Skip to main content

Full text of "History of Rockford and Winnebago county, llinois, from the first settlement in 1834 to the civil war"

See other formats

History of Rockford and 
Winnebago County, Illinois 

From the First Settlement in 1834 to the Civil War 

First Published in 1 900 by 

Photographically Reproduced in 1985 by 




[Oermanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake were the first settlers 
of Rockford. They came from Galena in the summer of 1834] 









publishes bg tbe flew SnglanD Society of RocfcforD, nil. 








Photographically reproduced from the original edition dated 1900, by 
Leonard and Mary Adrignola, Rockford, Illinois. 

July, 1985. 

Printed and bound in the United States of America. 



" Both justice and decency require that we should bestow on our forefathers 
an honorable remembrance." THUCYDIDES. 











Officers flew England Society 



SECRETARY . (Vacancy to be filled) 


Executive Committee 




historical Committee 









iv. THE BLACK HAWK WAR ..... 16 





ix. THE PIONEERS OF 1836 . . . . .40 




















xxix. ROCKFORD CEMETERIES . . . . .151 






































LXV. ROCKFORD SETTLERS 1851-54 .... 333 








LXXIH. ROCKFORD SETTLERS 1855-59 .... 362 




THATCHER BLAKE, ... . . . Frontispiece 







W. G. CONICK'S RESIDENCE, ...... 177 

MANDEVILLE HOUSE, . . . . . . 283 

BRINCKERHOFF HOUSE, . . . . . .283 





IN the day of ancient Rome Janus was the guardian deity of 
gates. As every gate turned either way, so Janus was rep- 
resented with two heads. One was of a youth, to indicate begin- 
ning ; the other was of an old man, suggestive of the end. The 
first looked toward the future; the second, toward the past. 
The student, like Janus of old, surveys the past; and only 
from this point of view can he intelligently interpret the pres- 
ent, and in some measure forecast the future. 

As a community becomes older, and the habits of its people 
become fixed, the study of local history receives attention. A 
movement was recently begun in this state for the purpose of 
creating popular interest in state and local history ; and these 
subjects will doubtless receive more attention than formerly. 
This volume does not claim infallibility; but it does purport to 
be a thorough and conscientious effort to present in miniature 
the life of this community during a period of twenty-seven years 
from its first settlement. It is primarily a history of Rock- 
ford ; but no history of the city would be complete unless con- 
siderable attention were given to the county, as a background. 
Nearly all the early settlers have passed away. This fact makes 
the fund of reminiscences smaller than might be desired. It is 
believed, however, this volume contains a larger number of local 
facts than were ever before presented in a single work. This is 
due to the fact that the author has been fortunate in obtaining 
access to sources of information that were not available to 
any of his predecessors. It is hoped that the treatment of all 
available material has been such that no future historian of 
Rockford will be obliged to go over the ground in order to sub- 
stantiate the facts herein set forth. The Roman poet, Ovid, 
made Janus say: "Everything depends on the beginning." 
The author hopes that upon this foundation a later historian 
will rear the superstructure of a complete history of the Forest 
City to the close of the century. 

Clio, the muse of history, is represented as wearing a wreath 
of laurel, and holding a half-open parchment roll, upon which 
she has inscribed the deeds of heroes and the songs of love. 


Clio and her sister-muses were nymphs of the springs that bick- 
ered down the sides of Helicon and Parnassus, the waters of 
which were supposed to possess the property of inspiration. 
Thus the historian of the old school painted ideal heroes and 
their exploits, with the grouping made very largely according 
to the taste of the artist. 

This age demands a sterner realism. The modern histo- 
rian is a patient plodder and a delver after facts. He must 
clear and arrange the buried fragments of the past, and so 
far as he may reconstruct the shifting tableaux of human life, 
" so that king and subject, wise and simple, high and low, rich 
and poor, capital and labor, virtue and vice, crown and spade, 
crook and plow, sword and pen, and all that makes the thought 
and act of life, may be to the present what they were to the 
past." The inventive genius of Rockford has produced a ma- 
chine that will paint a portrait of high artistic excellence, with 
comparative ease. The next wonder may be a device to grind 
out history, with neither sweat of brow nor weariness of brain. 

The author has received the cordial co-operation of the 
officers and executive and historical committees of the New Eng- 
land society. He is indebted to many friends for valuable aid 
in personal reminiscences. He has received the utmost courtesy 
from early settlers and others interested in the work ; and to 
them is due, in large measure, whatever success may attend its 
publication. He is especially indebted to collections of manu- 
scripts gathered some years ago by the late Hon. E. H. Baker 
and the late H. H. Silsby. Lewis F. Lake, M. A. Norton and 
H. C. Scovill have placed the records of their respective offices 
at his disposal. The clerks of the several churches have loaned 
their records; and the early records of Rockford seminary have 
been frequently consulted. The author is also indebted to Mrs. 
Harriott Wight Sherratt, Mrs. Katherine Keeler,Mrs.E.P. Cat- 
lin, Chas. H. Spafford, Hon. Wm. Lathrop, S. J. Caswell, and 
H. N. Starr, for the loan of family manuscripts and valuable 
information personally given. The splendid resources of the 
public library have been utilized, and without them this volume 
could not have been prepared upon it present scale. 

ROCKFORD, ILL., MAY 22, 1900. 



THE territory now comprised within the state of Illinois first 
nominally formed a part of Virginia. The primal rights 
of the native Indians were never recognized by the explorers 
from the old world. The English crown, by virtue of discov- 
eries made by the Cabots and the colonies planted by Sir Walter 
Raleigh, took formal possession of that portion of the new 
world known as Virginia. This name was given the new pos- 
session by the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth, in honor of herself. In 
1606, early in the reign of King James I., two companies were 
formed for the colonization of America. Virginia was divided 
into two parts. To the London Company the king granted 
South Virginia, which extended from Cape Fear, in North Car- 
olina, to the Potomac. To the Plymouth Company he gave 
North Virginia, which stretched from Nova Scotia to Long 
Island. The region between 'the Potomac and the Hudson 
was left as a broad belt of neutral territory. Under the revised 
charter of 1609 these grants were to run in straight zones 
across the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They 
included "all the islands lying within one hundred miles along 
the coast of both seas" aforesaid. So little was then known of 
the geography of North America, that it was believed the con- 
tinent at this latitude was no wider than in Mexico. Hence 
England made extensive grants of land on this continent in 
utter ignorance of its extent arid configuration. This charter 
was subsequently annulled by quo warranto, and special com- 
missions issued, in which the king declared that the charter was 
abrogated for the benefit of the settlers; but that it should 
not affect their private or civil rights, but only the political 
rights of the company at home. 

The English colonists in Virginia, however, did not penetrate 
far into the interior. Thus the royal claim to the "land through- 
out from sea to sea wet and northwest" did not secure the 
title of the English crown to this vast domain. The French 
were the first actual settlers in the great Mississippi valley. 
During the latter part of the seventeenth century Father Mar- 
quette, Joliet, LaSalle, Tonti and others explored the shores of 


the Father of Waters and his tributaries, and believed they had 
found a terrestrial paradise. LaSalle descended the Mississippi 
to the Gulf of Mexico. He named the country Louisiana, in 
honor of his king, Louis XIV. By virtue of these explorations 
France made formal claim to the territory lying on either side 
of the Mississippi. Possession is said to be nine points in the 
law. According to this doctrine France, and not England, was 
the first European power to establish its claim to the Illinois 
territory by actual occupation. Between the years 1695 and 
1705 colonies from Lower Canada founded the villages of Kas- 
kaskia, Cahokia and Vincennes. The French government united 
its possessions in Canada with those in Louisiana by a chain 
of posts, fromQnebecto New Orleans; and Le Grande Monarque 
made numerous grants to his favorites. The large number of 
grants of land made during this period indicate that Illinois 
even at that early day had attracted general attention. Thus, 
with English colonies on the coast, and French occupation in 
the valley of the Mississippi, it was only a question of time 
when there would come a final struggle for the possession of 
this vast territory. 

This crisis came with the French and Indian war, the issue 
of which committed the destiny of the west to the Anglo-Saxon 
civilization. By the treaty of Paris, in 1763, Great Britain 
obtained all the French territory east of the Mississippi, with 
the exception of the island of New Orleans. France ceded New 
Orleans and all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi to Spain. 
In all the great continent of America, France retained not a 
foot of ground. 

The special claim made by Virginia to the Illinois territory 
was based upon the bold conquest of this region by Colonel 
George Rogers Clark. In 1778 Colonel Clark conducted a series 
of brilliant campaigns against the military posts at Kaskaskia, 
Cahokia and Vincennes. These posts and those upon the lakes 
were in possession of the British, under the command of Henry 
Hamilton, whose headquarters were at Detroit. From these 
posts the Indians were supplied with munitions, and were thus 
enabled to harass the settlements in Kentucky with their cruel 
guerrilla warfare. The French villages, the only settlements in 
the region, were seats of British power. If these posts could be 
taken, and the capture of the British soldiers effected, the entire 
region would be won for the Old Dominion. This result could 
only be effected by force ; and the scheme appealed to the bold 


spirit of Colonel Clark. He presented the matter to Patrick 
Henry, who was then governor of Virginia. Henry's ardent 
soul quickly caught the flame, and he secretly rendered such 
assistance as came within his power. 

The outcome justified Colonel Clark's most sanguine expec- 
tations. His brilliant exploits constitute one of the most 
romantic chapters in pioneer history. The results were very 
great, and doubtless prepared the way for the purchase of Lou- 
isiana. If Clark had failed to conquer and hold the Illinois and 
Viucennes, there is reason to believe that the Ohio river would 
have been the boundary between the American and the British 
possessions. The colonial charters furnished color of title ; but 
the American claim actually rested on the conquest and occu- 
pation of the west by Colonel Clark and the backwoodsmen. 
Thus the west was won by the westward movement of the 
backwoodsmen during the Revolution ; by the final success of 
the Continental armies in the east ; and by the diplomacy of 
Franklin, Jay and Adams in the treaty of Paris. Failure at 
any one of these points would have given the British the 
possession of the west. Colonel Clark spent his last years alone 
in poverty, in a rude dwelling on Corn Island, until he went to 
the home of his sister. When Virginia sent him a sword he 
received the compliments of the committee in gloomy silence 
and then exclaimed : "When Virginia wanted a sword I gave 
her one. She sends me now a toy. I want bread." He thrust 
the s word into the ground, and broke it with his crutch. His 
grave is in Cave Hill cemetery at Louisville, marked by a little 
headstone bearing the letters, G. R. C. It is said that not half 
a dozen persons in the United States can point it out. Fortune 
was unkind to him, and republics seemed ungrateful; but his- 
tory must pay its just tribute to his genius, his patriotism, and 
his prowess. 

Virginia assumed the title to this extensive territory, first 
by right of her charter, and secondly by the conquest of her 
own arms. These claims, though challenged by the other 
states, were successfully maintained by the Old Dominion; and 
the territory was at once organized into a county called Illinois. 
This word is derived from the Algonquin word Inini, or Illini, 
which means a perfect and accomplished man. The Illinois were 
an Indian tribe of the Algonquin nation, who occupied a portion 
of the state which now bears their name. These events occurred 
during the administration of Patrick Henry as governor of 


Virginia, and therefore he may be said to have been the first 
governor of Illinois. 

By the treaty of Paris in 1783, which terminated the Revo- 
lutionary war, the Illinois territory passed forever from the 
control of Great Britain. It was not clear, however, to whom 
the title was transferred. Daring the war four states had made 
claims either to the whole or to parts of this domain. They 
were Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Virginia. The 
first two colonies had received royal permission to extend from 
sea to sea. But Virginia was the lordly Old Dominion, which 
had actually conquered and held the disputed territory. 

At this juncture Maryland arose to the occasion in 1777, 
with a novel and practical suggestion. As a condition of rat- 
ifying the Articles of Confederation, Maryland insisted that the 
four claimant states should surrender their claims to the United 
States, and that the latter should create a domain which should 
be owned by the confederacy in common. In 1780 congress 
recommended to the several states such cession of their several 
claims, and the creation of a national domain. Thus there 
were planted the fruitful seeds of national unity. 

In pursuance of this recommendation Connecticut, Massa- 
chusetts, and New York surrendered their claims, which were 
more or less shadowy. The magnanimity of Virginia was 
genuine. The Old Dominion made a complete surrender of the 
magnificent territory of which she was in actual possession. In 
this concession she was greatly influenced by Thomas Jefferson. 
October 20, 1783, the general assembly passed an act which 
authorized the delegates of the state in congress to convey to 
the United States, on certain conditions, her entire territory 
northwest of the Ohio river. One of these conditions was that 
the ceded territory should be formed into states not less than 
one hundred, nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square 
or as near thereto as circumstances would admit. Accordingly 
on March 1, 1784, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Hardy, Arthur 
Lee and James Monroe, the delegates for the commonwealth in 
congress, presented to the United States a deed of cession of 
the territory northwest of the Ohio river. By the Ordinance of 
1787 congress provided that not less than three nor more than 
five states should be formed from this territory, as soon as 
Virginia should alter her act of cession and consent to the 
same. Virginia, by her act of December 30, 1788, promptly 
ratified the act of congress of the preceding year, "anything to 


the contrary in the deed of cession of the said territory by this 
commonwealth to the United States notwithstanding." Thus 
was accomplished the transfer of this public domain to the 
United States. 

By the act of congress of May 7, 1800, the Northwest Ter- 
ritory was divided. That portion east of a line drawn from 
the mouth of the Kentucky river to the British possessions, was 
called the Ohio Territory. The remainder, west of this line, was 
called Indiana Territory, and comprised the present states of 
Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. William Henry 
Harrison was appointed governor. Indiana Territory was 
divided by act of congress approved June 11, 1805, and that 
portion corresponding to the present southern portion of 
Michigan was set apart, under the name of Michigan Territory. 
In 1809 the Indiana Territory was again divided. That portion 
lying west of the Wabash river and a line from that river due 
north to the British possessions, was constituted a separate 
government, under the name of Illinois. This area included 
the present states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and peninsular Michi- 
gan. The seat of government was fixed at Kaskaskia, where a 
territorial legislature, which consisted of the governor and the 
judges, convened in June, 1809. Thus the machinery of the 
first grade of civil government was put in operation in Illinois 

In 1812 the Territory of Illinois was advanced to the second 
grade of territorial government. This organization continued 
until 1818. In January the territorial legislature petitioned 
congress for admission into the union as a sovereign state. A 
bill for this purpose was presented in congress in April, and 
through the influence of Nathaniel Pope, the territorial delegate, 
the northern boundary was extended from the line indicated in 
the petition to latitude 42 30'. The reason for the change of 
the northern boundary line will be more fully explained in a 
subsequent chapter. The act of congress of April 18, 1818, 
provided for the admission of Illinois into the union. In August 
of the same year the Illinois convention adopted a constitution 
and ordinance accepting the terms of admission prescribed by 
congress. The final act by which Illinois attained its present 
geographical and political status was a resolution of congress, 
adopted December 3, 1818, which formally declared the admis- 
sion of the state into the union. 



THE Geological Survey of Illinois Volume V. furnishes the 
most complete information concerning the geology and 
topography of Winnebago county. This work was published 
by the authority of the legislature of the state. The article 
devoted to this county was contributed by James Shaw, and 
many of the facts given in this chapter were taken therefrom. 

The geology of Winnebago county is simple in character. 
There is first the usual quaternary deposits, which consist of 
sand, clays, gravels, boulders, subsoils and alluvium. Then 
follow the three well-known divisions of the Trenton limestone, 
which outcrop along the streams and hills, and show themselves 
in railroad cuts, wells and quarries in different parts of the 
county. These divisions are the Galena, Blue and Buff lime- 
stones of the western geologists. A perpendicular section, as 
near as could be constructed, exhibited the following strata: 
Quaternary deposits, average depth about fifteen feet; Galena 
limestone, ninety-six-feet ; Blue limestone, thirty -five feet ; Buff 
limestone, forty-five feet. These measurements of the limestones 
were made at actual worked outcrops. At the time Volume V. 
of the Geological Survey was published no evidence of the St. 
Peter's sandstone had been discovered, although it was then 
believed that it came near the surface at Beloit and Rockton. 
In 1885, however, when Rockford began boring artesian wells, 
the St. Peter's sandstone was discovered. Its upper surface 
was irregular, varying from one hundred and seventy to two 
hundred feet below the surface of the ground. This strata 
varies from two hundred to two hundred and fifty feet in thick- 
ness. Mr. Shaw gave it as his opinion that the Trenton 
limestones were at the time of his survey the only ones that 
had been exposed or excavated in the county. 

The surface geology comprises alluvial deposits, loess, and 
the drift proper. The usual alluvial bottoms exist along the 
Rock, Pecatonica and Sugar rivers. These are from one to five 
miles wide. On the latter two the deposit is deep, black, and 


rich, and supports in places a heavy growth of timber. The 
deposit along Rock river is not so rich, and is composed more 
of sands and clays, with occasional strips of better soil. A 
number of the bluffs along Rock river are composed in part of 
loess clays, in which no fluvatile shells were noticed. This 
formation is of quite limited extent. 

The drift proper is very largely developed. It is composed 
of loose detrital matter, which is often of considerable thick- 
ness, brought from long distances, and deposited over large 
areas of the county. This material is thought to have been 
brought from the metamorphic regions of the north by the 
action of water. The railroad track from Beloit to Caledonia 
cuts at intervals through long, undulating swells of land. These 
swells are pure, unmodified, uustratified drift. Other railroads 
exhibit the same beds along their tracks, though in a less 
marked degree. Every township in the county has these gravel 
beds, and their underlying associate deposits of clay and sand. 

Two-thirds of Winnebago county is underlaid by the Galena 
limestone. It is a heavy-bedded, yellowish, dolomitic lime- 
stone, compact and irregular. There are several notable 
quarries and outcrops. The first heavy outcrop of the Galena 
limestone on Rock river in this county is about three miles 
above Rockford. All the cuts on the Galena division of the 
Chicago & Northwestern railway, which runs across the south- 
ern part of the county, show the lead-bearing rocks. One of 
the heaviest outcrops is east of Harlem station, on the railroad 
running from Rockford to Caledonia. The strata are massive 
and solid, and furnish splendid material for railroad masonry. 

The Blue limestone succeeds the Galena in the descending 
order. It is largely developed in the northern and northwest- 
ern portions of the county. It is a thin-bedded, bluish-gray 
limestone. The first two cuts east of Shirland, made by the 
Western Union in its excavations for a track, are perhaps the 
best exposures of the Blue limestone. 

Only a limited portion of the county is underlaid by the 
Buff limestone. The chief outcrop of this formation is at the 
village of Rockton, where it is forty-five feet in thickness. 

The county is not without resources in economic geology. 
The three formations of the Trenton rocks, previously noted, 
furnish building stone of good quality. Age does not affect 
it, and buildings erected sixty years ago are still well preserved. 
This is especially true of the Galena limestone. The quarries 


at Argyle, Rockford and at other points north and south of 
Harlem supply material for railroad masonry. The Buff also 
furnishes stone of good quality for ordinary mason-work, and 
is easily quarried and worked. At present there is only one 
quarry of the Blue limestone in the city. 

Sands and clays for economic purposes are found almost 
everywhere along the banks of the rivers, and may be obtained 
from thickly strewn drift deposits. For some years a fine 
molding sand was obtained north of School street in Rockford, 
but this supply is now exhausted. About two miles northeast 
of the city there is a large surface of molding sand, which has 
been used by all the foundries in Rockford for the past ten 
years. There is also a quantity of molding sand in the vicinity 
of Rockton. Lime of excellent quality is obtained in large 
quantities in and around Rockford. Near Brown's creek there 
is a bed of white clay; and good red brick is obtained from the 
clay in other parts of the county. 

There is also a supply of good building sand. Limestone 
for rubble masonry abounds in almost unlimited quantity about 
Rockford. Large footing stone is obtained, but nothing for 
ornamental purposes. There is no available sandstone in the 
county. There is a general uniformity with the geological for- 
mation of the Rock river valley. Bog iron exists around many 
of the springs, but this deposit has no economic value. The 
ground is impregnated with iron, which is soluble in water, so 
that it disintegrates lime mortar in the foundations to the 
extent that it is necessary to use cement in place of lime for 
foundations. The county possesses very little mineral wealth. 
The deposits of peat are not of great value. The peat is not 
available for fuel, and can only be used as a fertilizer. Copper 
in its pure state has occasionally been found ; but there is no 
deposit of the metal. 

The topography of the county may be briefly noted. It is 
well watered with fine streams. Rock river enters the county 
about six miles from its northeast corner, at Beloit, runs nearly 
due south to Rockford, then bends gradually to the west and 
enters Ogle county. It affords water-power at Beloit, Rockton 
and Rockford. Pecatonica river enters the county from the 
west, eight miles from its southwestern corner, and flows in a 
general easterly and northerly course about twenty miles, and 
empties its turbid waters into Rock river near the village of 
Rockton. Sugar river enters the county from the northwest, 


and flows into the Pecatonica near the village of Harrison. 
Other streams are Kishwaukee river, and Killbuck, Kent's, 
Keith's, and Kinnikinick creeks. 

The Indian names of these streams have their significance. 
Pecatonica means the "crooked stream," or "muddy water." 
Siuissippi, the Indian name of Rock river, signifies "the rocky 
river." Kishwaukee means "clear waters." The name Winne- 
bago is translated "fish-eater." 

A considerable portion of the county was covered with timber 
of various qualities. There was much scattering timber and 
brush-land in the northwestern portion along Sugar river and 
its tributaries, and on portions of the northern bank of the 
Pecatonica. This area is interspersed with occasional swampy 
tracts. In the southern portion of the county, along and near 
the Kishwaukee creeks, the face of the country is rough, hilly, 
brushy, and was covered with an occasional growth of timber. 
A few miles below Rockford, along the northern bank of Rock 
river, and extending north and west from the same, there is a 
tract of barrens covered with brushwood, and a light growth 
of white oak and other timber. The other portions of the 
county are chiefly prairie, interspersed with small and beautiful 
groves. For agricultural purposes the county is not considered 
equal to Stephenson on the west, nor "Little Boone," its 
eastern neighbor. 



PROF. J. W. FOSTER, in his Pre-historic Races of the 
United States, says : "The subordinate valleys of the Rock 
river, the Fox, Kankakee and Illinois, show abundant evidence 
of former occupancy by the Mound-builders, and whilst the 
mounds are inconspicuous, they are not destitute of relics, and 
the human remains are indicative of a race whose skulls are 
marked by peculiarities which distinguish them from the red 

Three classes of mounds were found in Winnebago county. 
There was the common round mound, from ten to thirty feet 
in diameter, and from two and a half to five feet high. These 
mounds were. quite numerous along the banks of the Rock, 
Kishwaukee and Pecatonica rivers. The oblong-shaped mound 
is much less common, but is frequently remarkable for its great 
length. One was found within the present limits of Rockford 
which measured one hundred and thirty feet in length, twelve 
feet wide at the base, and three or four feet high. Mounds of 
the third class have a fancied resemblance to some form of 
animal life, and are called "effigies." The most common forms 
of these are called Bird and Turtle mounds, and are found 
in many localities in the county. Some fine specimens of 
this class, as well as the round and oblong mounds, are still 
carefully preserved on the grounds owned by the Misses Beattie 
and Mrs. Clara G. Sanford, north of the city water- works, on 
the west side of the river. The round mounds were frequently 
constructed for the purpose of sepulture, the elongated for 
circumvallation or as "game-drives," while the effigies were 
probably ceremonial. 

A number of archaeologists believe that the builders of 
these mounds were a, race inhabiting this country before the 
American Indian; and in the absence of any information con- 
cerning their origin, they are denominated "mound-builders." 
Other recent authorities incline to the opinion that the mounds 


were constructed by the ancestors of the Indians. Their 
earth-works are found in large numbers in Rockford and 
vicinity ; there are probably not less than five hundred within 
the limits of Winnebago county. These earliest inhabitants 
had no beasts of burden, and naturally their travel and traffic 
were largely by canoe up and down the rivers. Their settle- 
ments, therefore, and their monumental mounds were uniformly 
located near or upon the river banks ; and in the vicinity of the 
confluence of streams these united evidences of a dense popula- 
tion are generally abundant. Near the mouth of Kishwaukee 
river more than one hundred have been surveyed by Prof. T. H. 
Lewis, and probably as many existed near Rockton before their 
demolition during the progress of railroad construction and 
other improvements. When the cut was made in East Rockford 
in grading for the Galena & Chicago Union railroad in 1852, 
many mounds were destroyed ; and gruesome evidence of the 
sepulchral purpose of some of them was given by the fragments 
of human skeletons disinterred. 

Wiunebago county does not figure prominently in Indian 
history. The Winnebagoes occupied it as a portion of their 
reservation at one time. The earliest Winnebago traditions 
relate to their residence at Red Banks, on the eastern shore of 
Green Bay, in Wisconsin, where they traded with the French. 
This tribe was first met by the Jesuit fathers near the mouth 
of Fox river, at the head of Green Bay. Confusion may arise 
from the fact of two rivers with the same name in the same 
state. One stream rises in Waukesha county and flows in a 
general southerly direction and enters the Illinois river at 
Ottawa. The other rises near the southern boundary of Green 
Lake county, flows westward to Portage City, thence north- 
ward until it expands into Lake Pacawa ; after a tortuous 
course it enters Lake Winnebago, issues from the northern end 
of this lake, flows northeastward and enters Green Bay. These 
streams are distinguished respectively as Fox river, and Fox 
river of Green Bay. The latter is always understood whenever 
the name is mentioned in connection with the history of this 

The Winnebagoes belonged to the Dacota or Sioux nation. 
During the era of authentic history they wandered to southern 
Wisconsin and northern Illinois and Iowa. In 1812 the Win- 
nebagoes of Illinois occupied a section, of which this county 
formed a part. To the south were the Illinois tribes, and the 


disputed territory between the two shifted north and south as 
the fortunes of war favored the one or the other. In time, how- 
ever, the Winnebagoes were driven well back within the present 
limits of Wisconsin, and were subsequently regarded as a tribe 
of that state. The territorial claims of these contestants were 
not finally settled until 1825. By a treaty negotiated at Prairie 
du Chien August 19 of that year between the United States, the 
Winnebagoes, the Sacs and Foxes, the Pottawatomies and 
other attending tribes, the boundaries of the Winnebago coun- 
try were finally determined. Thus wa.s peace established after 
a nearly continuous warfare of almost two centuries. 

The records of the interior department at Washington show 
not less than twelve treaties negotiated between the United 
States and the Winnebagoes, during the period of fifty-one years 
from 1816 to 1867. The most important treaty was negotiated 
at Prairie du Chieu, August 1, 1829, by which the Winnebagoes 
ceded to the United States certain lands in Illinois, of which 
Winnebago county west of Rock river was a part. The consid- 
eration was "eighteen thousand dollars in specie, annually, for 
the period of thirty years; which said sum is to be paid to said 
Indians at Prairie duChieri and Fort Winuebaygo, in proportion 
to the numbers residing within the most convenient distance of 
each place respectively; and it is also agreed, that the said 
United States shall deliver immediately to said Indians, as a 
present, thirty thousand dollars in goods ; and it is further 
agreed, that three thousand pounds of tobacco and fifty barrels 
of salt, shall be annually delivered to the said Indians by the 
United States for the period of thirty years." 

Caleb Atwater was one of the commissioners on the part of 
the United States government in negotiating this treaty. In a 
book in which he gives an account of the proceedings of .this 
council he takes occasion to remark at considerable length on 
the beauty and force of Indian oratory as displayed on that 
occasion. He says their persons are the finest forms in the 
world. As he stands erect, with eyes flaming with ardor, and 
a mind laboring under an agony of thought, the Indian is a 
most impressive orator. When he speaks before his assembled 
nation on some great national subject, he shows most forcibly 
that he feels an awful responsibility in what he attempts to 
advocate in behalf of his people. Mr. Atwater relates that he 
has seen a chief, when he approached the sale of his country in 
his speech, turn pale, tremble with fear, and sit down perfectly 


exhausted in body from the effect. In council on such occasions, 
on either side of the speaker, sit all the chiefs and warriors of 
his nation; behind him, within sound of his voice, sit the women 
and children. His subject then becomes of the highest conceiv- 
able importance to himself and his entire nation. In such a 
position the character of his eloquence is easily conceived. It 
abounds with figures drawn from every object which nature 
presents to his eye. He thanks the Great Spirit that he has 
given them a day for holding their council without clouds or 
with few, as the case may be; that the several paths between 
their homes and the council fire have been unattended with 
danger; and hopes that during bis absence the beasts may not 
destroy his corn, nor any bad bird be suffered to fly about the 
council with false stories. Thus far the speaker may have pro- 
ceeded without enthusiasm ; but should he touch upon the sale 
of his country, his whole soul is in every word, look and gesture. 
His eye flashes fire, he raises himself upon his feet, his body is 
thrown in every attitude, every muscle and nerve is strained to 
its utmost tension. His voice is clear, loud, distinct; and com- 
manding. He becomes, to use his own expressive phrase, a 
man. Then he recalls, with deep pathos and genuine eloquence, 
the time when his ancestors inhabited the entire continent, and 
how they have been driven by the white man from river to 
river, and from mountain to mountain, until they now have no 
home in which they may live in peace. 

Article V. of the treaty at Prairie du Chien granted sections 
of land to certain Indian descendants of mixed blood who did 
not wish to migrate with their tribe. Thirty-six of these 
descendants were given one section of land each ; two received 
two sections each ; and three received two sections jointly. The 
total grant was forty-two sections, divided among forty-one 
grantees. These grants were unlocated or "floating" lands. 
From this fact came the word "float," by which these sections 
were popularly known. The grantees were allowed to select a 
section, and their choice was to be approved by the Indian 
commissioner and by the president of the United States. There 
were several of these ''floats" in Rockford township. The east 
half of section fourteen and all of section thirteen west of Rock 
river, containing six hundred and thirty-seven acres, were located 
for Catharine Myott. Further reference to this tract will be 
made in a subsequent chapter. Section twenty-one was located 
for Therese Leciier, child of Mauh-nah- tee-see; section twenty- 


two was selected for James Leciier ; and section twenty-seven 
for Simon Leciier. These sections now comprise the most 
populous and wealthy portions of West Rockford, with its 
thousands of beautiful homes. There were other "floats" 
located in this immediate vicinity, some of which may be noted. 
Section eleven in Rockford township was claimed by Domitille, 
child of John Baptiste Pacquette. Besides the section above 
mentioned, Catharine Myott was given another section, of 
which the west half of section ten forms a part. One section 
in Winnebago county was given to Brigitte, the child of 
Hee-no-kau. These lands could not be sold without the consent 
of the president of the United States. The Indians were the 
wards of the nation, and the approval of the president was 
required by the treaty for their protection from dishonest 
speculators; but this precaution was not always successful. 
There is no evidence of local record that the transfer of Brigitte's 
claim by the original grantee has ever been approved by 
the president. A full list of these "floats" located in this county 
may be obtained from the Tract Book in the office of the 
circuit clerk. 

Upon the close of the Black Hawk war, by the terms of the 
treaty negotiated by General Scott, September 15, 1832, the 
Winnebagoes ceded their lands lying east of the Mississippi, in 
Wisconsin, and accepted a reservation in Iowa, designated as 
the Neutral Ground. The Winnebagoes were loth to emigrate, 
and their removal was finally effected by the goverment in 
1837. By another treaty, concluded November 1, 1837, they 
finally ceded all of their lands lying east of the Mississippi river. 
By the terms of this treaty they were to remove west of this 
river within eight months thereafter. Their reservation was 
subsequently changed several times, until in 1865 they were 
permanently located on their Omaha reservation in Nebraska. 
In 1890 there were twelve hundred and fifteen Winnebagoes 
on this reservation ; and nearly an equal number were scattered 
over Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, where they 
now live chiefly by agriculture, with a strong predilection for 

The Winnebagoes were men of good stature and dignified 
bearing, with the characteristic black hair, black, glistening 
eyes, and red skins of the Indian race. They maintained the 
position of a tribe of independent feelings and national pride. 
The claim made for them of considerable mental capacity is 


sustained by the cranial measurements made some years ago 
at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia. In these 
examinations their crania were shown to have an average 
internal capacity of eighty -nine cubic inches, and a facial angle 
of seventy-nine degrees. 

The so-called "Winnebago war" occurred in 1827, in the 
vicinity of Galena. It was more of a scare than a war, and has 
no local interest. 

For many years after the Win nebagoes had removed from 
this section, small companies would occasionally return to visit 
their former hunting-ground. As Israel could not sing the 
songs of Zion in a strange land, so these red men of the forest 
could not forget their early home. The love of country and 
kindred is the same in subject or in king. It is a universal 
passion that makes the wide world kin. The Creator hath 
made of one blood all nations of men. 

The Winnebago has given a name to a lake, afort, a village 
and a county in Wisconsin, and to a village, a township and 
a county in Illinois. The Wisconsin Indian village is the pres- 
ent city of Beloit. Fort Winnebago is a historic spot. Its site 
is within two miles from the present city of Portage, Wisconsin. 
The fort was built in 1818-29, at the solicitation of John Jacob 
Astor, of the American Fur Company, to protect his trade from 
the Winnebagoes. Jefferson Davis was one of the first lieuten- 
ants in the original garrison. 




I HE Sauk or Black Hawk war directed the attention of east- 
ern settlers to the Rock river valley. The history of this 
outbreak also has a local interest from the fact that this famous 
Indian warrior, in his flight from Rock Island, followed the 
general course of Rock river through this county, into Wiscon- 
sin territory, where he was defeated and captured. 

Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiah, or Black Hawk, was a chief of 
the allied tribes of the Sacs and Foxes. He was born at the 
Sac village, on the site of Rock Island, in 1707. About 1833 a 
book was published at Rock Island, which purported to be an 
autobiography of Black Hawk. Subsequent editions of this 
work have been published. Governor Ford, however, in his 
History of Illinois, places libtle value upon this work. He says 
it was dictated by Colonel Davenport, an old Indian trader, and 
Antoine Le Clair, a United States interpreter for the Sacs and 
Foxes, and edited and published by J. B. Patterson. Governor 
Ford believed that Black Hawk knew comparatively little of 
this alleged autobiography, although it has been recognized as 
authority by reliable writers upon this subject. 

The Sacs, according to an Indian tradition, were first 
placed by the Great Spirit in the vicinity of Montreal. Their 
enemies conspired to drive them from their home to Mackinac 
and other points, until they built a village near Green Bay, on 
what is now Sac river, a name derived from this circumstance. 

The Foxes were first found on the northern shore of Lake 
Ontario. From there they were driven to Detroit, thence to 
Mackinac, and from there to the river which bears their name, 
at a point near its entrance into Green Bay. The Foxes sub- 
sequently abandoned their village, and formed a treaty of 
alliance with the Sacs. Neither tribe was sufficiently strong to 
successfully meet its enemies. Hence they became one nation, 
and the bond of friendship was never broken. This allied tribe 
belonged to the Algonquin nation. 

&,- // 

-/** ,V' 

/ * ' 


The Sacs and Foxes remained for some time in the vicinity 
of Green Bay. But as early as 1718 they had obtained a firm 
footing on Rock river. A party of young men descended the 
Kock to its mouth, and upon their return they presented a 
favorable report of the country. The en tire tribe then migrated 
to the southwest, drove the Kaskaskias from the country, and 
founded a village on the point of land at the confluence of Rock 
and Mississippi rivers. At the beginning of this century the 
Sacs and Foxes occupied lands in northwestern Illinois lying 
between the Winnebagoes and the Mississippi river. 

In 1804 a treaty was negotiated at St. Louis between 
William Henry Harrison and five chiefs of the Sac and Fox 
nation. Mr. Harrison was then governor of the Indiana 
Territory, and of the district of Louisiana, superintendent of 
Indian affairs for the district, and commissioner plenipotentiary 
of the United States for concluding the treaty. By this treaty 
the Sacs and Foxes ceded their land on Rock river and territory 
elsewhere to the United States. The treaty provided that the 
Indians should retain these lands until they were required for 
settlement. During the war of 1812 with England, through 
the influence of Colonel Dixon, a British officer at Prairie du 
Chien, a portion of this tribe allied itself with the English. This 
faction was called the "British Band," and Black Hawk was its 
acknowledged leader. The other portion of the tribe remained 
peaceable during the war, and reaffirmed the treaty of 1804 at 
Portage des Siouxs, in September, 1815. The hostile warriors 
professed repentance for their violation of good faith, and at St. 
Louis, in May, 1816, they confirmed the treaty of 1804. A small 
party, however, led by Black Hawk, persistently denied the 
validity of the treaty of 1 804 as well as all subsequent agree- 
ments. He contended that certain chiefs, while at St. Louis in an 
intoxicated condition, were induced to sell the Indian country 
without the consent of the nation. Competent authorities have 
differed concerning the equity of the treaty of 1804; but the 
Sacs and Foxes as a nation never disavowed it. On the con- 
trary, they reaffirmed it in the treaties of 1815 and 1816. 

Amicable relations existed between the Sac and Fox nation 
and the United States from the close of the war with England 
until 1830. In July of that year Keokuk, another Sac chief, 
made a final cession to the United States of the lands held by 
his tribe east of the Mississippi. According to this treaty, his 
people were to remove from Illinois to the country west of the 


Mississippi, and they quietly removed across the river. This 
treaty was negotiated without the consent of Black Hawk, and 
he determined to resist the order of the government for the 
removal of his tribe west of the Mississippi. This resistance 
brought affairs to a crisis. 

During the winter of 1830-31 Black Hawk and his tribe 
left their village, as usual, and crossed the Mississippi on a 
hunting expedition, to procure furs wherewith to pay their 
debts to the traders, and buy new supplies of goods. They 
re-crossed the river in April, and on their return they found 
their village in possession of the pale-faces. The United States 
had caused some of these lauds, which included the chief town 
of the nation, to be surveyed and sold. A fur-trader at Rock 
Island had purchased the very ground on which their village 
stood. Black Hawk ordered the settlers away, and destroyed 
their property. A truce was arranged, but it did not perma- 
nently settle the difficulty; and May 18 eight settlers addressed 
a memorial to Governor Reynolds, in which they stated their 
grievances. The governor immediately communicated with 
General Gaines, of the United States army, who was then in 
command of the military district. General Gaines repaired to 
Rock Island in June, with a few companies of regular soldiers. 
Upon ascertaining the critical situation, he called upon Gov- 
ernor Reynolds for mounted volunteers. The governor honored 
the requisition, and in response to his call fifteen hundred vol- 
unteers from the northern and central counties rallied to his 
support at Beardstown, and were placed under command of 
General Duncan, of the state militia. This army, after a few days' 
march, joined General Gaines below Rock Island, where the two 
generals formed a plan of action. General Gaines took posses- 
sion of the village June 26 ; but Black Hawk and his band had 
quietly departed during the night in their canoes for the west- 
ern shore of the Mississippi, where they raised the white flag of 
truce. They subsequently re-crossed the river, and thus claimed 
protection. June 30 General Gaines negotiated a treaty with 
Black Hawk and his chiefs and braves, by which they agreed to 
remain forever on the western side of the river; and never 
to re-cross it without permission from the president of the 
United States or the governor of the state. Notwithstanding 
the treaty, in the spring of 1832 Black Hawk attempted to 
re-assert his right to his former territory. 

Hostilities began in April, when Black Hawk and his band 


re-crossed tbe Mississippi, under pretense of paying a visit to 
his Winnebago friends in Wisconsin. The manifest purpose of 
this visit was to form an alliance with the Winnebagoes in 
offensive warfare. General Atkinson, who was then in com- 
mand of Fort Armstrong, sent messengers to warn Black Hawk 
to return. The warrior did not heed the warning, but contin- 
ued his march until he reached Dixon's Ferry, where his braves 
encamped. The news of Black Hawk's return to Illinois reached 
Governor Reynolds, who raised a force of eighteen hundred 
men, under command of General Whiteside. This army arrived 
at Dixon on the 12th of May. Meanwhile Black Hawk had 
departed and encamped on Rock river thirty miles above. 

While at Dixon an ambitious officer named Stillinan asked 
the privilege of making a reconnoissance on Black Hawk's 
camp. It was granted with reluctance, and Major Stillman 
started with two hundred and seventy-five men on the advent- 
ure. When the volunteers approached the camp of Black Hawk, 
he sent a party of six men to meet them, under protection of a 
white flag. By some mistake, undisciplined volunteers fired 
upon them, and two were killed while in retreat. Black Hawk 
was justly indignant, and he resisted the attack with his usual 
spirit. The result was the slaughter of eleven volunteers, and 
the others fled in confusion. This was the first blood drawn in 
the Black Hawk war. On the following day General Whiteside 
led his entire force to the scene, near a creek since called "Still- 
man's Run." To this day the visitor to the little village of 
Stillman Valley is shown the spot where the eleven soldiers are 
supposed to have been buried. No stone marks the place, and 
it is known only by tradition. 

The news of the Indian war spread rapidly throughout the 
east, and the administration sent nine companies to the scene, 
under command of General Scott. He arrived at Fort Dearborn 
in Chicago, July 8. The cholera had broken out among his 
men on the way, and he was thus detained at the fort. As soon 
as the cholera had subsided General Scott removed his quarters 
from Fort Dearborn to the banks of Desplaines river. From 
there he sent the main body, under command of Colonel Cum- 
mings, to the site of Beloit, then a deserted Winuebago village. 
At that point orders came from the general in chief command 
for the army to march down Rock river to Fort Armstrong on 
Rock Island, at which place General Scott had arrived by a 
hasty march across the country by way of Naperville. 


The further details of this war will be briefly noted. Black 
Hawk retreated up Rock river into Wisconsin, and was hotly 
pursued. The army trail, made in following Black Hawk's 
band to the head-waters of the Rock, passed through the First 
ward of Rockford. Stephen Mack was the guide. This trail 
met the river bank above the city at the dry run which is now 
bridged on North Second street, near the residence of H. H. 
Hamilton. In July Black. Hawk determined to try to save 
himself by crossing the Mississippi river. He was overtaken at 
Blue Mounds, on Wisconsin river, by General Henry's division. 
A battle ensued on the 21st, in which the Sac chief lost fifty 
warriors while crossing the river. 

Black Hawk continued his retreat after the battle until he 
was again overtaken August 2, near the mouth of the Bad Axe 
river, in Wisconsin. In the battle which followed nearly the 
entire remnant of Black Hawk's army was killed or drowned 
in attempting to cross the river. Black Hawk fled to Prairie 
La Cross, a Winnebago village, where he surrendered to Chaetar 
and One-eyed Decora, two Winnebago chiefs, who delivered him 
to General Street, the Indian agent at Prairie du Chien, August 
27. The campaign had lasted seventy-nine days. 

The speech of Black Hawk, addressed to General Street, at 
Prairie du Chieii, after his defeat at the battle of the Bad Axe, 
is a splendid specimen of Indian eloquence, and reveals a 
patriotism unsurpassed by the "noblest Roman." Eloquence 
is born of strong passion, and is never a trick of rhetoric nor 
a mere intellectual feat. The following, from this humiliated 
savage, is worthy of Burke or Webster : 

"You have taken me prisoner with all my warriors. . . I 
fought hard. But your guns were well aimed. The bullets flew 
like birds in the air, and whizzed by our ears like the wind 
through the trees in the winter. My warriors fell around me ; 
it began to look dismal. I saw my evil day at hand. The 
sun rose dim on us in the morning, and at night it sunk in a 
dark cloud, and looked like a ball of fire. That was the last 
sun that shone on Black Hawk. His heart is dead and no 
longer beats quick in his bosom. He is now a prisoner to the 
white men ; they will do with him as they wish. But he can stand 
torture, and is not afraid of death. He is no coward. Black 
Hawk is an Indian. . . Farewell, my nation! Black Hawk 
tried to save you, and avenge your wrongs. He drank the 
blood of some of the whites. He has been taken prisoner, and 


his plans are stopped. He cau do no more. He is near his end. 
His sun is settiiig, and he will rise no more. Farewell to Black 
Hawk ! " 

On the 10th of September the Indian prisoners were taken 
to Jefferson Barracks, below St. Louis. From there Black Hawk 
was sent to Washington, where he was presented to President 
Andrew Jackson. April 26, 1833, he was sent to Fortress Mon- 
roe, where he remained until the 4th of June, when he was 
permitted to return to his people. Upon hie return he was 
restored to his tribe as a chief subordinate to Keokuk. Black 
Hawk died October 3, 1838, at the age of seventy-one years. 
He was dressed for burial in a uniform presented to him when 
in Washington by the president. The body was placed in the 
middle of the grave, in a sitting posture, on a seat constructed 
for this purpose. On his left side, the cane given him by Henry 
Clay, was placed upright, with his right hand resting upon it. 
Many of the old warrior's trophies were placed in the grave. 

Black Hawk was free from many of the vices that others of 
his race contracted from their association with the white people. 
He never used intoxicants to excess. As a warrior he knew no 
fear, and on the field of battle his feats of personal prowess 
stamped him as the "bravest of the brave." In social relations 
he was affable and true. His devotion to his wife, with whom 
he lived more than forty years, was strong and manly. In the 
home he was an affectionate husband and father. 

The Black Hawk war made no military reputations ; but 
Zachary Taylor and Abraham Lincoln bore an humble part. 
Mr. Lincoln never alluded to it as anything more than an inter- 
esting episode in his life. In satirizing the military pretensions 
of another, he said : "Do you know, Mr. Speaker, I too am a 
military hero ? . . I fought, bled and came away. If he saw 
any live fighting Indians, it was more than I did ; but I had a 
good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes." 



C TEPHEN MACK was the first white man who made a per- 
^3 manent settlement in Winnebago county. The exact date 
is unknown, but it was probably about 1829. It is also quite 
certain that he was the first settler in the Rock river valley. 
The student of local history is indebted to Edson I. Carr, who 
has given in his History of Rockton the best information con- 
cerning this adventurer; and the author is indebted to Mr. Carr 
for many of the facts given in this chapter. 

Mack was born in Poultney, Vermont, during the latter part 
of the last century. He was for a time a student at Dartmouth 
college, but it does not appear that he was ever graduated. 
His love of adventure was shown in early life. Soon after the 
war of 1812 he came to Detroit with his father, who held a 
position under the government. The younger Mack subse- 
quently joined a government expedition around the lakes from 
Detroit to Green Bay. While there Mack learned from traders 
that the Rock river country presented favorable opportunity 
for a trading post. He accordingly made the journey with an 
Indian pony, and arrived at a pointTiear the site of Janesville ; 
thence to Turtle Village, near what is now Beloit. While there 
he learned of an Indian camp to the south, at Bird's Grove, 
about a mile and a half from the mouth of Pecatonica river, 
and he started for that point. He lost the trail and descended 
the Rock until he came to a Pottawatomie village at Grand 
Detour, where he remained several years. Mack established 
trade with the Indians, and took their furs in exchange for 
merchandise. His journey to and from Chicago were made by 
Indian ponies. During this time Mack married Ho-no-ne-gah, 
a daughter of the Pottawatomie chief. This alliance, however, 
did not establish a perpetual bond of friendship between 
and the tribe. He incurred the enmity of the red men because 
he refused to sell them whisky and firearms. While on a trip 
to Chicago a plan was laid to murder him and take his goods. 
His faithful Indian wife discovered the plot. She mounted a 
pony, met him a considerable distance from the camp and gave 
him warning. Together they started for the camp of the Win- 
nebagoes at Bird's Grove. There they were made welcome and 
given protection, and there they made their home. 


Ho-no-ne-gah, though born of a savage race, exhibited 
traits of a more refined womanhood. She was a true wife, and 
thoroughly devoted to her home and children. Her husband's 
tribute of devotion was sincere. She was modest and disliked 
to appear conspicuous. She knew the remedies which the Great 
Spirit had spread before her in nature, and with these she 
visited the sick. The needy were also blessed by her gracious 
ministry. Ho-no-ne-gah always wore the habit of her race. 
Only once was she known to don the dress of her white sisters. 
But she felt so ill at ease that she soon cast it aside, and ever 
afterward appeared in the attire of her tribe. Mrs. Jesse Blinn, 
who still remembers her, testifies to her excellent taste in dress 
and to her skill in the use of the needle. 

Upon the outbreak of the Black Hawk war, Mack was living 
at peace with his Winnebago friends. Black Hawk visited this 
tribe in his flight up Rock river, and attempted to induce the 
warriors to accompany him into Wisconsin. Mack opposed 
this alliance, and thereby incurred the displeasure of the Sac 
chief. The Winnebagoes remained at their old camp, and Black 
Hawk proceeded without them. But the feeling was so strong 
against Mack during this visit of Black Hawk that the chief of 
the Winnebagoes advised him to leave the camp for personal 
safety. There is a story that he sought seclusion on what is 
now called Webber's Island, where he was supplied with food by 
his wife until the storm had passed. It is not certain whether 
this is history or romance. 

Mack foresaw that a speedy settlement of the Rock river 
valley would follow the Black Hawk war. The Pecatonica was 
then considered a navigable stream for one hundred miles from 
its mouth, and Rock river for one hundred and fifty miles into 
Wisconsin Territory. Mack believed that the bluff at the mouth 
of Pecatonica river was an available site for a town. Accord- 
ingly in the autumn of 1835 he took possession of this tract, 
upon which he resided until his death. He planted a village, 
which was called Macktown. The place still retains this name, 
although the promising settlement of sixty years ago, save the 
old substantial farm house, has disappeared. Mack had a bold 
policy of expansion, and valued a corner lot near his store at 
one thousand dollars. When he was told that his land watoo 
uneven for a town, he replied that "it is far better than Mil- 

Mack engaged in various business enterprises. He kept a 


general store and did a successful business. He brought his 
goods from Chicago on Indian ponies, before the advent of 
wagons. In 1838 he established a ferry across Rock river, 
which was managed for a time by William Hulin. It was then 
purchased by Jesse Blinn, who carried on the business under a 
license issued by the county commissioners' court. About 1842 
Mack built, mainly at his own expense, a bridge in the place of 
the ferry. This was the first bridge across Rock river in the 
state. This structure was carried away by a freshet June 1, 
1851. Another bridge, which had been built previous to the 
freshet one mile farther down the river, changed the course of 
travel, and Macktown fell into decline. 

Political honors came to Stephen Mack. He was elected 
associate justice in 1849, and held the office until his death. 
He was appointed the first township treasurer of the school 
fund of Rockton. Upon the adoption of township organization 
in 1850, he was a candidate for supervisor, but was defeated by 
a few votes by Sylvester Talcott. 

Mack had takenHo-no-ue-gahtobehis wife under the Indian 
form of marriage. In order to fully protect the title of his 
children to his estate, he and his wife were re-married September 
14, 1840, by William Hulin, a justice of the peacet This action, 
however, was probably unnecessary. It is a principle in inter- 
national law that a marriage is recognized as legal whenever it 
is held to be such in the country in which it was solemnized. 
This principle would be applied to the marriage rite among 
Indians and similar races. On the 4th of April, 1840, Mack 
executed his will. The full text of this instrument is given in 
Mr. Carr's History of Rockton. By this will he divided his 
property equally among his wife and eight children. 

Ho-no-ne-gah died in 1847. She was the mother of eleven 
children, two of whom died in infancy. Louisa and Mary were 
students at Rockford seminary for a time, but their free Indian 
nature could not long endure such restraint. Louisa and her 
husband, according to latest information, were residing in 
Chippewa county, Wisconsin. Caroline, the youngest, was a 
babe when her mother died. 

In 1848 Mack married Mrs. Daniels, of Harrison. The cer- 
emony was performed at Beloit. His subsequent domestic life 
was not as happy as it had been with Ho-no-ne-gah. February 
14, 1849, Mack executed a codicil to his will. Since the date of 
the former instrument changes had occurred in his family. 


Three children had been born, one child and Ho-no-ne-gah had 
died, and he had remarried. The codicil equally divided his 
estate among his wife and children. 

Stephen Mack died very suddenly April 10, 1850. At the 
time of his death he owned land in several adjoining sections, 
which aggregated about one thousand acres. He was buried 
on his farm beside his Indian wife. Thirty years later, May 19, 
1880, their remains were removed and buried in the Phillips 
cemetery, near Harrison. 

Many reasons have been given why this educated gentleman 
of New England should have sought a life on the frontier, and 
married a woman of a savage race. It is said death claimed 
the idol of his first love. Others believe an insidious appetite 
drove him to this western wilderness. It may have been a keen 
foresight by which he caught a glimpse of the marvelous devel- 
ment of the west. Whatever the motive, he kept his secret 
until he passed beyond the judgment of men. His career was 
strange and romantic. He is remembered as dignified in bearing, 
genial and courteous, a kind husband and father, a true friend, 
and an honest man. 

In the summer of 1833 John Phelps. in company with a 
Frenchman, started down Pecatonica river from Mineral Point, 
Wisconsin, in a canoe, on a voyage of discovery. These men 
descended the Rock, and made a brief stop at the mouth of the 
creek where Gerrnanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake located 
claims a year later. Mr. Phelps and his companion were pleased 
with the site, and would have located there had it not been 
for the scarcity of timber. For this reason they continued their 
journey down the river, and selected a site now occupied by the 
town of Oregon, in Ogle county. 

Neither Mack nor Phelps ever lived within the limits of 
Rockford ; but a history of the city would scarcely be complete 
without a record of the facts given in this chapter. 

Joseph Kemp was in this section from 1830 to 1840, and 
again from 1842 to 1844. He has not been in this county since 
the latter date. Mr. Kemp first came from a point below Rock 
Island on the Mississippi, then to Rockford by way of Rock 
river. He did not, however, permanently reside in what is now 
the city of Rockford. In July, 1899, he was still living, at Mich- 
igan City, in his eighty-ninth year, and was seen by Charles L. 



IT was stated at the beginning of Chapter IV. that the Black 
Hawk war was the immediate occasion of the settlement of 
the Rock river valley. There were, however, remote and more 
general causes. The peace following the great Napoleonic con- 
flict in Europe had stimulated emigration to this country. 
President Monroe's administration had passed into history as 
the "era of good feeling." The Erie canal and the construction 
of railroads, steamboats and stage lines had created a period 
of expansion. The great undeveloped northwest, east of the 
Mississippi river, was then quite well known, and presented a 
splendid opportunity for capital and enterprise. Illinois occu- 
pied a central position. The Illinois and Michigan canal had 
been chartered, and a large number of railroads had been 
subsidized by the state. A tide of inflated prosperity was 
swiftly carrying every department of industry and speculation 
toward the financial breakers of 1837. Under these conditions 
the actual history of Rockford began. 

Germanicus Kent was born of English ancestry in Suffield, 
Connecticut, May 31, 1790, nearly one hundred and ten years 
ago. In early manhood he went from his native state to New 
York. In 1819 he went from there to the south with testimonials 
of first-class business ability. He first stopped for a short time 
in Blacksburg, Virginia. About 1822 Mr. Kent went to Hunts- 
ville, Alabama, where he was for some years engaged in the dry 
goods business in partnership with Preston Yeatman. June 
7, 1827, Mr. Kent married Miss Arabella Amiss, who was born 
in Culpepper, Virginia, April 9, 1808. The ceremony was per- 
formed at Blacksburg. Mr. Kent was subsequently a partner 
in the firm of Patton, Donegan & Co., at the Bell Cotton factory 
on Flint river, about nine miles from Huntsville. The firm 
owned a dry goods store at Huntsville at the same time, but 
Mr. Kent was not personally interested in it. It has been said 
Mr. Kent was nn abolitionist, but this statement is not fully 


established. At one time he owned several slaves, and brought 
one of them to this state. 

Mr. Kent went from Alabama to Galena, Illinois, where his 
brother, the Rev. Aratus Kent, a Presbyterian clergyman, was 
stationed as a home missionary'. This brother was deeply 
interested in higher education, and his name will re-appear in 
this book. At the time Aratus Kent left Hun tsville he possessed 
an amount of ready money that was considered a competence 
for those days. 

Thatcher Blake was born at Turner, Oxford county, Maine, 
March 16, 1809. He resided in his native state until 1834, 
when he started for the west by way of Boston, Albany, Buf- 
falo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis. At 
St. Louis he conversed with the soldiers who had been in the 
Black Hawk war, who gave interesting descriptions of the Rock 
river country and Galena. The latter was then being rapidly 
populated by reason of its extensive lead mines. Mr. Blake 
therefore visited Galena. There he became acquainted with 
Germanicus Kent. This acquaintance ripened into friendship, 
and they arranged to explore the Rock river valley. 

In June, 1834, these gentleman started from Galena, in a 
democrat wagon, on their tour of exploration. They went 
north into Wisconsin Territory to the Pecatonica river, about 
four miles from what was then known as Hamilton's Diggings, 
a small mining village operated by a son of Alexander Hamil- 
ton. A man named Ransom had settled on the Pecatonica at 
this point, of whom they procured a canoe. Their purpose 
was to explore the Pecatonica and Rock rivers with a view of 
settlement if the country should meet their expectations. Their 
first landing was at a point now included in the city of Freeport. 
It was then an Indian camp, known as Winneshiek's Village. 
Winneshiek was the name of a chief of a band of Indians which 
numbered from two to three hundred. Mr. Kent went ashore 
and explored the country some distance from the river. The 
Indians gathered about Mr. Blake in such numbers that he 
became alarmed, and was compelled to row from the shore and 
remain in the middle of the stream, as a precaution against 
robbery of their moderate supply of provisions. From Winne- 
shiek's Village they continued their journey and made frequent 
landings to explore the country. They ascended the Pecatonica 
to its junction with Rock river, and came down the latter until 
they arrived at the mouth of the small tributary to which the 


name of Kent's creek was subsequently given. They selected a 
site on the west side of the river. Rock river was then consid- 
ered navigable and a waterway to the north and south. The 
site of Rockford, on a navigable stream, midway between Chi- 
cago and Galena, was at once recognized as possessing superior 
advantages. Kent and Blake then proceeded down the stream 
to Dixon's Ferry, which received its name from John Dixon, the 
first white settler of Lee county, who located at that point in 
the spring of 1830. There they sold their canoe and returned 
overland to Galena, by the road leading from Peoria which 
crossed Rock river at that point. This trip covered nine days. 

Soon after their return to Galena they prepared for a second 
journey. They procured supplies, and with a heavily laden 
lumber wagon and a single span of horses, they started over- 
land for their new El Dorado. There were no roads, nor even 
Indian trails. Their route was the Galena and Dixon line of 
travel as far as Chambers' Grove. From this point they took 
a northeasterly course through an unknown country. Their 
journey covered four days. On the evening of Sunday, August 
24, these pioneers arrived at their destination. The party con- 
sisted of Germanicus Kent, Thatcher Blake, a Mr. Evans, and 
another man whose name is unknown. 

The settlement of Rockford was not a romantic adventure. 
These men wore no badges of eminence. They were not flattering 
courtiers of a foreign prince, and possessed no commissions or 
patents. They did not thrust their swords into the virgin soil 
and solemnly take possession in the name of an alien king. 
They did not kiss the earth in token of devotion, nor recite to 
the empty air the purpose of their coming. There were no 
wintry skies, no breaking waves, nor stern and rock-bound 
coast. They were not exiles from the land of their birth, nor 
did they seek the treasures of the mine. Neither did they come 
in quest of a faith's pure shrine nor freedom to worship God. 
Kent came to build a sawmill, and Blake was a tiller of the 
soil. The significance of their coming was in the fact that they 
came to stay. Thus did Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake 
make the first actual and permanent settlement in what is now 
the city of Rockford. In this quiet, prosy way did these sturdy 
pioneers illustrate Goethe's observation that the ideal can only 
come from the development of the real. 

Mr. Kent was the ruling spirit in this enterprise. He was 
then in the prime of life, and had already proven himself to be 


a thoroughgoing man of affairs. With Dante he could say : 
"In the midway of this our mortal life I found me in a gloomy 
wood." Mr. Kent was the director and provider of those who 
were to begin the work of transformation from the "gloomy 
wood" to the Forest City. Those who came with him were 
drawing pay, and were without expense. It was otherwise with 
Mr. Kent. Every day brought its expense, and no income. He 
had sold his southern home, and his family at Galena was 
patiently awaiting developments. He could not retrace his 
steps. He could only look to the future, and trust for the best. 
Mr. Kent kept a journal, and under date of August 18, 1834, 
he writes: "Hired Mr. Blake at eighteen dollars per month to 
live with me on Rock river, to take charge of my business, and 
to do all kinds of work, to remain with me from one month to 
twenty-four months." 

Both Kent and Blake located claims. Mr. Kent's claim 
comprised a tract of land which included the Tinker estate and 
the water-power, and extended south to Montague's Addition ; 
on the west it included the estate now owned by the family of 
the late Judge Church, and extended north to half section line ; the 
eastern line followed the bank of the river. Mr. Kent, however, 
only held temporary squatter's possession of this tract, and 
he obtained full legal title to only a small portion of it. Mr. 
Kent's name does nob appear prominently in the real estate 
transactions of his time, except as the agent of others. Sections 
twenty-one, twenty-two and twenty-seven, which include a 
large portion of West Rockford, were Indian "floats," to which 
reference was made in a preceding chapter. These sections were 
sold by their respective owners to Daniel Whitney, of Green 
Bay, Wisconsin, for eight hundred dollars each. The deeds 
were executed February 12, 1840. Mr. Whitney gave power of 
attorney to Charles S. Hempstead, of Galena. Mr. Hempstead , 
through Kent and Brinckerhoff as agents, sold the greater part 
of these sections to Isaac N. Cunningham, Abiram Morgan and 
Richard Montague, who became, in a sense, the proprietors of 
the corresponding portion of West Rockford. 

Mr. Blake's claim included parts of sections twenty and 
twenty-nine. A claim was made in the autumn of 1834 by Mr. 
Kent for an English gentleman named John Wood, of Hunts- 
ville, Alabama. Mr. Wood, however, did not take possession 
of this claim until the following spring. The first work done 
by these pioneers was theerectionof two log cabins. Mr. Kent's 


cabin was on a site directly east of Mrs. Tinker's brick house, 
and was removed when South Main street was opened. Mr. 
Blake's cabin was built in the grove on the claim which he had 

During the autumn and winter Mr. Kent made trips to 
Chicago and Galena. He employed a number of workmen, who 
had come from Galena, in various kinds of work. Among these 
was the construction of a dam and a sawmill on Kent's creek. 
The timber for the mill was cut from the grounds now occupied 
by Rockford college. In the following January, when the ice 
was sixteen inches thick, a sudden thaw swept away the dam. 
To this day the observer will notice that the rock at the bottom 
of the creek, near the Swiss cottage, shells off, and the force of 
the water and ice made a deep hole in the bottom of the creek. 
The stream was then twice or three times its present width, and 
its current was proportionally stronger. Such was the fate of 
Rockford's first dam, which was built very near the spot where 
Hon. Robert H. Tinker's suspension bridge spans the stream. 
Early in the following spring workmen began digging the race ; 
the construction of the second dam, just below the first, was 
undertaken in June, and the mill was completed in July. When 
the dam was completed the water arose so as to make a twelve- 
foot head, and covered the laud now occupied by the several 
railroads as switch-yards. The water sometimes backed nearly 
to State street. Several years later the citizens determined to 
remove this dam, because they believed it bred malaria; and 
this resolution was executed without due process of law. 

Besides the cabins already noted, Mr. Kent began the erec- 
tion of another and better log house, in the fall of 1834, which 
was completed the following spring. This structure consisted 
of an upright and a wing, and was considered an uncommonly 
good house for those days. Mr. Kent's family probably came 
from Galena in Ma,y, 1835. Mr. Blake boarded in the family 
for two years, and only occupied his own cabin in the grove 
when he found it more convenient to do so while tilling his land. 
The business of the settlement during the first years included a 
general store, a blacksmith shop, sawmill, a primitive hotel, 
a crude system of banking, and mail facilities of a private sort. 
All these were under the general proprietorship of Mr. Kent. 

It may be safely said that few men in trade, commerce or 
manufacturing survived the financial crash, and the depression 
which swept over the country in 1837 and later. Mr. Kent was 


poorly prepared for the storm. His ready capital had become 
exhausted, and he was now in debt for money, merchandise 
and property. His goods had been sold on credit, and collec- 
tions were impossible. His property was depreciated and 
unsalable, and embarassment and failure were unavoidable. 
Mr. Kent made the best settlement of his affairs possible under 
the circumstances, and honestly surrendered everything. His 
capital which he brought with him, his buildings and improve- 
ments, his plans and preparations, and even his prospects were 
gone ; and he saw no star of hope in the Rockford which he had 
founded and helped to build ; no opportunities which he might 
retrieve. And so in 1844 he bade her along and sad farewell and 
went to Virginia, where he made his home the remainder of his 
life. He engaged in trade in Craig, Fayette and Montgomery 
counties. Mre. Kent died in Blacksburg, Virginia, May 26, 
1851. Mr. Kent lived with his daughter, Mrs. Mary Irby Black, 
the last five years of his life, in feeble health, in Blacksburg, 
where he died March 1, 1862. 

This man will ever stand foremost in the history of Rock- 
ford, in point of time and early events. In his character and 
life there are are elements that arrest and fix attention, and 
which merit grateful remembrance. Kent school, in South 
Rockford, Kent's creek and Kent street are named in his honor. 

Fortune was more kind to Mr. Blake. He resided on his 
farm, until 1851, when he removed into Rockford and engaged 
in real estate business. For two years preceding his death Mr. 
Blake operated extensively in timber lands in Wisconsin. Mr. 
Blake died October 8, 1880, Mrs. Blake was living in Novem- 
ber, 1899, at an advanced age, and feeble in mind and body. 
Mrs. Clarence Bean is their daughter. The Blake school is 
named in honor of Thatcher Blake. 



MOST of the country around Rockford was originally prairie. 
The first settlers found the west side of what is now the 
city largely wooded, reaching south below Knowlton street, 
and north as far as Fisher avenue, and extending west beyond 
the creek, and to the high ground of South Rockford, and up 
the south branch ; also on the East side from near State, south 
to Keith's creek, and east to creek and to Sixth street. North 
of State, on the flat, was wood and brush up as far as the 
brewery. John H. Thurston gives this vivid description of the 
east side of the river as it appeared in the spring of bis arrival : 
"The season of 1837 opened early, and as the earth became 
clothed in green, it presented the most beautiful landscape I 
have ever seen. Innumerable flowers dotted the scene in every 
direction. What is now the Second ward was covered with 
tall, thrifty white oak timber. The fires had killed most of the 
underbrush, and it was a magnificent park from Kishwaukee 
street west to the river, and from Walnut street south to the 
bluffs at Keith's creek." 

Rock river is a historic waterway, and presents a great 
variety of picturesque scenery. Southey's apostrophe may be 
addressed to her: "Thou art beautiful, queen of the valley! 
thou art beautiful." The Rock has practically two heads: the 
smaller, in a rustic stream which flows from the north into 
swamp-girted Lake Koshkonong ; the larger, in the four lakes 
at Madison, the charming capital of Wisconsin, which empty 
their waters into the Avon-like Catfish or Yahara, which in turn 
pours into the Rock below Lake Koshkonong. The river, at 
Rockford, before it was dammed, was nine or ten feet below its 
present level, and about four rods narrower, with clear gravel 
bed, and no mud or swamp about its shores. The water was 
very clear and pure before the cultivation of the land on its 
banks had caused the wash of soil bv the rains. There is an 


interesting historic spot on the river some miles below Rock- 
ford. Margaret Fuller visited Oregon in 1843. There she found 
new themes for her muse. At the riverside there is a fine spring 
whose waters are cool and unfailing. On the bluff above it 
today are growing gnarled and twisted cedars. In the branches 
of one there was an eagle's next. Beneath its shade Margaret 
Fuller wrote her poem, "Ganymede to his Eagle." The spring 
still sends forth its pure stream, and hundreds of people visit 
the spot. Under the shadow of the trees which falls upon the 
pool, they read the marble tablet set in the solid rock above, 
which bears this inscription: "Ganymede's Springs, named 
by Margaret Fuller (Countess d' Ossoli), who named this bluff 
Eagle's Nest, and beneath the cedars on its crest wrote 'Gany- 
mede to his Eagle,' July 4, 1843." 

The level at the intersection of State and Madison streets, 
on the East side, was about ten feet higher than at present. At 
the intersection of State with First the level was about ten feet 
lower than it is today. Between these two points the ground 
was six feet above its present level. From the river bank to 
Madison was therefore quite a steep ascent. West of the river, 
the ground was low, as it now appears at the knitting facto- 
ries, and so continued nearly to Main street, as it yet remains 
in some places. 

South of the depot of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad, 
on the West side, and from ten rods west of Main street, the 
land was low, only a little above the creek, with the exception 
of the ridge near the creek. When the dam was built this area 
was called the pond. This depression has been filled, and the 
site is mainly devoted to railroad purposes. 

The bluffs at the college grounds descended steep to the 
water's edge, unbroken and unworn. They were covered with 
grass, brush and trees on the top and sides. There were many 
red cedars, some of which were large and gnarled. The whole 
formed a pleasant and romantic spot. 

At first there were no roads, and the first track would be 
followed until a road was worn or a change made. The cross- 
ing of streams and sloughs was difficult. East of the city, and 
running nearly parallel with the river, was a wagon road made 
by the army wagons and trains at the time the troops under 
Major Smith passed on their way to the battle of the Bad Axe, in 
Wisconsin, in 1832, where Black Hawk was defeated. This road, 
however, did not run on the line needed by the settlers, and it 


was soon obliterated. The Indian trails were of little use. The 
red men always went single file, so that their trails were but 
narrow paths, and of no special value to the settlers. These 
trails were easily traceable as late as 1840, and possibly later. 

Few antiquities, save arrows and hammers, were found, and 
the early race left little to mark its occupation of this region . 
Only a small number of Indian graves were found, and these did 
not indicate careful burial. Some traces of burying on scaffolds 
and in trees were supposed to remain ; but little information 
can be obtained upon this point. The headless Big Thunder 
skeleton sat in his stockade on the court house mound in Bel- 
videre as late as the autumn of 1838. But neither his renown 
as a warrior and chief, nor common reverence for the dead, pro- 
tected his bones or marked their grave. 

The Indians had taken their final departure previous to 
1834. There were afew Pottawatomies in the vicinity of Rock- 
ton. Rock river was apparently the dividing line between the 
Pottawatomies and the Winnebagoes. The latter had removed 
to their western reservation. Those who occasionally returned, 
singly or in small companies, to revisit their former home, were 
harmless to the settlers. 

Wild flowers were abundant, both on the prairies and in the 
woods. They were of great variety and beauty. Hickory- 
nuts, butternuts, black walnuts and hazelnuts were plenty. In 
fruits, there were crab apples, wild plums, thorn apples, grapes, 
blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. 

Game was plenty. It consisted of deer, wolves, wildcats, 
otter, coon, muskrat, squirrel, woodchuck, wild geese, ducks, 
crane, heron, plover, snipe, prairie hens, partridges, quail, loon, 
gull, and pigeons. Mr. Thurston says : "Having never shot a 
game bird previous to my arrival in Rockford, the vast quan- 
tity of feathered game which I saw migrating northward in 
the spring of 1837 excited my unbounded surprise and admi- 
ration." Fish of the varieties now found in this locality was 
abundant. Wild honey was obtained in considerable quantity. 
The small birds then found still remain, except those taken for 
game. Snakes were quite numerous. The rattlesnake and the 
massasauga were poisonous, and the blowing adder and a 
variety of water snake were also so considered. Today a snake 
is rarely seen, except in woodland and on river bottoms. 



THE first settler of what is now East Rockford was Daniel 
Shaw Haight, who arrived April 9, 1835. Mr. flaight 
caine to Illinois from Bolton, Warren county, New York. A 
year or two previous to his appearance on Rock river he had 
selected a claim near Geneva, Kane county. Hesold this claim, 
and in compan}' with two or three men, he came to Rockford 
on a tour of inspection. He selected a tract of land, which 
comprised a large part of what is now the First and Second wards. 
Mr. Haight went back to Geneva for his family, and in May he 
returned to Rockford with his wife and child ; Miss Carey, who 
was Mrs. Haight's sister, and a hired man. Mrs. Mary Haight 
and her sister were the first white women to settle in the county, 
as it is supposed they preceded by two or three weeks the arrival 
of Mrs. Kent. Mrs. Haight appears to have been equal to the 
duties and trials of pioneer life. She had no acquaintance with 
books or literature ; but she possessed a good mind, and was 
alert, shrewd, and affable to strangers. Mr. Haight was a 
rugged, roistering pioneer, and a shrewd man of affairs. 

Upon his arrival Mr. Haight put up a tent under a large 
bur oak tree, which his family occupied until his cabin was 
completed. This dwelling, built in the summer of 1835, was 
the first structure on the East side. It was built on the eastern 
part of the lot which now forms the northeast corner of State 
and Madison streets. This spot was at the brow of the table- 
land, from which the descent was rapid toward the river. The 
house was built in regular pioneer style, without the use of 
a single nail. The main part was about eighteen feet square, 
built of oak logs. It had a puncheon floor, two windows and 
a door. The cellar was simply an excavation under the centre. 
"Such a house," says Mr. Thurston, "may be built with an 
axe and an auger, and is a warm, comfortable dwelling. 
Haight made an addition in '36, with a space between ten 
feet wide and roofed over, which had a shingle roof and floor 


of sawed lumber." Mr. Haight's second house was on the north- 
east corner of State and Madison streets. It was a frame 
structure, and completed in 1837 by Thomas Lake and Sidney 
Twogood. This house was divided and a portion removed to 
the northeast corner of Walnut and Second streets. It is the 
oldest frame structure now standing in Rockford. 

The first public religious service in Rockford was held the 
second Sunday in June, 1835, at the house of Germanicus Kent, 
and was conducted by his brother, the Rev. Aratus Kent, of 
Galena. It has been said that on that day every soul in Rock- 
ford attended divine worship. The audience comprised Mr. and 
Mrs. Kent, Mr. and Mrs. Haight, Miss Carey, Thatcher Blake, 
Albert Sanford, Mr. VanZandt, who was Mr. Kent's millwright, 
a man in the em ploy of Mr. Haight, and two other persons whose 
names are unknown. Thus it will be noted that in early June, 
1835, there were less than a dozen persons in Rockford. This 
small number may be explained by the supposition that several 
workmen, who had been temporarily employed by Mr. Kent, 
had removed from the settlement. 

It is impossible to give the name of every settler in what is 
now Rockford township at the close of the first year after Mr. 
Kent's arrival. In the autumn of 1834 Mr. Kent solicited a 
number of his southern friends to settle in the rising colony. 
Reference was made in Chapter VI. to John Wood. Another 
gentleman who thus responded was James B. Martyn. He was 
a native of the County of Cornwall, England, and had emigrated 
to Huntsville, Alabama, where he had made the acquaintance 
of Germanicus Kent. Mr. Martyn arrived in Rockford late in 
the summer of 1835. He subsequently removed to Belvidere, 
where he engaged in the milling business. 

James Boswell and James Wood also came from the south 
about this time. Mr. Boswell settled on a claim about half a 
mile north of State street, on the west side of the river, imme- 
diately above Dr. Haskell's orchard. Thenext year Mr. Boswell 
traded with Mr. Spaulding for property directly opposite, on 
the east side of the river. 

Eliphalet Gregory was born in Danbury, Connecticut, 
April 23, 1804. He came from New York in June, with his fam- 
ily. His claim extended east one-half mile from Kishwaukee 
street, and south from State to his brother Samuel's claim. 
His first log house was near Keith's creek, between Sixth and 
Seventh avenues, and west of Seventh street. A part of his later 


grout house still stands on Charles street. Mr. Gregory died 
February 16, 1876. 

Samuel Gregory arrived in Kockford December 8th. His 
claim was approximately bounded by what are now Sixth and 
Fourteenth avenues, and Ninth street and Churchill Place. His 
log house was on Seventh avenue, by Keith's creek, between 
Ninth and Tenth streets. Mr. Gregory spent his last years in 
Pekin, New York, where he died in May, 1886. His sons are: 
Delos S., John Clark, Homer, and James B. There were also 
four daughters : Mrs. Delia A. Johnson, deceased ; Mrs. Addie 
S. Witwer, of Chicago ; Mrs. Edna J. Hulbert, deceased ; and 
one who died in infancy. 

Ephraim Wyman arrived in September. He was a native 
of Lancaster, Massachusetts. In 1824, when he was fifteen 
years of age, he removed to Keene, New Hampshire, and from 
there he came to Rockford. He followed the business of baker 
from 1835 until 1850. In the latter year he went to California, 
where he remained three years. Mr. Wyman owned and platted 
a tract of land in the heart of West Rockford, to which reference 
will be made in a subsequent chapter. A street on the West 
side bears his name. Mr. Wyman was county treasurer and 
assessor in 1844-45. In his last years he was afflicted with 
blindness. Mr. Wyman was a worthy gentleman, and is kindly 
remembered. He died in the autumn of 1898. Mrs. Wyman 
still resides in Rockford. Their only child died when less than 
four years old. 

Levi Moulthrop, M. D., had the distinction of being the 
first resident physician in Winnebago county, as now organ- 
ized. Dr. Whitney had probably preceded him at Belvidere, 
which at that time was included in Winnebago county. Dr. 
Moulthrop was descended from Mathew Moulthrop, who settled 
at Quinnipiac, now New Haven, Connecticut, April 18, 1638, 
and who was one of the original signers of the Plantation 
Covenant, ratified June 4, 1639. Dr. Moulthrop first came 
to this county in the autumn of 1835, and permanently settled 
here in the following spring. He was born near Litchfield, 
Connecticut, November 1, 1805. He received his early educa- 
tion in his native town, and completed a course of medicine 
and surgery at Fairfield college, in the state of New York. In 
the spring of his arrival in this county, he settled upon a claim 
of several hundred acres near Kishwaukee, now in New Milford 
township, and began the practice of medicine. June 30, 1840, 


Dr. Moulthrop was married to Miss Margaret, eldest daughter 
of Sampson George, and died after a brief illness, September 
12th of the same year. His son, Levi Moulthrop, was born in 
the spring of the following year. Dr. Moulthrop is said to have 
brought the first copy of Shakespeare into the county. He was 
a member of the Masonic fraternity, a Democrat in politics, and 
a communicant of the Episcopal church. 

Richard Montague came July 1st from Massachusetts, and 
purchased a tract of land near the city. A street in South 
Rockford, an island in Rock river and a ward school bear his 
name. Mr. Montague died July 16, 1878. His son, S. S. Mon- 
tague, became an expert railroad surveyor. 

Adam Keith came from Indiana. He was born in Pennsyl- 
vania, in 1795. From there he went to Ohio, thence to Indiana. 
His name was given to Keith's creek. Mr. Keith removed from 
Illinois to Wisconsin in 1846. He died at Beaver City, Nebraska, 
in 1883, at the age of eighty-seven years. 

William E. Dun bar settled in what is now South Rockford, 
and was a leader in the organization of the county. Mr. Dunbar 
served as county recorder from 1839 to 1843. He died Octo- 
ber 16, 1847. 

P. P. Churchill was born in Vermont in 1804. He pre- 
empted a farm of one hundred and sixty acres east of the city. 
Mr. Churchill died January 11, 1889. He is remembered for his 
simple ways, kind heart and upright life. 

Among other settlers in the township during the year were: 
John Vance, John Caton, Joseph Jolly, Charles Hall, Lewis 
Haskins, Milton Kilburn, William Smith, Luke Joslin, Israel 
Morrill, D. A. Spaulding, Lova Corey, Alonsou Corey, Abel 
Campbell, EzraBarnum, Anson Barnum, James Taylor, William 
Hollenbeck, John Hollenbeck, V. Carter, Joseph F. Sanford, Jon- 
athan Corey, Daniel Beers, Mason Tuttle, and Mr. Noble. The 
following were also employed by Mr. Kent during the year : 
Squire Garner, Gaylor, Perry, Norton, Phineas Carey, Jefferson 
Garner, Nathan Bond, Charles J. Fox, James Broadie and wife. 
All these were not within the present city limits, but they were 
residents in the vicinity. They made the hamlet their place of 
trade, and assisted in its growth. 

The foregoing list, however, did not comprise the total 
population of the county. Settlements had been made in nearly 
all the townships. In June, 1860, Judge Church delivered an 
historical address before the early settlers. At that time Judge 


Church gave the following list of settlers in what are now the 
different townships, in September of 1835 : New Milford : Sam- 
uel Brown, William K. Wheeler, Richard Hogaboom, Phineas 
M. Johnson, John Adams, John B. Long, Mr. Paddleford, James 
Campbell; Guilford: Henry Enoch, William E. Enoch, J. A. 
Pike, Abraham I. Enoch, John Kelsoe, Mr. Rexford, Colonel 
James Sayre, Abel C. Gleason, John Brink, William G. Blair ; 
Butler, now Cherry Valley: Joseph P. Griggs ; Harlem : William 
Mead, ChaunceyMead, Zemri Butler; Roscoe: Robert J. Cross, 
Robert Logan, Elijah H. Brown, William Brayton ; Rockton : 
Thomas B. Talcott, William Talcott, Henry Talcott, John F. 
Thayre, Isaac Adams, Pearly P. Burnham, Darius Adams, 
David A. Blake, Ellison Blake, John Kilgore, John Lovesse ; 
Owen: James B. Lee, Richard M.Walker; Burritt: Isaac Hance, 
John Mclntosh, A. M. Sherman, John Manchester and family, 
Elias Trask, Alva Trask ; Lysander, now Pecatonica : Ephraim 
Sunmer, William Sumner, Mrs. Dolly Guilford, Elijah Guilford, 
Thomas Hance; Elida, now Winnebago: David A. Holt; How- 
ard, now Durand : Harvey Lowe, Nelson Salisbury, who made 
claims in 1835, but did not occupy them until the spring of 1836. 
These, with their families, property, houses, and other 
improvements, made that first short period determine all the 
future. They possessed and enjoyed the land. Others were 
following close behind. The future seemed promising, and they 
had only to prepare for it. Considerable ground was broken 
for cultivation ; but the newly broken soil was of little use until 
its turf had rotted and mellowed. There was thus probably 
little raised that year in crops, except possibly sod corn, pota- 
toes, vines and garden vegetables. Winter wheat, however, was 
sown for the following spring. 



THE tide of emigration, which may be said to have begun in 
1835, continued for several years. When the Rockford 
Society of Early Settlers was organized, January 10, 1870, its 
constitution provided that male residents of the county who 
settled therein previous to 1840 were eligible to membership. 
In this and the preceding chapter is given a partial list of those 
who came previous to and including 1836. In succeeding 
chapters will be published an incomplete roster of settlers of 
1837-39, inclusive. According to the Old Settlers' standard 
of eligibility to membership, these names belong to the historic 
roll of honor. 

One of the first emigrants of this year came from the old 
world. Thomas Lake was a native of Blackford, in the Parish 
of Selworthy, County of Somerset, England. He sailed from 
Bristol in 1832, and arrived in New York after a voyage of 
seven weeks and three days, just as the cholera was beginning 
its westward march with such alarming fatality. Mr. Lake's 
reminiscences of the time between his arrival in New York and 
his settlement in Rockford four years later, is a vivid picture of 
the hardships of pioneer life. Soon after his arrival in Chicago 
in October, 1835, he met an old acquaintance, Sidney Two- 
good, from Cleveland. Mr. Lake also saw Dr. J. C. Goodhue, 
whom he had called to see Mrs. Lake, who was ill. The Doctor 
advised Mr. Lake to settle in Rockford. He and his friend 
Twogood accepted this advice and arrived in Rockford, and 
for a time they followed the carpenter's trade. Mr. Lake also 
took up a claim, which was subsequently known as the Willis 
Smith farm, and now owned by P. Byron Thomas. Mr. Lake 
died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Jane Lake, in Guilford, 
in the autumn of 1886. 

Herman B. Potter was a native of Connecticut. He reached 
Rockford in October. Mr. Potter purchased a farm about two 
miles south of State street on the Kishwaukee road. Later he 


came to the city and built a house where the First Congrega- 
tional church now stands. This home was purchased by Mrs. 
Chamberlain. Mr. Potter was a prominent citizen in the early 
history of the county, and was at one time a member of the 
county commissioners' court. In 1850 Mr. Potter visited Cal- 
ifornia. In 1853 he removed his family to Iowa, where he 
resided until his removal to Galesburg, Illinois. Mr. Potter died 
at Galesburg, March 16, 1880, at the age of seventy-five 

Selden M. Church was a son of New England. He was born 
in East Haddam, Connecticut, March 4, 1804. His father 
subsequently removed to Livingston county, in western New 
York. The son came to Chicago in 1835 with a team ; thence 
he went to Geneva, in Kane county, where he remained until he 
settled in Rockford in the autumn of the following year. During 
his early residence in the township, when the Winnebago 
Indians made occasional visits to their former hunting-ground, 
Judge Church frequently visited their camp, and obtained such 
knowledge of their language as enabled him to intelligently 
carry on conversation with them. From an early date until 
the time of his death, Judge Church was a notable figure in the 
official and business life of the community. He filled the offices 
of postmaster, county clerk and county judge. The last posi- 
tion he held eight years. In 1847 he was a delegate from this 
county to the constitutional convention. Judge Church was a 
member of the general assembly in 1862; a member of the state 
board of charities in 1868 ; and was one of the commissioners 
chosen by the government to locate a bridge at Rock Island. 
Judge Church died June 21, 1892. He builded wisely for the 
educational and moral welfare of Rockford. Mrs. Church and 
daughters, Mrs. Katharine Keeler and Miss Mary Preston, 
reside on the family estate on South Avon street. The title to 
this property has not changed in more than half a century. 

