboats, Kiser Lake has great appeal to water sport "Purists." On a blustery summer day a fleet of sailboats with their colorful sails can be seen vying for position as their skippers duel for real and imaginary trophies. In 1957, Graham High School was built east of the village on US Highway 36. In 1960, Dayton Power and Light Company offered gas service to the village. In 1972, the first income tax was approved and that same year the Johnson St. Paris Emergency Medical Service was formed.
Although it is surrounded by larger municipalities and has kept pace with the burgeoning technology, St. Paris still provides its inhabitants with a strong sense of tradition, an aura of respectability, and its elegant country charm makes it forever "The Pony Wagon Town."
(history taken from the following Champaign history site)
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