The Original Town of Bement was surveyed in 1854, and the deed and plat were recorded on January 1, 1855. Joseph Bodman, L.B. Wing, and Henry B. Little donated the ground to Josiah Hunt and F.J. Carter, agents for the Great Western Railroad. In addition, Wing sold about 30 acres adjoining the town on the east to Hunt and Carter for $1.00
The survey was made with the streets running parallel and perpendicular to the railroad, so that the crossings were right angles to the tracks. This resulted in the streets being about 15 degrees from true directions.
The original town extended from Franklin Street on the north to Wing Street on the south, and from Sangamon on the west to Champaign on the east. The north and south streets are named for counties in Illinois from Jacksonville to Champaign, except that Morgan County (Jacksonville) is actually west of Sangamon County (Springfield), and in Bement these two streets are reversed.
As for the east and west streets, Wing and Bodman were named for the two men who had so much to do with establishing Bement. Wilson Street, running parallel to the railroad on the north, was named Railroad Avenue on the original platt. Men honored by having a street named after them were Bowyer, Morris, and Franklin; they were not definitely identified. H.B. Little, the third Horseman who donated land, did not move to Bement and played no other part in its early history; consequently, he did not have a street named after him. Little did however, visit his son who settled here in the later years.
The lots, both north and south of the railroad, between Macon and Piatt, were called "Great Western Railroad depot ground," and the station was eventually built on the west side of Piatt Street, north of the tracks.
Piatt Street was laid out to be wider from sidewalk to sidewalk than the other streets in Bement because it was intended to become the main street. Instead, Railroad Avenue (Wilson Street), running east—west and located nearer the center of the original town, became the main street.
Bement was now a “town” laid out and platted . . . with no buildings and no people. This changed rapidly. Bement began to grow on both sides of the tracks of the Great Western Railroad. The location of the depot was established and lots laid out in the original town.
The growth of a Town is largely dependent on the development and growth of its businesses. The changes in Bement’s business district tell an interesting story about how our village has met the challenges it has faced for 150 years. Local changes in the village and wider changes in transportation, travel, and entertainment have had a marked effect on Bement’s business activities.
From Bement Sesquicentennial book - used with permission