Abiram and Mary Morgan left their home in Massachusetts 
in September on a visit to this western country. They were 
charmed with the Rock river valley, and determined to settle 
here. They purchased a quarter section of Nathaniel Loomis, 
and erected a small log house on almost the exact site of the 
spacious old Horsman mansion. Mr. Morgan also purchased 
section twenty-two, which was originally an Indian "float." Mr. 
Morgan possessed a competence, which became the basis of a 
large estate for his family. His religious sympathies were with 


the Baptist church. As sooii as Mr. and Mrs. Morgan had 
established their home, they desired that it should be shared 
by their only daughter and her husband. This daughter, pre- 
vious to the departure of her parents from Massachusetts, was 
a young school girl attending Charleston seminary, where she 
formed an acquaintance which led to her romantic marriage. 
Charles I. Horsman was then a young man in business in Bos- 
ton. It was an instance of mutual love at first sight, and they 
were married February 10, 1834, when the bride was nineteen 
years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Horsman took their departure 
from the east soon after the arrival of her parents in Rockford. 
They came by way of Pittsburg, thence by the Ohio and the 
Mississippi rivers to St. Louis, thence overland to Rockford. 
Mrs. Horsman has given a vivid picture of their reception at 
the parental home. As the shades of night were falling, on the 
second day of December, they reached Rockford, on the east 
side of the river. They were cold, hungry, weary and disheart- 
ened. The river was full of floating ice, so that the ferry was 
not available ; but a man agreed to row them across in a small 
boat, and they eagerly assented. Then they walked up from 
the river arm in arm, through the stately oaks, until they came 
to the home where the young wife's parents were waiting to 
receive them. In referring to that incident in later years, Mrs. 
Horsman said that as the door was thrown open to welcome 
the daughter and her husband, when the flood of light threw 
out its rays into the night, and the aroma of hot coffee greeted 
their keen senses, it seemed as if the gates of Paradise had been 
opened to them. On this very site Mrs. Horsman resided until 
her death in 1889. Mr. Horsman died March 2, 1875. 

Sampson George, an English gentleman, came to thiscounty 
iti September. In his youth Mr. George had been educated in 
the profession of the law, in the office of his father ; but he had 
a decided preference for agricultural pursuits. Mr. George pur- 
chased a claim of eight hundred and eighty acres of land, held 
by Joshua Fawcett. Five weeks after his arrival Mr. George 
was taken ill and died October 31st, leaving a widow and five 
children. He was buried on his farm southeast of the village. 
Later the remains were removed to the West side cemetery. 

Charles Henry Richings, M. D., was the second resident 
physician. He followed very closely Dr. Moulthrop. Dr. Rich- 
ings was born in England, February 26, 1815. He received 
his medical education in Belgium, and settled in Rockford July 


18. The practice of his profession and his in vestments returned 
him a comfortable fortune. Dr. Richings was a communicant 
of the Episcopal church. His death occurred August 13, 1884. 
His widow resides on the homestead on West State street. His 
son, Dr. C. H. Richings, is a well known practitioner. 

Bethuel Houghton came from New Hampshire, in October. 
He engaged in the bakery business, and at one time he was 
associated in this way with Ephraim Wyman. Mr. Houghton 
left reminiscences in manuscript, which have been of service in 
the preparation of this volume. 

Hiram R. Enoch was a native of Warren county, Ohio. 
From there he removed with his parents to Will county, 
Illinois, and thence he came to Guilford township. Probably 
no citizen of Rockford possessed a larger fund of local history 
than did Mr. Enoch, and he rendered valuable assistance in the 
preparation of historical articles. Mr. Enoch was county 
treasurer eight years. His best known work was as editor and 
proprietor of the Rockford Journal. After his removal from 
Rockford Mr. Enoch was in the employ of the government, in 
the pension bureau. His death occurred at Washington, D. C. 

Isaac Newton Cunningham was the first of four brothers 
to settle in this county. He was the second sheriff of Winnebago 
county, and held this office four years. He died in Rockford 
December 24, 1865. His name will frequently appear in later 

Jacob and Mary Posson came from Schoharie county, New 
York. In 1837 Mr. Posson purchased land four miles east of 
Rockford, upon which he lived five years. In 1842 he bought 
property on the northeast corner of Second and Market streets. 
While building a cooper shop on this site he received injuries 
from which he died November 1, 1842. His son, H. A. Posson, 
has resided in the county sixty-two years, and has probably 
lived in Rockford township longer than any other resident 
except Mrs. Thatcher Blake. Mr. Posson was wounded at the 
battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862, and his arm was amputated the 
following week. He was in the local mail service four years 
from 1890, under Postmaster Lawler. 

David S. Shumway came in the spring, and settled on a 
farm in New Milford. He was a native of Vermont. The family 
was known as Green Mountain Yankees, and was of Huguenot 
descent. One son, R. G. Shumway, was born in Vermont; R. B. 
Shumway is a native of Ohio ; three sons, Alvaro, Roland H., 


and Monroe, were born on the old farm in New Milford ; also 
three daughters, who died young during the sickly seasons of 
early days. Roland H. Shumway has acquired a national 
reputation as a seedsman, and has amassed a large fortune. 

Nathaniel Loomis and his son, H. W. Loomis, came from 
New Jersey. Other settlera in the county were : Charles Works, 
Alonzo Corey, Charles P. Brady, Spooner Ruggles, Henry P. 
Redington, Jonathan Wilson, A. G. Spaulding, Scott Robb, 
Numan Campbell, John Peffers, Heman Campbell, Homer 
Denton, John Robb, Edward Smith, Joseph Ritchie, Herman 
Hoit, Martin W.Borst, Philip Culver, Thomas Williams, Joseph 
Vance, Austin Andrews, Edmund Whittlesey, Joseph Miner, 
Albert Fancher, Eli Burbank, Mr. Barnaby, and Miss Danforth, 
a sister of Mrs. Israel Morrill, and who became the wife of D. A. 
Spaulding, the first government surveyor of northern Illinois. 

John Greenlee and John Armour, from Campbelltown, 
Argyleshire, Scotland, settled in the spring of this year at 
Harlem, and formed the nucleus from which has grown the 
large and flourishing colony known as the Scotch Settlement. 


n""HE emigration of 1837 was equal to that of the preceding 
year. John C. Kemble was the first lawyer who practiced 
in this county. Mr. Kemble and Dr. Goodrich had offices on 
South Madison street, directly below Potter & Preston's 
store. Mr. Kemble's log house was built near the northwest 
corner of First and Walnut streets. Mr. Kemble was a gentle- 
man of ability, and had been a member of the general assembly 
of New York from Rensselaer county. Mrs. Kemble was a 
member of one of the old Dutch families in New York. Accord- 
ing to the custom of the day, a colored servant was assigned 
the duty of ministering to her comfort. Her maiden name was 
Potts, and she met and married Mr. Kemble in Chicago. Her 
servant, Isaac Wilson, familiarly known as "Black Ike," came 
to Rockford with Mrs. Kemble in the latter part of 1837. It 
has been said that he was a slave at this time; but such was 
not the fact. When Isaac was a boy slavery was abolished in 
New York by an act of gradual emancipation, and he became 
free at a certain age. He had become so attached to the family 
in the east that he voluntarily followed Miss Potts to Chicago, 
thence to Rockford, where he resumed his duties as a servant. 
These statements are made on the authority of the late Harvey 
H. SSilsby, who boarded with the Kemble family in the spring of 
1839. About this time ex-Governor Marcy and wife of New 
York were guests at the Kemble home. Mr. Marcy had been 
governor three consecutive terms, and had attracted attention 
as a member of the United States senate by his reply to Henry 
Clay's assault on Van Buren, and by his answer to Daniel Web- 
ster's speech on the apportionment. The Governor came to 
Rockford with his own handsome team and carriage, and his 
drives about the country with the Kembles were notable inci- 


dents in the social life of the village. Mr. Kemble became insane, 
and in 1840 he was taken to an eastern asylum, where he died 
a short time afterward. Mr. Kemble had two sons. Albert, 
the elder, was an artist. He went to Italy for study, where he 
married, and died. Edward became an editor, and founded 
the California Star, the first English newspaper in San Fran- 
cisco. For many years after the death of Mr. Kemble, "Black 
Ike" had a fruit and lunch counter on North Madison street, 
and is well remembered by old residents. 

John Lake was born March 27, 1821, in Selworthy Parish, 
England. His father died when he was quite young, and he was 
early thrown upon his own resources. When sixteen years of 
age he determined to follow his uncle, Thomas Lake, to Amer- 
ica, and arrived in Rockford about December 1st. After three 
years on a farm, Mr. Lake spent a year as an apprentice to the 
carpenter's trade, under Thomas Thatcher. At the expiration 
of that time he began the business of contractor and builder on 
his own account. In the winter of 1852-53 Mr. Lake formed a 
partnership with the late Phineas Howes, in the lumber trade. 
The firm's yard was on the site of the Chicago & Northwestern 
passenger depot on the East side. After the railroad bridge 
was completed across the river, the firm removed its yard to 
the West side, near the present Northwestern freight depot. 
The business was continued there until the summer of 1856, 
when it was sold to Mr. Freeman. In November of that year 
Mr. Lake revisited his native country. He returned in Febru- 
ary, 1857, and early in thefollowing spring he again embarked 
in the lumber business, on the southeast corner of State and 
Third streets, with his former partner, Mr. Howes. This part- 
nership was dissolved in the autumn of 1859, by the sale of the 
stock to Cook & Brother, lumber dealers on the "West side. From 
1860 to 1868 Mr. Lake was a partner with the late Henry 
Fisher, in the lumber business on the West side. In May, 1867, 
Mr. Lake again revisited England, and after an extended tour 
of the continent he returned in the autumn of the same year. In 
the spring of 1868 Mr. Lake and Seely Perry formed a part- 
nership in the lumber trade, on the corner of Third and State 
streets, which was continued until 1874. The residences of 
these gentlemen were built from nearly the same plans. In 
1874, and again in 1877, 1889 and 1891, Mr. Lake revisited 
Europe. Mr. Lake was connected with the Rockford Insurance 
Company from its organization in 1866 until its sale in 1899. 


He was its first vice-president, and served in that capacity until 
January, 1866, when he was chosen president to succeed Dr. 
Robert P. Lane. Mr. Lake served the Second ward as alderman 
ten years ending with 1883. He has been a supervisor, and 
chairman of the board of education. For sixty-two years Mr. 
Lake has been known as a man of affairs, of strict integrity and 
exceptional executive ability; he is a self-made man. Mr. Lake 
and Seely Perry own the three-story brick block on the north- 
east corner of State and Second streets. October 11, 1849, Mr. 
Lake married Miss Aimed a M. Danley, of Harlem. Three of 
their seven children died in infancy. Those surviving are : Mrs. 
William H. Crocker, of Evanston; and Mrs. Charles M. Clark, 
Mrs. William M. Prentice, and Frank L., of Rockford. Mr. Lake 
is a prominent Odd Fellow, and has served as grand master of 
the grand lodge of Illinois, and representative to the sovereign 
grand lodge of the United States for six consecutive years. Mr. 
Lake is an attendant at the First Congregational church. 

Henry Thurston and his son, John H., then a lad thirteen 
years of age, arrived in March. In company with William P. 
Dennis, of Massachusetts, they had come from Troy, New York, 
by sleigh and wagon to Chicago. There they met Daniel S. 
Haight and Benjamin T. Lee, of Rockford, both of whom had 
known the elder Thurston in the east ; and they persuaded the 
party to settle in Rockford. While in Chicago they met John 
C. Kemble, who had made the journey by stage from Troy, and 
the company reached Rockford soon afterward. The son grew 
to manhood and continuously resided in Rockford until the 
death of his wife in 1890. Mr. and Mrs. Thurston resided more 
than forty years in the brick house on South Madison street, 
which has been used for several years as an annex for the high 
school. Mr. Thurston published his Reminiscences in 1891. 
They are a valuable contribution to local history. Mr. Thurston 
was uneducated in the learning of the schools ; nevertheless he 
had a retentive memory, a ready wit, and a natural aptitude 
for writing that have made his little volume of Reminiscences 
quite popular with all classes of readers. He has graphically 
portrayed that circle of pioneer social life in which he moved. 
Mr. Thurston died September 19, 1896. 

William P. Dennis was a well known citizen, who held several 
minor offices. He first lived in a log house on the site of Dr. 
Catlin's residence, on South First street. Mr. Dennis died in 
Rockford, February 4, 1880. 


Samuel D. Preston came from New York. He traveled over- 
, land from Medina, with his wife and one child. He lived on 
North Madison street, and later his home was on the site of the 
office of the Rockford Lumber and Fuel Company. Mr. Preston 
was prominent in the early business and political life of the 
community. He was county treasurer four years. Mr. Preston 
died February 11, 1844. He was the father of Mrs. L. J. Clark, 
deceased ; Miss Anna T. Preston, deceased ; and Miss Mary 
Preston, a resident of the city. Mr. Clark, his son-in-law, built 
the old stone house on the southwest corner of Madison and 
Oak streets. 

Eleazer Hubble Potter was born in Fairfleld county, Con- 
necticut, and emigrated with his parents to western New York 
when he was about seventeen years of age. Mr. Potter was 
fully committed to the New England idea that the church and 
the school-house form the real basis of the prosperity of a city. 
He therefore took an active interest in building up its religious 
and educational institutions. Mr. Potter made the acquaint- 
ance of Samuel D. Preston at Medina, and when these gentlemen 
came to Rockford they formed a partnership in business. Mr. 
Potter afterward became a prominent banker. He built the 
house now occupied by Rev. Mead Holmes, who has enlarged 
and otherwise improved it. He also built the fine residence of 
Hon. Gilbert Woodruff. Mr. Potter died at his home in this 
city, September 1, 1861, at the age of fifty-five years. He was 
the father of Mrs. William Lathrop, and Commodore Potter, 
who resides with his daughter, Mrs. Sabin, at Belvidere. 

Nathaniel Wilder was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, 
June 30, 1794. From his native state he removed to Keene, 
New Hampshire, and from there he came to Rockford with his 
family, in March. He opened a blacksmith shop in a log build- 
ing on South Main street, between Green and Cedar streets, and 
owned considerable property in that vicinity. Mr. Wilder was 
probably the third blacksmith in Rockford. He continued in 
this business twenty-five years, and then engaged in the coal 
trade. At one time he was a member of the Second Congrega- 
tional church, but his later faith was Unitarianism. He died 
July 11, 1884, at the age of ninety years. 

George W. Brinckerhoff came to Rockford during this year. 
He was in partnership with Germanicus Kent in various business 
enterprises. Although Mr. Brinckerhoff was quite prominent 
at one time, little is known of his later life. 

G. A. SANfVRD. 4 

Goodyear Asa Sanford was born in Hamden, Connecticut, in 
August, 1814. He was engaged in farming in the east until he 
came to Alton, Illinois, in December, 1836. In the following 
year he came to Kockford and engaged in mercantile business. 
Mr. Sanford always took an active interest in politics, and was 
one of the early sheriffs of the county. He was also school com- 
missioner from 1845 to 1847. Mr. Sanford was a member of 
the banking firm of Dicker man, Wheeler & Co., which began 
business January 1, 1855. The firm name was changed the next 
year to Lane, Sanford & Co. The Second National Bank was 
organized April 29, 1864, with Mr. Sanford as cashier. He 
succeeded to the presidency, which he held at the time of his 
death, March 16, 1894. As a banker and man of affairs, Mr. 
Sanford was very prominent for more than half a century. 

Rev. John Morrill and wife made their home in the little 
village in February. Mr: Morrill 's important work in stimu- 
lating the religious life of the community will be considered in 
a subsequent chapter. Mrs. Morrill was eminently fitted for 
the work to which she was called. 

David D. Ailing was born at Westfield, Connecticut, April 
27, 1813. At seven teen year s of age he began an apprenticeship 
to the carpenter's trade. He came to Rockf ord in October, upon 
the advice of G. A. Sanford. Mr. Ailing built a number of dwell- 
ings in the little village, and was a contractor during his entire 
active life in Rockford. He constructed the old First Congrega- 
tional church, on the West side. He owned valuable property 
on South Main street. Mr* Ailing died August 1, 1898. He 
was the father of Mrs. P. W. Danky and Frank Ailing. 

John Beattie was one of the first emigrants from Ireland to 
this county. He was born of Scotch ancestry in the north of 
Ireland, June 21, 1811. He learned the carpenter's trade in his 
native country, and continued this occupation after his settle- 
ment in Rockford. He was successful in business, and became 
the owner of a beautiful site in the finest residence portion of 
the city, which is now the hoirie of his daughters, Misses Mary 
I. and Anna. Several business houses on West State street also 
belong to his estate. These valuable lots were tendered him in 
payment for work on the old court house, more than half a 
century ago. Mr. Beattie at first refused them ; and it is said 
he wept the day he became their possessor, because he felt that 
he had been defrauded. Mr. Beattie was highly esteemed for 
his sterling character. He was reared in the Presbyterian 


faith, although he was not a member of any church at the time 
of his death. Mr. Beattie died December 3, 1889. iMrs. Beattie 
died December 7, 1891. Two sons, Edward W. and George D., 
reside in Montana. Two sons and a daughter are deceased. 

John Platt was born in West Haven, Connecticut, March 
8, 1813. He came from Alton, Illinois, to Rockford in May, 
and engaged in mercantile business, in 1839 he removed to 
Pecatonica township and became an extensive land-owner. He 
returned to Rockford in 1845, where he resided until his death 
in 1881. Some years later Mrs. Platt married Robert H. 
Cotton. She passed her eighty -fifth year, December 11, 1899. 

Benjamin Kilburn was born inBelchertown, Massachusetts, 
August 8, 1808. He settled permanently in Rockford in 1837. 
He had visited the county the preceding year, selected a place 
for a home, procured lumber for a house, engaged a man to 
build it, and then went back to Massachusetts to adjust his 
affairs. Upon his return to Rockjord he was accompanied by 
Mrs. Kilburn 's brother, hici.^y Maynard. Mr. Kilburn's first 
house was on the site of the Hotel Nelson, where it stood until 
1891. Mr. Kilburn subsequently purchased a quarter-section 
in the northwestern part of the 'city. Mr. and Mrs. Kilburn had 
seven children. Five died in infancy or early youth. Edward 
B., a son, enlisted in the Seventy-fourth Illinois Volunteers, and 
died in the hospital at Murfreesborough, in 1863. Mr. Kilburn 
opened a stone quarry on his place, which proved valuable, and 
is still operated by his son-in-law, T. W. Carrico. Kilburu avenue 
was named in honor of Mr. Kilburn. He died in 1860. Some 
years later Mrs. Kilburn married Mr. Fales. She died in the 
summer of 1899. 

John Miller, with his wife and three sons, Jacob B., Thomas 
and George, arrived about the middle of May. Jacob was better 
known as "Old Jake." He was the second resident lawyer, and 
as a forcible speaker he was in great demand by the Whigs of 
this section in the exciting campaign of 1840. 

Among other settlers in the county during the year were: 
Isaac Toms, William Twogood, Elisha A. Kirk, William Jones, 
William Peters, Richard S. Stiles, Eli Hall, Levi Taft, Hiram 
Richardson, Simeon Harmon, Lewis Keith, P. S. Doolittle, 
Joseph Hayes, Seth Palmer, and his daughter, Mrs. William 
Conick, who has resided in the county sixty-two years. 

The late Judge Church is authority for the statement that 
the population of the county in June, 1837, was 1,086. 



IN the summer and autumn of 1835 the settlers in this section 
began to agitate the question of local government. This 
matter was promptly brought to the attention of the state 

The counties organized in northern Illinois prior to 1835 
were much larger than they are at present. At that time Cook, 
LaSalle and JoDaviess counties extended from Lake Michigan 
to the Mississippi river. Jo Davies was organized in 1827. It 
then extended east of Rock river, and included the territory now 
comprised in nine counties. This singular name for the county 
was not given by the citizens. The name designated in the 
original bill was Ludlow, in honor of the naval hero of that 
name. A member of the legislature moved to strike out the 
word Ludlow, and insert the name Daviess, in honor of Colonel 
Jo Daviess, who fell at Tippecanoe. Another member facetiously 
moved to amend the amendment by inserting before Daviess the 
word "Jo." The reason assigned was the fact that there was 
a member of the house by the name of Davis, and that the peo- 
ple might think the honor was intended for him ; and that it 
would be indelicate for the house, by any act, to transmit his 
name to posterity, as a precedent. This motion prevailed ; the 
senate concurred in the amendment, and thus the county 
officially received the name of Jo Daviess. This immense tract 
of wild, unpopulated country extended eastward to the third 
principal meridian, and has been reduced in size by the organ- 
ization of eight other counties. 

Cook and LaSalle counties were organized in 1831. It was 
the evident intention at that time to subdivide these counties 
at a later day, to meet the demands of an increased popula- 
tion. A map of Illinois, printed in 1835, owned by the late 


Hon. Ephraim Sunnier, and now in possession of his son, Hon. 
E. B. Sumner, represents Cook county with territory attached 
on the north for judicial purposes. La Salle has northern terri- 
tory annexed for the same purpose, corresponding to portions of 
McHenry, Kane, Winnebago and Ogle counties, and all of Boone 
and DeKalb, as at present organized. JoDaviess is shown 
with annexed territory on the east and south. The distinction 
between Cook and La Salle counties proper, and their annexed 
portions, appears to have been in the fact that the former were 
surveyed, while the latter were not. Although JoDaviess 
county was organized eight years before Mr. Simmer's map was 
printed, the map does not even represent the county as sur- 
veyed. The conditions, however, in JoDaviess were peculiar. 
The country near Galena included a mining camp, with quite a 
considerable population, and thus required a local government. 
Hence the organization of the county preceded by several years 
the government survey of the land. 

The state legislature at that time held its sessions at 
Vandalia. An act, approved and in force January 16, 1836, 
provided for the organization of McHenry, Wiimebago, Kane, 
Ogle and Whiteside counties, and the reorganization of Jo 
Daviess. Section two of the law created Winuebago county, 
with boundaries as follows: "Commencing at the southeast 
corner of township number forty-three, range number four, east 
of the third principal meridian, and running thence west to the 
said meridian ; thence north along the line of said meridian, to 
the southeast corner of township number twenty-six, in range 
number eleven, east of the fourth principal meridian; thence 
west to the dividing line between ranges number seven and 
eight ; thence north along said line to the northern boundary 
of the state ; thence east along said boundary line to the north- 
east corner of range number four, east of the third principal 
meridian ; thence south to the place of beginning." 

Winnebago was thus formed from the attached portions of 
Jo Daviess and La Salle counties. That part of the county east 
of the third principal meridian was taken from La Salle; the 
portion west of this meridian was detached from Jo Daviess. As 
at first organized, Winnebago county was almost exactly 
double its present size, and included all of Boone county, and 
the eastern two township ranges of what is now Stephenson 
county. Winnebago has never been enlarged or reduced from 
its original form on its northern or southern boundary. 


Section nine of the law to establish the county ordered an 
election to be held at the house of Germanicus Kent, on the first 
Monday in Ma.y, for sheriff, coroner, recorder, surveyor, and 
three county commissioners, who should hold their offices until 
the next succeeding general election, and until their successors 
were qualified. The election, however, was not held until the 
next August. 

No county created by this act was to be organized, and an 
election held, until a majority of the voters of the prospective 
county had addressed a petition for the same to the judge 
of the sixth judicial circuit, or, in his absence, to another circuit 
judge. The voters were also required to give sufficient proof 
that the proposed county contained not less than three hun- 
dred and fifty white inhabitants. This task was undertaken 
by Dr. Daniel H. Whitney, who had settled at Belvfdere. As 
the first census enumerator, Dr. Whitney diligently spied out 
the land, and discovered the requisite number of "white inhab- 

These facts were communicated to Judge Thomas H. Ford. 
He thereupon issued an order, dated July 15, 1836, for an 
election to be held at the house of Daniel S. Haight, on the first 
Monday in August. The ninth section of the statute had des- 
ignated an earlier date and another place for this election ; but 
inasmuch as the organization of the county depended upon a 
prescribed population, a subsequent section of the law necessa- 
rily referred the time and place of such election to the presiding 
judge of the circuit. Under the first constitution of Illinois, all 
elections for state and county officers were held the first Monday 
in August. The time of these elections was changed by the sec- 
ond constitution, in 1847, to the Tuesday next after the first 
Monday in November. GermanicusKent, Joseph P. Griggs and 
Robert J. Cross were chosen judges of election. Judge Ford's 
order has been framed, and is preserved in the office of Captain 
Lewis F. Lake, the circuit clerk, as an interesting relic of those 
early days. 

It has been said that politics and religion are the chief 
concerns of men. The "iron pen of history" must record 
the fact that politics then had the right of way for the time. 
The prospective election awakened intense enthusiasm. The 
electors were to vote also for a member of congress and two 
representatives in the state legislature. But the special interest 
centered in the selection of three candidates for county commis- 


sioners. Kentville and Haightville, as the West and the East 
side settlements were respectively called, had already become 
strong rivals. The Guelphs and Ghibellines, in the mediaeval 
Florentine republic, did not more earnestly strive for suprem- 
acy. No caucus or convention was called, and the factions 
informally divided the honors. Simon P. Doty, who had settled 
in Belvidere in 1835, was the candidate for commissioner for 
that part of the county. Thomas B. Talcott was the northern 
candidate. Mr. Haight was anxious to have the third elected 
from this bailiwick, but he waj3 obliged to yield this point to 
his West side rival, who placed William E. Dunbar in the field. 

The election was held on Monday, August 1st, in a decidedly 
primitive manner. Written or printed ballots had not then been 
introduced into Illinois. Under the old constitution, all votes 
were to be given vive voce until otherwise provided by the gen- 
eral assembly ; and up to this time no change had been made. 
This method kept the interest at a high pitch, and enabled the 
voters to tell at any moment the relative strength of the several 
candidates. It is a gigantic stride from the vive voce vote of 
1836 to the Australian ballot of today. At that time there 
was not a copy of the Illinois statutes in the county to direct 
the judges of election in the discharge of their duties. Mr. Kent, 
however, knew something of the election laws of Virginia and 
Alabama, Robert J. Cross was familiar with those of New York 
and Michigan, and Mr. Griggs was acquainted with the laws of 
Ohio. The election, therefore, was not allowed to goby default 
for so slight a cause as ignorance of the laws of their adopted 
state. D. A. Spaulding had some acquaintance with the laws 
of Illinois, and he was made one of the clerks of election, and 
entrusted with the duty of making the poll-books. Simon P. 
Doty, Thomas B. Talcott and William E. Dunbar were elected 
county commissioners; Daniel S. Haight, sheriff; Daniel H. 
Whitney, recorder; Eliphalet Gregory, coroner; and D. A. 
Spaulding, surveyor. The results of the election for member of 
congress and representatives in the general assembly are given 
in a subsequent chapter devoted to this subject. 

One hundred and twenty votes were cast at this election. 
The names of the voters were as follows : David Caswell. George 
Caswell, David Barnes, P. P. Burnham, Thomas Crane, Thatcher 
Blake, Seth Scott, Joshua Fawcett, John Barrett, Jeremiah 
Frame, John F. Thayer, William Randall, John Welch, Joshua 
Cromer, John Slavins, David Blake, William Barlow, Joseph 


B. Baker, Daniel Fairchild, Livingston Robins, Alfred Shattuck, 
Alva Trask, William Smith, Ira Raskins, John Bunts, Simon 
P. Doty, Milton S. Mason, Timothy Gas well, Charles H. Pane, 
Royal Brings, Solomon Watson, Abram Watson, Ralzimond 
Gardner, Mason Sherburne, John K. Towner, John G. Lock- 
ridge, John Allen, John Lovesse, A. E. Courtright, Henry Enoch, 
Ephraim Sumner, S. Brown, A. R. Dimmick, Samuel Hicks, H. 
M. Wattles, T. R. J. English, Oliver Robins, J. P. Griggs, Aaron 
V. Taylor, Luke Joslin, William Sumner, David D. Elliott, John 
Handy, Jacob Pettyjohn, Daniel S. Haight, Jacob Keyt, John 
Lefonton, John Kelsoe, William R. Wheeler, M. Ewing, Charles 
Works, Sidney Twogood, Phineas Churchill, Thomas B.Talcott, 
Austin Andrews, Thomas Lake, Benjamin McConnell, Benjamin 
DePue, Lewis Haskins, Aaron B. Davis, Joel Pike, R.M. Waller, 
Julius Trask, William Carey, Ephraim Wyrnan, P. D. Taylor, 
William Brayton, Israel Morrill, Harlyn Shattuck, David De- 
Witt, James B. Young, Abel Thurston, John Kaudler, John 
Adams, Milton Kilburn, Richard H. Enoch, Joseph Chadwick, 
Daniel Piper, John Hance, Henry Enoch, Jr., Peter Moore, 
Sylvester Sutton, V. B. Rexford, William G. Blair, Daniel H. 
Whitney, James Jackson, Isaac Adams, Isaac Harrell, E. A. 
Nixon, John Wood, William Mead, Joseph Rogers, A. C. Glea- 
son, Henry Hicks, John Brink, E. Gregory, L. C. Waller, James 
Thomas, G. Kent, Chauncey Mead, George Randall, W. H. 
Talcott, William E. Dunbar, S. A. Lee, Charles Reed, Carles 
Sayres, Robert J. Cross, D. A. Spaulding, Benjamin White, 
Jacob Enoch. The votes of two men, John Langdon and 
Thomas Williams, were rejected. Not a single voter of this list 
is now living. The last survivor was Harlyn Shattuck, who 
died in 1899, near Belvidere. 

On Wednesday, August 3d, the county commissioners-elect 
met in special session at the house of Daniel S. Haight, for the 
transaction of business necessary to complete the local govern- 
ment. Each commissioner administered the oath of office to 
the other. Lots were drawn for the terms of one year, and two 
and three years respectively. D. A. Spaulding was elected clerk 
of the county commissioners' court ; and Robert J. Cross was 
chosen treasurer. William E. Dunbar was sent to Vandalia, 
the capital of the state, with the election returns. The term 
court might seem to imply that this body possessed judicial 
powers, but such was not the fact. Under the constitution of 
1818, three commissioners were elected in each county for the 


transaction of all its business. This court performed the duties 
and exercised powers corresponding in a general way to those 
entrusted under the present law to the board of supervisors. 

At this first session of the court the commissioners divided 
the county into seven precincts, as follows : Yellow River, which 
included the towns of Silver Creek, Ridot, Freeport, Lancaster, 
and the south half of Rock River, in Stephenson county ; Rock 
Grove, which included the north half of Rock River, all of Buck 
Eye, Rock Grove, and the east half of Oneco, in Stephenson 
county, and Laona and Howard (now Durand) in Winnebago ; 
Peeketolika, corresponding to the towns of Seward, Lysander 
(nowPecatonica)and Burritt; Kishwaukee, now the townships 
of Cherry Valley, New Milford, and part of Rockford township ; 
Rockford, which included the present townships of Winnebago, 
Guilford, the larger part of Rockford, and the south half of 
Owen and Harlem; Rock River, including the townships of 
Shirlaud, Harrison, Rockton, Roscoe, north half of Owen and 
Harlem, and Manchester in Boone county; Belvidere, which 
included all of Boone county except Manchester township. This 
precinct contained two hundred and fifty-two square miles ; yet 
at the first presidential election in 1836, it could poll only 
twenty-three votes. Rock River precinct was twenty-four miles 
in length, and from six to twelve in width, and included six 
townships. At the presidential election previously mentioned 
this immense territory could poll but twenty votes. The 
number of precincts was subsequently increased to ten. 

At this session of the court an order was issued, which fixed 
the time and place of holding an election in each precinct, for 
justices of the peace and constables. The date chosen was 
August 27. In only three of these precincts, however, were 
elections held on that day. In Belvidere John K. Towner and 
John S. King were elected justices of the peace, and AbelThurs- 
ton and Mason Sherburne, constables. In Rock River, Sylvester 
Talcott and Robert J. Cross were elected justices of the peace, 
and John P. Parsons and D. A. Blake, constables. In Peeke- 
tolika, Ephraim Sumner and Isaac Hance were chosen justices, 
and William Sumner and Thomas Hance, constables. These 
justices were the first judicial officers in the county. A second 
election for the four remaining precincts was ordered to be held 
October 14th. Upon the election of these officers at this time 
the county organization was completed. There was as yet no 
county seat. The act to establish the county, however, had 


provided that until public buildings should be erected for the 
purpose, the courts should be held at the house of Daniel S3. 
Haight or Gennanicus Kent, as the county commissioners 
should direct. 

The first claims against the county were presented at this 
session. Germauicus Kent, Robert J. Cross and J. P. Griggs, as 
judges of election, and D. A. Spaulding and S. A. Lee, as clerks, 
were allowed one dollar each. D. A. Spaulding was allowed 
fifty cents for stationery furnished for poll-books. 



THE law establishing Winnebago county designated Robert 
Stephens and Rezin Zarley, of Cook county, and Jolm 
Phelps, of JoDaviess, as commissioners, to locate the perma- 
nent seat of justice. These commissioners, or a majority of 
them, were authorized to meet on the first Monday in May, 
1836, or as soon thereafter as may be, at the house of Daniel 
S. Haight, for the discharge of their duty. John Phelps never 
made hia appearance. The other two commissioners met July 
14th, at the place specified by law, for the selection of a site for 
the county buildings. 

At the county commissioners' court on Thursday, August 
4, 1836, the report of the special commissioners was presented. 
The reader will avoid confusion by noting the distinction be- 
tween the three county commissioners elected by popular vote, 
and the special commissioners designated by the statute to 
locate the county seat. The latter reported that on the 14th 
day of July they had met at the house of Daniel S. Haight, and 
that two days later they had selected a site on lands owned by 
Nicholas Boilvin & Co., on condition that the proprietors should 
execute a warranty deed to the county of thirty acres of land, so 
long as it should remain the seat of justice. On the same day 
Charles Reed presented to the county commissioners a deed of 
twelve blocks, containing two and one-half acres each, situated 
about two miles up the river from the ferry crossing. 

The law was very specific concerning the location of a site. 
It provided that if the site chosen should be the property of 
individuals, instead of government land, the owners thereof 
should make a deed in fee simple of not less than twenty acres 
of said tract to the county ; or in lieu thereof they should pay 
the county three thousand dollars, to be used in the erection of 
county buildings. Mr. Reed may have presented his deed in 


good faith, but it UUH iiot accepted because it contained an 
objectionable clause to the effect that the county should hold 
the property "so long as it should remain the seat of justice." 
This reservation defeated his scheme. 

This tract of land came into possession of Nicholas Boilvin 
about one year previous. Mr. Boilvin was at one time a gov- 
ernment agent for the Winnebago Indians. The several transfers 
of this property form an interesting chapter of local history. It 
was noted in Chapter III. that by the treaty negotiated at Prairie 
duChien, August 1, 1829, between the United States and the 
Winnebagoes, grants of land were made to certain descendants 
of this tribe. Catherine Myott, a half-breed Indian woman, was 
one of the two who had received two sections each. Previous 
to this contest over the county seat, one of these two unlocated 
sections had been sold to Henry Gratiot. By a deed executed 
August 25, 1835, Catherine Myott conveyed the other unlocated 
section to Nicholas Boilvin for eight hundred dollars. This was 
the first individual conveyance of land in Winnebago county. 
This deed was filed for record in Cook county, September 3, 
1835, and recorded by Daniel H. Whitney, recorder of Winne- 
bago county, September 8, 1836. This instrument was the 
first filed for record in this county. The tract located for Mr. 
Boilvin, by virtue of the treaty of 1829, is the east half of 
section fourteen and all that part of section thirteen west of 
Rock river, in Rockford township, and contains six hundred and 
thirty-seven acres. At the time Mr. Reed made the offer of his 
deed to the county commissioners, the property belonged to 
Nicholas Boilvin, of Chicago, Charles Reed, of Joliet, and Major 

As soon as the organization of the county began to be 
agitated, Boilvin and his associates determined to secure the 
location of the county seat on their site. The entire tract was 
platted September 14, 1836. It was known as Nicholas Boilvin's 
plat of the town of Winnebago, and the plat was filed for record 
September 17, 1836. Reed appeared as the principal manager. 
There were two hundred and fifty-one blocks, and these were 
subdivided into two thousand four hundred and thirty-six lots. 
The streets were uniformly eighty-two and one-half feet wide, 
and bore north and south, east and west. The lots were forty- 
nine and one-half feet front, and one hundred and thirteen feet 
and nine inches deep, except the lots in the water blocks, which 
ran back from Water street to low-water mark. The alleys 


were twenty feet wide. The town was chriateued Wiimebago. 
Reed built a two-story house, to be used as a hotel arid store, 
which is still standing a few rods above John H. Sherratt's new 
residence. A free ferry was established; a lime-kiln and a 
blacksmith shop were built; and a road opened through the 
timber east from Winnebago, to meet the state road from 
Chicago to Galena, at a point on Beaver creek. Nothing was 
left undone to secure the county seat; but the decision of the 
commissioners, like the law of the Medes and Persians, could 
not be changed. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the special commissioners 
were given full power by the statute to locate the county seat, 
their selection was arbitrarily set aside by the commissioners' 
court. This rejection, however, was based upon a reason which 
would have been considered valid by any court. The question 
did not again come before the people until 1839. Pending the 
location of the county seat, the commissioners ordered that the 
circuit and county commissioners' courts should be held at the 
house of Mr. Haight. 



1""HE ferry was the first mode of transit across the river. 
Ferries were established by special acts of the legislature, 
with regular charters, in territory not under county organiza- 
tion. The issue of licenses for conducting ferries came under the 
jurisdiction of the commissioners' courts in organized counties. 
In 1836, at the September session of this court for Winnebago 
county, Germanicus Kent was authorized to establish a ferry 
at Rockford, at what is now State street. He was required to 
pay a license of ten dollars for one year. Rates of ferriage were 
established as follows : For each carriage, wagon or cart, drawn 
by two horses, oxen or mules, sixty -two and one-half cents; the 
same drawn by one horse, thirty-seven and one-half cents ; for 
each additional horse, twelve and one-half cents; for man 
and horse, twenty-five cents; each horse, mule, or head of 
cattle, twelve and one-half cents ; hogs, sheep and goats per 
score, fifty cents; each footman, six and one-quarter cents. 
These terms were for transients. Farmers were given a yearly 
rate. Free ferriage was given to the citizens of the county after 
the village became incorporated. The proprietors were reim- 
bursed from the village treasury. 

At the same session of the court Vance & Andrews were 
authorized to establish a ferry at Winnebago, on the same 
terms for license and ferriage as given Mr. Kent. C. Doolittle, 
by his agent, H. M. Wattles, was granted the privilege of 
establishing a ferry where the line between Rockford and Owen 
townships crosses Rock river, on the same terms. In the spring 
of 1836, Harvey Lowe and Nelson H. Salisbury, who had made 
claims in Howard in the preceding autumn, returned with their 
families. May 18th they crossed the river at the point now 
spanned by Trask's bridge. They were the first to cross in the 
boat which had been launched that day. They had been detained 
there about a week, and during that time they had assisted in 
building the boat. This ferry, which was established through 
the agency of Love and Salisbury, to enable them to cross their 


claims, subsequently became the thoroughfare in the direction 
of Mineral Point, and formed a convenient crossing for all 
emigrants to the country north of the Pecatonica. 

In 1837 the ferry licenses of Kent and Vance were extended 
another year, at the same rates. Mr. Kent conducted the ferry 
at Rockford from 1836 to 1838. In the latter year a license 
was issued to Kent & Brinckerhoff. The rates of ferriage were 
changed and the license fee raised to twenty dollars. These 
gentlemen were succeeded by Selden M. Church, who continued 
the business until the first bridge was built. 

Skiffs were used for carrying passengers, and a scow for 
horses and other property. A scow was made from the halves 
of large split logs hewn down to proper thickness, and planked 
in the ordinary manner. A large cable was stretched across 
the river, supported by posts on either side, which kept it in 
place. From the ends of the scow smaller ropes ran to pulley 
blocks running on the cable. By shortening one of these ropes 
and pushing the boat from the shore so that the current could 
strike it obliquely, the craft was given the required momentum, 
and the rapid current propelled it over. The scow could carry 
two teams at a time. Teams were driven upon the scow, and if 
any danger was apprehended from frightened horses, the driver 
would block a wheel to the scow with a chain. A platform at 
either end of the boat, supported by levers attached to each 
side, was lowered to the solid landing, and thus formed an easy 
entrance and exit. A railing at the sides and base at the ends 
insured perfect safety. The countersign was "Over!" which, 
with various repetitions and inflections, always preceded the 
starting of the boat. 

There was a ferry-house on either side of the river. The 
ferryman resided in the one on the West side. It was a frame 
structure built on the site of the public library building, in 
1839, by Allen & Brown, for Kent & Brinckerhoff. Its dimen- 
sions were fourteen by fourteen feet, one story, boarded up and 
down, with shingle roof. James Taylor, a bachelor, was the 
first ferryman. He was succeeded by Giles C. Hard, and he in 
turn by John Fisher, after whom Fisher avenue was named. 
He was a native of New Hampshire, a strong and muscular 
man, of strict integrity. Mr. Taylor was assisted by Asher 
Miller. Their combined strength was sometimes severely tested 
in getting a row-boat, loaded with passengers and mails, across 
through the ice, when the ferry-boat could not run. 


When Gerrnanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake made their 
settlements, there were no state roads in this vicinity. Indian 
trails wended their way through prairie and forest, but these 
did not greatly facilitate the travel of the white man. At that 
time Chicago and Galena were the only well known points in 
northern Illinois. The first settlements in the state were made 
in the southern portion ; and as the tide of emigration poured 
from the east into the Rock river valley, after the Black Hawk 
war, each session of the legislature laid out a number of state 

By an act approved January 15, 1836, James Gifford, Dan- 
iel S. Haight and Josiah C. Goodhue were appointed special 
commissioners to view, survey and locate a road from Meach- 
am's Grove, in Cook county, to Galena, in JoDaviess county. 
The bill directed that the commissioners should make "Elgin 
on Fox river, in Cook county, Belvidere on Squaw Prairie, in 
the county of LaSalle, and Midway at the ford on Rock river, in 
the county of J o Daviess, points on the said road, and shall fix the 
said road on the most advantageous ground, for a permanent 
road, having reference to said points." This road was opened 
without delay, and State street in Belvidere and in Rockford is 
a portion of this highway, which extends nearly across the 
state in a general northwesterly direction from Chicago. 

By the same act David W. Whitney, Stephen Mack, and John 
P. Bradstreet were designated commissioners to locate a road 
from Belvidere to the mouth of Pecatonica river, at Mack- 
town, which was named in his own honor by its founder, Stephen 
Mack. By an act of the legislature, approved March 2, 1839, 
Benjamin T. Lee, of Winnebago county, Ephraim Hall, of 
DeKalb, and Isaac Marlett, of Kane, were made commissioners 
to view, survey and locate "a state road from where a certain 
road terminates at the Will county line, to Aurora, on Fox 
river; thence, by the county seat of DeKalb county, Rockford, in 
Winnebago county, Trask'e ferry, Pekatonikee; thence to the 
state line, in a direction towards Mineral Point. The said 
commissioners shall lay out a state road from the town of 
Winnebago, in Winnebago county, intersecting the State road 
in the direction to the Will county line." Mr. Marlett, the 
third commissioner, was the father of Mrs. 0. B\ Barbour, of 
Rockford. About 1839 Charles street was opened as a more 
direct route to Chicago, by way of St. Charles; hence the name. 
But it was of little value in this respect beyond Cherry Valley. 


In March, 1839, an act of the legislature was approved, by 
which twenty-five thousand dollars were appropriated from the 
state internal improvement fund, which had been created two 
years before. This money was distributed among the northern 
counties. It was to be applied by the commissioners' courts of 
the counties receiving the same, exclusively to the construction of 
bridges, and the improvement of public roads in their respective 
counties. Winnebago county received three thousand one hun- 
dred and fourteen dollars and eighty-three cents, with the 
proviso that "the bridge across Cedar creek, on the State road 
leading by Bloomingville to the mouth of the Pickatonike, and 
the improvements of the Great Western mail route or road from 
the east to the west line of Winnebago county, shall first be 
made and paid for from the sum appropriated to said county." 

Upon the organization of the county, the commissioners 
devoted considerable attention to receiving petitions for the 
appointment of viewers to locate roads. The rapid settlement 
of the county, in a day preceding the railroad, demanded the 
best possible facilities for transportation. Every property- 
owner was anxious to secure a public road near his homestead, 
and was willing to give whatever land was necessary. The 
records of the county bear testimony to the fidelity with which 
the commissioners transacted this important business. 



MR. KENT was in a sense the first proprietor of the colony. 
He gave it the name of Midway. This name, which is said 
to have been proposed by Mrs. Kent, was suggested by the fact 
that the settlement was about halfway from Chicago to Galena. 
"Midway, Rock River, JoDaviess county, Illinois, June 17, 
1835," is thename and date Mr. Kent gives in a letter to afriend. 
The law of 1836 which established the State road, noted in the 
last chapter, referred to "Midway at the ford on Rock river." 

A letter written by Mr. Kent in the autumn of 1834, ad- 
dressed to J. B. Martyn, of Alabama, directed that gentleman 
to "Midway" as follows : "At Galena call on my brother. From 
Galena go directly east until you come to and cross Apple river, 
thence turn in a southeasterly course to Plum river, and from 
there to Cherry Grove. There leave some timber on your left, 
and a small grove on your right [later known as Twelve-Mile 
Grove] and then keep on until you strike Rock river, from which 
a blind path will lead you to Mid way." These instructions were 
about as definite asLauncelot's direction to the Jew's house, in 
the Merchant of Venice : "Turn up on your right hand at the next 
turning, but at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the 
very next turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly 
to the Jew's house." Nevertheless, Mr. Martyn found Midway. 

Under. date of October 17, 1837, Mr. Kent writes a letter 
from Rockford. The settlement was therefore known as Mid- 
way from one to three years. It is said "a rose by any other 
name would smell as sweet ; " but it is doubtful if the ambitious 
young community would have become the commercial and edu- 
cational center of the Rock river valley, handicapped by the 
primitive name of Midway. The original proprietors early 
came to this conclusion. Authorities differ as to the origin of 
the name Rockford. One writer says the place was known as 
Rockford by the Indians ; and that this name was suggested to 
them by nature. Upon the site of the present dam was a solid 
rock bottom, where the water WRS usually so shallow as to afford 


easy crossing with their ponies. Hence it was called by them 
the rock-ford. 

John H. Thurston gives a somewhat different, though not 
necessarily a conflicting, version. He says Daniel S. Haight, 
Germanicus Kent, William H. Oilman of Belvidere, John P. 
Chapin and Ebenezer Peck of Chicago, and Stephen Edgel, later of 
St. Louis, met at Dr. Goodhue's office, on Lake street, in Chicago, 
to name the claim, or mill privilege, which they hoped at some 
time would become a town. "Midway," though an appropriate 
name, was not in favor. Various names were suggested and 
rejected, until Dr. Goodhuesaid: "Why not call it ROCKFORD, 
from the splendid rock-bottom ford on the river there?" The 
suggestion seemed an inspiration, and was at once unanimously 
adoped ; and from that day to this, Dr. Goodhue has been given 
the credit of the present name. The date of this christening is 
uncertain. Mr. Thurston says it occurred in the summer of 
1835; but the statute of January, 1836, still designated it 
Midway. News traveled slowly, however, in those days; and 
possibly the solons at Vandalia had not learned of the change. 

The first surveys in Winnebago county were made early in 
1836. Don Alonzo Spaulding, a pioneer of 1835, was the gov- 
ernment surveyor. One of his associates was Hon. Charles B. 
Farwell, of Chicago, who in 1886 succeeded the late General 
John A. Logan as a United States senator from Illinois. In 
October, 1835, Mr. Spaulding began the extension of the third 
principal meridian, at a timber corner about two miles north 
of the point where this meridian crosses the Illinois river, on 
the western boundary line of LaSalle county. Mr. Spaulding 
extended the third principal meridian north to its intersection 
with the Wisconsin boundary line. He then returned on the 
line to the corner of townships forty-one and forty-two north, 
range one east, and commenced the stand-line running east 
along the southern boundary of townships forty -two north, 
ranges one, two and three east ; and then surveyed the range and 
township lines in these three ranges to the north line of the state. 
He subdivided townships forty-four and forty-six, Rockford 
and Rockton, before leaving the field in January, 1836. Mr. 
Spaulding resumed his surveys in the spring of that year, and 
subdivided township forty-five, range one east, and townships 
forty-four, forty-five and forty-six, ranges two and three east. 
In 1839, 1840, and 1841, under another contract, Mr. Spauld- 


ing subdivided, in ranges ten and eleven, east of the fourth 
principal meridian, from the northern line of the state south ward 
nearly thirty miles. It will thus be seen that Mr. Spaulding 
surveyed the range and township lines in all of Winnebago 
county, and the western range of Boone; and subdivided all of 
Winnebago except New Milford and Cherry Valley townships. 

Mr. Spaulding, however, was not responsible for the fact 
that the streets of East and West Rockford do not squarely 
meet at the river. Mr. Spaulding stated that in January, 1836, 
Mr. Kent requested him to lay out two or three streets, parallel 
with the river, on the West side, as the beginning of his town. 
There were probably ten or twelve blocks, the corners of which 
were defined by stakes. This survey of blocks and streets was 
a personal transaction with Mr. Kent, and entirely separate 
from Mr. Spaulding's survey of townships and ranges for the 
government. In the spring of 1836 several persons interested 
in the east side of the river wished Mr. Spaulding to lay off the 
beginning of their town. After making a preliminary examina- 
tion, he found that he could not make the front street or the 
street next the river, on the most suitable ground and have 
the cross streets correspond with the streets on the west side of 
the river. He then examined his work on the West side, and 
found that it could be changed so as to conform to the East 
side. At that time no improvements had been made which 
would have been affected by the prospective change ; and a slight 
modification would have made the streets on the two sides of 
the river harmonize, as though there had been no river dividing 
the town. Mr. Spaulding explained to Mr. Kent the advantage 
of such harmony to both sides of the river ; but Mr. Kent was 
unwilling to comply with his suggestions. Forty-five years 
later Mr. Spaulding made this explanation to relieve himself of 
the responsibility for the city streets as they now touch the river. 

The rivalry between the two sides of the river could not be 
compromised. Nature provided that the river should be a bond 
of union in which there is strength ; but the two factions made 
it a cause of division. Both Kent and Haight foresaw that the 
prosperity of Rockford would largely depend upon the develop- 
ment of the natural water-power; but neither would make any 
concession, even for the general good. William E. Dunbar had 
settled on the West Side in 1835; but he subsequently removed 
to the East side, purchased land of Mr. Haight, and joined him 
in a common rivalry against his former neighbor. 



IT has been said that John Wesley gave one hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars to the poor, and at his death he left to the 
world two silver spoons and the Methodist church. The latter 
has proved a splendid legacy. Methodism has always been a 
pioneer. It received its baptism of divine energy in the days of 
John and Charles Wesley. George Whitefield caught the holy 
flame, and came to America to preach a more simple gospel to 
the common people. Methodism has since kept pace with the 
course of empire that westward takes its way. 

Methodism was established in Wiunebago county in 1836. 
It was therefore the vanguard of the church militant to enter 
and possess the land. The official record of the first society has 
not been preserved. It is an interesting fact that early and 
authentic information was given by Bishop Vincent thirty-five 
years ago. At that time he was pastor of the Court Street 
Methodist church. On Sunday, October 2, 1864, Rev. Vincent 
preached a sermon on Methodism in Rockford, which has been 
preserved. Thirty-five years ago there were living witnesses of 
the first effort to organize a Methodist church, and others who 
had seen the stately tree grow from the grain of mustard seed . 
This sermon is supplemented by an excellent historical address 
delivered by Rev. G. R. Vanhorne, D. D., August 6, 1882, in the 
Centennial Methodist church, which is on file in the records of 
that church. These sermons furnish the only available infor- 
mation concerning the first church organized in Winnebago 

Galena was the first appointment within the bounds of the 
present Rock River conference. It was at that time, in 1829, in 
the Illinois conference, which comprised the states of Indiana 
and Illinois. The Indiana conference was formed in 1834. After 
this separation of Indiana from the Illinois conference, thelatter 
still covered a vast region. In the autumn of 1835 Rev. William 
Royal was appointed to the Fox River mission. Rev. Samuel 
Pillsbury was associated with him. This mission circuit extended 


Dorthwardfrom Ottawa. In June, 1836, Rev. Pillsbury preached 
a sermon at the home of Henry Enoch, in Guilford township, 
seven and one-half miles east of Rockford. This was the first 
service in the county conducted by a Methodist clergyman. On 
that occasion Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Beers and Mr. and Mrs. Sam- 
uel Gregory traveled six miles in a heavy lumber wagon drawn 
by a yoke of oxen. Verily, these godly pioneers were not car- 
ried to the skies, nor even to church, on "flowery beds of ease." 
Their religion cost them something; but they received manifold 
more in this present time, and in the world to come life ever- 
lasting. This first service was followed during the summer by 
occasional sermons by Rev. Royal at Mr. Enoch's house; and 
Mrs. Enoch often prepared Sunday dinners for the congrega- 
tion. On his way to conference at Springfield, in the autumn 
of 1836, Rev. Royal passed through Rockford. Monday after- 
noon, September 2d, he preached in Samuel Gregory's log 
house, which stood on what is now block fourteen in Gilbert 
Woodruff's Second Addition to Rockford. At the close of the 
sermon Rev. Royal organized the first Methodist class, which 
consisted of five persons : Samuel Gregory, Joanna Gregory, 
Mary Enoch, Daniel Beers and Mary Beers. These pioneer 
Methodists have been honored by five memorial front windows 
in Centennial church. Mr. Gregory and Mrs. Beers were living 
when Dr. Vanhorne prepared his memorial address seventeen 
years ago. 

Rev. Vincent, in his sermon, made this reference to that 
humble beginning: "I visited a few days ago the remains of the 
old log house, scarcely a mile east of the river, and near the 
railroad, where this organization of Methodism took place. It 
was in an humble place, but in the midst of a glorious land and 
under a benignant heaven that this little germ was planted, 
and it has grown rapidly, and the five have become nearly a 
thousand who live under the shadow of Rockford Methodism 
today ; and who can tell of the number who have gone up from 
the field of conflict into the temple of triumph? " 

At the conference of 1836 Bishop Roberts appointed Dr. 
Arnold to the Sycamore circuit, of which Rockford was a part. 
The few Methodists gathered for worship as often as possible 
at Mr. Gregory's house. In 1837 the conference met at Rush- 
ville, when Bishop Roberts sent William Gaddis, with Robert 
Lane as assistant, to the Rockford circuit. This circuit belonged 
to the Chicago district, over which John Clark was presiding- 


elder. Mr. Lane soon retired from the field, and he was succeeded 
by Leander S. Walker. At the conference of 1638, at Alton, 
Bishop Soule returned Mr. Walker to Rockford as preacher in 
charge, with Nathan Jewett as assistant. During the early part 
of Mr. Walker's pastorate he preached in the house of James 
Boswell, north of the brewery. . The Methodists subsequently 
worshipped in a building erected by Mr. Haight on the site of 
the American House. This building was used for various pur- 
poses. In the summer of 1838 the Methodists built a parsonage 
on First street, between Prairie street and Lafayette avenue, 
facing west. This was the first Methodist parsonage built within 
what is now the Rock River conference. Another memorable 
event occurred during this year. The first quarterly meeting 
was held late in the summer, in a barn belonging to Mr. Haight, 
near the intersection of State and Third streets, and is known 
in local history as the "stage barn." The services began on 
Saturday, and continued through Sunday. Bishop Morris 
presided at the conference held in Bloomington in 1839, and 
returned Nathan Jewett to Rockford as preacher in charge. 

The Rock River conference was organized August 26, 1840, 
at Mt. Morris. Bishop Waugh presided over this conference, 
which was held in a grove. Rockford was retained in the Chicago 
district, with John T. Mitchell as presiding elder, andSemphro- 
nious H. Stocking as circuit preacher. August 25, 1841, the 
conference was held at Platteville, Wisconsin, when Bishop 
Morris sent John Crummer to Rockford. The Methodists were 
then holding services in the brick schoolhouse on the East side 
public square. The Dniversalists appointed their service at the 
same hour and place, and differences arose. The Methodists 
withdrew from the schoolhouse; the pastor removed his family 
"up-stairs," and finished the lower story of the parsonage as 
a chapel. 

August 3, 1842, the conference met in Chicago, and Bishop 
Roberts assigned Rockford to the care of Silas Bolles. At this 
time the Methodist church was worshiping in what was after- 
ward known as the "old seminary building." This structure 
had been begun as a Congregational church, but was abandoned 
for the church built on the West side by Kent and Brinckerhoff. 
In 1842 the Methodists bought this property of the county 
commissioners, and held it for some years. 

September 20, 1842, the First Methodist church became an 
incorporate body, with five trustees, as follows : Horace Miller, 


James B. Marty n, Samuel Gregory, Daniel Beers and Willard 
Wheeler. At the conference in Dubuque, Iowa, August 30, 
1843, Rockford was made a "station," and Bishop Andrews 
ent Richard Blanchard. November 10th of that year the 
trustees of the society purchased of Daniel S. Haight the lot on 
which the parsonage had been built five years previous. The 
consideration was two hundred dollars. In 1849 the trustees 
sold the property to George Shearer, for three hundred dollars. 
The lot is now occupied by Thomas Sully's residence. 

Nathaniel P. Heath succeeded Mr. Blanchard in 1844. He 
was sent by Bishop Morris, who presided at the conference in 
Milwaukee. In August, 1845, the conference met at Peoria, 
and Bishop Morris sent Charles D. Gaboon to Rockford. He 
filled this appointment only once, and died September 25th. 
His remains are buried in the Cedar Bluff cemetery. Of the 
fifty-eight pastors who were assigned to Rockford pulpits from 
1836 to 1882, Mr. Gaboon is the only one who died among this 
people while in the pastorate. John Lucock was sent to fill out 
the term of Mr. Gaboon. During his pastorate the society 
resolved to build a church. December 6, 1845, a subscription 
paper was circulated. The quarterly conference had already 
appointed John Lucock, Willard Wheeler, G. 0. Holmes, James 
B. Martyn, Horace Miller, Samuel Gregory, Edward Fitch, and 
Eliphalet Gregory as a building committee, to superintend the 
erection of the edifice, which was to be called "The First Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church of Rockford." This subscription list 
has been preserved, and is now in the archives of the society. 
The amount subscribed was two thousand three hundred and 
twelve dollars. 

In August, 1846, Nathaniel P. Heath was re-assigned to 
this charge, at the request of the society, by Bishop Hamline, 
who presided over the conference at Galena. February 25, 
1846, the trustees purchased of William H. Gilman, lots one, 
two, three, four and five, in the east half of block thirty-one, 
fronting on South Second street, between Oak and Walnut. 
The consideration was three hundred and twenty-five dollars. 
This part of the town was then called the "Barrens," and was 
a hunting-ground for the boys. These lots, except lot one, 
are the same upon which the Centennial church and parson- 
age now stand, and which were occupied by the First church 
and parsonage. The contract for building the First church 
WM made with M. H. Regan, in 1846, but it was not completed 


until 1848. The brick for the church was made by Hiram 
Richardson ; the stone for the foundation was donated by Jesse 

The conference of 1847 was held in August, at Chicago. 
Bishop Waugh assigned James E. Wilson to Rock ford. He 
remained one year. The church was completed and dedicated 
during his pastorate. March 13, 1848, a second subscription 
paper was circulated. The document contained this proviso: 
"That the seats in said church shall be free for all, in accord- 
ance with the discipline and usages of said church, if not free 
these subscriptions to be null and void." The amount pledged 
was two thousand and sixty -nine dollars. This document is 
also preserved. The dedication of the church occurred June 1, 
1848. Leander S. Walker preached the dedicatory sermon. 
The cost of the church was about seven thousand dollars. The 
pulpit of this sanctuary had an unique history. Several years 
before, Samuel Gregory had taken careful forethought for his 
burial, and cut down a stately walnut tree, sawed it into boards 
and solemnly stored them away for his coffin. Nature seemed 
to resent the insinuation, and the country became so healthy 
as to render his efforts useless. Before Mr. Greogory had an 
opportunity to die, William Logue came to Rockford with an 
abundance of undertaking supplies, and Mr. Gregory relegated 
the well seasoned boards to the loft of his barn. When the 
First church needed a pulpit, he brought forth his treasure of 
walnut and literally laid it on the altar. When the Centennial 
church was built, the historic desk given by the first class-leader 
was carefully taken apart, and fashioned into the beautiful 
piece of furniture upon which the Bible now rests. Mr. Gregory 
lived more than forty years after this strange preparation for 
his burial ; and that which was intended to encase a dead body, 
now holds the living word. 

Canton was the seat of the conference in 1848, when Bishop 
Morris sent James C. Parks to Rockford. He was the first 
preacher who remained two years on this charge. During his 
first year, in 1849, the society built a "grout" parsonage on 
the corner lot just south of where the present parsonage stands. 
July 18, 1849, the annual conference was held at Rockford, 
with Bishop Janes presiding. Bishop Hamline presided at 
the conference in Plainfield, July 17, 1850. He assigned to 
Rockford. William P. Jones, who remained one year. He was 
succeeded by Francis A. Reed, who received his appointment 


from Bishop Waugh, who presided over the conference, held 
July 17th, at Peoria. It was during the pastorate of Mr. Reed 
that the "Second Methodist Episcopal church" was organized. 
These were successful years for local Methodism. At the end of 
his term he reported four hundred members and twenty proba- 

From 1841 to 1853 Rockford had been a part of the Mt. 
Morris district. In the latter year, the conference, which met 
at Chicago September 14th, redistricted the work, and the Rock- 
ford district was formed. Bishop Scott sent Luke Hitchcock 
to the district as presiding elder. William Tasker was assigned 
to the First church, and "West Rockford" was left to be sup- 
plied by Mr. Chatfield. 

Lewiston was the seat of the next conference, which was 
held September 13, 1854. James Baume was sent from this 
session by Bishop Morris to East Rockford. He served the 
church two years. Mr. Baume went to India as a missionary 
in 1859, and remained seven years. He was stationed at Luck- 
now, where his daughter, now Mrs. Henry D. Andrew, was born. 
Mr. Baume returned in 1866, and in that year he was assigned 
to the First church by Bishop Clark. Mrs. Baume died in 1867. 
Mr. Baume's second wife is a sister of Mrs. Thomas G. Lawler. 
In 1883 Mr. Baume returned to the foreign field. He first went 
to Naini Tal, a resort in the Himalaya mountains, and thence 
to Bowen church in Bombay. He returned in 1893 to Rockford, 
after having given seventeen years to foreign missionary fields. 
Mr. Baume died in June, 1897. Circuit Judge Baume, of Galena, 
isasori. At his death it was said of him : "He esteemed the Chris- 
tian ministry the choicest, most privileged and far the highest 
place on earth. . . and he therefore had that calm and 
impress! veuess which come to a man in the presence of such 
exalted persuasions." 

From the Aurora conference, September 12, 1856, Bishop 
Simpson sent Hooper Crews to this charge. During his second 
year the society again swarmed, and the Third Street church 
was formed. At the conference of August, 1858, which met at 
Waukegan, the three societies in Rockford were respectively 
named First Church, Court Street and Third Street. The next 
conference was held at Galena, in October, 1859, when Bishop 
Ames reappointed Francis A . Reed to the First church. Mrs. 
Reed died during his first year. The Swedish Methodist Episco- 
pal church was organized in July, 1861, during his second year. 


The portraits of many of these pioneer Methodist ministers 
adorn the parlors of Centennial church. There is also a picture 
of the First Methodist church. The union of the First church 
and the Third Street church under the name of the Centennial 
church, will be considered in a later chapter. 

A complet list of the early presiding elders who have served 
on the districts in which the Rockford appointments have been 
located, are as follows : 1836-40, John Clark, Chicago district ; 
1840-41, John T. Mitchell, Chicago district; 1841-42,8. H. 
Stocking, Mt. Morris district ; 1842-44. John T. Mitchell, Mt. 
Morris district ; 1844-48, Cooper Crews, Mt. Morris district ; 
1848-50, Philo Judson, Mt. Morris district; 1850-53, Richard 
Haney, Mt. Morris district; 185354, Luke Hitchcock, Rock- 
ford district ; 1854-58, Rev. G. L. S. Stuff, Rockford district ; 
1858-60, Cooper Crews, Rockford district; 1860-64, Richard 
A. Blanchard, Rockford district; 1864-65, W. T. Harlow, Mt. 
Morris district; 1864-68, L. A. Sanford (six months), Rockford 
district; 1864-68, H. L. Martin (three years and six months), 
Rockford district; 1868-72, W. C. Willing, Rockford district ; 
1872-76, W. P. Gray, Rockford district; 1876-80, Henry L. 
Martin, Rockford district; 1880-84, C. E. Mandeville, Rockford 

Of the sixty sessions of the Rock River conference, eight 
have been held in Rockford. The first convened with the First 
church, July 18, 1849. Edmund S. Janes was the presiding 
bishop. August 26, 1857, the conference convened in Court 
Street church, with Lewis Scott as presiding bishop. At the con- 
ference held with the First church, September 23, 1863, Bishop 
Scott again presided. October 9, 1872, the conference met in 
the Third Street church, with Bishop Isaac W. Wiley presiding. 
The next conference in Rockford met October 13, 1880, in Court 
Street church. Bishop Hurst presided. The charge of heresy 
preferred against Dr. H. W. Thomas was considered and referred 
to the presiding elder of his district. September 21, 1884, the 
conference convened with Centennial church. Bishop Henry W. 
Warren presided. Bishop Mallalieu presided at the conference 
held with Court Street church, September 27, 1887. The eighth 
conference convened with Centennial church, October 3, 1899, 
with Bishop Hurst in the chair. 



1~"HE first crime brought to light in Winnebago county was 
committed in the summer of 1835. The body of a mur- 
dered man, terribly mutilated, was found in the woods, about 
two and a half miles south of the settlement. This discovery 
sent a thrill of horror to the hearts of the pioneers, who began 
for the first time to feel distrustful. The county had been 
settled by an excellent class of citizens, and this murder was the 
one dark shadow of these first years. The crime was at first 
attributed to the Indians ; but this accusation was not war- 
ranted by their general treatment of the whites. The remains 
of the stranger were buried in the woods where he met his death. 
The crime remains a mystery to this day ; but the poor fellow 
was doubtless murdered by an unsuspected Judas for his claim. 
The settlers allowed the tragedy to pass unrecorded in local 
history; and not until forty years later appeared the first 
published statement of the affair. This first crime was the 
first death of a white person in the county, so far as known. 
The second death was that of Sampson George, to whom refer- 
ence was made in a preceding chapter. 

The first marriage was that of Dr. Daniel H. Whitney and 
Sarah Caswell, and was solemnized by Rev. Seth S. Whitman, 
of Belvidere, December 10, 1836. The first marriage ceremony 
within the present limits of thecounty was that of Jeremiah Rob- 
erts and Harriet Clausen, and was performed December 11,1836, 
by Sylvester Talcott, a justice of the peace. The first marriage, 
however, reported in the registry in the county clerk's office is 
that of William P. Randall and Miss Delia Driscoll, solemnized 
February 13, 1837, by William R. Wheeler, a justice of the peace. 

Dr. Daniel Hilton Whitney, the first benedict, was a historic 
character. He was not the Daniel Whitney who figured promi- 
nently in the early transfers of land in sections twenty-one, 
twenty-two and twenty-seven, in Rockford township. Dr. 
Whitney settled in Belvidere in 1835, and was elected the first 
recorder of Winnebago county, which in 1836 included Boone 


county. Dr. Whitney was tall, of commanding presence, with 
swarthy complexion, coal-black hair, and eagle eye, and withal 
the very incarnation of dynamic force. At one time Dr. Whitney 
was not a believer in revealed religion. Rev. EleazerT. Ball, a 
Presbyterian pastor of Belvidere, when on his death-bed, sent 
an invitation to Dr. Whitney to come and see a Christian die. 
Upon his brow had come the first breath of the eternal morn- 
ing, and into his soul the thrill of thriumph. With Paul he could 
say: "0 grave! where is thy victory !" Death to him was but the 
kiss of an angel, to waft the gentle spirit homeward to its God. 
Wfiat, to this, is the hero's clarion, though its blast should ring 
with the mastery of a world ! Dr. Whitney died February 17, 
1864, aged fifty-seven years. There was much in his life and 
character that appealed to the love of romance; and he is 
kindly remembered to this day. Dr. Jones, a grandson of Dr. 
Whitney, is practicing medicine at Belvidere. 

Melissa J. Long, daughter of John B. Long, born in Febru- 
ary, 1836, is entitled to the distinction of being the first white 
child born in the county. The first male child, Ogden Hance, 
was born in what is now Pecatonica township. George E. 
Dunbar, son of William E. Dunbar, was born in 1836, in a little 
log house situated about one block south of Kent street, on 
Main. Mrs. T. W. Carrico, a daughter of Benjamin Kilburn, 
was also among the earliest accessions by birth to the popula- 
tion of the village. 

The protection of land claims was one of the difficulties that 
confronted the early settlers. Stephen A. Douglas' doctrine of 
squatter sovereignty was not practicable in dealing with slavery 
in the territories; and perhaps the renowned and doughty little 
giant never designed that it should be. But in Winnebago 
county, during the first five years after the arrival of Kent and 
Blake, the fact of actual possession was the only title to the 
soil. The land in this vicinity was not brought into market 
until 1839 ; and the Polish claims, which will be considered in 
a subsequent chapter, did not permit the land in two townships 
co be opened to sale until several years later. Claims were made 
upon lands, deeds were executed and money paid for lands that 
were still in technical legal possession of the government. In 
some instances several transfers were made before the original 
grantor obtained his patent from the government. Three facts 


produced this peculiar condition in the real estate market. The 
"floats" which were given certainhalf-breed Winnebago Indians 
by the treaty of Prairie du Chien, were located on desirable 
lands by shrewd land speculators, who purchased the "floats" 
from their wards. These claims were given precedence. Another 
cause was the claim of a Polish count to Rockford and Kockton 
townships. The third factor was the settlement by the pioneers 
on lands several years before they were advertised for sale at 
the land office. Thus this feature of local history is quite 
complex. Many of the early instruments were not deeds, but 
simply transfers of claims, or agreements to sell the land when 
the titles of the grantors had been obtained. These transac- 
tions indicate the utmost confidence in the good faith of the 
government, and this confidence was never misplaced. 

Under these circumstances, however, trouble among claim- 
ants was inevitable. There was no golden age in which the 
brethren always dwelt together in unity. The "transfigured 
menagerie," of which Dr. Boardman speaks, when the lion and 
the lamb should lie down together, was not fully realized on the 
banks of Rock river. The law allowed a settler to hold such 
land as he could enclose. His ambition was sometimes greater 
than his ability to "enclose," which was occasionally done by- 
plowing a furrow around the claim. The first fences were of 
split rails or sods. The latter were quite extensively built at 
first, but were soon abandoned. They were* made by building 
the sides of cut turf and filling the middle with earth. When 
well made, these fences were quite attractive to the eye. Their 
insufficiency, however, soon drew attention to hedges, and after 
trials of many kinds, the osage orange was extensively used. 
The county was not entirely free from that depraved and des- 
perate class, who usually keep in advance of the administration 
of justice by the regularly established institutions of law. But 
these soon found that the moral atmosphere around them 
rendered their situation not only uncomfortable, but actually 
dangerous; and they were warned either to reform or emigrate. 

Although difficulties frequently arose among settlers in 
regard to their respective titles to land, there were few of so 
serious a nature that they were not peaceably and satisfactorily 
adjusted by the claims committee. This was a sort of squatter 
sovereignty judiciary, which was established in almost every 
community. When complaint was made, a meeting was called, 
a chairman appointed, and a verdict rendered, which was very 


generally respected. A settler who had made what was consid- 
ered a favorable selection of land, or one that was likely from 
the growth of the county to become valuable, occasionally 
found in the morning that a board shanty had been put up 
during the night on his claim. This cabin would generally be 
occupied by three or four men, friends of the "jumper," who 
had come with him to assist in maintaining his seizure. These 
intruders usually had their shanties ready to put together. The 
work was done at some convenient sawmill where lumber could 
be obtained. It was then loaded on a wagon at night ; and by 
morning they would have the house put up, and be ready to 
maintain their position by force of arms in what they called 
their "castle." The decision of the settlers' court, in the matter 
of "jumping claims," was usually in favor of the man who had 
a family, and who intended to become an actual settler ; and 
it was always carried out to the strict letter. 

An instance occurred in Rockford in the winter of 1838-39, 
in which the "jumper" refused to submit his pretensions to the 
determination of this tribunal, but persisted in completing his 
building upon land which had been previously recognized as 
belonging to another. The neighbors turned out almost en 
masse, carefully raised the building and placed it upon ox sleds, 
and with their teams hauled it into town. On the top of the 
building sat Mark Beaubien, a young man, who tied together a 
number of red handkerchiefs into a flaming banner, which he 
waved in triumph over that portion of the "land of the free." 
On either side of the cabin, which was now playing the role of a 
circuit-rider, marched the citizens in procession, one hundred or 
more in number. Their destination was the residence of George 
W. Brinckerhoff, who, it was alleged, had counseled the jumping 
of the claim, and who would be interested therein should it be 
secured. They quietly deposited their freight in Mr. Brincker- 
hoff s front yard, and told him they had found his property 
astray on the prairie; and, fearing some injury might come to 
it, they had deemed it their duty as good neighbors, to return 
it to him. They also expressed the hope that he would exercise 
police regulations over his wayward property. The citizens 
then quietly dispersed ; and it is said no further trouble arose 
from that source. 

Another case occurred at Twelve-Mile Grove, in 1844, which 
resulted in the death of one of the claimants. Two men started 
at the same time to pre-empt forty acres of land in that neigh- 


borhood. One of them, named Pierce, found on reaching- the 
place that Andrus had forestalled him, and was putting up a 
cabin. Pierce immediately started for Dixon on horseback. By 
hard riding he reached his destination the same day, made his 
entry atthe land office, received his certificate, and immediately 
returned. When he arrived on the tract in dispute, he found 
thereon the cabin which had just been completed. His opponent 
had labored all night and had finished his cabin, and was now 
away at breakfast. Pierce quickly summoned two or three of 
his friends; and, on the principle that possession is nine points 
in the law, they entered the shanty, locked the door and awaited 
developments. When Andrus returned he found that he had 
been locked out of the cabin, and he immediately rallied to his 
aid a number of neighbors. Terms of capitulation were offered 
and refused, and hostilities began. The inmates could not be 
dislodged ; and as a last resort the assailants tried to overturn 
the cabin. They had raised one side several feet, when a shot 
was fired from within, and they dropped their load. As the 
cabin recovered its perpendicular with great force, the board 
which covered the window fell in, and one of the attacking party 
fired through. Pierce sprang though the window, ran a few 
steps and fell dead, shot through the heart. The participants 
in the disturbance were apprehended for riot. One of them was 
tried for murder; but it could not be proved who fired the fatal 
shot, and all were acquitted. 

The treatment of a Mr. Brown, who came to Rockford in 
the winter of 1837, with a large family and a very small purse, 
has been told by other writers. Brown built a log cabin, and 
moved from his wagon into his new home. He was thereupon 
told that his castle must be pulled down, as the claim belonged 
to Mr. Spaulding, who was then at St. Louis. Mr. Brown was 
not easily intimidated, and defended his rights. One day a 
crowd, under the influence of liquor, besieged his cabin. Brown 
confronted them with a musket. Terms of settlement were 
proposed. "If you will leave this claim, we agree to get you a 
better one, build a house, and furnish you with provisions." 
The ruse was successful. The terms were accepted, and the 
barricade removed, when the goods were ejected from the cabin, 
which was torn down, and the logs rolled together and burned. 
Brown's affects were hauled into the woods, and his family 
exposed to the elements on a cold, stormy night, until compas- 
sionate friends gave them shelter. Upon Mr. Spaulding's return, 


he denied all pretension to the ownership of the claim. Other 
instances occurred in the county ; but as land titles became 
settled, these controversies ceased. 

Jonathan Weldon, who settled at Westfield, was unpopular 
among the early residents. John H. Thurston says it was a 
common story in early days that Richard Montague emigrated 
from New Hampshire mainly that he might be at a comfortable 
distance from Weldon. Mr. Montague was somewhat dismayed 
upon his arrival inRockford, to find that Mr. Weldon was to be 
afellow citizen. Mr. Weldon was intellectual and shrewd, though 
seriously deformed. In one instance he successfully opposed 
the entire bar of the county when it was proposed to open a 
road through his land. Weldon did not live at peace with his 
neighbors ; and one night he was taken from his house by a 
masked party and carried to the prairie, where they made 
preparations, as he then believed, to hang him. However, after 
a consultation, they took him to the school house, and left him 
in the fire-place, covered with tar and feathers. Mr. Weldon, 
however, must not be dismissed without reference to another 
phase of his character; and this has been presented by one who 
knew him well. In a letter to the late Hon. E. H. Baker, from 
Eureka, California, under date of November 24, 1886, C. A. 
Huntington, formerly of Rockford, writes : "Without exception 
he was the most remarkable man I ever knew. A man who 
never walked a step in his life, yet traveled more miles than any 
farmer of his time. He settled without a dollar in the grove 
near Rock river, and took up a large farm well chosen with both 
prairie and timber. His children, when young, two sons and 
two daughters (whose mother was also a cripple and never 
walked a step in her life), while yet in their childhood so plied 
their young hands to work, that in a few years under the pru- 
dent management of parents, both of whom had judgment 
and tact, that they had fields fenced and plowed, they had a 
good stock of horses, mules, swine, cattle, poultry, and money 
in abundance. Mr. Weldon was a man of education, and in 
spite of all the impediments of frontier life and all the disadvan- 
tages under which he labored, a cripple himself with a decrepid 
wife, he educated his children, all of whom took rank among 
the best settlers of the county, and one, his oldest son, became 
a clergyman." 



An act of the legislature, approved March 4, 1837, provided 
for the reorganization of Winnebago county, and the creation 
of Stephenson and Boone. The latter was named in honor of 
Colonel Daniel Boone, the first white settler of Kentucky. By 
this act Winnebago county was reduced to one-half its original 
size. The reader will find it necessary, in tracing the boundary 
lines, to have before him maps of Winnebago and Boone coun- 
ties; also some acquaintance with the township survey system. 
Confusion will arise if it is not remembered that the townships 
in Winnebago county, west of the third principal meridian, are 
numbered from a different base-line from those east of this 
meridian. It must also be borne in mind that the ranges west 
of the third principal meridian are numbered, not as ranges 
west of the third principal meridian, but as east of the fourth 
principal meridian. 

The first section of this law creates Stephenson county from 
the eastern portion of Jo Daviess and the western two ranges 
of Winnebago, as the latter had been organized the preceding 
year. The next section defines the new boundary of Winnebago. 
The line begins at the northeast corner of Stephenson, as formed 
by the preceding section ; thence running east on the state line 
to the section line between sections five and six, in township 
forty-six north, range three east of the third principal merid- 
ian; thence south on said section line to the south boundary 
of township forty-three north, range three east: thence west on 
said township line to the third principal meridian ; thence north 
on said meridian to the southeast corner of township twenty- 
six north, range eleven east of the fourth principal meridian; 
thence west on said line to the range line between ranges nine 
and ten east of the fourth principal meridian ; thence north to 
the place of beginning. 

The third section of this law contemplated the boundaries 
of Boone as they now exist, except the mile-strip on the west. 
This law was seriously defective in defining the boundary lines. 
The intention of the legislature, however, was obvious, and was 


accepted until two years later, when the act of March 2, 1839, 
corrected the errors, which may have been either verbal or typ- 
ographical. This act also proposed to extend Boone county on 
the east to include the western range of townships in McHenry 
county, provided the voters in those townships should so elect. 
As Boone never extended farther east than at present, it may 
be inferred that the settlers residing on the range in question 
voted against annexation to Boone. The writer was once told 
by the late Judge Lawrence, of Booue county, that about 1846 
this question was again submitted to the voters of these west- 
ern McHenry townships, and that an election was carried in 
favor of annexation to Boone, but that this expression of the 
popular will was defeated by a dishonest postmaster, who 
changed the election returns while they were in his office to suit 
his purpose. 

By comparing the boundary lines of Winnebago and Booue, 
as defined by the act of 1837, with an atlas of the counties, it 
will be observed that the eastern boundary of Winnebago was 
exactly one mile east of its present line. Thus established, 
Boone was only eleven miles wide. The western tier of sections, 
which clearly belonged to Boone under the government survey, 
was denied her and given to Winnebago. 

This manifest injustice to Boone county was a thorn in the 
flesh of her citizens, and finally precipitated what is known as 
the "mile-strip contest," the most bitter controversy of those 
early days. The statement is twice made in Kett's History of 
Boone county that the assignment of this mile-strip to Win- 
nebago in 1837 was a compromise to conciliate conflicting 
interests in this county. These "conflicting interests" were 
probably the ambitions of East and West Rockford for the 
county buildings. The extra mile-strip may have been given to 
Winnebago, at the instance of clever manipulators, to increase 
the voting strength of that part of thecountyeastof Rock river. 

In 1843 the question of annexing this mile-strip to Boone 
county came before the legislature. An enabling act, approved 
February 28th, provided that sections six, seven, eighteen, nine- 
teen, thirty and thirty-one, in townships forty-three, forty-four, 
forty-five and forty-six, range three east, should be annexed to 
Boone, if the voters on the mile-strip should so elect. The strip 
comprised what is now the western tier of sections in the town- 
ships of Manchester, Caledonia, Belvidere and Flora, in Boone 
county. An election was ordered to be held at the house of 


Samuel Keith, in the village of Newburg, Winnebago county, 
May 4, 1843. The citizens of Rockford were deeply interested 
in the result, although the county seat had recently been re-lo- 
cated on the West side, and the voters the preceding year had 
expressed a preference for that side. They were not, of course, 
allowed to vote. Only those on the mile-strip had a voice in 
the matter. The election called out ninety-five votes. Fifty-one 
were for annexation to Boone, and forty-four against it ; a 
majority of seven in favor of Boone. This election added 
twenty-four sections of valuable land to our eastern neighbor, 
and thus greatly increased her taxable property. Had this 
election been held several years earlier, the result might have 
been a factor in determining the location of the county build- 
ings. But under the circumstances, it had no such influence. 
Additional facts upon this point are given in a later chapter 
devoted to the prolonged controversy over the county seat. 

In 1845 the legislature passed an act which provided as 
follows : "That it shall be lawful for the county commissioners' 
court of the county of Boone, by an order to be entered upon 
the records of said court, to require the recorder of the county 
of Winnebago, and the clerk of the commissioners' court of said 
county, to transcribe into a book, to be provided for that pur- 
pose by the county commissioners' court of the said county of 
Boone, all records of said offices relating to the following de- 
scribed territory of land, to-wit: Sections six, seven, eighteen, 
nineteen, thirty and thirty-one, in each of the townships of 
forty -three, forty-four, forty-five and forty-six, in range three 
east of the third principal meridian." 

This act referred to the mile-strip ; and its provisions were 
faithfully executed. The county commissioners of Boone pro- 
vided the necessary books, and required the clerk and recorder 
of Winnebago county to transcribe therein all records and 
orders relating to the strip. When completed, this transcript 
was regularly certified and forwarded to the proper official in 
Boone, and placed among the recorded proceedings of its court. 
This transaction completed the record of the transfer for that 

The first tax levy was ordered by the county commissioners' 
court, at its March term, 1837. One-half per cent, tax was levied 
on town lots, horses and mares, neat cattle above three years 
old, watches, carriages, and wagons, and a tax of one-fourth per 


cent, on stock in trade. Through some technicality, this levy 
was declared illegal, and a second levy was made. At that time 
farm lands were not taxable. They were not placed upon the 
market at the laud offices until two years later, and for three 
years thereafter they were exempt from taxation. It wa not 
until 1842-43 that any county revenue was obtained from this 
source. The revenue required to meet the expense of the county 
until the lands became taxable was derived from assessments 
against personal property. Under this order the total amount 
levied was five hundred and sixty -two dollars and fifty-nine 
and one-half cents. Of this sum, two hundred and ninety-eight 
dollars and twenty-nine and one-half cents were assessed upon 
personal property; and two hundred and sixty-four dollars 
and thirty cents on lots in the town of Winnebago, owned by 
non-residents. At that time the assessment was made by the 
county treasurer, and the taxes were collected by the sheriff. 
R. J. Cross, the treasurer, consumed fifteen days in makingthis 
assessment. His compensation was thirty dollars, or two dol- 
lars per day. He was also allowed nine dollars and twenty-eight 
cents, for receiving and disbursing the taxes when collected. 
This commission was two per cent, on four hundred and sixty- 
four dollars, the amount actually collected. 

