The reason for Du Quoin is simple: In 1850 the Federal Railroad Land Act gave literally thousands of acres to states like Illinois for construction of railroads. In turn, the Illinois Central Railroad sold off the property it didn't need to pay for the construction costs. Chester Keyes and Issac Metcalf had early information about the route of the railroad through Du Quoin from the railroad's chief engineer, George McClelland and transacted the purchase of several hundred acres of land beside the right of way from Albert Adkins. The beginning point--the point of origin for all of Du Quoin--is a stone marker at the southwest corner of Keyes Park.
Keyes was a wealthy man who came to Old Du Quoin from St. Louis and became the postmaster. The Keyes family lived in a home they built at 136 North Washington Street--the Mark Miller home, located directly across from the park. Keyes insisted the park remain open, writing into the plat that no structures should be built in the park. Of course, the changes in time and lifestyles have ignored and altered this demand in the last decade.
Keyes was nearly 64 years old at the time of his death. One of our pioneers has passed away, whose every impulse and feeling was the city of Du Quoin should grow strong and prosperous, and in his anxiety to speed its growth and promote the morals, the pleasure and health of the citizens, he liberally donated the ten acre tract now known as the City Park, besides the lots upon which several of the various churches and the public schools now stand.
* The photos of Mr. Keyes & Keyes City Park were taken from photos in Historic Du Quoin - Images of the Past published by the Du Quoin Historic Preservation Commission.
The Du Quoin Park Board has begun work on the new Bandstand in the park with a finish date of late April 2011, weather permitting.