History of Pie-Town
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Upper Alton, or Pie Town, is situated about two miles northeast of Alton's downtown business district. Upper Alton was laid out in 1816 by Joseph Meacham and was a separate town from Rufus Easton's "Lower Alton". The area was incorporated as a village in 1821. John Mason Peck, in his Gazetteer of Illinois published in 1834, had this to say about the area:
Alton (Upper) is a pleasantly situated town on elevated ground, two and one half miles back from the river and lower Alton...The country around was originally timbered land and is undulating. There are two stores, one house of entertainment, three physicians, various mechanics among which is a pottery, a commodious brick school house for town purposes, a steam flouring mill no building no grocery or whiskey shop and about 60 families.
For much of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century the area was most commonly associated with Shurtleff College. The school was originally founded in 1827 by John Mason Peck as Alton Seminary and later became Shurtleff College in honor of a Dr Brendon Shurtleff of Boston, whom donated $10,000 to the school. In 1910 Andrew Carnegie donated $15,000 to build a library, which still stands on the school grounds today. In 1957 the school became part of the Southern Illinois University system and continues to operate today as the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE) Dental School.
The Upper Alton area became know as Pie Town in the nineteenth century. The name originated during the Mexican War (1846-1848). During this time a military camp, or bivouac, was established at Rock Springs, City Cemetery, and the woods near Lincoln School for the Illinois regiments. The ladies of Upper Alton would bake pies and give them to the soldiers stationed in the area. The cherries used on many of the pies were grown on the Megowen land near the Upper Alton Cemetery and Humbert road. The ladies of the area again resumed their pie baking during the Civil War. They would bake and take their pies to Colonel Cooke's 7th regiment which was stationed in the area. A 1925 Alton Telegraph obituary for Elizabeth Megowen, age 86, stated that she was one of the last surviving Upper Alton women who had baked pies for the Civil War soldiers.
In 1868, the first Memorial day parade was held in Upper Alton. The parade has run continuously since that date thanks to local residents and organizations. Rain or shine the parade goes on in honor of the contributions of local veterans.
In 1911, Upper Alton was annexed by the city of Alton.