The revenue law of February, 1839, changed the manner of 
assessing and collecting taxes. The county commissioners' 
courts were authorized to appoint one or more assessors, not 
exceeding one for each justice's district; also a suitable person 
for collector. The Whig county convention of 1840 made 
nominations for county assessor and collector; but they must 
have been only as timely suggestions to the commissioners' 
court. An act of February, 1841, restricted the commissioners' 
courts to the appoiument of one assessor for the county. From 
1838 to 1844, Goodyear A. Sauford collected all the taxes of 
the county, which aggregated from two hundred and thirty- 
seven to six hundred and forty dollars per annum during those 
years. These collections were made in part by virtue of his 
office of deputy sheriff, and the balance by special appointment. 
This system was superseded a few years later by the township 
organization law. 

This chapter may properly close with a reference to the day 
of small things. The first frame building in Rockf ord was erected 
in 1836, by Sidney Twogood and Thomas Lake. It was a 


story-and-a-half structure, aud stood 011 the southwest corner 
of State and Madison streets, and faced east. It was first 
occupied as a general store by Harry W. Bundy and George 
Goodhue. The latter was a nephew of Dr. Goodhue. This firm 
continued in business there only about two years, and then 
removed to Beloit in the spring of 1838. Many years later this 
building was removed to the lot adjoining the railroad track 
on the same side of the street, where it remained until a few 
years ago, when a stone building was erected on the site. The 
second frame structure was built for Daniel S. Haight, on the 
northeast corner of State and Madison streets, and to which 
reference has already been made. While this building was in 
progress, however, Mr. Haight employed a force of carpenters 
in constructing a small frame dwelling house on lot nine of 
the same block. He lived in this as soon as it was enclosed. 
This was the first frame house in Rockford occupied by a family. 
Mr. Haight had vacated his first log house for the Miller family. 
James B. Marty n, who came from Alabama upon Mr. Haight's 
solicitation, claimed to have built the first frame house in the 
county, in 1836, on his claim on the State road, one mile east 
of the intersection of State and Third streets. Mr. Martyn died 
at Belvidere in 1881. 

The first theatrical performance was given October 29, 
1838, in the old Rockford House. The manager of the company 
was the elder Jefferson, father of the world-renowned Joseph 
Jefferson. "Joe" vras but a youth, and acted in "Lord Lovell," 
then a new play. The company was weather-bound in Rockford 
while enroute from Chicago to Galena. The river was not pass- 
able by reason of heavy moving ice. The last time the famous 
impersonator of "Rip Van Winkle" was in Rockford he related 
this incident to a local reporter. 

The first tailor in Rockford was William H. Tinker, who 
came from Massachusetts. He was in the village in 1836, but 
he did not consider the outlook very promising, and he left the 
field. In June, 1837, Parson King Johnson, from Brandon, 
Vermont, came to Rockford, and found Mr. Tinker's cutting 
board in the rear room of Buudy & Goodhue's store. Mr. Tinker 
returned to Rockford, and the firm of Tinker & Johnson became 
the first in that line in the village. The firm occupied the upper 
room in a building on the site of 111 South Madison street. 
Mr. Tinker is now living with a son at St. Paul, and is about 
eighty-six years of age. He visited Rockford last year. Mr. 


Tinker is au uncle of Hon. Robert H. Tinker, and married Miss 
Elizabeth Barnum, an aunt of Mrs. Harriott Wight Sherratt. 

The first shoemaker was Ezra Barnum. He was father of 
Anson Barnum and Mrs. James M. Wight, and grandfather of 
Mrs. Sherratt. Mr. Barnum came from Danbury, Connecticut, 
in the summer of 1837. A history of Danbury shows the Bar- 
nums to have been an old family of that city. One of the eight 
founders of the city, with this name, died in 1695. Mrs. M. T. 
Trowbridge is descended from a branch of this family. The 
history was written in part by J. M. Bailey, the well known 
humorist of the Danbury News. 

The first brick was made in the autumn of 1837 by Cyrus 
C. Jenks, in Guilford, about three and a half miles northeast 
of the town. The larger portion of this brick was used for 
chimneys. The first brick house was a small, square structure, 
one story, on the southeast corner of block eighteen, on First 
street, opposite the public square. It was built in 1838, by 
John H. Morse. The first carpenter cannot be determined with 
accuracy ; but it is probable that Thomas Lake and Sidney 
Twogood were the first skilled workmen. The first saloon was 
opened in 1837, by Samuel Little, an Englishman. He put up 
a small one-story building near 316 East State street. The first 
blacksmith was probably one of the men employed by Mr. Kent. 
The second was William Penfield. His frame building was on 
the northeast corner of Madison and Market streets. William 
P. Dennis was the first house-painter, and in 1837 he displayed 
his skill on Mr. Haight's first frame house. The first drug-store 
was opened early in the summer of 1838, by "Dr." Marshal, a 
Scotchman. It was on the north side of State street, about 
eighty feet from the river. He was once called to prescribe for 
Dr. Haskell, who refused to take his medicine. It proved to be 
seventy grains of calomel. The first bakers were Ephraim 
Wyman and Bethuel Houghton, who did business in 1838 as 
partners on South Main street. The first store was kept by John 
Vance, in a log cabin on South First street, opposite the hay 
market. He subsequently started a provision store at Winne- 
bago, when that village seemed likely to become the county seat. 



NEW England Congregationalism came with the early settlers. 
This institution was firmly established within three years 
after the arrival of Mr. Kent and Mr. Blake, and ^t has main- 
tained a strong and influential position in Rockford until the 
present time. The First Congregational church was organized 
May 5,1837, with nine members: Rev. John Morrill, Herman 
B. Potter, Israel Morrill, Richard Morrill, Elizabeth P. Morrill, 
Mary J. Morrill, Sophia N. Morrill, Minerva Potter, and Eunice 
Brown. The only survivor of this membership is Richard Morrill, 
who is now living with his son in Minnesota. Mr. Morrill is 
ninety-four years of age. He is an uncle of Mrs. A. M. Catlin, 
of Rockford. The church was founded by Rev. John Morrill, at 
the home of his brother, Israel Morrill, on the west side of the 
river. It is therefore the oldest church in Rockford, inasmuch 
as the First Methodist church, formed the previous year, ceased 
to exist. The three Morrill brothers and their wives constituted 
just two-thirds of the original membership. Two weeks later, 
May 19th, there were five accessions: Edward Gating, Charles 
Works, Asa Crosby, Mary Crosby, and Mary Danforth. Mies 
Danforth was a sister of Mrs. Israel Morrill. Their sister Sarah 
was the wife of D. A. Spaulding, the surveyor. Mrs. Spaulding 
died at Alton, Illinois, August 22, 1887. She was seventy-six 
years of age. During the year the following were also received 
into membership : Mary Works, wife of Charles Works, Deborah 
Barnura, wifeof EzraBarnum, Eleazer H. Potter, Adeline Potter, 
Samuel D. Preston, and Mary Preston. - The last named mem- 
ber is Mrs. Selden M. Church, who is the only survivor among 
the women of that first year's congregation. During its first 
year the church had attained a membership of twenty souls. 
Israel Morrill and H. B. Potter were the first deacons. 

The first confession of faith and form of covenant, adopted 
temporarily at its organization, was that recommended by the 
Watertown presbytery. One year later, May 4, 1838, this was 
displaced by the articles of faith and covenant of the Rock 


River Congregational Association. At the first meeting it was 
unanimously voted that "all persons, before uniting with the 
church, should sign a pledge of total abstinence from all intox- 
icating drinks as a beverage." Under date of August 11, 1837, 
there is found the following entry : "The resolution touching the 
slavery question being agitated, it was resolved that for the 
present the subject be postponed, to receive the attention and 
action of the church at some future time." No other record 
upon this subject, however, has been found. 

Rev. John Morrill was the first pastor. Very little is known 
of him previous to his removal to the west. He had come in a 
farm wagon from New York as a home missionary to this 
county, where his brother had previously settled. Mr. Morrill 
served as pastor one year from May, 1837. He officiated at 
the organization of the Presbyterian church in Belvidere, March 
17, 1839, and was its stated supply until March of the follow- 
ing year. The late Mrs. Eunice Brown Lyon is authority for 
the statement that Mr. Morrill received no formal call to the 
pastorate of the Congregational church. He was the leading 
spirit in its organization, and he may have assumed the work 
with the understanding, explicit or implied, that he should 
serve as its pastor for a time. Mrs. Brown also says that the 
brethren were somewhat slack in paying the pastor's salary. 
This delinquency, however, was redeemed by the ladies, who 
secured pledges for a goodly sum. Mr. Morrill was a devout 
man, who labored for the spiritual growth of the people. He 
placed emphasis upon pecuniary reward only so far as it was 
necessary for his support. This pioneer minister died at Peca- 
tonica February 16, 1874. 

Soon after its organization the church held services in the 
"stage barn," built by Daniel S. Haight, near the intersection 
of State and Third streets. Only a few years ago this structure 
was standing on the farm of Isaac Rowley, near the city. In 
the summer of 1838 the trustees began the erection of a frame 
structure on the west side of North First street, on a site near 
the residence of Irving French. When the building had been 
enclosed and shingled it was learned that Messrs. Kent and 
Brinckerhoff had obtained about eight hundred dollars from 
friends in New York, for a church. Instead of turning over this 
money to the society to complete the church, these gentlemen 
built an edifice on their own side of the river. This building 
was raised in the summer of 1838, and enclosed the same sea- 


Built in 1846 on the site of the Centennial Church 


Built in 1838 by Germanicus Kent and George W. Brinckerhotl, on the southwest 

corner of Church and Ureeu streets The building was used as a place of 

worship by the Second Congregational church from 1849 to 1858 


son. When it was completed they turned it over to the society 
for worship, but retained their nominal title. At that time they 
possessed no legal title to the land from the government. 
Those eastern friends knew but little of the power for good of 
this beautiful little church, in laying the foundations of a pros- 
perous Christian community. The unfinished building on North 
First street was abandoned, and was never afterward used by 
this church as a house of worship. It was, however, devoted to 
other purposes, which will be noted in subsequent chapters. 

The building erected by Kent and Brinckerhoff was the 
first church edifice in Rockiord. It stood on the -southwest 
corner of Church and Green streets. It was a frame structure, 
clapboarded, in Doric style, forty-five feet square inside, and 
stood on a foundation of blocks of trees cut in the adjoining 
grove, with sills resting upon them about three feet above the 
ground. In fact, the greater portion of the building material 
was obtained from adjacent lots. The building fronted to the 
east, and had three windows on each side. A porch about ten 
feet wide extended across the front, covered by an extension of 
the roof, which was supported by four fluted wooden columns. 
On the east end of the roof stood a cupola, or belfry, about 
eight feet square, ten feet high, and covered by a hip roof. This 
cupola had a bell, whose tones seemed sweeter to the worship- 
ers on a quiet Sabbath morning than any other which they 
have heard in Rockford since that time. This bell was taken 
away by the owner, Rev. Cyrus L. Watson, upon the close of 
his pastorate. The building was plastered, and painted white 
inside. Two doors led to the sanctuary from the front ; two 
aisles extended from these, which made four rows of pews. The 
pulpit at the west end was large, high, and enclosed by panel 
work, and withal was capable of withstanding a siege. The 
singers' gallery was formed by raised pews at the eastern end 
of the auditorium. This structure was plain, but neat and 
substantial, and its pure white exterior, with a background of 
oak trees in the surrounding forest, made it beautiful for situa- 
tion, and the joy of its friends. This sylvan sanctuary was 
occupied by the First church about six years. 

The Ladies' Foreign Missionary Society was organized in 
1838, just one year after the founding of the church. The orig- 
inators of this movement, like the founders of the church, were 
largely from New England, who had been interested in foreign 
missions and education in their eastern homes, and who had 


not left their zeal behind them, although they might properly 
have considered themselves on home missionary ground. The 
object of the society is briefly stated in its preamble: "In view 
of the deplorable condition of millions in this and foreign lands, 
who are destitute of the word of life, and esteeming it a duty 
and privilege to aid by prayer, contribution and influence the 
great work of evangelizing the world, we, the ladies of Rockford, 
feeling that united influence is far the most powerful, agree tc 
form ourselves into a society for the promotion of this object." 
The first year there were thirty-six contributors. In May, 1838, 
the society made its first appropriation to a girls' school inDin- 
degal, in southern India. All sectarian feeling was merged in a 
common desire to fulfill the great commission. Episcopalians, 
Baptists and Unitarians were among its early members. As 
near as can be ascertained, a Sunday-school was organized in 
the spring of 1839. 

The second pastor was Rev. Cyrus L. Watson, who served the 
church from November, 1838, to May, 1841. He was a genial, 
social, elderly gentleman, a good pastor, and he was highly 
esteemed. His death occurred at Battle Creek, Michigan. Rev. 
William S. Curtis, D. I)., supplied the pulpit from November, 
1841, to August, 1842. Dr. Curtis subsequently became pastor 
of the Westminster Presbyterian church. His death occurred 
in 1885, and his funeral was held June 1st, from the Westmin- 
ster church. Dr. Curtis' son, Edward L. Curtis, is a professor 
in the Yale divinity school. Prof. Curtis married a sister of 
Rev. B. E. S. Ely, pastor of the First Presbyterian church. The 
senior Curtis was succeeded by Rev. Oliver W. Norton, who was 
pastor fror^ September, 1842, until some time in the following 
year. He possessed that argumentative type of mind which 
was common among the clergymen of the old school. Rev. 
Lansing Porter served a brief pastorate from February, 1844, 
to April, 1846. 

In the spring of 1846 the church dedicated a new house of 
worship on the East side. It was a brick structure, and stood 
on the northeast corner of South First and Walnut streets, on 
the site of the engine house. Its dimensions were forty by sixty 
feet; the walls were twenty feet high. A projection at the rear 
formed a recess for the pulpit. The roof was one-quarter pitch, 
with a square tower on the center of the front, rising about 
twenty feet. From this tower a bell called the people to their 
public devotions. The bell belonged to Rev. Norton, and he 


took it with him when he went away. W. A. Dickerman, as 
agent for the church, subsequently purchased a Meneely bell in 
New York, weighing six hundred and forty pounds. When it 
was brought to town by team it was first delivered in a ware- 
house. So anxious were the people to hear a bell in Rockford, 
that a platform was extemporized, so that it rang out loud 
and clear, and attracted all the parishioners, before it was taken 
to the church. 

No picture of this church is known to have been preserved. 
The exterior was finished nearly in the Tuscan style of arch- 
itecture, and it presented a very attractive appearance. A 
vestibule extended across the interior front, with a choir gal- 
lery overhead. In this vestibule were held the prayer-meetings 
of the church. Two aisles extended from the vestibule to the 
pulpit at the rear of the church. The pews were shut in by 
doors in the old-fashioned way. This building had a seating 
capacity of about three hundred and fifty, and cost not far from 
eight thousand dollars. Galleries were subsequently built, with 
a seating capacity of one hundred and fifty. This church contin- 
ued to be the house of worship for this congregation until 1870. 

The construction of a new house of worship is frequently, 
and perhaps generally, followed by a change in the pastorate. 
Such was the experience of this society soon after the dedication 
of its new church. The resignation of Rev. Lansing Porter was 
followed by a call to the Rev. Lewis H. Loss, whose pastorate 
began in August, 1846. 

Many recollections of those early days are recalled by citi- 
zens who are still residents of the city. "Everybody went to 
church in those days," said H. H. Waldo on one occasion, while 
in a reminiscent mood. "I sang with the ladies, the Misses 
Silsby and others, in the First Congregational church, when it- 
was where the East side fire station is now. I could write a 
book of the pranks and jokes of the members of that choir and 
my early friends. I remember one Sunday Jason Marsh came to 
church wearing the first pair of prunella shoes that we had ever 
seen. He stuck them up conspicuously on the railing. I came 
in from the country with my boots all covered with mud, and 
espying those prunella shoes, put mine up beside them. He 
took his down, and was never known again to sit with his feet 
on the choir rail. 

"Catlin Spafford," continued Mr. Waldo, "used to be door- 
keeper at the First church, and while the minister was praying, 


would allow LIO one to take a seat. I reached church one cold 
day just as Dr. Loss had started prayer, and it was no fun 
standing outside. 'Cat.,' says I, 'how much longer will he be? ' 
He pulled out his watch. 'Fifteen minutes; he's just praying 
for the Mexican war,' Mr. Spafford answered." In reply to 
the question as to whether he remembered any of the girls of 
those days, Mr. Waldo said: "Well, 1 should say so. There 
were a lot of them, but they are all dead and gone to heaven 
now. There were Mrs. Kriowlton, Mrs. Hitchcock, Mrs. George 
W. Barnes, Mrs. General Chetlain, who was Miss Edwards, 
and others." 

Upon the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the church, 
Dr. Goodwin prepared a memorial address, which abounded in 
those felicitous character sketches for which he was noted. A 
few of those personal allusions to the members of the church 
and congregation who worshiped in the old brick church are 
quoted herewith. E. H. Potter was indeed a pillar both of the 
church and the community, a granite column whose firmness 
and solidity of character no force of circumstances or opinions 
of others could shake. His place in the sanctuary was as fixed 
and constant as that of the seasons, and his support of the 
gospel and all Christian charity was relied on with a confidence 
like that we repose in the laws of nature. Joel Potter, his 
brother, was also a pillar, but of a somewhat different type. He 
was of a more gentle and flexible mould, more delicate in feeling 
and sensibility, less self-poised and resolute, at least in manner, 
though not wanting in strength of conviction and of character. 
He was a, leader in the spiritual concerns of the church, as the 
other was in its material affairs. His wise spiritual exhorta- 
tions came from a soul that knew how to commune with God 
and had learned the ways of the Spirit. Deacon Skinner was 
undemonstrative, humble-minded, plain and even rustic in his 
nature and habit, but disclosing, like certain rough minerals, a 
hidden ore of gold to those who examined it. Deacon Crosby 
was one of those silent, modest, thoughtful and steadfast souls 
whose power lies in their character, rather than in what they say 
and do. Deacon Baker was familiarly known and revered as 
"Good Deacon Baker." Dr. Goodwin's memory of himwaslike 
that of a long, mellow, sunshiny afternoon in autumn, when 
the sun seems to shine lovingly and lingeringly on all things, 
and to impart a golden luster to every thing on which it shines. 
Bela Shaw was a man whom to know at all was to esteem. His 


urbanity of manner, the combined integrity and gentleness of 
bis bearing, his uniform kindness and courtesy, and the soul of 
honor and integrity that shone through it all, and gave to his 
character a diamond luster these traits marked him as the 
true gentleman. Volney A. Marsh was a devoted member, and 
superintendent of the sabbath-school. William H. Townsend 
proved his faith by his works. He was modest and sensitive as 
awoman, retiring and almostshy in his disposition, and shrank 
from all display or publicity. He was the very soul of honor 
and integrity. He felt the slightest breath of suspicion as a 
deadly iniasma that infected the seat of life and struck at the 
vitals of his character. David S. Penfield, a member of the 
society, was highly esteemed for his Christian character. He 
was one of the pillars upon which the church and society leaned 
for support. Samuel I. Church was one of its earliest and most 
constant supporters. William T. Wallis was distinguished for 
his generous social qualities, refined courtesy and gentleness of 
spirit. He was a true Christian gentleman and helper. 

The pipe organ used in the church was built by H. H. Silsby 
and his brother. The organist at one time was Rufus Hatch, 
who subsequently removed to New York, and became one of the 
most famous operators of Wall street. During his residence in 
Rockford he was engaged in the dry goods business, on East 
State street, near the site of Mr. Coyner's drug store. His home 
was on South Madison street, where Miss Kate O'Connor's 
residence now stands. Mr. Hatch removed from Rockford 
about 1856. His house was purchased by Dr. Hale, who lived 
in it until he built another on the corner, where Mrs. Hale now 
resides. When Mr. Hatch became wealthy, he presented the pipe 
organ which is now in use in the present house of worship, to 
Dr. and Mrs. Goodwin. The Doctor was pastor when this church 
was dedicated. This splendid gift, which cost about four thou- 
sand dollars, was Mr. Hatch's personal token of esteem for Dr. 
Goodwin. Some time later Dr. Goodwin preached a sermon on 
Music, in which he referred to its high place in Christian wor- 
ship. At the close of this discourse Dr. Goodwin said that he 
and Mrs. Goodwin relinquished all claim to the organ. "It is 
henceforth neither mine nor yours, but the Lord's, to whom I 
now dedicate it." 

Mrs. E. P. Catlin recalls the time when the young people 
were not so prominent in the devotional meetings as in these 
later years. Upon this point Mrs. Catlin writes this interesting 


reminiscence : "The social life of the church was of a very sedate 
and discreet quality in those days. The prayer-meeting could 
hardly be called a social function. I heard one of sainted mem- 
ory liken it to a pole under a sagging clothes-line. It always 
braced her up at the right point. We young people rarely 
invaded its sacred precincts, and I recall how we admired the 
courage of the sisters who dared to say a few words in these 
meetings. I am sure we could detect a little apprehensive quiver 
in their voices, lest they receive merited rebuke, but the sweet 
words of counsel or admonition uttered by Mrs. Mary Potter, 
Mrs. Mary Penfleld and Mrs. Sarah Catlin are among those 
beautiful early memories. The singing by the church choir 
was truly a part of the worship, and not a musical entertain- 
ment merely. Prominent and dignified members of the church 
were willing to assist in the singing. We can recall the clear 
soprano of Miss Sill, principal of the seminary, and the deep 
bass of 'Squire Marsh, whose position as one of the first lawyers 
did not prevent his giving his services gladly. The little wheezy 
melodeon contributed its quota when the day of the tuning-fork 
had passed. In all this the children and very young people had 
noplace. . . . In comparing this social life with the present, 
nothing is more marked than the absence of young people 
in the church membership, as well as in its relations. 
While some of our church entertainments bring and deserve 
criticism, the younger element is certainly more in evidence 
now, and adds very materially to our efficiency and enjoyment." 

Dr. Loss' pastorate continued until November, 1849. He 
was a man of ability and thorough education. He went from 
Rockford to Joliet, where he had charge of a church until 1856. 
His last pastorate was at Marshalltown, Iowa, where he died. 
In his last illness he longed to see his old friend and physician, 
Dr. Lucius Clark, of this city ; and his church sent for the Doctor 
and paid his traveling expenses. 

Dr. Loss was succeeded by the Rev. Henry M. Goodwin, D. 
D., who perhaps gave to the church its most distinctive pastor- 
ate. It extended from August, 1850, to January, 1872. This 
period of more than twenty-one years constitutes fully one- 
third of its entire history. The interim between the departure 
of Dr. Loss and Dr. Goodwin's acceptance of a call was sup- 
plied by Prof. Joseph Emerson, of Beloit college. Dr. Goodwin 
was a native of Hartford, Connecticut. He was graduated 
from Yale, and the Rockford church was his first parish. A 


long and close acquaintance with Dr. Goodwin was necessary 
in order to form a correct estimate of his character. With the 
reserved quiet of the scholar, he "opened not his heart to each 
passer-by." His people enjoyed his sermons, and carried 
thoughts from them through the busy week; thoughts that 
inspired to high endeavor, and stirred a feeling of reverence 
toward the pastor. The intellectual quality and literary finish 
of his sermons did not always insure general appreciation. He 
did not aspire to be a "popular preacher," in the modern use of 
the term. Some of his admirers would have been surprised if 
they had been told that Dr. Goodwin possessed a keen sense of 
humor, and that he could tell a bright story in a charming way. 
He was criticised for not always recognizing acquaintances on 
the street; yet this same abstracted scholar knew the little ones 
of the flock by name; and no one could be more tender in his 
ministrations when sickness and sorrow came into the home. 

Dr. Goodwin was a progressive thinker; and in certain lines 
he was far in advance of his time. On one occasion he remarked 
that the name of one of the church papers, the Advance, should 
be changed to the Retreat. Had the term "higher criticism" 
been in vogue in his day, he would have been classed with such 
critics. His broad Christian charity caused some anxiety 
among his more conservative friends. This fact was illustrated 
during revival services about 1860, when Dr. Goodwin invited 
a Unitarian minister, with others, to join in the meetings. The 
censure thus incurred was not measured or unspoken. One 
zealous man gave utterance to his amazement and indignation 
at the service in question. He was allowed free and full expres- 
sion of his feelings without protest. After he had finished, Dr. 
Goodwin arose, and in gentle, dignified tones, repeated Leigh 
Hunt's famous poem, "Abou Ben Adhem" may his tribe in- 
crease. Ben Adhem truly loved his fellow men, and so the 
angel, who came to him by night, recorded his name among the 
first of those whom the love of God had blest. The moral was 
obvious ; and the silence that followed this recital was of that 
quality that could be felt. No finer illustration of Dr. Good- 
win's all-embracing aud forgiving charity could have been given. 

Dr. Goodwin was an enthusiastic disciple of Dr. Horace 
Bushnell. In his work, The Vicarious Sacrifice, Dr. Bushnell 
formulates in a clear and forcible manner the moral influence 
theory of Christ's atonement. Dr. Bushnell and Dr. Goodwin 
believed that the substitutionary and the governmental views 


were inconsistent with an enlightened conception of God. For 
this position they were not infrequently charged with heresy. 
Dr. Bushnell's later book, Forgiveness and Law, is believed 
to contain some modification of his former radical views. But 
Dr. Goodwin reverently and earnestly preached this doctrine of 
the divine sacrifice during his entire pastorate ; and since his 
day it has been taught by many progressive thinkers in the 
Congregational church ; and during the last ten years it has 
gained rapidly in other evangelical bodies. Dr. Goodwin testi- 
fied to his regard for his illustrious teacher by naming his 
son Horace Bushnell Goodwin. 

Dr. Goodwin's pleasant home while in Rockford was on 
Kishwaukee street. His lots extended from the corner on First 
avenue to Col. Lawler's home. The house, which stood near what 
is now 206 Kishwaukee street, now stands in the rear of the 
Carpenter Block, and fronts on First avenue. Mrs. Goodwin 
was an aunt of Mrs. Clara G. Sanford and Miss Blanche Goodall. 
Before her marriage she was a teacher at the seminary. 

Many of the young men and women of that period, whose 
faces are now turned toward life's setting sun, are sure that of 
Dr. Goodwin it could be said : "Blessed are the pure in heart, 
for they shall see God." 

Soon after leaving Rockford, Dr. Goodwin wrote a book 
entitled Christ and Humanity, which was published by the 
Harpers. It was dedicated to his friend in these noble words : 
"To Horace Bushnell, my revered friend and teacher, whose pro- 
found and sanctified genius has made the world his debtor, and 
whose eminent services to Christianity in the reconciliation of 
faith and reason await the verdict of the future ages, these later 
studies of Christian doctrine are filially and affectionately in- 
scribed by the author. ; ' This work was written while the author 
was enjoying an extended sojourn in Germany. In 1875 Dr. 
Goodwin was called to the chair of English literature by the 
college at Olivet, Michigan, which he filled for several years. 
His death occurred at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Weld, in 
Williamstown, Massachusetts, March 1, 1893. Dr. Goodwin was 
seventy-one years of age. His remains were brought to Rock- 
ford for burial. 



THE patriotism of the little village did not differ essentially 
from the prevailing type. It necessarily found its expres- 
sion in more primitive ways than it does at the present time. 
There was such a display of eloquence and gunpowder as the 
times afforded; and the amusements differed somewhat from 
those of today. 

The morning of July 4, 1837, was welcomed with the boom 
of all available artillery. William Penfield's blacksmith's anvil 
did heroic service. The "boys" spent a long time in drilling a hole 
for priming. One held a drill down with a lever, while another 
drilled. (The subsequent owner of the anvil would not allow 
the patriots to use it in later years for salutes; but they took it, 
nevertheless, and made it ring.) A hickory liberty-pole was 
raised near what is now 310 East State street. Patriotic exer- 
cises were held in Mr. Haight's barn, which stood in the grove 
near the intersection of State and Third streets. The bay was 
floored for the speakers, and the threshing-floor was occupied 
by the ladies. Charles I. Horsman read the Declaration of 
Independence, and Hon. John C. Kemble was the orator of the 
day. Dinner was served in the old Rockford House, by the 
proprietor, Henry Thurston. The main part of the building 
had been covered with a roof, and was sided to the first-story 
windows. Loose boards were laid for a floor, tables were 
arranged, and, in the absence of crockery, the cold meat was 
served on shingles. The tickets for this dinner were sold at one 
dollar each, and this feature of the celebration was a financial 
success. J. Ambrose Wight, in a letter written many years 
later, referred to the celebration in this wise: "The seventeen- 
year locusts were on hand and gave us such music as they had ; 
sufficient at least in quantity. And in seventeen years again 
they were on hand in the same vicinity ; that is, their successors 
were. After the celebration there was a dinner with toasts given 


and liquors swallowed. But a temperance society was organ- 
ized in the barn during the afternoon. The elder Mr. Potter, 
Eleazer or Herman, I forget which but who lived near by in 
the grove, was the leader in the movement." 

The celebration was concluded with a public ball, the first 
in the county, given in Mr. Haight's barn. John H. Thurston, 
in referring to this event, says: "Some shirting was tacked to 
the studding about one room for a ladies' dressing-room." The 
orchestra consisted of three pieces. In this day they would be 
called violins ; but sixty-three years ago they were simply com- 
mon fiddles. The leader, Mr. Thurston says, was "old Jake 
Miller, whose only dancing tune was 'Zip Coon.' " Thus passed 
the first celebration of the national holiday in Rockford. 

This observance of the day, however, was not the first in 
the county. July 4, 1836, when Belvidere was in Winnebago 
county, the citizens of that village let loose their patriotism in 
quite unconventional fashion. Dr. Daniel H. Whitney has given 
this vivid pen-picture of the day : "Young Morn shook from 
her purple wings as glorious a Fourth as ever kissed Aurora's 
cheek when she unbarred the gates of light, and no more patri- 
otic and grateful hearts beat in American bosoms on that 
glorious day than did those of the citizens of Boone, as with all 
available material at our command, an old rifle, a tolerable 
shot-gun and a pocket pistol, the old settlers took their position 
on the mound, raised a liberty-pole, from which fluttered in the 
breeze a pocket handkerchief having the portraits of the presi- 
dents around its border, and being the nearest approach to a 
national flag of anything in these 'diggings.' We read the Dec- 
laration of Independence, fired a national salute, gave three 
times three that frightened the Indian from his wigwam, and 
the red deer from his covert." 

The first postmaster was Daniel S. Haight, who served from 
August 31, 1837, to June 26, 1840. The first mail arrived 
about September 15th. Previous to this time the small pack- 
ages of mail had been brought from Chicago by parties who 
made trips to that city for supplies. An order for mail upon 
the postmaster at that office, to which each man attached his 
name, was left at Mr. Haight's house. The first mail was 
brought on horseback, the second by a carrier, and the third 
by open wagon with two horses. After the postoffice had been 
established, the contract for carrying the mail was made with 


John D. Winters. About this time Winters became associated 
with Frink, Walker & Co. Still later Winters was on the line 
west from Rockford, and finally Frink, Walker & Co. carried 
the mail on the through line. Previous to January, 1838, the 
mail arrived from Chicago once a week. In 1839-40 the mails 
arrived from the west and east each three times a week. The 
northern and the southern mails came once a week ; the mail 
from Mineral Point arrived on Saturday, and the mail from 
Coltonville came on Wednesday. 

The first mail, in September, arrived with no key, and it 
was returned unopened. When the second mail arrived a key 
had been provided, but the postmaster was not equal to the 
combination, and he turned it over to Giles C. Hard, who solved 
the problem. Its contents, about a hatful, were received with 
a general handshaking. The postage was twenty-five cents for 
each letter, and stamps were unknown. That amount of money 
then represented the highest respectability; the mail-bags were 
therefore lean, while the letters were plump. These missives were 
read and re-read until they were almost committed to memory. 
They came from loved ones far away, and were regarded with a 
degree of sanctity. Letters from the east were from fifteen to 
thirty days in transit. Should the postmaster find that letters 
had been written to Several persons, and enclosed in one envel- 
ope as a measure of economy in postage, he was supposed to 
collect twenty-five cents from each person so receiving a letter. 
Mr. Haight erected a small building sixteen by twenty-six feet, 
one and a half story, in the summer of 1837, for a postoffice, 
near 107 South Madison street. There were about twenty-five 
boxes. This building was used until the following year, when 
Mr. Haight erected a more commodious structure, near 312 
East State street, with ante-room and boxes. This building 
was used for this purpose during several administrations. 

The act establishing the county had provided that until 
public buildings should be erected, the circuit courts should be 
held at the house of Mr. Kent or Mr. Haight, as the county 
commissioners should direct. At the first session of this court 
it was ordered that, pending the location of the county seat, 
the circuit courts should be held at the house of Mr. Haight. 
An examination at the circuit clerk's office reveals the almost 
incredible fact that no records of this court previous to 1854, 
except the simple dockets of the judge, have been preserved. 


The conclusion must be drawn that this docket was the only 
record made at the time. Memoranda kept by individuals have 
given facts upon which the official records are silent. 

The first circuit court convened at the house of Daniel S. 
Haight, October 6, 1837. This is the frame building which 
stood on the northeast corner of Madison and State streets, 
and a part of which is now on the northeast corner of Second 
and Walnut streets. At that time there was no elective judic- 
iary. Under the old constitution, the justices of the supreme 
court and the judges of the inferior courts were appointed by 
joint ballot of both branches of the general assembly. Un- 
der this same fundamental law, these courts appointed their 
own clerks. The state's attorney was also appointed. The 
statute of 1835 provided that the general assembly, on joint 
ballot, at that session, and every two years thereafter, should 
choose one state's attorney for each judicial circuit. 

At this first court Hon. Dan. Stone, of Galena, was the pre- 
siding judge. Seth B. Farwell was appointed state's attorney 
pro tern; and James Mitchell, then of Jo Daviess county, clerk. 
Mr. Mitchell held this position until 1 846, when he was chosen 
superintendent of the lead mines. He was succeeded as clerk by 
Jason Marsh, who was appointed by Judge Thomas C. Brown. 
The offices of circuit clerk and recorder were separate until the 
second constitution went into effect, when they were united, 
and this officer was made elective. 

The petit jurors on duty at the first term were: Edward 
Gating, James B. Marty n, Joel Pike, William Pepper, Richard 
Montague, Isaac N. Cunningham, Thatcher Blake, Henry 
Thurston, Charles 1. Horsman, David Goodrich, James Jack- 
son, and Cyrus C. Jenks. There were but two trials by jury, and 
these were of very little importance. 

The sessions of May, 1838, and April 18, 1839, were also 
held at Mr. Haight's house ; although, for convenience, a room 
in the Rockford House, on the corner west, was actually used 
when more room was required. The first grand jury was impan- 
eled at the May term, 1838. The names of this jury were : 
Anson Barnum, Lyman Amsden, Isaac Johnson, James Sayre, 
H. M. Wattles, Asa Daggett, H. W. Gleason, Samuel Gregory, 
Asa Crosby, Daniel Beers, Walter Earle, Isaac Hance, Benjamin 
T. Lee, E. H. Potter, Paul D. Taylor, Lyman B. Carrier, Aaron 
Felts, Cyrus C. Jenks, James B. Marty n, Livingston Robbins, 
Henry Enoch, and Luman Pettibone. Anson Barnum was 


appointed foreman. At this term the usual order was reversed, 
in that the judge occupied one of the few chairs in the house, 
while the jury "sat on the bench." 

The first building erected for the use of courts and religious 
meetings was built by Mr. Haight, in the summer of 1838, on 
the southeast corner of Madison and Market streets, on the site 
of the American House. It was a frame structure, about sixteen 
by thirty-two feet, with one story. This house, with additions, 
is now the residence of William G. Conick. In this building were 
probably held the sessions of November, 1839, and April, 1840. 
Several of the lawyers who attended the courts in those days 
attained distinction in their profession. Among these may be 
mentioned Judge Drummond, then of Galena, who removed to 
Chicago and became a judge of a federal court; Thompson 
Campbell, of Galena; Joel Wells, who canvassed the district for 
congress; Norman B. Judd, of Chicago; and Seth B. Farwell 
and Martin P. Sweet, of Freeport. The famous John Went- 
worth, "Long John," made his maiden speech in Rockford, as 
attorney in a case that promised to bring him prominently 
before the public-. Mr. Wentworth made frequent visits to 
Rockford in later years ; and for several terms he represented 
the Belvidere district in congress. 

September 12, 1840, the county purchased the abandoned 
building on North First street, which had been commenced by the 
First Congregational church two years before. The considera- 
tion was six hundred dollars. The deed was executed by H. B. 
Potter, E. H. Potter and S. D. Preston. Since the building had 
been abandoned by the Congregationalist people it had been 
used as a carpenter's shop. When the county obtained posses- 
sion the building was partially finished so that the courts could 
be held there. The session of September 10, 1840, and subse- 
quent sessions were held at this place, until the transfer of the 
court house to the West side. 



THE state roads naturally prepared the way for the stage 
coach. The railroad had not then reached this western 
region, and the only common carrier was "the coach and four." 
Stage lines were then running from Chicago in several direc- 
tions. They carried mails, passengers and light parcels. Frink, 
Walker & Co. became famous throughout this region as the 
proprietors of the one stage line which connected Chicago with 
Rockford. It is impossible to determine the precise date when 
the stage coach began to make regular trips on this line as far 
west as Rockford. It is certain that it had thus become an 
established institution not later than January 1, 1838. On 
that day the arrival of the stage coach in Rockford attracted 
the attention of the people of the village, and large numbers 
came from the surrounding country to witness the spectacle. 
The stage office in Chicago was for a long time at 123 Lake 
street, and later at the southwest corner of Lake and Dearborn. 

Frink, Walker & Co. first ran their stage lines only from 
Chicago to Rockford. The coaches were always drawn by four 
horses. In 1840 the schedule time from Chicago to Rockford 
was advertised to be twenty-four hours. Horses were changed 
at intervals of fifteen miles, at stations built for this purpose. 
Frink, Walker & Co.'s stage barn in Rockford was the well 
known barn near the intersection of State and Third streets, 
and faced north and south. It was built in 1836 for Mr. Haight 
by Sidney Twogood and Thomas Lake. Few buildings in the 
county have served more diverse uses. It was there the first 
patriotic exercises were held ; there the First Congregational 
people first held public services on the East side. When Frink, 
Walker & Co. purchased the building, it was moved a few rods 
west, and turned to face east and west. There the first quar- 
terly meeting of the First Methodist church was held in the 
summer of 1838. 

Coaches left the main office in Chicago every Sunday, Tues- 
day and Thursday, and returned on alternate days. The fare 
from Chicago to Rockford was five dollars. Mrs. Charles H. 


Spafford writes as follows of her first journey : "From Chicago 
I traveled by stage, one of the old'Frink & Walker's,' stopping 
at night in one of the extremely primitive wayside inns of that 
early period. The accommodations were not extensive nor 
luxurious in these little hostleries. I was awakened in the night 
by a light in my room, and saw a man at the foot of my bed, 
busy with two large mail bags. It was the postmaster chang- 
ing the mail. Remembering the limitations of the place, I 
immediately took in the situation, and made no outcry. It was 
a dreary ride from Chicago to Rockford in the old stage, and I 
was very glad to arrive at the end of my journey, where my 
brother was waiting for me at the Rockford House." 

From Rockford to Galena the stage line was conducted for 
a time by John D. Winters, of Elizabeth, a little town south of 
Galena. The route first passed through Elizabeth, but subse- 
quently the more direct route was by way of Freeport. The 
first stopping-place west of Rockford was Twelve-Mile Grove. 
Mr. Winters retired from the business after a time, and then 
Frink, Walker & Co. had the entire line from Chicago to Galena. 
William Cunningham, who still resides in this city, was in the 
employ of this firm at one time as a driver between Twelve-Mile 
Grove and Freeport. 

The first hotel in Rockford was the Rockford House. The 
early public houses were more generally called taverns. Before 
the Rockford House was built, Mr. Kent and a number of the 
other settlers had entertained strangers, but not as regular 
hotel-keepers. The Rockford House was built by Daniel S. 
Haight and Charles S. Oliver. It stood on the site of the Young 
Men's Christian Association building. The wing was finished in 
the autumn of 1837, when the house was opened by Henry Thurs- 
ton. The third story, which was divided into two rooms, was 
reached by a ladder, which was made by slats nailed to two 
pieces of the studding, in the first Btory of the main building. 
The proprietor's son John was an important functionary. He 
made the beds and escorted the guests up the ladder when they 
retired. He was admonished by his sire not to drop the melted 
tallow from the dip upon his guests. Mr. Thurston's successors as 
landlord wereLathrop Johnson, Daniel Howell, Andrew Brown, 
J.Schaeffer, Abel Campbell, E. Radcliff, Major John Williamson. 

The second hotel, the Washington House, was built in 1838 
by two brothers, Jacob B. and Thomas Miller, and opened to 


the public the following year. It stood sixty feet front on State 
street, with large additions in the rear, with basement kitchen, 
dining-room, and sleeping apartments above the dining-room. 
The street in front was graded down, and ten or twelve steps 
were built. This elevation above the street-level proved quite 
a serious objection, and the house was abandoned, and it stood 
vacant for some years. The ground was then excavated , the 
house turned to the street, and lowered to the grade. The name 
of this hotel was changed to the Rock River House. A part of 
the building stands on 307 East State street, and is occupied 
as a fruit store. Another part is the saloon building on the 
southeast corner of State and Madison streets. The successive 
proprietors of the house were : Jacob Miller, David Paul, Mc- 
Kenney & Tyler, E. S. Blackstone, W. Fulton, H. D. Searles, L. 

The Log Tavern, known as the Stage House, was opened in 
1838. It was built on the old Second National Bank corner. 
Brown's Cottage was opened in 1850, by Andrew Brown. The 
name was changed to the American House in 1852 by G. S. 
Moore, The Waverly and the Union House, near the North- 
western depot, on the West side, were opened in 1852. The 
Inn, which was located where the Chick House now stands, was 
opened in 1840 by Spencer & Fuller. The Eagle Hotel was 
opened in 1841. It was located on South Main street, in the 
third block below State. 

In 1837-38 several towns were projected in Winnebago 
county. One was on the east side of the river, on what was 
called Big Bottom, nearly opposite the stone quarry. A man 
named Wattles staked out his farm into lots and streets, and 
called it Scipio; but even its classic name did not give it pres- 
tige. The proprietor built the only house ever completed. The 
stakes remained for several years, until they were plowed under 
by the owner, who could not give away his lots. 

Another town was started by the river, at what is known 
as the old Shumway place. At one time there were from thirty- 
five to forty frames erected there ; but only a few of them were 
ever enclosed. This fact gave the place the appropriate name 
of "Rib-town." Later many of these frames were torn down 
and removed. Several were taken to new farms, and others 
were brought to Rockford. It is certain that two or three 
"Rib-town" frames were re-erected in the city. One was owned 


by Jonathan Hitchcock, and located on North Second street; 
and another by a Mr. Ricard, on the same street. One frame 
was placed beside the Shumway house, as a part of it. Mark 
Beaubien finished one two-story house, and occupied it with his 
family for two or three years, when they removed to Chicago. 

In 1839-40 George W. Lee platted a town on the west or 
upper side of Kishwaukee river, at its junction with Rock river, 
in what is now New Milford township. Quite a town was act- 
ually built, with two stores and a blacksmith shop. A large 
building for a seminary was enclosed and partially finished, but 
it was never used for this purpose. Although an excellent 
building, and standing in a sightly place, it was allowed to 
remain until all the windows were broken out. The frame was 
finally torn down and the lumber hauled away. This first 
attempt to found a seminary in Winnebago county will be 
considered in the next chapter. Both "Rib-town" and Mr. Lee's 
plat were named Kishwaukee; but the former was abandoned 
before George W. Lee platted the second. Thelatter was some- 
times called Leetown, in honor of its founder. 

Colonel James Sayre, a settler of 1835, projected the village 
of Newburg. He built a sawmill and afterward pat up a grist- 
mill in the same building, which began to grind early in the 
winter of 1837-38. Colonel Sayre carried on the business for 
several years. It was the first gristmill built in the northern 
counties, and was of great value to the settlers. Mr. Thurston 
says he went there with a bushel of wheat on his pony the third 
day after the machinery started. There was no bolting appa- 
ratus, and the meal was sifted by hand. The machinery was 
crude, and the mill was abandoned. Newburg is today only a 
cross-roads, with nothing to remind the visitor of the time 
when it was considered a rival of Belvidere and Rockford. 

Perhaps few persons now living have ever heard of the 
Vanceborough postoffice. Vanceborough was another name 
for Twelve-Mile Grove, on the State road, about halfway from 
Rockford to Freeport. Ephraim Sumner settled near there in 
1835. Mr. Sumner was born in Winhall, Vermont, February 9, 
1808. In 1810 his parents removed to Darien, New York, where 
they remained until 1821, when they settled in Massachusetts. 
Mr. Sumuer engaged in milling and farming near Twelve-Mile 
Grove, and became an extensive land-owner. He represented 
this district in the twenty-sixth general assembly, and held 
several minor civil offices. Mr. Sumner married a sister of 


Thatcher Blake. Their children are Hon. E. B. Sumner and 
Mrs. Annie S. Lane. Mr. Sumner was one of the very few early 
settlers who accumulated a large fortune. His last years were 
spent in Rockford. Mr. Sumner died October 18, 1887. February 
11, 1845, Mr. Sumner was commissioned postmaster at Vance- 
borough. He was to retain the office during the pleasure of the 
postmaster-general. The commission is signed by C. Wickliffe, 
who was postmaster-general during the administration of John 
Tyler. The seal is the figure of a man on horseback, with a small 
mail-bag upon his back. Both man and horse are apparently in 
great haste to reach the next station. This commission, now 
in possession of Hon. E. B. Sumner, is well preserved, although 
it was issued fifty-five years ago. The elder Sumner built a 
stone house at Vanceborough, which is still in a good state of 
preservation, and has well nigh outlived the memory of the 
town. These primitive villages along the old stage lines were 
superseded by the railway station, and they now scarcely live 
in memory. 



DR. A. M. CATLIN emigrated to Illinois from the Western 
Reserve, in Ohio, in February, 1838, in company with the 
Rev. Hiram Foote and Silas Tyler. This party traveled the 
entire distance in wagons. They were of New England stock, 
and were part of a movement to found an institution of learn- 
ing similar to the one then flourishing at Oberlin, Ohio. 

The brothers, Hiram, Lucius and Horatio Foote, all clergy- 
men, were prominent in this movement. They were more or 
less influenced by the example of the Rev. Charles G. Finney, 
the famous revivalist and founder of the Oberlin institution. 
Mr. Ira Baker, Rev. Lewis Sweasy, James S. Morton, a Mr. 
Field, and others moved from the Western Reserve to Rockford 
about the same time, and under the same influences. Upon 
their arrival in Rockford, the only hotel to be found was a 
double log cabin, and the only bed discovered by Doctor Catlin 
for himself and boy was a thinly covered, dislocated and dislo- 
cating stratum of oak shakes, supported at the sides by the 
naked logs a Spartan bed for a cold night. Horace, a fourth 
brother of the Footes, had preceded the others by a year, and 
secured a log cabin on Rock river, about two miles above Rock- 
ford. Into this single room, with a small loft, were crowded 
three families, with several children. 

Dr. Catlin moved to a log cabin on the bluff overlooking 
Big Bottom, four miles north of Rockford. A Hoosier by the 
name of Shores had worn a slight track between his home back 
on the hills and a plowed field on the Bottom, and this was the 
only road near the Doctor's new home. A small, inconstant, 
near-by stream, like the road, lost itself in the dry prairie. 

At that time Dr. Catlin intended to abandon the practice 
of medicine. To feed his little family, he hired a broken prairie 
of Herman B. Potter, who lived two miles south of Rockford. 
This land, six miles from home, the Doctor cultivated under 
difficulties, for it soon became known to the scattered people 
that he was a physician, and, like Cincinnatus, he was called 
from the plow. He was not a man to deny the necessities of 


others ; and agaiust liis wishes at the time, he was drawn into 
the practice of his profession, which he continued until near the 
day of his death, nearly sixty years later. He had practiced in 
early life in New York and Ohio, and his entire professional serv- 
ice lasted seventy years. He died in 1 892, at the age of ninety-one. 

On one occasion while at work on the Potter place, Dr. 
Catlin was summoned to visit a sick person on the Kishwaukee. 
He took his horse from the furrow near sunset, and, sending; 
his boy of eight on foot six miles northward to the lonely cabin 
on the prairie, he himself rode southward to his patient. He 
soon learned that his profession was a jealous mistress, and 
abandoned farming. 

The missionary educational managers had selected the 
mouth of the Kishwaukee as the site of their institution. A 
large building was begun, but never completed, and the useless 
frame survived for years as evidence of the untimeliness of their 
effort. An Indian wigwam still survived on the same site. The 
Indians, after their bloody victory over the indiscreet militia 
at Stillman's Run, had abandoned the region, and the military 
expedition, which included Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson 
Davis, had been withdrawn. Silver brooches, arrow heads and 
the like were found beside the deep, narrow Indian trails that 
wound about the bluffs and across the prairies. Kishwaukee, 
however, soon had about forty frame dwellings, and Dr. Catlin, 
Mr. Tyler, Mr. Field, Mr. Johnson and others resided there. 

Lucius and Horace Foote had staid by the log house of the 
latter, and Dr. Catlin, whose wife and Mrs. Lucius Foote were 
sisters, was induced by this fact and other reasons, to build in 
this neighborhood, which lie did. He hewed the logs and the 
floor puncheons, and split the roof shakes with, his own hands. 
His door and door-frames were made from purchased material, 
but lacked glazing or other filling for the skylight. As he sat 
one evening "under his own vine and fig tree," not yet planted, 
there passed a load of noisy revelers. As they drove furiously 
by, they shook out a wagon end-board that exactly filled the 
skylight aperture, and completed the house, which the builder 
probably enjoyed as much as any he ever occupied ; that is, in 
the recollection of it. 

Although Rockford was from the first clearly indicated as 
the coming metropolis, by the ford which gave its name, yet 
Kishwaukee below and Winnebago above were "boomed." In 
those days they could compare population with Rockford. 


Dr. Catlin finally settled in Rockford about 1839, and entered 
upon a medical practice which, if not large, was very "wide," as 
it carried him from Roscoe and above on the north, to Still- 
man's Run on the south, and from Twelve-Mile Grove and 
beyond to Belvidere. Much of this was night riding. After the 
settlers' horses had done their day's work, and after the fall of 
darkness, in the silence of the night, when watchers became 
nervous, in the midst of storms and when the primitive house- 
hold lights burned pale, was the accepted time to send for the 
medical comforter; and the nocturnal "Hollo, Doctor!" was 
often heard above the storm at the physician's door. He was 
never ill, and never refused to answer the call. Even when his 
own horse failed, he was mounted behind the messenger, and 
rode out in the night to relieve the sick. Once he was persuaded 
to mount the back of a sturdy messenger, who bore him and his 
precious medicine-bag through the swellings of icy Kishwaukee. 

The year 1846 was signalized by much sickness. Nearly 
every family living on low land had malarial fever, and the 
doctors were busy people. At one time Dr. Catlin could get 
but four or five hours' sleep out of the twenty -four, and he would 
become so exhausted that he frequently slept while riding from 
house to house. One day's ride, for example, included a trip of 
several miles north of Rockford, and then a tour south beyond 
the Killbuck, and a return by Cherry Valley, closing the day's 
work in the following morning. Thirty calls were made, and 
sixty patients prescribed for on that occasion. During this 
season Dr. Goodhue was asked what could be done for the sick. 
To this grave question the Doctor made this characteristic 
reply : "I don't know unless we build a big smoke-house and 
cure them," referring to the almost universal pallor. Dr. Catlin 
was an indulgent creditor, and fully shared the burden and 
poverty of early days. 

As a practitioner, Dr. Catlin was distinguished by a combi- 
nation of conservatism and independence of thought and 
method. It was said of him by one who knew him well, that 
"as a careful examiner, close reasoner, and with ability to define 
and state cause and effect, Dr. Catlin had few superiors." This 
fact, with his large experience and unobtrusive, non-self-assertive 
spirit, attracted the regard of his brother practitioners; so that 
he was often consulted by them in difficult cases. Near the close 
of his life he was honored by them with a spontaneous tender of 
a reception and banquet, an honor which he highly appreciated. 



THE year 1838 was signalized by the advent of several phy- 
sicians who became prominent in early local history. 
Among this number was Dr. Josiah C. Goodhue, who settled in 
the autumn, with his family. He had been here the preceding 
autumn on a tour of inspection. Dr. Goodhue had attained 
some distinction before he became a citizen of this county. He 
was born in 1803, at Putney, Vermont. His mother is said to 
have been a cousin of Aaron Burr. The Doctor was graduated 
from the school of medicine at Yale, and began practice at St. 
Thomas, Upper Canada, in 1824. While there he was married 
to Miss Catherine Dunn . A brother, Sir George Goodhue, was in 
theemploy of theCanadian government. TheDoctor emigrated 
from Canada to Chicago in 1835. He was the first resident phy- 
sician in that city outside the garrison of Fort Dearborn. When 
Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837, Dr. Goodhue was 
elected the first alderman from the First ward. There were six 
wards in the city at that time. William B. Ogden was chosen 
mayor in that year. Dr. Goodhue designed the first city seal of 
Chicago, and it became known as his little baby. He was quite 
proud of his offspring. The Doctor was the real founder of the 
first free school system of Chicago. He was one of a committee 
appointed to solicit subscriptions for the first railroad chartered 
to run from the city, the Galena & Chicago Union. 

In his practice in Chicago, Dr. Goodhue was associated with 
Dr. Daniel Brainard. Their office was on Lake street, near the 
old Tremont House. John Wentworth and Ebenezer Peck were 
engaged in the practice of law in the same building. Dr. Good- 
hue was one of the men who drew the act of incorporation for 
Rush Medical college, and was a member of the first board of 

Dr. Goodhue's first house in Rockford was what was then 
known as the "ball alley," on the northwest corner of Madison 
and Walnut streets, where the Golden Censer brick building was 
subsequently erected. He afterward purchased a home on the 


site of the watch factory ; and the house was moved away when 
the factory was built. The lot had at one time a pleasant 
grove, with no fence. Reference was made in a preceding chap- 
ter to the fact that Dr. Goodhue gave to the city of Rockford 
its name. 

Dr. Goodhue had thirteen children, five of whom died under 
five years of age. Four sons and four daughters attained adult 
life. One son, George Washington Goodhue, died of yellow 
fever, in Mexico, during the war with that country. Another 
son, William Sewell, died from illness contracted during the 
civil war. He had read law with James L. Loop. Dr. Good- 
hue's oldest daughter, Mrs. C. F. Holland, widow of John A. 
Holland, and step-mother of H. P. Holland, now resides in 
Chicago. Mrs. Hoyt Barnum, another daughter, is a resident 
of Rockford. 

Dr. Goodhue is said to have taken the skull from the body 
of Big Thunder, the Indian chief, whose resting-place was on 
the court house mound in Belvidere. Big Thunder was a noted 
character among the Pottawatomies. His name may have 
been suggested, according to Indian fashion, by his heavy, roll- 
ing voice. His burial-place was selected on the highest point 
of ground. No grave was dug. The chief was wrapped in his 
blankets, and seated on a rude bench, with his feet resting on 
an Indian rug. His face was turned toward the west, where he 
expected a great battle to be fought between his tribe and 
another. A palisade, made of split white ash logs, from which 
the bark had been peeled, was placed around his body, and 
covered with bark. The battle which Big Thunder looked for, 
never came; and his war-spirit never re-animated his mouldering 
clay and joined in the victorious whoops of his braves over their 
vanquished foes. The Indians, as they passed the coop of their 
fallen chief, would throw tobacco into his lap ; and Simon P. 
Doty, an early settler, during a torturing tobacco famine, would 
systematically purloin the weed from Big Thunder. In those 
days Belvidere was on the stage route from Chicago to Galena; 
and Big Thunder became the prey of relic hunters. His skull 
found its way, by Dr. Goodhue, into Rush Medical college, and 
it was probably destroyed in the great fire of 1871. 

Dr. Goodhue was an interesting and eccentric character. 
A story was current in the early days to the effect that a certain 
doctor had heard that Dr. Goodhue had said that he had killed 
Mr. Smith's child. The offended practitioner determined to call 


upon Dr. Goodhue and make inquiry concerning the rumor. 
Dr. Goodhue saw him coming, surmised at once his errand, and 
met his offended friend at the door in his most cordial manner, 
"lam very glad to see you, sir; come in." This reception 
embarrassed the visitor, but he unburdened his mind in this 
wise: "Dr. Goodhue, I hear that you have said that I killed 
Smith's child." Dr. Goodhue interrupted him with this start- 
ling revelation : "Haven't you killed more than one? Lord, 
I've killed more than forty. If you haven't killed more than 
one, you are no doctor at all ! " The Doctor gave the name of 
"Cedar Bend" to the seminary ground, that slopes toward the 
river, upon which there were many cedars. 

Dr. Goodhue's death was the result of an accident, on the 
night of December 31, 1847. He was called to make a profes- 
sional visit to the family of Richard Stiles, four miles west on 
the State road. After caring for his patient, he accompanied 
Mrs. Stoughton, a neighbor, to her home. The night was dark, 
and he fell into a well, which was then being excavated, and had 
not been covered or enclosed . Mrs. Stoughton had asked him to 
wait until she returned with a light ; but before she came back the 
Doctor had made the fatal fall. He survived only a short time 
after he was taken from the well. His death was deplored by the 
entire community. He was a positive character ; nature had 
liberally endowed him in qualities of mind and heart. Dr. 
Goodhue was an attendant at the Unitarian church. Mrs. 
Goodhue was an Episcopalian. She died October 14, 1873. A 
son of Dr. Goodhue died November 14, 1880. 

Dr. Alden Thomas was born at Woodstock, Vermont, Nov- 
ember 11, 1797, and was a lineal descendant from John Alden. He 
was married to Elizabeth Marsh, June 15, 1824. In the autumn 
of 1839, the family came to Rockford. They had lived in the 
meantime at Bethany and Holly, New York. During the first 
few weeks in Rockford the family lived in the Brinckerhoff 
house, which still stands on the corner north of the government 
building. Later Dr. Thomas resided for a few months in a 
house which stood on the site of the Emerson warehouse, just 
south of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad bridge. In the 
following spring Dr. Thomas built a house opposite the court 
house. He practiced medicine about five or six years, and then 
removed to a farm two miles south on the Kishwaukee road, 
where he lived about two years. The family then returned 


to the village, and lived for a time in a house still standing on 
South Second street, and later in the grout house near the 
corner west of the First Congregational church, which Dr. 
Thomas built. He opened a drug store soon after his return 
from the farm, and continued in this business until a short time 
before his death. Dr. Thomas was a member of the First 
Congregational church, and played the bass viol there for some 
time. A book of music, with words and notes copied by him in 
a clear, beautiful hand, is now in possession of his daughter, 
Mrs. W. A. Dickerman. Dr. and Mrs. Thomas arc held in loving 
remembrance by the early residents of the city. 

Dr. Thomas' children are: Mrs. W. A. Dickerman, E. P. 
Thomas, and the late Mrs. S. J. Caswell, of this city, and F. A. 
Thomas and Mry. Evans Blake, of Chicago. Henry, the young- 
est son, enlisted in the army during the civil war, and was 
drowned while returning on a furlough. Dr. Thomas' death 
occurred March 21, 1856. 



ON the morning of April 16, 1838, Dr. Haskell and family, 
Mo wry Brown and wife, Samuel Haskell, H. H. Silsby, 
Isaiah Lyon, Caleb Blood and William Hull boarded the steam- 
boat Gipsy at Alton, Illinois. The destination of this party 
was Rockford. The river was high, the bottom lands were 
overflowed, and the boat sometimes left the channel of the 
Mississippi and ran across points of land, and once went through 
a grove of timber. When the Gipsy arrived at Rock Island and 
ran alongside the wharf-boat, a strong wind from the east 
turned the bow out into the stream. As the boat turned, the 
rudder struck the wharf-boat, and broke the tiller ropes. This 
accident rendered the boat unmanageable, and it was blown 
across the river to Davenport, Iowa. While at Rock Island 
Dr. Haskell contracted with the captain that upon his return 
from Galena he would steam up Rock river to Rockford. At 
Savanna, Samuel Haskell, William Hull and H. H. Silsby left 
the Gipsy. They had come to the conclusion that the boat 
would never reach Rockford; and in company with Moses 
Wallen, of Winnebago village, where the county seat had been 
located by the special commissioners, they started afoot for 
Rockford. They stopped over night at Cherry Grove, and the 
next morning they traveled to Crane's Grove, on the stage 
route from Dixon to Galena. There they hired a coach and 
team, which brought them that evening to Loomis' Hotel. 

Mr. Silsby writes that a few days after his arrival he arose 
one morning as soon as it was light, to see if he could discover 
any sign of the Gipsy. He was rewarded by the sight of dense, 
black smoke, near Corey's bluff, which seemed to be moving up 
the river. Soon the Gipsy came in sight, and the people gath- 
ered on the banks of the river and cheered the boat as it ascended 
in fine style until nearly over the rapids, when it suddenly 
turned, swung around, and went down stream much faster than 
it ascended. It rounded to and tried it again, and soon turned 
down stream a second time. After several attempts, with the 
aid of a quantity of lard thrown into the furnaces, the boat ran 


up the swift current, and soon tied up to the bank in front of Platt 
& Sanford's store, which^stood near the water's edge, in the rear 
of the Masonic Temple site. The Gipsy was the first steamer 
that visited Rockford. It was a stern-wheeler, not less than 
one hundred feet in length, and perhaps thirty in width. It had 
a cabin above the hold, and an upper deck, open and uncov- 
ered. There were several state-rooms. G. A. Sanfordand John 
Platt had come to Rockford the preceding year, and had formed 
a partnership in conducting the first store on the West side. Mr. 
Sanford sold his interest to Dr. Haskell. The following year 
Mr. Platt retired and Dr. Haskell became sole owner. When 
the Gipsy arrived the Doctor's eleven tons of merchandise were 
removed from the boat to the store. A merchant at Beloithad 
shipped ten tons from Rock Island to Beloit, which were to be 
delivered at that point. The people came in from the country, 
and chartered the boat for an excursion up the river, and car- 
ried passengers. The captain said he never witnessed such a 
scene before. They danced all night, and kept the cabin in an 
uproar day and night until they reached Rockton. The music 
was furnished by Andrew Lovejoy, who played the flute, and 
another man with his fiddle. 

Dr. Haskell was a native of Massachusetts. He was born 
at Harvard, March 23, 1799. His father, Samuel Haskell, 
removed to Waterford, Maine, in 1803. In 1821 the son went 
to Phillips Exeter academy, and entered Dartmouth college in 
1823. He left his college class in his sophomore year, and 
studied medicine until 1827, when he received the degree of M. 
D. from the college. While in college, he taught one term of 
district school in East Haverhill. One of his pupils was John G. 
Whittier; and the schoolmaster in Whittier's "Snow-Bound" 
was his former teacher. On page thirty-four of Samuel T. Pick- 
ard's Life and Letters of Whittier, is found this allusion to the 
hero of this poem : "Until near the end of Mr. Whittier's life, he 
could not recall the name of this teacher whose portrait is so 
carefully sketched, but he was sure he came from Maine. At 
length, he remembered that the name was Haskell, and from 
this clue it has been ascertained that he was George Haskell, 
and that he came from Waterford, Maine." Dr. Haskell never 
appeared to have been aware of the fact that his gifted Haverhill 
pupil had immortalized him in "Snow-Bound." Dr. Haskell 
also received this tribute as a teacher from his illustrious pupil, 
as given in a later chapter of Mr. Pickard's biography : "He 


[Whittier] was accustomed to say that only two of the teach- 
ers who were employed in that district during his school days 
were fit for the not very exacting position they occupied. Both 
of these were Dartmouth students: one of them George Has- 
kell, to whom reference has already been made." Dr. Haskell 
began the practice of medicine at East Cambridge, Massachu- 
setts, in 1827, and removed to Ashby, in the same state, in the 
following year. 

Dr. Haskell came to Illinois in 1831, and settled at Edwards- 
ville, and two years later he removed to Upper Alton. While 
there he became one of the founders of Shurtleff college, of which 
he was trustee and treasurer. The Doctor built up a large 
practice, which he soon abandoned. November 7, 1837, the 
cause of the slave received its first baptism of blood. On that 
day Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered at Alton, for his bold 
utterances in behalf of an oppressed race. Dr. Haskell enter- 
tained radical anti-slavery views, and he determined to leave 
that portion of the state in which the pro-slavery sentiment 
was largely predominant. 

From the time of his arrival in Rockford until his removal 
from the city about twenty-eight years later, Dr. Haskell was a 
broad-minded, representative man of affairs. He conducted for 
a short time a mercantile business on the river bank, as the 
successor of Platt & Sanford. But his ruling passion was hor- 
ticulture. He entered from the government quite a tract of 
land lying north of North street, and built the house on North 
Main street now occupied by George R. Forbes. He planted a 
nursery and became an expert in raising fruit. It is said that 
one year he raised sixty bushels of peaches. The severe winter 
of 1855-56 killed his trees, and from that time he devoted his 
attention to more hardy fruits. His later Rockford home was 
on North Court street, near the residence of Hon. Andrew 
Ashton. Dr. Haskell was generous and public-spirited. He 
and his brother-in-law, John Edwards, presented to the city 
the West side public square, which was named Haskell park, in 
honor of the former. A street, called Edwards place, forms the 
southern boundary of the park. A ward schoolhouse in West 
Rockford also bears Dr. HaskelPs name. 

In 1853 Dr. Haskell became a convert to Spiritualism, and 
his long and honored membership with the First Baptist church 
ceased on the last day of that year. It has been stated that he 
was first alienated from the church by his lack of esteem for 


Elder Jacob Knapp, who was then a prominent member. Mrs. 
Haskell followed her husband, and withdrew from the church 
May 6, 1854. Dr. Haskell entered upon his new religious life 
with that energy and enthusiasm which had signalized his for- 
mer adherence to Baptist doctrine. April 15, 1854, he began 
the publication of the Spirit Advocate, an eight-page monthly. 
The paper was an able propagandist of the new faith. A com- 
plete file of this paper has been preserved in theRockford public 
library. Twenty-three numbers were published. In the issue 
of March 15, 1856, the editor announced that the publication 
of the Advocate would be discontinued, and that it would be 
consolidated with the Orient, under the name of the Orient and 
Advocate, with headquarters at Waukegan. In his farewell 
address to his constituents, Dr. Haskell said : "While hitherto 
laboring in the cause of human advancement from the thrall- 
dom of bigotry, error and superstition, we have had the con- 
sciousness of having acted honestly in proclaiming 'the glorious 
gospel of the blessed God.' We feel that the cause is of God 
and must prevail; and the combined force of men and devils can 
not prevent its final triumph. . . . The great contest bet ween 
truth and error has commenced; and the advocates of error 
and superstition are arraying all their forces to withstand the 
onward march of truth and harmony ; but truth must triumph 
over all opposing foes." 

The best and most charitable commentary upon this proph- 
ecy is in the lines of Tennyson : 

"Our little systems have their day ; 
They have their day, and cease to be." 

In 1866, Dr. Haskell removed to New Jersey. There he was 
engaged in founding an industrial school, and purchased with 
others a tract of four thousand acres, which was laid out for a 
model community. In 1857 Dartmouth college gave the Doctor 
the degree of A. B., as of the year 1827. 

Dr. Haskell died at Vineland, New Jersey, August 23, 1876. 
The late George S. Haskell, widely known as a seedsman, was 
a son ; and Mrs. Henry P. Kimball is a daughter. Dr. Frank 
H., Willis M. and Carl Kimball are grandsons. His nephew, 
Rev. Samel Haskell, pays him this tribute in Pickard's work, 
previously noted : "He was a man of scholarship and enthusi- 
asm, afriend of struggling students, many of whom he befriended 
in his home and with his means." 



JAMES MADISON WIGHT was born in Norwich, Massachu- 
setts, in 1810. He was admitted to the bar of Queens 
county, New York, in 1837, and immediately afterward came 
west. He first joined his brother, J. Ambrose Wight, in Rock- 
ton. But he found no field in that village for the practice of 
his profession; and he came in 1838, to Rockford, where for a 
time he taught school. In his early life he served a few terms 
as city attorney of Rockford. He was one of the pioneer law- 
yers of northern Illinois, and built up a large practice. He was 
for many years local attorney for the Chicago & Northwestern 
railroad and for other corporations. He was also for a time a 
member of the state legislature, and served on the judiciary 
committee. Mr. Wight was a member of the constitutional 
convention of 1870, called to draft a new constitution for sub- 
mission to the voters of the state. To Mr. Wight, law was not 
merely a profession ; it was an absorbing and delightful study. 
He was above all, a student; a perfect cyclopedia of general 
information, familiar with the literature of many languages, 
which he read in the original, and a passionate lover of classi- 
cal music and art. Mr. Wight was a cousin of George Bancroft, 
the famous historian. To many lawyers of today, Mr. Wight's 
sense of professional honor might seem a little strained; but 
for him there was only one standard, the standard of a Chris- 
tian gentleman, and to that conception his business principles 
were subordinated. Mr. Wight died in Rockford in 1877, leav- 
ing to his children the heritage of an honest name, and the 
memory of a modest, blameless and tender life. Mr. Wight was 
the father of Mrs. Harriott Wight Sherratt, Miss Mary Wight, 
and Miss Carrie, who died in 1891. In his religious views, Mr. 
Wight was a Channing Unitarian. The Wight school in the 
Sixth ward was named in his honor. His home was the resi- 
dence now owned by Judge L. L. Morrison. 

Jason Marsh was born in Woodstock, Windsor county, Ver- 
mont, in 1807. At the age of sixteen he removed to Saratoga, 


New York. In 1831 he was admitted to the bar in Adams, Jef- 
ferson county, where he first practiced. In 1832 Mr. Marsh 
married Harriet M. Spafford, a sister of Charles, John andCatlin 
Spafford. Mr. Marsh came to Rockford in 1839. He was 
accompanied by his wife and children, a brother and wife, and 
his three brothers-in-law. Soon after his arrival he and the 
three Spafford brothers built the brick house three miles south 
of State street, on the Kishwaukee road, now occupied by F. 
J. Morey. A large farm was attached. Mr. Marsh drove daily 
to the village, where he practiced his profession. His later 
home was the residence subsequently owned by the late W. W. 
Fairfield, on East State street. These beautiful grounds are 
now subdivided. In 1862 Mr. Marsh entered military service 
as colonel of the Seventy-fourth Illinois infantry. He was 
severely wounded at the battle of Missionary Ridge in the autumn 
of 1863, and returned home. Two months later he again went 
to the front. In the campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta 
his old wound troubled him, and he resigned. Colonel Marsh 
was a man of fine presence, rather above medium height, portly, 
and perhaps slightly pompous, with blue eyes. The corner of 
the left eye was slightly marred by a wound received in his 
younger days. He was accustomed to comb the hair low over 
the eye, and thus unconsciously gave to the eye a little wicked 
expression. Colonel Marsh was very courteous, and extremely 
fond of society. He delighted in picturesque costumes. His 
favorite suit was a blue dress coat with gilt buttons, buff vest 
and light pantaloons. Colonel Marsh was a lover of games ; 
chess was his favorite. He forgot everything when engaged in 
a game of chess, and spent long afternoons and evenings at 
this pastime, oblivious of everything else ; much, of course, to 
the detriment of his business. Colonel Marsh, or 'Squire Marsh, 
as he was often called, was a gentleman of striking character- 
istics. He preserved the courtliness of the old-school gentleman. 
His social nature was of a generous kind. He was at home 
either in long-continued argument, or he could adapt himself 
to the lighter conversation of gallant and graceful nothings of 
fashionable society. His habitual attire combined the present 
and the past with striking effect. His blue swallow-tail coat, 
buff vest and gold-headed cane jare intimately associated 
with his sturdy personality in the minds of all who remember 
him. Colonel Marsh was a man of well-stored mind, and made 
his mark as a lawyer at an early day. His last years were 


spent on his farm near Durand. His death occurred at the home 
of his daughter in Chicago, March 13, 1881. He was buried in 
Rockford with military honors. His surviving children are: 
Mrs. E. H. Baker, formerly of Rockford ; Mrs. William Ruger, 
of Batona, Florida; and Cerdric G., of Chicago. Ogden C. died 
soon after his father. J. M. and Volney Southgate are nephews. 

Francis Burnap was born at Merrimac, New Hampshire, 
January 4, 1796. He belonged to one of the old historic fami- 
lies of New England. His mother was a sister of Major-Geueral 
Brooks, of Revolutionary fame, who was afterward governor 
of Massachusetts for seven terms. His father was Rev. Jacob 
Burnap, who for fifty years was pastor of the First Congrega- 
tional church of Merrimao. Mr. Burnap settled in Rockford in 
August, 1839, and began tne practice of law in Winuebago and 
neighboring counties, in the state supreme court, and in the 
federal courts. His industry and patient persistence in his pro- 
fession were proverbial. He loved chancery practice, and in the 
knowledge of this department he had few equals in the state. 
Mr. Burnap was a man of integrity, and boldly avowed his 
opinions, however unpopular. He belonged to the Liberty 
party in its early days, and proclaimed his radical anti-slavery 
sentiments when abolitionism was a term of reproach even in the 
free north and west. He was also a believer in total abstinence 
and woman suffrage. Mr. Burnap was a thorough student. 
His books were his beloved companions. He was a fine linguist 
and was proficient in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French and Ger- 
man. As a friend, he was kind, courteous, and dignified in all 
his social intercourse. While he was affable in manner, he was 
firm in his principles, even to sternness. The tenacity with 
which he clung to his opinions, and earnestly defended them, 
sometimes excited enmity. He practiced in his profession until 
1864, when ill health compelled him to retire. Mr. Burnap died 
in Rockford December 2, 1866. He was the senior practitioner 
of the Rockford bar, which adopted resolutions of respect at 
his death, and attended his funeral in a body. In the forenoon 
preceding his death he dictated his will, in the full possession of 
his mental faculties. Mr. Burnap never married, and he lived 
a somewhat isolated life. Mrs. Lucy M. Gauss, of St. Louis, 
formerly a teacher in the Rockford schools, is a niece. 

Duncan Ferguson was a native of Scotland. He was born 
in Glasgow, in November, 1810. He attended the University 
of Glasgow two seasons; was employed several years in the 


land surveys, and soon thereafter he was engaged in the trigo- 
nometrical surveys of Great Britain, which he continued for ten 
years. He was employed most of this time in Ireland. In 1837 
he left his native laud and came to the United States. He first 
settled in Pennsylvania, where he remained two years, in the 
employ of two railroad companies, as draughtsman. Mr. Fer- 
guson removed with his family to Rock ford in 1839. In 1840 
he was elected surveyor and justice of the peace. He held the 
office of surveyor until 1856. In 1862 he was appointed asses- 
sor of internal revenue. He held this position eight years, and 
then resigned. For ten years Mr. Ferguson was supervisor 
from the Seventh ward of the city. March, 3, 1873, he was 
elected chairman of the county board, to succeed Hon. Robert 
J. Cross, who had died February 15th. Mr. Ferguson retained 
this position until 1881. In 1877 he was elected mayor of Rock- 
ford, and served one year. He held the offices of city engineer, 
assessor, county treasurer, and commissioner of the county 
under an act of the legislature for the improvement of Rock 
river. Mr. Ferguson was a member of the First Baptist church 
until the schism led by Dr. Kerr, when he became identified 
with the Church of the Christian Union. Mr. Ferguson was a 
genial, courtly gentleman, of high character. His death occurred 
May 14, 1882. 

Thomas D. Robertson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 
March 4, 1818. His parents removed to London when he was 
a small child. He lived with a brother for a time on the Isle of 
Sheppey, at the mouth of the Thames, where he attended 
school. He was subsequently engaged with an older brother 
in the publication of the Mechanic's Magazine. Mr. Robertson 
came to the United States in 1838. He stopped for a time in 
Chicago, and arrived in Rockford in December of the same year. 
Mr. Roberson studied law in Rockford and at Madison, Wis- 
consin. He was admitted to the bar, and was a prominent 
practitioner for some years. In 1848 Mr. Robertson and John 
A. Holland opened the first banking house in Rockford in a 
building adjoining the European Hotel site on West State street. 
From that time he gradually abandoned the practice of law, 
and devoted his attention to banking and real estate. Mr. 
Robertson was a leader in the movement to secure the exten- 
sion of the Galena & Chicago Union railroad to Rockford. He 
had charge of the collection of the subscriptions to the capital 
stock in Boone, Winnebago and Ogle counties, Mr. Robertson 


has continuously resided in Rockford for sixty -one years. No 
other person has been as prominent in its business circles 
for so long a time. The church and Christian education have 
always received his financial support. He is a trustee of Beloit 
college and Rockford college. Mr. Robertson's career has been 
signalized by strict integrity and exceptional business ability. 
He is probably the largest property-owner in the city. His chil- 
dren are William T.Robertson, vice-president of the Winnebago 
National Bank, and Mrs. David N. Starr, of Florida. 

Ira W. Baker arrived on Rock river October 6, 1838, on 
Saturday, at sundown, with his family of eight, from a grand- 
mother of seventy to a babe of four. At half past ten the next 
morning all went over the hill a mile away to attend church, at 
the house of Mr. Batchelder. It was a double log house of two 
rooms. The door between the rooms was the pulpit. The Rev. 
Hiram Foote preached. No scene could better depict the early 
sabbath in church. Organ and choir, long-drawn aisle and 
fretted vault waft no truer praise. The soft sky and the air of 
the Indian summer, silent woods of gorgeous hues, the reverent 
worshipers, strangers in form but kindred in heart, the solemn 
and touching service, and the polite and tender greetings and 
farewells were home and church to the true and earnest pio- 
neers. Even the little Swiss clock, hanging high in the corner, 
with its long weights and pendulum, seemed thoughtfully and 
regretfully to mark the passing moments, and when it must 
strike twelve it gave due notice, and softly struck its strokes. 
Perhaps like Tell of its native land, it had prepared for extra 
work due on such occasions, for it kept right on with thirteen 
or fourteen, and so forth, until elders and urchins alike smiled 
upon its little distorted anatomy. The clock, house and owner 
are now gone, and perhaps all who gathered there ; but the 
church and home of the pioneer are the church and home of today . 

Hon. Edward H. Baker, son of Deacon Ira Baker, was born 
in Ferrisburg, Vermont, April 5, 1828; and when ten years of 
age he came with his father to Winnebago county. Mr. Baker 
received his education at Knox college and Illinois college at 
Jacksonville. He studied law and was admitted to the bar. 
At one time he was in partnership with his father-in-law, Jason 
Marsh. Upon the organization of the Rockford & Kenosha 
railroad, Mr. Baker was chosen secretary of the company. He 
was elected mayor of Rockford in 1866, and served one year. 
At the time of his death Mr. Baker was a director of the public 


library. His death occurred January 26, 1897. The circuit 
court, which was then in session, adjourned, out of respect to 
his memory ; Hon. Charles A. Works pronounced a euolgy, and 
the bar attended his funeral in a body. Mr. Baker excelled as 
a toastmaster. He was a thorough student, and acquired a 
large and varied fund of information. He was an authority 
upon Masonic matters, and in colonial and local history. He 
had true historic instinct, and his writings often display fine 
poetic feeling. 

Henry N. Baker, another son of Deacon Baker, was also a 
native of Ferrisburg, Vermont. For many years he was engaged 
in the real estate and loan business in East Rockford. Mr. 
Baker was for some time president of the board of education. 
He removed from the city in 1899. 

David S. Penfield was the first of three brothers to settle in 
Rockford. He was a native of Pittsfield, Vermont, and was 
born in 1812. Mr. Penfield and the late Shepherd Leach were 
schoolboys together in their native place, and the friendship 
then formed continued through life. Together they emigrated 
to Michigan, where they remained a short time, and then con- 
tinued their journey on horseback to Illinois, and came to 
Rockford in 1838 by way of Dixon. There was then no stable 
currency. Large numbers of private banks furnished a currency 
of more or less value, and each state had its own issues. The 
exchange of money in traveling from state to state was there- 
fore attended with not a little difficulty, and considerable risk. 
The unsettled country was infested with bandits, and travelers 
were never sure, when seeking entertainment for the night, 
whether they would escape the snare of the fowler. Mr. Penfield 
and Mr, Leach adopted a rule that is very suggestive. When- 
ever they came to the house of a settler where flowers were 
cultivated, there they concluded they would be safe. Upon their 
arrival in Rockford, Mr. Penfield and Mr. Leach purchased a 
large tract of land on the West side. They were also in mer- 
cantile business on the site of 322 East State street, and there 
employed the first tinner in Rockford. Their stock included 
hardware, groceries and other lines, and invoiced about three 
thousand dollars. Mr. Penfield lived for a time in a house 
owned by Lyman Potter, on North Second street. He formed 
a partnership with his brother John G. in the real estate and 
loan business; and subsequently became a member of the bank- 
ing firm of Briggs, Spafford & Penfield, which was merged into 


the Third National bank. Mr. Penfieldwas a very unassuming 
gentleman, and was universally esteemed. He died May 20, 
1873, at the age of sixty-one years. Some years ago Mrs. Pen- 
field gave the site to the Young Men's Christian Association on 
which its splendid building now stands. Their children are: 
Mrs. Henry Robinson, deceased ; Mrs. C. R. Mower, of Rockford ; 
and Mrs. Stephen A. Norton, of San Diego, California. 

Shepherd Leach, to whom reference was made in the preced- 
ing paragraph, was an extensive land-owner, and amassed a 
large estate. Mr. Leach was gifted with keen business sagacity, 
and was successful in nearly every enterprise. He had an 
extended acquaintance among business men ; was straightfor- 
ward in his dealings; and withal, was a man who possessed 
many qualities worthy of emulation. Mr. Leach died July 9, 
1885. Mrs. Edgar E. Bartlett and Mrs. J. B. Whitehead are 

Willard Wheeler came from St. Thomas, Upper Canada, in 
September, 1839. He was the second tinner in the town. Mr. 
Wheeler was a brother of Solomon Wheeler. He built the house 
on South First street where Mrs. Julia A. Littlefield resides. To 
Mr. Wheeler belonged the honor of being the first mayor of 
Rockford. He died April 24, 1876. 

The Cunningham brothers are among the last survivors of 
that early period. Samuel Cunningham was born August 15, 
1815,inFeterboro, Hillsboro county, New Hampshire. This was 
Daniel Webster's county, and where he and his brother Ezekiel 
practiced law. Mr. Cunningham heard Mr. Webster deliver an 
oration, and voted for him for president in 1836. Mr. Cun- 
ningham came to this county in the spring of 1839. His active 
life was devoted to agriculture. He served one term as county 
commissioner. Mr. Cunningham is a splendid specimen of the 
sturdy New England type, and the very soul of honor. He has 
a retentive memory and an interesting fund of political remi- 
niscence. His brother, William Cunningham, came to Rockford 
in the spring of 1838. He has spent much of the intervening 
time on the Pacific coast, but is now living a retired life in 
Rockford. The writer is indebted to these brothers for valuable 
historical information. Another brother, Benjamin Franklin 
Cunningham, preceded Samuel to Rockford in the spring of 
the same year. He owns a beautiful home below the city, on 
a rise of ground which commands an extended northern and 
southern view of the river. A fourth brother, Isaac Newton 


Cunningham, previously noted, came to Rockford at an earlier 

Joel B. Potter was born in Fairfield county, Connecticut, 
in 1810. From there the family removed to Orleans county, 
New York. He received a collegiate education and prepared 
himself for the Presbyterian ministry. His health failed, and 
he never resumed this calling. In 1839 he came to this county, 
where his brothers Herman B. and Eleazer had preceded him. 
In the same year Mr. Potter built the house now owned by 
Judge Morrison. He carried on a farm for some years, and was 
subsequently engaged in the drug business on East State street. 
He conducted the store alone for a time, and later with his 
son-in-law, J. F. Harding, as a partner, until the death of Mr. 
Harding, in 1867, when Mr. Potter retired from business. Mr. 
Potter and his family were members of Westminster Presbyte- 
rian church. Mr. Potter died November 30,1880. Mrs. Potter is 
still living. Advanced age does not impair her intellectual vigor. 
Mrs. Caroline A. Brazee and Mrs. E. S. Gregory, of Rockford, 
and Mies Frances D. Potter, of Chicago, are daughters. 

The Herrick family came from eastern Massachusetts in 
183839. Elijah L. Herrick, Sr., and three sons, Ephraim, 
Elijah L. Jr., and William, arrived in Rockford in 1838 ; and 
the following year there came three sons, George, Edward, and 
Samuel, and four daughters, Phocebe, Sarah, Martha, and 
Hannah. About 1849 the father of the family built a cobble- 
stone house, which is still standing on Fourteenth avenue. The 
Herrick family, though typical New England people, possess one 
interesting trait peculiar to the Scottish clans. It is said this 
entire family, with one exception, lived in the vicinity of Rock- 
ford for forty years, within such distance that all could come 
together in a few hours' notice. This remarkable fact is seldom 
paralleled when the size of the family is considered. The father 
died May 18, 1852; Mrs. Herrick, March 28, 1876; Phoebe, 
July 13, 1854 ; Sarah, January 21, 1885 ; William, February 
13, 1885; Ephraim, January 7, 1888; Martha, Julyl8, 1898. 
Edward died near Newell, Iowa, September 15, 1899. While 
a resident of this county he lived on a farm in Cherry Valley 
township. He removed to Iowa in 1880, and settled on 
a farm, where he died. He was seventy-seven years of age. 
One son and one daughter survive. His wife died about eight 
years ago. George and Hannah Herrick never married. They 
reside in Rockford. E.L. Herrick and family and Miss Hannah 


are members of Westminster Presbyterian church. The other 
members of this family attended the First Congregational 

E. L. Herrick was born at Andover, Massachusetts, Sep- 
tember 30, 1820. Mrs. Herrick, previous to her marriage, was 
a teacher in Rockford seminary. She came in September, 1852, 
and taught three years. They have three children : Elizabeth 
L., professor of French language and literature at Rockford 
college; Charles E., assistant cashier of the Manufacturers 
National Bank ; and Frank J., of the firm of Bed well & Herrick. 
Mrs. William Marshall, now residing in Florida, is a daughter 
of Mr. Herrick. 

Samuel Herrick was only four years of age when his parents 
came to this county, and he has continuously resided here 
since that time. His daughters, Hattie and Clara M., are 
teachers in the Rockford schools. 

The three Spafford brothers came to Rockford in 1839, in 
company with their brother-in-law, Jason Marsh. Their father 
was Dr. John Spafford. The eldest son, Charles H. Spafford, 
was born in Jefferson county, New York, January 6, 1819. 
He was educated at Castleton, Vermont. He had chosen the 
profession of the law, but his decision to come west changed his 
plans in life. Mr. Spafford performed a conspicuous part in 
the development of the city. He held the offices of postmaster, 
circuit clerk and recorder. He was president of the Kenosha 
& Rockford Railroad Company. Mr. Spafford, in company with 
his brother John, and John Hall, built Metropolitan Hall block. 
The stores and offices were owned separately and the hall was 
held in common. Mr. Spafford also, with others, built the 
block now known as the Chick House. Although Mr. Spafford 
made alarge amount of money, he sustained reverses of fortune. 
When the banking house of Spafford. Clark & Ellis went into 
liquidation, he paid all the liabilities of the firm, which were 
forty-five thousand dollars. Mr. Spafford's splendid service in 
the early struggles of Rockford college will be noted in the chap- 
ter devoted to that subject. March, 8, 1 842, Mr. Spafford was 
united in marriage to Miss Abby Warren. In March, 1892, 
Mr. and Mrs. Spafford celebrated their golden wedding. Their 
children are : Airs. Carrie S. Brett, Mrs. Charles H. Godfrey, and 
Charles H. Spafford, Jr. Mr. Spafford died in September, 1892, 
at the age of seventy-three years. He was a genial gentleman ; 
courtesy was the habit of his life. 


Amos Catlin Spafford was born September 14, 1824, in Ad- 
ams, Jefferson county , New York. After he came west he followed 
farming in this county until 1848. About a year later be was 
interested in a sawmill on the old water-power on the East side. 
In 1850 he went to California, where he remained two years. 
About 1854 he became a member of the banking firm of Briggs, 
Spafford & Penfield. Upon the organization of the Third Na- 
tional bank in 1864, Mr. Spafford became its president, and 
held this position thirty-three years, until his death. In 1876 
he was one of the state commissioners at the centennial exposi- 
tion. Mr. Spafford died suddenly at Adams, New York, while on 
a vacation, August 22, 1897. Mrs. Spafford died May 22,1898. 
Their children are : Mrs. J. W. Archibald, who resides in Florida ; 
Miss Jessie I. Spafford, professor of mathematics and physics at 
Rockford college; George C. Spafford, cashier of the Third 
National Bank, and Miss Nettie L. Spafford. Genuine worth is 
self-revealing. Mr. Spafford was a man whose face was an 
immediate passport to confidence, and it was a true index to his 
character. His genial disposition, sterling worth and absolute 
integrity shone out in every feature and expression. He was 
unostentatious, kind-hearted and neighborly in manner, and 
stood for the best things in the life of the city. He was con- 
servative in judgment, yet efficient and progressive in business. 
He was a leading representative of the influential men whose 
strong and forceful characters have made Rockford a synonym 
for solidity, enterprise, morality and prosperity. 

John Spafford was born November 26, 1821. During his 
long life in Rockford he was engaged successively in farming, 
grocery, and grain and lumber trade. In 1856 he became the 
general agent of the Rockford & Keuosha Railroad company. 
Until within two years of his death, Mr. Spafford was president 
of the Rockford Wire Works Company and the Rockford Sus- 
pender Company ; he was also interested in manufacturing a 
lubricating oil, and in a planing-mill. Mr. Spafford died De- 
cember 5, 1897. His manner was ever gracious toward all sorts 
and conditions of men. Mrs. Spafford and one daughter, Miss 
Kate, survive. Two daughters are deceased. 

Phineas Howes was a native of Putnam county, New York, 
and was born September 25, 1817. He came to Rockford in 
1839, and in that year he erected a small house on East State 
street, which is still standing. Mr. Howes was a carpenter aud 
joiner, and followed this trade for many years. He purchased 


a tract of land in Cherry Valley township. For about fifteen 
years he was a partner with John Lake in the lumber trade. 
By strict attention to business, Mr. Howes accumulated quite a 
large estate. His death occurred October 11, 1894. Mrs. C. H. 
Woolsey is a daughter. Mrs. Howes was a sister of the late 
Harris Barnum. She died December 10, 1877. 

William Worthington was born at Enfield, Connecticut, 
July 5, 1813. He came to Rockford in the spring of 1838. 
About 1840 he built a brick blacksmith's shop on the south- 
west corner of State and First streets, where the Crotty block 
now stands. This shop was eight or ten feet below the present 
grade. Later Mr. Worthington built a wagon shop on the 
same lot, about the same size, of wood, one story. This wasthe 
first wagon shop on the East side. There were then no other 
buildings on those corners. Mr. Worthington was the next 
blacksmith on the East side, after William Penfield, and was 
probably the fourth in the village. About 1842 Mr. Worthing- 
ton formed a partnership with Hosea D. Searles, and opened 
a drug store. This was the founding of the business now car- 
ried on by Worthington & Slade. Mr. Searles had come from 
Connecticut the year before, and was familiarly known as "Doc. 
Mr Worthington's children are: Miss Julia, William, Frank, 
and Charles. His death occurred April 11, 1886. Mr. Worth- 
ington's partner, "Doc." Searles, had a fund of humor and 
anecdotes with which he entertained his patrons. He possessed 
mechanical skill, which he utilized by making the first soda 
fountain in the village. It was made of wood, with a lever of 
the same material, about ten feet long. He also built a rotary 
steam engine, which he sold to the Mt. Morris seminary. 

Laomi Peake. Sr., a native of Herkimer county, New York, 
emigrated from St. Thomas, Upper Canada, to Rockford, in 
September, 1839. He was one of the few pioneers who brought 
ready capital. He came with about five thousand dollars m 
money, which was a princely sum for that time. Mr. Peake 
was the first person who made a harness in Rockford, although 
a man preceded him who did repairing. Mr. Peake purchased the 
northeast corner lot on First and State streets, sixty-six feet 
front on First street, by one hundred and fifty-six feet on State 
street, for one hundred dollars, and erected a brick building 
twenty-two by thirty-five feet, with two stories and a basement, 
at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars. The corner of this lot is 
now occupied by the Manufacturers Bank. In 1852 he com- 


Built in 1844, on the Court House Square 


circuit court was held in this house 


pleted a second brick block on the same site, and finished a hall 
on the third floor, at a total expense of about eight thousand 
dollars. Peake's hall was the first public hall in Rockford. This 
block was destroyed by fire in November, 1857, and the side 
and rear walls were left standing. The corner store was 
occupied at the time by C. A. Huntington and Robert Barnes, 
as a book-store, at a rental of four hundred and fifty dollars 
per year. Elisha A. Kirk and Anthony Haines purchased the 
property in the autumn of 1858, for four thousand dollars, and 
rebuilt the block the following year. In 1841 Mr. Peake built 
the small brick house directly west of Mrs. Anthony Haines' 
residence, on the same lot, where seven of his twelve children 
were born. In 1856 he built the substantial stone house which 
is now the residence of Mrs. Haines. Mr. Peake died November 
8, 1891, at the age of eighty -four years. He was the father of L. 
Peake, the harness-dealer on West State street. Mrs. Peake 
resides in East Rockford, and is eighty-three years of age. 

William Hulin was a native of Salem, Massachusetts. He 
settled in Rockton township in 1837 or '38. August 5, 1839, 
he was chosen a justice of the peace, and from that time he was 
continually in the public service. He resigned from the office of 
clerk of the county court a few days before his death, which 
occurred December 10, 1869. Mr. Hulin was about sixty-one 
years of age. In the early forties he removed to Rockford. 
His home in this city was the residence of Dr. C. H. Richings, 
on North Main street. In 1855 he married the widow of Merrill 
E. Mack. Mr. Hulin was a high-minded gentleman, in whom 
those who knew him best placed perfect confidence. Mr. Hulin 
preserved files of early Rockford papers, which are now in the 
public library. He edited a work on school law, with forms, 
which was of value to teachers. 

Daniel Barnum was a native of New York, born in 1778. 
In 1838 Mr. Barnum, with his wife and six children, came to 
Winnebago county, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres 
of land in Cherry Valley township. Mr. Barnum removed to 
Rockford and spent his last days in retirement. He died Nov- 
ember 8, 1870, at the age of ninety-two years. 

Harris Barnum, son of Daniel Barnum, was born in Dan- 
bury, Connecticut, September 8, 1819. He came with hisfather 
to Rockford in 1838. His early manhood was spent on his fath- 
er's farm. In 1866 he engaged in the shoe business in Rockford 
with the late Daniel Miller, but soon sold his interest. From 


1870 to 1874 he was associated with Duncan Ferguson, now 
of Denver, in the real estate and loan business. In 1874 Mr. 
Barnum was one of the organizers of the Forest City Insurance 
Company, of which he served as treasurer until incapacitated 
by illness. Mr. Barnura held the offices of alderman and super- 
visor. Mr. and Mrs. Barnum have had five children, three of 
whom are living: Mrs. Alta Williams, and Misses Blanche and 
Emily. Mr. Barnura was a man of excellent business ability and 
strict integrity . With these qualities he acquired a large estate. 
Mr. Barnum died February 26, 1899, in his eightieth year. 

Hon. Horace Miller was a native of Berkshire county, Mass- 
achusetts, and was born in 1798. He came to this county 
in 1839, and settled on a large tract of land near the mouth of 
the Kishwaukee river, which in an early day was known as tbe 
Terrace farm. At one time he owned twelve hundred and fifty 
acres. From 1850 to 1852 Mr. Miller represented this county 
in the state legislature. He resided on his farm until about 
1861, when he came to Rockford and lived a retired life until 
his death August 5, 1864. Mr. Miller was father of William H. 
Miller, a well known citizen. Mrs. Brown, widow of the late 
Judge Brown, is a daughter. 

Mr. and Mrs. John Benjamin came from Canada in 1839, 
and settled in Guilford township. Mr. Benjamin's step-daugh- 
ter, Mrs. Sarah A. Cook, who still resides in East Rockford, 
has the distinction of being the first matron of Rockford semi- 
nary. She served in this capacity from 1849 to 1852. The 
students were served with meals in a frame structure directly 
opposite the first seminary building, on the east side of North 
First street. 

Among the other pioneers of 1838 were: Alfred P. Mather, 
William Hamilton, Levi Monroe, and Richard Marsh. In 1839 
there came Courtland Mandeville, Frederick Charlie, Thaddeus 
Davis, Sr., Stephen Crilley, D. Bierer, Chester Hitchcock, John 
Bull, H. Hudson. Others who came previous to 1840 were: 
Sylvester Scott, James Gilbert, Artemas Hitchcock, John W. 
Dyer, Samuel C. Fuller, Newton Crawford, Jonathan Hitchcock, 
Dr. D. Goodrich, Hollis H. Holmes, Stephen Gilbert, and Bela 
Shaw. Judge Shaw died suddenly May 31, 1865. Five broth- 
ers, Thomas, William, John, Robert and Benjamin Garrett, 
with their parents, settled in Guilford township. Thomas died 
January 20, 1900. He was a Manxman, born on the Isle of 
Man, February 11, 1827. 



ONE of the greatest privations of the early settlers was the 
scarcity of provisions, which at that time were obtained 
from the older settlements in the southern portion of the state. 
The pioneers possessed limited means, and few were individually 
able to bear the expense of a journey of such distance. Several 
neighbors would unite their small sums, and send one of their 
number for supplies. The difficulties of travel were great ; there 
were rivers to cross, either forded or swam ; streams and sloughs 
to be waded ; muddy roads and ponderous wagons. Under 
these circumstances, the time of the messenger's return was 
uncertain. Later, when a trade in provisions had been estab- 
lished, the same obstacles kept them at almost fabulous prices, 
and the settlers were sometimes reduced to the verge of absolute 
destitution. Flour sold from sixteen to twenty dollars per 
barrel, and on one occasion Thomas Lake purchased three bar- 
rels at twenty-two dollars each. Pork was thirty dollars per 
barrel ; wheat sold from three to four dollars per bushel ; New 
Orleans sugar twenty-five cents per pound ; and other provis- 
ions in proportion. This condition rendered it impossible for 
the great majority of the settlers, with their scanty means, to 
scarcely procure the necessities for their support. For six weeks 
in the winter of 1837-38 there was a tobacco famine, which was 
a terrible privation to the slaves of the filthy weed. "Judge" 
E. S. Blackstone said the people in the early forties were too 
poor to cast a shadow. Mr. Thurston ventures the assertion 
that in 1841-42 there were not twenty farmers in the county 
who possessed a suit of clothes suitable to wear at church or at 
court, which they had purchased with the fruits of their labor 
on their farms. Some who had passed the prime of life became 
discouraged and returned to their homes in the east to die. 
Barter was practiced even in payment for performing the mar- 
riage ceremony. Abraham I. Enoch, a justice of the peace, once 
took a bushel of beans as his fee. Joel B. Potter, a clergyman, 
was compensated for two ceremonies in wheat, and one day's 
breaking. Ephraim Sumner swam Pecatonica river twice one 
cold night, to perform the rite, and received fifty cents. 


Had it not been for a beneficent Providence, who stocked 
the woods and prairies with game and the rivers with fish, many 
would have suffered for the necessities of the barest subsistence. 
As late as 1841 the scarcity of fruit was a great trial. There 
was little, and often none, not even canned fruit. There were 
dried apples, and the housewives made "mince-pies" of them. 
Sometimes, in case of sickness, the ways and means looked 
rather dark, and the mother and her whole family might be 
involved. In such cases none filled a more important place 
than Miss Betsy Weldon, whom a few will remember. Strong 
and well herself, she could fill the place of nurse, housekeeper, 
dressmaker, milliner, and general repairer of clothing. She was 
ever ready to respond to cases of need. 

The late Judge Church once told this story : "I have in my 
mind one who is now among the most prosperous farmers, who 
found himself without the means of procuring for his family a 
single meal, and he, with one of his neighbors similarly situated, 
determined to try their luck at fishing. They proceeded to Rock 
river, and met with success entirely beyond their expectations. 
When returning, each with as many fish as he could well carry, 
said one farmer : 'Well, we have got our fish, but what have 
we to fry them in?' 'Fry them in!' replied his hopeful and 
satisfied companion. 'Why, fry them in water!' And could 
you in those days have visited the log cabins scattered over 
these prairies, that are now groaning under the load of a boun- 
tiful harvest, and covered with all the evidences of comfort that 
wealth can purchase, you would have found many a man going 
to his hard day's toil from as scanty a breakfast as of suckers 
fried in water." 

It is well that Winuebago county was settled by such a class 
of sturdy pioneers ; men of will and purpose, who knew no such 
word as fail ; who pushed out in advance of civilization, with 
the determination of the old Norse baron, who engraved upon 
his shield, as heraldic device, a pickax, surmounted by the 
motto, "Where there's no hole for me to pass, I'll make one." 

It must be evident to the casual observer that only a small 
portion of the human family possess the qualifications for pio- 
neers. It is not the business of the pioneer to seek good society ; 
but to make it. Contrary to Mr. Carlyle's dictum, the society 
of that day was not founded upon cloth. The social status 
was based upon respectability. In the rural districts a family 
would sometimes drive twenty or twenty-five miles in a lumber 


wagon, to visit a "neighbor." In the village amusements were 
extemporized to dispel the lonesomeness of the long winter 
evenings. Among the most popular was the "mock court." 
The sessions of the court were held in Mr. Miller's store, where 
"pent-up Uticas" of spread-eagle eloquence were allowed full 
expression. Each member of the court had his sobriquet ; some 
of these were not suggested by the muses. Another popular 
summer amusement with a certain class was the "awkward 
squad," which performed frequent evolutions around Sam 
Little's saloon. They always produced a "smile." 

The noble band of women displayed the fortitude of true 
heroines. They shared the toils, endured the privations, coun- 
seled in difficulties, encouraged in despondency, and nursed in 
sickness. At the first reunion of the Society of Early Settlers, 
held at the Holland House, February 2, 1871, Charles I. Hors- 
man responded to the toast, "The Mothers and Daughters of 
the West, in which he paid them this tribute: 

"I don't know whyl have been selected to respond to this 
toast, only that the ladies and I have always been good friends, 
and I find them my best friends in prosperity and in adversity. 

" 'Man works from sun to sun, 
Woman's work is never done.' 

"Mr. President, the truth of this old adage was literally verified 
in the early settlement of this county. It was the women that 
carried the laboring oar, and it was to their untiring industry 
by day and night that we, the men, mainly owe the measure of 
success we have achieved. It was her words of encouragement, 
and smiles of approbation that cheered us on in the darkest 
hour of trial. They were not the effeminate angels that Willis 
writes of, 'with lips like rose-leaves torn,' but sterling women 
that met the stern realities of life, and were equal to the occa- 
sion; . . and, Mr. President, what would we poor fellows 
have done when burning up with fever, or chilled to death with 
the ague ! But for the kind offices of wife and mother and sister 
to smooth our pillow, bathe our fevered brows, and moisten 
our parched lips, many of use here tonight in robust health 
would be lying under the clods of the valley. All honor, say 
I, Mr. President, to the mothers and daughters of the west, 
those who, with their enterprising fathers and husbands, left 
their own pleasant hills and valleys to tread upon the receding 
footsteps of the red man." 



IN April, 1838, there were only four houses north of State 
street, in West Rockford : the ferry house on the site of the 
public library building; Abiram Morgan 'slog house, on orvery 
near the site of theHorsman residence; a log cabin on the bank 
of the river, about one hundred and thirty rods above State, 
occupied by Rev. John Morrill, and D. A. Spaulding, the 
government surveyor; aboard and plank house near the site 
of A. D. Forbes' residence, occupied by John and Calvin Has- 
kell, nephews of Dr. George Haskell. South of State street 
there were quite a number of cabins. Nathaniel Loomis and 
his son, Henry W. Loomis, lived in a log house near the south- 
east corner of State and Main streets ; and much of the valuable 
property in this block still belongs to the Loomis estate. On 
the west side of Main, D. D. Ailing had an unfinished house. 
Directly north was a two-story frame house, which remained 
unfinished for several years. On the same side, opposite the 
government building, still stands the residence of George VV. 
Brinckerhoff. On the corner north of the Chicago & Northwest- 
ern depot, Nathaniel Wilder hadahouseof one and ahalf story. 
On the east side of Main, opposite the new depot, Wyman & 
Houghton had a story-and-a-half building used as a bakery 
and boarding house. South of the C., B. & Q. depot, on the 
west side of Main, James Mitchell had a small house. On the 
same side of the street, near the bank of the creek, stood Mr. 
Kent's house and sawmill. There was a log hut eight or ten 
rods below the mill that had been used as a blacksmith's shop, 
and a store near the river. William E. Dunbar had lived in a log 
cabin about one hundred yards south of the creek, and twelve 
to fifteen rods east of Main street. Sanford &Platt's store was 
on the river bank, south of State. Benjamin Kilburn had a frame 
house on the site of the Hotel Nelson. There was a total of 
eighteen buildings in the village on the west side of the river, 
beside the cabin built by Mr. Blake in the grove to the west. 


The East side was somewhat larger. The Rockford House 
was for some time the only hotel between Belvidere and Free- 
port. On the southwest corner of State and Madison streets 
stood Bundy & Goodhue's store. Directly south was a build- 
ing erected by Mr. Haight. The first floor was the postoffice, 
and the second was occupied by Tinker & Johnson as a tailor 
shop. On the northwest corner of Madison and Walnut was a 
ball alley owned by Charles Oliver. On the southeast corner of 
State and Madison was Potter & Preston's store. They suc- 
ceeded Bundy & Goodhue on the opposite corner, where they 
remained until the death of Mr. Preston, when Mr. Potter con- 
tinued the business alone fora time. East of Potter & Preston's 
first store was the foundation of the Washington House. On 
the northeast corner of State and Main was Daniel S. Haight's 
unfinished frame house. On East State street Mr. Haight was 
putting up a one-story building for a postoffice, which a few 
years later was occupied by Worthington & Searles as the sec- 
ond drug store in the village ; this building is still standing- 
near the Keuosha depot. East of the postoffice site, on the 
alley, was Mr. Haight's first log house, occupied by John Miller 
as a boarding house. East of the alley, on State, was Samuel 
Little's saloon. On North First street was a story-and-a-half 
house occupied by Samuel Corey, a brother-in-law of Mr. Haight. 
North of Mr. Haight's frame house was a story-aud-a-half 
house owned by William Hamilton ; and at the northeast cor- 
ner of Madison and Market was William Peufield's blacksmith's 
shop. Between the * 'swell-front" and the brick house south on 
South Second street owned by Sapauel I. Church, stood a house 
with a story and a half, owned by Dr. David Goodrich. In the 
rear of this, on the alley, was a log structure occupied as a 
schoolhouse about 183738. On the site of the streetcar barns 
on Kishwaukee street, was Anson Barnum's double log house. 
At the southeast corner of Second and Walnut was John Phelps' 
house, afterward owned by William P. Dennis. On the west 
side of First street, opposite the fire station, was John C. Kem- 
ble's house; and on the river bank, north of Walnut, James 
Clark was building a store, in which he kept a general stock. 
The "stage barn" built for Mr. Haight in 1836 by Thomas 
Lake and Sidney Twogood, stood near the intersection of State 
and Third streets. John Vance'e log structure, built for a store, 
was on South First street, opposite the hay market. There was 
a log house about ten rods southeast of the "stage barn," 


occupied by a Mr. Kingsley, who came from Belvidere to work 
for Mr. Haight on the Kockford House. James Boswell's cabin 
was near the Peacock estate. Jacob Posson's cabin was in the 
vicinity of block twenty-one, Gregory & Penfield's Addition. 
These, with the East side ferry house, and a small log hut used 
for a stable, were all the buildings within half a mile of the inter- 
section of State and Madison streets, on the east side of the river, 
in April, 1838. Mr. llaight erected at least seven buildings on 
the East side, beside three bar us, and one-half of the Rockford 
House. In 1839-40 he build the large two-story brick house 
east of Longwood street, which is still standing. Mr. Haight 
claimed that one hundred thousand brick were used in its 

In the spring and summer of 1838 Harvey H. Silsby, Mowry 
Brown, William Hull and William Harvey built the house now 
standing north of Mrs. W. A. Dickerman's residence, for Dr. 
Haskell, who afterward sold itto John Edwards. In the autumn 
was erected by Dr. Haskell the brick building which was known 
later as the Winnebago House, on Andrew Ashton's corner. 
When laying out the ground for the cellar Mr. Silsby persuaded 
Dr. Haskell to set his building six feet from the line of the 
street. The Winnebago House was the first brick store built 
above Rock Island on Rock river. Into this store Dr. Haskell 
moved the stock of goods from the building on the river bank 
which had been occupied by Platt & Sanford ; and he and Isaiah 
Lyon continued the business. In 1843 Mr. Lyon closed out 
the stock, and converted the building into a hotel, under the 
name of the Winnebago House. Mr. Lyon's successors as pro- 
prietor were N. Crawford, C. C. Cobern, P. C. Watson, James B. 
Pierce, Isaac N. Cunningham, and D. Sholts. The building 
passed into Mr. Beaton's hands in 1854, and was afterward 
rearraged into stores. 

After finishing Dr. Haskell's brick block, Mr. Silsby and 
Mowry Brown built a house for G. A. Sanford near the center 
of the block, south of Porter's drug store, on Main street. This 
house is now standing near the Chestnut street bridge. Ben- 
jamin Kilburn built his house near the Trask bridge road that 
season. The rear of the Beattie house was built the same sum- 

In September, 1839, Mr. Silsby and Phineas Howes entered 
into a contract to build a trestle bridge over the Kishwaukee 


river at Newburg, once called Sayresville, after its founder, 
Colonel Sayres. Newburg was then in Winnebago county, on 
the mile-strip. The bridge was built of heavy timbers framed 
together, and floor timbers laid from one bent to another to 
support the floor. This bridge extended several hundred feet 
south of the river across a marsh to solid ground. Thirty-two 
years later Mr. Silsby crossed this bridge with a loaded wagon. 

Mr. Silsby rendered great service to the writer in locating 
these buildings of the early days. His trade, that of contractor 
and builder, doubtless fixed the dates of their erection in his 
mind. No other individual furnished a more valuable fund of 
information in the preparation of this work. He knew the 
village from the beginning, and he retained his excellent mem- 
ory unimpaired to the last. Mr. Silsby died suddenly April 
7, 1899, in Kansas, after having spent the winter with his 
daughter in Rockford. He was eighty-one years of age. Mr. 
Silsby was born in Acworth, Sullivan county, New Hampshire, 
November 1 , 1817. He went in 1837 to Upper Alton, where 
he remained until he came to Rockford the f olio wiug year. After 
working at his trade for some years, he embarked in mercantile 
business. Mr. Silsby was survived by three daughters, two of 
whom reside in Rockford. They are Mrs. Harriet Griswold 
and Mrs. Levi Sanders. George A. Silsby, of Mitchell, South 
Dakota, formerly in the shoe business in Rockford, is a son. 



THE oldest Baptist organization west of Chicago is the First 
Baptist church of Belvidere. On a Sunday in March, 1836, 
Rev. John S. King preached the first sermon in the Kishwaukee 
country, at the primitive home of Timothy Caswell. The First 
Baptist churcli was founded in July, 1836, and was the first 
religious organization in Belvidere. Its first pastor was Prof. 
Seth S. Whitman, who served ten years. Prof. Whitman was a 
native of Shaftsbury, Vermont. He was graduated from Mad- 
ison university ; and later, in 1827, he was one of the three who 
formed the first graduating class from Newton Theological insti- 
tution. Immediately after his graduation, he was called to the 
chair of Biblical interpretation at Hamilton Theological insti- 
tution. This chair he occupied seven years, until his health 
failed, when he came to Belvidere. Prof. Whitman also per- 
formed duty as a civil officer in that early day. In 1841 he 
was clerk of the circuit court under the appointment of Judge 
Dan. Stone, and postmaster of the village. Belvidere, in 1836, 
was included in this county; hence a reference to the church in 
that village has a place in this chapter. 

The First Baptist church of Rockford was organized Decem- 
ber 22, 1838, at the home of Dr. Haskell. It is thus the second 
Baptist church planted in northern Illinois, and the third relig- 
ious organization in Rockford. Prof. Whitman and Deacon 
Nathaniel Crosby from Belvidere were present. Prof. Whitman 
was chosen moderator, and Dr. Haskell, clerk. A declaration 
of twelve articles of faith and a church covenant were adopted. 
Sixteen residents of Rockford presented church letters, as fol- 
lows: James and Martha Jackson, from Indianoplis, Indiana; 
Abiram Morgan, from the First Baptist church, Springfield, 
Massachusetts; Pierce and Evelina Wood, from Conneaut, 
Ohio; John and Susan Emerson, Machias Point, Maine; Wil- 
liam B. Brainard, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Ransom and Lucy 
Knapp, George and Eunice P. Haskell, Mo wry and Lucy Brown, 
Isaiah Lyon, and Caleb Blood, from Upper Alton. 


In June, 1888, the church celebrated its semi-centennial. 
The Rock River Association had been invited to hold its regu- 
lar session in Rockford. It was proposed to celebrate this 
anniversary at the time the Association should meet, although 
the exact date of organization was later in the year. The 
Association accepted the invitation. At that time the pastor, 
Rev. W. A. Stan ton, Ph. D., prepared an excellent historical 
address, to which the writer is indebted for many of the facts 
given in this chapter. 

Just one-half of the constituent membership of the church 
came from Upper Alton. This enrollment included several men 
of sturdy character and progressive ideas. Dr. Haskell has 
already been introduced to the reader. Isaiah Lyon honored 
every position to which he was called. Mr. Lyon was born in 
Woodstock, Connecticut, in February, 1804. He was acousin of 
General Nathaniel Lyon, who was killed at the battle near Wil- 
son's creek, in 18G1. About 1825 Mr. Lyon went to St. Louis, 
thence to Upper Alton, and from there he came to Rockford. 
He was in mercantile business, proprietor of the Winnebago 
House, and for thirty-one consecutive years a justice of the 
peace. He resigned on account of declining health, after he was 
seventy years of age. Mr. Lyon's sterling qualities inspired 
confidence, and the poor always found in him an adviser and 
helper. He was prosperous in business, and acquired a consid- 
able estate. Mr. Lyon died January 22, 1883. His only child 
is Mrs. S. F. Weyburn, who is now residing in Scranton, Penn- 
sylvania. Abiram Morgan was one of the most prominent 
citizens of early Rockford, and maintained his membership with 
the church until his death, January 6, 1855. Ransom Knapp 
was a brother of Rev. Jacob Knapp, the revivalist. Caleb Blood 
had been a student at Shurtleff college, and became a Baptist 
clergyman. He was a grandson of Rev. Caleb Blood, whose 
ministry in New England from 1777 to 1814 was well known. 

January 12, 1839, three weeks after its organization, the 
church extended a call to Rev. A. Chapin, of Shurtleff college, at 
a salary of three hundred dollars a year. He declined the call, 
and until May, 1841, the church depended upon occasional 
supplies. Among these were Prof. Whitman, of Belvidere, and 
Rev. John Sears. Dr. Haskell was deacon and clerk, and withal 
a pillar of strength. He had built a brick block on the site of 
Hon. Andrew Ashton's store, with a hall on the second floor 
for public meetings; and here the church held its services until 


May, 1841. The missionary spirit was fostered. There is a 
record of a vote, March 9, 1839, to give twenty-five dollars to 
the Illinois Baptist convention. 

In December, 1839, the church was legally incorporated, 
and plans for a house of worship were considered. In the fol- 
lowing spring, lot six in block eleven was purchased. This is the 
northwest corner of Main and Peach streets, and is now owned 
by the W. A. Knowlton estate. The church had enjoyed no 
preaching for three months, and in April, 1840, it was decided 
to have regular services, with or without preaching. A system 
of benevolence, to begin June 1, was adopted. In July follow- 
ing a call was extended to S. C. Jameson, a student at Brown 
university ; but it was declined. 

September 23, 1840, the Rock River Baptist Association 
was organized at Belvidere. During 1839-40 churches had 
been organized at Round Prairie, Roscoe, Pecatonica, and 
Sugar River. The Rockford church appointed six delegates to 
attend the Association. Dr. Haskell was chosen moderator, 
and Prof. Whitman, clerk. The total membership of the six 
churches of the Association was two hundred and nineteen. The 
minutes of this first Association were published in full in eight 
small pages. A copy is preserved in the Rockf ord public library, 
and is probably the only one in existence. A complete file of 
the minutes of the Rock River Baptist Association for fifty-nine 
years has been preserved in this library. The early numbers 
were collected by Rev. E. C. Mitchell, D. D., while he was pastor 
of the State Street Baptist church. 

The erection of the new house of worship proceeded as rap- 
idly as possible. This sanctuary stood close to Main street, 
and faced the east. It was a balloon frame, about thirty by 
forty feet, clapboarded, with no cupola. There were three win- 
dows on either side, but none in front or rear. Three or four 
steps at the front led to a porch, the covering of which was an 
extension of the gable end of the roof. This projecting roof 
was supported by four square columns. The interior consisted 
of a single room. From the door there was one center aisle, 
and on either side a row of pews which extended to the side 
walls. At the right and left were seats, slightly raised, for the 
singers. At the west end was the pulpit, upon a platform 
securely boxed. 

The first sermon preached in this church was on May 9, 
1841. It was not then completed, and temporary seats were 


used. Prof. Whitman was the preacher, and from that time 
until November 12th of the same year, he regularly supplied 
the pulpit, at five dollars a Sunday. As a stated supply, Prof. 
Whitman may be considered in a restricted sense as the first 

The Rock River Baptist Association held its second annual 
session with the Rockford church September 18 and 19, 1841. 
The delegates at Bel videre the precedingyear had been instructed 
to invite the Association to meet in Rockford at this time, and 
the invitation had been accepted. The introductory sermon 
was preached by Rev. Luther W. Lawrence, of Bonus. The total 
membership of the churches in the Association had increased 
since the first session from t wo hundred and nineteen to two 
hundred and sixty. 

The first resident pastor was the Rev. Solomon Knapp. He 
came from Des Plaines, Illinois, November 12, 1841, served less 
than a year, and resigned September 19, 1842. His salary was 
at the rate of three hundred dollars a year. During his pastorate 
there were nine additions by baptism and eight by letter. From 
his departure until the autumn of 1843 the church was without 
a pastor. 

A call was then extended to Rev. Warren F. Parrish, of 
Massilon, Ohio. He was a convert from Mormonism to the 
Baptist faith ; and it is said the threats made by the Mormons 
greatly annoyed him and his wife. The church paid him a sal- 
ary of three hundred dollars and house-rent the first year ; the 
second year he received four hundred dollars. Of this amount, 
the Home Missionary Society paid one hundred dollars. This 
is the only year, in the entire history of the church, when it 
received any assistance from this source. The First Baptist 
society of Rockford was organized January 6, 1845. During 
the summer of that year there was a lack of harmony between 
the pastor and people, and September 1st Rev. Parrish tendered 
his resignation. He continued his residence in Rockford, and 
his membership with the church until June 15, 1860, when he 
was excluded. He had preferred charges against Dr. Clark, who 
was then pastor, for preaching heresy as to the Biblical teaching 
about usury. The church exonerated Dr. Clark, and rebuked 
Rev. Parrish. He continued to agitate the matter, however, 
until he was excluded. Upon his confession of error, he was 
restored January 4, 1862. In 1866 he removed to Kansas, 
where he became insane, and died. 


About a month after the resignation of Eev. Fairish, the 
church invited Rev. O. H. Read, of Portageville, New York, to 
supply six months, from October 13, 1845. The terms were : 
"one hundred dollars in money, a. cook stove, delf, and furniture 
with which tokeephouse; but he was to pay his own house rent." 
Rev. Read was unwilling to remain longer than the six months. 

Rev. Luther Stone came from Rock Island and served as 
pastor from June, 1846, to June, 1847, with a salary of four 
hundred dollars. In October, 1846, the church granted letters 
to eight members, to form a church at Harlem. Deacon R. T. 
Mabie was one of the number. After a struggle of two years 
the Harlem church disbanded, and Deacon Mabie reunited with 
the church November 18, 1848. 

From July 18, 1847, to October, 1848, the church was again 
favored with Prof. Whitman as a stated supply. His health 
failed, and he retired for three years from pastoral duties. He 
then took charge of a Baptist church at Madison, Wisconsin, 
where he died after eight months of service, January 2, 1852. 
The Baptists of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin owe 
a great debt to this cultured Christian gentleman. Dr. Frank 
S. Whitman, a prominent physician and politician of Belvidere, 
is a nephew. 

In the autumn of 1848, Elder Jacob Knapp removed from 
the east, and November 18th he united with the First church 
by letter. The church was then without a pastor, and arrange- 
ments were soon made with Elder Knapp for holding revival 
meetings. The little frame building was too small, and the 
church secured the use of the court house, where it continued to 
hold services until the new stone structure was completed. Elder 
Knapp continued his labors until June, 1849. At the annual 
session of the Rock River Association, held that month, the 
church reported sixty-two additions by baptism and seventeen 
by letter. These accessions increased the membership to one 
hundred and sixty. 

Elder Knapp was one of the most remarkable men of his 
time. He was born in Otsego county, New York, December 7, 
1799. He was graduated at Hamilton Theological seminary 
in June, 1825, and ordained in the following August at Spring- 
field, New York. After serving the church at Springfield for five 
years, and the church at Watertown for three years, he began 
his career as an evangelist. For fifteen years his home was at 
Hamilton, New York, and for twenty-five years at Rockford. 


Elder Knapp claimed to have preached about sixteen thou- 
sand sermons, baptized four thousand candidates, and was the 
means of making one hundred thousand converts by his revival 
ministry, of whom two hundred became ministers of the gospel. 
Elder Knapp's mind was characterized by strong logical tend- 
encies, and his sermons abounded in homely illustrations, apt 
quotations from the Bible, and a good knowledge of human 
nature. The sight of a Unitarian or Universalist had much the 
same influence upon him that red flannel has upon a certain 
domestic animal. In commenting upon the cold intellectuality 
which was supposed to distinguish the Unitarians, Elder Knapp 
said that when they went to hell, they would so change the 
atmosphere of the place that all the little devils could skate on 
the ice. In stature, Elder Kuapp was short, squarely and 
stoutly built, his voice was deeply sepulchral, and his manner 
self-possessed. He was fertile in expedients and possessed an 
indomitable will. He was quick at repartee, in which he was a 
consummate master. An instance is recalled when he was inter- 
rupted in a sermon by a smart young man in the gallery who 
inquired as to who was the father of the devil. Quick as a flash 
came the retort from the evangelist: "Young man, keep your 
own family record." On one occasion Elder Knapp met two 
clergymen on the street, when one said to the other, so that the 
Elder could hear: "Have you heard the news they say the 
devil is dead." Elder Knapp reached out both arms, placed 
one hand upon each minister in fatherly compassion, and 
exclaimed: "Poor, fatherless children !" He sometimes drew 
comparisons which were not complimentary to his own denom- 
ination. He charged certain members with inconsistency in 
their doctrine of never falling from grace and their practice of 
continually so doing; whereas the Methodists believed infalling 
from grace, and lived up to it. 

Tothisday the widest differences of opinion prevail astothe 
sincerity and true Christian character of Elder Knapp. Many 
of his fellow citizens believed his daily life was quite inconsistent 
with the higher ideals which he taught from the pulpit ; while 
others considered him the very incarnation of godly zeal ; as a 
veritable John the Baptist, warning the people in terms of 
awful grandeur to flee from the wrath to come. President 
Knott, of Union college, testified : "Elder Knapp is unequaled 
among uninspired men." Dr. Thomas Armitage, in his History 
of the Baptists, says: "The writer heard him preach many 


times, and judged him, as he is apt to judge men, more by his 
prayers than his sermons, for he was a man of much prayer. 
His appearance in the pulpit was very striking, his face pale, 
his skin dark, his mouth wide, with a singular cast in one eye 
bordering on a squint ; he was full of native wit, almost gest- 
ureless, and vehement in denunciation, yet so cool in his 
deliberation that with the greatest ease he gave every trying 
circumstance its appropriate but unexpected turn." Elder 
Knapp died March 3, 1874, on his farm north of Rockford,and 
was buried in the West side cemetery, with his feet toward the 
west, in accordance with his strange request. MissKittie Sher- 
wood, his granddaughter, has been laboring for many years as 
a home missionary among the colored people in the south. 
Elder Knapp's Autobiography was published in 1868. 

The immediate successor of Elder Knapp was Rev. Ichabod 
Clark, D. D. He came from Galena, Illinois, in July, 1849, and 
labored continuously for five years. Mrs. Clark died September 
16, 1854. Dr. Clark desired a change of scene and labor, and 
November 5th of that year he left Rockford to engage for a 
time as superintendent of missions for the Illinois Baptist Gen- 
eral Association. During his absence the pulpit was regularly 
supplied by Rev. Justin A. Smith, D. D., the veteran editor of the 
Standard, the Baptist publication in Chicago. In August, 1855, 
Dr. Clark resumed the active pastorate, which he retained until 
July, 1860. This was the longest pastorate in the history of 
the church. Four hundred and fifty-two members were added 
to the enrollment, of whom two hundred and eleven were by 

The stone edifice now occupied by the church was completed 
in 1850, and was then the finest church building in the village. 
The dedicatory sermon was preached June 20th, by Rev. JirahD. 
Cole, before the Rock River Baptist Association, which was then 
in session with the church. The building cost six thousand dol- 
lars ; the total cost of the lots, building and furniture was seven 
thousand five hundred and eleven dollars and seventeen cents. 
Among the prominent pew-holders were William Hulin, Charles 
I. Horsman, J. B. Howell, H. W. Loomis, Daniel Dow, Isaac 
Andrus and John Beattie. Not all the pew-holders were mem- 
bers of the church, and a few were not even included in the 
congregation. This church is the oldest house of worship in 
the city. Its solid walls have resisted the tooth of time and the 
fury of the elements for a full half century. When the old frame 


church was vacated, it entered upon a career of itineracy. It 
was sold to the Unitarians, who removed it to their lot. Still 
later it was used by another church, and for secular business 
before it was torn down. 

Revival services were frequently held from 1850 until Rev. 
Clark's resignation. In 1858 there were one hundred and two 
baptisms. June 6th of that year fifty -eight received the right 
hand of fellowship. This year the church reached its high-water 
mark. After fifteen years of long and faithful service, Dr. and 
Mrs. Haskell adopted Spiritualism, and severed their connec- 
tion with the church in 1853 and '54, respectively. 

July 31, 1858, letters were granted to thirty-four members 
who wished to organize another church in East Rockford. The 
New Hampshire confession of faith was adopted by the First 
church January 2, 1859. When Dr. Clark closed his pastorate 
in 1860, the church had a membership of two hundred and 
seventy-seven. When he came to Rockford there were one 
hundred and sixty Baptists in the town ; when he went away 
there were three hundred and fifty-seven. Dr. Clark died at 
Lockport, Illinois, in 1869, and was buried in the West side 

Several members of the church were licensed to preach. 
Among these was Rev. Samuel Haskell, a nephew of Dr. Haskell, 
to whom reference was made in Chapter XXIII. Mr. Haskell 
went from Rockford to Suffield, Connecticut, where he prepared 
for college. In 1845 he was graduated from Brown university, 
and in 1847, from Hamilton Theological institution. From 
1847 to 1852 he was pastor of the First church in Detroit, 
Michigan; from 1852 to 1871 in Kalamazoo, and from 1871 
to 1888 in Ann Arbor. In 1866 he was president of the Michi- 
gan State Convention. He is now retired from the pastorate, 
and lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Other licentiates were T. 
Adna Orcott, J. P. Curry, T. L. Breckenridge, J. A. Dobson, 
Volney Powell, and George Bornschlegel. 

Early clerks of the church were: George Haskell, M. D., 
December 2, 1838, to November, 1844; Duncan Ferguson, 
November 2, 1844, to June, 1846; Voluey Powell, June, 1846, 
to June, 1847; Duncan Ferguson, June, 1847, to March, 1848; 
Volney Powell, March, 1848, to October, 1853; Giles Mabie, 
December, 1853, to April, 1855; Henry Sears, October, 1855, 
to July, 1857; O. A. Goodhue, July, 1857, to September, 1858; 
S. P. 'Crawford, September, 1858, to October, 1862; W. G. 


Ferguson, October, 1862, to July, 1865; Ahaz Paxson, July, 
1865, to November, 1866. 

Dr. Clark was succeeded by Dr. Thomas Kerr, who received 
a call immediately after the resignation of his predecessor. Dr. 
Kerr was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, May 24, 1824. He received 
a liberal education at Gordon's college and the University of 
Aberdeen. The latter is one of the oldest of two or three universi- 
ties in Scotland. Dr. Kerr has a brother who for forty years was 
professorof architecture at King's college in London, and isnow 
professor emeritus. Dr. Kerr came to America in 1844. He 
arrived in New York September 1st. While in that city he 
attended a winter's course of scientific lectures in Columbia col- 
lege. In 1850 Dr. Kerr received his degree in medicine at the 
Iowa state university, then located at Davenport, but now at 
DesMoines. The same year the Doctor began the practice of 
medicine at Elgin, Illinois, where he remained seven years. Dur- 
ing the latter part of this period Dr. Kerr felt constrained to 
enter the ministry ; and in June, 1857, he was ordained as a 
Baptist clergyman at Elgin, by the Fox River Association. 
Among those who officiated at his ordination was Rev. Charles 
Hill Roe, of Belvidere, an honored name in local Baptist history. 
Dr. Kerr became pastor of the Baptist church at Dundee, in 
Kane county, in the latter part of 1857. During this pastorate 
he continued to practice medicine at Elgin, as he found he could 
not absolutely retire at once from his former profession. In the 
autumn of 1859 Dr. Kerr was called to Waukegan ; and June 
1, 1860, he began his pastorate in Rockford. 

To Dr. Kerr belongs the honor of preaching the first war 
sermon in Rockford after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. 
Sunday morning the news came that President Lincoln had 
issued a call for seventy -five thousand men. It was one of those 
critical moments in the nation's life. Under its solemn inspi- 
ration, Dr. Kerr preached an impressive patriotic discourse in 
the afternoon in the First church, and for the first time in local 
history the American flag was displayed from the pulpit. Dr. 
Kerr preached the first funeral discourse over a dead soldier, 
a brother of Lucius Day, whose remains had been returned to 
Rockford for burial. These memorial services were held in the 
street in front of the old court house. 

After one year's service, Dr. Kerr was given a vacation of 
three months, during which time he visited Palestine. In 1864 
Dr. Kerr was a member of the Christian Commission for three 


weeks, under the appointment of its chairman, George H.Stuart. 
His commission was signed as secretary by B. F. Jacobs, the 
famous Sunday-school worker. Upon his ret urn Dr. Kerrraised 
several hundred dollars, by popular lectures on his observations 
at the front, for the benefit of the Christian Commission fund. 
Dr. Kerr's official reports were highly complimented by Chair- 
man Stuart. These appointments of clergymen were always for 
a short time, in order that a large number might be invited to 
serve, and because such appointees were usually in charge of 
their own local fields. 

Dr. Kerr's first Rockf ord pastorate closed November 1, 1866, 
when he was called to Hannibal, Missouri. After a brief pastorate 
by Rev. James Lick, D. D., Dr. Kerr was again called to his 
old charge in Rockford, and he began his second pastorate 
July 11, 1869. His discourses were not considered evangelical, 
and he was charged with not preaching Baptist doctrines. Dr. 
Kerr tendered his resignation August 28, 1870. In October 
the church called a council. This council met on the 14th, 
deposed Dr. Kerr from the Baptist ministry, and advised the 
church to exclude him from membership. Upon this advice, 
Dr. Kerr and forty-eight members were excluded, who, though 
owning the larger part of its property, left the church undisturbed 
in its title to, and possession of it. With his friends, Dr. Kerr 
organized the Church of the Christian Union, upon abasis of lib- 
eral religious thought. It is now the oldest independent church 
of its kind in the country; and preceded by five years a similar 
movement led by the late Prof. David Swing, in Chicago. Dr. 
Kerr, with a slight intermission, has preached in Rockford 
nearly forty years. American church history records compar- 
tively few parallels of such long service in one community. The 
career of Dr. Kerr after his radical departure and of his church 
belongs to a later period of local history. 

Dr. Kerr is a commanding figure and a strong personality. 
His presentations of religious thought, though not expressed 
in evangelical terms, are inspirational, restful and spiritual ; 
and enkindle a spirit of reverence in responsive hearts. The 
question as to whether essential Christianity can be permanently 
maintained in the hearts of men, apart from the historic and 
personal Christ, is the fundamental point at issue between evan- 
gelical and liberal Christianity; and upon this question the 
latter is on trial for its life. 



F^ARLY in 1839 the little village aspired to the dignity of an 
L incorporated town. The general law of 1831 provided that 
"whenever the white males over the age of twenty-one years, 
being residents of any town in this state, containing not less 
than one hundred aud fifty inhabitants, shall wish to become 
incorporated for the better regulation of their internal police," 
it should be lawful for them to do so. The ambition of the 
village was sustained by the required population. 

A meeting of the citizens of Rockford was held, pursuant to 
public notice, at the Rockford House, April 1, 1839. David 
Goodrich was called to the chair, and James Mitchell was chosen 
clerk. It was resolved that the two villages of Rockford, east 
and west sides of Rock river, be incorporated into one town. 
Committees were appointed to ascertain the number of inhabi- 
tants within the prescribed boundaries of Rockford ; to draft an 
act of incorporation for the town; and to confer with Mr. 
Brinckerhoff concerning free ferriage for the citizens of the 

An adjourned meeting was held April 3d, but no business 
was transacted. A second adjourned meeting was held on the 
following evening. The committee on census reported that 
the number of inhabitants was two hundred and thirty-five. 
The committee appointed to confer with Mr. Brinckerhoff made 
a report to the effect that he would furnish free ferriage to the 
citizens of the county on condition that the trustees of the town 
would remunerate him, at the close of each year, with such sum 
as a committee of three should determine, after ascertaining 
the receipts and expenses of the ferriage. One member of the 
committee was to be chosen by the trustees, another by Mr. 
Brinckerhoff, and these two were to appoint a third. At this 
meeting, by a two-thirds vote, as required by law, the town 
was incorporated. An election for five trustees was held April 
10th. There were chosen Dr. Goodhue, Daniel S. Haight, Sam- 
uel Little, Ephraim Wyman and Isaiah Lyon. 


The statute provided that the boundaries of a town incor- 
porated under its provisions should not exceed one mile square. 
The trustees restricted the limits as thus prescribed by the law. 
They organized by the election of Daniel S. Haight, president ; 
Anson Barnum, clerk; John C. Kemble, attorney. Isaiah Ly on 
was elected collector and treasurer; Henry Thurston, assessor 
for the first district ; John Haskell, for the second ; Nathaniel 
Wilder for the third ; S. D. Preston, for the fourth. 

Rockford continued its simple municipal life under this sys- 
tem until January, 1852. These years were quite uneventful, 
so far as municipal affairs were concerned. The complete rec- 
ords of the proceedings of the board of trustees for those twelve 
years are contained in a single small volume. This book is well 
preserved, in the office of the city clerk. Routine business occu- 
pied the almost exclusive attention of the board; and frequently 
less than a page is required to record its proceedings. 

The lands in Winnebago county did not come into market 
until the autumn of 1839. The lands in Rockford and Rockton 
townships were not offered for sale until 1843, by reason of the 
famous "Polish claims," which will be considered in detail in a 
subsequent chapter. The land office for this district in 1839 
was at Galena. The opening of the lands to sale and entry in 
that year was an interesting event to the settlers of Winuebago 
county. Some of them had their farms well under cultivation, 
and had raised a sufficient surplus, so that they were able to 
secure their farms when the sale began . The uniform govern- 
ment price for land was ten shillings an acre. Speculators were 
always around the land office on days of sale, waiting for the 
first chance to make a claim. A common interest bound the 
settlers together, and they usually maintained their rights in 
equity against the sharp practices of the land sharks. 

Many of the settlers, however, did not possess ready money. 
Stock and grain had become plenty by this time, but they 
could not be sold for cash. Money at one time commanded 
thirty per cent. Some of the farmers had their claims bid in on 
shares. Lands were also bid in by men who had money, on 
condition that their advances should double in three years 
thirty-three and one-third per cent, interest ; the money-loaner 
furnished the money, and gave a bond to the claimant to 
redeem at the expiration of three years, if the money should 
be paid on or before that day. The money-loaner supposed his 


title was good, as it was entered in his own name, and paid for 
in full with his money. It was decided otherwise, however, by 
the supreme court, which treated it as a mortgage. There was 
much litigation on this point. 

The Aberdeen Bank of Scotland purchased large tracts of land 
in 1839, in McHenry, Winnebago and Boone counties. There 
were purchased four thousand six hundred and forty acres in 
Boone county alone. Mr. Taylor, the agent of the bank, a short 
time after he made the entry, went down the Mississippi river on 
the steamboat "War Eagle," and when near St. Louis, he was 
drowned by falling from the boat. It has been said he leaped 
into the river; but there is no known reason to justify a suspic- 
ion of suicide. 

Reference was made in a preceding chapter to the organiza- 
tion of a temperance society, July 4, 1837. H. B. Potter was 
chosen president, and M. W. Allen, secretary. The first annual 
meeting was held July 4, 1838, at Winnebago. Rev. Hiram 
Foote delivered an address. E. H. Potter was chosen president, 
and Horace Foote, secretary. The second annual meeting was 
held in West Rockford, July 4, 1839. Prayer was offered by 
Rev. John Morrill, and an address was given by Rev. Cyrus L. 
Watson. The pledge was circulated and sixty-one names were 
secured, which made the total membership one hundred and 
sixty-eight. Among the members during the first three years 
were H. B. Potter, Germanicus Kent, Samuel Haskell, Israel 
Morrill, I. P. Bartlett, Samuel Gregory, I. M. Johnson, George 
Haskell, John Emerson, James M. Wight, Dr. J. C. Goodhue. 

February 22, 1840, it was resolved : "That this society has 
learned with concern, and deep regret, that several distilleries 
are about being erected in this and the neighboring counties, by 
means of which we are led to fear and believe a large proportion 
of our surplus produce is to be rendered worse than useless; 
that the kindest gifts of Providence will by this means be trans- 
formed into the worst of evils." 

The records of this first temperance society are preserved 
in good condition, in possession of Mrs. Harriott Wight Sher- 
ratt. The last entry was made in April, 1842, by James M. 
Wight, secretary. 



rOUR sites have been used in West Rockford for the purpose 
of a cemetery. The first burial in the village of Rockford 
was that of Henry Harmon, who was drowned at the ferry in 
Rock river April 7, 1837, on block thirty-five of J. W. Leavitt's 
plat of the original town of West Rockford. The Commercial 
Hotel, South Church street, is on the southeast corner of this 
block. The second interment was of the body of Sarah Kent, a 
daughter of Germanicus Kent, upon the same block, in 1837. 
These were followed by the burials of Addison Phillips, who 
accidentally shot himself in March, 1839, and John Haskell, a 
brother of Dr. George Haskell, also in that year. Mrs. James 
Mitchell and some others were buried upon block thirty-five, 
which was the only place of interment on the west side of the 
river until about 1840. The proprietors of that portion of the 
town west of the section line dividing sections twenty-two and 
twenty-three, then gave to the citizens of West Rockford a plat 
of ground for cemetery purposes corresponding to block fifty- 
three in Morgan and Horsman's Addition to the city of Rock- 
ford, on the south side of State street. This block now includes 
the estate of Dr. C. H. Richings. Mrs. Montague, wife of Rich- 
ard Montague, was the first person buried in this ground. She 
died February 17, 1842. From that time this plat of ground 
continued to be the place of burial until 1844. The original 
proprietors of the town, by an agreement with the citizens, 
exchanged this place of burial for a site corresponding to what 
would have been blocks thirty-seven and forty-eight of the 
original plat, on the north bank of Kent's creek. This tract 
corresponds with the switch-yards, roundhouse and stock- 
yards of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad . The bodies 
were removed from the cemetery near State street and reburied 
in the new grounds. In the year 1844 the citizens, after several 
meetings, organized an association, and in February, 1845, 
they obtained a charter incorporating the Rockford Cemetery 
Association. Under this charter they elected their trustees and 


other officers, and kept up the organization in accordance with 
all the provisions of the act. The first trustees named in this 
charter were John W. Taylor, Ephraim Wyman, Cyrus F. 
Miller, Richard Montague and Benjamin Kilburn. 

From 1844 to 1852 this site remained the place of burial 
for the Rockford Cemetery Association. During this time the 
number of graves had increased to about one hundred and 
seventy-five. The bodies 'that had been buried on block thirty- 
five remained there until 1852. 

The extension of the Galena & Chicago Union railroad to 
West Rockford again made it necessary for the Association to 
remove its cemetery, as the grounds had been selected by the 
railroad company as the site for its depot. A portion of this 
tract was condemned by the company for this purpose. The 
Association thereupon made arrangements with the railroad 
company for the sale of the entire property, except seventy feet 
fronting on Cedar street. The company paid the Association 
one thousand and nine hundred dollars. The frontage of seventy 
feet on Cedar street was subdivided into twelve lots, and sold to 
different persons for three thousand eight hundred and twelve 
dollars and twelve cents. 

In April, 1852, the trustees took measures to procure a 
new charter for their more extended needs. In the following 
May the Association purchased of Charles Reed, George Haskell 
and Nathaniel Wilder, the present cemetery grounds. This tract 
contained thirty-three acres, for which the Association paid 
twelve hundred dollars. On the 29th of May, 1852, the Asso- 
ciation made a contract with David D. Ailing to remove all the 
bodies in the original place of burial on block thirty-five, and 
those in the later cemetery. 

At the special session of the legislature in June, 1852, the 
Association obtained a new act of incorporation. The sum 
realized from the sale of its former property left a good margin 
after the later purchase. Quite extensive improvements were 
made with a portion of this reserve. This cemetery is a beau- 
ful spot in summer, well kept, and contains many splendid 
monuments. One of the most noticeable is the plain granite 
shaft over the grave of Hon. Ephraim Sumner. The granite 
was quarried at Barre, Vermont. The height of the base and 
shaft is forty feet, and the weight is twenty tons. This monu- 
ment was put up in 1894. 

At an early date Daniel S. Haight appropriated an acre of 


ground for a cemetery on the East side. It was situated on 
the east side of Longwood street, about ten rods north of 
State. The ground was open prairie. There was no shade from 
the summer sun, and the wintry winds intensified its desolation. 

An act approved February 18, 1847, provided for the incor- 
poration of the Cedar Bluff Cemetery Association. E. H. Potter, 
Willard Wheeler, Bela Shaw, Selden M. Church, Hollis H. Holmes 
and Lucius Clark and their successors were made a body politic 
and corporate for this purpose. The Association was not fully 
organized , however, until November 28, 1851. Twelve acres 
in section twenty-three were purchased from Bela Shaw, for four 
hundred dollars, subject to the dower of Rebecca Shaw. The 
tract was surveyed by Duncan Ferguson, April 3, 1853. It 
remained the only burying-ground on the East side until the 
organization of the Scandinavian Cemetery Association. 

Love that survives the tomb has been called the purest 
attribute of the soul. This love finds an expression in the mon- 
uments erected over the graves of the dead. Moreover, the 
cemeteries of a people are in a measure an index of their relig- 
ious hope. The funerals of today have less of the gruesomeness 
that characterized such occasions thirty years ago. Likewise, 
our cemeteries have been made more beautiful by the cultiva- 
tion of the artistic sense, and by a deeper realization of the 
truth that death is but the doorway to a ''freer air and a 
broader view," and an infinite expansion of sanctified power. 
The cemeteries of Rockford are worthy of the character of its 



THE attempt in 1836 to locate the county seat had proven 
a failure. The county business had been transacted in the 
meantime in various places in the village. The proprietors of 
Winnebago did not consider the refusal of their deed of cession 
to the county, noted in Chapter XII., as a finality. On that very 
day began the famous controversy over the location of the 
county seat, which was continued for seven years with great 
spirit, and not a little bitterness on all sides. The proprietors 
of Winnebago had expended considerable money in their town 
plat, and they were anxious to have the county buildings com- 
menced at once, and thus settle the question. A favorable 
decision would insure increased value and ready sales of their 
town lots. On the other hand, the county commissioners 
opposed the site of Winnebago, and placed every obstacle in 
the way of such location. Various propositions were made by 
the proprietors during this and the succeeding year to induce 
the commissioners to take some action that would secure them 
in the location that had been previously made. All these over- 
tures were either refused or evaded. The persistent refusal of 
the county commissioners led to state legislation. 

By an act of the general assembly, approved March 2, 1839, 
the question was submitted to a popular vote. It was made 
the duty of the clerk of the county commissioners' court to give 
notice of an election to be held on the first Monday in May, 
1839. The law provided that if it should appear that within 
one hundred of a majority of all the votes cast were in favor of 
the town of Winnebago, that town should remain the perma- 
nent county seat. But if any other place, after the first election, 
should receive a majority of all the votes given, such place 
should be the seat of justice. If more than two places received 
votes, and no one place received a majority, there should be an 
election held on the first Monday of each succeeding month, 
dropping off at each election, the place receiving the smallest 
number of votes, until some one place should receivea majority 
of all the votes polled. 


These provisions gave Winnebago a decided advantage; 
but even then the town was unable to win the prize. At the 
election six aspirants received votes, as follows : Rockford, three 
hundred and twenty ; Winnebago, seventy-five ; Roscoe, two ; 
Willow Creek, five ; Pecatonica, one ; Scipio, one. Total vote 
cast, four hundred and four, of which Rockford had a majority 
over all of two hundred and thirty-six. In commenting on this 
election, the late Judge Church said : "Whether there was any 
Osawattomie [evidently another form of the word Pottawat- 
omie] voting at that election, I am unable to say, but one thing 
is certain : there were two hundred more votes polled than at 
the general election in August following." 

The prospective village of Winnebago reached the highest 
point of all its greatness on the day when its ambitious claims 
were rejected by the county commissioners' court. Like Cardi- 
nal Wolsey, it fell like a bright exhalation in the evening. 
From that time it began to decline. In April, 1844, many of 
the lots were sold by the sheriff to satisfy delinquent taxes ; and 
in 1847 the plat was vacated by a special act of the legislature. 

Some years later Mrs. Campbell, widow of Major Campbell, 
by her attorney, appeared in Rockford, and made a claim for 
dower interest, on the ground that when her husband took 
the benefit of the bankrupt law, he assigned his interest in the 
Winnebago village property without her consent. Some were 
intimidated into paying these claims; and others successfully 
contested them. 

Charles Reed was an excellent judge of land, and traveled 
from Fox river to Apple river, selecting and making claims. 
Mr. Reed was a native of Virginia. He served in the war of 
1812, and was taken prisoner at Detroit, when Hull surren- 
dered. He again enlisted, and was in the battle of the Thames, 
when Tecumseh was killed. Mr. Reed first settled in Illinois at 
Joliet. He was one of the commissioners to locate the county 
seat of Ogle county in 1836. Mr. Reed was influential in secur- 
ing the passage of the act for the organization of Winnebago 
county. From Winnebago village he removed to Rockton, 
where he died August 26, 1863, at the age of seventy-nine years. 
Mr. Reed was highly esteemed as a citizen, neighbor and friend. 

In pursuance of the popular vote in favor of Rockford, the 
county commissioners, on June 8, 1839, selected the public 
square on the east side of the river as the site for the court 
house. Anson Barnum and Daniel S. Haight were authorized 


to accept stone and other building material. A large quantity 
of brick and lumber was contributed by the citizens. This 
material remained on the public square fora longtime, because 
the county had no money to continue the work. At a special 
session held June 17, the court selected the southeast corner of 
block nine as a site for a jail. This is the site now occupied by 
the Rockford Gas Light and Coke Company. No jail, however, 
was built upon that location. 

At the session of September 28, 1841, a proposition was 
submitted to the commissioners' court, to furnish a suitable 
jail and quarters for the county offices in West Rockford until 
permanent buildings could be constructed. This proposal 
was signed by Messrs. George Haskell, Charles I. Horsman, 
Abiram Morgan, John W. Taylor, David D. Ailing, Nathaniel 
Loomis, Ephraim Wyman, Horatio Nelson, Derastus Harper 
and Isaiah Lyon. Upon executing a bond in the penal sum 
of one thousand dollars, this proposition was accepted. Decem- 
ber llth these gentlemen reported to the commissioners' court 
that the building for the county offices was ready for use, and 
the same was accepted by the court. This was a frame struct- 
ure on the southwest corner of Main and Chestnut streets, 
opposite the Hotel Nelson. This building was occupied by the 
court until a court house was built, and only recently torn down 
to make room for a brick block. The donors, at this December 
session, were given an extension of five months to complete the 
jail. This was a log structure, about twelve feet square, with 
plank door, and window barred with irons set into the logs 
above and below. It stood east of the present court house, in 
the same block. Whenever a desperate character was confined 
therein it was necessary to station a guard. Previous to the 
erection of this primitive prison, the nearest jail was at Galena. 
When I. N. Cunningham was sheriff, he owned a substantially 
built house a short distance from town, and his brother William 
once prevented a prisoner from escaping at night by fastening 
one end of a chain to his ankle and the other to the ankle of 
the prisoner, and both were secured to the strong puncheon 
floor. Sixty years ago William Cunningham was a dangerous 
man to resist. The old log jail did duty after a fashion until 
the brick jail was completed. 

About this time a controversy arose concerning the precise 
meaning of the statute under which the election of May, 1839, 
had been held. That portion of the third section of the law 


enclosed in parenthesis was ambiguous. The point at issue 
was whether the law actually authorized an election to select a 
seat of justice, or merely to decide the general question of remo- 
val. This question was before the commissioners' court at its 
September session in 1841. Each commissioner held a different 
opinion. William Hulin held that the county seat had been 
removed from Winnebago, but had never been relocated. Ezra 
S. Cable maintained that all the provisions of the law had not 
been complied with, and therefore the county seat remained as 
originally located. William E. Dunbar believed the county seat 
had been actually removed to Rockford. This deadlock must 
be broken before progress was possible. May 10, 1842, the 
commissioners' court requested the bar of the city to submit 
opinions in writing concerning the legal effect of the popular 
vote. Opinions were prepared by Anson S. Miller, Francis Bur- 
nap, Thomas D. Robertson, JamesM. Wight and Jason Marsh. 
Mr. Miller's opinion was quite elaborate. The attorneys were 
unanimous in the opinion that the county seat had been changed 
from Winnebago to Rockford, in accordance with the evident 
intent of the law. At the session of July, 1842, the commis- 
sioners' court authorized the judges of election in the several 
precincts to take the sense of the voters at the August election 
on the question whether the county buildings should be perma- 
nently located in East or West Rockford. Several precincts did 
not vote on the question ; but the general result was favorable 
to the West side, inasmuch as the temporary location of the 
county offices on that side had already given it a degree of 
prestige. This vote had no legal effect, however, because the 
law had given the commissioners' court full power in the prem- 
ises. But it did have a certain persuasive influence. 

In April, 1843, Daniel S. Haight, E. H. Potter, Hollis H. 
Holmes, Laomi Peake, Daniel Howell and John A. Brown, of 
the East side, submitted a proposition to the county commis- 
sioners to build a court house and jail, to cost four thousand 
dollars. This proposal was considered, but complications pre- 
vented its acceptance. A few days later, April 22d. citizens of 
West Rockford made a similar proposition. On condition that 
the commissioners select the site on the West side, the citizens 
agreed to erect such buildings as the county commissioners 
should direct, and according to such plan and finish as the com- 
missioners should furnish for a court house, county offices and 
jail, the said buildings to be commenced before the first day of 


June next, and the jail to be finished before the first day of 
January, 1844. The remainder of the said buildings were to 
be finished by the first day of November, 1844. The donors were 
to perfect and convey to the county a good title to the land on 
which the said buildings should stand, to the amount of two 
and a half acres. This proposition was signed by Messrs. 
George Haskell, Charles I. Horsman, H. W. Loomis, M. Burner, 
Charles Hall, Thomas D. Robertson, George W. Dewey, David 
D. Ailing, H. R. Maynard, Alden Thomas, S. Skinner, George 
Barrows, John Fisher, Derastus Harper, Daniel Dow. 

Nothing had been done on the East side toward erecting 
county buildings with the material which had been contributed ; 
and the proposition from the West side citizens was accepted, 
with five conditions. These were : first, that security be given to 
the acceptance of the commissioners or any two of them, in term 
time or vacation within twenty days; second, that the security 
be a bond for twenty thousand dollars, and the buildings be 
worth not less than six thousand dollars ; third, that said bond 
be placed in the hands of the clerk of the court within three 
days from its acceptance ; fourth, that the subscribers to the 
proposition, or a majority of them, enter into a contract in 
writing within twenty days to erect the buildings as offered in 
their proposition; fifth, that the contract be placed inthehands 
of the clerk of the court within three days from its approval. 
The commissioners ordered that block twenty-five in West Rock- 
ford be the site of the buildings. 

Thus closed a contest which had continued for seven years. 
An opinion prevails to this day that the cession of the mile-strip 
to Boone county insured the location of the county buildings 
on the west side of the river ; and that the voters on the strip, 
if they had remained in this county, would have held the balance 
of power, which would have been exercised in theelection of two 
commissioners from the east side of the river. The official rec- 
ords are clearly against this tradition. The county seat was 
permanently located in April, 1843 ; whereas, the election on 
the mile-strip did not occur until the following month. The 
result was due to a single citizen. William Hulin was elected a 
county commissioner in 1841, while a resident of Rockton, on 
the east side of the river. During his term of office he removed 
to West Rockford. Mr. Hulin's friends claim that his sympa- 
thies were always with the West side; while others maintain 
that this change of residence was quite naturally followed by a 


change of sectional preference, in either event, Mr. Hulingave 
the casting vote in favor of the West side. 

It is quite certain, however, that the cession of the mile-strip 
had been regarded with favor for years by the citizens of the 
western part of the county. It is even alleged that the scheme 
was deliberately planned in West Rockford, to reduce the vot- 
ing strength on the east side of the river. The citizens on the 
strip petitioned the legislature to be annexed to Boone; and as 
early as December 24, 1840, a bill was introduced in the senate, 
for a change in the boundary line of Boone county. December 
30th, the bill was read the third time and passed. The bill came 
before the house January 13, 1841. It was subsequently 
amended and referred to a select committee. The Rock River 
Express of January 16, 1841, published a brief but vigorous 
protest against the proposed cession. The bill, however, was 
lost. Had it passed that session, it would doubtless have had 
its influence in the contest over the county seat. But the bill 
did not become a law until two years later. In the meantime 
the question had been settled in a different manner. 

The brick jail was completed and occupied January 1, 1844. 
The court house was finished in July of the same year, and was 
accepted by the county commissioners. Derastus Harper and 
John Beattie were the architects. It was one story, about fifty- 
six feet long, thirty-five feet in width, and seventeen feet high. 
The court room was fifty-four by thirty-three feet ; nine feet in 
the rear of the bench was partitioned off into jury rooms. Two 
rows of slips made in the style of those erected in the churches, 
filled the room outside the bar, and accommodated three hun- 
dred persons. The entire edifice, including the pediment and 
four fluted columns in front, was built in the Grecian Doric 
order of architecture. The public square, jail and court house 
were furnished by the citizens of West Rockford without the 
outlay of a dollar by the county. The stone building in which 
the county records were kept, was built in 1851. All these 
buildings have been removed from the square. 

The first term of court held in the new building was in 
August, 1844. The presiding judge was Thomas C. Brown; 
James Mitchell, clerk; G. A. Sanford, sheriff. Many bright 
stars in the legal firmament of that day practiced in Winnebago 
county. Belvidere, Freeport, Galena and Chicago sent their 
best talent. The famous "Mat." Carpenter, of Wisconsin, came 
to Rockford on professional business half a century ago. 



SIXTY years ago Winnebago county figured prominently in 
a movement of secession from Illinois, for the purpose of 
annexation to Wisconsin. The few surviving settlers of northern 
Illinois will recall the prolonged controversy over the northern 
boundary of the state. This agitation covered the entire period 
between the admission of Illinois in 1818, and the admission of 
Wisconsin thirty years later. The story forms one of the most 
interesting chapters in the history of the commonwealth. The 
final adjustment is a perpetual witness to the prophetic genius 
of Nathaniel Pope, the territorial representative of Illinois in 
congress. In the light of subsequent history, it was nothing 
less than genius that enabled this man, alone and unchallenged, 
to add fifty miles to the northern boundary of Illinois; and 
thus make her, with her commercial metropolis on the lake 
front, the keystone in the magnificent arch of great western 
states. As a statesman and patriot, Nathaniel Pope is worthy 
to be placed at the head of the illustrious column which includes 
Lincoln, Douglas, Grant, Yates and Logan. 

This movement was widespread, and the feeling at times 
was intense, and even bitter. The war cry of "fifty-four forty 
or fight" did not more thoroughly arouse the enthusiastic 
Democracy over the Oregon boundary line fifty-six years ago, 
than did this inter-state controversy enkindle the sectional 
prejudices of the settlers in the disputed territory. The village 
of Rockford played quite a part in this struggle. There was 
brought to light in this city about a year ago a copy of the 
official proceedings of a mass meeting held in Rockford July 6, 
1840. This convention was composed of delegates from the 
northern fourteen counties of the state. Its purpose was seces- 
sion from Illinois and annexation to the proposed new state of 

History has never fully explained the causes of this move- 
ment. Tradition alone has interpreted its true animus. The 


apparent motive was a restoration of the boundary line as 
originally established between the two states that might be 
formed of the territory north of an east-and-west line running 
through the southerly bend of Lake Michigan. This line, it was 
claimed, had been arbitrarily and unfairly extended fifty miles 
north when Illinois became a state. 

The real reasons for this movement were two : First, the 
settlers in the northern and the southern portions of the state 
had little or no interest in common. The northern portion was 
settled principally by people who had come from New England 
and New York. They were industrious, thrifty and progressive. 
They built towns and cities as by magic. The southern part of 
Illinois was settled by emigrants from the slave-holding states. 
They were generally poor, as the well-to-do people did not emi- 
grate. In those days the poor man in the south was scarcely 
above the Negro in the social scale. This class came into south- 
ern Illinois from slave-holding states to escape the limitations 
of their former poverty. Between the people of the southern 
and the northern portions of the state was a great gulf fixed. 
Each misunderstood the other. The Illinois and Michigan 
canal was opposed by the people of southern Illinois for fear it 
would flood the state with Yankees. This conflict of interest 
and opinion was a continuation of the struggle between the 
civilizations of Plymouth and Jamestown. The Puritan and 
the class distinctions of the cavalier had entered the western 
arena, where a few years later Lincoln and Douglas fought 
the historic battle of the century. 

The second reason for this sectional divorcement was the 
desire of the northern people to escape the burden of the enor- 
mous state debt, which had been created by the gigantic scheme 
of internal improvements. In 1840, during Governor Carlin's 
administration, the total debt of the state, principal and inter- 
est, was fourteen million six hundred and sixty-six thousand 
five hundred and sixty-two dollars and forty-two cents. The 
treasury was bankrupt; the revenue was insufficient; the people 
were not able to pay high taxes, and the state had borrowed 
itself out of credit. The state never repudiated its debt, but it 
simply could not pay it at that time. Moreover, the state had 
little to show for this vast expenditure. Southern Illinois 
dominated the state, and the people in the sparsely settled 
northern counties were not responsible for the creation of the 
state debt. 


Such was the condition of affairs when the mass convention 
was held in Rockford in the summer of 1840. In order to more 
fully understand the historic situation at that time, it will be 
necessary to briefly refer to the document which gave a plausible 
pretext to the separatist movement. This was the ordinance 
for the government of the Northwest Territory, adopted in 
1787. This ordinance provided for the division of this vast area 
for territorial purposes, which of course had no bearing upon 
the present matter. It further provided that not more than 
two states should be formed from the territory north of an 
east-and-west line running through the southerly bend of Lake 

In 1818 Illinois Territory petitioned congress for admission 
into the union on an equality with the original states. The 
petition defined the northern boundary of the state in accord- 
ance with the provisions of the ordinance of 1787. When the 
petition came before congress, Mr. Pope was instructed by the 
committee to report a bill in pursuance of the petition. Before 
the bill became a law it was amended by the extension of the 
boundary line from the southerly bend of Lake Michigan to 
forty-two degrees thirty minutes. Thus was added to Illinois 
a territory fifty miles from north to south, which now includes 
the northern fourteen counties of the state. These important 
and radical changes were proposed and carried through both 
houses of congress by Mr. Pope, entirely on his own personal 
responsibility. The territorial legislature had not petitioned 
for them, but the great and lasting advantage was so apparent 
that the action of Mr. Pope received the unqualified endorse- 
ment of the people. 

When Wisconsin began to aspire to statehood, it was upon 
the language of the ordinance of 1787, above quoted, which 
was declared a compact to remain forever unalterable, that our 
northern neighbor based her claim to the territory north of the 
original line. 

This question of boundary became an issue in local politics, 
and it was not until 1848, when Wisconsin became a state, that 
all hope of the restoration of the original line was abandoned. 

In accordance with this widespread movement, which is 
said to have begun at Galena, a mass meeting was held at the 
Rockford House, in Rockford, July 6, 1840. One hundred and 
twenty delegates, who represented the entire territory in dis- 
pute, were in attendance. Among the supporters from Rockford 


and the immediate vicinity were Dr. J. C. Goodhue, William E. 
Dunbar, Jason Marsh, Thomas D. Robertson, Horace Miller, 
Dr. Levi Moulthrop, Alonzo Corey, John W. Taylor, and Ger- 
manicus Kent, of Rockford; Daniel H. Whitney and James M. 
Loop, of Belvidere; arid Martin P. Sweet, of Freeport. Dr. 
Goodhue was chosen permanent chairman of the convention. 

One committee was appointed to prepare an address to the 
people of the disputed territory. A second committee was 
instructed to report resolutions declaratory of the right of 
Wisconsin to the territory in dispute. The preamble declared 
that it was the general if not the universal belief of the residents 
of the tract of territory in dispute, that the same by right and 
by law is a part of the Territory of Wisconsin; and that their 
interests would be advanced by the restoration of the original 
line, as defined by the ordinance of 1787. 

The resolutions declared first, that it was the opinion of 
the meeting that the intention of the framers of the ordinance 
of 1787 for the government of the Northwest Territory, was 
that if congress formed one or two states north of theeast-and- 
west line above mentioned, that the states south of the line 
should not extend north and beyond it; second, that congress, 
in thus extending the northern boundary of Illinois, transcended 
its power and violated the provisions of the ordinance. 

It was also resolved that if the governor of Wisconsin Ter- 
ritory should issue a proclamation for an election of delegates 
to a convention for the formation of a state government, under 
the resolutions relating to the southern boundary, approved 
January 13, 1840, the citizens of the territory in dispute should 
elect delegates to the convention, according to the ratio fixed 
by the resolution. 

The sixth resolution provided that a central committee 
of five be appointed to carry into effect the resolutions of the 
convention, and to inform the executive of Wisconsin of the 
status of public opinion. It was finally resolved that a copy of 
the proceedings of the convention should be signed by the 
president and secretary and forwarded to the governor of the 
Territory of Wisconsin. 

Other boundary conventions were held in various parts of 
the district. A convention at Oregon City, January 22, 1842, 
adopted resolutions similar to those approved at Rockford 
eighteen months earlier. The delegates even went to the point 
of declaring that the ordinance of 1787 should not be changed 


without the consent of the people of the original states, and of 
the Northwest Territory. 

A meeting was held in Galena, March 18, 1842, of which 
Charles S. Hempstead was president. Strong resolutions were 
adopted. One declared that the annexation of the district to 
Illinois was an unlawful, arbitrary proceeding, and a dangerous 

In June, 1842, the commissioners' court of Winnebago 
county submitted this question to a popular vote of the county 
at the August election. The returns were as follows: Forannex- 
ation to Wisconsin, nine hundred and seventy -one; opposed to 
annexation, six. 

A meeting of the citizens of Belvidere was held September 
7, 1842, when it was decided to call a special election for the 
fourth Monday in September, in pursuance of the recommenda- 
tion contained in the proclamation of Governor Doty, of the 
Territory of Wisconsin. Such an election was held , with a result 
similar to that in Winnebago county. 

This prolonged agitation accomplished no result. The 
movement suddenly lost its momentum and became a spent 
force. The esssenLial principle involved in the resolutions that 
were adopted at Oregon City was whether the congress of the 
United States under the constitution, had no power to amend 
a prior act of confederated states. In view of the subsequent 
evolution of the federal idea, under the splendid leadership of 
Webster and Marshall, it seems surprising that such a prepos- 
terous claim should have been seriously considered. 

The beneficent results arising from the policy of Nathaniel 
Pope and the failure of the separatists are incalculable. No 
reflections are cast upon those who desired separation. They 
acted from worthy motives, but they could not foresee the 
future. Time has shown their error to have been that of judg- 
ment rather than of heart. The people of Wisconsin, however, 
have never been fully reconciled to the situation. From the 
standpoint of state pride, it may be said that in the collapse of 
the movement was the magnificent city of Chicago, "the queen 
of the north and the west," saved to Illinois. The wealthiest, 
most populous and progressive counties were preserved to our 
commonwealth, which has become the pride of the nation. In 
1840 the people of northern Illinois were more in sympathy 
with the ideas and institutions of Wisconsin, because they had 
a common origin in the east. With the lapse of time the two 


portions of the state have been wrought into a bond of indis- 
soluble unity. 

Moreover, there were national reasons why Illinois should 
not be dismembered. In all previous confederated republics 
there had been danger of dissolution. Illinois, by reason of her 
geographical position, is a pivotal state. With a port on the 
chain of lakes, her western shore bounded by the Father of 
Waters, and her southern and eastern borders drained by the 
Wabash and the Ohio, the commercial power of the Prairie 
State extends southward to the gulf, and eastward to the sea. 
Mr. Pope foresaw that none of the states in the west could ven- 
ture a dissolution of the union without the assistance of a state 
which nature had planned should be large and powerful. 

Nathaniel Pope belongs to the roll of forgotten statesmen. 
The sphere of his activity was limited. He did not in his day 
receive the recognition to which he was entitled. He builded 
wiser than he knew. He foresaw possibilities which his genera- 
tion did not fully comprehend. In the clear light of today, 
that shines from the grandeur of the Prairie State, it must be 
said that Nathaniel Pope was a constructive statesman of the 
first rank. 


THE history of the bonded indebtedness of the states begins 
with the period from 1830 to 1840. At the beginning of 
that decade the aggregate debt of the several states amounted 
to only thirteen million dollars. Then began an era of extrav- 
agance in which certain states made enormous expenditures for 
internal improvements, and for funding their debts, negotiated 
large loans on long time. Within the twelve years succeeding 
1830 the aggregate debt of the states had arisen to more than 
two hundred millions, an increase of more than sixteen hundred 
per cent. 

As a relief from this burden, several states repudiated their 
debts. The constitution of the United States prohibits a state 
from passing laws "impairing the obligation of contracts;" 
and the supreme court had repeatedly affirmed that this clause 
includes cases to which the several states may be parties. 

These decisions, however, indicated that the value of this 
contract clause depends upon other laws which provide for the 
enforcement of contracts. If a state owe a debt, her obligation 
depends upon existing laws for the enforcement of contracts 
against the state. If there are no such laws, the contract, though 
legal, may be practically worthless, if the state chooses to dis- 
regard its provisions. Under these circumstances, Mississippi, 
Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, 
Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia actually repudiated 
their debts. 

Illinois narrowly escaped the odium of repudiation. At this 
critical period Thomas Ford became governor. On this point 
he says in his History of Illinois: "It is my solemn belief that 
when I came into office, I had the power to make Illinois a repu- 
diating state." After July, 1841, no effort was made to pay 
even the interest on the debt; and her bonds declined to four- 
teen cents on the dollar. Ford was elected governor in 1842 ; 
and his title to fame securely rests upon the fact that he stemmed 
the tide, so that the larger portion of the debt was actually 
paid during his administration. 


Notwithstanding the fact that the citizens of Winnebago 
county desired annexation to Wisconsin, in part by reason of 
this debt, there was no attempt made to repudiate the debt so 
long as they remained in the state. On the other hand, the 
citizens took an unequivocal position against such a ruinous 
policy. A call was issued for a meeting February 5, 1842, to 
consider the condition of the public credit. This call was signed 
by S. M. Church, S. D. Preston, George S. Haskell, Germanicus 
Kent, D. S. Haight, G. A. Sanford, Francis Burnap and others. 
It had been surmised that Illinois would refuse to pay its debt. 
This call was endorsed by a vigorous editorial in the Rockford 
Pilot, which closed with these words : "As this is a question of 
vital consideration to every citizen, we trust that a full attend- 
ance will be had on that occasion that by your presence and 
your voices you may show to the world your opinion in regard 
to these surmises. Think not that your individual credit is 
independent of that of your state and nation. All power and 
all public acts emanate directly from the people, who are the 
sovereigns of the republic ; and whatever honor or shame falls 
to your state, must be shared among you." The citizens' meet- 
ing was in sympathy with this editorial comment ; and the 
moral influence of Winnebago county was thus placed on record 
against a repudiating policy that would have brought the state 
into everlasting disgrace. 

Governor Thomas Ford, whom the people of Illinois should 
ever hold in grateful remembrance, was born at Uniontown, 
Pennsylvania, in 1800. He held various civil offices in his 
adopted state. In 1841 he was assigned as judge to the sixth 
judicial circuit, and while serving in Ogle county in this capac- 
ity, he received notice of his nomination for governor by the 
Democratic convention. He was elected in August, 1842, and 
was inaugurated in the following December. Governor Ford's 
History of Illinois is a readable and entertaining book, and 
will increase in value with the lapse of time. Governor Ford 
died at Peoria, November 2, 1850. The abject poverty of his 
last days was declared by the Mormons to be directly due to 
the curses pronounced against him by their prophet, Joseph 
Smith. Like many other illustrious men, Governor Ford com- 
bined intemperate habits with a high sense of official honor. 



THE lyceum was one of the popular institutions in the early 
days. The lecture bureau was unknown, and the opportu- 
nities for intellectual improvement were limited. A celebrated 
Frenchman said that when he wanted a new book, he wrote 
one. So the earlier residents of the village were dependent upon 
their own resources for literary entertainment. In this day the 
debating club is usually a feature of the district school; but 
sixty years ago the professional men of the village found recre- 
ation and profit in the arena of debate. Among the questions 
discussed in the winters of 184143 were the following: Is the 
British government justifiable in waging the present war with 
China? Would a protective tariff be sound policy for this gov- 
ernment? Are we morally bound to abstain from all intoxi- 
cating drinks? Is Rock river a young river? The membership 
of the lyceum included Dr. Goodhue, Charles Latimer, James 
M. Wight, Anson S. Miller, Francis Burnap, Jason Marsh, J. 
A. Brown, William P. Dennis, Cyrus F. Miller, S. M. Church, 
Charles I. Horsman, T. D. Robertson, W. E. Dunbar, and other 
representative citizens. During the winter of 184041 James 
M. Wight delivered a lecture on The March of Mind, and Mr. 
Burnap gave two addresses on The Rise and Progress of Law. 

The Whig Hill Lyceum considered its organization of such 
importance as to have it entered on the records of the county 
commissioners' court. At a meeting held at the home of Milton 
Kilburn, there was a debate on this grave problem : Which is 
the better citizen, the thief or the liar? The question never 
seems to have been authoritatively settled, and it is said the 
two classes are known to still exist. 

Another society was the Mechanics' and Artisans' Institute. 
At one meeting it wrestled with the problem : Ought the con- 
gress of the United States to enact a general bankrupt law? 
After a lapse of more than half a century, and with the light of 
several experiments, it is still an open question, from a moral 
point of view. 


Orrin Miller came to Rockford in 1843, and engaged in the 
practice of law. He was a brilliant and able attorney. Mr. 
Miller married a daughter of Willard Wheeler. About 1871 he 
removed to the Pacific coast. His death occurred at Pomona, 
near Los Angeles, in February, 1891. He was about seventy 
years of age. His remains were brought to Rockford for inter- 
ment. Mr. Miller was a cousin of Mrs. William Brown. 

Another early lawyer of the village was Grant B. Udell. 
His name is occasionally found on old legal documents; but he 
seems not to have been generally remembered. 

Anson S. Miller was a prominent lawyer and politician half 
a century ago. He was elected state senator in 1846, was post- 
master of Rockford under appointment of President Lincoln, 
and probate judge from 1857 to 1865. Judge Miller was one of 
the presidential electors in 1864, and was chosen by the electo- 
ral college to carry the vote of Illinois to Washington. Judge 
Miller was one of the old-school characters, dignified, slightly 
pompous, with a fund of good stories which he could relate ad 
libitum. Judge Miller died January 7, 1891, at Santa Cruz, 
California. For twenty years preceding his death he had resided 
in California. Judge Miller was eighty-two years of age. His 
father was Luther Miller, a native of Connecticut. 

Cyrus F. Miller, a brother of Judge Miller, was born near 
Rome, New York. He came to Winnebago county in 1839 or 
'40, and was for many years a well known member of the local 
bar, and justice of the peace. Mr. Miller removed to Chicago in 
1871, directly after the great fire. He practiced law in that city 
until 1876, when he returned to Rockford. His death occurred 
June 4, 1890, at Beatrice, Nebraska, and his remains were 
brought to Rockford for burial. Mr. Miller was about seventy- 
five years of age. Luther L. Miller, an attorney in Chicago, is 
a son; and Mrs. Israel Shoudy, of Rockford, is a daughter. 
Asher Miller, another brother, now a resident of California, 
was also an early settler. The father and three sons came 
to Rockford about the same time. 

Daniel Dow is a native of Perthshire county, Scotland. He 
came to Rockford in 1841, and opened a boot and shoe store, and 
later he carried a general stock of merchandise. He purchased 
goods at St. Louis, and his first trip to that city was made by 
team to Galena, thence by the Mississippi to his destination. 
Mr. Dow continued in business until 1859, when he retired and 
traveled extensively. Upon his return to Rockford he began 


dealing in grain. Mr. Dow served the Third ward as alderman 
for six years. He is the owner of the valuable Dow block on 
South Main street. 

Lewis B. Gregory is a native of Seneca county, New York. 
He was born in 1820, of New England ancestry. His father 
was Rev. Harry Gregory, a Methodist minister. Mr. Gregory 
acquired a seminary education. He came to Eockford in 1843, 
and began teaching the same year. Mr. Gregory is probably 
the oldest living teacher in the county. After teaching several 
terms, he became interested in business on the old water-power 
on the east side of the river. He was a nephew of Samuel and 
Eliphalet Gregory, settlers of 1835. Mr. Gregory was married 
in Rockford to Miss Lucy E. Spafford, a daughter of Dan and 
Julia Spafford, who settled in Rockford in 1844. Mrs. Gregory 
died July 2, 1888. Their children are: Mrs. George N. Safford, 
Edward S. and George B., of Rockford ; Carroll S., of Beloit ; and 
Louis L., a physician of Chicago. One son, Charles, died in 
infancy. Mr. Gregory's present wife was Mrs. Stanbro, form- 
erly of Memphis, Tennessee. 

George Tullock is a well-known citizen of Scottish birth. He 
was born in 1815, and came to Rockford in 1841. At Chicago 
Mr. Tullock hired his passage with a teamster ; but the roads 
were so bad that he started ahead on foot, and arrived in Rock- 
ford three days ahead of the team. Mr. Tullock was employed 
by Daniel Dow nearly four years as a shoemaker. He then 
became a farmer. 

In January, 1843, a party of Pottawatomie Indians camped 
in the woods east of the town for several weeks. They were on 
their way to Milwaukee. They were straight, fine-looking 
Indians,' mostly dressed in skins. There were about one hun- 
dred of them. One deeply scarred veteran claimed to be one 
hundred years old. 

The winter of 1842-43 is known in local history as "the 
hard winter." The early settlers of the northern part of the 
state remember its first snow-fall, which began November 7th, 
and continued until the 10th ; the extreme cold of the long 
winter, the scarcity of food for stock, and the loss of many cat- 
tle from hunger and cold by reason of the scarcity of barns and 
sheds for protection. The country was new; the settlements 
were sparse; and it was often miles across the dreary stretch of 
snow-covered prairie between settlements. Many of the houses 


of the settlers were poor and open, without a tree or shrub to 
protect them from wind and snow. During this "hard winter" 
the snow averaged thirty inches in depth. It fell before the 
ground had frozen, and lay in such a body that the ground did 
not freeze at all, except in occasional places. The snow drifted 
to a height even with the top of the rail fences, and then froze 
so hard that it bore horses and cattle on its surface. During 
that winter great slaughter was made among the deer. The 
dogs, borne by the frozen snow, caught such numbers that the 
forests were cleared of them. 

In August, 1841, there was a sudden chauge in the post- 
master at Rockford. Edward Warren had been appointed in 
May to succeed Daniel S. Haight. Mr. Warren was a brother of 
Mrs. Charles H. Spafford. He built the upright part of the house 
now owned by Dr. Daniel Lichty, on the corner of Third and 
Walnut streets. Mr. Warren was succeeded in the summer of 
1841 by Selden M. Church, who, in turn was folio wed by Charles 
H. Spafford, through Mr. Warren's influence, it is said. Mr. 
Warren and Mr. Church were Whigs. Mr. Warren subsequently 
went to Paris, and was a student in the Latin Quarter during 
the revolution of 1848. 

In the autumn of 1844, Nathaniel Crosby, of Belvidere, con- 
veyed to the "General Convention of the Baptist Denomination 
in the United States for Foreign Missions," by deed, lots in 
blocks five, seven, eight, nine, twenty-eight and forty-nine, the 
whole of block forty-six, and south park lots two and six in 
East Rockford. These lots were considered a generous gift. 

The files of the Rock River Express and the Rockford Pilot 
show a creditable line of advertisements. In the Express of 
March, 1841, are found the cards of Tinker & Johnson, tailors ; 
G. Haskell & Co., dry goods and groceries; John W. Taylor 
and C. Hitchcock & Co., also dealers in dry goods. In the 
issue of March 6th S. M. Church makes this announcement as 
assignee: "All persons indebted to Germanicus Kent are 
requested to call and adjust the same immediately." The Pilot 
of January, 1842, publishes an advertisement for Volney A. 
Marsh, who kept a general store in the north wing of the Win- 
nebago House; the professional cards of T. D. Robertson, 
A. S. & Cyrus F. Miller, Charles F. Latimer, Grant B. Udell and 
Francis Burnap, attorneys ; F. M. Putney, proprietor of Rock- 
ford House ; David Paul, Washington House ; Wyman & Hough- 
ton, clothing ; Chicago Democrat and Godey'e Ladies' Book, 



AS early as August, 1840, a committee was appointed to draft 
a constitution and by-laws for the Winnebago County 
Agricultural Society. This committee deferred its report until 
the next March term of the county commissioners' court, in 
order to avail itself of the privilege of organizing the society 
under the statute "to incorporate agricultural societies," which 
was passed March 28, 1839. The act required the county 
commissioners to give due notice of the intention to form such 
society at that special term only, and precluded a legal organ- 
ization in this county at an earlier date, under the provisions 
of the statute. 

The Agricultural Society was organized April 13, 1841. Dr. 
Haskell was elected president ; Robert J. Cross, vice-president ; 
George W. Lee, secretary; Charles I.Horsman, treasurer; Hor- 
ace Miller, Richard Montague, P. M. Johnson, James S. Norton, 
Newton Crawford, I. N. Cunningham, Jonathan Weldon, direct- 
ors. An adjourned meeting was held July 5th, when President 
Haskell delivered an address, which has been preserved in full. 
September 8th a meeting of the officers was held to complete 
arrangements for the first cattle show. It was decided that the 
fair should be held annually in Rockford, alternating on the east 
and west sides of the river ; that all the available funds of the 
society be distributed in premiums, and that the premiums be 
paid in agricultural publications. 

The exhibition was held on the 13th of October. The stock 
was exhibited in the grove near the northeast corner of First 
and Oak streets, which was known as the Oak Openings, where 
the ground was covered with a beautiful tuft. A few splendid 
specimens of the primitive oak trees remain in the vicinity. 
Cattle and horses were tied to the trees; the sheep and hogs 
were confined in rail pens. The display of domestic articles 
and garden produce was made in the hall of the Rockford 
House. Charles I. Horsman exhibited a squash weighing one 
hundred and twenty-eight pounds. There were several loads 
of grain standing in the street in front of the Rockford House. 


At two o'clock the society and visitors formed a procession, 
under direction of Jason Marsh, the marshal of the day, and 
marched to the court house, on the East side. Rev. Joel B. 
Potter offered prayer, and Dr. Goodhue delivered an address. 
He was eloquent in his prophecy of the future which awaited 
the farmers of this fertile valley. After these exercises dinner 
was served at the Rockford House. At half past five the com- 
mittee on awards made its report. The premium list was brief. 
There were seven premiums offered for horses, six for cattle, 
four for hogs, and two for sheep ; one for the best cultivated 
ten acres of land, one for the best twenty-five pounds of butter, 
one for the best cheese weighing over fifteen pounds, one for the 
best ten yards of flannel manufactured in the county, one for the 
best fifty skeins of sewing silk manufactured in the county, and 
one for the best ten pounds of sugar from the beet manufactured 
in the county. Thus was held, in a single day, the first cattle 
show in northern Illinois. 

The editor of the Rockford Pilot referred to the event in this 
unique specimen of primitive journalism: "The cattle show 
came off yesterday in good style. The day was fine, the women 
were fine, the pigs were fine. The display of stock certainly 
exceeded our anticipations. Surely we live in a wonderful age. 
Mobs, miracles and morality are developing in a manner that 
would have bothered the brains of our forefathers. Here we are 
in a country that six years ago lay in the precise state in which 
it was moulded in the palm of the great Builder not a tene- 
ment had ever been erected in this precinct to cover the head of 
a white man. Yesterday we saw a thousand people collected 
for the great object of improvement in the science of agriculture, 
and a display of domestic stock that would have been credita- 
ble to any portion of the United States. We saw silk that had 
been manufactured by the hands of the ladies of our place, and 
a variety of products that show the rapid strides that we are 
making toward perfection in the noble science of agriculture." 

This society kept up its organization and annual exhibits 
for some years, when it ceased to exist. In 1852 another society 
was formed, out of which the present organization has devel- 
oped. The latter was organized under a general law, approved 
in 1855. Until 1858 the society held its exhibitions on leased 
ground. In that year, twelve acres of land were purchased of C. 
I. Horsman, for six hundred dollars per acre. Later purchases 
were made, which increased the grounds to twenty-two acres. 



THE frontier is always the prey of the banditti. From 1837 
to 1845 the Rock river valley was infested with a notori- 
ous gang of outlaws. Among the leaders of this band were : 
John Driscoll, William and David Driscoll, his sons ; John Bro- 
die, and his three sons, John, Stephen and Hugh; Samuel 
Aikens, and his three sons, Richard, Charles and Thomas; 
William K. Bridge, Norton B. Royce, Charles Oliver, and Charles 
West. Besides these chiefs of the robber confederacy, there 
were a large number of subordinates scattered throughout the 

The leaders of this gang were among the first settlers, and 
thus had the choice of locations. John Driscoll came from 
Ohio, and settled near Killbuck creek, Monroe township, Ogle 
county. William Driscoll settled at South Grove, in DeKalb 
county. David Driscoll resided a short distance east of the old 
village site of Lynnville, in Ogle county. John Brodie lived in 
a grove of timber in Dement township. Samuel Aikens and his 
son Charles and William K. Bridge settled at Washington 
Grove, and Thomas and Richard Aikens and Norton B. Royce 
at Lafayette Grove, scarcely half a mile distant. Charles Oliver 
settled at Rockford, and made his home at the Rockford House. 
He had a good address, and was given four thousand dollars by 
his father when he left the parental home. About 1837, while 
he was an unknown member of this band of outlaws, he came 
within a few votes of being elected a justice of the peace, over 
James B. Martyn. Charles West made his home at Inlet Grove, 
in Lee county. 

The operations of this band extended through the western 
and northwestern states. Along the entire line there were con- 
venient stations, in charge of men who, to all appearance, were 
honest, hard-working settlers. Such was William McDole, a 
quiet, industrious resident of Rockford. Under this arrange- 
ment, a horse stolen at either end of the line or elsewhere could 
be passed from one station to another, and no agent be absent 


from his home or business for more than a few hours at a time ; 
and thus for years they remained unsuspected. At that time 
few counties were sufficiently organized to enforce efficient police 
regulations. This section was sparsely settled; the pioneers 
were poor, and money was scarce. There were few jails, and 
these were scarcely worthy of the name. For several years after 
the settlement of Winnebago county, the nearest jail was at 
Galena. There is a story to the effect that the sheriff of this 
county once took a culprit to Galena, and upon his return to 
Rockford his late prisoner was among the first to greet him. 

This primitive condition of society was the opportunity of 
the border outlaw. Counterfeiting, horse-stealing, robbery and 
even murder were of such frequent occurrence that the settlers 
were driven to desperation. They resolved to adopt radical 
measures for relief; for if these outrages were continued, prop- 
erty was insecure, and life itself was in constant jeopardy. In 
the spring of 1841, a delegation of reputable citizens of White 
Rock and Paine's Point, in Ogle county, called upon Judge 
Ford, who was then holding circuit court at Oregon, for con- 
sultation. Judge Ford was a fearless man, and naturally well 
equipped to meet the peculiar conditions of pioneer life. Judge 
Ford knew that the settlers were at the mercy of the banditti, 
and that it was useless to invoke the civil authorities. He 
therefore advised them to organize a company, which should 
call upon the men whom they knew to be lawless, take them by 
force from their homes, strip them to the waist, and lash them 
with a blacksnake. He recommended thirty-six lashes as the 
first chastisement, and sixty for a second offense ; and that the 
leaders should be given ten days in which to leave the country. 

Judge Ford's advice was followed to the letter. A decree 
from the bench could not have been more faithfully executed. In 
April about fifteen citizens met at a log schoolhouse at White 
Rock and organized a company known as the Ogle County Reg- 
ulators. By-laws and rules were adopted, and the membership 
increased to hundreds in Ogle and Winnebago counties. Ralph 
Chaney, then in his twentieth year, was an active member of 
this organization. Mr. Chaney is now a retired citizen of Rock- 
ford ; and to him the writer is indebted for information of those 
stirring experiences. 

John Earle was the first victim of this savage justice. It 
was proved that he had forced or induced a young man under 
twenty years of age to steal his neighbor's horse. Earle's coat 


and vest were removed, and his arms pinioned. Six or seven 
men were chosen from the company to administer five lashes 
apiece. Mr. Cbaney relates that a deacon of the church inflicted 
the most vigorous strokes. The result was quite unexpected. 
At the next meeting of the Regulators, Earle applied for mem- 
bership, was admitted, and became a good worker. 

The second instance occurred in the afternoon of the same 
day. The culprit's name was Daggett. Before coming to the 
west he had been a Baptist minister. He was not a shining 
example of the perseverance of the saints, a distinctive doctrine 
of that church; for he had fallen from grace with a dull, sick- 
ening thud. The Regulators were not agreed concerning his 
punishment; although his guilt was generally believed. A bare 
majority of one or two voted to release him. That night, 
however, the minority tied Daggett to a tree and gave him 
ninety-six lashes. Dr. Hobart examined him occasionally, to 
prevent fatal injury. This chastisement was denounced by the 
more conservative Regulators. 

Soon after their organization, John Campbell was chosen 
captain of the Regulators. A short time after they had begun 
their work of extermination, Mr. Campbell received an epistle 
from William Driscoll, in which he offered battle with the most 
terrible oaths. The Regulators were challenged to meet him 
Tuesday, June 22d, at his home in South Grove. Mr. Campbell 
was generally recognized as the right man to lead such an 
organization. He was a devout Scotch Presbyterian, who had 
come from Canada. 

At the appointed time one hundred and ninety-six men, 
armed with rifles and muskets, responded to the challenge. 
They were mounted on good horses; with the stars and stripes 
unfurled to the breeze, and a bugle, they formed in line, two 
abreast, and began the march to the field of battle. When they 
arrived at South Grove they found seventeen members of the 
gang in a log house, barricaded for defense, armed with fifty- 
four guns of different kinds. The Regulators halted just outside 
of gunshot and held a council of war. Before making an attack, 
it was resolved to send a messenger to the house, to ascertain 
the plans of the inmates. Osborn Chaney volunteered to beard 
the lions in their den. When within forty rods of the house the 
men broke through the door, and ran away; and Mr. Chaney 
did not get an opportunity to speak with any one of them. 
Soon after Mr. Chaney returned to the company he was fol- 


Built about 1843 by Nathaniel Looniis. on the south-east corner of State and Main streets 


Built in 1838 by Daniel S. Haifcht, on the present site of the American House. Sessions 

of the circuit court for November, 1839, and April, 1840, were 

probably held in this hous 


lowed by a man named Bowman, who said he had a message 
from John Driscoll, to the effect that if the Regulators wished 
to confer with him, he would receive the message from Bow- 
man, and from no one else. William Driscoll also sent word by 
the same messenger that he had three hundred allies at Syca- 
more, and that they would meet the Regulators on the prairie 
two hours later. The latter repaired to a level piece of ground, 
examined their guns, and awaited developments. In due time 
Driscoll arrived, with the sheriff of DeKalb county and two 
other officials, who wished to know the meaning of the demon- 
stration. Captain Campbell stood in a wagon, and in a vigorous 
speech gave them the desired information. Meanwhile Driscoll 
sat on his horse about four feet distant. He was silent, but in 
a terrible rage. Mr. Chancy says he heard the grating of his 
teeth, and believes that then and there Campbell received his 
death sentence from Driscoll. The officials from DeKalb county 
expressed their sympathy with the Regulators, and the Dris- 
colls promised to leave the state within twenty days. The 
Regulators disbanded for the day, and went home. The Dris- 
colls did not keep their word. On the contrary, a meeting of 
the desperadoes was held on the following Saturday night at 
the house of William Bridge, at Washington Grove, where the 
murder of Campbell was planned. 

On Sunday, June 27th, David and Taylor Driscoll, who had 
been chosen to murder Campbell, accomplished their purpose. 
Mr. and Mrs. Campbell had just returned from church at the 
log schoolhouse at White Rock. While going from the house 
to the barn about twilight, he was shot through the heart by 
David Driscoll. Ralph Chaney was making his home with his 
brother Phineas about three-quarters of a mile distant. He 
heard the report of the gun and the cries of the family. He 
and Phineas immediately went to the assistance of the Camp- 
bell family. Mr. Campbell walked aboutforty feet, and fell dead. 

News of the tragedy spread quickly to Rockford and other 
towns. Mrs. Campbell was a witness of the murder, and there 
was no doubt about the identity of the assassins. On Monday 
the sheriff of Ogle county and a posse arrested John Driscoll 
at the home of his son David, near Lynnville. Mr. Chaney 
gives this incident of the arrest : "When he was arrested he said : 
'I always calculate to hold myself in subjection to the laws of 
my country.' A daughter who was stopping there, a woman 
grown, large and strong, when the sheriff announced that he was 


a prisoner, turned and faced her father, and their eyes met, 
and there was that kind of a look I can hardly describe, passed 
between them, and as she held his eye she nodded her head to 
him. Nothing said, but such a look I never saw in the world." 

The sheriff and his posse then went to South Grove in search 
of William Driscoll. The elder Driscoll was seated in a wagon 
between two guards. A company from Winnebago county had 
preceded them, and had arrested William and his younger 
brother Pierce. The sheriff took his prisoner to Oregon and 
lodged him in jail. 

About nine o'clock Tuesday morning a party went to the 
jail, and with heavy timbers battered down the door. They 
took John Driscoll from his cell, put a rope around his neck, 
and dragged him to the river as rapidly as possible. The sheriff 
pursued, but before he could overtake them, they had entered 
a boat with their prisoner and were soon on the other side of 
the river. There they met a man from Washington Grove, who 
told them there was a party at that place who had taken the 
two sons, William and Pierce. They then proceeded with 
John Driscoll to Washington Grove, where they met the Rock- 
ford division. By this time, about ten o'clock in the forenoon, 
the crowd had increased to about five hundred. Nearly every 
class of people was represented. The horsemen dismounted, 
secured their horses, and stacked their arms around a tree. 
They formed a hollow square around the tree, and brought the 
three Driscolls into the centre. Among the lawyers present was 
E. S. Leland, who acted as the leader, and conducted an exam- 
ination of the prisoners. A mob court was instituted. The 
senior Driscoll was asked how many horses he had stolen in his 
time ; to which he replied that he supposed he had taken as 
many as fifty. "Could you not say a hundred?" asked an 
inquisitor; and the old man, with a faint smile, said: "Itmight 
be." He confessed that he had paid young men from fifteen to 
twenty-five dollars to steal a horse from a neighbor, simply to 
satisfy a grudge, when he received no pecuniary reward from 
the theft. William Driscoll was similarly interviewed. Pierce 
Driscoll was examined, but no evidence was found against him, 
and he was given his liberty. 

John and William Driscoll were then told that David and 
Taylor had been identified as the murderers of Campbell ; 
also that the evidence had proved them to be accessories 
in the plot at Bridge's house on the preceding Saturday 


evening. After further deliberation, Mr. Leland called for an 
expression of opinion upon the guilt of the prisoners, by the 
uplifted right hand. The decision was almost unanimous 
against them. The vote upon their punishment was equally 
decisive that they should be hung, then and there; and they 
were given one hour in which to prepare for death. The con- 
demned men implored their executioners to change the method 
of death from hanging to shooting. This request was granted 
by a unanimous vote. The senior Driscoll had stood in the 
meantime with the rope around his neck, and he asked Mr. 
Chaney to remove it. 

The arrangements for the execution occupied about an hour 
and a half. Jason Marsh, of Rockford, was present, and pro- 
posed to Charles Latimer, as an additional formality, to defend 
the prisoners, and present their case before the mob court. Mr. 
Marsh then made the opening plea for the prisoners; "and I 
must say," writes Mr. Chaney, "he did himself credit, and full 
justice to the prisoners in his speech. Latimer followed in 
behalf of the people, and made a very able speech." There were 
several ministers of the gospel on the scene, who spent the time 
allowed the prisoners in prayer and conversation with them. It 
was an occasion of great solemnity. Righteous wrath was 
expressed in the resolute and orderly execution of mob justice. 

When the hour for execution arrived, about one hundred and 
twenty men were drawn up in a line, in single file. This line 
was divided in the center. John Driscoll was led out by Captain 
Pitcher, in full view of his executioners. He was made to kneel 
ten paces in front of the west half of the line. His eyes were 
blindfolded, and his arms pinioned behind him. At the signal, 
every gun, save one, was fired in a single volley. John Driscoll 
fell forward on his face without a struggle or groan, or the 
apparent movement of a muscle. 

William Driscoll was then brought out and placed at the 
same distance before the center of the other half of the line. He 
was blindfolded, pinioned, and made to kneel upon the ground. 
As Judge Leland counted three, the volley of more than fifty guns 
was as the sound of one. William Driscoll was dead. The father 
and son fell about forty feet apart. A grave was dug between 
them, about two and one-half feet deep, and four feet wide. The 
old man was first taken and placed in the grave, without coffin 
or shroud ; and then the son was laid by his side. Their caps 
were drawn over their faces, and thus they were buried, without 


the presence of a. mourning friend. Mr. Chaney assisted in car- 
rying the elder Driscoll to the grave, and discovered that the 
bones of his head were literally broken to pieces, and the region 
of the heart perforated with bullets. In William DriscolFs vest 
front were found forty bullet-holes. After their execution one of 
their guard stated that William Driscoll in his prayer confessed he 
had committed five murders, and prayed to be forgiven. It is said 
that just before he was led out to die, William called his brother 
Pierce and said : "They are going to kill me, and I want you to 
take that money of mine that is hid and give my children a lib- 
eral education, and spend it for their support until they become 
men and women and grown. There is a plenty of it." Pierce 
expressed his willingness to do so, but said: "I don't know 
where your money is; you have never told me." William tried 
to tell him, but exclaimed : "0 my God ! I can't do it ! " 

A strange sequel occurred many years later. The farm that 
had been owned by William Driscoll became the property of a 
man named Byers. One day in autumn, while he was thresh- 
ing, three men carne on horseback and entered the grove west 
of the house. After surveying the premises, they located a spot 
and began digging. Byers ordered them to stop, but he was 
confronted by a revolver and an order to return and mind his 
own business. After their departure, Byers went to the spot 
and found a hole which they had dug in the ground, and beside 
it a small empty box, and at the bottom of the hole the mark 
and place from which the box had been dug. No explanation 
was ever found. A reward of five hundred dollars was offered 
in August, 1841, for the capture of David and Taylor Driscoll, 
by a committee of the citizens of Ogle county. 

David Driscoll never returned. It was reported that about 
two years after the murder of Campbell, he was shot dead in 
Iowa by a sheriff who was attempting to arrest him. Taylor 
Driscoll was indicted for the murder of Campbell, and kept in 
different jails nearly two years; and by changes of venue and 
confusion of witnesses, he was at length given his liberty. 

Throughout these strange proceedings the Regulators were 
sustained by the ablest lawyers and best citizens throughout 
the country. "Doctors and scholars, ministers and deacons" 
regarded this terrible example of lynch law as a public neces- 
sity. One notable exception to this general public sentiment 
was the Rockford Star. In its issue of July 1, 1841, its editor, 
Mr. Knappen, denounced the lynching in severe terms. He also 


published in the same number of the Star a communication of 
similar import, signed 7ox Populi, said to have been written 
by Jacob Miller. 

Some months after the execution of the Driscolls, the mat- 
ter was brought before the attention of the grand jury in Ogle 
county. Judge Ford then resided at Oregon, and it is said this 
action was taken at his suggestion. At the September term of 
the circuit court, indictments were found against one hundred 
and twelve citizens. Among these were four Chaney brothers, 
Richard, Phineas, Osborn and Ralph, three of whom became 
residents of Rockford ; and Horace Miller, Jason Marsh and 
Charles Latimer, of Winnebago county. The case was called 
for trial at the same term of court. Judge Ford presided, 
and Seth B. Farwell appeared for the people. Some of the 
jurors were under indictment for complicity in the affair. Several 
witnesses were called, and pleas made ; and without leaving 
their seats the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty." No 
one expected a conviction ; but it was considered desirable to 
have the matter settled according to the regular form of law. 
Thus closed the trial of the largest number of defendants ever 
indicted under one charge at one session of a grand jury known 
to the judicial history of this section. 



THE execution of the Driscolls was only the beginning of the 
work of extermination ; although it was the sole instance 
where such desperate measures were considered necessary to 
accomplish their purpose. Robberies and murders continued, 
and the people lived for years under a literal reign of terror. 

September 19, 1843, the store of William McKenney, near 
the site of 318 East State street, in Rockford, was robbed of a 
trunk containing nearly twelve hundred dollars. Bradford 
McKenney, his brother, who slept in the store at the time, gives 
a vivid account of the robbery in Mr.Thurston's Reminiscences. 
The narrative, in its use of adjectives and interjections, requires 
some revision in order to make it conform to the canons of 
good literary style. The robber, in his hasty flight, left eight 
dollars in silver, in the trunk. The next day several dollars 
were found at another place ; and the next spring James Gilbert 
found sixty-two dollars only a few rods from where the trunk 
was rifled of its contents. A reward of two hundred dollars 
was offered for the apprehension of the thief and the recovery 
of the money ; but he was an expert, and eluded capture. 

The community was startled two weeks later by another 
bold depredation. Monday evening, October 2, one of the four- 
horse coaches belonging to Frink, Walker & Co. was robbed 
four miles from Rockford, while enroute to Chicago. It is said 
the baggage of the passengers was stolen from the rear of the 
coach while in motion, and that the fact was not discovered 
until its arrival in Newburg. The next morning the trunks 
were found a few rods from the road. They had been broken 
open and all property of any value had been taken. A plan 
had been laid to secure a large amount of money which had 
been on deposit in the land office at Dixon, and this was the 
object which it was intended to accomplish by the robbery of 
the stage coach at this time. It was known that a considerable 
sum of money, which had been received from the sales of public 


lands, was on deposit at Dixon, and was about to be removed. 
A leader of the banditti had asked the receiver when he intended 
to go to Chicago, where the deposit was to be made. The 
receiver was a prudent man, and his suspicions were aroused. 
He therefore replied that he would leave Dixon one week later 
than he really intended to start ; he thus baffled the plot of the 
robbers. The Rockford Forum, in commenting on this affair, 
said: "What renders these transactions still more exciting is, 
that they are performed by those who are perfect scholars in 
the business movements of the, town/' No immediate clue to 
this robbery was obtained . 

In November, 1844, William Mulford, residing on his farm 
in Guilford, four and a half miles east of Rockford, on the Cherry 
Valley road, was robbed of five hundred dollars in money. It 
had been falsely reported that Mr. Mulford had received about 
fourteen thousand dollars a short time before ; and this rumor 
had reached the robbers. October 28th a man who gave the 
name of Raines called on Mr. Mulford and professed to be in 
search of employment. His real purpose was to obtain money 
by other means than honest toil ; and he had come to look over 
the premises. On Saturday, November 9th, abouteight o'clock 
in the evening, three masked men, armed with pistols, knives and 
clubs, forced an entrance into the house. The leader ordered 
Mr. Mulford to sit down. He then took the candle from the 
table, cut it into three pieces, lighted them, placed one in each 
of the two windows, and with the third he began his search of 
the house. With the most direful threats the family were forced 
to submission. The keys to the bureau drawers were demanded. 
They were told that they were in the stable behind the horses. 
This wa,s a ruse to give Mr. Mulford an opportunity to reach 
his rifle in another part of the room. When the men went to the 
barn he attempted to reach the gun, but another man, who 
had been stationed at the door, held a pistol close to his head 
and ordered him to desist. The robbers could not find the keys 
in the barn, and returned in a rage to the house. They swore 
they would "chain the old devil," and set the house on fire, and 
by that time they would tell where the keys were. Mrs. Mul- 
ford imagined she heard the clanking of chains, and told the 
robbers where the keys could be found. They unlocked the 
drawer and found the money in an envelope, just as it had been 
taken from the bank. One of the gang was identified as Haines, 


who had called in search of employment. It was subsequently 
learned that two men, armed with rifles, stood outside, and 
for their benefit the candles were placed at the windows. 

The long period of border brigandage reached its climax in 
the murder of Colonel Davenport. On the western shore of 
Rock Island, overlooking the main branch of the Mississippi, 
and facing the Iowa side, fifty-five years ago stood a beautiful 
residence. For more than thirty years it had been the home of 
Colonel George Davenport. He was generally esteemed for his 
generous impulses and social qualities. His wealth had been 
acquired as an Indian trader. Governor Ford gave him the 
credit of being the author of the life of Black Hawk which pur- 
ported to be the Autobiography of the old warrior. 

On Friday, July 4, 1845, Colonel Davenport's family joined 
the people of the Illinois mainland, in an observance of the 
national holiday. While alone in his parlor, Colonel Davenport 
was assaulted by three men, blindfolded, pinioned and dragged 
up a flight of stairs to a closet containing an iron safe. The 
robbers obtained between six and seven hundred dollars in 
money ; but they were not satisfied, and demanded more. The 
old man pointed with a feeble hand to a dressing-table. The 
murderers missed the drawer containing the money, and opened 
another, in which they found nothing of value. Believing that 
their victim intended to deceive them, they beat and choked him 
until he became unconscious. They revived him by dashing 
cold water in his face, and again demanded more money, with 
the same result. They then threatened to "fry him upon coals 
of fire" if he did not disclose the hiding-place of his money. The 
old Colonel fell back exhausted, unable to answer. After his 
assassins left he regained consciousness, related the circum- 
stances of the assault, and died about nine o'clock of the same 

Thus far the perpetrators of these bold outrages had eluded 
capture. But Nemesis wa,s on their trail; and in due time she 
will summon a cloud of witnesses to bring them to justice. In 
the spring of 1845 Charles West, of Lee county, was arrested 
for the robbery of a peddler named Miller, and a portion of the 
goods was found in his possession. West was committed to 
jail at Dixon, and during his confinement he proposed to turn 
state's evidence, and disclose all he knew concerning his confed- 
erates. It was an instance where "the devil was sick, the devil 


a monk would be." His proposition was accepted, and West 
made what he professed to be a full confession, and declared 
that Charles Oliver and William McDole, of Rockford, were 
members of the band. He also gave the names of the outlaws 
who committed the robberies at McKenney's store and Mulford 's 

This startling intelligence soon reached Rockford, and cre- 
ated great excitement. Upon the strength of West's statemen ts, 
Oliver and McDole were immediately arrested, and an officer 
was dispatched to bring West to Rockford, to give his testi- 
mony at their examination. Oliver and McDole were given a 
hearing about the 7th of June. West testified that he was at 
Oliver's house about a year before, when the plans of the gang 
were discussed in detail. McDole and Sutton were also present 
at the same time. McDole and Oliver talked about a pal named 
Burch in connection with the McKenney robbery. McDole dis- 
covered where the money was kept, and Burch entered at the 
window and obtained the booty. In the proposed raid upon 
Mr. Mulford, Oliver and McDole were to ascertain the situation 
of the house, and Burch and one or two others were to get the 

Such, in brief, was the testimony given by West. His story 
was generally believed. Oliver and McDole were required to 
give bail in the sum of fifteen hundred dollars each, for their 
appearance at the next term of court; in default of which they 
were committed to prison. A few days later Bridge, one of the 
leaders of the banditti residing in Ogle county, was arrested and 
placed in jail at Rockford. A guard was necessary for some 
time, for their protection. 

The trial of Oliver began in the circuit court August 26, 
1845. His indictment was for receiving money stolen from Wil- 
liam Mulford, in November, 1844. Hon. Thomas C. Brown was 
the presiding judge. The jurors were : Giles Mabie, Calvin Has- 
kell, J. Heath, Jr., George Dixon, Phineas Howes, Ezra C.Tracy, 
Asa Farnsworth, Asa Crosby, Andrus Corbin, Harvey Higby. 
There was an unusual display of legal talent. The district 
attorney was James M. Loop. He was assisted by Thomas D. 
Robertson, Jason Marsh, James M. Wight, and Miller & Miller. 
Martin P. Sweet, of Freeport, and M. Y. Johnson, of Galena, 
were the counsel for the defendant. Among the witnesses on 
the stand were: William Mulford, Charles H. Spafford, G. A. 
Sanford, D.Howell, E.S. Blackstone, William J. Mix, of Oregon, 

-. ____ . _ 

Charles West, of Lee, and S.C. Fuller, the jailer. The teat named 
witness testified that the prisoners tried to bribe him tofurmsh 
^wi^h brace and bits so that they might effect their escape^ 
Ea* offered Mr. Fuller fifty dollars at first, and then increased 
fhTsum to five hundred. Dnringthe trial Oliver was defiant 
and confident of acquittal. But since his arrest Retributwe 
Tnstice had been forging another chain of evidence. 
JU Cin K tnTsumnfer J^son Marsh had received a letter from 
the warden of the penitentiary at Jackson - 

found the prisoner to be Irving; A. Stearns, who had 

- - 

ttitentiary Thus terminated the most e^citmg enm>nalcase 
^tried in Winnebago county. The case was managed ^ 
Treat ability on both sides. The argument of James Loop and 
fhetploitof Jason Marsh have become familiar tradition, of 

ofvtnue on a,, his indictments to B ,e 


county. When his case was called he plead guilty, and was 
sentenced to the penitentiary for seven years. McDole's trial 
began November 26, 1845, and the case was given to the jury 
December 1st. After an all-night's session the jury brought in 
a verdict of guilty, with a sentence of seven years in the peni- 
tentiary. The attorneys for the state were Marsh & Wight, 
Miller & Miller, and T. D. Robertson. McDole was defended by 
John A. Holland, Grant B. Udell, of Rockford, and Martin P. 
Sweet, of Freeport. The court ordered that one month of the 
term of imprisonment be spent in solitary confinement. 

John Long, Aaron Long, and Granville Young were exe- 
cuted at Rock Island in October, 1845, for the murder of Colonel 
Davenport. This execution practically completed the work of 
extermination which had been begun by the Ogle County Regu- 
lators on Tuesday, June 29, 1841. 

Burch was indicted for the murder of Colonel Davenport. 
He took a change of venue to another county, and made his 
escape from jail. The three Aikens brothers died as they had 
lived, although they escaped the penitentiary. Bliss, Dewey 
and Sawyer, confederates in Lee county, were sent to the peni- 
tentiary. Bliss died in prison. The way of the transgressor is 

The Prairie Bandits, written by Edward Bonney, is a stir- 
ring tale of those early days. Bonney was a newspaper man, 
who did some detective work. His book was first printed about 
fifty years ago, and there have been several subsequent editions. 



THE early settlers foresaw that this section of country could 
not become prosperous without improved facilities for 
transportation. At that time the navigation of Rock river 
seemed to offer the most feasible solution of the problem. Jan- 
uary 11, 1840, a meeting of the citizens of Winnebago county 
was held at Rockford. There was no newspaper in the town 
until some months later, and the only report of the convention 
was published in John Wentworth's paper, the Chicago Demo- 
crat, in its issue of February 12th. The purpose of the meet- 
ing was to consider the expediency of asking congress for a 
grant of unsold land in the valley of Rock river, the proceeds to 
be applied to the improvement of the stream. Dr. Goodhue 
was chosen president ; George Stevens, George W. Lee and 
Charles I Horsman, vice-presidents; John C. Kern ble, secretary. 
Resolutions were introduced by George W. Lee, and unanimously 
adopted. They were as follows : 

Resolved, That the increasing commerce of the lakes and 
the Mississippi river and the surplus productions of the Rock 
river country require a speedy action on the part of the numer- 
ous population settled throughout the territory lying between 
Lake Michigan and the upper Mississippi, to effect the removal 
of the obstructions to steamboat navigation in Rock river. 

Resolved, That the interests of the government of the 
United States, holding in its control the great portion of the 
unsold lands in the region of Rock river, are essentially con- 
nected with those of the people in effecting the navigation of 
Rock river from the termination of the Milwaukee and Rock 
river canal to its junction with the Mississippi river; and that 
such an improvement will increase the value of the public 
domain in Iowa, by opening to that territory the benefits c 
an eastern market. 

Resolved, That application be made to the congress of the 
United States for the appropriation of one hundred and fifty 
thousand acres of the public lands, the proceeds of which to be 


applied to the improvement of the navigation of Rock river, 
and that we apply for the same to be selected from the residue 
of those not taken up by the settlers or other purchasers at the 
government land sales, and within twenty miles of either bank 
of Rock river. 

Resolved, That a committee of five persons be appointed by 
this meeting to draft a memorial to congress, embodying the 
facts necessary to sustain the views expressed in the above reso- 
lutions, that said memorial be circulated for the signatures of 
citizens residing in the vicinity of Rock river. 

Whereupon, George W. Lee, John C. Kemble, Jason Marsh, 
J. B. Miller and S. C. Fields were chosen said committee. 

Resolved, That we earnestly solicit the co-operation of the 
people of the different counties in Illinois, and those of the ter- 
ritories of Wisconsin and Iowa, who feel interested in opening 
a water communication (through Rock river) between the lakes 
and the upper Mississippi, to hold meetings and circulate memo- 
rials expressive of their views, and embracing the objects set 
forth in the proceedings of this meeting, and to forward the 
same to their representatives in congress. 

Dr. Goodhue, George W. Briuckerhoff, and Daniel S. Haight 
were chosen a committee to correspond with the people of the 
counties on the river on the subject of the resolutions. 

This convention did not lead to any practical results. The 
agitation, however, was continued for some years. February 
28, 1844, the Rockford Forum announced that the steamboat 
Lighter from St. Louis would ascend Rock river on the opening 
of navigation in the spring. Patronage was solicited ; and the 
Forum advised the citizens to make exchanges of grain for 
provisions. The Lighter arrived in Rockford in the latter part 
of June. On the 1st of July the steamer made a trip to Roscoe. 

The visit of the Lighter renewed the interest in the improve- 
ment of the river. July 13th a meeting was held at the court 
house to consider the subject. Committees were appointed 
and resolutions adopted. November 22, 1844, a river conven- 
tion was held at Sterling. Delegates were present from Ogle, 
Winnebago, Lee and Whiteside counties. William Pollock, 
who had been employed to make a survey, presented a report. 
He stated that he had made an examination of Rock river from 
the mouth of the Pecatonica to Sterling, a distance of about 
one hundred miles; and estimated that the total cost of remov- 
ing all obstructions between these points at four thousand 


three hundred and sixty-six dollars and seventy -five cents. This 
was an insignificant sum, and was probably far below what 
the actual cost would have been. The general government had 
done nothing in response to the petition sent in 1840 ; and the 
assistance of the state legislature was invoked. February 25, 

1845, an act was approved for the improvement of Rock river. 
Duncan Ferguson, of Winnebago, John Dixon, of Lee, Spooner 
Ruggles and William W. Fuller, of Ogle, and Theodore Winn, 
of Whiteside, and their successors were made a body politic and 
corporate under the name of the "Board of Commissioners for 
the improvement of the navigation of Rock river." The com- 
missioners were authorized to remove all the obstructions to 
steamboat navigation between the mouth of Pecatonica river 
and the mouth of Rock river. For the purpose of creating a 
fund for making these improvements, it was provided that a tax 
should be levied for the year 1845, of seven and one-half mills on 
every dollar's worth of assessable personal property in Wiune- 
bago, Ogle, and Lee counties. In October, 1845, operations 
were actually begun at Rockford, under the direction of Alonzo 
Hall. A cofferdam about fifty feet wide wa.s built through the 
rapids. A wheel at the lower end, propelled by the current, 
baled out the water. A steamboat channel was excavated in 
the autumn and winter, and the rock piled outside the dam. 
The "improvement" ruined the ford; and was absolutely use- 
less for navigation, as the rapids at the mouth of the river in 
ordinary stages of water would not float a steamer. Similar 
attempts at improvement were made in the other counties dur- 
ing the year. The money which remained on hand after these 
expenditures was to be refunded pro raba, as provided by the 
law, to the counties from which it had been collected. 

This failure, however, stimulated further effort. The pro- 
moters of the scheme became more audacious than before. Not 
only was it decided to make Rock river navigable to the mouth 
of the Pecatonica; it was now also proposed to seek the aid of 
the government in the construction of a ship canal which should 
connect Lake Michigan with Mississippi river. January 1 and 2, 

1846, a ship canal convention was held in Rockford. Delegates 
were present from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. 
Martin P. Sweet, of Freeport, said this section needed a railroad 
to the east, and free navigation to the south, so that the people 
could have a choice of markets. He believed the government 
should aid in constructing such a waterway. A committee wag 


appointed to draft resolutions expressing the sense of the con- 

On Friday, January 2d, the committee presented its resolu- 
tions, which were unanimously adopted. It was declared that 
in the judgment of the convention, the project of connecting 
the great lakes with the Mississippi river was purely national 
in its character ; that the cheapest and best mode of effecting 
this communication was by means of slack-water navigation 
of Rock river, and by a properly constructed canal connecting 
it with Lake Michigan; and that the completion of this work 
in connecting the Atlantic ports on the east with the Gulf of 
Mexico on the south would form a strong bond which would 
unite more firmly the north and the south for mutual defense. 
A committee was appointed to draft a memorial to the proper 
authorities for the survey of the route, and to present a memo- 
rial to congress, praying for the construction of a ship canal. 
Martin P. Sweet was made chairman. The members of the 
committee from this county were Jason Marsh, John A. Holland 
and James M. Wight. A eommitteeof fivefromeach county was 
also chosen to obtain an expression of public sentiment con- 
cerning the project. The members of the committee from Win- 
bago were C. I. Horsman, S. M. Church, William Hulin, Robert 
J. Cross, Alonzo Hall. 

Ship-canals, however, are not constructed by resolution, 
and the usual results followed. In the winter of 1865-66 the 
subject was revived, and February 22d a convention was held at 
Rockford. Letters were read from General Stephen A. Hurlbut, of 
Belvidere, Hon. JohnF.Farnsworth, and others. Another con- 
vention was held at Beloit March 15th. But better railroad facili- 
ties had by that time indefinitely delayed, if not forever defeated 
the construction of an inter-state waterway. Had it not been 
for the ad-vent of the railroad, the improved navigation of Rock 
river would in time have been recognized as a public necessity. 
In the autumn of 1899 the subject was again considered by the 
citizens of Rockford and those residing along the course of the 
river ; but up to February, 1900, no definite results had been 

The improvement of navigation facilities was not the only 
means by which the settlers sought relief from imperfect trans- 
portation. Chicago was the nearest grain market. The only 
communication with that city was by stage and wagon. In 


the spring and autumn months, when the deep soil of the prai- 
ries was saturated with water, the journeys were slow and 
tedious. A farmer who had drawn a load of produce to Chicago 
often received a discouraging margin of profit. A charter had 
been obtained in 1836 for a railroad between Chicago and 
Galena. The county, however, was thinly populated, and the 
people were too poor to make subscriptions. Moreover, eastern 
capitalists had little confidence in the future of Illinois. The 
state was burdened with debt ; and many of the people openly 
advocated repudiation. This uncertainty about a railroad 
continued more than ten years. Meanwhile the citizens were 
considering other plans. In 1844 preliminary surveys were 
made for a plank road from Chicago to Rockford. 

A committee of citizens residing on the proposed route 
was held at Elgin September 20, 1844. This committee had been 
chosen to collect facts relating to plank roads, and to furnish 
estimates of cost. J. Young Scammon, of Chicago, and Jason 
Marsh were members of this committee. Edward B. Talcott, 
an experienced engineer, was sent by the committee to Canada 
to examine the plank roads there in use, and to ascertain their 
cost and manner of construction. On the 19th of November 
the committee submitted its report, also a detailed statement 
prepared by Mr. Talcott. He estimated the cost of the road 
at three hundred and twelve thousand seven hundred and 
thirty-one dollars and twenty-nine cents. Public meetings were 
held along the line. 

January 21, 1845, the Chicago and Rock River Plank Road 
Company was incorporated by special act. The commissioners 
appointed to receive subscriptions in Belvidere and Rockford 
were Alexander Neely, Lyman Downs, Joel Walker, Daniel 
Howell, C. I. Horsman and Jason Marsh. Among the commis- 
sioners from Chicago was Walter L. Newberry, who became the 
founder of the magnificent Newberry reference library in Chi- 
cago. The corporation was given absolute right of way, with 
power to institute condemnation proceedings when necessary 
for the purchase of land. The demand for plank roads became 
general throughout the state; and in February, 1849, an act 
was passed for the construction of plank roads under a general 

Mr. Colton, in his Forum, discouraged the construction of 
a plank road from Chicago to Rockford. He said eastern capi- 
tal could not be secured for such a doubtful enterprise ; and 


predicted that "sooner far could it be obtained for a railroad 
on the same ground, and we fully believe that one will be built 
before a plank one will be completed." Public sentiment 
showed that Mr. Colton was a prophet without honor in his 
own country; but time vindicated his claim to the gift of 
prophecy. No plank road was constructed, under the provis- 
ions of the charter. The thunder of the iron horse was heard 
in the distance; the day of the railroad was at hand. 



A NUMBER of the early settlers from New England were 
Unitarians of the old school. An effort to organize this 
sentiment was made as early as 1841. The first meeting for 
this purpose was held February 3d. A subscription list of this 
date was found among the papers of the late Francis Burnap. 
It contained pledges amounting to one hundred and sixty dol- 
lars for the support of a Unitarian clergyman. At the same 
time a committee was appointed to promote this interest. An 
adjourned meeting was held on the 13th at the West side school- 
house, and an organization completed. Richard Montague, 
Isaac N. Cunningham, Francis Burnap, Ephraim Wyman and 
James M. Wight were elected trustees. A statute of 1835 con- 
cerning Religious Societies provided that immediately after an 
election of trustees, a certificate of the same should be filed for 
record with the recorder of the county. The filing of such rec- 
ord constituted the trustees a body corporate and politic. The 
trustees complied with this law. The Rock River Express of 
February 20th announced that Rev. Joseph Harrington would 
preach at the court house on the following Sunday. 

There is no record of any progress during the next two years, 
and it may be concluded that there was only an occasional 
preaching service. Early in March, 1843, Rev. Joseph Har- 
rington, of Chicago, came to Rockford and preached every even- 
ing of one week on the distinctive doctrines of Unitarianism. 
The meetings were well attended, and a new interest awakened. 
On the following Sunday, March 9th, a church was organized, 
with the following covenant : "We whose names are subscribed, 
do unite ourselves together in Christian fellowship to partake 
of the Lord's supper, and to receive the spiritual benefit that 
may be derived from membership with Christ's visible church 
on earth. And may God grant his Spirit to help our manifold 
infirmities, and lead us in heart and in practice unto him who is 
the 'way, the truth and the life.' " This language is decidedly 


evangelical in spirit. It is Unitarianism as interpreted by Wil- 
liam Ellery Channing and James Freeman Clarke. It differs 
little from the progressive orthodoxy of today. The constit- 
uent members of the church were : Joseph Harrington, Sarah 
F. Dennis, Isaac N. Cunningham, Nancy G. Cunningham, James 
Cunningham, Sarah M. Cunningham, Samuel Cunningham, 
Emily C. Cunningham, John Paul, R. B. Paul, W. D. Bradford, 
Catherine F. Goodhue, Ephraim Wyman, James M. Wight, John 
R. Kendall, Susan Goodrich. 

In December, 1844, steps were taken to secure a place of 
worship. It was proposed to purchase the unfinished Univer- 
salist church, which had been abandoned. Several hundred 
dollars in subscriptions, conditional and otherwise, were raised, 
besides a sum for an organ. These subscription lists are still 
in existence. But the project was not successful. Another unsuc- 
cessful effort was made to build in 1846. 

December 13, 1845, the Unitarian society was organized 
at the home of Ephraim Wyman. The trustees chosen were 
Ephraim Wyman, Thatcher Blake, and Richard Montague. 

For a number of years little was done. The church had 
services whenever a traveling clergyman was available. This 
condition continued until 1849, when Rev. H. Snow volunteered 
to strengthen the waste places in this branch of Zion. The 
Unitarians were not sanguine, and at first Mr. Snow received 
little encouragement. But a new start was made. The church 
had hitherto held services in the court house; but now they felt 
the need of another place. The frame building which had been 
used by the First Baptist church was for sale. This old edifice 
may well be called a church cradle. It successively rocked the 
Baptists, Episcopalians, Unitarians and Presbyterians. It was 
an illustration of the common origin of all believers who belong 
to the true household of faith. At this time the Unitarians 
owned a lob on the northeast corner of Church and Elm streets. 
They had received two hundred and fifty dollars from the Amer- 
ican Unitarian Association, and with this they purchased the 
old Baptist building, which they removed upon their lot. For 
about a year Mr. Snow preached two Sundays in the month, 
and the other Sundays at Belvidere. Mr. Snow invited Rev. A. 
A. Livermore, who was then at Keene, New Hampshire, to act 
the generous Christian part by presenting; a communion service 
to the church. The ladies of Mr. Keene's church complied with 
the request. 


Mr. Snow's health failed in the spring of 1850, and he was 
obliged to resign from his pastorate. He had been faithful in 
his efforts to lay an enduring foundation. Mr. Snow applied to 
the American Unitarian Association, and to Dr. Hosmer, an 
eminent divine and educator, to send a successor. Dr. Hosmer 
sent John M. Windsor, who had recently graduated from the 
Unitarian school at Meadville, Pennsylvania. Mr. Windsor 
devoted his entire attention to the Rockford church, and gave 
one sermon each Sunday. About this time the accession of Mr. 
and Mrs. Melancthon Starr inspired the congregation with new 
energy and courage. 

The church enjoyed a fair degree of prosperity for several 
years. In 1853 it was proposed to build a more comfortable 
place of worship. A lot was purchased on the corner of Chest- 
nut and Church streets, and generous subscriptions were secured. 
Mr. Windsor was sent east to solicit contributions from the 
Unitarians of New York and Massachusetts. Mr. Windsor went 
to New York early in the spring of 1854 to collect the promised 
money, and never returned. Work was begun on the new church 
in the same spring. The plan of the edifice was that of the 
Episcopal church in Beloit, with some changes and better work- 

In the autumn of 1854, when the pulpit had become vacant, 
the society, through Mr. Starr, began correspondence with 
John Murray, who had just graduated from Meadville. This 
gentleman was engaged as a stated supply for six months from 
the first of October, with a view to a call to the pastorate if it 
should be mutually agreeable. Mr. Murray began his labors 
at the time stated. Mr. Crawford, the contractor, had agreed 
to have the new church ready for occupancy early in October. 
On the strength of this promise, the old church cradle had been 
previously sold to the Presbyterians, possession to be given 
December 1st. The church kept its promise, but the contractor 
did not; and the services were held in Dr. Haskell'sschoolhouee 
for a time. Before the expiration of the six months Mr. Murray 
had accepted an invitation to remain a year. Upon the com- 
pletion of the church, the Rockford Amateurs gave a vocal and 
instrumental concert in Warner's hall, to aid in its furnishing. 
About one hundred and fifty dollars were realized. A Unitarian 
church in Chicago sent two massive chandeliers, pulpit and gal- 
lery lamps, a pulpit sofa and a Bible. A melodeon had been 
previously purchased. 


The church was dedicated April 18, 1855. Friends came 
from Chicago, Geneva and Belvidere. Rev. Rush R. Shippen, of 
Chicago, preached the dedicatory sermon. On Sunday, May 
6th, a Sunday-school was organized, with twenty-five scholars, 
with Rev. H. Snow as superintendent. On Sunday, July let, 
the Lord's supper was celebrated, after a long interval. In 
December a new declaration of faith and purpose and articles 
of organization were adopted. 

Rev. John Murray's pastorate closed on the last Sunday in 
March, 1857. The pulpit was supplied by Rev. Addison Brown, 
Rev. W. W. King, and Rev. L. B. Watson. The latter two were 
Universalist clergymen of Chicago. 

June 8, 1857, a call to the pastorate was sent to the Rev. 
Augustus H. Conant, of Geneva, Illinois. Mr. Conant, though 
highly esteemed in his parish, had given offense to some by his 
radical utterances against slavery. He therefore promptly 
accepted the call, at a salary of one thousand dollars, with cer- 
tain privileges of vacation for missionary work Sunday after- 
noons during a part of the year. Rev. Conant began his pastoral 
work July 12, 1857. The congregation then numbered about 
seventy. He purchased a home of Mr. Cosper, on the corner of 
Green and West streets, for three thousand and five hundred 
dollars. This residence is still the home of his daughter, Miss 
Coretta Conant, and his granddaughter, Miss Louise Conant, 
instructor in art and history of art at Rockford college. 

Mr. Conant enjoyed an extended personal acquaintance 
among distinguished representatives of the Unitarian faith, and 
other cotemporaries. Among these were William Ellery Chan- 
ning, Theodore Parker, James Freeman Clarke, Horace Greeley, 
0. B. Frothingham, Margaret Fuller, Fred Douglas, and Robert 
Collyer. Among Rev. Conant's guests at his Rockford home 
were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Prof. Youmans, Bayard Taylor, 
Tom Corwin, John Piorpont, a,nd T. Starr King. James Free- 
man Clarke, in his Autobiography, refers to Rev. Conant as a 
"saint and an apostle." 

Augustus Hammond Conant was born October 16, 1811, at 
Brandon, Vermont. When a young man he left his native state 
and settled as a farmer on the Des Plaines river, in Cook county, 
Illinois. His parents were members of the Baptist church, and 
he was baptized into that fellowship before he came to Illinois. 
One day he entered the store of the Clarke Brothers, in Chicago, 
where he saw a copy of the Western Messenger. He became 


interested in the paper, and he was given several copies to take 
home. These Clarkes owned a book-store in Chicago, and were 
brothers of James Freeman Clarke, who was then the editor of 
the Messenger. Upon reading these papers, Mr. Conant resolved 
to consecrate his life to the ministry. Mr. Conarit kept a jour- 
nal of his daily life as a pioneer farmer from January 1, 1836, 
to the latter part of May, 1840. It presents in brief a vivid 
picture of life on the frontier, as lived by an ambitious young 
man who was obliged to make his own way in the world, and 
at the same time prepare himself for the ministry. Brief quota- 
tions will tell the story. Under date of September 28, 1836, 
and later, he writes : " Worked at shoemaking ; made a coffin 
for H. Dougherty; plastered my house; dressed pig and calves 
torn by wolves; dug a well; killed a badger; killed a wolf ; corn 
half destroyed by blackbirds ; set out shade trees ; read Cow- 
per ; took up a bee- tree to hive for honey ; hunted a deer ; snow 
a foot deep; attended a Christmas party." 

Mr. Conant returned east May 25, 1840, and began study 
at the Cambridge divinity school, under Prof. Henry Ware, Jr. 
After finishing his course Mr. Conant began his ministry in 1841 
at Geneva, Illinois, where he preached sixteen years. A pamphlet 
entitled Fifty Years of Unitarian Life, gives a pleasant picture of 
Mr. Conant's pastoral life at Geneva. The pamphlet is a record 
of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Unitarian 
church at Geneva. His journal kept during this time is a reve- 
lation of the man and of his time. Under date of January 7, 
1842, and later, he writes: "Read Neander; made a chair; 
worked on a sermon ; drew straw ; Read Neander; horse died; 
mended a pump; read Bushnell; read the Methodist discipline; 
helped my wife to wash; worked on a sermon ; made benches 
for the school ; finished sermon; made soap." 

The church at Rockford prospered under Mr. Conant's min- 
istry for a time. He was a man of high ideals and noble enthu- 
siasms, and was filled with the missionary spirit. Rev. Robert 
Collyer said of him: "He was as quick to leap to the appeal of 
a crippled cobbler, and as strong to save him, as if the Master 
had come out of heaven to bid him do it, and had told him he 
should have for his deed an endless renown, and the praises of all 
the choirs of heaven." But there came a serious declension 
in the financial and numerical strength of the church. In July, 
1861, the reliable income of the society had fallen to four hun- 
dred dollars a year, and six months' salary was due the pastor. 


Some of the former members had removed from the city, and 
others had been overtaken with financial reverses. Under these 
circumstances, Mr. Conant tendered his resignation to take 
effect the first Sunday in July, 1861. 

The civil war had now begun, and Mr. Conant enlisted in 
his country's service immediately after his resignation. He 
went to the front as a chaplain in the Nineteenth Illinois volun- 
teer infantry. Among the privates of this regiment was Thomas 
G. Lawler. Mr. Conant had so me controversy while in camp at 
Elizabethtown, Kentucky, with Dwight L. Moody, who had 
been sent out by the Young Men's Christian Associatian of 
Chicago. At Nashville, February 8, 1863, Mr. Conant passed 
from earth to "bathe his weary soul in seas of heavenly rest." 
His death was due to exposure and over-exertion at the battle 
of Murfreesborough. His death was universally lamented. He 
was one of those rare souls whom every one loved, and who had 
never incurred an unkind feeling from any one. At his death 
a soldier in the ranks paid him this tribute: "The brave and 
noble chaplain, who never turned aside for bullet or shell, but 
where balls flew thick and fast sought out the wounded and 
ministered to their wants, is dead. Never while I live can I 
forget him as I saw him on the field, with his red flag suspended 
on a ramrod, marching fearlessly to the relief of the suffering; 
appearing to the wounded like a ministering angel. When we 
said, 'Chaplain, you must rest or you will die,' he. always 
replied, 'I cannot rest, boys, while you suffer; if I die, I will die 
helping you." His remains were buried at Geneva, and Rev. 
Robert Colly er, then of Chicago, preached the funeral discourse. 
Dr. Collyer subsequently wrote a biography of Mr. Conant, with 
the title, A Man in Earnest. Mrs. Conant died March 20, 1898, 
in her eightieth year. Her remains were taken to Geneva for 

After Mr. Conant's resignation, services were maintained 
with some regularity ; but the church gradually declined. Fred 
May Holland began pastoral labors January 4, 1863. Differ- 
ences arose. The conservative element became dissatisfied with 
the pastor on account of his radical or "Parkerite" tendencies. 
Mr. Holland was succeeded by William G. Nowell, who was 
ordained April 14, 1864. Mr. Nowell left the church in June, 1865. 
Thelast pastor was Rev. D. M. Reed, a very scholarly gentleman. 
Mr. Reed wished some recognition of his denomination in the 
name of the church. In accordance with his request, the name 


was changed to the United Unitarian and Universalist church. 
The name, however, in legal matters was simply Unitarian. 
The church was subsequently sold, and in 1890 the proceeds 
were divided pro rata among the original subscribers. The late 
Melancthon Starr was known to have contributed four thousand 
dollars. Many of the members of the church united with the 
Church of the Christian Union, and others became identified 
with the Second Congregational church. The old church was 
last used as a furniture warehouse. 

The history of American Unitarianism has been unique. Its 
birthplace was Boston, and the time about 1812. It was a 
natural reaction from the stern Calvinistic theology. The golden 
age of American letters was cotemporary with the rise of Uni- 
tarianism. Its influence in literature is attested by the names 
of Channing, Margaret Fuller, Alcott, Dwight, Elizabeth Pea- 
body and Emerson. In criticism are the names of Whipple, 
Ripley, Ticknor and Lowell. In history are Palfrey, Bancroft, 
Prescott and Motley. In statesmanship and oratory are the 
elder and the younger Adams, Daniel Webster, Ed ward Everett, 
Charles Sumner, and George William Curtis. In poetry there 
are Bryant, Lowell, Longfellow and Holmes. Notwithstanding 
this remarkable list of men and women of genius, the Unitarian 
church has always been weak in numbers. In Chicago there are 
only three churches, while there are more than one hundred of 
the Methodist faith. The Unitarian church has been a leavening 
rather than an original constructive force. It has not been too 
intellectual, but it has been too exclusively intellectual. The 
final test of a religious faith or creed is its inherent spiritual 
energy. The dynamic force of religion is devotion to a Person. 
Perchance the contribution of Unitarianism to religious history 
is in its illustration of the truth that the purest religion is not 
merely a system of ethics, however noble; but an enthusiasm, 
a passion. Many Unitarian leaders have realized this truth, 
although the rank and file of the laity have not done so. In 
integrity and high character, the Unitarian church of Rockford 
was a worthy representative of Unitarianism; but it shared the 
fate of many of its sister churches. 



UNDER the first constitution of Illinois, the commissioners, 
sheriff and coroner were the only constitutional county 
officers. The latter two were elected every two years. The 
other county officers were created by statute. They were filled 
by appointment made either by the county commissioners' 
court or by the governor. Previous to 1835 a recorder for 
each county was appointed by the governor; and a surveyor 
was chosen by the commissioners' court. The statute of 1835 
made these officers elective on the first Monday in August of 
that year, and every fourth year thereafter. Previous to 1837 
county treasurers and clerks of the commissioners' courts were 
appointed by said courts. An act approved February 7th of 
that year made these offices elective on the first Monday in 
the following August, on a corresponding day in 1839, and in 
every fourth year thereafter. Up to 1837 a judge of probate 
was appointed for each county by the legislature. An act of 
March 4th made this office elective, with the title of probate 
justice of the peace, on the first Monday in August of that year, 
on a corresponding date in 1839, and in every fourth year 
thereafter. Under an act approved February 27, 1845, the 
tenure of office of probate justice of the peace, recorder, clerk of 
the county commissioners' court, surveyor and treasurer was 
reduced to two years. This law took effect on the first Monday 
in August, 1847. Under the constitution of 1848 the term of 
office of the county and circuit clerks was extended to four years. 
August 1, 1836, occurred the first general election in Win- 
nebago county. The choice of county officers was given in a 
preceding chapter. On that day there were also elected a mem- 
ber of congress and two representatives in the state legislature. 
Under the apportionment of 1831 the state was divided into 
three congressional districts. In 1836 the third district, which 
included Winnebago county, extended from the Wisconsin bound- 
ary to a line below Springfield, and entirely across the state 


from east to west. The northern half of the state was sparsely 
settled, and comprised one congressional district. At the first 
election in this county William L. May, the Democratic candi- 
date for congress, received seventy-three votes, and John T. 
Stuart, forty-four votes; a majority for May of "twenty-nine 
votes. Mr. May was elected and served two years. His home 
was at Springfield. 

Previous to 1840 the senatorial district of which Winnebago 
formed a part, included the entire Rock river valley, as well as 
a large tract below the mouth of Rock river. This vast area, 
extending from Dubuque almost to St. Louis, was entitled to 
one senator and two representatives in the legislature. The 
first election in Winnebago county for representatives resulted 
as follows : John Turner, seventy-four votes ; Charles R. Ben- 
nett, seventy-three; Elijah Charles, thirty-four; James Craig, 
forty; L. H. Bowen, eight. JamesCraigand Elijah Charles were 

Under an early statute, presidential elections in Illinois were 
held on the first Monday in November. At the presidential 
election in 1836, only one hundred and fifty-eight votes were 
polled. This was an increase over the August election of thirty- 
eight votes. The Harrison electors received seventy votes, and 
the Van Buren electors, eigh ty -eight ; a Democratic majority of 

In ] 837 Harvey W. Bundy was elected recorder, to succeed 
Daniel H. Whitney, of Belvidere, who had become a resident of 
the new county of Boone. Herman B. Potter was elected county 
commissioner to succeed Simon P. Doty, of Belvidere. Charles 
I. Horsman was elected probate justice of the peace. Milton 
Kilburn had served as judge of probate the preceding year, 
under appointment. Nathaniel Loomis was chosen clerk of the 
commissioners' court; Robert J. Cross was elected county 

At the general August election in 1838, John T. Stuart, of 
Springfield, was the Whig candidate for member of congress. 
His Democratic opponent was Stephen A. Douglas, who was 
also of Springfield. Mr. Stuart received a majority of ninety- 
three in Winnebago county, and was elected. Mr. Stuart was 
perhaps the first prominent man to recognize the genius of 
Abraham Lincoln, and by the loan of books he had encouraged 
him to study law. Mr. Lincoln, after his admission to the bar 
in 1837, became the law partner of his benefactor. When Mr. 


Stuart began to receive political honors, he necessarily gave 
less attention to his profession. Thus the conduct of the busi- 
ness largely devolved upon Mr. Lincoln. 

Winnebago county forged so rapidly to the front that in 
1838 it was conceded one of the representatives in the general 
assembly, and Germanicus Kent was elected. Hon. James Craig 
was re-elected. Isaac N. Cunningham was elected sheriff of the 
county; Cyrus C. Jenks, coroner; Don Alonzo Spaulding, 
surveyor; Elijah H. Brown, commissioner. 

In 1839 William E. Dunbar was elected recorder; and John 
Emerson, surveyor. 

The presidential campaign of 1840 was one of the most excit- 
ing in American political history. The hero of Tippecanoe was 
the idol of his party, and no leader ever received a more enthu- 
siastic support. Winnebago county had now become a Whig 
stronghold, and the party waged an aggressive campaign 
against the Loco-Focos, as the Democrats were then called. 
April llth the Whigs held a convention at Rockford, and nom- 
inated a full county ticket. Among the local leaders of this 
party were Selden M. Church, Jacob Miller, H. B. Potter, G. 
A. Sauford, Isaac N. Cunningham. Democratic principles were 
championed by Jason Marsh, Daniel S. Haight, Henry Thurs- 
ton, P. Knappen, J. C. Goodhue, H. W. Loomis,C. I. Horsman. 
Boone county had been organized from the eastern portion of 
Winnebago, and the western two ranges had been transferred 
to Stephenson. In the August elections the Whigs polled six 
hundred and thirty-seven votes, and the Democrats, two hun- 
dred and eighty-five. The total vote was nine hundred and 
twenty-two, with a Whig majority of three hundred and fifty- 
two. Thomas Drummond, of Jo Daviess, and Hiram Thorn ton, 
of Mercer, both Whigs, carried the county by good majorities 
for representative, and were elected. I. N. Cunningham was 
elected sheriff ; Alonzo Platt, coroner ; and Ezra S. Cable, com- 

The presidential campaign overshadowed local issues. Mr. 
Thurston, in his Reminiscences, gives this interesting sketch of 
the stirring incidents of that year : "The sparseness of the pop- 
ulation, the limited amount accessible of the current literature 
of the day, to which some of the settlers had been accustomed ; 
the almost entire deprivation of the pleasures of social life 
among the older people, caused them to enter into a political 
or local contest with a vim which almost invariably became 


personal before it was decided. When the fight was ended, the 
passions cooled down, and 'sober second thought' had resumed 
its sway, it frequently happened that both parties joined in a 
general pow-wow and celebration. It was so in 1840. The 
Whigs of this locality imitated the tactics so successfully prac- 
ticed throughout the union. They had no cider, either hard or 
sweet, but they did possess in abundance all the paraphernalia 
used by the party in the populous parts of the country. They 
put up a log cabin in regular pioneer style, on the southeast 
corner of State and Madison streets, for political headquarters, 
profusely decorated with coon-skins and other regalia pertain- 
ing to the times ; imported speakers from Galena, Chicago and 
intervening points ; got up processions, and with Frank Parker 
blowing an E flat bugle, and China Parker a clarionet neither 
of them having the slightest knowledge of music, and each 
blowing with might and main in a vain effort to drown out his 
companion marched about the village wherever they could 
secure a following. The village drum was in possession of the 
Democrats, and consequently not available for Whig celebra- 

Jacob Miller was the most popular among the local Whig 
orators. He was familiar with the vernacular of the westerner, 
and drew his illustrations from their daily life. At the close of 
a harangue he would sometimes produce his fiddle and scrape 
the "Arkansas Traveler." The whole assembly joined in a gen- 
eral break-down, and theoratorof the day was borne in triumph 
on the shoulders of his friends to the nearest bar. 

The presidential election occurred in November. The Whigs 
cast seven hundred and sixty-eight votes in the county, and the 
Democrats, three hundred and twenty-one; total, one thousand 
and eighty-nine ; Whig majority, four hundred and forty -seven. 
Abraham Lincoln was one of the five Whig candidates for pres- 
idential elector in Illinois. The facilities for communication 
were so meagre that the official vote of the state was not known 
in Rockford until late in December. A messenger from the cap- 
ital, with the official vote of the state, passed through Rockford 
ten days in advance of its publication in the Chicago papers, 
and communicated, it is said, the news to the prominent men of 
the Democratic party, in each village, for betting purposes. 
Illinois was one of the seven states that elected Van Buren 
electors. This vote may have been intentionally kept back by 
the Democratic officials at Springfield. 


Through a technicality in an alleged non-compliance with 
the law, the legality of Mr. Cunningham's election to the office 
of sheriff in August was questioned ; and he again appealed to 
the voters at the November election, and received an emphatic 

The Mock River Express of December 4th published this 
advertisement in display type: "For Salt River, the steamboat 
Van Buren, only four years old, will leave on the 4th of March 
next, for Salt River. For freight or passage, apply to the White 
House. Hypocrites will be in attendance to amuse the passen- 
gers free of charge." The local campaign closed with a "Harri- 
son ball," at the Washington House, February 9, 1841. On 
the evening of March 3d the Democrats gave a Van Buren ball 
"in honor of the able and enlightened administration of Martin 
Van Buren." 

April 4, 1841, just one month after his inauguration, Pres- 
ident Harrison suddenly died. The event filled the country with 
sorrow. At a meeting of the citizens held in Rockford on the 
19th, a committee, which represented both political parties, 
was chosen to submit resolutions on the death of the president 
to a mass-meeting of the citizens. These resolutions wereunan- 
mously adopted. 

In the spring of 1841 a bitter local fight was made on the 
election of justices of the peace in Rockford precinct. The can- 
didates were Dr. Haskell, Peter H. Watson and John T. Shaler. 
Two justices were to be elected ; but to satisfy all aspirants, it 
was proposed to elect later a third justice for the precinct. The 
business did not require another justice, but it was thought such 
an arrangement would be politically convenient. The court, 
however, held that the election of Mr. Watson was illegal, and 
no third justice was ever elected in the precinct. 

A congressional election was held in August, 1841, instead 
of the preceding year. The candidates were John T. Stuart 
and J. H. Ralston. Winnebago county cast four hundred and 
ninety-three votes for the former, and two hundred and twenty- 
three for the latter. Mr. Stuart was re-elected. William Hulin 
was elected county commissioner. 

In 1842 Judge Thomas Ford was elected governor by the 
Democrats. That party in Winnebago county nominated the 
following ticket: Senator for Winnebago and Ogle counties, 
James Mitchell ; for representative, John A. Brown, editor of 
the Rockford Pilot; sheriff, John Paul; commissioner, Spencer 


Post ; coroner, Nathaniel Loorais. The Whigs nominated 
Spooner Ruggles for senator; George W. Lee, reprsentative ; 
G. A. Sanford, sheriff; Isaac M. Johnson, commissioner; Har- 
vey Gregory, coroner. Mr. Lee withdrew, and Darius Adams, 
of Pecatonica, was substituted. The official vote of the county 
for senator, representative and sheriff was as follows : Ruggles, 
four hundred and sixty-nine; Mitchell, four hundred and ninety; 
Adams, five hundred and forty; Brown, three hundred and 
seventy-six; Sanford, five hundred and fifty-nine; Paul, one 
hundred and twelve. Spooner Ruggles, Darius Adams, Spencer 
Post, G. A. Sanford and Nathaniel Loomis were elected to the 
respective offices. 

By the act of March 1, 1843, the state was divided into 
seven congressional districts. The first election under this 
apportionment was held on the first Monday in August of the 
same year. Under this apportionment, Winnebago and Han- 
cock counties were in the sixth district. Hancock county was 
the seat of the Mormon settlement, under the leadership of 
Joseph Smith. The Mormons generally voted the Democratic 
ticket; and with their support, Joseph Hogue, of Galena, was 
elected member of congress. His Whig opponent was Cyrus 
Walker, of McDonough county. At the county election Ezra S. 
Cable was elected commissioner; William Hulin, recorder; S. M. 
Church, clerk; Bela Shaw, probate justice; Ephraim Wyman, 
treasurer; Volney A. Marsh, school commissioner; Duncan 
Ferguson, surveyor. 

The presidential election of 1844 was scarcely less exciting 
than that of four years previous. The Whigs carried the county 
for Henry Clay, the idol of the party. The Whig ticket received 
five hundred and forty-six votes; the Democratic, three hundred 
and sixty-eight; a majority of one hundred and seventy-eight for 
Mr. Clay. In August Mr. Hogue was re-elected member of con- 
gress, over Martin P. Sweet, of Freeport. TheRockford forum 
of August 14th denounced the apportionment act, which placed 
the Mormon stronghold in this district, and thus legislated it 
into the Democratic ranks. Anson S. Miller was elected mem- 
ber of the legislature ; Anson Barnum, sheriff; Artemas Hitch- 
cock, coroner. 

In 1846 Thomas J. Turner, of Freeport, Democrat, was 
elected member of congress over James Knox, of Knox county. 
Wait Talcott received two hundred and twenty -six votes as the 
candidate of the Liberty party. Anson S. Miller, of Winnebago, 


was elected state senator as a Whig; Robert J. Cross, repre- 
sentative ; Hiram R. Maynard, sheriff ; and Artemas Hitchcock, 

After the Mormons removed from Hancock county the dis- 
trict again became Whig, and in 1848 the party elected Edward 
D. Baker, of Galena, member of congress. Colonel Baker was 
born in London, England, February 24, 1811. He came to the 
United States at the age of five years, with his father, who died 
in Philadelphia. The son removed to Springfield, Illinois. He 
arose rapidly to distinction, and in 1844 he was elected a mem- 
ber of congress. He served his adopted country with signal 
ability in the Mexican war ; and upon his return to Illinois he 
settled at Galena. After serving one term in congress, he set- 
tled in San Francisco, California, in 1852. Colonel Baker was 
a brilliant orator. His speech on the death of Senator Broder- 
ick, of California, who fell in a duel with Judge Terry, in 1859, 
isoneof the masterpieces of American oratory. For an hour the 
homage of tears was paid to Baker's genius and to Broderick's 
memory. His closing words are remarkable for their noble 
pathos: "The last word must be spoken, and the imperious 
mandate of death must be fulfilled. Thus, brave heart! we 
lay thee to thy rest. Thus, surrounded by tens of thousands, we 
leave thee to thy equal grave. As in life no other voice among us 
so rang its trumpet blast upon the ears of freemen, so in death 
its echoes will reverberate amidst our mountains and our 
valleys until truth and valor cease to appeal to the human 
heart. Good friend! true hero! hail and farewell ! " 

Colonel Baker was subsequently elected United States sen- 
ator from Oregon. His debate with Breckinridge in the senate 
in 1861 attracted national attention. "In the history of the 
senate," says Mr. Blaine, "no more thrilling speech was ever 
delivered. The striking appearance of the speaker, in the uni- 
form of a soldier, his superb voice, his graceful manner, all 
united to give to the occasion an extraordinary interest and 
attraction." Colonel Baker left his seat in the senate and 
entered military service. He was killed while commanding a 
brigade at the battle of Ball's Bluff, October 21, 1861. 

In 1850, Thompson Campbell, of Galena, was elected mem- 
ber of congress. At the same time Richard S. Molony, of Belvi- 
dere, was elected to represent the adjoining eastern district, 
which then included Chicago. 



1"HE Northwest Territory bad been consecrated to freedom 
by the Ordinance of 1787. This principle was reaffirmed 
by the first constitution of Illinois. When the state had become 
a member of the union, however, and was thus given control 
over its own internal affairs, a desperate effort was made to 
introduce slavery. This effort was partially successful, and the 
famous "Black Laws" gave the commonwealth an odious rep- 
utation at one time. 

Only one man ever lived in Winnebago county as a slave. 
His name was Lewis Kent, although he was more familiarly 
known as Lewis Lemon. In 1829, when Germanicus Kent was 
a citizen of Alabama, he purchased of Orrin Lemon a colored 
boy named Lewis. He was born in North Carolina, and had 
been taken by his master to Alabama. He was about seventeen 
years old at the time he was sold to Mr. Kent for four hundred 
and fifty dollars in cash. When Mr. Kent decided to remove 
north, he proposed to sell Lewis; but the colored man preferred 
his old master. Mr. Kent made an agreement with Lewis when 
they arrived at St. Louis. It was in substance that Lewis should 
pay him for his freedom at the expiration of six years and seven 
months, the sum of eight hundred dollars, with ten per cent, 
interest. Lewis obtained his freedom, however, in four years 
and four months. On the 6th of September, 1839, Mr. Kent 
executed and placed in the hands of Lewis a deed of manumis- 
sion. At a session of the county commissioners' court held in 
March, 1842, Mr. Kent filed for record the instrument which 
officially proclaimed Lewis Kent a free man. The transcript of 
this document, which is on file in the county clerk's office, is the 
only evidence in Rockford of the existence of slavery, and that 
one of its victims here found freedom and a home. The follow- 
ing is the text of this document : 

Be it remembered that at the present term, March, A. D. 
1842, of the county of Winnebago, state of Illinois, Lewis 
Lemon, a free man of color, presented the evidence of his being 


a free man by the following writing of Germanicus Kent, of 
said county, which being duly acknowledged by him, is ordered 
to be filed and entered on record : 

To all to whom these presents shall come, GREETING : That 
whereas the undersigned, Germanicus Kent, of Rockford, Illi- 
nois, did in the year A. D. 1829, being then a resident of the 
state of Alabama, purchase of Orrin D. Lemon, since deceased, 
a colored boy named Lewis, then about seventeen years of age, 
as a slave for life; and whereas, upon the removal of the under- 
signed, from said state of Alabama, to said state of Illinois ; 
now this is to certify that said Lewis by my removing him to 
said state of Illinois, and his residence there ever since, did 
become free and emancipated from all services due to me as a 
slave, and that he is, and by right ought to be, free forever 
hereafter. And this is to further certify that said Lewis was 
born a slave of said Orrin D. Lemon, then residing in Wake 
county (N. C.) from whence he removed to Madison county, 
Alabama, where I purchased said Lewis of him. The said Lewis 
is aged about twenty-seven years; in person he is five feet, eight 
inches high, well built, rather stout, and weighs about one hun- 
dred and seventy pounds; his features are good, dark yellow 
complexion, open and frank countenance, mouth prominent 
and large lips. 

In witness whereof 1 have hereunto set my hand and seal at 
Rockford, Illinois, this sixth day of September, A. D. 1839. 


In presence of W. E. Dunbar and William Hulin. 

State of Illinois, Winnebago county, ss : This day before 
me, Selden M. Church, clerk of the county commissioners' court 
of the said county, came Germanicus Kent, known to me to be the 
real person described, and who executed the within instrument 
of writing, and acknowledged that he executed the same for the 
uses and purposes therein expressed. 

Given under my hand and private seal (there being no offi- 
cial seal provided) at Rockford, this llth day of March, A. D. 

Clerk County Commissioners' Court Winnebago Co. 

After his manumission Lewis obtained some land, and 
earned his livelihood by the cultivation of garden produce. He 
died in September, 1877. His funeral was attended by members 
of the Old Settlers' Society. 



EVENTS of local interest occasionally have their historic 
background in national and even international affairs. 
A notable instance was the celebrated Polish claims made in 
1836 to a portion of the territory which now comprises the 
townships of Rockford and Rockton. It is one of the most 
interesting chapters in the history of Winuebago county. Local 
histories have briefly referred to the incident, but no complete 
statement of the affair has previously been written. 

The checkered career of Poland furnishes the historic back- 
ground. The reader of history will recall the Polish rebellion 
of 1830-31. Previous to that time her territory had been 
partitioned between Russia and other powers. The impulse to 
this uprising of 1830 was given by the French, and was begun 
by a number of students, who proposed to seize the Grand Duke 
Constantine in the vicinity of Warsaw. The city and the troops 
enlisted in the movement, under the command of General Chlo- 
picki, a veteran of the wars of Napoleon. Upon the suppression 
of this uprising in the following year, the leaders were sent into 
exile. They naturally sought refuge in this country. 

The forlorn condition of these exiles enlisted the sympathy 
of the American people, and congress rendered them some 
assistance. An act was approved June 30, 1834, which granted 
to these Polish exiles, two hundred and thirty-five in number, 
who had been transported to this country by the order of the 
emperor of Austria, thirty-six sections of land. These sections 
were to be selected by them, under the direction of the secretary 
of the treasury, in any three adjacent townships of the public 
lands, surveyed or unsurveyed, in the state of Illinois or the 
territory of Michigan. After this land had been surveyed, it 
became the duty of the secretary of the treasury to divide the 
thirty-six sections into equal parts, and to distribute them by 
lot among the exiles. They were to reside upon and cultivate 
these lands for ten years, and at the expiration of this time 
they were to obtain their patents upon the payment of the min- 
imum price per acre. 


The exiles arrived in America in 1835, and their committee, 
at the head of whom was Count Chlopicki, arrived in Rockford 
in the autumn of the following year. The Count was an elderly 
gentleman, well informed, and apparently an excellent judge of 
land. Upon his arrival in the Rock river valley, he selected 
townships forty-four and forty-six, range one east. These are 
Rockford and Rockton. The intervening township of Owen was 
not taken, and thus was violated one of the provisions of the 
grant, which stipulated that the land should be selected in three 
adjacent townships. 

Much of this land was already in possession of American 
citizens when the Count arrived upon the scene. They had only 
a squatter's title, inasmuch as there was then no pre-emption 
law that would apply in this case, and the government had not 
placed the land upon the market. The settlers had enclosed 
their farms and made such improvements as they were able. 
Moreover, the several Indian "floats" in these townships might 
have precedence over the claims of settlers or exiles. But these 
facts did not disturb the plans of the doughty Count. He dis- 
regarded the squatter rights of the settlers, and made a formal 
selection of their land, and reported his choice to the secretary 
of the treasury. 

While in this section Count Chlopicki had been a guest of Ger- 
manicus Kent. That gentleman explained the situation to his 
visitor, and the latter declared that the settlers should not be 
disturbed. He thus set their fears at rest in a measure. But 
these assurances were not entirely satisfactory, and after the 
Count's departure a sum of money was raised and Mr. Kent 
was sent to Washington to make further inquiry. The anxiety 
of the settlers was increased by the fact, as already stated, that 
they held no titles to the land upon which they had settled. 
Upon Mr. Kent's arrival in Washington, he found that his 
apprehensions were well founded. The Count had not kept his 
word ; he had chosen the very townships he had promised Mr. 
Kent he would not select. Mr. Kent went directly to the land 
office and made his complaint before the commissioner; but he 
was told that every settler in the county was a trespasser, and 
that he had no legal right to a foot of the land which he had so 
unceremoniously taken. It is said facts are stubborn things. 
Mr. Kent and the settlers knew that the commissioner was cor- 
rect, but they did not become alarmed. Perhaps they thought 
that in union there was strength. The secretary of the treasury 


did not, however, order the subdivision of the lands, because 
their selection by the Polish agent was not in compliance with 
the law, and thus the matter rested for some years. 

The selection of these lands by the Polish agent, while 
squatter's possession was held by the settlers, complicated the 
whole question of titles. The settlers had certain rights in 
equity, but inasmuch as no pre-emption law was then in force 
that would bear upon the case, the government did not at that 
time formally recognize their claims. In view of this fact, it is 
not a matter of surprise that the Polish count, in his desire to 
select good lands for his exiled countrymen, should disregard 
claims that the government did not recognize. Moreover, this 
section of the Rock river valley had been framed in the prodi- 
gality of nature. Its soil was good, its atmosphere invigorat- 
ing, its scenery a perpetual delight. The possession of such land 
always promotes domestic happiness and commercial strength. 
The lands in this vicinity belonged at that time to the 
Galena land district, and with the exception of Rockford and 
Rockton, were opened to sale and entry in the autumn of 1839. 
These townships, which included the thirty-six sections in con- 
troversy, were withheld from sale for nearly eight years after 
they had been surveyed. 

Matters continued in this unsettled condition until 1843. 
In the meantime the land office had been removed to Dixon, 
through the influence of John Dixon, who settled there in 1830, 
and after whom the town was named. In 1840 Mr. Dixon went 
to Washington, and through the influence of General Scott and 
other army officers, who were his personal friends, he secured the 
removal of the government land office from Galena to Dixon. 
The settlers in Rockford and Rockton could not procure pat- 
ents of the lands which they had occupied for some years. The 
attention of congress was repeatedly called to the situation. The 
settlers addressed petitions to that body until their grievance 
received attention. The Polish agent had forfeited his claim in 
not selecting his lands in three adjacent townships. The exiles 
had also forfeited their rights in not making an actual settle- 
ment on the lands. Congress therefore, April 14, 1842, passed 
another act, authorizing the entry and sale of these lands in 
these two townships. This relief was due in large measure to 
the efforts of Hon. O. H. Smith, of Indiana, Hon. Robert J. 
Walker, of Mississippi, and Hon. Richard M. Young, of this 
state, senators in congress. 


When the settlers had been finally delivered from their 
dilemma by a special act of congress, they began to make prep- 
arations to perfect their titles to their lands. The inhabitants 
petitioned the president for a public sale. Fifteen months 
elapsed before their petition was gran ted, and October 30, 1843, 
the land in these townships was offered for sale, and was sold 
November 3d. It was the most notable land sale that ever 
occurred in the district. Rockford had been incorporated as a 
town four years before. Daniel S. Haight had platted the East 
side, north of State as far east as Longwood, and south of State 
east to Kishwaukee. A portion of this had been platted as 
early as 1836 ; and Mr. Haight had sold the lots to the settlers 
and given them quit-claim deeds to the same several years 
before he had obtained his own patent from the government. 
When the land was finally offered for sale at the land office, Mr. 
Haight was authorized to go to Dixon and bid in the entire 
tract for the settlers. A committee, appointed for this purpose, 
prepared a list of names to whom the deeds should be given 
after the sale. This committee consisted of Willard Wheeler, 
David S. Penfield, E. H. Potter, of Rockford, and Nathaniel 
Crosby, of Belvidere. This, committee was in session several 
days, passed upon every lot in the town on the East side, and 
decided quite a number of disputed claims. Mr. Crosby was not 
present, but it was understood that a majority should have 
power to act. Thus a number of the first settlers of East Rock- 
ford purchased their land twice. The first purchase, of town 
lots, was from Mr. Haight; the second was made through Mr. 
Haight as agent, from the general government. Inasmuch, 
however, as the land office took no notice of the fact that the 
land had been platted, it was sold at the usual price of a dollar 
and a quarter per acre. The second purchase was therefore 
more of a formality than an additional burden. WithtNe land 
sold in bulk, at a dollar and a quarter per acre, the second pur- 
chase of a town lot, from the government, was at a nominal 
price, merely its relative value to an unplatted acre of land. 
This second purchase, however, perfected the title. 

At this point it may be necessary to state that Mr. Haight's 
first sales of land were perfectly legitimate transactions. The 
purchasers knew at the time that a second purchase would be 
necessary to procure a perfect title. There was recently found 
among some old papers of the late Francis Burnap a list of the 
town lots in East Rockford and the names of the persons to 


whom the deeds should be given after the land sale. The docu- 
ment comprises seventeen pages of legal cap, and is perfectly 
preserved. At the same sale at Dixon the land on the west side 
of the river was bid in for the settlers by Ephraim Wyman. The 
West side committee was composed of G. A. Sanford, Derastus 
Harper, and George Haskell. The certificates of title were 
turned over to Mr. Wyman by the committee. When Mr. 
Wyman went to California, about 1850, these certificates were 
left in a trunk, in charge of G. A. Sanford. During Mr. Wyman's 
absence they were totally destroyed by rodents; and these 
facts are set forth with grave precision by Mr. Wyman, in a 
certificate, duplicates of which are on file in the abstract offices 
of the city. 

Thus for a period of nine years from Mr. Kent's settlement 
were the early residents of Rockford and Rockton unable to 
obtain titles to the lands which they had selected and improved, 
by reason of the illegal intrusion of an exiled Polish count. The 
sequel is one of those facts that is stranger than fiction. Only 
one of those exiles ever subsequently appeared in Rockford or 
Winnebago county. He was employed for a time as a cook, in 
1837, by Henry Thurston, the landlord of the old Rockford 
House. The later history of the exiles is unknown. 

Mr. Haight's plat of East Rockford was filed for record 
November 7, 1843, four days after the land sale. The east part 
of the original town of Rockford, west of Rock river, included 
all that part of the city lying south of a line drawn from the 
Beattie residence west to the Horsman estate, and east of a 
line drawn from the latter point to the west end of the Chicago 
& Northwestern railroad bridge. It was platted by Duncan 
Ferguson, November 9, 1843, and filed for record by Ephraim 
Wyman, November 28, 1843. 

J. W. Leavitt's town plat included all that part of West 
Rockford situated between Wyman's plat on the east, and 
Kent's creek on the west and south. This plat was made 
August 17, 1844, and filed for record October 5, 1844. 



THE first newspaper published in the county was the Rock 
River Express. Its publication began in Rockford May 5, 
1840, by B. J. Gray. In politics it was Whig of the most radi- 
cal type. There was a scarcity of local news. In a village of per- 
haps three hundred inhabitants, there was very little of a local 
nature that could be published. The primary purpose of the 
paper's existence seems to have been to promote the election of 
William Henry Harrison to the presidency. Its ambition was 
satisfied ; but after it had been published one year, the press 
and printing material were sold and removed from the village. 
A file of this paper, nearly complete, has been preserved in the 
public library. 

The Rockford Star was founded in the autumn of 1840, as 
a Democratic paper. The printing material was owned by Dan- 
iel S. Haight, Daniel Howell, and Adam Keith. The office was 
located on the southeast corner of Madison and Market streets, 
in the building erected by Mr. Haight, for religious, court and 
other purposes. This old building still shelters one of the craft, 
William G. Conick, on North First street. The editor, Philan- 
der Knappen, was simply a tenant. J. H. Thurston was the 
"devil" in the office, a role which, according to his own state- 
ment, he was eminently qualified to fill. He also became quite 
an expert compositor. Mr. Thurston subsequently obtained 
employment on John Wentworth's paper, the Chicago Demo- 
crat, on the strength of a letter of Mr. Knappen, to the effect 
that he was a rapid compositor, could set a clean proof, and 
could sometimes make sense from Kna.ppen's own manuscript. 

April 28, 1841, the editor of the Star was married to Miss 
Eliza Simons, of Harlem. Mr. Knappen extended a general 
invitation to his friends through his paper to attend a social 
party in the evening at the Rockford House. This unique invi- 
tation was in part as follows: "To all our friends, without 
respect to political sentiments. . . We anticipate the pleasure 
and honor of meeting a respectable representation of our 
friends, both Whig and Democrat (for there are no party prin- 


ciples involved in matrimony), from Newburg, Belvidere, Kish- 
waukee, Harlem, Winnebago, Roscoe, Pekatonik, Beloit and a77 
the surrounding vicinity. We had intended to issue a card on 
this occasion, but on more mature reflection we thought it pos- 
sible that some persons might be overlooked, and thus we have 
the appearance of making flesh of one and fish of another. As 
we are no 'respector of persons,' and wish the notice and invi- 
tation to be general, we have chosen to give notice through 
both the Express and Star." Mr. Knappen had sent a special 
invitation to "Long John" Wentworth to be present. Mr. 
Wentworth had already started on one of his frequent trips 
to Rockford; and he expressed his congratulations by following 
the bride and groom all the evening with a tallow dip in his 
extended band, which reached nearly to the ceiling. 

Mr. Knappen had been in Rockford but a short time when 
the Driscoll tragedy occurred. He did not understand the tem- 
per of the people ; and his strong denunciation of the summary 
execution of the outlaws aroused intense indignation. The cit- 
izens proceeded to punish the editor. Soon after the issue of 
the paper the office of the Star was entered in the night and 
the type reduced to pi. When the editor beheld this "wreck of 
matter," he stirred the pi with a stove shovel, and mixed the 
fonts of type in every case in the office. Mr. Knappen turned 
over the subscription list to Mr. Howell, of the Rockford House, 
where the office force boarded, and abandoned journalism in 
this unappreciative village. Mr. Howell did not realize anything 
from the assets placed in his hands. Thirty years later Mr. 
Thurston divulged the fact that D. S. Haight, Charles Latimer 
and Adam Keith were the perpetrators of this mischief. The 
Democratic luminary had been side-tracked in its orbit. 

The Rockford Pilot began its brief career July 22, 1841. 
Mr. Thurston says he helped distribute the Star pi, and with 
this material assisted in issuing the first four numbers of its 
successor. The Pilot was published as a Democratic paper 
until October, 1842 ; it could no longer steer clear of the rocks. 
The editor, John A. Brown, had been defeated for representa- 
tive ; the Democrats had sustained a local defeat of their entire 
ticket ; and on the 30th of October he published the following 
requiem : "With this number the Pilot dies. Its death is a nat- 
ural and quiet one. No violence from enemies or overburdening 
by friends has hastened its dissolution. It dies from the want 
of proper support. In a land groaning under the burthens of 


superabundant harvests, and smiling in the light of the richest 
blessings of a bounteous Providence, it died of want. . . Grief 
is not wordy, and its requiem must be chanted by others. To the 
friends who assisted it in life we tender our heart-warm thanks. 
We are not conscious that it had any enemies; if it had, in its 
name we forgive them all." 

During a portion of this time the Better Covenant, a Uni- 
versalist paper, was printed at the Pilot office. Its editor was 
William Rounseville. 

February 17, 1 843, J. Ambrose Wight began the publica- 
tion of the Winnebago Forum, a Whig paper, with material 
which had been used in printing the Rockford Star. Mr. Wight 
came from New York. He attended the academy at Benning- 
ton, Vermont ; and among his classmates were Henry Ward 
Beecher, and Rev. E. H.Chapin,theeminentUniversalist divine. 
Mr. Wight was graduated from Williams college in 1836, and 
immediately thereafter he removed to Illinois. His first visit to 
Winnebago county was December 11, 1836, in company with 
Timothy Wight, of Chicago. Mr. Wight thus refers in a letter 
to that time: "Rockford had not arrived. . .- I remember 
that there was a beginning of the 'Rockford House,' but the 
building had gone no further than a cellar, and some timbers 
hewed and lying on the ground." Mr. Wight proceeded to 
Rockton, where he was interested in a general store until 1840, 
when he engaged in farming for a time. Mr. Wight says of his 
life in that village: "I had not gotten to be very rich in goods 
at Rockton; but I did get a wife there. . . She was the oldest 
daughter of Rev. William M. Adams, who died in March, 1842, 
at Mineral Point." In 1841 Mr. Wight came to Rockford, and 
read law with his brother, James M. Wight; in the summer of 
1842 he was admitted to the bar and began practice. Reserved 
a short time as deputy postmaster under S. M. Church, in 1842. 

Mr. Wight retired from the Forum August 18, 1843, when 
he sold the paper to Mr. Colton. The terms were easy. Mr. 
Wight said : "He asked me my price. I told him if he would 
take it off my hands, we would be square." In April, 1844, Mr. 
Wight removed to Chicago, and became editor of the Prairie 
Farmer. The paper during his management of thirteen years 
achieved great success. In 1849 he was also associated with 
William Bross, in the editorial management of the Herald of 
the Prairie, the western organ of the Presbyterian and Congre- 
gational churches. He purchased Mr. Bross' interest in 1851, 


and two years later he sold his own interest. In 1856 Mr. Wight 
entered the ministry, and became pastor of the Presbyterian 
church at Olivet, Michigan. He remained in this pastorate 
until forced by ill health to resign, in 1863. The next year he 
was an editorial writer on the Chicago Tribune. In 1865 he 
accepted a call from the First Presbyterian church of Bay City, 
Michigan, where he remained until 1888. Mr. Wight was an 
able minister and a brilliant newspaper correspondent. His 
alma mater conferred upon him the title of Doctor of Divinity in 
1871. Mr. Wight died November 14, 1889, at Bay City, at the 
age of seventy-eight years. 

Austin Colton was more successful than his predecessor in 
the management of the Forum. He was a native of Northamp- 
ton, Massachusetts. He had learned the printer's trade in the 
office of the Massachusetts Spy, and was subsequently employed 
for a time in Harpers' publishing house in New York. Mr. Col- 
ton came west in April, 1839, and arrived in Rockford in the 
following month. He was employed in the pioneer's vocation 
of log-building, fencing, and farming about four years, when he 
"purchased" the Forum. Mr. Colton continued the paper under 
the old name until the close of the first volume in February, 
1 844, when he re-christened it the Rockford Forum. Under his 
management the Foium became the first successful newspaper 
in Rockford. Its circulation increased from two hundred to six 
hundred. After Mr. Colton had "written for glory and printed 
on trust" for ten years he concluded to retire from the business. 
In December of that year he sold his plant to E. W. Blaisdell, 
Jr. Mr. Colton became a farmer, and continued in this vocation 
until his retirement from active life. This veteran editor died 
November 2, 1893, at the age of seventy-six years. Mrs. Colton 
still resides in Rockford. A. Lincoln, Albert L. and Royal F. 
Colton are sons. Miss Miriam Colton is a daughter. 

Mr. Blaisdell took his brother, Richard P. Blaisdell, into 
partnership. The Republican was published until 1862, when 
it was purchased by Elias C. Daugherty, and merged into the 
Rockford Register, of which he was proprietor. 

Elijah Whittier Blaisdell was born July 18, 1826, in Mont- 
pelier, Vermont, where he resided until the removal of the family 
to Middlebury. Later his father, who was a printer, removed 
to Vergennes, where he published the Vergennes Vermonter, 
which was founded by Rufus W. Griswold, whose "Poets and 
Poetry of America" is well known. The son succeeded the father 


as editor of the Vermonter; and while editing that paper, he 
was appointed postmaster of Vergennes by President Zachary 
Taylor. Mr. Blaisdell held this office four years. He came to 
Rockford in the latter part of 1853, and about January, 1854, 
he began his journalistic career in this city as editor of the 
Forum, and changed the name of the paper to the Republican. 
Mr. Blaisdell attended the meeting in Bloomington May 29, 
1856, at which the Republican party was organized in Illinois. 
Abraham Lincoln addressed the Convention ; and Mr. Blaisdell 
then became convinced that Mr. Lincoln would lead the new 
party as its candidate for the presidency. General Palmer, in his 
book, The Bench and Bar of Illinois, says the Republican was the 
first paper to support Mr. Lincoln for the office in which he won 
immortal fame. Mr. Blaisdell was elected a member of the leg- 
islature in 1858, and voted for Mr. Lincoln for United States 
senator. After serving his term he studied law, way admitted 
to the bar, and practiced for many years. Since his retirement 
from active life Mr. Blaisdell has given attention to literary 
pursuits. He has written The Hidden Record, a novel; The 
Rajah, a political burlesque; and a drama, Eva, the General's 
Daughter, founded on incidents of the Black Hawk war. He is 
now editing a volume of miscellaneous poems, of three hundred 
pages. Mr. Blaisdell has been twice married. His first wife, 
Frances Robinson, died soon after he came to Illinois. His 
present wife was a daughter of Judge Ville Lawrence, of Ver- 
mont, and sister of the late Chief-Justice Lawrence, of Illinois. 
Another daughter of Judge Lawrence married John Pierpont, 
who was chief-justice of the supreme court of Vermont. Mr. 
Blaisdell has five sons: Byron Richard, of Chicago; Elijah 
Warde, an artist residing in New York City; Henry, George, and 
Shelley Pierpont, of Rockford. 

In September, 1848, Henry W. DePuy established the Rock- 
ford Free Press, as a Free Soil or Barnburner organ. It was 
published until February, 1850, when it was discontinued for 
want of patronage. 

The Hock River Democrat was founded in June, 1852, as a 
Democratic paper, by Benjamin Holt. David T. Dickson after- 
ward purchased an interest. In 1855 Rhenodyne A. Bird pur- 
chased Mr. Holt's interest. The paper was published by Dickson 
& Bird until May 1, 1864. It was then purchased by Isaiah S. 
Hyatt, who continued its publication until June 12, 1865, when 
the plant was sold to the Register Company. 


Elias C. Daugherty founded the Rockford Register in Feb- 
ruary, 1855, as a Republican paper, and a strong opponent of 
the extension of slavery. Mr. Daugherty continued its publica- 
tion until June 12, 1865, when the business and that of the 
Rock River Democrat were purchased by a stock company, 
known as the Rockford Register Company, by whom the paper 
was published for many years. 

The Rockford Wesleyan Seminary Reporter was begun as 
a monthly publication in October, 1857. Only four numbers 
of this paper were issued. It was published by Rev. W. F.Stew- 
art, in the interest of the proposed Wesleyan seminary. 

The Democratic Standard was founded October 30, 1858, 
by Springsteen & Parks, as a Democratic organ. After about 
a month the Standard was published by Henry Parks alone, 
until February 5, 1859, when David G. Croly became proprie- 
tor. On the 18th of May following the proprietorship was 
changed to D. G. Croly & Co. The company was John H. 
Grove. On the suspension of the News, April 30, 1 860, and the 
retirement of Mr. Croly, the publication of the Standard was 
continued by John H. Gove and James S. Ticknor for a few 
months. The paper was then sold to James E. and Joseph H. 
Fox, who established the Daily News. It was a Republican 
paper, and the first number was issued December 1860. A few 
weeks later they began the publication of the Weekly News, 
which was continued until September 21, 1861. The plant was 
then sold to E. C. Daugherty, and its publication was discon- 

The first Daily News was established by David G. Croly, 
February 8, 1859. The paper was neutral in politics. Its 
publication was continued until April 30, 1860, when it was 
suspended for want of patronage. 

Mr. and Mrs. Croly won national reputations in journalism 
and letters after their departure from Rockford. David Good- 
man Croly was born in New York City November 3, 1829. He 
was a professor of phonography, and a reporter for the New 
York Evening Post and Herald before he came to Rockford. 
After his retirement from the Rockford News Mr. Croly became 
city editor of the New York World, and later was its managing 
editor. Mr. Croly's active journalistic career closed in 1878, 
when he retired from the editorship of the New York Graphic. He 
was the author of biographies of Seymour and Blair, History 
of Reconstruction, and a Primer of Positivism. He died in 1889. 


Jane Cunningham Croly, more familiarly known as "Jennie 
June," was born in Market Harborough, England, December 18, 
1831. Her father came to the United States when she was ten 
years old, and settled at Poughkeepsie, New York. She married 
David G. Croly in 1857. In 1860 Mrs. Croly became editor of 
Demorest's Quarterly Mirror of Fashion, and when that peri- 
odical and the New York Weekly Illustrated News were incorpo- 
rated into Demorest's Illustrated Monthly, she became editor 
of the new journal, and retained this position until 1887. Mrs. 
Croly has also been editorially connected with several other 
New York papers. Mrs. Croly's pen name of "Jennie June" was 
derived from a little poem written by Benjamin F. Taylor, sent 
to her when she was about twelve years old by her pastor at 
Poughkeepsie, with the name underlined, because, he said, "you 
are the Juniest little girl I know." Among Mrs. Uroly's books are : 
Talks on Women's Topics, For Better or Worse, A Cookery Book 
for Young Housekeepers, Knitting and Crochet, Letters and 
Monograms. In 1856 Mrs. Croly called the first woman's con- 
gress; also thesecond, in 1869. In 1868 she founded the Sorosis, 
and was its president until 1870, and again from 1876 to 1886. 

The Daily Register was started by E. C. Daugherty, Junel, 
1859, as a Republican paper; but it was discontinued at the 
end of three months. Its publication was resumed in 1877. 

The Rock River Mirror was established September 6, 1859, 
by Allen Gibson. It was neutral in politics, and was printed at 
the Register office. 

The Spirit Advocate, published in 1854-56, was noted in the 
chapter devoted to Dr. George Haskell. 

The Rockton Gazette was started in 1857, by Funk & 
Phelps, Soon after its first issue Mr. Funk retired, and its pub- 
lication was continued about a year by H. W. Phelps. The 
paper was not well sustained, and the printing material was 
removed to Burlington, Wisconsin. 

The Pecatonica Independent was established in May, 1859, 
by J. E. Duncan. Its publication was continued a little more 
than a year, when the plant was removed to Darlington, Wis- 



THE attempt to utilize the water-power was the first step in 
the transition of Rockford from a hamlet to a manufact- 
uring city. February 28, 1843, an act of the legislature was 
approved, to improve the navigation of the rapids in Rock 
river at Rockford, and to incorporate the Rockford Hydraulic 
and Manufacturing Company. The corporation was given 
power to construct a dam across the river, which should raise 
the water not more than seven feet. The company was also 
required to erect and maintain such locks as might be necessary 
for the passage of steamboats drawing three feet of water. At 
that time the navigation of Rock river was an open question, 
and the government might assert its control of the river as a 
navigable stream. Adam would obstruct navigation; hence 
the company was required to construct locks for the passage 
of boats, whenever they should become necessary. The law 
npecified the rates of toll which the company should be entitled 
to collect for the passage of boats through the locks ; and it 
was given power to detain such craft until the toll should be 
paid. Daniel S. Haight, Germanicus Kent, Samuel D. Preston, 
Laomi Peake, Charles I. Horsman, George Haskell and J. C. 
Goodhue were appointed commissioners to receive subscriptions 
to the stock. The capital stock was placed at fifty thousand 
dollars, divided into five hundred shares of one hundred dollars 
each. The corporation was given power to increase its capital 
stock to any sum not exceeding two hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars. The law expressly provided that the state might, at 
any time after the construction of the dam and locks, assume 
the ownership of the same ; the state, however, was to keep 
them in good repair. All the hydraulic power was to remain 
absolutely the property of the company. July 22, 1843, books 
were opened for subscriptions to the capital stock. By an act 


of the legislature, approved February 11, 1845, the law of 1843 
was amended. 

In the spring of 1844 the Rockford Hydraulic Company was 
fully organized. The dam was located a few rods above the 
present water-works. Directly above, the main channel of the 
stream shifted abruptly from the east to the west shore. On 
the east side, at the site of the dam, the water for two-thirds 
the width of the stream, was about three feet deep in summer, 
with eight or nine feet in the channel. This site for the dam 
was chosen because it was generally believed that if the dam 
were located at the head of the rapids, the town would be built 
there. Had the dam been built at the ford, on the rock bottom, 
it would have required a larger outlay of cash. This article 
was scarce, while timber, brush, stone and earth were abundant. 

Edward S. Hanchett, of Freeport, had charge of the con- 
struction of the dam when it was commenced. He abandoned 
the work, and he was succeeded by C. C. Coburn. Eighty acres 
of the best timber land were stripped of material to build the 
dam and repair the breaks. This brush dam was built to a level 
with the banks. A frame-work was then raised on the brush, 
to which plank was spiked. The work of graveling then began. 
The rock and gravel were obtained along the bank of the river 
from sixty to eighty rods above the dam. There were head- 
gates at either end, built high above the comb of the dam, with 
gates which opened like the gates of a lock on a canal, wide 
enough for the passage of steamboats. At each side of these 
gates were openings to admit the water to the races, which 
carried it to the mills below. As the water raised on the brush, 
the fish, coming down the river, would lodge on the dam during 
the night; and in the morning the people would get sturgeon, 
pickerel, black bass and ca,tfish. The dam was completed in 
the autumn of 1845. In its issue of September 24th the Forum 
said : "As we hear the roaring sound of the falling waters 
(which can now on a still morning be heard for several miles 
around) daily increasing in strength and power, as the sheet of 
water becomes thicker and heavier, as the dam is made closer 
and tighter, we cannot but realize more forcibly the immense 
influence which these hydraulic works are to exert upon our 
town and country if the dam remains firm and permanent." 

The mill-race on the East side extended to Walnut street, 
and was twenty feet in width. At the head of the race Gregory, 
Phelps & Daniels had a sawmill. At the south side of State 


street was Nettleton's grist-mill, the first in Rockford, which 
was started in 1846. Just below, James B. Howell operated 
carding and fulling machinery. Wheeler & Lyon's sawmill was 
at Walnut street. The race on the West side was about fifteen 
rods in length. At the head Thomas D. Robertson and Charles 
I. Horsinan built a sawmill. Just below, Orlando Clark had 
an iron foundry in a stone building. It is significant that three 
of these six plants were sawmills. Pine lumber had not come 
in to general use, and the only available material for frame 
dwellings were the trees of the adjacent forests. 

April 28, 1846, the west end of the dam went out. About 
two hundred feet, including the bulkhead, were swept away, and 
more than an acre of ground was washed out. The Hydraulic 
Company immediately decided to repair the dam, and the work 
was completed during the year. 

March 20, 1847, the dam gave away at the east end, and 
carried away the sawmill of Gregory, Phelps & Daniels. About 
one hundred and fifty feet of the dam were washed out at this 
time. This break was repaired by Mr. Nettleton. Phelps and 
Daniels sold their interest in the wrecked sawmill to Lewis B. 
Gregory and A. C. Spafford, who rebuilt it. The mills then had 
good water-power until June 1, 1851, when the entire dam went 
out, breaking away at the west bulkhead. Several changes on 
the East side then followed. Mr. Howell removed his carding 
machine to New Milford, where he remained until the next year, 
when he returned to Rockford, to the West side, just below the 
Bartlett flouring mills. Wheeler & Lyon's mill was removed 
across the race near Joseph Rodd's mill, and became a part of 
his plant. 

In February, 1849, the legislature provided for the improve- 
ment of the navigation of Rock river, and for the production of 
hydraulic power, under a general law. It appears by an entry 
on the county records, that under this law the company filed a cer- 
tificate of incorporation April 18, 1849, before the abandonment 
of the enterprise. The organization of the present water-power 
company, two years later, will be considered in a later chapter. 

The high water in 1844 throughout the northwest has a 
local interest, although this immediate vicinity was not flooded 
as was the central portion of the state. At and below St. Louis 
the Mississippi river was twenty miles wide, and flooded the 
American bottom from three to twenty feet deep. At St. Louis 


steamboats were loaded from the windows of the second story 
of the stores on the level. At Kaskaskia a steamboat ran out 
two miles from the main stream, laid the gang-plank from the 
deck to the window of a nunnery, and took the inmates aboard. 
About three hundred miles above Galena a steamer was grounded 
three miles from the channel of the Mississippi. The machinery 
was taken out, and preparations were made to burn the hull 
for the purpose of securing the iron, when the water arose and 
floated the boat into the channel. In the vicinity of Rockford 
the roads for most of the summer were impassable for anything 
but oxen. There has been no such season of continued high 
water in this locality since that time. 



THE early official records of the postoffice department at 
Washington are very meagre. There are no local records, 
as these are supposed to be kept at Washington. In 1890 Hon. 
Robert R. Hitt addressed a letter to Hon. John Wanamaker, 
who was then postmaster-general, asking for information upon 
this subject. That official replied that the records were incom- 
plete during the early history of the service, and he could only 
give the time of appointment and resignation of the first post- 
master. The later information has been obtained from the 
files of the Rockford newspapers in the public library. This is 
the only source from which the facts given in this chapter could 
be secured. The research involved considerable time and labor, 
and it is impossible to give the exact date upon which the com- 
missions were issued. 

Daniel S. Haight was the first postmaster. His commission 
was dated August 31, 1837, and he served until May, 1841. 

Mr. Haight was succeeded by Edward Warren, a brother of 
Mrs. Charles H. Spafford. Mr. Warren served until August, 1841. 

Selden M. Church was the third postmaster, and served two 
years, when he was removed. The announcement of this change 
was made in three lines by the Rockford Forum. In the entire 
history of Rockford there is nothing more marked than the 
evolution of its newspapers from the most primitive sort to the 
present daily of metropolitan proportions. 

In August, 1843, Charles H. Spafford was appointed post- 
master. There is a tradition that Mr. Church was quite active 
in obtaining the office; and, to balance the account, Mr. War- 
ren, who was not lacking in influence, used it in securing the 
appointment for his brother-in-law. Mrs. Spafford recalls inter- 
esting reminiscences of those days. She says : "The postoffice 
business was not large at that time; there were no clerks. The 
mail came at night, and required the postmaster to get out at 
midnight or very early morning to change the mail. What 
seems more strange, the postoffice money was kept at the house 


in my dressing bureau. Mr. Spafford was accustomed to come 
home late in the evening, bringing a bag of money. In those 
times of burglaries all this occasioned me a good deal of anxiety, 
as I was alone so much of the time when Mr. Spafford was at 
the office; especially as houses were not securely built in those 
days. I was not sorry when the robber band that had been com- 
mitting the burglaries around, were secured and taken to Joliet." 

In July, 1845, Charles I. Horsman received the appoint- 
ment. The postoffice was removed to the West side, nearly 
opposite the Winnebago House. The office has remained on 
the West side to this day. 

B. G. Wheeler was appointed in May, 1849, and served 
four years. 

In June, 1853, Charles I. Horsman received a second 
appointment, and served until 1857. 

G. F. Hambright succeeded Mr. Horsman, in March, 1857, 
and held the office four years. 

Melancthon Smith was commissioned by President Lincoln 
in 1861. Mr. Smith subsequently enlisted in the service of his 
country, and went to the front with the Forty-fifth Illinois reg- 
iment. He was first chosen captain of his company. The regi- 
ment was known as the Lead Mine Regiment, and went into 
camp at Galena. Upon the organization of the regiment he 
was chosen major, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant- 
colonel. Colonel Smith won distinction at Donelsonand Shiloh. 
During his absence the postoffice was in charge of Mrs. Smith. 

June 25, 1863, Colonel Smith was mortally wounded at the 
storming of a fort at Vicksburg by General Logan's division. 
He lingered three days in a state of half-consciousness, and died 
Sunday morning, June 28th, in the thirty-sixth year of his age. 
His remains were brought to Rockford for burial. Funeral 
services were held July llth, at the home of his father-in-law, 
John Edwards. His remains lay in state in front of the house. 
The discourse was delivered by Rev. F. M. Holland, pastor of 
the Unitarian church, of which Colonel Smith was a member. 

Sunday afternoon, August 2d, Dr. H. M. Goodwin preached 
a memorial sermon in the Second Congregational church. Con- 
cerning Colonel Smith's Christian patriotism, Dr. Good win said : 
"The religious character of Colonel Smith partook of the sin- 
cerity and conscientiousness which pervaded all his life and 
actions. Religion was not something one side of his life and 
character, separated from it by a gulf of silence and mystery ; 


but it entered into the substance of his daily life, and formed 
the warp and woof of his whole character. It was a thing of 
principle, and not of feeling or belief merely. His religious con- 
victions were the result of personal thought and experience, 
and not a mere traditional belief; were formed and adhered to 
on the same principle which actuated all his other convictions- 
fidelity to his own reason and conscience. Before deciding to 
enter the army, he made the question a subject of devout and 
earnest prayer, and the decision when made was a religious con- 
secration to the service of his country, expecting never to return, 
but to die on the field of battle." 

After Colonel Smith's death the local politicians supported 
David T. Dixou as the logical candidate for his successor in the 
postoffice. A petition, however, was numerously signed by the 
citizens, asking for the appointment of Mrs. Smith. Melancthon 
Starr, who was a cousin of Colonel Smith, went to Washington 
and presented the matter to President Lincoln. The president 
endorsed her application, and sent a letter to the postmaster- 
general, of which the following is a copy : 

Postmaster-General: Yesterday little indorsements of mine 
went to you in two cases of postmasterships sought for widows 
whose husbands have fallen in the battles of this war. These 
cases occurring on the same day brought me to reflect more 
attentively than I had before done, as to what is fairly due 
from us here in the dispensing of patronage toward the men 
who, by fighting our battles, bear the chief burden of saving 
our country. My conclusion is, that other claims and qualifica- 
tions being equal, they have the better right, and this is espec- 
ially applicable to the disabled soldier and the deceased soldier's 
family. Your obedient servant, A. LINCOLN." 

Mrs. Smith accordingly received the appointment, and 
completed the term. Mrs. Smith became the wife of General A. 
L. Chetlain, of Chicago. She is a sister of Mrs. Julia A. Clem- 
ens, of Rockford. 

Mrs. Smith was succeeded by Hon. Anson S. Miller, who 
assumed the duties April 1, 1865. He retained the office until 
1871, when Charles H. Spafford was appointed. The succession 
to date is as follows: Abraham E. Smith, Thomas G. Lawler, 
John D. Waterman, Thomas G. Lawler, John D. Waterman, 
Thomas G. Lawler. Colonel Lawler and Mr. Waterman have 
continued their official see-saw for twenty years. 



n~"HE Unitarian church did not at first include all the adhe- 
I rents of a liberal Christian faith. At a meeting held in the 
brick schoolhouse, in East Rockford, April 24, 1841, a Univer- 
salist church was organized by the election of Daniel S. Haight, 
Ezra Dorman, and Thomas Thatcher as trustees. This election 
was recorded in the recorder's office, as provided by law. It is 
not probable that the official records of this church have been 
preserved. It is known, however, that preaching services were 
held at the court house on the East side, and at the school- 
house a portion of the time during the next ensuing few months. 

In 1841 the Universalists were sufficiently strong to consider 
the erection of a house of worship. In those days the citizens 
regarded any church, of whatever name, as a factor in promot- 
ing the general welfare of the village. Hence the name of a 
generous, public-spirited citizen would be found among the 
contributors to the support of liberal and orthodox churches 
alike. The original subscription list for the Universalist church, 
which is still extant, is an interesting document. Mr. Haight 
gave a lot which he valued at one hundred dollars ; the same 
amount in carpenter's and joiner's work; "forty-two sleepers 
in my wood-lot near Rockford, seventeen feet long, at three 
cents per foot, twenty-one dollars and forty-two cents;" and 
fifty dollars in money. Almost the entire subscriptions are in 
work or material. William Worthington subscribed ten dollars 
in blacksmith's work; Charles Latimer, twenty dollars, how 
paid is not stated ; A. M. Catlin, in produce or building mate- 
rial, twenty-five dollars; J. M. Wight, one thousand feet of 
lumber at Stokes & Jewett's mill, twelve dollars. 

On Thursday, July 22, 1841, the corner-stone of the Univer- 
salist church was laid on a site near the East side public square. 
The large assemblage included people of other denominations. 
Prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Van Alstine, and a discourse 
was delivered by Rev. Seth Barnes. This structure was never 
completed. A stranger, in passing the unfinished building, 


inquired of Dr. George Haskell concerning its purpose. The 
Doctor replied that it was an "insurance policy against hell-fire." 
All the original supporters of this project are gone ; and not even 
tradition has given the cause for its sudden abandonment. 
Thus the Unitarian church became the one liberal household 
of faith. 

Strong Universalist churches are rare. These apostles of 
the "wider hope" have never become a vigorous ecclesiastical 
body. A few years ago a clergyman of that denomination 
contributed to one of the reviews an article entitled Confessions 
of a Universalist. He took an optimistic view of the future of 
his church; yet he considered with remarkable fairness its 
apparent limitations. A brief extract from this article is very 
suggestive. The gentleman said : "We have also suffered, and 
do suffer, from the presence of a class of easy-going optimists, 
whose general idea of this life appears to be that a good-natured 
Creator is coaxing his rabbit-multitudes of creatures easily along 
toward an infinite cabbage-garden of a heaven, where they will all 
eat cabbages forever ! These amiable persons mistake their con- 
stitutional impurturbability for the serene repose of faith, and 
are therefore immovable by any instrumentality less powerful 
than dynamite. A meeting-house full of them can be made as 
enthusiastic as a half-acre of damp toadstools." 

This frank acknowledgement should be balanced by a rec- 
ognition of the moral worth of the leaders of the old school of 
Universalism. They were men of strong character and genuine 
spirituality. They believed that every man, by divine and 
gracious help, must work out his own salvation. They recog- 
nized, in the tragic severity of the retributive laws, the Creator's 
tribute of respect to the possibilities of his creature. With sol- 
emn joy they learned by the return of their deeds upon their 
heads, that they were under moral discipline. Conversely, these 
men believed that, as darkness can resolve itself into light, so 
will the evil be dissolved in the good ; that the eternal streams 
of goodness will wash away the evil ; that the hand of Omnip- 
otence is able to press the tears of repentance from the heart, 
though it seem hard as steel. Thus, under the name of Univer- 
salism, have been brought together the two poles of a careless 
optimism, and a sublime faith in the beneficent severity of the 
moral order of the world. 



TEN years elapsed from the first settlement of the village 
before Rock river was spanned by a bridge at Rockford. 
A bill had passed the legislature, approved February 27, 1843, 
authorizing Daniel S. Haight, George Haskell, S. D. Preston, 
Charles I. Horsman, and their associates to build a bridge. 
When completed in a manner so as not to obstruct the naviga- 
tion of the river, and accepted by the county commissioners' 
court, it was to be a public highway, and kept in repair by the 
county. But nothing was done until nearly one year later, 
when the construction of the county buildings on the West side 
emphasized this need to the citizens of the East side, where the 
courts had been held. The entire people felt that a bridge must 
be built, although few had means enough to conduct their own 
business successfully. Citizens of the West side, including the 
country west of the village, had built the court house and jail 
without a dollar's expense to their neigobors on the east side 
of the river. But the progressive citizens were willing to assume 
another burden. At a meeting held in December, 1843, a com- 
mittee consisting of E. H. Potter, D. Howell, Willard Wheeler, 
C. I. Horsman and G. A. Sanford, were appointed to solicit sub- 
scriptions. A persistent effort throughout the county secured 
pledges to warrant the construction of an oak lattice bridge. 
All the money raised at this time was by subscription. The 
most liberal contributors were Frink, Walker & Co., the stage 
proprietors. January 22, 1844, the committee let the contract 
to Derastus Harper. This gentleman was a competent work- 
man. He subsequently went to Chicago, became the city engi- 
neer, and designed the first pivot bridge across the Chicago 
river. The lumber was cut from trees on government land on 
Pecatonica river, rafted down the Rock, and sawed at Mr. 
Kent's mill. The covering for the lattice wasbasswood boards, 
cut from logs in Mr. Blake's grove, and sawed at Kent's mill. 
C. I. Horsman and William G. Ferguson drew the logs. By 
August or September, Mr. Harper had sufficient material on 


hand to commence laying the bridge. This was done nearly in 
the rear of the Masonic Temple site, on the piece of level bottom. 
The bridge was of three strings of lattice-work, made from oak 
planks, fastened with oak pins. There was no iron in the struct- 
ure, except the nails that held the half-inch basswood boards 
which covered the lattice when the structure was completed. 
There were stone abutments on either shore. Christmas night, 
1844, the lattice was in place a distance of about seventy feet 
from the west shore, supported by temporary trestles. Ice 
formed about the trestles from the west shore. The water arose 
and lifted the entire structure, including the trestles, when it 
toppled over with a crash. The pride and fond anticipations 
of the village went out with it. Such discouragement is seldom 
depicted on the faces of the entire community. All shared in 
the disappointment; but the energies of the citizens were not 
easily foiled. A united effort was made in a short time, and 
promises were again secured. The abutments, piers and one 
section were left, and some of the material was saved which had 
floated down stream. The fallen lattice was taken from the 
water, and each plank numbered with red chalk ; and excepting 
a few that were splintered, they were again placed in proper 
order. After the ice went out in March, 1845, the structure 
was again raised, without accident. Cheerfulness and hope- 
fulness assumed full sway; and after many discouragements 
the bridge was open for travel, July 4, 1845. It was a time of 
great rejoicing. The public-spirited citizens of Rockford felt that 
Independence Day had been properly celebrated. When the 
last plank had been laid, E. H. Potter mounted a horse, and 
was the first man to ride across the bridge. It was estimated 
that two thousand people crossed the bridge that day. There 
were two roadways, separated by the centre lattice, which pro- 
jected about five feet above the planking. 

Perhaps no other public improvement in Rockford ever so 
tested the courage and financial strength of the community. 
The burden fell heavily upon the committee. The contract with 
Mr. "Harper was for five thousand and five hundred dollars. A 
financial statement made July 15, 1845, showed that only two 
thousand eight hundred and forty-seven dollars and ninety 
cents had been collected. The committee had borrowed five 
hundred dollars on their personal credit, for which they were 
paying twelve per cent. There was also a balance due Mr. 
Harper of one thousand two hundred and ninety-seven dollars. 


Built in 1837 by Richard Montague. Still standing: 


Built by George W. Brinckerhoff in 1838, on the northwest corner of Main and Green 
streets. Still standing 


The bridge served its day and generation very well, but it 
was subject to many calamities. The dam broke three times 
after the bridge was completed. When the west end broke in 
April, 1846, the pressure of the water on the upper side of the 
centre and principal pier removed the foundation on that side, 
and settled the bridge in the center on the up-stream side nearly 
to the water, and gave it the appearance of being twisted 
nearly one-fourth around. The bridge stood in this position 
for some months, when a contract was made with William 
Ward to raise it into position. The bridge sustained some injury 
when the eastern portion of the dam broke in April, 1847. On 
the 25th of February preceding, a law of the legislature had been 
approved, providing for a special tax to be levied upon the tax- 
able property of Rockford precinct, for the purpose of repairing 
and maintaining the bridge, and for the payment of the debt 
incurred in its construction. Newton Crawford, Bela Shaw, 
Ephraim Wyman and Daniel McKenney were appointed bridge 
commissioners by the act, and vested with power to declare the 
amount of tax to be levied, which was not to exceed fifty cents 
on one hundred dollars. These commissioners were appointed 
by the act, until their successors should be elected annually at the 
August election. When the dam went out the third time, in June, 
1851, the bridge withstood the rush of waters, although it was 
wrenched from its position. It reminded one of a cow-path or 
a rail-fence, and had a very insecure look. Though twisted 
from end to end, it kept its place very tenaciously until it was 
replaced by the covered bridge in the winter of 185253. Its 
memory should be treated with respect. It enabled people to 
attend their own respective churches, for nearly everybody 
went in those days Congregationalists on the West side, and 
the Methodists on the East side. Postoffice and county build- 
ings were accessible to all. It proved a bond of union between 
the two sides. 

The first foundry and machine shop was built in the autumn 
of 1843, or early in the spring of the following year. It stood 
on the site of Jeremiah Davis' residence, on North Second street. 
The proprietors were Peter H. and William Watson. Their 
father's family came from Canada, and settled on a farm in the 
Enoch neighborhood in Guilford. Peter Watson was at one 
time assistant secretary of war during the civil conflict, and at 
a later period was president of the New York and Erie railroad. 


The foundry was running in the spring of 1844. The proprie- 
tors obtained a contract for large pumps and pipes for raising 
water from the lead mines at Galena. March 11, 1845, William 
Watson sold his interest in the business to his brother, and 
engaged in the manufacture of fanning-mills. Peter H. contin- 
ued the foundry until August, 1845. His successors in the busi- 
ness at this stand were in turn : R. F. Reynolds, D. K. Lyon, John 
Stevens, H. H. Silsby, Laomi Peake, and James L. Fountain. 
The last named proprietor removed the material and patterns 
to New Milford about 1852. The last year Mr. Silsby conducted 
the business, in 1849, it was prosperous. People came a dis- 
tance of forty miles to get their work done. Mr. Silsby was often 
required to work nights in order to keep up with his orders. 
James Worsley was the expert moulder during all these years, 
and he was master of his trade. He was afterward in the employ 
of Clark & Utter until his retirement from the business by reason 
of old age. 

Orlando Clark, who has been erroneously credited with 
building the first foundry, came from Beloit in 1847, and estab- 
lished himself in business on the West side race, where he 
remained until 1851, when he went into business with Mr. Utter 
on the new water-power. Mr. Clark built the residence in South 
Rockford which is now the home of Judge John C. Garver. 



WORCESTER A. DICKERMAN was born in Green county, 
New York, September 10, 1820. He came to Rockford in 
1844. Upon his arrival he immediately went into partnership 
with his cousin, G. A. Sanford, under the firm name of W. A. 
Dickerman &Co., in the dry goods business. Their store was a 
two-story brick structure on the old Second National Bank 
corner. After four years they removed to a building which 
stood on the site of H. H. Waldo's book-store, where the busi- 
ness was continued for several years. The banking house of 
Dickerman, Wheeler & Sanford was then founded, which did 
business in the old building on the southeast corner of State 
and Main. Mr. Wheeler retired and was succeeded by Dr. R. P. 
Lane. The firm name was Lane, Sanford & Company, with Mr. 
Dickerman as the silent partner. This firm did a private banking 
business until the national banking system was introduced, in 
1865. The firm was given the second banking charter, underthe 
name of the Second National Bank. 

Upon the retirement of Mr. Dickerman from the banking 
business, he devoted his attention to insurance. He was one of 
the incorporators of the Rockford Insurance Company, and 
from 1884 to the time of his death he served as examiner in the 
mercantile department. Mr. Dickerman was school commis- 
sioner from 1847 to 1849. In 1847 he was united in marriage 
with Miss Caroline Thomas, eldest daughter of Dr. Alden 
Thomas ; and in 1897 they celebrated their golden wedding. 
Mr. Dickerman was prominent in church work. He was a mem- 
ber of the First Congregational church until 1849, when the 
Second church was formed. He became a charter member of the 
younger society, and in his later years he was familiarly known 
as its senior deacon. Mr. Dickerman was for some time the pur- 


chasing agent for Rockt'ord seminary. The highest type of gen- 
tleman is born; not made. Emerson says: "When private men 
shall act with vast vievys, the lustre will be transferred from the 
actions of kings to those of gentlemen." Mr. Dickerman 
belonged to this class. He was upright and genial ; and prob- 
ably never made a personal enemy. Full of years and crowned 
with honor, Mr. Dickerman passed away July 19, 1899. His 
immediate surviving family are Mrs. Dickerman; Miss Kather- 
ine, a daughter; and a son, Harry W. 

A short time before his death Mr. Dickerman prepared for 
this volume a chapter of reminiscences of Rockford as he saw it 
in 1844. It is a pleasant running commentary on men, places 
and things. An exact reproduction of his reminiscences would 
necessarily involve a repetition of statements already familiar 
to the reader; but the remainder of this chapter is substantially 
as Mr. Dickerman gave it to the author, although it contains a 
few slight repetitions of facts previously given. 

A ride in an open lumber wagon of about three days, com- 
ing from Chicago with Alonzo Corey, who had been in the city 
with a load of wheat, brought us to Rockford. Though some- 
what tiresome, we expected some inconveniences, and accepted 
them gracefully. To one who had lived among the Catskill 
mountains, the open prairies had much of interest. Garden 
Prairie was very attractive. Mr. Corey would say: "Waituntil 
you see the Rock river country." The State road from Belvi- 
dere was principally through wooded land. As we came toBela 
Shaw's place, unexpected improvements appeared : a row of 
thrifty young poplar trees set in front, a half circle formed 
inside, with an avenue from that to the dwelling; also an ave- 
nue from the street to the barn. Mr. Shaw was a justice of the 
peace; very dignified, guarding well the morals of the commu- 
nity. He was an excellent specimen of a Canadian English 
gentleman. From Mr. Shaw's residence to the village, there 
were about one and a half miles of prairie, which afforded a very 
extended view in all directions. The high ground on the east 
was timber-land, known as "Big Woods." South, west and 
north the outlook was attractive. Stages in passing were often 
stopped by request of passengers to take in the beautiful view. 
There were a few patches of cultivated land and small dwell- 
fngs, but nothing to obstruct the view in any direction. "And 
now," says Mr. Corey, "this is the part of the Rock river valley 


of which I have told you." Truly, I had never seen a prettier 
picture. I think there were no buildings between Mr. Shaw's 
home and the village, which was completely shut out of view 
by the forest, and no church spires to indicate its location. 
Frink, Walker & Co.'s stage barn near the present watering- 
trough on Kishwaukee street, was the first building. A two- 
story building, corner of State and First street, occupied in 
part by Laomi Peake, a harness-maker, was the best in town. 
There were then no other shops. Mr. Peake was an energetic, 
industrious man. A little farther west was the postoffice. 
Charles H. Spafford was the postmaster. He was a genial, 
upright, frank-hearted man, well adapted to the business, and 
very popular. His two brothers, John and Catlin, were on a 
farm three miles south on the Kishwaukee road. Mr. Spafford's 
successor under James K. Polk's administration, was Charles 
I. Horsman, who removed the office to the west side of the 
river. Willard Wheeler had a store and tin-shop near by. He 
was a very decided character, sometimes called obstinate; 
always aiming to head off the West-siders, who were alert and 
ready to guard their own interests. Near at hand Searle & 
Worthington had the only drug store in town. Dr. Searle was 
quite a politician, and the store was a sort of political head- 
quarters. William Worthington was a quiet man, and highly 
esteemed. He was fond of music, and particularly the drum. 

On the south side of State street Lewis Holmes had a shoe- 
shop. The Washington Temperance House came next, kept by 
so-called Judge Blackstone, a popular landlord. Volney Marsh 
and Thomas D. Robertson, young married people, were among 
his fashionable boarders. Across East State street, on the 
corner, was the Rockford House, known as the stage house, kept 
by Andrew Brown, a very good landlord. Directly north was 
the New York store, kept by A. H. H. Perkins, a genial, active 
business man. He was popular, and had a good trade. On 
the southwest corner of State and Main, now called Madison, 
was a two -story brick building. It was the largest in town, 
with the most complete stock of goods, owned and conducted 
by E. H. Potter. He was a very decided, upright businessman, 
prominent in the church and everything that pertained to good 
citizenship and the prosperity of the village, and particularly 
East Rockford. He was the father of Mrs. William Lathrop 
and Commodore E. E. Potter. He built and occupied the brick 
building now owned by Rev. Mead Holmes as a residence. Mr. 


Potter had a brother, Herman B. Potter, a farmer, and a man 
highly esteemed. His dwelling stood on ground now occupied 
by the First Congregational church. He also had another 
brother, Joel B. Potter, a farmer, who resided two miles from 
the village. He was formerly a Presbyterian clergyman. His 
health had failed, but he was still an active and valuable man 
in the church. I first knew him as Sunday-school superintendent 
in the Congregational church. The second story of the Potter 
store was occupied by Jason Marsh and James M. Wight, the 
principal law firm in the town. They were public-spirited citi- 
zens. Mr. Marsh was a bold, daring man, a fluent speaker, ready 
for any emergency, and well adapted to a new country. He was 
very active in securing the arrest and conviction of noted bur- 
glars and horse-thieves in connection with the Mulford robbery. 
Some of these had been the more dangerous because they were 
well-known citizens. Their duplicity was shown in their appar- 
ent anxiety to ferret out horse-thieves, while at the same time 
they were keeping them fully advised of all proceedings. Mr. 
Wight did not make a specialty of pleading at the bar; but he 
was a thorough lawyer, and highly appreciated as a counselor. 
The descent from the Potter store to the river was quite steep. 
The surface of the river was four feet lower before the dam was 
built. Teamsters with heavy loads called it the hardest hill, 
from the river bank to Madison street, between Chicago and 
Rockford. The road was quite sandy, and frequently the teams 
were doubled in order to make the ascent. On the south side of 
State, Mrs. Preston, since Mrs. Selden M. Church, had a dwell- 
ing, and was married there. The crossing of the river was by 
ferry- boat, which would carry two teams at a time. John Fisher 
was ferryman, and he was assisted by Asher Miller. Rock river 
was a clear, beautiful stream at its ordinary stage. So small a 
portion of the prairies was under cultivation that the soil did 
not wash into the stream. Its banks sloped gently from the 
ford, as far up as one could see. There was a small island near 
the present water-works, and another farther north. Both were 
nearly submerged by the effect of the dam. A large number of 
teams crossed the river at the ford. In ordinary stage of water 
it was from two to two and a half feet deep, all rock bottom. 
It was quite an attractive sight when several teams followed in 
succession. In this way they saved the ferriage fee. Many 
teams were employed in transporting merchandise from Chicago 
to Galena and points up the Mississippi. On their return trips 


they often bought wheat and sold it in Chicago. At times, 
when the ice in the river had not become strong enough, and 
about the season it was breaking up, neither ford, ferry nor row- 
boats were available, however important one's business might 
be. Sometimes this condition continued several days. The 
bridge, when completed after much delay and discouragement, 
formed a bond of union between the two sides ; but it must not 
be supposed that perfect harmony existed among the leading 
men in the management of their respective sides. William E. 
Dunbar, E. H. Potter, Willard Wheeler and Dr. Searle were on 
the East side; and Charles I. Horsman, G. A. Sanford, John A. 
Holland, S. M. Church and T. D. Robertson were citizens of the 
West side. They were representative men, loyal to the interests 
of Rockford, but much more loyal to their respective sides. 
Sharp conflicts were frequent. 

On the West side, between the river and Main street, there 
was one building, a dwelling, on the north side of State. There 
was none on the south side until reaching the corner of State 
and Main. A two-story brick building, nearly new, was occupied 
by G. A. Sanford as a general store. He kept the largest and 
best stock of goods on the West side. He had about eleven 
hundred dollars invested, and enjoyed a very good trade. He 
was a leading man in all new enterprises for village improve- 
ment on the West side ; he was thoroughly interested in whatever 
contributed to the religious, educational or business prosperity 
of the village. Mr. Sanford was a man of great energy, and 
had just completed a term as sheriff of the county. He had 
many desperate characters to deal with ; and nothing but his 
determined bravery enabled him to succeed. Mr. Sanford was 
acquainted with every resident in the county, and was held in 
high esteem. He took in a partner, then twenty-four years of 
age. The manner of doing business was quite different from 
the present, and some particulars may be of interest. 

The money was in great variety, gold and silver as well as 
paper. There were no banks, and funds were exchanged as 
far as possible by such as could buy New York exchange in Chi- 
cago. Gold, for purchasing goods, was carried in money-belts 
to New York. Hiram R. Maynard was about to go into busi- 
ness. He entrusted his money and gave full authority to the 
junior partner to purchase a general stock. In the aggregate 
it was quite a sum of money, for the time, to take along. He 
would have been a good subject for the thieves that infested the 


country if they had known his treasure. The partner started 
for New York on Thursday, February 20, 1845. He had a fine, 
large buffalo-robe to protect him from the weather. The ice in 
the river was breaking up ; but two strong men in a row-boat 
crossed among floating cakes of ice, and took a mud wagon 
stage on the East side. The roads were bad, but two nights and 
a part of three days brought him safely to Chicago on Satur- 
day. The partner stopped at the American Temperance House, 
well kept by Brown & Tuttle. This was a newer and better 
building than theTremont or Mansion. The Sherman was the 
only brick hotel in the city, located on its present ground. The 
partner attended the First Presbyterian church on Sunday. 
This was a one-story, frame structure. There were nothing but 
frame churches in Chicago at that time. On Monday he took 
the stage by way of Michigan City to Detroit ; stage again from 
Detroit through Canada to Buffalo, traveling night and da} 7 ; 
railroad from there to Albany; flat rail; and two days from 
there to his old home in the Catskill mountains. As the goods 
could not be shipped until the opening of the Hudson river and 
the Erie canal, he delayed purchasing until that time. The 
canal boats were loaded in New York, and towed to Albany. 
It was considered very good time if goods came from New York 
to Rockford in three weeks. The partner returned by way of 
the lakes, and arrived in Rockford May 1st, and most of the 
goods were received during the month. Mr. Maynard's stock 
also came in good time, and he expressed himself well satisfied 
with his selection. 

The sign of W. A. Dickerman & Co. was seen on the brick 
store, corner of State and Main. It was about twenty by fifty 
deep ; counter on one side, and the east end was now filled with 
a well selected stock of dry goods, groceries, crockery, hard- 
ware, and some drugs. Such a stock was kept as found ready 
purchasers from all parts of the county. The partners were 
never happier in a business way than then. Before harvesting, 
grain was all cut with hand cradles, and raked and bound by 
hand, which required additional help and greater supplies. I 
took our team and went to Galena, which then had a large 
wholesale grocery trade, mainly in the mining region. Steam- 
ers brought their supplies from New Orleans and St. Louis, and 
shipped away their lead. I purchased a supply of goods and 
returned within a week. This purchase gave us a complete 
stock until fall purchases could be made in New York. 


On the Ashton corner was a two-story brick hotel, called 
the Winnebago House. Thence west there were no buildings on 
either side of State, until we arrive at the court house, which 
was the pride of the whole county. The new building was well 
adapted to the needs of the community. The main building 
was a court room, with two rooms in rear for jury, and awing 
on each side, occupied respectively by the county clerk, recorder, 
sheriff, circuit clerk, and probate justice of the peace. The 
last office was held by Selden M. Church, who occupied the west 
wing. The court room served a good purpose for lectures and 
public gatherings. It was then the only public hall in town. A 
brick jail in the rear, near the present location, was really the 
best in the country, and considered very secure. Samuel C. 
Fuller, the jailer, was a man well fitted for the time; he was 
ready for any emergency, and perfectly fearless. He had the 
Mulford robbers and several desperate horse-thieves in charge 
at one time. A special guard was kept at night for a time dur- 
ing their confinement awaiting trial ; also to convey them across 
the country to the penitentiary after their conviction. 

On the McPherson corner, north of the courthouse, was the 
residence of Dr. Alden Thomas. He was a natural gentleman, 
reliable, and active in church and society work. He had nearly 
retired from medical practice. On the Horsman estate, which 
retains its trees and natural appearance more than any other 
place in the city, resided Abiram and Mrs. Morgan. Though 
rather a small house, their good cheer made it abound in hos- 
pitality. Their daughter and her husband, Charles I. Horsman, 
were very genial, and made their home attractive. They were 
fond of society. Parties were frequent, and guests from Belvi- 
dere and Freeport were usually in attendance. No party was 
considered complete without the presence of Mrs. Morgan. 
Their church home was the First Baptist, where they were gen- 
erous contributors. 

West on State street, this side of Kent's creek, which was 
then quite a large, beautiful stream, was a cemetery, near Mrs. 
Richings' residence. But another retired place had been selected 
in the woods, which it was supposed would not be disturbed 
for many years ; and most of the bodies had been removed 
there. When the Galena & Chicago Union railroad was built, 
the company wanted the grounds. The proceeds of that sale 
purchased the beautiful West side cemetery, and furnished a 
fund for its improvement. The bodies were again removed, 


and owners of lots in the former grounds were given lots in the 
new cemetery. 

The first house west of the city limits was occupied by a 
Scotch shepherd. His sheep often came down and fed in the 
woods. In hot weather they found a comfortable place under 
the Congregational church, which was built on a block founda- 
tion, about two feet off the ground. Nearly every family kept 
their own cows, as there was a large range for them in which to 
run. It was sometimes difficult to find them if they did not come 
home at night. To remedy this perplexity, many put bells on 
them. Each owner aimed to get one that he could recognize at a 
distance. It was quite pleasant music when several cows came 
home together. There were but few enclosed farms between 
Rockford and Twelve-Mile Grove. 

Before going down on Main street we hear the stage-driver's 
horn. Frink, Walker & Co.'s tri-weekly mail stage is coming in 
from Galena. See that skilled driver cracking his long whip 
over his horses ! How beautifully he drives down State street ! 
He is the admiration of all the boys, as he reins up his pranc- 
ing horses at the Winnebago House. In fact, he attracts every- 
body. It equaled a special train at this time, for he brings 
distinguished company: Judge Thomas C. Brown, M. D. John- 
son, Thomas Drummond and E. B. Washburne, of Galena; 
Thomas J. Turner and Martin P. Sweet, of Freeport. They 
made a specially quick run, less than eighteen hours from Galena. 
They came to attend circuit court. It was expected then to see 
several lawyers from other counties attending courts. The best 
horses and most gorgeous coaches started and came in from 
the two ends of the line, to and fnom Rockford. They crossed 
the river on the ferry-boat to the stage house on the East side, 
and then to the stage barn, where a fresh relay of horses and 
another driver were provided ; and soon the passengers are 
moving rapidly toward Chicago. About the same time the 
stage rushes in from Chicago, and brings the United States mail. 
Then comes the rush for letters by all who have twenty-five 
cents to pay the letter postage. In this sta,gecome the lawyers, 
Allen C. Fuller, James M. Loop and Stephen A. Hurlbut, of 
Belvidere. The excitement of the arrival and departure of the 
stages for two days is now over, and we will go down Main 

The Horsman lot, Porter's corner, is vacant to the court 
house. Where Daniel Dow's block now stands, he had a small, 


one-story building, a shoe-shop, in which he worked. George 
Tullock worked for him. They were young men. This shop 
was a popular resort in the evening to discuss the news of the 
day. In the autumn, on bright sunny days, fever and ague 
subjects found the front a pleasant lounging-place. They sat on 
boxes and joked each other about his pale, sallow face. Their 
recitals about jarring the house, and shaking themselves out of 
their boots, either amusing or frightening their families, were 
quite ridiculous. Fortunately, most of the houses were only 
one story at that time. Here comes Uncle Stone, an old vet- 
eran, who lives near the cemetery, on the bank of Kent's creek, 
by the mill-dam, which is a regular breeder of ague. He has had a 
hard tussle with it for two or three years. "How about the chills 
this year, Uncle? " "I had an awful time yesterday; thought 
I would shake my teeth out; folks all sick; but I'm goin' ter 
wear the ager out this year or quit. It comes only once a week 
now." "Well, you don't look much like conquering such a 
powerfurenemy ; it is more likely that you will be laid away in 
the cemetery." As a parting salute to Fever and Ague, I say 
that I never heard a good word spoken for you ; though you 
mingled in good society, you always commenced the fight when 
we were convalescing from bilious or typhoid fever ; and how- 
ever polite our solicitations, you never left until driven away by 
good health. 

Very near Mr. Dow's shoe-shop was G. A. Sanford's resi- 
dence, with many additions. This was my home about two 
years. A part of it may now be seen on the lot south of Keyt's 
livery stable, near the centre bridge. A house on this lot was 
the first one occupied as a store by John Platt and G. A. San- 
ford, and as a dwelling by them and 1). D. Ailing and their 
wives. On the Chick House corner was a dwelling house occu- 
pied by Albert Sanford and Hiram R. Maynard. Both were 
recently married ; they were men of strict integrity, and were 
highly esteemed for generous, kindly acts in daily life. Albert 
was one of those genial, social neighbors who could brighten 
the dark places of many sick and discouraged ones, and always 
ready to lend a helping hand. On the east side of Main street, 
near Loomis' store, was a dwelling occupied by H. W. Loomis, 
his father and mother. On the Winnebago Bank corner was a 
dwelling occupied by H. L. Rood, an active man, but not then 
engaged in business. He was gentlemanly and affable ; looked 
after the strangers, and was ever ready to show them the 


village, for which he always predicted a bright future. H. R. 
Maynard built a one-story store on the Masonic Tern pie corner, 
which he occupied a short time. Itwasthen used by C. A. Hunt- 
ington as an academy. The Second Congregational church was 
organized in this building in 1849. It is now used as a black- 
smith's shop near Mrs. Brett's block. Near the south corner, 
now the site of the Brown Building, was a small cabinet-shop. 
Boston rockers, Windsor chairs, wooden seats, other articles 
of furniture, and coffins were manufactured here. I do not recol- 
lect any other buildings on this side of the street until arriving 
at Ephraim Wyman's bakery. This was located near the ford. 
It was convenient for emigrants and teamsters to get their 
supplies, as many camped out, and slept in their wagons at 
night. This was cash trade, and valuable, as the village pat- 
ronage was small. Kent's creek was forded somewhat east of 
Main street. Wyman's bakery was the place where the young 
men could indulge in the luxury of his home-made beer and 
ginger-bread, and enjoy his good cheer. We remember him as a 
generous, whole-souled man. His business naturally attracted 
the hungry and destitute; and if worthy they were never turned 
away. His daily life was exemplary, and his counsel good. The 
records of Winnebago county show that very important trusts 
were committed to him ; and he never proved false to the con- 
fidence reposed in him. Opportunities were not lacking for him 
to secure a competence, but he preferred the consciousness of 
doing right at all times. Like many of the early business men, 
he came to the close of his life in limited circumstances, and left 
the inheritance of a good name. After the bridge was built he 
came up on State street, and started a boarding house. 

The log and frame dwelling, supposed to be the first build- 
ing on the west side of the river, was occupied by Germanicus 
Kent. When Main street was opened it was removed across 
the creek. Mr. Kent was associated with Mr. Brinckerhoff. They 
nominally owned several tracts of land south and west of the 
village, which have since become very valuable. They were 
unsuccessful in their enterprises. Mr. Briuckerhoff left town 
before I came, and Mr. Kent's family removed the year that I 
arrived. I had but little personal acquaintance with them; 
but I always heard them spoken of in the highest terms. There 
was a dwelling where the Emerson stone warehouse now stands, 
south of the Northwestern railroad track, occupied by Deras- 
tus Harper, the bridge contractor. On the northeast corner of 


the same block, was a dwelling owned and occupied by Nathan- 
iel Wilder, a good blacksmith, from Keene, New Hampshire. 
He was a genuine New England Yankee. Block seventeen, next 
north, was covered with a fine growth of oak, with no build- 
ings. On the corner north of the postoffice was a dwelling built 
by Mr. Brinckerhoff. It was the first house for a great many 
new-comers until they could build. Sometimes three families 
were thus accommodated at the same time. The building still 
stands on the same ground. The prettiest building on the 
street was called "The Cottage," and was occupied by John W. 
Taylor, who came here with his young wife from Albany, New 
York. They were genteel, excellent people. For a time Mr. 
Taylor sold goods in a store on the corner of Main and Chest- 
nut; but it was closed when I came. David D. Alling's carpen- 
ter's shop, a little north of it, still stands. His dwelling was 
near it. Mr. Ailing was fond of hunting, and very successful. 
He usually had some dried venison hams hanging in his shop. 
Mr. Ailing built the house for W. A. Dickerman, on North Main 
street, before that street was opened. The house was one of 
the best, and almost the first that was covered with pine lum- 
ber. This house is now owned by William F. Woodruff. A 
house where the Blaisdell block now stands completed the 
buildings on South Main street, which was the most thickly 
settled of any part of the West side. 

We have very pleasant recollections of the Congregational 
church, a building forty feet square, on the corner of Church 
and Green streets, which was then attended by all the Congre- 
gationalists and Presbyterians on both sides of the river, as well 
as by many Unitarians. The New York friends of Kent and 
Brinckerhoff, who principally furnished the funds for the erec- 
tion of the little church, knew but little of its power for good in 
laying the foundations of a prosperous Christian community. 
The attendance there embraced all the church-goers except the 
Baptists and Methodists. Let us go down to the ferry-boat 
Sunday morning, and see who come across the river. Among 
our acquaintances who attend this church are : Charles Works 
and family, James Works, Peter B. Johnson and James B. 
Johnson and their families, Gabriel Dunning and family, Dea- 
con Ira Baker and family, Alfred P. Mather, Horace Foote, 
William E. Dunbar, Jason Marsh, Volney A. Marsh, James M. 
Wight, Charles H. Spafford, John Spafford, B. H. Potter, Her- 
man Potter, Joel B. Potter, Asa Crosby, B. G. Wheeler, Dr. A. 


M. Catlin, and their families; theHerrick family, Lewis Gregory, 
Judge Bela Shaw, William P. Dennis, Anson Barnum, Henry 
Silsby, Mr. Tinker, and H. Burrows and family The statement 
was made some time ago that the first church bell used in 
Rockford was placed on the Presbyterian church. I do not 
know of any such bell; but I do know that Rev. Mr. Norton, 
who preceded Rev. William Curtis in the Congregational church, 
brought a bell and had it placed and used in that church. 
When he left, the church did not purchase it, and he took it 
away. I also know of a Meneely bell, weighing six hundred 
and forty pounds, which I purchased in New York. This was 
for the brick Congregational church on the corner of First and 
Walnut streets. 

OQ North Main street a brick blacksmith's shop stood on 
the site of Louck's restaurant, occupied by Stephen Skinner, a 
good blacksmith, a man of strict integrity, and a deacon in the 
Congregational church. His residence was just north of the 
shop. On the west side of Main street, at the north end of the 
Winnebago House, Cyrus F. and Anson S. Miller had a law 
office. They were good lawyers. Alison S. was quite promi- 
nent as a politician. Adjoining their office, in the same build- 
ing, Isaac Andrus had a small store. He was quite an active 
man in the First Baptist church. Where the Presbyterian 
church now stands, Michael Burns, a tailor, resided. He was 
always posted in the news of the town, attended closely to his 
business, and was active in church work. Near by was Austin 
Colton's residence, which may now be seen just north of the 
Presbyterian church. He was editor and proprietor of the 
Rockford Forum, a good weekly paper for the time, creditable 
to himself and to the village. On the north side of North street 
was John Beattie's residence, where his family still resides. Main 
street ended at William A. Talcott's residence. A road ran 
east about a block, then north, following about that distance 
from the river, to the entrance of Dr. Haskell's residence, front- 
ing the river, now occupied by George Forbes. He selected the 
highest partof thisground, which slopes to the west, south and 
east. There were no buildings to obstruct, and it was a beau- 
tiful view, surrounded with an orchard of thrifty fruit trees. 
Apples were in great variety, early and late, and pears, peaches 
and plums just coming into bearing. I think it extended to 
Court street, and north to Fisher avenue. The Doctor was 
closely identified with the interests of the town. He had a fair 


medical practice, from which he was retiring. It was the cus- 
tom to be very generous in doses of medicine. His hand-made 
pills assured his patients that he had not called simply for a 
visit. As there were no dentists, the only remedy for aching, 
decayed teeth was to extract them, and that with turnkeys. 
All physicians were experts in this line of torture. The memory 
of experience in that line is not at all effaced by years. I made 
a friendly call at the house, and found Mrs. Haskell and her 
daughter preparing and knitting silk stockings for themselves. 
Silk worms had been fed from mulberry leaves grown on their own 
trees, and the silk wound and twisted from their cocoons. The 
daughter is the mother of Dr. F. H. and Willis Kimball. The 
family were genuine New Englanders, industrious and economi- 
cal. There had been quite an excitement over growing mulberry 
trees, for ornamental, shade and fruit trees, and silk culture. 
They made a quick growth, but did not prove a profitable 

Following the river road from the Beattie grounds north, 
near the river bank, was a beautiful boulevard, of which we 
would be proud today. The next house was nearT. D. Robert- 
son's residence. Continuing north on Main street, was a house 
occupied by James Taylor, an industrious farmer. He did 
express work about town occasionally, with his oxen and cart. 
Farther north, on the line of Harlem avenue, near Auburn 
street, was a large two-story building, erected for a hotel by 
Charles Reed, who was so confident that the State road from 
Chicago to Galena would cross the river at this point, that he 
not only put up the hotel, but had a full section of land laid off 
into blocks and lots, and called his village Winnebago. In his 
opinion, it was a very unwise thing when the state road was 
laid across the river at Rockford. About the 20th of October 
we had a heavy snowstorm. We fitted up a lumber wagon box 
on a sleigh, took in a jolly company of young ladies and gen- 
tlemen, and had a genuine enjoyable sociable, or "sewing soci- 
ety," as it was then called, at the Reed house. 



THE aristocracy of a community is always founded upon 
what its people believe to be the chief good. Whenever 
the emphasis is placed upon noble family descent, the aristoc- 
racy is founded upon blood. If intellectual culture is the sum- 
mum bonum, -the charmed circle will be composed of artists, 
poets and literati. When money is considered the first object 
of pursuit, wealth will be the basis of aristocracy. In the social 
life of ancient Rome, the patricians were the descendants of the 
first settlers. From that day to this aristocracy has rested in 
a measure upon good birth. The fact that a man is well born 
is accepted as a letter of credit the wide world over. 

The "open sesame" to good society in the early days of 
Rockford was not noble blood, nor culture, nor wealth. If any 
aristocracy had developed, it rested upon common respecta- 
bility. The society of Rockford from fifty to sixty years ago 
was of the highest class. It was characterized by a delightful 
Arcadian simplicity. The settlers were not burdened with the 
care of large houses, and costly furniture, and expensive ward- 
robes. The axiom that one might as well be out of the world 
as out of fashion was the invention of a later date. It was not 
considered good form for a lady to make a formal afternoon 
call when she might suppose that the lady of the house would 
be absent, and leave her card with the maid, with solemn pro- 
testations of regret that the lady of the house was not at home. 
In fact, there were no domestics; hence the servant girl problem 
did not threaten domestic tranquility and the general welfare. 
Instead of a large number of calls in an afternoon, friends would 
make an afternoon and evening visit. Gentlemen were allowed 
at these functions. Meetings for benevolent purposes were held 
at private houses, and substantial refreshments were served 
which the guests could eat. Societies were then founded which 
still have an existence. Hospitality was of the true and genu- 
ine sort. A walk of two or three miles did not require much 


effort, although there were no sidewalks nor street lamps. A 
hand lantern, brilliantly illuminated with a candle or oil lamp, 
and cheerful company, would dispel the most dense Egyptian 
darkness. Sometimes a little company would go in lumber 
wagons three to five miles into the country for a rehearsal of 
church music with a friend. The music and the social converse 
were alike enjoyable. Literary entertainments were occasion- 
ally given at the court house. 

Weddings were not of very frequent occurrence ; but they 
were the large social gatherings, and the invitations were quite 
general. The marriage of M. H. Regan and Miss Louisa Dewey 
occurred in 1845. He invited the young people to a wedding 
supper at the American House in Belvidere. They made quite 
an attractive appearance, writes Mr. Dicker man, as they started 
in their private conveyance. There were no top buggies or 
carriages in Rockford at that time. 

The wedding of Charles H. Spafford and Miss Abby Warren 
was solemnized March 8, 1842, at the residence of Jason 
Marsh. The Rockford Pilot says the party was large and bril- 
liant. The bride had come to Rockford in the autumn of 1841, 
to keep house for her brother, Edward Warren, the second post- 
master of the village. Mr. Warren had built the upright part 
of the present residence of Dr. Lichty, on the corner of Third 
and Walnut streets. It was built of brick, and entirely finished 
in black walnut. Mrs. Spafford's father, Joseph Warren, was 
a son of Dr. John Warren, who was surgeon-general in Wash- 
iagton's army, and a brother of General Joseph Warren, who 
was killed at the battle of Bunker Hill. Mrs. Spafford's father 
received his education at Cambridge. His death occurred when 
his daughter was five years of age. Mrs. Spafford was also 
descended from Governor John Collins, the last colonial governor 
of Rhode Island. She was educated in the east and upon her 
settlement in Rockford she became prominent in the social life of 
the village. Her religious sympathies have always been with 
the Unitarian church. 

May 20, 1845, Selden M. Church and Mrs. Mary Preston 
were united in marriage. Mr. Thurston gives this incident in 
his Reminiscences: "At one p. m. sharp that day, I drove up 
to the front of the Rockford House with 'Black Lucy, 'the hand- 
somest horse in the town, hitched in the shafts of an open buggy 
with wood axles, basswood dash, seat upholstered with a buffalo- 
robe, and clean harnessthe best in town from the livery of 


Tyler & Thurston, which equipage I had in charge for the occa- 
sion, and handed the reins to the Judge. He was followed as he 
drove off by the benedictions of the assembly. We had no shoes 
to throw after them, as they were required for personal use, 
and rice had not yet come into vogue; but God-bless-yous and 
our best wishes did follow in the wake of the disappearing 

Isaiah Lyon and Mary Hitchcock were married March 31, 
1841. The bride's father was Jonathan Hitchcock. He had 
recently built the brick hou8^ at 111 North First street, now 
occupied by E. S. Tebbetts as a residence and dental rooms. The 
bridal party were given a charivari. This is of French origin, 
and is said to have been introduced into the west by the settlers 
of that nationality at Kaskaskia. 

There was considerable social intercourse between Rockford 
and the neighboring towns. The settlers of Belvidere and Rock- 
ford were of the same general class. Prof. Whitman, who was a 
stated supply at one timein one of the local pulpits, was widely 
known as a Baptist clergyman and educator. Mrs. Whitman 
and Mrs. R. S. Molony, a,lso of Belvidere, were nieces of Miss 
Matilda Hoffman, the young lady to whom Washington Irving 
was engaged. She died in April, 1809, at the age of eighteen. 
By way of a digression it may be said that Irving slept with 
her Bible and prayer-book under his pillow, and they were his 
inseparable companions. His devotion to her memory caused 
him to remain a bachelor. In his private note-book he wroto: 
"She died in the beauty of her youth, and in my memory she 
will ever be young and beautiful." In St. Mark's Eve, in 
Bracebridge Hall, he plaintively says: "There are departed 
beings whom I have loved as I never again shall love in this 
world who have loved me as I never again shall be loved!" 
Miss Hoffman died in the arms of Rebecca Gratz, a beautiful 
Jewess of Philadelphia. Irving visited Sir Walter Scott in 1817 ; 
and upon the strength of his vivid description of this lady, Sir 
Walter made her the heroine of Ivanhoe, Rebecca, the most 
romantic creation of female character that the author ever con- 

Dr. Molony represented his district in congress from 1851 
to 1853, as a Democrat. Chicago was then included in that 
district. Senator and Mrs. Stephen A. Douglas were occasional 
guests at the Molony home, which was a social centre in the 
neighboring village. 


Mr. and Mrs. Abiram Morgan were leaders in social circles. 
Mrs. Morgan was one whom everybody esteemed. Her kindness, 
ready sympathy, genuine hospitality and superior housekeep- 
ing made her log-house as a palace-home, where all loved to 
visit; and the genius of the place remained to the third gen- 
eration. Their grandchildren are Mrs. Underwood and Mrs. 
Ogden, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Horsman. A third daughter 
died when a child, and was buried in a corner of the homestead 
grove, where her grave could be seen for many years. The 
remains were finally removed to the West side cemetery. A 
grandson of Mr. Ilorsman has developed literary talent, and 
he has written articles for the magazines, which have been pub- 
lished during the past year. 

Mrs. Spafford says that among her first acquaintances were 
Mr. and Mrs. John W. Taylor. In their home was the essence 
of hospitality. Mr. Taylor was always the courtly and attent- 
ive host, and Mrs. Taylor lent a charm to whatever place she 
occupied by the sweetness and grace of her manner. Mr. Taylor 
is now residing in New York City. His sister was the first Mrs. 
T. D. Robertson. 

James Mitchell was one of nature's noblemen. There were 
Francis Burnap, the ancient bachelor and astute lawyer, with his 
wig, which never quite covered the natural hair; JudgeShaw, an 
old-school gentleman ; and David Penfield, whom many remem- 
ber with respect. The three Potter brothers and their families 
left their impress upon the community until this day. The 
kindly nature and ready sympathy of Mrs. Alden Thomas 
endeared her to all her friends. Volney Marsh, with his tuning- 
fork and an old-fashioned singing-book, with which he kept 
time, was a familiar figure in the singing-gallery. "Brad" 
McKenney was quite a prominent character in those days. It 
has been said he was heard more in public than any other man 
in the community. He was known far and wide for his kindness 
of heart, and he would leave his business to nurse the sick when- 
ever his services were needed. 

The Sanford brothers, Albert, Robert, and Goodyear Asa, 
were representative society men. Robert died November 22, 
1871, at Virginia City, Montana, aged fifty years. Mrs. A. C. 
Spafford, the first Mrs. John Spafford and Mrs. I. N. Cunning- 
ham were sisters. Mrs. W. P. Dennis was a fine housekeperand 
a lady of refinement. Shepherd Leach was popular in social 
circles. Rev. William S. Curtis, pastor of the First Congrega- 


tioiial church, was highly esteemed. His wife was Miss Martha 
Leach, a sisterof Shepherd Leach. Jason Marsh was the "Beau" 
Brummell of his day. Rev. Lansing Porter had a wide personal 

There was a scarcity of young society, and young ladies 
were at a premium. A well known young man of the village 
went quite a distance into the country to call upon some young 
ladies. The old gentleman, their father, arose from his chair at 
nine o'clock and announced that he was the last person up in 
the house, and that it was his time to retire. 

Whatever may have been the differences between the East 
and West sides in business affairs, in the social life of the com- 
munity there were no two sides of the river. A common feeling 
of sympathy made them one people. H. H. Waldo comments 
in this wise upon Rockford society in the forties and fifties : 
"Society was free from artificial distinctions. The pioneer days 
were the red-letter days of my life. I would like to live them 
over again. There was a more fraternal feeling among men in 
the same line of business. Competition was not so strong. The 
popular amusements were instructive as well as entertaining." 

The larger number of social distinctions are natural rather 
than artificial. Friendships are formed upon the basis of social 
affinity, which is as truly a natural law as chemical affinity. The 
public ball was one of the popular amusements among a class 
of residents of the olden time. These balls were usually held at 
the Rockford House, the Washington House, or the Winuebago 
House. Christmas and New Year's were usually chosen for 
these events. Guests came from considerable distance. At a 
"union" ball held at the Winnebago House, January 22, 1845, 
managers were elected from Rockford, Whig Hill, Beloit, Ros- 
coe, Belvidere, Cleveland, Byron, Grand Detour, Oregon, Dixon, 
and Charleston. The sporting element has been admirably 
portrayed by Mr. Thurston, in his Reminiscences. They have 
the genuine flavor of an interesting phase of life in a new com- 
munity. Hunting and fishing were favorite pastimes. Barn- 
raisings were seasons of social interest as well as of mutual 
helpfulness. Occasionally a marriage would be followed by a 
charivari, which, happily, has become obsolete in civilized com- 



P^-MERSON observes that an institution is the lengthened 
L- shadow of one man ; as, the Reformation of Luther ; Meth- 
odism, of Wesley ; and that all history resolves itself into the 
biography of a few stout and earnest persons. Thus, he says, 
"events grow on the same stem with persons; are sub-persons." 
The larger number of the early settlers of Rockford came from 
New England. Some emigrated from New York and other 
states, but the New England element predominated. These 
pioneers impressed their personality upon this community, and 
it has remained until this day. The New Englanders, in their 
native home, were a homogeneous race; even the Chinese were 
scarcely more so. With the exception of a few Huguenot families, 
who came from the old world at the close of the seventeenth 
century, and who, from religious sympathy and other causes, 
were easily grafted on the primeval vine, they were all descend- 
ants of English stock. 

Industry, thrift, and a high sense of personal honor are 
prominent traits in the typical son of New England. Soil and 
climate determine in some measure the character of a people. 
The rocky soil of New England required the husbandman to 
practice the virtue of industry. In a speech given at a dinner 
of the Pilgrim Society in Plymouth, in 1855, Wendell Phillips 
gave this unique characterization of the Puritans: "How true 
it is that the Puritans originated no new truth ! How true it is, 
also, Mr. President, that it is not truth which agitates the world. 
Plato in the groves of the Academy sounded on and on to the 
utmost depth of philosophy, but Athens was quiet. Calling 
around him the choicest minds of Greece, he pointed out the 
worthlessness of their altars and the sham of public life, but 
Athena was quiet, it was all speculation. When Socrates 
walked the streets of Athens, and, questioning every-day life, 
struck the altar till the faith of the passer-by faltered, it came 
close to ACTION, and immediately they gave him hemlock, for 
the city was turned upside down. I might find a better illustra- 


tion in the streets of Jerusalem. What the Puritans gave the 
world was not thought, but ACTION. Europe had ideas, but she 
was letting '/ dare not wait upon / would,' like the cat in the 
adage. The Puritans, with native pluck, launched out into the 
deep sea. Men, who called themselves thinkers, had been creep- 
ing along the Mediterranean, from headland to headland, in 
their timidity; the Pilgrims launched boldty out into the Atlan- 
tic, and trusted God. That is the claim they have upon pos- 
terity. It was ACTION that made them what they were." 

That which is purchased at the greatest cost is usually the 
most highly treasured ; and thus the industrious farmer and 
artisan became frugal. It was a point of honor with a true 
New Englander to maintain his family and pay his debts. This he 
could not do except by a persevering industry, and a methodical 
and prudent management of his affairs. He must be economi- 
cal if he would be generous, or even just; for extravagance 
sooner or later weakens the sense of moral obligation. These 
traits of industry and thrift were pleasantly satirized many 
years ago by a southern writer, in the following paragraph : 
"We of the south are mistaken in the character of these people, 
when we think of them only as peddlers in horn flints and bark 
nutmegs. Their energy and enterprise are directed to all objects, 
great and small, within their reach. At the fall of a scanty 
rivulet, they set up their little manufactory of wooden buttons 
or combs ; they plant a barren hillside with broomcorn, and 
make it into brooms at the bottom, and on its top they erect 
a windmill. Thus, at a single spot, you may set the air, the 
earth and the water all working for them. But, at the same 
time, the ocean is whitened to its extremities with the sails of 
their ships, and the land is covered with their works of art and 

The early New Englanders have been charged with coldness 
and severity of manner. For an austere people, however, they 
have been easily enkindled with noble enthusiasms. There are 
certain traits prominent in their type of character, such as their 
love of order and the habit of self-control, which hasty observers 
have mistaken for tokens of a want of earnestness. But seldom, 
if ever, has there been a more sublime rage than was shown near 
Boston, in April, 1775, and for eight years thereafter. The 
accusation most frequently repeated against those stalwart 
people is that of religious intolerance. Christian charity, how- 
ever, has been a slow and painful evolution through the centu- 


ries; and the New Englander was but a sharer in the world-wide 
spirit of intolerance. Perhaps they held their spinal columns 
too rigidly erect, and carried their heads too high to view with 
tender sympathy the weak and sinful world about them. Nev- 
ertheless, they bore aloft the standard of righteousness before a 
lawless generation, and planted in the new world the seeds of 
patient, practical and self-denying morality. Their posterity 
have sold their birthright for the pottage of license and disre- 
gard of the moral law. Whatever of justice there may be in the 
strictures upon those ancient worthies, it maybe observed that 
no Chauning, nor Sumner, nor Garfield has ever been nurtured 
in the atmosphere of a Sunday beer-garden. 

When Judah was in exile in Babylon, her prophet Ezekiel 
had a vision of a brighter day. "Afterward he brought me 
again unto the door of the house; and behold, waters issued 
out from under the threshold of the house eastward ; for the 
forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters 
came down from under, from the right side of the house, at the 
south side of the altar." This river was primarily a symbol of 
the transformation that should be wrought in Canaan to make 
it a fit dwelling-place for the ransomed of the Lord who should 
return to Zion. A feature of Messianic prophecy is the promise 
of the renewal of nature and the reconstruction of society. In 
th'e prophet's vision, the stream of blessing proceeded from the 
temple of Jehovah ; and the virtue of its waters was received as 
they, flowed by the altar of sacrifice. In the mind of the devout 
Hebrew, Jehovah was always to be found in his visible sanct- 
uary. The Lord was in his holy temple. So the institutions 
of an enlightened civilization have proceeded from the Christian 
church, through the sacrifice of the noble men and women of 
the past, who have served her with a lover's devotion. The 
early colleges of this land, with very few exceptions, were the 
offspring of the church, and consecrated by its prayers. 

It could not be said that every settler of Rockford belonged 
to the highest class ; but the determining force in the commu- 
nity came from those high ideals of culture and religion, and 
those habits of economy, industry, integrity and temperance 
which have made the true Englander a representative of the 
best elements in our civilization. It was ordained in the begin- 
ning that seed should bring forth fruit after its kind. It is none 
the less true in social and moral life. The moral status of a city 
or country as truly indicates the character of its pioneers, as 


the rich, ripe fruit of the vineyard tells the secret of its seed and 

Hon. R. R. Hitt, in an address delivered in August, 1899, 
before the old settlers of Seward in this county, said the state- 
ment that the early settlers builded wiser than they knew, was 
a reflection upon their intelligence. He insisted that the pioneers 
knew what they were doing, and had some conception of the 
outcome. Certain it is that whatever Winnebago county is 
today, is directly traceable to their agency. They have been the 
architects of her institutions. They laid broad and deep the 
foundations of her industrial, educational, moral and religious 
interests, and from time to time they have superintended the 
superstructure. The large majority of this vanguard have 
ceased from their labors, and their works do follow them. As 
the few who remain behold the institutions of learning that have 
been reared in every town, and the resources provided for the 
humblest as well as for the strongest ; as they look over the 
prairies reclaimed from barrenness and barbarism through 
their toil and privations; as they consider the various religious 
influences that are quietly softening and humanizing the moral 
nature, they have the satisfaction of knowing that they have 
not lived in vain. 

There is a tendency in this age to remove the ancient land- 
marks which the fathers have set. The sabbath has lost much 
of its former sanctity. Parental authority has become a lost 
art, or a lost virtue ; and there has been a widespread insubor- 
dination to constituted authority; and the mad chase for 
wealth has established false standards of worth, and weakened 
the moral fibre of the people. These are not the reflections of a 
pessimist, but the conclusions of the casual observer. If this 
republic is to endure, there must be a speedy return to the 
homely virtues and the high ideals of the fathers. "For where- 
soever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together." 
In the Old Testament the eagle, or the bird of prey, represents 
a foreign army summoned by Jehovah to execute his chastise- 
ment upon a corrupt nation. The interpretation is this : Wher- 
ever there is corruption, there will be inflicted the judgments of 
him who rules in righteousness. 



PRIOR to 1846 Chicago was a port of delivery only, and 
belonged to the district of Detroit. The former city was 
made a port of entry by act of congress in 1846. Some improve- 
ments had been made in the harbor previous to 1839, when the 
work was discontinued for want of funds. A bar had formed, 
which extended across the entrance of the channel, so that ves- 
sels could enter only in fair weather, and even then with con- 
siderable difficulty. It was only in response to the unremitting 
efforts of citizens, by memorials and personal influence, during 
the yearsl 839-41, that congress, in 1843, appropriated twenty- 
five thousand dollars to continue the improvements. The next 
year thirty thousand dollars additional were appropriated for 
the same purpose. Up to this time two hundred and forty-seven 
thousand dollars had been expended ; yet the harbor was still 
incomplete, if not positively dangerous. John Wentworth, 
Chicago's able representative in congress, had secured fche incor- 
poration of another appropriation in the river and harbor bill 
of 1846, by a decisive majority; but President Polk interposed 
his veto. 

The president and the minority in congress were thus com- 
mitted against the policy of river and harbor improvement. 
This course provoked general criticism, and especially in the 
west ; and resulted in the call for the famous river and harbor 
convention, which met in July, 1847. It was one of the most 
notable events of the period. Preliminary conferences had been 
held in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, and New York, and such 
encouragement had been received that a meeting was held in 
Chicago, November 13, 1846, to complete the arrangements 
for the convention. William Moseley Hall, who took the initia- 
tive in calling the convention, was from 1845 to 1848, agent at 
St. Louis of the Lake Steamship Association, connecting by 
Frink, Walker & Company's stage lines, and later by Illinois 
and Michigan canal packets, with Illinois river steamers to St. 


The convention assembled in Chicago July 5, 1847. Dele- 
gates were present from eighteen out of the twenty-nine states 
of the union. New York sent over three hundred ; and still larger 
numbers came from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and 
Illinois. The total attendance was estimated to be from six to 
ten thousand. Many of the leading men of the nation were 
present. Among them were Thomas Corwin, William Bebb, 
Stanley Matthews, Schuyler Coif ax, David Dudley Field, Thur- 
low Weed, and Horace Greeley. Thirty-five counties in Illinois 
sent delegates. Abraham Lincoln was one of the number. Mr. 
Lincoln was the only Whig representative in congress from the 
state. He at this time made his first visit to its commercial 
metropolis. Chicago was then a city of fifteen thousand popu- 

The delegates assembled in a spacious pavilion. Edward 
Bates, of Missouri, presided, with vice-presidents from seven teen 
states. The vice-president from Illinois was Charles S. Hemp- 
stead. The convention continued in session three days. In his 
report of the proceedings, Thurlow Weed pronounced it "a 
larger deliberative body than had ever been assembled in this 
country." Letters generally favorable to the avowed objects 
of the convention were read from Daniel Webster, Thomas H. 
Benton, Henry Clay, Martin VanBuren, and others. 

Both of the leading parties sought to make political capital 
out of the event. It was only with the utmost adroitness that 
partisan dissensions were prevented. This feat was difficult, 
because the occasion of the convention was a political act by a 
partisan president. Tuesday, David Dudley Field, a Democrat, 
addressed the convention ; and in the afternoon of the same 
day Jason Marsh, of Rockford, introduced the following reso- 
lution: ''Resolved, That the delegates to this convention are 
pained at the expression of ill-feeling evinced this morning dur- 
ing the time that David Dudley Field, of New York, occupied 
(by invitation) the stand ; and in future pledge themselves to 
regard the rights of all members of the convention, who confine 
themselves to the rules prescribed and passed by this conven- 

Another resolution, introduced by S. Treat, of Missouri, 
provided /'that no proposition or remarks, not directly con- 
nected with recognized river and harbor improvements of a 
national'character, shall be entertained by this convention." 

The resolutions adopted enthusiastically asserted that it 


was the right and duty of the general government to facilitate 
commerce by improving harbors, and clearing out navigable riv- 
ers; and that theretofore appropriations made for the improve- 
ment of inter-oceanic rivers and lakes had not been in fair 
proportion to those made for the benefit of the Atlantic coast. 
A resolution in favor of a railroad from the states to the Pacific, 
introduced by William Moseley Hall, was also adopted. The 
closing speech was delivered by the president, Edward Bates, 
which tradition has pronounced "a masterpiece of American 
oratory theretofore unexcelled." No report of this great ora- 
tion has been preserved. 

Winnebago county was represented at this convention by 
thirty delegates, as follows : Daniel S. Haight, Anson S. Miller, 
S. G. Armor, Thomas D. Robertson, William Hulin, Spencer 
Post, Charles H. Spafford, 0. Jewett, J. A. Wilson, Jason 
Marsh, Newton Crawford, Cyrus F. Miller, Goodyear A. Sanford, 
W. A. Dickerman, R. R. Comstock, Jesse Blinn, J. B. Peterson, 
Austin Colton, Shepherd Leach, C. A. Huntington, J.M.Wight, 
J. B. Johnson, Samuel Cunningham, Horace Miller, E.M. Miller, 
W. P. Dennis, H. Barross,D. Corey, M. H.Regan, Dr. Carpenter. 

The most complete report of this historic convention is 
published in Fergus' Historical Series, Number Eighteen, which 
devotes about two hundred pages to the subject. Several num- 
bers of this work, which have now become rare and valuable, 
may be found in the Rockford public library. 



UNDER the first constitution of Illinois, the justices of the 
supreme court and the judges of the inferior courts were 
elected by the joint ballot of the legislature. This system made 
the courts in a sense the creatures of the legislature, rather than 
a co-ordinate branch of the government. The legislature is 
always governed more or less by partisan expediency ; and the 
reflex action upon the judiciary compromised its independence. 
Two celebrated instances may be briefly noted. 

When Thomas Carlin became governor, as a Democrat, in 
1838, he claimed the power of appointing a new secretary of 
state, without a vacancy existing in that office. Alexander P. 
Field, a Whig, had served in that capacity during the two pre- 
ceding administrations. Governor Carlin based his right of 
appointment upon the doctrine that a secretary of state under 
the first constitution was a confidential adviser of thegovernor, 
and ought therefore to be of the same political faith. The Gov- 
ernor accordingly nominated John A. McClernand. The senate, 
although Democratic, passed a resolution to the effect that the 
governor did not possess the power to nominate a secretary, 
except in case of a vacancy. After adjournment the Governor 
again appointed Mr. McClernand, secretary of state, who there- 
upon demanded possession of the office from Secretary Field. 
The latter refused. Mr. McClernand then filed an information 
in the nature of a quo warranto, before Judge Breese, in the 
circuit court of Fayette county, who decided in favor of the 
complainant. Secretary Field took an appeal to the supreme 
court, where the cause was reversed. There were then four jus- 
tices of the supreme court. Justice Smith was a Democrat, and 
Chief-Justice Wilson and Justices Lockwood and Brown were 
Whigs. Three opinions were written. Justices Wilson and 
Lockwood concurred; Justice Smith dissented; and Justice 
Brown declined to sit in the cause, because he was a relative of 
Mr. McClernand. Chief- Justice Wilson rendered the decision of 
the court, which held that the Governor could not remove the 


secretary of state at pleasure ; that when an appointment had 
been made, the appointing power was suspended until a vacancy 
occurred. The decision was the cause of a partisan outcry 
against the so-called "Whig court," because it prevented a 
Democrat from holding one of the principal offices of the gov- 
ernment. This opinion was contrary to the principle generally 
accepted at this day, that the appointing power, when exercised 
by a single person, or by a body of men who can conveniently 
act, necessarily possesses the power of removal from office. 

The second and far more important instance was the cele- 
brated Galena alien case. The alien vote of the state was about 
ten thousand; and it was estimated that nine-tenths of this 
vote was Democratic; and if they were excluded from the polls in 
1840, it would determine the presidential election in favor of the 
Whigs. The constitution of 1818 provided that "in all elections, 
all white male inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years, 
having resided in the state six months next preceding the elec- 
tion, shall enjoy the right of an elector." The Whigs bad long 
contended that this provision did not authorize any but citizens 
to vote ; while the practice, ever since the constitution was 
adopted, had uniformly been to allow all residents, whether 
citizens or aliens, to vote, who had resided in the state six 
months. In order to test the right of aliens to vote, without 
naturalization, an agreed case was instituted at Galena, where 
there was a large alien vote in the mining district, between two 
Whigs, to recover the penalty of one hundred dollars, under the 
election law of 1829, because the defendant, who had acted as 
judge at the August election of 1838, had received the vote of 
an alien. Judge Dan. Stone, before whom the case was tried, 
decided that an alien was not entitled to the elective franchise, 
and therefore imposed the fine prescribed by the statute. The 
decision had great political significance, because it was believed 
by both parties that the alien vote of the state held the balance 
of power. 

An appeal was taken to the supreme court, where it was 
argued at the December term, 1839, and then continued to 
the June term, 1840, when the exciting presidential campaign 
was in progress. If the case were decided adversely to the 
aliens, the state might be lost to the Democracy, and there was 
a general apprehension that such would be the decision. Judge 
Smith, the only Democratic justice then on the supreme bench, 
discovered a clerical error in the record. A motion to dismiss 


was thereupon founded, because it appeared by the record that 
the case argued was alleged to have occurred at a time when 
no general election could be held, namely, August, 6, 1839. The 
year 1838 was meant. For the purpose of correcting the rec- 
ord, a continuance was granted to the December term, which 
was subsequent to the presidential election, which was held in 
November. The achievement of discovering the flaw in the 
record was considered a remarkable stroke of legal acumen. 
When the case was called for final decision, the constitutional 
question of the right of an alien to vote was evaded, and it was 
decided that inasmuch as the alien, whose vote was in question, 
by admission of both parties, possessed all the qualifications 
required by the law of 1829, the court erred in imposing 
the penalty. In the meantime, the November election in 1840 
was held. Both houses of the legislature were largely Demo- 
cratic, and Stephen A. Douglas was made secretary of state. 

During the progress of these proceedings, a bill had been 
introduced for the reorganization of the judiciary. Two great 
political questions had been brought before the supreme court : 
one had already been decided against the wishes of the Demo- 
cratic party, and it was thought the other, still pending, would 
be decided in the same way. The Democrats proceeded to rad- 
ical measures of redress. Mr. Douglas, who had been one of the 
counsel for the aliens, boldly charged in a speech before the 
lobby, that the main question had been purposely evaded by 
the court, in order to conciliate the Democrats, and defeat the 
bill. By an act of February 10, 1841, the general assembly 
legislated out of office the nine circuit judges, and increased 
the number of supreme court justices from four to nine. In 
addition to their duties as a supreme court, and their function 
as a council of revision, the law imposed upon them all the 
circuit court business of the state. Since 1835 the supreme 
justices had been relieved of circuit duty, and acted solely as a 
court of appeals, errors and revision. The change was an 
extreme partisan measure, and characterized by Governor Ford 
as "confessedly violent, and somewhat revolutionary." Before 
its approval the bill was presented to the council of revision, 
which returned it with its objections. The bill, however, was 
repassed, notwithstanding the objections of the council, in the 
senate by a large majority, and in the house by a majority of 
one. A protest was signed by a minority, among whom was 
Abraham Lincoln. The five additional supreme court justices 


elected by the legislature under this law were Sidney Breeze, 
Walder B. Scates, Samuel H. Treat, Stephen A. Douglas, and 
Thomas Ford, who had been judge of the circuit which included 
Rockford. All these justices were Democrats. Thereafter all 
Democratic apprehensions were allayed concerning the party 
vote, nor did the majority of that court question the right of 
the executive to appoint his own secretary of state. 

At the session of 1842-43 an effort was made to remove 
Judge Thomas C. Brown, on the ground of incompetency. He 
had been a member of the supreme court since the adoption of 
the constitution in 1818. Judge Brown was a genial gentleman, 
but he possessed no legal attainments. Upon the reorganization 
of the court, Judge Brown, whose home was at Shawneetown, 
was assigned to the remote Galena circuit, in the hope that he 
would resign. This plan failed; and four lawyers, Charles S. 
Hempstead, Thomas Drummond, Thompson Campbell and A. 
L. Holmes, filed specifications that he had not natural strength 
of intellect, and lacked the legal training requisite to a proper 
discharge of the duties of his high office. The senate refused to 
participate in the examination of these charges, and the house 
finally asked to be discharged from further consideration of the 

In 1847 another attempt was made to remove Judge 
Brown. A petition was numerously signed by the bar and 
citizens of Rockford. This petition, with all the signatures 
attached, has been preserved. Judge Brown, however, retained 
his position, and remained upon the bench until the reorgani- 
zation of the supreme court under the constitution of 1848. 

These two decisions of the supreme court were notable 
events in the evolution of an elective judiciary in Illinois. Under 
the present system, the entire judiciary of the state is elected by 
the people. More than a century ago Alexander Hamilton said 
in the Federalist: "The standard of good behavior for the 
continuance in office of the judicial magistracy, is certainly one 
of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the prac- 
tice of government. In a monarchy, it is an excellent barrier 
to the despotism of the prince; in a republic, it is a no less excel- 
lent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the repre- 
sentative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised 
in any government, to secure a steady, upright and impartial 
administration of the laws." Under the elective system, how- 
ever, a precedent has been established of continuing a judge in 


office during "good behavior." Thus an elective judiciary is 
essentially consistent with the philosophy of Hamilton. More- 
over, the judiciary, which in Hamilton's time was considered 
the weakest department of the government, has become recog- 
nized as a co-ordinate branch, deriving its powers, as do the 
legislative and the executive, from a popular constitution ; and 
has attained its present position of honor and public confidence. 

In pursuance of an act of the general assembly, approved 
February 20, 1847, a constitutional convention assembled at 
Springfield, June 7th of the same year. The delegates from 
Winnebago county were Selden M. Church and Robert J. Cross. 
The delegates from the neighboring county of Boone were Dr. 
Daniel H. Whitney and Stephen A. Hurlbut, both of whom were 
well known in Rockford at an early date. The Journal of Pro- 
ceedings indicate that all of these gentlemen took part in the 
discussions. Upon the organization of the convention, Mr. 
Church was appointed a member of the standing committee on 
the organization of departments and offices connected with 
the executive department ; Mr. Cross, a member of the commit- 
tee on the bill of rights; Mr. Hurlbut, on the judiciary depart- 
ment; and Dr. Whitney, on incorporations. 

Early in the session Mr. Church introduced the following 
resolution : "Resolved, That the committee on the bill of rights 
be requested to inquire into the expediency of so amending the 
sixth article of the present constitution that it shall provide 
that 'there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude 
in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes 
whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted. Nor shall 
any person be deprived of liberty on account of color.' ' June 
26th Mr. Cross introduced the following resolution: "Resolved, 
That the committee on elections and the right of suffrage be 
instructed to inquire into the expediency of changing the time 
of holding elections from the first Monday in August to the 
Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, and the 
manner of voting from vive voce to ballot." Mr, Cross also 
led in an effort to secure in t?he new constitution a provision for 
a state superintendent of schools, with a liberal salary. 

The convention continued in session until August 31st, 
when the new constitution was adopted. It was ratified by the 
people March 6, 1848, and in force from April 1st next follow- 
ing. The adoption of this new constitution was a notable event 


in the transition of Illinois from a primitive, pioneer state to a 
great commonwealth. Many changes were made. A section, 
introduced by Mr. Hurlbut, of Boone, provided for township 
organization in the counties, whenever desired. The time of 
holding the general elections was changed from August to 
November; the method of voting changed from vive voceto 
ballot ; the judiciary was made elective ; and many improve- 
ments were made along other lines. This constitution remained 
in force until 1870. A new constitution was adopted in conven- 
tion in 1862, but it was rejected by the people. The delegate 
from Winnebago county to this convention was Porter Sheldon, 
a brother of C. W. Sheldon, of Rockford. 



JANUARY 16, 1836, a charter was granted to the Galena & 
Chicago Union Railroad Company, to construct a railroad 
with a single or double track, from Galena to Chicago. The 
capital stock was to be one hundred thousand dollars, with the 
privilege of increase to a sum not exceeding one million dollars. 
William Bennett, Thomas Drummond, J. C. Goodhue, Peter 
Semple, J. M. Turner, E. D. Taylor, and J. B. Thomas, Jr., 
were made commissioners for receiving subscriptions to the 
capital stock. At that time Galena was the leading village of 
this western country. This fact explains the precedence given 
to that name in the title of the road. The company was given 
three years in which to commence operations. Either animal 
or steam-power might be used. The charter was obtained 
mainly through the influence of EbenezerPeck andT. W. Smith. 
The Galena & Chicago Union was the first railroad chartered 
to be built from Chicago, upon which work was immediately 
begun. The road became an important factor in the great 
transportation system of Chicago, as well as the towns along 
the line. 

Thirteen months after the charter was granted, the survey 
of the proposed route was begun by an engineer, James Sey- 
mour, and was extended from the foot of North Dearborn street 
as far as the DesPlaines river. Work was suspended in June, 
1838, but resumed the following year, and piles were driven 
along the line of Madison street, and stringers placed upon 
them. It soon became evident, however, that Chicago's finan- 
cial strength was not equal to her ambition, and the enterprise 
was temporarily abandoned. The suspension of operations was 
a source of profound regret to the citizens of the Rock River 
valley, who had made several attempts to obtain better connec- 
tion with Chicago, first by means of the contemplated road, 
and later by canal. These schemes did not prove feasible, and 
other plans were substituted. 


The agitation was continued in Winnebago county for sev- 
eral years. The first railroad meeting in Rockford was held 
November 28, 1845. Anson S. Miller was chosen chairman, 
and Selden M. Church, secretary. The meeting was addressed 
by Hon. Martin P. Sweet. It was resolved that those counties 
interested in the construction of a railroad from Galena to Chi- 
cago be recommended to send delegates to a convention to be 
held in Rockford, January 7, 1846, for the purpose of taking 
measures for the construction of the road at the earliest possible 
time. Jason Marsh, T. D. Robertson, and William Hulin were 
appointed a corresponding committee to carry out the object 
of the meeting. The following delegates were appointed to 
attend the convention from Winnebago county : Horace Miller, 

A. C. Gleason, Robert Barrett, Harvey Gregory, Robert J. 
Cross, Asa Farnsworth, Stephen Mack, Thomas B. Talcott, 
Leman Pettibone, Guy Hulett, Snyder J.Fletcher, Alonzo Hall, 
Daniel Baker, E. S. Cable, Harvey Woodruff, Joseph Manches- 
ter, George Haskell, Willard Wheeler, E. H. Potter, Newton 
Crawford, J. C. Goodhue, S. M. Church, Anson Miller, Jason 
Marsh, and T. D. Robertson. 

December 5, 1845, a meeting was held in Chicago to select 
delegates to the Rockford convention. Mayor A. Garrett pre- 
sided, and Isaac N. Arnold was secretary. The meeting was 
addressed by J. Y. Scammon, of Chicago, and William Baldwin, 
of Boston. The following delegates were chosed to attend the 
convention at Rockford : Isaac N. Arnold, J. Y. Scammon, J. 

B. F. Russell, Mark Skinner, Thomas Dyer, E. W. Tracy, John 
Daulin, Stephen F. Gale, William H. Brown, Walter L. New- 
berry, William E. Jones, Bryan W. Raymond, F. C. Sherman, 
William Jones, Mayor A. Garrett. Meetings were held at Belvi- 
dere December 20th, and at Freeport December 25th, for the 
selection of delegates to the convention. 

The convention was held at Rockford January 7, 1846. 
Delegates were present from the counties proposed to be trav- 
ersed by the line. Cook county sent sixteen delegates; De 
Kalb, one ; McHenry, fifteen ; Rock, three ; Ogle, eighty ; Boone, 
forty-two; Lee, one; Kane, fifteen; Stephenson, forty; Winne- 
bago, one hundred ; JoDaviess, six; a total of three hundred 
and nineteen delegates. It will be observed that Winnebago, 
and probably other counties, sent a larger delegation than had 
been authorized by the preliminary meeting. The convention 
was called to order at twelve o'clock, by T. D. Robertson, who 


nominated I. N. Arnold for temporary chairman. Mr. Robert- 
son was chosen secretary, pro tern. The committee appointed to 
nominate permanent officers presented the following report: 
Thomas Drummond, of Jo Daviess, president; William H. 
Brown, of Cook ; Joel Walker, of Boone ; Spooner Ruggles, of 
Ogle; Elijah Wilcox, of Kane, vice-presidents; T.D.Robertson, 
of Winnebago; J. B. Russell, of Cook; S. P. Hyde, of McHenry, 

The president, on taking the chair, addressed the meeting 
on the great importance of the outcome to northern Illinois 
and the northwest, and expressed the hope that all their tran- 
sactions might be characterized by an intelligent view of the 
situation. J. Y. Scammon, of Cook, offered a resolution that 
a committee of one from each county be appointed to report 
resolutions which would express the views of the convention. 
The chair appointed the following committee : J. Y. Scammon, 
of Cook; George T. Kasson, of McHenry; Charles S. Hemp- 
stead, of Jo Daviess; M. G. Dana, of Ogle; James S. Waterman, 
of DeKalb; William H. Gilman, of Boone. John A. Clark, of 
Stephenson; A. B. Wells, of Kane; S. M. Church, of Winnebago; 
L. G. Fisher, of Wisconsin Territory. Walter L. Newberry, of 
Chicago, offered the following: "Resolved, If a satisfactory 
arrangement can be made with the present holders of the 
stock of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad Company, that 
the members of this convention will use all honorable measures 
to obtain subscriptions to the stock of said company." 

An animated debate followed ; and after a full discussion of 
the powers of the charter and possible benefits, the resolution 
was adopted by an overwhelming vote. 

The following resolutions, presented by J. YoungScammon, 
in behalf of the committee appointed for that purpose, reported 
the following resolutions, which were adopted without a dis- 
senting vote: 

"Resolved, That the wants of the farmers and businessmen 
of northern Illinois require the immediate construction of a 
railroad from Chicago to Galena. That the value of farms 
upon the route would be doubled by the construction of the 
road, and the convenience of the inhabitants immeasurably 
profited thereby. 

"Resolved, That in order to accomplish the object of this 
convention, it is indispensably necessary that the inhabitants 
and owners of property between Galena and Chicago should 


come forward and subscribe to the stock of the proposed rail- 
road, to the extent of their ability; and that if each farmer 
upon the route shall take at least one share of the stock (one 
hundred dollars), the completion of the road would be placed 
beyond contingency." 

This action enkindled enthusiasm along the entire line, bub 
before the necessary subscriptions had been secured, Messrs. 
Townsend and Mather, who owned the original charter, offered 
the same, together with the land and such improvements as 
had already been made, to the citizens of Chicago, for the sum 
of twenty thousand dollars. The terms contemplated the pay- 
ment of the entire sum in stock of the new company ; ten thou- 
sand dollars immediately after the election and organization of 
the board of directors, and the remaining ten thousand dollars 
on the completion of the road to Rock river, or as soon as 
dividends of six per cent, had been earned. This proposition 
was accepted. The purchasers subscribed from their own 
means for the expense of the survey on December 6, 1846, and 
the following year the work was begun, under the supervision 
of Richard P. Morgan. 

It was decided to open subscription books at Chicago and 
at Galena, as well as the several settlements through which the 
road was to pass. The task of canvassing among the farmers 
between the proposed termini was undertaken by William B. 
Ogden. J. Young Scammon solicited funds in Chicago, but 
the subscriptions came in slowly. Only twenty thousand dol- 
lars were obtained at the outset from all the real estate men 
and others who might have been supposed to have been espec- 
ially interested. Certain business men in Chicago opposed the 
construction of the road on the ground that it might divert 
business from Chicago to other points along the line. Mr. Ogden 
met with better success in the rural districts. Even the women 
were willing to undergo many privations of a personal charac- 
ter, that they might assist in the construction of an iron high- 
way, which they believed would prove of great benefit to the 
succeeding generations. The citizens of Rockford and farmers 
in the adjoining districts made liberal subscriptions to stock. 
John A. Holland and T. D. Robertson were the most active 
local promoters of the enterprise. 

The original plan was to secure as large a local subscription 
to the capital stock as possible, and then apply to eastern cap- 
italists for such advances, either in the form of subscriptions to 


capital stock or loans, as might be found necessary. The inter- 
est in the enterprise, however, was such that by April 1, 1848, 
one hundred and twenty-six subscribers had taken three hun- 
dred and fifty-one thousand and eight hundred dollars' worth of 
stock. It was therefore concluded that the road should be con- 
structed and owned by residents of the territory through which 
it was to pass. It was determined, however, to interview 
friends of the project in the east, to obtain such suggestions as 
their experience in railroad matters might enable them to give. 
Eastern capitalists advised the construction of the road as far 
as the subscription might be available ; and later, if money 
were needed, it might be obtained in the east. There was 
another factor in the problem. Illinois was burdened with an 
enormous debt, and repudiation had been imminent. Eastern 
capitalists were therefore not prompt in response to calls for 
loans to be expended in internal improvements. 

In September, 1847, a corps of engineers was engaged for 
surveys, and work was begun. Unexpected obstacles were 
encountered, and it was impossible for the directors to make 
the first contract for construction until near the close of the 
year. Contracts for the grading and bridging of twenty-five 
additional miles were made in March, 1848. Meanwhile, in 
February, 1847, an amended charter had been secured, under 
the terms of which a new board of directors was elected April 
5th of the following year. Changes were subsequently made as 
follows: Thomas D. Robertson, of Rockford, was elected 
director, vice Allen Robbins, resigned, April 5, 1849; Dexter A. 
Knowlton, of Freeport, vice J. Y. Scammon, resigned, in 1850. 

The canvass for subscriptions made along the line by Mr. 
Ogden was subsequently supplemented by Charles Walker, Isaac 
N. Arnold, John Locke Scripps and John B. Turner. In 
1848 B. W. Raymond and John B. Turner visited the seaboard 
to enlist eastern support in the project. The journey was not 
as successful as they had hoped ; yet they reported to Chicago 
subscriptions for fifteen thousand dollars' worth of stock and 
the promise of a loan of seven thousand dollars additional. 
The financial success of the enterprise seemed to be so far 
assured by this time that the management purchased a limited 
amount of rolling-stock. 

Mr. Ogden, the president of the company, and also a mem- 
ber of the city council of Chicago, endeavored in the latter 
capacity to secure the passage of an ordinance giving the com- 


pany the right of way into the city, with other incidental privi- 
leges. The ordinance failed to pass, but the road was granted 
the privilege of constructing a temporary track, in order to 
facilitate the hauling of necessary material through the city. 
The first civil engineer of the reorganized company was John 
Van Nortwick, and in June, 1848, his assistant, George W. 
Waite, drove the first grading peg, at the corner of Kinsie and 
Halsted streets. 

In September, 1848, the directors purchased two engines 
from eastern companies. The first, the Pioneer, arrived in Chi- 
cago October 10th following. They were clumsy in appearance 
and workmanship; but they rendered efficient service. The 
Pioneer was unloaded from the brig Buffalo, on the Sunday 
following its arrival in Chicago. It proved to be a memorable 
purchase. At first it ran simply as a motor for hauling material 
for construction ; but December 15, 1848, it started from Chi- 
cago at the head of the first train which left the city over the 
four miles of track. In the rear of the Pioneer were six freight 
cars, extemporized into passenger coaches. The engineer in 
charge was John Ebbert. As the road developed, Mr. Ebbert 
was promoted until he became master mechanic of the road. 
His death occurred in Chicago August 21, 1899, at the age of 
eighty-five years. The first engineer, however, who ran the 
Pioneer as far west as Rockford was I. D. Johnson. In 1854 
Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Delia, a daughter of Samuel 
Gregory. To them were born six children, three of whom sur- 
vived the father. Mr. Johnson died at his home in Chicago, 
February 24, 1899, and was buried in Rockford. He was a man 
of straightforward character, and as an engineer he was careful 
and courageous. The Pioneer was on exhibition at the world's 
Columbian exposition in 1893, under the charge of its former 
master, Engineer Ebbert, and attracted great attention as an 
example of primitive ideas in locomotive construction. It is 
now an exhibit at the Field Columbian Museum. 

The line was extended to Elgin, forty miles west, in January, 
1850. Nearly one hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars had 
been expended for construction up to that time. The rolling- 
stock was then an object of admiration ; but it is now only of 
interest as a relic of the day of small things. The track was 
laid as far west as Belvidere in the spring of 1852. On Monday, 
August 2, 1852, a train on the Galena & Chicago Union railroad 
arrived in East Rockford. Its advent was signalized by the 


ringing of bells and the firing of cannon. The iron horse was 
greeted by the populace as the successor of the horse and wagon 
and oxen and driver and whip. From that day Rockford began 
to make rapid strides in wealth, population, and commercial 
importance; and the Forum took the flattering unction to its 
soul that Chicago and Galena might be soon "looking this 
way with a jealous eye lest they become eclipsed in greatness 
by the city of the Rock river valley." 

By the year 1857 quite an extension of the line had been 
completed. A double track had been extended thirty miles 
west, as far as Turner Junction, and large additions to the roll- 
ing stock had been acquired. The expense thus incurred 
increased the total outlay up to that time to nine million dol- 
lars. Before the close of 1858 the company had extended its 
main line to Freeport, one hundred and twenty miles from Chi- 
cago. Notwithstanding the fact that there was no little enthu- 
siasm in Galena over the extension of the line to that point, 
Fate decreed that Galena should be connected with Chicago by 
another line. The Galena & Chicago Union sold its right of 
way to the Illinois Central. It has been said that had the great 
Central system made a connection with Rockford at that early 
date, the population of the city would have been materially 
increased. At the close of 1858 the Galena & Chicago Union 
company was free from a floating debt ; but it had a funded 
indebtedness of three million seven hundred and eighty -three 
thousand and fifteen dollars. 

The system owned and operated by the Chicago & North- 
western Railway Company, as it exists at the present time, is a 
consolidation of not less than forty-five distinct roads. June 2, 
1864, was effected a consolidation of the Galena & Chicago Union 
and the Chicago & Northwestern companies, under the name of 
the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company. The old Galena 
& Chicago Union had been legitimately built, and was never 
bonded ; and when it was purchased by the Chicago & North- 
western, the stock held by the old subscribers in the Galena 
road was exchanged for stock in the new company. The con- 
solidation was effected by the late Samuel J. Tilden, one of the 
greatest railroad lawyers of his time. The Galena had been a 
profitable road ; and its consolidation was one of the first in 
northern Illinois. 



MARSHALL H. REGAN was born in Rochester, New York, 
and his early life was spent in his native state and in Can- 
ada. Mr. Regan came to Rockford in 1842. He engaged in 
the lumber trade, in which he spent his active business life. He 
was also a contractor and builder, did a large business, and 
accumulated a competence. Mr. Regan was the architect of the 
old First Congregational church, on the corner of First and 
Walnut streets. He was a prominent citizen in early Rockford, 
and a Democrat in politics. His first wife was Miss Louisa 
Dewey, whom he married in Rockford in 1845. They had six 
children. The first Mrs. Eber Carmichael and the late Mrs. 0. 
A. Richardson were daughters. Mr. Regan's second marriage 
was with Miss Adelaide Stewart, a native of Vermont. Their 
son, Hon. Frank S. Regan, is an attorney, and astockholder of 
the Rockford Abstract Company. In 1898, through a loca-1 
disaffection in the Democratic party, Mr. Regan was elected a 
member of the legislature as a Prohibitionist. His only prede- 
cessor of the same political faith in this district was Hon. James 
Lamont, who is now a member of the editorial staff of the Chi- 
cago Lever. The elder Regan died in Rockford in 1875. 

James B. Howell settled in Rockford November 8, 1843. 
His business was that of a wool-carder and cloth-dresser. When 
the first dam was completed, Mr. Howell operated a carding 
and fulling machine on the south side of State street. He erected 
a building in 1846, and began business in 1848, and continued 
therein until the dam went out in 1851. He then removed his 
machinery to New Milford. He returned to Rockford ; and some 
years later he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, M. 
H.Regan, in the lumber business. After Huntington &Barnes' 
book store was destroyed by fire, Mr. Howell engaged in the 
book trade. His stand was the east store in Metropolitan Hall 
block, which for many years was occupied by B. R. Waldo, in 
the same line of trade. L. A. Trowbridge began business as a 
clerk in this store in 1861. Mr. Howell has been treasurer of the 


township school fund since 1888. He was preceded by his 
daughter, Miss Ella, who held the office from 1882 until her 
marriage in 1887. Mr. Howell was a constituent member of 
the State Street Baptist church. For many years he has lived a 
retired life, and in his old age he is highly esteemed by a wide 
circle of friends. Comparatively few men can faithfully discharge 
every duty of life without occasionally making an enemy thereby. 
Mr. Howell has enjoyed the rare good fortune of being an excep- 
tion to this rule. 

Benjamin A. Rose was born in Philadelphia, in 1817. In 
early manhood he removed to Chemung county, New York, and 
in October, 1 844, he came to Rockford. His first home was 
next to D. D. Alling's house, on South Main street. In 1848 he 
bought a lot on North church street, and built a brick house. 
In 1855 Mr. Rose purchased the Jackson farm on Montague 
street, just outside the city limits, where he resided until his 
death in 1883. Mr. Rose was county clerk from 1847 to 1849. 
He was one of the clerical force in the banking house of Robert- 
son & Holland, and remained in the bank one year after removing 
to the farm. Mr. and Mrs. Rose were charter members of the Sec- 
ond Congregational church. Mrs. Rose died in December, 1896. 

Dr. Lucius Clark became a resident of Rockford in 1845. Dr. 
Clark was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, June 10, 1813. He 
was the third in a family of seven sons, five of whom became 
physicians. The Doctor received his education in his native 
city. He pursued his medical studies at Berkshire Medical Col- 
lege, Massachusetts, and at Geneva Medical College, in New 
York, and received the first diploma given by the latter institu- 
tion. Mr. Clark practiced at Marion, Palmyra, and Chili, in 
New York, for ten years, previous to his settlement in Rockford. 
Dr. Clark was a member of the American Medical Association, 
and of the Illinois State Medical Society. During the war he 
was in the field a short time as president of the board of exam- 
ining surgeons for the state of Illinois. He was for many years 
a trustee of Rockford seminary. In 1836 Dr. Clark married 
Julia A. Adams, of Hinsdale, Massachusetts. She died in 
1861. In 1864 Dr. Clark married Charlotte M. Townsend, of 
this city. Dr. Clark possessed rare social qualities. His genial- 
ity dispelled all reserve, and broke down the artificial barriers 
of formality and exclusiveness. He had a fine presence, and he 
was careful to the point of fastidiousness in his dress. Dr. Clark 
was fond of a joke. On one occasion, after hearing a sermon 


by an intimate acquaintance, the Doctor complimented his 
friend on his sermon; but remarked that he had a book at home 
which contained every word of it. The clergyman, who was 
naturally restive under this imputation, called upon the Doctor 
for an explanation, when the latter produced the dictionary. Dr. 
Clark's home life was ideal, and his religious nature was strong 
and independent. He ranked high in his profession, and dis- 
charged every duty of life as a citizen and friend with strict 
fidelity and reverent sympathy. His death occurred November 
5, 1878. Dexter Clark, M. D., followed his brother Lucius to 
Rockford, where he resided until his death, except the time 
spent in California, where he went in 1850. Dr. Dexter Clark 
was for many years a prominent member of the Second Congre- 
gational church, and superintendent of its Sunday-school. 
Many of the older residents will remember his noble Christian 
qualities, his ardent enthusiasm and his generous sympathies. 
Another brother, Dr. E. N. Clark, set tied at Beloit; and a fourth 
brother, Dr. Asabel Clark, resided at Detroit, Michigan. Dr. 
Lucius Clark had two sons who succeeded him in the practice of 
medicine: Dexter Selwyn, and Lucius Armor. Dr. D. Selwyn 
Clark died February 12, 1898. No citizen of Rockford had a 
higher sense of professional and personal honor, and his death 
was universally lamented. The death of Dr. L. A. Clark occurred 
July 23, 1899, in the house in which he was born fifty years 
before. He had a wide reputation as an expert surgeon. Dur- 
ing his residence on the Pacific coast he was employed as a 
steamship surgeon for some years, and was a passenger on the 
first voyage of the Colema, which, after long service, foundered 
a few years ago. Dr. Clark was also surgeon for the Illinois 
Railroad Company, which position he held at the time of his 
death. His wife and one daughter survived him. For more 
than half a century the Clark family was represented in the 
medical profession of Rockford. In the death of Armor Clark 
there passed away the last of this historic family of practitioners. 
C. A. Huntington came to Rockford in 1845. He had left 
his family in July at Racine, Wisconsin, until he could find a 
desirable place for settlement. November 5th of that year he 
began his first term of school in Rockford in a building owned 
by H. R. Maynard, which stood on the site of the Masonic Tem- 
ple. In the following year L. B. Gregory retired from teaching, 
and Mr. Huntington succeeded him as teacher in the old court 
house building on North First street, where he remained until 


the fall of 1848. Mr. Huntington then taught in the old Bap- 
tist church on North Main street. Among Mr. Huntington's 
first pupils in Rockford were Capt. E. E. Potter, Leander H. 
Potter, Carrol Spafford, B. Rush Catlin, E. P. Catlin, Samuel 
Montague, Hiram R. Enoch, Hiram H. Waldo, Sarah Preston, 
Adaline Potter, Selwyn Clark, and Clinton C. Helm. In the 
autumn of 1849 Mr. Huntington was elected school commis- 
sioner, and served eight years. In that same year he also opened 
the first book store in Rockford, on the site of the Third Na- 
tional Bank. He subsequently removed to the corner store in 
Laomi Peake's block, where the Manufacturers National Bank 
now stands. There he and Robert Barnes conducted a book 
store, and a book bindery on the second floor. November 27, 
1857, this block was destroyed by fire. Huntington & Barnes 
carried a stock of eleven thousand dollars, on which there was 
an insurance of three thousand dollars. Mr. Huntington resided 
in Rockford until 1864, when he removed to California. 

Hon. William Brown was born in Cumberland, in the North 
of England, June 1, 1819. His father's family removed to the 
United States in 1827, and the senior Brown purchased a farm 
in Oneida county, New York. William Brown began the study 
of law in Rome, New York, and was admitted to the bar. In 
1846 he became a citizen of Rockford. During his first winter 
in the west he taught a district school. Judge Brown was hon- 
ored with several public offices. He was chosen a justice of the 
peace in 1847. In 1852 he was elected state's attorney for the 
district comprising Stephenson, Winnebago and Jo Daviess 
counties, and served three years. At the expiration of that 
time he was elected mayor of Rockford. In 1857 Judge Brown 
formed a partnership with William Lathrop, which continued 
three years. He then became a partner with the late H. W. 
Taylor, with whom he was associated until 1870. In 1864 he 
was elected a member of the legislature as a Republican. Judge 
Brown was first elected judge to fill the vacancy caused by the 
promotion of Judge Sheldon to the supreme bench. He was 
subsequently elected for three full terms. His career on the 
bench covered twenty years. Judge Brown and Caroline H. 
Miller, a daughter of Hon. Horace Miller, were married Septem- 
ber 19, 1850. Their elder son, Edward W. Brown, has been 
three times elected mayor of Rockford. At the conclusion of 
his present term he will have served six consecutive years, the 
longest mayoralty in our municipal history. Judge Brown's 


other children are Frank R. Brown and Mrs. H. W. Buckbee. 
Judge Brown was an able lawyer, a conscientious judge, and a 
Christian gentleman. By prudent management he acquired a 
large estate. He was a liberal supporter of the Centennial 
Methodist church, and was generous in the use of his money in 
charity and public enterprises. The Brown Building is named 
in his honor, and a controlling interest is owned by his family. 
Judge Brown died January 15, 1891. 

Hiram H. Waldo was born in Elba, Genesee county, New 
York, November 23, 1827. He came to Kockford in 1846, when 
he was nineteen years of age, and completed his early education 
in the district schools. He studied in summer, and taught in 
the winter, for several years, until 1851. Mr. Waldo taught 
in the Redington district, in the old First Baptist church, 
Cherry Valley, Guilford, Harlem, in the basement of the First 
Methodist church as assistant to Seely Perry, and as assistant 
to C. A. Huntington, on First street. While at Cherry Valley he 
walked to Rockford, a distance of eight miles, to attend a lecture 
by John B. Gough. Mr. Waldo subsequently spent two years 
in Chicago, where he secured a clerkship in the postoffice, under 
Postmaster Dole, and was promoted to the superintendency of 
western distribution. Mr. Waldo remained a short time under 
Postmaster Isaac Cook. He returned to Rockford when Charles 
1. Horsman became postmaster the second time. Mr. Horsman 
did not give his personal attention to the office, and Mr. Waldo 
assumed this responsibility. He paid Mr. Horsman five hundred 
dollars a year from the earnings of the office, and retained the 
balance as his compensation. Mr. Horsman, however, gave 
him a guarantee that he would receive an equivalent to his 
salary in Chicago. Mr. Waldo opened a book store in 1855, in 
a frame building which rested on poles, where the Grand Union 
tea store now stands. He remained there four years, and then 
removed into his present stand, in 1859, where for forty-one 
years he has done business without interruption. He is the 
only merchant now in business of all those engaged in trade 
when he began. Mr. Waldo, however, was not the only early 
book dealer on the West side. JohnM. Perry, a brother of Seely 
Perry, had a book store on the site now occupied by L. Moulth- 
rop's dry goods store. Mr. Perry sold this stock to J. W. 
Seccomb. Mr. Waldo served as school commissioner of Winne- 
bago county from 1857 to 1859, and again from 1863 to 1865. 
He took an honest pride in the teachers' institutes, which were 


attended by all classes of people, instead of teachers only, as at 
present. Mr. Waldo believes that his efforts in that direction 
have never been surpassed. In politics Mr. Waldo claims the 
unique distinction of always having voted with the minority. 
He was an Abolitionist when there were only seven in the county. 
His affiliations in later years have been generally with theDem- 
cratic party. Upon the failure of the Second National Bank, Mr. 
Waldo was appointed receiver by Commissioner Eckles, and has 
paid eighty-five per cent, of the indebtedness. Since the organ- 
ization of the Church of the Christian Union in 1870, Mr. Waldo 
has been an enthusiastic supporter of Dr. Kerr. It is said that 
in the nearly thirty years of its existence as an independent 
church, Mr. Waldo has never missed a service. Perhaps no man 
in town is as well known as H. H. Waldo. He has a ready wit, 
and the range of his information is broad. He is a shrewd 
observer of men and affairs ; and has an inexhaustible fund of 
reminiscence at his instant command. His knowledge of the 
social life of Rockford covers more than half a century, and, 
with one or two exceptions, surpasses that of any other citizen. 

L. F. Warner is a native of Connecticut. He read law with 
Hon. Reuben Booth, who had been governor of the state. A 
statute of the commonwealth then required a student to read 
law three years before admission to the bar. Mr. Warner came 
to Rockford in November, 1848. Chicago at that time gave no 
promise of so far outstripping Rockford. The Galena & Chicago 
Union had built a construction track a few miles from Chicago. 
In 1848 East Rockford was larger than the West side, and had 
more wealth. Mr. Warner has always been a Democrat. He 
was a delegate to the famous convention at Charleston, in 1860, 
which resulted in a breach in the party, and the nomination of 
Stephen A. Douglas for the presidency at a later convention. 
Mr. Warner has served Rockford as city attorney. He is now 
the senior member of the Rockford bar. In 1898 he completed 
a full half century of continuous practice in his profession. 

Melancthon Starr is an honored name in Rockford history. 
Mr. Starr was born in Albany, New York, April 14, 1816. In 
1840 .he went to Tallahassee, as a commission merchant, where 
he represented several New York houses. His principal business 
was the purchase of cotton and its shipment in large quantities 
to the north. Mr. Starr, however, was a lover of freedom, and 
he became so disgusted with the scenes incident to slavery that 
he removed north. He became cashier of the banking house of 


Nevins, Townsend & Co., on Wall street, New York. His resi- 
dence was at Jersey City. Mr. Starr removed to Rockford 
in 1850. He first conducted a dry goods business on the 
Second National Bank corner. He was assignee of Charles I. 
Horsman's bank when it failed. In 1855 Mr. Starr became inter- 
ested in what was afterward called the Winnebago National 
Bank. This banking house was founded in 1848 by Thomas D. 
Robertson and John A. Holland. Later John S. Coleman 
became a partner, and the firm was Robertson, Coleman & Co. 
On the death of Mr. Holland, Mr. Starr was admitted to the 
firm ; and after Mr. Coleman's death the firm was Robertson & 
Starr, which continued until the organization of the Winnebago 
National Bank, in 1865. By reason of the respective charac- 
teristics of these gentlemen, the house of Robertson & Starr was 
sometimes called the firm of the Law and the Gospel. Mr. Rob- 
ertson was president, ard Mr. Starr was vice-president until his 
death. In 1857 Mr. Starr sold his homestead on North Main 
street to Elias Cosper. It was his intention to return east ; but 
the death of Mrs. Starr changed his plans, and he re-purchased 
his former home, where he spent his last years. Mr. Starr was 
the beloved patriarch of a large family circle. December 16, 
1839, he was married to Lucretia M. Nevins, at Norwich, Con- 
necticut. She possessed literary attainments and great force of 
character. Their six children are: Harry N., Mrs. John P. 
Manny, Mrs. C. W. Brown, Chandler, David N.,and Miss Lucre- 
tia. The mother died in 1857. In 1861 Mr. Starr married 
Ellen M. Townsend, who still resides in Rockford. Mr. Starr 
was a man of the world in the best sense, and left quite a large 
estate. He was one of nature's noblemen. It has been said 
he never left a promise unfulfilled. He treated all men with 
respect. The poorest man was made to feel in the presence of 
Melancthon Starr that he was a gentleman, and he always 
received the same courteous treatment as though he were 
the possessor of unlimited wealth, and moved in the highest 
social circles. Mr. Starr was a rare type of that rapidly- 
departing class, the old-school, Christian gentleman. There 
was not a grain of cynicism in his nature. The geniality of his 
disposition was as constant as the stability of his character. 
A beautiful trait was his sympathy for his old friend, the late 
Ephraim Wyman, who in his old age was reduced to very mod- 
erate circumstances. Nearly every Sunday Mr. Starr visited 
his friend, and cheered his last years with his sympathy and 


puree. Mr. Starr was a Unitarian. He was a communicant of 
of that church until its membership disbanded, when he became 
a regular attendant at the Church of the Christian Union. Mr. 
Starr died, universally esteemed, November 29, 1885. 

John Edwards was born at Acton, Massachusetts, August 
18, 1800. He was in business in Lowell before his removal to 
the west. Mr. Edwards was living at Alton, Illinois, during the 
excitement which resulted in the death of Rev. Elijah P. Love- 
joy, America's martyr to free soil and free speech. On that 
occasion Mr. Edwards took an honorable and decided position 
in favor of the freedom of the press; and stood on guard 
at Mr. Lovejoy's bed, with a loaded musket in his hand, the 
night before that brave Abolitionist was murdered by the pro- 
slavery mob. Mr. Edwards came to Rockford in 1850. He 
was the first dealer in pine lumber in the city. His first yard 
was near Peter Sames' wagon factory, near the Northwestern 
railroad track. Most of his lumber at this yard came by team 
from St. Charles, and the amount of stock on hand at one time 
was from ten to twelve thousand feet. His second yard was on 
the north west corner of Church and State streets, and the lumber 
was hauled from Elgin. At times he had difficulty in getting the 
lumber from the terminus of the railroad at Elgin. The teamsters 
who hauled wheat to that place would throw off a portion of 
the load when stalled in the mud at Pigeon Woods, and leave 
it there. Mr. Edwards encouraged the development of the 
Rockford water-power; was interested in the work of the semi- 
nary, and during his last years he was its agent. Mr. Edwards 
was an upright, worthy gentleman, of New England stock. His 
home was the present residence of George R. Forbes. His death 
occurred June 14, 1871. Mrs. Edwards was a woman of fine 
presence and force of character. She spent her last years with 
her daughter in Chicago, and died at about ninety years of age. 
Their three children are : Mrs. A. L. Chetlain, of Chicago, form- 
erly Mrs. Melancthon Smith; Mrs. Julia Clemens, of Rockford: 
and the Rev. John Edwards, a retired Presbyterian clergyman. 
His wife was a sister of the late Melancthon Starr. 



DANIEL S. HAIGHT, the founder of East Rockford, like his 
West side rival, did not remain in Rockford to see the fru- 
ition of his early settlement. Mr. Haight removed from the 
village in the winter of 184748, and settled in Texas, near 
Shreveport, Louisiana. He revisited Rockford in 1857. The 
date of his death is unknown to his old friends in Rockford. 
There is a tradition, which is commonly accepted, that he was 
a soldier in the Confederate army, and that he died after the 
civil war at Fort Worth, Texas. No worthy record of his life 
and work has been preserved ; but next to Mr. Kent, his name 
is most prominent in early history. 

In the autumn of 1845 an eccentric character, who gloried 
in the name of Julius P. Bolivar McCabe, made his appearance 
in Rockford. He prepared a historical sketch of the village, 
which was published in the Forum of December 3, 1845, which 
gave a statistical resume of Rockford, which the writer called 
"one of the most tastefully built towns in Illinois." There were 
six congregations : Baptists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, 
Methodists, Universalists and Unitarians; a branch of the 
American Bible Society ; one classical and three select schools, 
with one hundred and fifty-eight pupils ; eleven dry goods stores, 
with a winter stock which aggregated sixty-five thousand dol- 
lars; a printing office ; three hotels; fourteen lawyers ; six phy- 
sicians; three justices of the peace; two drug stores; two jewelry 
stores; two harness shops; one iron foundry; two sawmills; 
one fanning-mill factory ; one furnace and machine shop ; a dis- 
tinguished portrait and landscape painter ; two land agencies ; 
two wagon shops ; three groceries ; one edge-tool maker ; two 
dentists ; two meat markets ; four tailor shops ; one bakery ; 
five shoe shops ; two cabinet shops; one copper and tinsmith 
shop ; five blacksmith shops ; two cooper shops ; two paint shops ; 
one livery stable, and one fashionable barber shop. The popu- 
lation of the East side was six hundred and eighty ; West side, 
five hundred and ninety-eight ; total in village, twelve hundred 
and seventy-eight. Of this population, four hundred and seventy 


were natives of New York ; two hundred and thirty-seven of 
the six New England states; one hundred and sixty-two of 
Illinois, including one hundred and nineteen who were born in 
Kockford. Luther Miller, father of Anson S. and Cyrus F, Miller, 
then in his seventy-fifth year, was the oldest man in the village. 
Mrs. Elizabeth McKinney, aged seventy-six years, was the 
oldest woman. There were only two colored persons in the 
town. On the East side there were one hundred and fifty-one 
houses; on the West side, one hundred and twenty-six; total, 
two hundred and seventy-seven. In describing the courthouse, 
this statistician said: "It is crowned with a beautiful and 
well-proportioned cupola, which rises fifteen feet above the roof 
of the building." 

February 23, 1844, Charles Latimer, a former lawyer and well 
known citizen of Rockford, was shot at Potoski, Wisconsin. A 
few days previous to the fatal affray, Latimer became involved 
in a quarrel with a Mr. Gloster and another gentleman, which 
arose from a discussion of the right of foreigners to vote. It 
was proposed to settle the difficulty by a duel; but by the inter- 
position of friends, it was thought that the matter had been 
amicably adjusted. On Friday morning, however, as Gloster 
was passing along the street, Latimer accosted him, drew a 
pistol and fired. The wadding lodged on Gloster's breast, but 
the ball passed over his shoulder. So heavy was the charge 
that the stock of the pistol was shattered by the discharge. 
Gloster immediately retreated, but was followed by Latimer, 
who had armed himself with two loaded pistols and a bowie- 
knife. As Latimer advanced to Gloster, he said: "Are you 
ready? One or the other of us must die today" Gloster replied 
that he was not, and went to procure a double-barreled shotgun 
loaded with shot. On Latimer's approach Gloster warned him 
to keep back ; but Latimer still advanced, and raised his pistol, 
which missed fire. At this juncture Gloster fired, and most of 
the charge took effect in Latimer's breast. As he fell, he tried to 
fire again, but failed. He expired almost instantly. Gloster 
immediately delivered himself to the authorities, and after a 
preliminary hearing he was discharged. Mr. Latimer, who had 
been rather intemperate in his habits, was said to have been 
perfectly sober at the time of the affray. 

At the April term of the circuit court, in 1844, a case was 
tried which involved the liability of stage proprietors. Samuel 


B. Hall recovered against Messrs. Friuk, Walker & Co. a verdict 
for one hundred and seventy-five dollars, for a trunk which was 
stolen from a stage belonging to the defendants, in which the 
plaintiff had taken passage. It appeared conclusively that the 
plaintiff was a passenger in defendant's stage while enroute 
from Rockford to Chicago, and put his trunk on board, and 
that the same was stolen before it arrived at Newburg, without 
any fault or negligence of the defendants. The jury, however, 
were satisfied that they were liable as common carriers, with- 
out any default. 

February 17, 1846, a convention of physicians of northern 
Illinois and southern Wisconsin was held in Rockford, when 
the organization of the Rock River Medical Association was 
perfected. Its object was mutual protection and improvement 
in professional knowledge. Dr. Goodhue^was elected president ; 
G. Hulett and George Haskell, vice-presidents; S. G. Armor, 
secretary and treasurer; censors, Lucius Clark, A.M. Catlin, A. 
Thomas. The first annual meeting of the society was held in 
Rockford the 19th of May following. 

The gold excitement drew many to California in 1849-50. 
Among those who went from Rockford were Giles C. Hard, A. 

C. Spafford, D. K. Lyon, H. B. Potter, Dexter Clark, William 
Hamilton, H. H. Silsby, Isaac Rowley, ObadiahE. Lamb, a Mr. 
Smith, a Mr. Lewis, Sylvester Robinson, and Henry L. Simpson. 
Mr. Robinson died at Mud Springs, forty-five miles east of Sac- 
ramento, a few days after his arrival. Mr. Robinson was a 
native of Connecticut, and came to Rockford in 1847. He was 
father of Mrs. E. P. Catlin and H. H. and N. S. Robinson. Mr. 
Simpson died while on his return home, at Peru, Illinois, in 
March, 1851. His remains were brought to Rockford for bur- 
ial. Mr. Simpson was father of E. L. Simpson and Mrs. Z. B. 
Sturtevant. He came to Rockford about 1839. He built a 
brick house which still stands on Leonard Schmauss' lot on 
North Second street; and part of another brick house on the 
south west corner of First and Market streets. Mr. Simpson was 
engaged in the business of blacksmith. He owned a one-half 
interest in a grist mill at Cherry Valley, and property in Rock- 
ford. Mr. Lamb died in California. As in all similar ventures, 
some were successful; while others received no adequate returns 
for their journey into the far country. 



THERE are no early official records of this church ; and the 
writer is indebted to Levi Moulthrop, one of the oldest resi- 
dent churchmen, for the facts given in this chapter. The Rt. 
Rev. Philander Chase, D. D., first bishop of the diocese of Illinois, 
made his first episcopal visitation to Rockford, August 28, 
1841. Prior to this time there had been no public services of 
the Episcopal church held in the county. There had been only 
a very few families of the faith who had settled in Rockford. 
Levi Moulthrop, M. D., was the first churchman who came into 
this county. Dr. Moulthrop arrived in the autumn of 1835. He 
brought the first American Prayer Book, which is now in the 
possession of his son, Levi Moulthrop, the dry goods merchant. 

The first church family who settled in the county was that 
of Sampson George, who came from Yorkshire, England. They 
arrived in the settlement of Rockford September 24, 1836. The 
family consisted of Mr. George, his wife, Ann, and five children, 
two daughters and three sons. The children had received 
baptism in England. Mr. George brought a letter from their 
parish priest, commending the family to the spiritual care of 
any clergyman of the American church into whose jurisdiction 
they might come. They also brought two English Prayer 
Books. The death of Mr. George occurred five weeks after the 
arrival of the family in Rockford. There was no priest nearer 
than the missionary at Galena, and he could not be definitely 
located, owing to the extent of territory under his charge. Thus 
the first churchman was buried without the offices of the church. 

During the next few years several other families of the church 
settled in the county. Among these were Jonathan Weldon, 
Chauncy Kay, and John W. Taylor. The former two settled 
on farms about six miles southwest of the town, and the latter 
remained in the village, and engaged in the dry goods business. 

At the Bishop's first visitation the services were held in the 
old court house building on North First street, which served a 
similar purpose for other households of the faith. The holy 


eucharist was celebrated for the first time in the county, and 
holy baptism administered. The Bishop preached. John Wad- 
leigh Taylor, infant son of John W. and Jane P. Taylor, was 

August 4, 1842, the Bishop made a second visitation to Rock- 
ford. The services morning and afternoon were held in the same 
building as in the preceding year. The sacraments of the holy 
eucharist, baptism and confirmation were administered. One 
of the baptisms was that of Levi, infant son of Mrs. Margaret 
Moulthrop. Those who received confirmation were Miss M. E. 
Weldon, Mrs. Margaret Moulthrop, Salmon R. and Spencer S. 
Weldon. The Bishop preached two sermons. Aside from these 
yearly visitations by the Bishop, the few church families in and 
around Rockford were without the sacraments of the church, 
except an occasional service by some missionary priest from a 
distant point. 

In 1845 the Rev. Alfred I/auderback, of New Yorkstate, was 
appointed by the domestic board of missions to the missionary 
field of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, with Belvidere 
and Rockford as chief points of location. This fact meant more 
regular and frequent services for Rockford. The new mission- 
ary's first service was held August 10, 1845. Father Lauder- 
back ministered in this section two years, when he was sent to 
take charge of the parish which had been recently organized at 
Galena, Illinois. From this time for several years occasional 
services were held in the village by the Rev. Dudley Chase, a 
son of the Bishop, and the Revs. Humphrey and Millett, of 
Beloit, Wisconsin; Pulford, of Belvidere; Johnston, of Pekin, 
and Miller, of Bonus, Illinois, the father of Orrin Miller, an early 
Rockford attorney. Services were generally held in the new 
court house. 

The present parish was organized May 1, 1849. A meeting 
of the parishioners, both men and women, was convened, at 
which the Rev. Dudley Chase presided ; and the parochial organ- 
ization was effected in accordance with the prescribed canonical 
form. The articles of association were signed by Chauncy Ray, 
Jonathan Weldon, Horace Starkey, Duncan J. Stewart, John 
Conrad, S. R. Weldon, and Spencer S. Weldon. Upon the organ- 
ization of the parish, the parishioners proceeded to the election 
of a vestry. Those elected were: senior warden, Horace Star- 
key; junior warden, Chauncy Ray; vestrymen, John Conrad, 
Duncan J. Stewart, S. R. Weldon. 


The Rev. Dudley Chase was called to be the first rector. He 
accepted the call, but afterward declined, as he preferred to 
accept a charge in Chicago, where he organized the parish of the 
Atonement on the West side, which was afterward merged into 
the cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. 

November 15, 1852, the Rev. Charles Reighley, of Chicago, 
was called to the rectorship of the parish. With the consent of 
the new bishop, Rt. Rev. Henry John Whitehouse, the call was 
accepted, and the first rector entered at once upon his work. 
Bishop Chase had died September 27, 1852, and had been suc- 
ceeded by Bishop Whitehouse. A lot was purchased on the 
corner of North Church and North streets, for two hundred 
dollars, and a church building erected at a cost of nineteen 
hundred dollars. The new church was consecrated by Bishop 
Whitehouse, August 23, 1853, "by the name of Emmanuel 
Church, Rockford." 

Succeeding the Rev. Charles Reighley have been the follow- 
ing rectors in the order named : Revs. Anson Clark, Michael 
Schofield, William T. Smithett, Thomas Smith, S. B. Duffield, 
J. E. Walton, S. D. Day, C. S. Percival, F. W. Adams, A. W. 
Snyder, D. C. Peabody, Wyllys Rede, and N. B. Clinch. 

The Rev. D. C. Peabody became rector March 1, 1886. Dur- 
ing his rectorship the present rectory was purchased, and the 
Fairfield Memorial Parish House erected, at a cost of forty 
thousand dollars. The latter was the gift of one parishioner, 
Mrs. Eleanor G. Fairfield, and was erected as a memorial to her 
late husband, W. W. Fairfield. An additional thirty feet of 
land adjoining the church lot on the west was purchased, at a 
cost of sixteen hundred dollars, and many other permanent 
improvements made in the parish. 

Emmanuel church, like the Episcopal church in America, 
has calmly pursued the even tenor of its way. Centuries ago the 
forefathers, in iconoclastic zeal, discarded the beauty and sub- 
limity of her ritual. With a sort of reversion to type instinct, 
non-conformist churches have from time to time since then 
incorporated portions of her ritual into their service. Like air 
and sunshine, it appeals to the great universal, and will ever 
maintain its place in public worship. Four of the greatest 
spiritual forces of the centuries, Frederick W. Robertson, Fran- 
ces Ridley Havergal, Phillips Brooks and Archdeacon Farrar, 
have found in this venerable church a congenial atmosphere for 
the highest development of the religious nature. 



THE subject of higher education received attention at an early 
date in this section. As early as 1836 or '37 a joint stock 
company was formed at Belvidere, for the purpose of building 
and maintaining an institution to be known as Newton academy. 
March 4, 1838, an instrument of writing issued from Boone 
county, by Dr. Whitney, commissioner of sales for the county, 
conveying to John S. King, Hiram "Waterman, A. D. Bishop, 
William Dresser and F. W T . Crosby, trustes of New ton academy, 
and their successors in office, for the use of the academy, block 
twenty in the original town of Belvidere. This tract of ground 
cornered with the southeast corner of the public square, and is 
now occupied bp the residence of H. C. DeDunn. The building 
was commenced, and so far completed as to be tenantable, and 
Prof. Seth S. Whitman taught a school therein. He was suc- 
ceeded by another teacher whose name has been forgotten. In 
August, 1843, the academy, grounds and franchises passed 
from the association, and became the property of John Wai- 
worth, in trust, to be used by him for educational purposes, and 
none other. In the same month Mr. Walworth conveyed the 
property to Arthur Fuller, a brother of the famous Margaret 
Fuller, subject to all the conditions named in the conveyance to 
Walworth. Miss Fuller went to Belvidere in person, and bought 
the property, and had the deed executed to her brother. Mr. 
Fuller occupied the academy as a teacher about two years, 
when he conveyed the property to John K. Towner and Eben 
Conant, subject to the same conditions. Mr. Conant was father 
of Rev. A. H. Conant, who was pastor of the Unitarian church 
of Rockford. The son used the academy as a school room and 
house of worship, llis doctrines did not meet the approval of 
the membership of the other churches, and neither his school 
nor his church met with special success ; and in January, 1852, 
Messrs. Towner and Conant conveyed the property to the Rev. 
Charles Hill Roe, a Baptist clergyman. From that time, for 
many years, the academy was used ks a private residence; then 
as a barn, and was finally destroyed by fire. 


About 1839 a seminary was founded at Mt. Morris, in Ogle 
county. The attempt to establish a school at Kishwaukee was 
noted in a preceding chapter. 

As early as 1843 there was some discussion of the need of a 
college for the upper Rock river valley. A general convention 
of the churches of the northwest was held at Cleveland, Ohio, 
in June, 1844, at which education received much attention. It 
was decided that a college and a female seminary should be 
founded in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, respect- 
ively. A resolution was adopted that the "exigencies of Wis- 
consin and northern Illinois require that those sections should 
unite in establishing a college and a female seminary of the 
highest order one in Wisconsin, near to Illinois, and the other 
in Illinois, near to Wisconsin." The delegates, upon their 
return, called a convention at Beloit in August, 1844. Three 
subsequent conventions were held at Beloit, because it was 
believed from the first that the college should be located at that 
place. The resolution of the first convention, affirming the 
need of both college and seminary, was re-affirmed in these sub- 
sequent conventions, representing especially the Presbyterian 
and Congregational ministry and churches in all the region. 
The union of these two churches in this movement may be 
attributed to the fact that each was weak as it stood alone, 
and only in union was there strength. At the fourth conven- 
tion, held at Beloit in October, 1845, Beloit was selected as the 
seat of the college, and a board of trustees was elected, to whom 
was committed the development of both institutions. The first 
meeting of the trustees was held the same month. Upon the 
original board were Rev. Aratus Kent and Hon. Wait Talcott. 
The charter for Beloit college was approved by the governor of 
the territory of Wisconsin, February 2, 1846. Middle college, 
the first building, was begun in the autumn of that year. 

Then began the discussion of a site for the seminary. Rock- 
ton and Rockford were rivals. But Beloit had been selected for 
the college; and from the Puritanical point of view of those 
days, Rockton was considered not a desirable distance for a 
college for young ladies. Thus Rockford was given the prefer- 
ence. The Rockford Forum of October 29, 1845, published a 
call for a meetiug at the Methodist church, on Monday evening, 
November 3d, to consider the location of the seminary. This 
call was signed by thirty-four citizens, led by T. D. Robertson. 


[Began for the First Congregational church, subsequently owned by the county 
as a court house. Miss Sill began her preparatory school here. It was also occupied 
as a place of worship by several churches. Last stood on Gilbert Woodruff's grounds. 
Torn clown autumn of 1899] 



At this meeting it was resolved to attempt to raise the sum 
prescribed by the Beloit trustees as necessary about three 
thousand five hundred dollars. A committee was appointed to 
solicit subscriptions, consisting of Jason Marsh, George Has- 
kell, Willard Wheeler, Asa Crosby, Anson S. Miller, P. B. John- 
son, and Horace Foote. The Forum of November 5, 1845, 
contains a full report of this meeting, also a lengthy editorial. 
Citizens pledged the required amount. The Forum of December 
3d mentions, in a sketch of the city, that the trustees of Beloit 
college have located the seminary at Rockford. A charter was 
granted February 25, 1847, to the following gentlemen as 
incorporators : Aratus Kent, D. Clary, S. Peet, F. Bascom, C. 
Waterbury, S. D. Stevens, A. L. Chapin, R. M. Pearson, G. W. 
Wilcox, A. Raymond, C. M.Goodsell, E. H. Potter, L.G. Fisher, 
Wait Talcott, Charles S. Hempstead and Samuel Hinman. These 
same gentlemen were the incorporators of Beloit college. The 
board of trustees was to consist of sixteen members, with power 
to increase the number to twenty-four. But disasters affecting 
the business interests of the village prevented the fulfillment of 
the pledges which had been made, and delayed the enterprise 
for a time; but it was never abandoned. 

Meanwhile, June 11, 1849, Miss Anna P. Sill began a pre- 
paratory school, under the name of the Rockford Female Semi- 
nary. The recitations were held in the old court house building 
on North First street. Miss Sill came to Rockford from the 
east, with the expectation that her school would develop into 
the seminary which had been planned by the trustees of Beloit. 
This preparatory school was not the seminary proper, but 
rather its forerunner, and entirely under local management. 
Miss Sill was assisted by the Misses Hannah and Eliza Richards. 
The number of pupils the first term was seventy, most of whom 
were under ten years of age. The opening of this school appar- 
ently gave an impetus to the consummation of the former plans 
for a seminary. The trustees were Rev. L. H. Loss, Jason Marsh, 
Anson S. Miller, C. A. Huntington, S. M. Church, Rev. J. C. 
Parks, Bela Shaw, T. D. Robertson, E. H. Potter, Dr. George 
Haskell, Asa Crosby. The academic year was divided into four 
terms of eleven weeks each. 

In 1850 the citizens again made pledges aggregating more 
than five thousand dollars for buildings, and theladies pledged 
one thousand dollars for the beautiful grounds. This original 
subscription list is still in existence, though eaten away in places. 


It was found among the papers of the late Charles H. Spafford. 
The word original is here used because the subscriptions of 
1845-46 were apparently never redeemed. The list is probably 
the only one in existence. Thus by September, 18, 1850, the 
seminary proper was assured as a permanent institution of 
Rockford, for the higher education of young women. 

During the first two years of Miss Sill's residence in Rock- 
ford she continued independently her preparatory school. But 
in 1851 the school was formally recognized by the board of 
trustees of Beloit college as the preparatory department of Rock- 
ford female seminary, under the charter which they had already 
obtained. Full preparatory and collegiate courses of study 
were defined, and, upon examination, fifteen were admitted into 
the first collegiate class in September of that year. The year 
1851 is thus regarded as the date of the founding of the semi- 
nary, according to the original design. The recitations were 
conducted in the old court house building, already noted. The 
seminary had been granted full collegiate powers by its charter, 
but it was called a seminary, as was customary for such insti- 
tutions at that time. The name was not changed to Rockford 
college until 1892. Seven of this first class of 1851 graduated 
in 1854. Only one, Mrs. William Lathrop, is now a resident of 
the city. The course then covered three years, and was later 
changed to four years. 

The present seminary grounds were purchased from Buell 
G. Wheeler. The land originally extended to the river, but a 
portion was taken by the Chicago & Iowa railroad. The prop- 
erty was not condemned, as the trustees preferred to sell rather 
than enter into any controversy. The grounds never extended 
farther east or north. They were never enlarged, and were 
reduced only on the west. The deed to this property was also 
found among Mr. Spafford's papers, and apparently had never 
left his possession. The reason therefor may be explained. Mr. 
Spafford was county recorder at the time; he was also a trustee 
of the seminary, and the treasurer of the board. The document 
would thus naturally remain in his possession. This deed and 
the original subscription list, previously noted, were presented 
to the college at the last commencement season by Mr. Spaf- 
ford's family, and are now among its permanent records. The 
city of Rockford owes a debt of gratitude to three of its early 
citizens for the very existence of this institution. At a critical 
moment in the formative period, Charles H. Spafford, Eleazer 


H. Potter and Dr. Lucius Clark mortgaged their homes and 
raised several thousand dollars to insure the success of the sem- 
inary. This self-sacrifice by these gentleman, who had faith in 
the future of Rockford, and who appreciated the value of higher 
education, has never been properly recognized, for the apparent 
reason that their course has not been generally known. 

After the purchase of the grounds Mr. Wheeler said they were 
sold for much Jess than their real value. Mrs. Wheeler was 
deeply interested in the success of the seminary ; and thus the 
property was obtained at a low price. Mr. Spafford also pre- 
served a transcript of an itemized estimate of the cost of the 
first building, made by John Beattie. This document called for 
an outlay of seven thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven 
dollars and thirty-five cents. 

July 15, 1852, the corner-stone of the first building was 
laid by Rev. Aratus Kent, president of the board of trustees. 
He spoke from the words: "That our daughters may be as 
corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace." 

After the acceptance by the board of trustees of the finan- 
cial pledges of the citizens of Rockford in 1850, it was deemed 
best that each institution should manage its own affairs. A 
provisional local board appears to have been created at this 
time ; and in 1852 the seminary passed into the control of a 
separate board of trustees. The principle of co-operation, how- 
ever, continued to prevail, and certain gentlemen were on the 
official boards of the college and the seminary. In the lapse of 
years this number gradually diminished, until now Thomas D. 
Robertson is the only one connected with the boards of the 
two institutions. The first formal appointment to the perma- 
nent faculty of the seminary was made in July, 1852, when 
Miss Sill was elected principal. In July, 1854, the collegiate 
course was divided into four departments : mental and moral 
philosophy; mathematics and natural science; history and 
English literature; ancient languages. The department of 
mental and moral philosophy was assigned to the principal. Miss 
Mary White was chosen teacher in mathematics and natural 

In 1854 work was begun on Linden hall, the western wing. 
It received its name from the residence of one of its New En- 
gland friends. From this place and from New York the larger 
part of the fund was obtained for its construction. In the 
fifties Miss Sill raised a large sum of money among her eastern 


friends, especially in Boston, for the seminary, apparently to 
raise a deficit. Up to September 8, 1854, Miss Sill had secured 
in subscriptions the sum of three thousand six hundred and 
fifty-nine dollars and sixty-seven cents. This fact appears from 
a financial statement made by Charles H. Spafford. According 
to the Rockford Democrat of August 1, 1854, Mr. Mil wain was 
the architect of Linden hall, and the plans and specifications 
called for an addition forty-one by sixty-four feet, and four 
stories. Linden hall was first separate from Middle hall, and 
then connected by a frame passage-way. 

In 1866 a second addition, Chapel hall, with its connecting 
corridors, was begun, and completed two years later. In 1871 
Linden hall and Middle Hall were connected by a corridor. 

Of the first collegiate class admitted in 1851, seven were 
graduated in 1854, eight in 1855, sixteen in 1856, ten in 1857, 
eleven in 1858, ten in 1859, eleven in 1860, and nine in 1861 ; 
a total of eighty-two in eight years. There were then three 
departments: collegiate, normal and academic. During that 
time there were eighty-five others who entered the seminary, 
but did not complete the course. Forty-one were in the junior 
class in 1861. The whole number who shared in the instruction 
of the collegiate course during the first ten years was two hun- 
dred and six. One hundred and eighty-three had received 
instruction in the normal course; and the whole number of 
pupils for a longer or shorter time connected with the institu- 
tion, including the preparatory courses, from the beginning in 
1849, to July, 1861, was fifteen hundred and thirty. During 
this time there was contributed to the seminary from all sources 
the sum of thirty-nine thousand two hundred and twenty-eight 

The influence of this seminary and later college upon the 
intellectual, social and moral life of Rockford may be recognized 
and appreciated ; but it can never be fully estimated. The city 
does not contain a more enduring monument to the wisdom of 
its founders. 

Many godly men and women have labored for the success 
of this Christian college ; and those of a later day have reaped 
the harvest. This chapter would be incomplete without a more 
specific reference to Miss Anna P. Sill and Rev. Aratus Kent. 

Anna Peck Sill was born in Burlington, Otsego county, New 
York, August 9, 1816. She was the youngest of ten children, 


and inherited the intellectual and moral qualities of a long line 
of Puritan ancestry. Her father, Abel Sill, was a farmer, who 
died in 1824, in his fiftieth year, when Anna was seven years of 
age. Her mother was the eldest daughter of Judge Jedediah 
Peck, who, it is said, was the first in New York to urge legisla- 
tive action for the establishment of common schools, and the 
abolition of imprisonment for debt. In 1831 Miss Anna made 
a public profession of religion. In the autumn of 1836 she 
taught a district school in the neighborhood of Albion. About 
six weeks of this time, during the vacation season, she attended 
a school at Albion, and in November, 1837, she entered Miss 
Phipps' Union seminary, one of the first female institutions of 
the state, as a regular student. One year later she became a 
teacher, and probably continued her studies at the same time. 
Here she remained five years, until July, 1843. During her last 
year at Albion she wrestled with the problem of her life-work. 
She had a holy enthusiasm for humanity; but a thick veil, 
which faith and prayer alone could rend, obscured her path 
of duty. She was inclined toward the foreign missionary field, 
if she could be accounted worthy of such honor. To her pastor 
she writes: "I have hardly dared to ask my Heavenly Father 
so great a privilege, but have prayed that at least I might be 
permitted after death to go as a ministering spirit and whis- 
per sweet words of peace to some poor heathen soul." When 
an opportunity came for her to go to India, however, she had 
become convinced that her mission was, in part, to prepare 
others for the field. 

After some time Miss Sill's thoughts were turned from 
Albion toward the west as afield of missionary and educational 
labor. She corresponded with Rev. Hiram Foobe, who was then 
at Racine, Wisconsin, with whom she had some acquaintance. 
The reply was not favorable, and Miss Sill opened a seminary 
for yung ladies at Warsaw, October 2, 1843. This was the first 
seminary entirely under her control. She remained there until 
March,. 1846. In the following August she was invited by the 
trustees of the Gary collegiate institute, in Oakfield, Genesee 
county, to take charge of the ladies' department. This invita- 
tion was accepted, and she taught there until the spring of 
1849. At this time the location of a seminary at Rockford was 
again under consideration. Friends of theenterprise had heard 
of her success as a teacher. Among these was Rev. L. H. Loss, 
then pastor of the First Congregational church. He invited her 


to come to Rockford and opeii a school for young ladies as pre- 
paratory to the prospective seminary. Miss Sill accepted the 
invitation, and arrived in Rockford May 24, 1849. 

Miss Sill and the seminary are thenceforth so vitally related 
that the life-story of one is the history of the other. In the 
summer of 1884, after thirty-five years of successful leadership, 
Miss Sill resigned, and retired to the more quiet but not less 
honored position of principal emerita.. She accepted the situ- 
ation as for the best interest of the seminary, with Christian 
fortitude. She who had been the directing force for so many 
years, must thenceforth live outside the circle, a passive specta- 
tor of the young and progressive life. This was perhaps the 
severest trial of her life. 

Miss Sill lived five years after her retirement from active 
life. She died at her room in the seminary, June 18, 1889. The 
funeral was held in the chapel on the 20th. The introductory 
services were conducted by the Rev. Walter M. Barrows, pastor 
of the Second Congregational church. The funeral discourse 
was preached by her former pastor, Rev. Henry M. Goodwin, 
D. D. Prayer was offered by the Rev. W. W. Leete. 

Anna P. Sill lived a life of en tire consecration. Self was laid 
on the altar of sacrifice, that it might be wholly consumed in 
the holy flame. When the path of duty became clear, she threw 
the enthusiasm of her strong and generous nature into the 
founding of a school for the Christian education of young 
women. Its honorable history shows that her faith was not 
delusion nor mere enthusiasm ; but that there was a providen- 
tial guidance of her way, and a divinely-ordered connection 
between the work and the instrument. At the alumnae reunion 
immediately after her death, Mrs. Marie T. Perry paid her this 
noble tribute : "With her wondrous endowment of head and 
heart, and an indomitable will, she set up her standard in the 
wilderness, and with a courage that knew no faltering, a vigil- 
ance that was ceaseless, patiently, hopefully prayerfully, 
wrought out the dream of her life the school of her love. . . 
Her power over her pupils was rare and marvelous. Day after 
day, by word, look and act, she forged the unseen chain that 
at last she riveted around them. The impatience of youth might 
seek to shake it off and break it ; the pleasures of life and the 
dictum of the world might strive to undo its fastenings, but 
sooner or later, disloyal legions would wheel into line and do 
valiant service in the cause of truth and right." Emerson 


observes that there is nothing so great as a great soul ; and it 
may be said that upon the thousands who came under her 
benign influence, "light from her celestial garments streams." 

Kev. Aratus Kent was born January 15, 1794. He was a 
son of John Kent, a merchant of Suffield, Connecticut, and a 
brother of Germanicus Kent, the first settler of Rockford. They 
belonged to the family from which came the famous Chancellor 
Kent, of New York. Mr. Kent was fitted for college at West- 
field academy. At nineteen years of age he entered the sopho- 
more class at Yale. He united with the church under President 
Dwight, August 15, 1815. Mr. Kent graduated from Yale in 
1816, and then spent four years in theological studies in New 
York. He was licensed to preach by the presbytery of New 
York April 20, 1820. From November 21, 1822, until April 
11, 1823, he was a student at Princeton theological seminary. 
He was ordained January 26, 1825, at Lockport, New York. 

Mr. Kent subsequently applied to the American Home Mis- 
sionary Board "for a place so hard that no one else would take 
it." He was sent to Galena, Illinois, then a mining city, where he 
immediately began his labors. His first years in the west were 
spent in home missionary work. October 23, 1831, he organ- 
ized the First Presbyterian church at Galena. His three chil- 
dren died in infancy ; one in 1837, another in 1838, and a third 
in 1840. Mrs. E. P. Thomas, of Rockford, is an adopted daugh- 
ter. Mr. Kent was a leader in the founding of Beloit college 
and Rockford seminary, and out of a meagre salary he contrib- 
uted to Christian education. Mr. Kent died November 8, 1869, 
at the age of seventy-five years. He was honored in life, and his 
memory is held in reverence. 

Around Mr. Kent was a senate of men like unto him. Eight 
of the sixteen incorporators were clergymen. Rev. Stephen 
Peet, father of the churches in Wisconsin, died in 1855 ; yet that 
brief remnant of his life enabled him to add the founding of 
Chicago theological seminary, as the completion of what he 
had done in aiding the building of the churches, and of Beloit 
college and the seminary. Rev. Dexter Clary, another incorpo- 
rator of the two institutions, died June 18, 1874. Charles M. 
Goodsell, of Geneva, Wisconsin, became one of the founders of 
Carl ton college, at Northfield, Minnesota. 



THE public school system of Rockford had its beginning in 
national and state legislation. The foundations of the 
system were laid more that a century ago, about four years 
before the United States entered upon national life under the 
constitution. May 20, 1785, an ordinance was passed by con- 
gress, then assembled in New York, for a system of rectangular 
surveys of the lands in the "western territory," and it was 
therein provided "that there shall be reserved the lot num- 
ber sixteen of every township for the maintenance of public 
schools within the township." The territory thus designated 
was the Northwest Territory, from which Illinois was created. 
The Ordinance of 1787, for the government of the North- 
west Territory, provided that "religion, morality and knowledge 
. . shall forever be encouraged." Thus early was recognized 
the value of popular education. The next step was in 1818, 
when Illinois sought admission into the union. In April of that 
year congress passed an act enabling the people of the territory 
of Illinois to organize a state. Certain propositions were therein 
made to the convention of the territory, which, if accepted, 
would be binding upon the state and the federal government. 
Three of these referred to education. First, that section number 
sixteen or its equivalent in every congressional township shall 
be granted to the state, for the use of schools in such township. 
Second, that three per cent, of the net proceeds from the 
sales of all the public lands in the state shall be given to 
the state for the encouragement of learning, of which one-sixth 
part shall be exclusively bestowed on a college or university. 
Third, that two entire townships in the state, to be designated 
by the president of the United States, shall be reserved for the 
use of a seminary. 

These propositions were accepted by an ordinance adopted 
at Kaskaskia, August 26, 1818. December 3d following, con- 
gress approved the constitution. Thus Illinois came into the 


union with theese valuable grants of land for the maintenance 
of education. 

By the term "early schools" is meant those schools which 
were maintained under various laws of the state prior to 1855. 
The first public school law was passed in 1825, seven years after 
Illinois became a state. Common schools were established free 
to white citizens between the ages of five and twenty-one. Dis- 
tricts containing not less than fifteen families could be formed 
by the county courts, upon petition of a majority of the voters 
thereof. Voters were authorized at the annual meeting to levy 
a tax in money or merchantable produce, at its cash value, not 
exceeding one-half of one per cent., subject to a maximum lim- 
itation of ten dollars to any one person. The state also appro- 
priated two dollars out of every one hundred dollars received 
into the treasury, and disbursed the interest on the school fund 
proper among the several counties ; and these sums were dis- 
tributed by the counties among the respective districts. 

This law was bitterly opposed, and in 1827 it was amended 
so as to be virtually nullified, by providing that no person should 
be taxed for the maintenance of schools, unless his consent was 
first obtained in writing. The state appropriation of two dol- 
lars out of every one hundred dollars received into the treasury, 
was also withdrawn. 

. The school laws were revised at nearly every session of the 
legislature. These were all radically defective in that the state 
did not impose a tax, but made it discretionary with the dis- 
tricts whether such tax should be levied. The law of 1845 made 
it optional with districts whether they would levy a tax. The 
maximum was fifteen cents on the one hundred dollars. Many 
important changes were made. By this act it was provided 
that on the first Monday in August, and biennially thereafter, 
there should be elected a school commissioner in each county. 
The law of 1849 limited the local tax to twenty-five cents per 
one hundred dollars. The statute of 1851 provided that a 
majority of legal voters could levy a tax not exceeding one 
dollar on every hundred dollars, for building and repairing 

The school fund proper of the state consists of three per 
cent, of the net proceeds of the sales of the public lands in the 
state, one-sixth part excepted. This is known as the three per 
cent, fund, or school fund proper. Under an act of February 6, 
1835, this fund was loaned to the state at six per cent, interest. 


The interest on this fund constitutes one of the sources from 
which the common school fund of the state is derived. The 
principal of this fund is now $613,362.96. 

The college fund consists of one-sixth of three per cent, of 
the proceeds of the sales of public lands in the state. This fund 
was also loaned the state in 1835. In the same year it was 
provided that the interest on this fund should be annually 
loaned to the school fund, for distribution with other funds, 
among the several counties in the state. February 18, 1857, 
the interest on this fund, less one-fourth of one per cent., was 
set apart to the maintenance of the state normal university. 
The principal of this fund is $156,613.32. 

The seminary fund is derived from the proceeds of the sale 
of "seminary lands," which consist of two townships given the 
state by the general government, for the founding and support 
of a state seminary. This fund was also loaned the state in 
1835. In the same'year it was provided that the interest on 
this fund should be annually loaned to the state school fund. 
In 1857 the interest on this fund, less one-fourth of one percent., 
was devoted to the maintenance of the normal university. The 
principal of this fund is $59,838.72. 

The surplus revenue fund was created by congress in 1836, 
by an act which deposited with the states, in proportion to 
their representation in congress, the money that had accumu- 
lated in the national treasury, mainly from the sale of public 
lands. Prior to this act an unsuccessful effort had been made 
to distribute this money among the states as a gift from the 
nation. The objections to this plan were overcome by deposit- 
ing the money with the states, subject to return upon call of 
congress. About twenty-eight million dollars were distributed 
among the states in this way, and none of it has ever been 
called for. Illinois received $477,919.24. A portion of this 
amount was expended in internal improvements, and the bal- 
ance, $335,592.32, was by an act of the legislature of March 
4, 1837, made a part of the common school fund of the state, 
and loaned to the state at six per cent. 

The most munificent donation from congress was the six- 
teenth section of every congressional township. This amounted 
to nine hundred and ninety-eight thousand four hundred and 
forty-eight and eighty-nine-hundredths acres. It has been said 
that if these lands had been properly cared for, they would have 
given the people such an ample public school fund as would 


have saved them from local taxation. The local sale of these 
lands and the handling of such funds were delegated to township 
trustees by the law of the state. The principal of this fund 
varies in different townships, from less than one hundred dol- 
lars to more than one hundred thousand dollars. Unfortu- 
nately, most of these lands were sold at an early day, when the 
people were poor and prices low. Some township trustees were 
wiser, and held them for higher prices. The Chicago Tribune 
building and McVicker's theatre are built on school lands, still 
owned by the township, and pay an enormous rental. The 
township fund of the state in 1898, including a conservative esti- 
mate of the value of unsold lands, aggregated $15,479,457.42. 
The principal of the township school fund of Rockford is $4,000. 

A local school fund is derived from fines and forfeitures. In 
1853 the fines collected and criminal forfeitures on bail were 
added to the school fund. The present law provides that all 
fines, penalties and forfeitures which may be imposed in any of 
the courts of record, and before any justice of the peace, except 
those incurred for violation of the ordinances of incorporated 
cities and towns, shall be paid to the county superintendent of 
schools, and the same shall be distributed annually by him, in 
the same manner as the common school funds of the state are 

September 28, 1850, congress granted to the states of the 
union, all overflowed and swamp lands, thereby made unfit for 
cultivation, within their respective limits. These lands were 
subject to the disposal of the legislature, provided that so much 
of the proceeds of such sales as may be necessary shall be 
devoted to reclaiming the same by levees and drains. By an 
act of the legislature, June 22, .1852, these lands were granted 
to the counties in which they were respectively located, upon 
similar terms upon which the state had received them, for edu- 
cational or other purposes, at their discretion. January 15, 
1855, the state auditor of public accounts certified that one 
thousand eight hundred and one and nine-tenths acres was 
the total amount of such lands in Winnebago county. In 
March, 1855, the board of supervisors appointed Duncan Fer- 
guson, Milton Kilburn and Edmund Oviatt a committee to 
examine these lands, and report. These swamp lands were 
located in townships twenty-eight, twenty-nine and forty- three. 
Many of them were near the village of Winnebago. These lands 
were first sold by C. A. Huntingdon, the school commissioner, 


at high prices, arid during prosperous times. Little cash was 
paid, and the purchasers gave mortgages for the balance. 
Values declined, and the purchasers could not redeem their 
property. Thereupon the supervisors ordered them resold, 
which was done by H. H. Waldo, who succeeded Mr. Hunting- 
ton as school commissioner, for about what they were actually 

Through some obscurity in the statutes of 1852 and 1854 
upon the subject, there was prolonged litigation as to whether 
the proceeds should constitute a county fund, or be distributed 
among the townships. The money finally passed into the con- 
trol of the superintendent as a. county fund. The principal of 
this fund in Winnebago county is $5,980.06. 

By way of recapitulation it may be said the principal state 
and local funds for the support of higher and common school 
education are now as follows: Direct state taxation, direct local 
taxation, school fund proper, college fund, seminary fund, sur- 
plus revenue fund, township fund, fines and forfeitures, and the 
swamp land fund. 

The cause of popular education languished for eighteen 
years from the passage of the first law in 1825. In 1844 a com- 
mon school convention was held in Peoria, which earnestly 
pleaded among other things, for a state superintendent of pub- 
lic instruction. The legislature, at the session of 1844-45, 
yielded in some measure to the force of this reasoning. By an 
act of 1845, the secretary of state was made ex officio state 
superintendent of public instruction. In reference to local tax- 
ation it was required that a two-thirds legal vote of any dis- 
trict should concur in ordering the tax. The large property- 
holders, especially those who had no children, often threw their 
influence against a local tax levy, and the school revenue was 
consequently small. Many of the features of the school law of 
1845 were incorporated into the law of 1855. 

The first school in Winnebago county was taught by Miss 
Eunice Brown, who afterward became Mrs. J. G. Lyon. This 
school was on the site of 110 South Second street, in the rear 
of what is known as the John Early residence, and taught in a 
log house. This was about July, 1837. In the spring of 1838 
Miss Brown taught on the West side, in a building on what is 
now the court house square. Mrs. Lyon died at her home in 
Rockton December 7, 1889. 


In 1837 Miss Frances Bradford taught school in a log cabin 
which belonged to William E. Dunbar. In 1869 the late 
Mrs. John H. Thurston prepared a list of early Rockford 
schools, which, with some amplification, is substantially repro- 
duced. Israel Morrill and Miss Sarah E. Danforth taught in 
1838 on the West side; Miss Wood, in 1839, on the West 
side; James M. Wight, in the winter of 1838-39, in the 
building on the corner of Madison and Market streets, on 
the site of the American House ; Miss Hyde, in 1839, in the 
same place; Andrus Corbin, in 1839, in a house owned by him- 
self on the West side; Mr. Jackson, in the winter of 1839-40, 
in the house on the corner of Madison and Market streets ; Miss 
Hepsabeth Hutchinson and Miss Maria Baker, in 1840, on the 
East side; Mrs. Mary Jackson, in 1838-39, on the West side; 
Miss Wealthy Bradford, in 1841-42, on the West side; Lewis 
S. Sweezy, in 1841-42, in the brick schoolhouse on the southeast 
corner of the public square, East side; Miss Harriet Barnum, 
in 1841, in a private house, East side; Miss Minerva C.Fletcher, 
in 1842, in a log house that stood opposite the First Congre- 
gational church, East side ; Elijah Holt, in 1841-42, in the brick 
schoolhouse, East side; John Paul, in 1841, in the first house 
south of the railroad, Main street, West side; Lewis B. Gregory, 
in the brick schoolhouse, East side, 1843-44; Miss Fronia 
Foote and George Waterman, in 1843-44; Miss Julia Barnum, 
in 1844, in private house, East side; Miss Adaline Warren, pri- 
vate house, East side; Miss Augusta Kemfield, in 1845, East 
side; C. A. Huntington, from 1845 to 1849, in the old court 
house on North First street, and on the West side ; Miss Elizabeth 
Weldon was assistant to Mr. Huntington ; H. H. Waldo, in 1848, 
in Baptist church, West side; D. W.Ticknor,from 1846 to 1849, 
in the brick schoolhouse, East side, assisted in turn by Miss 
Elizabeth Weldon, Anson Barnum, John W. Andrews, and D. 
Dubois; H. H. Waldo, in 1849-50,.Miss Hannah Morrill, 1848, 
East side; Robert A. Sanford, 1848, West side. 

In 1850 Mr. Bowles taught in the brick schoolhouse on the 
East side; Mrs. Squires, in 1850, on what is now 111 Madison 
street, East side, and afterward on West side; Mrs. King H. 
Milliken, in 1850, East side; Miss Mary Dow, Miss Delia Hyde, 
and George E. Kimball, 1850-53, in the basement of the pres- 
ent First Baptist church building, West side; Miss Sarah A. 
Stewart and Miss Mary Joslin, in 1850, in a building where the 
Masonic Temple now stands ; Seely Perry, in the basement of 


the First Methodist church, on Second street ; B. Rush Catlin, 
in 1852, in basement of First Methodist church ; Misses Char- 
lotte and Harriet Leonard, in 1851-52; Miss Stowell and T. 
J. L. Remington, in 1851, in the brick schoolhouse, West side; 
Rev. C. Reighley, in 1852, on the East side ; Miss Fanny Avery, 
in 1852, on the East side; Mr. Stevens, in 1853, in the brick 
school house, East side ; Miss Lizzie Fern, in 1853, on the East 
side; Mrs. Carpenter, in 1853, West side; Rev. L. Porter, in 
1852; Mr. Stowell, in 1853; Rev. Addison Brown and Miss 
Frances A. Brown, on the West side; Miss Julia Galloway, in 
1854, in the lobby of the First Congregational church, East 
side; Darwin Dubois, in 1854, in First Methodist church; Mrs. 
Julia and Miss Chapman, in 1854, on West side ; Miss Belle 
Burpee and Miss Ethalinda Thompson, in 1855, on the East 
side; Halsey G. Clark, in 1855, in old court house, East side, 
with Miss Lizzie Giffen as assistant; Miss Emma Brown, in 
1857, on the East side; Freeman, in basement First Bap- 
tist church, West side ; Wesley Sovereign, in First Methodist 
church, East side ; Mrs. Jones, on West side; Miss Elizabeth 
Fisher, West side; Miss Gunsolus, East side; Mr. Johnson and 
Mr. Gifford, West side. 

Nearly all of these schools were private. The teachers were 
paid mainly by the parents. The teacher made out his own 
bills and collected them. There was then no regular state or local 
tax, and the only public school money was derived from the 
interest on the several state school funds, and the township 
fund obtained from the sale of the sixteenth section. Private 
teachers, who conformed to certain requirements of the law, 
received some compensation from the public money, in propor- 
tion to the number of pupils under their instruction. 

The early public school records of Rockford township have 
been lost. It is therefore impossible to obtain exact information. 
There appears, however, to have been a school district, with a 
schoolhouse, on each side of the river. The East side public 
school was in the brick building on the southeast corner of the 
public square. This schoolhouse was erected at an early date, 
by private subscription. L. B. Gregory taught there soon after 
his arrival in Rockford. His examination for certificate was quite 
brief, and was held in E. H. Potter's store. The directors were 
E. H. Potter, William E. Dunbar, Willard Wheeler, and Dr. A. 
M. Catlin. Mr. Gregory was asked to spell baker. He replied 
that he could not; but the certificate was granted. 


In the classical institute, in the basement of the First Bap- 
tist church, from 1855 to 1856, of which H. P. Kimball was 
principal, one class pursued the regular studies of the freshman 
year in college, and entered one year in advance. A score of 
students left this institution and entered eastern colleges. Two 
years' study was considered sufficient to advance scholars 
through a full preparatory course of mathematics and the 
usual books in Latin and Greek, giving them a sufficient and 
thorough preparation. 

Seely Perry taught a preparatory school for young men 
about a year and a half, in the First Methodist church. At this 
school quite a number of students prepared for college. Among 
these were the late Dr. Selwyn Clark ; Alexander Kerr, who is 
now emeritus professor of Greek in the University of Wisconsin ; 
Rev. John Edwards, brother of Mrs. Clemens. On account of 
ill health, Mr. Perry turned over the school to a brother of Dr. 
E. P. Catlin. 

Besides the houses used for schools on the East side already 
noted, were: one on Kishwaukee street, near bridge; one on 
lot in rear of engine house on South First street; one on South 
Madison street. Not less than eight buildings were used for 
school purposes on the East side. -Asum of money was once 
raised to build a second public school house on the East side; 
but it was never erected. The money was finally paid into the 
municipal treasury, upon the order of the city council. 

John A. Holland and others build a schoolhouse for private 
pupils, on South West street. It was occupied exclusively by 
the children of those who erected it. It was therefore not a 
large school, but somewhat exclusive. The contract was made 
with Seely Perry for furnishing building material. 

Another schoolhouse is now on South Main street, used as 
a blacksmith shop, near Mrs. Brett's block. The Second Congre- 
gational church was organized in this building. There was also 
a small schoolhouse on the south side of Green street, between 
Church and Court. It was a white frame building. Abbie Parker, 
a sister of the late G. W. Parker, taught there at one time. 

The development of the public school system is an excellent 
illustration of the growth of paternalism ; first, on the part of 
the general government ; and second, in the gradual advance 
of the state toward the present standard. In a strict sense, 
the free school system was founded in 1855, and will be consid- 
ered in a later chapter. 



THE constitution of 1848 provided for a county court, as 
the successor of the county commissioners' court, and 
authorized the legislature to enact a general law, providing for 
township organization, under which counties might organize, 
by a majority vote of the people. In the early days of Illinois 
as a state, southern ideas and institutions dominated the com- 
monwealth. The commissioners' form of local government orig- 
inated in this country with the Virginia planters. The system 
of township organization had its origin in New England. But 
the root of this form of local government may be traced to the 
districting of England into tithingsby King Alfred, in the ninth 
century, to curb the widespread social disorders which dis- 
turbed his realm. The change under the second constitution of 
Illinois was due to the influence of New England settlers in the 
northern portion of the state. The Illinois township system, 
however, is not closely modeled after that of the New England 

The legislature, by two acts approved February 12, 1849, 
supplemented these two constitutional provisions by the neces- 
sary legislation. The first created a county court, the judges 
of which should be elected on the Tuesday after the first Mon- 
day in November, 1849, and quadrennially thereafter, and 
assume their duties on the first Monday in December following. 
There were also to be elected at the same times and places, two 
associate justices of the peace, who, with the judge, constituted 
the county court, which succeeded the county commissioners' 

This county court was short-lived, so far as Winnebago 
county was concerned. The second statute, also approved 
February 12, 1849, provided that at the next general election 
in November, 1849, the voters in any county might vote for or 
against township organization. Consequently, at the same 
general election in November, 1849, the voters of this county 
elected both a county court to succeed the county commission- 


ers' court; and voted to adopt township organization. Section 
four of the new law provided that if the voters so elected, the 
township organization should be in force the first Tuesday in 
April, 1850. At that time the associate justices ceased to be 
members of the county court, under the provision of section 
six of article seven of the new constitution. The associate 
justices, however, were elected for several years as justices of 
the peace for the county at large. 

It may seem, at first thought, that two such laws would 
not have been passed by the legislature, as the second might 
nullify the first. But it will be observed that the township 
organization system did not become operative unless the people 
so voted ; hence there was a possibility that they would not 

From 1849 to 1855 the clerk of the county court was also 
clerk of the board of supervisors, under section eight of article 
sixteen of the township organization law. By virtue of an act 
of February 9, 1855, the clerk of the county court of Winne- 
bago county ceased to be ex offieio clerk of the board of super- 
visors, after the first Monday of the following April. Under 
this law Duncan Ferguson was appointed; and a separate clerk 
of the board was thereafter biennially appointed, until the law 
was repealed. 



THE Second Congregational church was organized in the 
autumn of 1849, with forty-seven members. Nearly all had 
taken letters from the First church under date of October 18th. 
The application for letters, in part, was as follows : "We, whose 
names are underwritten, . . believing we shall be serving 
the cause of Christ by so doing, propose to form ourselves, in 
company with such others as shall desire to unite with us, into 
a Congregational church to be styled the Second Congrega- 
tional church of Rockford." Tradition has given no cause for 
separation from the parent church, other than the one assigned 
in the foregoing declaration. The resolution of dismissal rec- 
ognized the right of every person to be governed by the dictates 
of his own conscience ; still it was the sense of the church that 
this action was "premature and uncalled for." A vacant church 
building and a growing population on the West side seemed to 
justify a separation; and time has fully vindicated its wisdom. 
During its entire history Rockford has been a stronghold of 
Congregationalism . 

The first meeting preliminary to organization was held 
October 30, 1849, at the schoolhouse in West Rockford. This 
building is still standing on South Main street. Rev. Lansing 
Porter was called to the chair, and Worcester A. Dickerman 
was appointed clerk. A committee of three was chosen to pre- 
sent at a future meeting, articles of faith, covenant and rules 
of government for the proposed church. Benjamin A. Rose, 
Dexter G. Clark and Thomas D. Robertson constituted this 
committee. It was resolved that the public organization of 
the church should take place November 14th ; and Samuel J. 

Russell, Worcester A. Dickerman and Robert Clow were chosen 


to make the necessary arrangements. 

An adjourned meeting- was held November 7th. A resolu- 
tion was adopted, by which the following named persons, who 
were then present, organized the church: Robert Clow, Burton 
P. Franklin, Rachel Franklin, David D. Ailing, Rebecca Ailing, 
Alexander Patterson, Helen Patterson, Ellen Patterson, Jane 


Gordon, Thomas D. Robertson, Goodyear A. Sanford, Elizabeth 
H. Sanford, Worcester A. Dickerman, Caroline M. Dickerman, 
Michael Burns, Deborah Burns, Samuel J. Russell, Lucy Rus- 
sell, Dexter G. Clark, Benjamin A. Rose, Antoinette W. Rose, 
Eliza Hanford, Rebecca Spurr, Harriette W. Platt, Rial K. 
Town, Clarissa Town, Mary Bond, Emily G. Sanford, Susan G. 
Fuller, Elizabeth B. Field, Mary A. Frink, Lemira L. Meyers, 
Lucy C. Hyde, Sarah D. Hyde, Esther Ann Hyde, Henry C. 
Hyde, Gershom C. Hyde, Alonzo Gorham, Hannah L. Gorham, 
Mercy A. Gorham, Ann Levings, Mrs. Elizabeth C. Porter, Anor 
Woodruff, Mrs. Eliza Woodruff, James Porter, Ebeuezer Hyde, 
Mrs. Barbara Porter. 

Thomas D. Robertson, from the committee appointed at 
the former meeting, presented a report on articles of faith, 
covenant, and rules of government. This report was accepted 
and adopted. The articles of faith were thoroughly orthodox, 
according to the standard of the time. The orthodoxy of today 
is somewhat elastic; but half a century ago the term stood for 
a clearly defined and rigid system of Christian doctrine. This 
Congregational creed consisted of nine articles. The three arti- 
cles relating respectively to the fall of man, the atonement and 
eschatology are reproduced in full: 

ARTICLE IV. We believe that our first parents were created 
holy; that they fell from that state of holiness by transgressing 
a divine command, and that in consequence of their apostacy, 
all men, unless redeemed by the Holy Ghost, are enemies of God 
and under the curse of the divine law. 

ARTICLE V. We believe that Jesus Christ, our Mediator, is 
truly God and truly man, and by his sufferings and death on 
the cross, he atoned for the sins of the world, so that the offer 
of salvation is sincerely made to all men, and all who repent 
and believe in him will be pardoned and saved. 

ARTICLE IX. We believe that Jesus Christ will appear at 
the end of time to raise the dead, and judge the world ; that the 
righteous will be received into life eternal, and the wicked will 
go away into everlasting punishment. 

This preliminary organization was completed by the elec- 
tion of officers. Rial K. Town and Alonzo Gorham were chosen 
deacons; Thomas D. Robertson, clerk and treasurer ; Benjamin 
A. Rose and Samuel J. Russell, prudential committee; Good- 
year A. Sanford, Worcester A. Dickerman and Dexter G. Clark, 
assessment committee. 


The public organization of this church occurred Wednesday, 
November 14, 1849. Previous to these formal exercises Mrs. 
Sarah J. Clark, Mrs. E. W. Spaulding and Mrs. Jane C. Hough- 
ton, who had been included in the original letter of dismission 
from the First church, but were not present at the first meeting, 
were received; also Mrs. Mary Haskelland Miss Eliza Holmes. 

The Congregational council was composed of the following 
gentlemen: Rev. Hutchins Taylor, moderator; Rev. Dexter 
Clary, Beloit; Rev. Lewis Benedict, Rockton; Rev. R. M. Pear- 
son, Grand DeTour ; Rev. Lansing Porter, Rockford ; Horace 
Hobart, delegate from Beloit. Rev. R. M. Pearson was chosen 
scribe of the' council ; prayer was offered by Rev. H. Taylor; 
and Rev. L. Benedict preached the sermon. The covenant and 
articles of faith were read by the clerk, and publicly approved 
by the church. An address to the church and deacons was 
delivered by Rev. Dexter Clary. The council then formally 
declared the Second Congregational church of Rockford to be 
duly and orderly organized. 

November 18th Asher Miller, who had been included in the 
original letter of dismission, was received, upon the same. 
The new church continued to receive accessions from time to 
time from the older society, as the West side increased in 

Since the mother church had vacated its first house of wor- 
ship on the corner of Church and Green streets for the new brick 
structure on the East side, the former had been unoccupied. 
The Second church now returned to the house which many of 
its members had abandoned less than four years previous. 
Messrs. Kent and Brinckerhoff had failed in business, and the 
old edifice was sold by their assignee to the Second church. It 
was placed on a rock foundation and refitted for worship. 

The first pastor of the new church was Rev. Lansing Porter. 
This gentleman had served the First church as its pastor a 
little more than two years. The records of the Second church 
do not show that any formal call was extended to Rev. Porter. 
But he assumed this position as soon as the organization had 
been effected, November 7, 1849, and served four years. 

Mr. Porter pursued two years of his college course at Ham- 
ilton, and two years at Wesleyan college, and was graduated 
from the latter in the class of 1839. He then took the full three 
years' course in Yale theological seminary, and a year of post- 
graduate work at Auburn theological seminary. Mr. Porter 


went to Chicago in 1843, and from there he came to Rockford, 
when he was less than thirty years of age. Mr. Porter's first 
pastorate was that of the First Congregational church, Rock- 
ford. Mr. Porter is now living at Hamburg, New York. 

In 1851 the church was found to be too small, and its 
capacity was increased by the addition of forty feet to its length. 
Thus improved, it continued to serve its purpose for seven 
years. During Rev. Porter's pastorate the church was blessed 
with temporal and spiritual prosperity. A high standard of 
Christian living was maintained, and the obstinate backslider 
was promptly "excommunicated." Two examples from the 
records of 1852 may be cited. In April the prudential commit- 
tee reported on a certain case "that in the absence of all evidence 
of her repentance for her sin, notwithstanding repeated labors 
with her, and the extension of her suspension, the committee 
recommend that she be excommunicated. Therefore the church 
recommend that she be excommunicated from this church.'' 

A few months later this resolution was adopted : "Whereas, 

was suspended from this church for immoral and 

unchristian conduct, for the term of six months from January, 
and whereas he has given no satisfactory evidence of repent- 
ance, therefore resolved that he be and hereby is excommuni- 
cated from this church." In this day the word "excommuni- 
cated" has a peculiarly solemn and ecclesiastical sound. 

On one occasion there was quite a serious discussion over 
the problem whether the congregation should "face the music" 
during that part of the service. The pulpit was in front of the 
congregation, and the choir in the rear. There was a difference 
of opinion as to whether the congregation should face the min- 
ister during the singing, or turn around and look at the choir. 
It sometimes presented a ludicrous appearance when the occu- 
pants of one pew would rise and face the minister, and others 
in front might be turned in the opposite direction, facing the 
choir. Finally a vote was taken, and by a small majority 
it was decided to face the minister. Every one accepted the 
situation, and peace prevailed. Mr. and Mrs. Dickerman and 
G. A. Sanford sang in the choir. 

December 31, 1853, Rev. Porter severed his pastoral relation. 
At a meeting held December 16th of the same year, it was voted 
to extend a call to Rev. Joseph Emerson. This call was 
accepted. May 21, 1854, a Congregational council convened 
in the church for the transaction of business incident to the 


settlement of the pastor. The installation services occurred on 
the following day. 

Rev. Emerson was a son of Rev. Daniel Emerson ; a cousin 
of Ralph Emerson, of Rockford, and a second cousin of the 
famous Ralph Waldo Emerson. Joseph Emerson was born in 
Dartmouth, Massachusetts, in 1806, and died at Andover, 
Massachusetts, in 1885. Mr. Emerson was graduated from 
Yale college in 1830, and from Andover theological seminary 
in 1835. He received his ordination in 1836. His pastorate 
in Rockford was eminently successful. He built the house 
on North Church street, where Ralph Emerson now resides. 
Some of his friends thought he was building his home too far 
from the village away up in Dr. HaskelPs orchard. 

The pastorate of Rev. Emerson was signalized by the erec- 
tion of the second house of worship on South Church street. 
July 19, 1855, the society voted that it was expedient to take 
action toward building a new church. A committee, consisting 
of D. G. Clark, G. A. Sanford, T. D. Robertson, John Edwards 
and John S. Coleman, was appointed to carry out the same. 
In 1856 subscription papers were circulated. A building com- 
mittee was composed of John Edwards, D. G. Clark, J. G. Man- 
love, G. A. Sanford, Ralph Emerson, and T. D. Robertson. A 
correspondence was opened with Renwick & Auchmuty, a firm 
of architects in New York, and from them was received, in the 
summer of 1856, plans and specifications for the structure. 
The committee invited proposals. The most favorable response 
was received from David and James Keyt, of Piqua, Ohio. The 
committee, before letting so large a contract, desired to obtain 
definite information concerning the character and standing of 
the bidders. John Edwards was sent to Piqua to make an 
inquiry. The result of his mission was so satisfactory that the 
contract was let to the Messrs. Keyt for the sum of twenty- 
three thousand four hundred and seventy-eight dollars and 
seventy-eight cents. 

There was some difference of opinion on the choice of loca- 
tion. Certain members strongly urged the erection of the church 
north of State street; but it was decided, by a vote of eleven to 
two, that it should be built on the corner of South Church and 
Chestnut streets. The lot was purchased from L. H. Rood for 
three thousand dollars. Work was begun on the building May 
17, 1857, and was completed in the autumn of 1858. The 
plans provided for a stone porch in front, and a lecture room in 


the rear. Upon signing the contract, the rear extension was 
omitted, because the committee could not depend upon obtain- 
ing money to pay for the same ; and still later the porch was 
also abandoned, which reduced the expense about fourteen 
hundred dollars. The building committee met great difficulty 
in prosecuting the work, and during its progress the financial 
panic of 1857 came upon the country. It was one of the most 
severe strains in the money market in the history of the coun- 
try. October 13th of that year the New York banks suspended 
specie payment. The committee had fortunately negotiated a 
loan for six thousand dollars, with a gentleman in New Jersey, 
on the 1st of October. This loan was made, as were nearly all 
the loans, on the personal notes of the building committee. The 
loan of four thousand dollars was also secured by a mortgage 
given by G. A.Sanford, T. D. Robertson and W. A. Dickerman, 
on their individual property. This document was preserved 
for many years as a memorial of the courage of the builders. 
Under these circumstances, there were some who favored the 
suspension of the work ; it was proposed to leave off the spire ; 
but the committee continued the work to completion. 

Farewell services were held in the old church on Sunday, 
November 28th. After this little sanctuary had outlived its use- 
fulness in a growing city, it was donated to the people in Owen 
township, where it was again used as a house of worship. 

The new church was dedicated Thursday, December 2, 1858. 
The dedicatory sermon was preached by the pastor, from Isaiah 
66 : 1, 2 : "Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and 
the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto 
me? and where is the place of my rest ? For all those things 
hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the 
Lord : but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and 
of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." This church 
continued to be the house of worship for nearly thirty-four 
years, until the spring of 1892. It has been said that P. P. 
Bliss, the famous gospel singer and composer, wrote his best 
known song, Hold the Fort, in this church. Among the distin- 
guished persons who have entertained Rockford audiences from 
its pulpit are Rev. Lyman Abbott, D. D., and Mrs. Julia Ward 

July 30, 1859, Rev. Emerson tendered his resignation ; and 
on August 23d an ecclesiastical council convened at the church, 
and dissolved the pastoral relation. The church did not long 


remain without an under-shepherd. At a regular meeting of the 
church December 7, 1859, a call was extended to Rev. Jeremiah 
E. Walton. This call was accepted, although there is no record 
of his installation. This pastorate continued until December, 

Mr. Walton graduated from Williams college, in 1853, and 
from Hartford seminary, in 1856. He came to Rockford from 
Troy, New York, when a young man, full of hope and enthusi- 
asm. Mr. Walton entertained religious views similar to those 
held by the late Horace Bushnell, and especially those concern- 
ing Christian nurture. After his removal from Rockford Rev. 
Walton took orders as a priest in the Episcopal church. He 
subsequently returned to Rockford, and became the rector of 
Emmanuel church. Mr. Walton resides at Marshall, Michigan. 

The pipe organ was constructed in 1863, at a cost of about 
two thousand five hundred dollars. Rev. M. P. Kinney was 
called to the pastorate August 10, 1864 ; and an ecclesiastical 
council was convened Nov. 29th. Rev. Frank P. Woodbury, 
D. D., was called November 23, 1870. He was succeeded in 1888 
by the late Rev. Walter Manning Barrows, D. D. His successors 
have been Rev. Wesley C. Haskell and Re^. Peter Snyder. 

Of the constituent members, eight are still living : Thomas 
D. Robertson, Mrs. Caroline M. Dickerman, Mrs. Emily G. San- 
ford-Dodd, and Mrs. Rebecca Ailing, of Rockford; Judge Henry 
C. Hyde, Mrs. Sarah D. Hyde-French, and Miss Esther A. Hyde, 
of Freeporb, Illinois ; and Mrs. Hannah L. Gorham-Weldon, of 
Santa Barbara, California. Mrs. Emily Sanford-Dodd was the 
wife of Albert Sauford, who died in 1854. In 1877 Mrs. Sanford 
married Jacob S. Dodd, and removed to New Jersey. After the 
death of Mr. Dodd in 1884, Mrs. Dodd returned to Rockford. 
Mrs. Rebecca Ailing is the widow of the late David D. Ailing. 
She was born in December, 1813, and came to Rockford in 1837 
with her husband. The lasfc death among the charter members 
was that of Mrs. Harriette Platt-Cotton, which occurred April 
9, 1900, at her home in Rockford. John Platt died in 1880. 
Mrs. Platt married Robert Cotton, and was again left a widow. 

The accessions to the church in 1850 were twenty-nine; 
1851, thirty-five; 1852, fifteen; 1853, sixteen ; 1854, twenty- 
four; 1855, fifteen; 1856, twenty-seven; 1857, twenty-nine. 



THREE nearly cotemporary events contributed to the pro- 
gress of Rockford from the simple village to its more com- 
manding position as a city. The advent of the railroad, the 
first in importance, has already been noted. The organization 
of the new water-power company is reserved for a later chapter. 
The third factor was the incorporation of Rockford as a city. 

As early as 1851 the citizens realized that the local govern- 
ment was no longer adequate to meet the needs of the rapidly 
increasing population. In the autumn of that year steps were 
taken for the organization of a city government. In pursuance 
of a call signed by Jason Marsh, G. A. Sanford, Willard Wheeler, 
Isaiah Lyon, George Wyatt, Newton Crawford, C. I. Horsman, 
W. A. Dickerman, W. P. Dennis, Jesse Blinnaud William Hulin, 
a meeting was held at the court house November 29th. It was 
deemed advisable at this conference to submit the question 
of city organization to a vote of the citizens. The trustees of 
the town thereupon ordered an election for this purpose to be 
held January 3, 1852. There was 110 excitement to call out the 
voters, as the prospective change was generally accepted as a 
matter of course. One hundred and nine votes were cast for 
organizing under the general law of 1849. The city government 
of Springfield, Illinois, was adopted as a basis of organization. 
The first election under the new order was held April 19, 
1852. The candidates for mayor were Willard Wheeler and E. 
H. Potter. The election resulted in the choice of Mr. Wheeler. 
The aldermen elected were : Sumner Damon, First ward ; E. H. 
Potter, Second ward; H. N. Spalding, Third ward; C. N. 
Andrews, Fourth ward. The first meeting of the city council 
was held on Monday, April 26th, at the counting-room of 
Eleazer H. Potter. William Lathrop was appointed city clerk. 
An ordinance was passed creating the following city officers : 
clerk of the council, attorney, treasurer, marshal, assessor, col- 
lector, engineer and two street commissioners. These officers 
were to be appointed annually by the city council at its first 


regular meeting after the annual municipal election. At the 
second session of the council, held May 1st, the following city 
officers were appointed : William Lathrop, attorney ; Hiram R. 
May nard, treasurer; Duncan Ferguson, assessor; K. H. Milli- 
ken, collector ; Duncan Ferguson, city engineer ; Thatcher Blake 
and William McKenney, street commissioners. 

An act of the legislature of June 18, 1852, authorized the 
city of Rockford to borrow money, not exceeding ten thousand 
dollars, for the purpose of constructing a bridge. Bonds were 
to be issued, in the sum of one hundred dollars each, bearing 
interest not exceeding ten per cent., and were to be redeemed 
within twenty years from issue. This sum was evidently insuf- 
ficient for the purpose ; and an act of the legislature of Febru- 
ary 3, 1853, authorized the city to borrow a maximum sum of 
fifteen thousand dollars. Bonds were to be issued in sums not 
exceeding one thousand dollars each, payable within twenty 
years, and to draw interest not exceeding ten per cent. The 
act of 1852 was repealed. There is a tradition that Jason 
Marsh was sent east to negotiate the sale of the bonds, for 
which he charged a commission of ten per cent. This fee was 
very reluctantly paid. Today Rockford can borrow money 
at a very low rate of interest, and command a liberal premium 
on her bonds. The second or covered bridge was built in 
1854, with the funds derived from the sale of bonds the preced- 
ing year. This bridge stood until December, 1871, when it was 
torn down and succeeded by the first iron bridge. 

There was some technical irregularity in the incorporation 
of the city ; and an act of the legislature approved February 8, 
1853, legalized the previous official acts of the mayor and coun- 
cil. Section two of this law provided : "That all official acts of 
the council and of the mayor, or either of them, of said city, 
done or performed since their election as such, and prior to the 
period this act shall take effect, and which would have been 
valid in case the original incorporation as a city had been legal, 
be and the same is hereby legalized." 

A special charter was granted to the city by the legislature 
March 4, 1854. By this act the general law of 1849 was declared 
to be no longer in force, so far as Rockford was concerned, 
except for the purpose of supplementing proceedings had or 
commenced, so as not to impair the legal consequences of any 
past transaction. This charter was amended February 14, 1855, 
April 26, 1859, and February 22, 1861. "An act to reduce the 


charter of the city of Rockford, and the several acts amendatory 
thereof into one act and to revise and amend the same," was 
approved February 15, 1865. Rockford was governed by this 
charter until the city was reorganized under the general law. 
This general law, enacted in 1872, repealed the general law of 
1849, and abolished the system of special charters. Between 
these dates there appear to have been two methods for the 
incorporation of cities in force at the same time: by a general 
law, and by a special charter. It may be presumed that a city 
generally obtained greater powers under a special charter than 
by a general law; and the former method of incorporation was 
more generally adopted by the cities of the state. 

The constitution of 1870 abolished special legislation, which 
for half a century had been a cumbersome method of incorpo- 
rating cities, colleges and business enterprises. Moreover, the 
old system afforded great opportunities for corruption in the 
legislature. The evolution of legislation in Illinois, from the 
special to the general, is an interesting study to the student of 
political history. 

Previous to 1887 the mayor was elected annually. The 
chief executives of the ciby prior to 1864 were as follows : Willard 
Wheeler, April 26, 1852, to April 25, 1853; Hiram R.Maynard, 
April 25, 1853, to April 22, 1854; Ulysses M. Warner, April 22, 
1854, to April 25, 1855; Edward Vaughn, April 25, 1855, to 
April 29, 1856 ; James L. Loop, April 29, 1856, to May 4, 
1857; William Brown, May 4, 1857, to May 3, 1858; Seely 
Perry, May 3, 1858, to May 2, 1859 ; Charles Williams, May 
2, 1859, to May 2, 1864. Mr. Williams served five consec- 
utive terms. This honor has been conferred upon no other 
citizen. Mayor Brown will have served six years upon theexpi- 
ration of his present term, but he has been elected only three 

The city clerks to 1866 were as follows : William Lathrop, 
May 1, 1852, to June 6, 1853; John K. Farwell, June 6, 1853, 
to December 6, 1853 ; Lyman F. Warner, December 6, 1853, to 
May 16, 1855 ; Samuel W. Stanley, May 16, 1855, to May 5, 
1856; Hobart H. Hatch, May 5, 1856, to May 23, 1857; 
Edward Vaughn, May 23, 1857, to May 10, 1858 ; Louis W. 
Burnham, May 10, 1858, to May 12, 1859 ; Porter Sheldon, 
May 12, 1859, to May 7, 1860; Rufus C. Bailey, May 7, 1860, 
to April 2, 1866. 

The following named gentlemen served the city as attorney 


down to 1863 : William Lathrop, May 1 , 1852, to June 6, 1853 ; 
Lyman F. Warner, June 6, 1853, to May 1, 1856 ; Samuel W. 
Stanley, May 1, 1856, to May 26, 1856; Orrin Miller, Jr., May 
26, 1856, to May 23, 1857; James M. Wight, May 23, 1857, to 
May 10, 1858; Harris D. Adams, May 10, 1858, to August 6, 
1858; Porter Sheldon, August 9, 1858, to May 7, 1860; Chris- 
topher M.Brazee, May 6, 1860, to June 22, 1863. 

In 1855 steps were taken for the organization of a fire 
department. Its need had daily become more apparent. A 
committee, appointed by the city council, purchased four small 
engines, named Constantino, Alexander, Sevastopol and Nicho- 
las. The Sevastopol was received in the latter part of October, 
and February 21, 1856, a public trial was made of the engines, 
all of which had arrived. The result was not altogether satis- 
factory, and the "machines" with Russian names were dis- 
carded. In May and June, Winnebago Engine Company Num- 
ber One, and Washington Number Two were organized, and 
nearly a year later the efficient engines bearing those names 
were received. Subsequently Union Engine Company Number 
Three was formed, and an engine procured. These three engines 
constituted the fire apparatus of the city as late as 1869. The 
first six chief engineers were Edward F. W. Ellis, Samuel I. 
Church. M. A. Bartlett, Howard D. Frost, A. G. Springsteen ^ 
Gardner S. Allen. The first four first assistant engineers were 
Gardner S. Allen, James E. L. Southgate, Charles T. Jellerson, 
Hiram H. Waldo. 

The tax levies for the first few years under the new regime 
were as follows: 1854, seven and one-half mills on each dollar of 
taxable property, both real and personal ; 1855, ten mills on 
each dollar; 1856, one and three-quarters per cent, on each dol- 
lar ; 1857, one and one-half per cent. ; 1858, one and five-eighths 
per cent. ; 1859, two and one-half per cent. ? 1860, two per 
cent. ; 1861, two per cent. It will be observed that the rate 
increased each year up to 1859. 

The City Hotel was opened in June, 1852, by James B. 
Pierce, who had been connected with the Winnebago House. 
The City Hotel stood on the southeast corner of State and 
Church streets. It was one of the old land landmarks on the 
street, and was torn down to make room for Hon. E. B. Sum- 
ner's brick block, occupied by the Forest City National Bank. 

The Rockford Forum of July 7, 1852, appeared in mourn- 


ing for the death of Henry Clay, which occurred June 29th. 
Bells were tolled upon receipt of the intelligence. A mass 
meeting of the citizens was held at the court house July 1st, to 
make arrangements for a public tribute to the memory of the 
great statesman. Anson S. Miller was chairman, and John A. 
Phelps, secretary of the meeting. Newton Crawford, William 
Brown, John A. Phelps, John Edwards, Selden M. Church, 
Anson S. Miller and Mayor Wheeler were appointed a commit- 
tee to complete arrangements. Memorial services were held at 
the Baptist church July 24th. Prayer was offered by the pas- 
tor, and Ex-Governor Bebb pronounced an eloquent eulogy. 
It has been said man is, as he is related to other men. Henry 
Clay could be measured by this standard. He was the greatest 
parliamentary leader of his time, with Douglas and Blaine as 
close seconds. 

The First Baptist church purchased a bell from the foundry 
of Rincker & Company, of Chicago, in July, 1852. Its weight 
was fifteen hundred and forty pounds, and cost about six hun- 
dred dollars. 

Hon. John P. Hale, the candidate of the free Democracy 
for the presidency, delivered an address at the court house in 
Rockford, October 15, 1852. The audience was estimated at 
five thousand, and many came from neighboring counties. Mr. 
Hale's address was dignified and candid, and made a favorable 

In October, 1852, the Bank of Rockford was organized under 
the general banking law of the state. Charles I. Horsman was 
president, and Charles C. Wilcox, cashier. A sworn statement 
of its condition on the first Monday in July, 1853, reported a 
circulation of $49,995. Levi Moulthrop began his business life 
as a clerk in this bank, when he was twelve years of age, and 
remained five years. The bank suspended in 1857. 

October 27th the Forum a second time appeared in mourn- 
ing, for the death of Daniel Webster, which occurred the preced- 
ing Sunday. Although Mr. Webster's death made a profound 
impression throughout the country, it did not so stir the hearts 
of Rockford citizens as did the passing of Henry Clay. Men loved 
Henry Clay ; they admired Daniel Webster. One moved men ; 
the other expounded principles. The work of Webster is the 
more enduring. He will rank in history with Hamilton and 
Marshall. On the Sunday following the death of Mr. Webster, 
Theodore Parker preached a memorial discourse in Boston, in 


which he boldly criticised his subject. In view of the fact that 
this oration is regarded as one of Parker's masterpieces, a local 
cotemporary estimate is of interest. The Forum, edited by A. 
Colton, made this editorial comment : "That erratic divine, 
Theodore Parker, has improved the opportunity to preach a 
sermon upon the death of Mr. Webster, . . His attempt to 
criticise the career of Mr. Webster is like a phosphoretic spark 
prescribing for a thunderbolt. It has been well observed that 
it is an illustration of the ass kicking the dead lion." 

In March, 1853, Julius J. Trask, a settler of Winnebago 
county, died in California. His brother, Alva Trask, the first 
proprietor of Trask's ferry on Pecatonica river, died in Califor- 
nia some months previous. 

The term, "Forest City," as applied to Rockford, had its 
origin in an article written by a correspondent of the New 
York Tribune, which was published in the autumn of 1853. The 
preservation of the native forest trees made the name appro- 
priate, and Rockford is so designated to this day. 

In pursuance of an act of the legislature approved Febru- 
ary 14, 1853, Thomas H. Campbell, state auditor of public 
accounts, offered for sale at public auction at the court house 
in Rockford, November 18, 1853, all state lands in Winnebago 
county. About twelve hundred acres were sold. The law fixed 
the minimum price at three dollars and fifty cents per acre. 
These lands were given the state by act of congress of September 
4, 1841, for the purpose of creating an internal improvement 



IN the presidential election of 1852 Winnebago county main- 
tained its position as a Whig stronghold. The presidential 
electors received 1,023 votes; the Democratic electors, 820; 
Free Soil electors, 725. 

Under the apportionment of August 22, 1852, the legisla- 
ture divided the state into nine congressional districts. The 
First district comprised the counties of Lake, McHenry, Boone, 
Winnebago, Stephenson, JoDaviess, Carroll and Ogle. 

The campaign of 1852 was signalized by the election of E. 
B. Washburne as a member of congress from the First district. 
Mr. Washburne received 1,102 votes in Winnebago county; 
Thompson Campbell, his Democratic opponent, 851 ; and New- 
man Campbell, 610 votes. The advent of Mr. Washburne into 
national politics is worthy of more than a passing notice. Elihu 
Benjamin Washburne was a member of the celebrated Wash- 
burne family. He was born in Livermore, Maine, September 
23, 1816. In 1839 he entered the Harvard law school. Among 
his classmates were Richard H. Dana and William M. Evarts. 
He was admitted to the bar in 1840, and at once settled at 
Galena, Illinois, and entered into partnership in the practice of 
law with Charles S. Hempstead, one of the incorporafcors of 
Rockford female seminary. Mr. Washburne remained in con- 
gress from 1853 until March 6, 1869. From this long and 
honorable service he was familiarly known as the "Father of 
the House," and in that capacity he administered the oath as 
speaker to Schuyler Coif ax three times, and once to James G, 
Blaine. By reason of his insistence that the finances of the gov- 
ernment should be administered with the strictest economy, 
Mr. Washburne was called the "Watch-dog of the Treasury." 
Mr. Wasburne called the attention of Governor Yates to his 
townsman, Ulysses S. Grant, who wished to enter military ser- 
vice. When the hero of the civil war became president, he honored 
his old friend with the appointment of secretary of state, and 
later he made him minister to France. This position he held 
during the Franco-Prussian war. At the request of Bismarck, 


and with the permission of the French minister of foreign 
affairs, Mr. Washburne exercised his official influence for the 
protection of the Germans in Paris. When the empire was 
overthrown, Mr. Washburne was the first foreign representative 
to recognize the new republic. He remained in Paris during the 
siege, and was at his post when the commune ruled the city. 
The emperor of Germany recognized his services by conferring 
upon him the Order of the Red Eagle. He declined this honor 
because a provision of the constitution of the United States 
prohibited it. Upon Mr. Washburne's resignation in 1877, the 
emperor sent him his life-size portrait ; and he was similarly 
honored by Bismarck, Theirs and Gambetta. Mr. Washburne 
died in Chicago October 22, 1887. His rugged independence 
and absolute integrity gave him the full confidence of the people. 

Abraham I. Enoch was elected a member of the legislature 
from the Forty-seventh senatorial district. His vote in Win- 
nebago county was 1,063; Lyman F. Warner, Democrat, 840; 
Ezra S. Cable, 659. Mr. Enoch was born in Dayton, Ohio, July 
24, 1819. He came to this county with his father's family in 
1835, and settled in Guilford township. Mr. Enoch was hon- 
ored by several public offices, and in 1866 he was again elected 
a member of the legislature. Mr. Enoch removed to Rockford 
in 1867, and began the manufacture of plows. In 1844 Mr. 
Enoch married Catharine J. Davis. They had seven daughters : 
Mrs. D. C. Putnam, Mrs. H. H. Carpenter, Mrs. Charles A. 
Works, and Misses Clara, Harriett A., Emma A. and Lois A. 
Reverses of fortune came to Mr. Enoch, bub he sustained them 
with the courage and honor of a high-minded Christian gentle- 
man. Mr. Enoch died in 1883. 

William Brown was elected state's attorney for the Four- 
teenth judicial circuit. His majorities in the several counties 
were: Winnebago, 650 ; Stephenson,480; JoDaviess, 87; total, 
1,217. His opponents were Francis Buriiap, John C. Kean and 
Francis S. W. Bradley. 

Charles H. Spafford was elected circuit clerk by an even one 
thousand votes ; King H. Milliken was elected sheriff; Alfred 
A. Chamberlain, coroner. 

At the county election in 1853 the entire Whig ticket was 
successful. Selden M. Church was elected county judge; Asher 
Beach and Alfred E. Hale, associate justices; William Hulin, 
county clerk ; C. A. Huntington, school commissioner ; Duncan 
Ferguson, county treasurer ; Duncan Ferguson, surveyor. 



lULY 15, 1851, many of the leading public-spirited citizens of 
*' the town associated themselves together under the name 
of the Rockford Water Power Company. These gentlemen were: 
Thomas D. Robertson, John A. Holland, R. P. Lane, G. A. 
Sanford, W. A. Dickerman, S. M. Church, Orlando Clark, C. I. 
Horsman; John Edwards, John S. Coleman, John Fisher, Wil- 
liam Hulin, Isaiah Lyon, Melancthon Starr, C. H. Spafford, 
Lucius Clark, J. J. Town, Henry Potwin, H. R. Maynard, Jas. 
H. Rogers, B. McKenney, John Platt, Albert Sanford, Chas. C. 

Hope, H. P. Kimball, Robert Clow, Vanduzer and 

McCoy. This organization was effected in pursuance of the 
general law enacted by the legislature in 1849, for the improve- 
ment of Rock river and the production of hydraulic power. 

In September, 1851, the owners of the water and laud under 
the old company entered into an agreement with the new 
company, whereby the two interests were consolidated; and 
steps were immediately taken for the construction of a per- 
manent dam on the rock bottom of the old ford, from which 
the city derives its name. In the spring of 1853 the dam and 
race were completed and accepted by the company. The length 
of the dam is between seven hundred and eight hundred feet. 
The water-power is divided into twenty thousand parts, and is 
held and sold in this proportion. 

The first great impetus given to the manufacturing inter- 
ests of Rockford was the advent of John H. Manny, in 1853. 
Mr. Manny was born in Amsterdam, New York, November 28, 
1825. His father, Pells Manny, settled at Waddam's Grove, 
in Stephenson county. The younger Manny's attention was 
called to the need of a reaper by his father's purchase of ahead- 
ing machine, which proved unsatisfactory. The father and son 
thereupon so reconstructed the header as to practically make a 
new machine. They obtained a patent on the header and began 
its manufacture on a small scale. It proved to be too expen- 
sive, and was abandoned. Mr. Manny then directed his atten- 


tion toward perfecting a reaper, and after many vicissitudes, 
which brought him to serious financial embarrassment, his 
inventive genius and indomitable energy were crowned with 
success. Mr. Manny built eighty-four machines in 1852. 

In July, 1852, a reaper trial was held in Geneva, New York, 
in which Mr. Manny's reaper came into competition with eleven 
others. The excellence of Mr. Manny's machine was established. 

In the spring of 1853 Mr. Manny was urged to come to 
Eockford by Orlando Clark. The preceding year Isaac Utter 
came from the east, and formed a partnership with Mr. Clark, 
under the firm name of Clark & Utter. In the spring of 1853 
there were manufactured one hundred and fifty of Mr. Manny's 
combined reapers and mowers, in Clark & Utter's factory. It 
is also said that John A. Holland told Blinn & Emerson, who 
were then in the hardware business, that it would be desirable 
to have Mr. Manny come to Rockford for two reasons : first, 
there was better water-power ; second, the firm was extending 
liberal credit to Mr. Manny for stock. 

The popularity of the Manny reaper demanded larger capi- 
tal. In the spring of 1854 Wait and Sylvester Talcott became 
associated with Mr. Manny as partners, under the name of J. 
H. Manny & Company, and during the year eleven hundred 
machines were made. In the autumn of 1854 Jesse Blinn and 
Ralph Emerson were added to the firm, and its name was 
changed to Manny & Company. In 1855 the famous trials of 
the Manny reaper were made in Europe, which gave to his 
inventions a reputation abroad. Mr. Manny continued to 
improve his reaper, and obtained twenty-three patents upon 
new devices. 

In September, 1855, C. H. McCormick, of Chicago, began suit 
in the federal court to enjoin the Manny Company from using a 
certain device, upon the ground of infringement of patent. The 
case was heard before Justice McLean and Judge Drummond, 
at Cincinnati, although the court records were kept in Chicago, 
which belonged to the same circuit. Attorneys of national rep- 
utation were retained. Mr. McCormick's counsel were Reverdy 
Johnson and E. N. Dickerson. Peter H. Watson, who had 
obtained Mr. Manny's patents, was given entire charge of the 
defendants' case. Mr. Watson had formerly resided in Rock- 
ford, and later he became assistant secretary of war. He 
employed George Harding, Edwin M. Stanton and Abraham 
Lincoln. It is said E. B. Washburne had recommended Mr. 


Lincoln to Mr. Manny. When all the parties had arrived at 
Cincinnati, Mr. Lincoln was informed by Mr. Watson that Mr. 
Stanton would close the case for the defendants. This was a 
great humiliation to Mr. Lincoln. Although he had prepared 
his argument, Mr. Lincoln did not argue the case. Mr. Lincoln 
first met Mr. Stanton at Cincinnati. Mr. Stanton treated him 
with great discourtesy during the trial, and referred to him as 
a railsplitter from the wild west. Notwithstanding these indig- 
nities, Mr. Lincoln was impressed with Mr. Stanton's great 
force of character ; and when six years later a man of iron was 
needed, President Lincoln made Mr. Stanton his secretary of 
war. No other incident in the life of Mr. Lincoln better illus- 
trates his moral greatness. The trial resulted in a victory for 
the Manny Company. The decision was announced January 
16, 1856. The defendants' expenses of the suit were sixty 
thousand dollars, and this large sum was made from the 
business in a short time. Mr. McCormick appealed the case to 
the United States supreme court, where the decision of thelower 
court was affirmed, and Mr. Manny's rights as inventor were 
fully sustained. 

Ida M. TarbelFs Life of Lincoln, republished from her serial 
in McClure's Magazine, gives an incident of this trial, which the 
author obtained from Ralph Emerson, who says: 

"Mr. Stanton closed his speech in a flight of impassioned elo- 
quence. Then the court adjourned for the day, and Mr. Lincoln 
invited me to take a long walk with him. For block after block 
he walked rapidly forward, not saying a word, evidently deeply 

"At last he turned suddenly to me, exclaiming: 'Emerson, 
I'm going home.' A pause. 'I am going home to study law.' 

"'Why, I exclaimed; 'Mr. Lincoln, you stand at the head 
of the bar in Illinois now ! What are you talking about? ' 

" 'Ah, yes,' he said, 'I do occupy a good position there, and 
I think that I can get along with the way things are done there 
now. But these college-trained men, who have devoted their 
whole lives to study, are coming west, don't you see? And they 
study their cases as we never do. They have got as far as Cin- 
cinnati now. They will soon be in Illinois.' Another long 
pause; then stopping and turning toward me, his countenance 
suddenly assuming that look of strong determination which 
those who knew him best sometimes saw upon his face, he 
exclaimed, 'I am going home to study law! I am as good as 


any of them, and when they get out to Illinois I will be ready 
for them.'" 

Mr. Lincoln once visited Rockford on professional business 
in connection with this sui b. It was on a hot summer after- 
noon. Mr. Lincoln and one of the clients sat on an old log on 
the bank of the river and discussed the matter. Mr. Lincoln 
wore a long linen coat, and presented that picture of ungainli- 
ness with which the world is familiar. Mr. Lincoln was a guest 
at Mr. Manny's home, which was a small frame building 
that stood on the site of the Milwaukee depot. The company 
paid Mr. Lincoln one thousand dollars, which was the largest 
fee he had received up to that time. 

The prolonged mental strain incident to perfecting his inven- 
tions and the trial of the suit undermined Mr. Manny's health. 
He fell a prey to consumption, and January 31, 1856, he passed 
away, in his little modest home on South Main street, when he 
had just passed his thirtieth birthday. He never realized the 
wealth which his inventions would bring to others, nor the 
prestige which they would give to the Reaper City, nor the great 
name which he had made for himself. 

Mrs. Manny received a royalty of twenty-five dollars on 
every machine manufactured. This amount was subsequently 
reduced. Financial reverses overtook the company in 1857, 
but it weathered the storm, and built an extensive plant. 

During the next few years after the arrival of J. H. Manny, 
other manufacturers began business on the water-power. D. 
Forbes & Son established their iron foundry in 1854, and in 
1864 the malleable iron works were added to the business. 

Joseph Rodd came to Rockford from Canada in the autumn 
of 1853, and a few years later he embarked in the milling busi- 
ness on the east side of the river. Mr. Rodd's home was the 
residence of Colonel Lawler on Kishwaukee street. 

In 1854 M. Bartlett & Company built one of the finest stone 
structures on the water-power for a flouring mill. The Troxell 
milt was established in 1853 on the East side, and in 1855 it 
was purchased by Mr. Bartlett. 

T. Derwent & Son began the milling business on the water- 
power in 1859. 

Messrs. Bertrand & Sames were engaged in the manufacture 
of cultivators in the middle fifties. 

W. D. Trahern came to Rockford in 1848 and manufactured 
threshing machines on the old water-power, under the firm name 


of Trahern & Stuart. In 1856 Mr. Stuart retired and was suc- 
ceeded by Mr. Dales. Later Mr. Trahern manufactured iron 
pumps. He died November 2, 1883. 

In 1854 John P. Manny began the manufacture of knife 
sections in Rockford for John H. Manny's reapers. He suc- 
ceeded in producing a knife section that was hardened by his 
own peculiar process in oil tempering, which has never been 
surpassed to this day. 

F. H. Manny came to Rockford in 1859 and a few years 
later he was engaged in manufacturing the John H. Manny 
combined reaper and mower. 

N. C. Thompson came to Rockford in 1857, and for years 
he manufactured exclusively the John P. Manny reaper and 

William Gent came to Rockford in 1857, and was associated 
with John Nelson in scroll work, and later he assisted the 
inventor in perfecting his knitting machine. Mr. Gent was con- 
sidered one of the best working mechanics in the state. He 
died June 20, 1887. 



THERE has been one movement in the history of the Ameri- 
can mind which gave to literature a group of writers enti- 
tled to the name of a school. This was the great humanitarian 
movement, or series of movements, in New England, which 
began with the elder Channing, ran through its later phase in 
transcendentalism, and spent its force in the anti-slavery agita- 
tion and the enthusiasms of the civil war. This movement was 
cotemporary with the preaching of many novel doctrines in 
religion, sociology, science, education, medicine and hygiene. 
New sects were formed. There were Millerites, Spiritualists, 
Mormons, Swedenborgians and Shakers. 

This intellectual and moral awakening found its expression 
in the lecture platform. The daily newspaper had not assumed 
its present blanket-sheet proportions ; and the leaders of these 
various phases of new thought carried their message to the 
people in person. 

In the autumn of 1853 the Young Men's Association was 
organized, for the purpose of bringing to Rockford the most 
popular lecturers of the day. Among its members were Rev. H. 
M. Goodwin, C. H. Spafford, H. H. Waldo, H. P. Holland, E. 
W. Blaisdell, J. E. L. Southgate, William Lathrop, R. A. San- 
ford, E. H. Baker, Rev. J. Murray, E. C. Daugherty, A. S. Miller. 

The first course was provided for the winter of 1853-54. 
It began with two lectures, November 29th and 30th, by E. P. 
Whipple, in the First Baptist church. It is almost incredible that 
one of the local newspapers should not have even given the 
subject of his lecture. From the other, however, it is learned 
that Mr. Whipple's theme for this first lecture was Heroic Char- 
acter, and that he "delineated graphically and beautifully the 
hero-soldier, led on by his love of glory ; the hero-patriot, actu- 
ated by his love of country ; the hero-reformer, moved by his 
love of humanity ; and the hero-saint, animated by his love of 
God." The subject of his second lecture was Eccentric Charac- 
ter. The Forum's criticism was not very appreciative. 


The third lecture was given December 10th, at the Baptist 
church, by Horace Mann. His subject was Young Men. The 
Democrat, in "reporting" the lecture, took this flattering unc- 
tion to its soul : "As we looked around over the large assem- 
blage of youth, beauty, intellect and fashion, and noted with 
what anxiety the sea of heads were turned toward the speaker, 
as if to catch the words ere they left his lips, we experienced a 
deep feeling of pride, and thought to ourselves, few places in 
any land, of equal age, population, etc., can boast of a more 
highly refined, intellectual community than are to be found in 
our own little embryo city." 

The fourth lecture was given in the City Hall, by George 
William Curtis, December 12th. His subject was Young 
America, and for an hour and a half the speaker entranced his 
audience with his noble thought and pure diction. After refer- 
ring to the Alps, Mr. Curtis said : "But there are loftier mount- 
ains than the Alps; there is a lovelier landscape than that 
unfolded by Italy, with all its richness and all its beauty. There 
is a land more beautiful, more voluptuous, more soul-satisfy- 
ing ; a region far away, but which every man has visited ; a 
paradise into which no care, no sorrow, no vice ever enters ; 
where Barnburners and Hunkers lie down together; where all 
heads are silver-gray, woolly ; where painters praise each oth- 
er's pictures ; musicians are not jealous of their fellow artists ; 
ladies with blue do not dislike brown eyes in others ; where 
musicians on wintry, moonlight nights, serenading delightful 
damsels, blow their fingers and their instruments only for love. 
Millions have sailed for the shores of this fair country, with the 
faith of a Columbus or a Franklin, and millions have failed to 
reach them ; like the child running to catch the setting sun only 
to grasp the cold grey of the evening, so we essay to gain the 
favored land ; it is the California to which thousands sail, only 
to get wrecked on Cape Horn ; it is the eyes of his mistress to 
the ardent lover, just before she jilted him. This favored land 
is the land of Fancy, pictured on the ardent soul of youth." 

Horace Greeley followed Mr. Curtis. His theme was The 
Reforms of the Age. He spoke of the abolition and temperance 
movements, woman's rights, and the abolition of the death 
penalty. Mr. Greeley wrote his impressions of the Hock river 
valley at some length for the New York Tribune, from which 
this characteristic paragraph is taken : "1 have traversed the 
Roman Campana (which is only a great wet prairie surcharged 


with malaria and ruins), glanced at the great pastures of Bel- 
gium, and ridden across the prairies of central and northern 
Indiana by daylight, lamplight, and moonlight; but still I 
was nowhere in a discussion of the value and attractiveness of 
prairies for I had never been on Rock river. But now, gentle- 
men ! I give you fair warning that I take a back seat no longer 
when the felicities of western life and the genial fertility and 
Eden-like character of the prairies is under discussion for I 
have been on Rock river! . . I should like more springs, more 
running streams, and less lime in the water ; but then Paradise 
is beyond Jordan, or some other stream, and is not wisely 
sought even on Rock river." 

The next speaker was Prof. Joseph Emerson, of Beloit, who 
spoke on Greek Civilization. W. H. Channing was announced 
for January 27th, but no reference to the lecture is found. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered the seventh lecture in the 
course February 3, 1854, in Warner's Hall. "Emerson's 
lecture," says H. H. Waldo, "was not without its comical fea- 
tures. His subject was History. I believe it was the same as 
his essay with that title. One scintillation was this: 'Time 
vanishes to shining ether the solid angularity of facts. Carth- 
age was, but is not.' This was only saying there was nothing 
permanent. He gave this thought in a matter-of-fact style. 
The hall was packed, but half the audience were sleepy. The 
lecture was pronounced by some to be a failure." 

Lectures were given during this season by Bishop Potter, 
Chancellor Lathrop; Judge Doolittle, of Wisconsin, on The 
Character of Washington; Bayard Taylor, two lectures, on 
the Arabs, and Japan and the Japanese. March 27, 1854, Ole 
Bull and Patti were in Rockford. 

The course for 1854-55 included Rev. E. H. Chapin, Josiah 
Quincy, John G. Saxe, John Pierpont, James Russell Lowell, 
and Bayard Taylor. Dr. Chapin spoke on Modern Chivalry; 
Mr. Saxe gave a poem-lecture on Yankee Land ; John Pierpont's 
theme was The Golden Calf ; Lowell spoke on English Ballads, 
and Bayard Taylor, on India. 

The course of 1855-56 was opened by Henry Ward Beecher, 
who spoke on Patriotism. He was followed by Wendell Phil- 
lips. T. Sarr King and Dr. Chapin were engaged for this course. 

During the next few years Rockford was favored with P. A. 
Shillaber, Park Goodwin, John B. Gough, and Prof. Youmans. 

In 1860 the Young Men's Association ceased to exist. 



p\OCKFORD has claimed the honor of the birthplace of the 
rx Republican party, so far as a congressional nomination 
under that name is concerned. "Seven cities fought for Homer 
dead ; " likewise many places have contended for the honor of 
the first party organization. Rockford's claim to the first con- 
gressional nomination is certainly not unreasonable; and even 
if it cannot be sustained, it will at least call attention to a not- 
able political event. 

When the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed by congress in 
May, 1854, there was a general feeling in the old Whig and 
Democratic parties that the encroachments of the slave-power 
demanded more vigorous resistance. With this end in view, 
a call was issued August 8th, to the voters of the First Con- 
gressional district, for a mass meeting to be held in Rockford 
on the 30th instant. This call was signed by forty-six citizens 
of Rockford, only five of whom are now living. The meeting 
was called to order in the courthouse, and from there adjourned 
to the grove west of the Baptist church, between Court and 
Winnebago streets. E. B. Washburne had been elected a mem- 
ber of congress as a Whig two years before, and was of course 
a candidate for re-election. There were other Richmonds in the 
field : Turner and Sweet, of Freeport ; Loop, of Rockford ; and 
Hurlbut, of Belvidere. None of these were openly avowed can- 
didates; but each was anxious for the prize. A committee on 
resolutions of one from each county was nominated. There was 
ambition mixed with patriotism. It was a time of breaking up 
of old parties, and the future was uncertain. How far would 
it be safe to declare against the action of congress? This was 
a serious question. The leaders were against Washburne, but 
the people were with him. There is a tradition that the com- 
mittee on resolutions was directed somewhat by the suggestions 
of Stephen A. Hurlbut, in preparing anti-slavery resolutions so 
radical that Mr. Washburne, it was thought, could not accept 
a nomination upon them. But Mr. Washburne was equal to 


the occasion. He declared that the resolutions met his most 
hearty approval; whereupon James Loop remarked, in lan- 
guage more emphatic than pious, that Washburne would swal- 
low anything. Mr. Washburne was thereupon nominated as a 
Republican by this mass convention. 

The regular Whig convention for the district was held Sep- 
tember 6th, and Mr. Washburne was also made the nominee. 
His nomination was opposed by Mr. Hurlbut, who on the day 
of the convention is reported to have said : "When you say that 
E. B. Washburne is a good man, I agree with you. But when 
you say he is a wise man and a statesman, there is a chance for 
an argument. It has been said Mr. Washburne is a man of 
learning. But I say that as a man of learning, E. B. Washburne, 
of Fever river, Galena, possesses frightful limitations." Mr. 
Hurlbut was a consummate master of sarcasm, which he often 
used without mercy. But it has been said that while Hurlbut 
could make the better speech, Washburne won the votes ; and 
on the whole, he was the more successful politician. 

In the evening Mr. Washburne entertained his friends at a 
banquet at the City Hotel. Some time after this Whig conven- 
tion, Mr. Hurlbut met H. H. Waldo, who had supported Mr. 
Washburne, and complimented him on his splendid fight, and 
said that, considering the material at hand, he had done well. 

Thus was made one of the first, if not the very first, Repub- 
lican nomination for member of congress. The strong anti- 
slavery sentiment of both parties had been intensified by the 
repeal of the Missouri compromise, under the leadership of Ste- 
phen A. Douglas, and the passage of the Illinois Black Laws, 
through the influence of John A. Logan. Like Saul of Tarsus 
before he saw a great light, Logan was dominated by prejudice ; 
and, like Paul after his change, he bravely befriended those he 
formerly oppressed. General Logan always had the courage 
of his convictions ; and his political change was sincere. 

In 1854 Mr. Hurlbut thought he could take a more radical 
position on the slavery question than Mr. Washburne. He had 
left the south because he was in sympathy with northern prin- 
ciples. Stephen A. Hurlbut was born in Charleston, South Car- 
olina, in 1 815, and settled in Belvidere in 1845. He was the 
son of a Unitarian clergyman, and a brother of William Henry 
Hurlbut, for many years editor-in-chief of the New York World. 
He was commissioned a brigadier-general in 1861, commanded 
the Fourth division at the battle of Shiloh, and for that service 


he was promoted to the rank of major-general, and assigned 
to the command of the Department of the Gulf. General Hurl- 
but was the first commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the 
Republic; was appointed minister resident to the United States 
of Columbia, by President Grant. From 1873 to 1877 he rep- 
resented the Fourth district in congress. In 1881 General 
Hurlbut was appointed United States minister to Peru, and 
died at Lima in the spring of the following year. Abraham 
Lincoln once said that Stephen A. Hurlbut was the ablest ora- 
tor on the stump that Illinois had ever produced. 

Edward D. Baker, E. B. Washburne, John F. Farnsworth, 
Stephen A. Hurlbut and Robert R. Hitt were men of national 
reputation who have served the several districts in which Rock- 
ford has from time to time been located. This record is scarcely 
less notable than that of the old Western Reserve district, which 
was represented by Elisha Whittlesey, Joshua R. Giddings and 
James A. Garfield, whose terms aggregated fifty-one years. 

The banking house of Spafford, Clark & Ellis was founded 
in November, 1854. The firm consisted of C. H. Spafford, Dr. 
D. G. Clark, and E. F. W. Ellis. Dr. Clark came to Rockford in 
1848. Two years later he went to California, and returned in 
1853. Dr. Clark died October 4, 1861. Spafford, Clark & Ellis 
did business in the stone building on the alley, on the south 
side of State, between Main and Church, now owned by Hon. E. 

B. Sumner. This bank went into liquidation, and Mr. Spafford 
paid its obligations in full. 

In 1854 was also established the banking house of Briggs, 
Spafford, & Penfield, in East Rockford, which became the Third 
National Bank. The members of the firm were C. C. Briggs, A. 

C. Spafford, and David Penfield. 

January 1, 1855, the banking firm of Dickerman, Wheeler 
& Company began business on West State street. The firm 
consisted of W. A. Dickerman, Buel G. Wheeler, G. A. Sanford, 
R. P. Lane. This house became the Second National Bank. 

Fuller & Tomkins began banking business in the Worthing- 
ington Block, East Rockford, in 1853. The firm consisted of 
A. C. and E. L. Fuller, and Enos and N. C. Tomkins, all of 
Belvidere. The firm was later called E. L. Fuller & Company. 

E. H. Potter & Company and Edward N. Kitchel were also 
in the banking business on the East side. These banks, with 
Roberson & Holland, founded in 1848, and Mr. Horsman's 


bank, established in 1852, and which have been noted in preced- 
ingchapters, complete the roster of Rockford banks to 1861. It 
was a day of unstable currency, when "wild-cat" money was 
abundant, but worthless. This fact made banking a precarious 
business as compared with the splendid system of today. 

In 1852 the first party of Swedish emigrants arrived in 
Rockford. They left their native land with no thought of com- 
ing to this city. Some were destined for Chicago, but upon 
arriving there, they were told there were better opportunities 
in the country. About twenty-five came to Rockford in 1852. 
Among these were S. A. Johnson, John Nelson, Andrew Hollem, 
P. G. Hollem, Alexander Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Hokan- 
son, P. A. Peterson, Sr., and wife, P. A. Peterson, Jr., Glaus 
Peterson. John Stibb came in 1854. His son, Frank G., was 
the first male born in Rockford of Swedish parents, and Mrs. 
Augusta Lind, daughter of Jonas Anderson, was the first 
female. Emigrants continued to arrive annually for some 
years. The cholera in 1853-54 checked emigration, and later 
the civil war had the same result ; and it was not until 1867 
that the greatest Swedish emigration was reached in a single 
year. The Swedish early settlers have a society, whose records 
are kept in their native language. 

In June, 1852, the Rock River Mutual Fire Insurance Com- 
pany was granted a charter by the legislature. The company 
did quite a business for a time, but it was finally unsuccessful. 

In 1853 the three-story, double-store brick block on the 
southwest corner of State and First streets, was built by Abra- 
ham I. Enoch, and his brother-in-law, Daniel Davis. Mr. Davis 
was a "forty-niner," and returned from California with quite an 
amount of ready money. 

At the election in November, 1854, Wait Talcott was elected 
state senator; William Lyman, reprepresentative ; John F. 
Taylor, sheriff; A. A. Chamberlain, sheriff. 

Under a statute of February 27, 1854, the judge of the 
county court of Winnebago county was given jurisdiction in 
law and chancery, where the amount involved did not exceed 
one thousand dollars. This law was repealed February 12, 1863. 

The earnings of the Galena & Chicago Union railroad for 
August, 1854, were $103,000. The earnings for the corres- 
ponding month the preceding year were $48,000. 



IN the early history of the county, Rockton, by reason of its 
water-power, was a rival of Rockford. As the latter began 
to forge more rapidly to the front, several of the settlers of 
Rockton from time to time sought the larger opportunities of the 
county seat. This exodus from the northern neighbor might be 
called the Rockton migration. Among those who came from 
Rockton to Rockford were James M. and J. Ambrose Wight 
and William Hulin, to whom reference has been made in early 
chapters, and Seely Perry, Jesse Blinn and Wait Talcott. 

Seely Perry was born at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 
August 22, 1822, and was graduated from Union college at 
Schenectady in 1845. Mr. Perry came to Rockton in 1849, and 
in 1851 he settled in Rockford. After teaching one year he 
engaged in the lumber trade, in which he has continued for 
nearly half a century. In 1846 Mr. Perry married Elizabeth 
Benedict, who died in 1874. She was the mother of Lewis Seely, 
and Mrs. Eva Moore, of St. Louis. In 1876 Mr. Perry married 
Marie Thompson. They have one daughter, Miss Marie. Mr. 
Perry was elected mayor of Rockford in 1858 and served one 
term. He is now the oldest living ex-mayor of the city. Mr. 
Perry has also served the city as alderman, member of the 
board of education, and a director of the public library. 

Jesse Blinn was born in 1809 in Vermont, and from there 
he removed to Conneaut, Ohio. He came to Rockton in 1838 ; 
in 1850 he settled in Rockford, and his family a year later. He 
opened the first exclusive hardware store in the city. His stock 
invoiced $10,000. He subsequently became a manufacturer on 
the water-power, to which reference has been made. Mr. Blinn 
died in 1879. Mrs. Blinn is a native of New Hampshire. She is 
descended from Lord James Louden, whose estate is still pre- 
served in Scotland. Mrs. Blinn has some autograph lines writ- 
ten by Robert Burns, commemorating his visit to Louden cas- 
tle. Joshua R. Giddings was entertained at Mr. Blinn's home 
when he made a political address in Rockford in 1854. Mrs. 
Blinn is residing with her daughter, Mrs. H. P. Holland. 


Ralph Emerson was the son of Rev. Ralph Emerson, a Con- 
gregational clergyman, and a professor in Andover theologi- 
cal seminary, the oldest Congregational divinity school in the 
country. Another son is Professor Joseph Emerson, of Beloit. 
Mr. Emerson was born in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1831. He 
came to Rockford in 1852, and was later a partner with Jesse 
Blinn in the hardware business until they became interested in 
the water-power. The Emerson company has proved one of 
the most successful manufacturers in the west. This result may 
be attributed to Mr. Emerson's unusual executive ability. He 
has made a generous use of his large wealth in contributions to 
various religious enterprises. Mr. Emerson married Adaline 
Talcott, a daughter of Hon. Wait Talcptt. They have had 
eight children. Two sons died in infancy, and in 1889 Ralph was 
killed by falling from a building during a fire on the water- 
power. Their daughters are Mrs. Adaline E. Thompson, Mrs. 
Harriet E. Hinchliff, Mrs. Mary Lathrop, Mrs. Belle E. Keith, 
and Mrs. Dora B. Wheeler, whose husband is a professor of 
biology in the University of Texas. In April, 1900, Mrs. Emer- 
son was appointed by Governor Tanner to represent Illinois as 
a commissioner at the Paris exposition. 

Hon. Wait Talcott was a son of William Talcott, and was 
born at Hebron, Connecticut, October 17, 1807. He came to 
Rockton in the autumn of 1838. He was one of the incor- 
porators of Beloit college and Rockford seminary. In 1854 he 
came to Rockford and began his career as a manufacturer on 
the water-power with his brother, Sylvester. In 1854 he was 
elected state senator from the district comprising Winnebago, 
Carroll, Boone and Ogle counties. Upon the passage of the in- 
ternal revenue act, President Lincoln appointed Mr. Talcott 
commissioner of internal revenue for the Second congressional 
district. This appointment was dated August 27, 1862, and 
Mr. Talcott served five years. Mr. Talcott preserved files of 
Chicago and Rockford newspapers, and upon his death, which 
occurred November 7, 1890, his sou William A. Talcott, pre- 
sented them in excellent bound condition to the Rockford 
public library. 

John S. Coleman was a native of Delaware county, New 
York. In 1851 he removed with his family to Rockford and 
became a member of the banking firm of Robertson, Coleman & 
Company. He built the stone house on North Main street, now 
owned by William Nelson. Mr. Coleman was a trustee of Rock- 


ford seminary and treasurer of the board, and a member of the 
city council. He was a man of high character and unostenta- 
tious life and manner, and his death was deeply mourned by 
the community. Mr. Coleman died April 6, 1864, in his fifty- 
eighth year. 

James L. Loop was born in Steuben county, New York, in 
1815. He settled in Belvidere in 1838, and some years later he 
formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Stephen A. Hurl- 
but, in the practice of law. He was prosecuting attorney for the 
northern district of Illinois in 1843-5. From 1846 to 1850 Mr. 
Loop was secretary of the Illinois and Michigan canal, which 
office he resigned. In 1852 Mr. Loop removed to Rockford and 
formed a law partnership with William Lathrop. In 1856 he 
was elected mayor of Rockford and served one term. Mr. 
Loop's death occurred February 8, 1865, when he was fifty 
years of age. The remains were taken to Belvidere for burial. 
By the common consent of the Rockford bar, James L. Loop 
possessed the finest legal ability of any man who ever practiced 
in this city. His intellect was strong and his resources were at 
his instant command. His grasp of legal principles was due to 
his acute, intuitive sense of what was right between man and 
man, which was a gift from nature. Mr. Loop was always the 
genial gentleman. Like so many other gifted men, he was his 
own worst enemy, and his sad, untimely death was an impres- 
sive object lesson that strong drink is no respecter of persons. 

William Lathrop is a native of Genesee county, New York. 
He came to Rockford in January, 1851. He was a partner with 
James L. Loop from 1853 to 1857. In 1856 Mr. Lathrop was 
elected a member of the legislature, and served one term. In 
1876 he succeeded Stephen A. Hurlbut as member of congress 
from the Fourth district, and served one term. During his long 
residence in Rockford Mr. Lathrop has enjoyed a large and 
lucrative legal practice. His clientele has come from the influ- 
ential portion of the community. He has in some respects the 
finest law library in the city, and the author takes pleasure in 
acknowledging his obligations to Mr. Lathrop for the free use of 
his library and for information personally given. Mr. Lathrop 
married Adaline Potter, a daughter of E. H. Potter. Their 
children are Mrs. Anna Case, of Charles City, Iowa ; Miss Julia, 
a member of the state board of charities, and Edward, Rob- 
ert and William 

Hon. John Early was born in Middlesex county, Canada 


West, March 17, 1828. In 1846 he removed with his parents 
to Boone county, and in 1852 he settled in Rockford. He 
served three terms as assessor of Rockford. In 1869 he was 
appointed one of the first board of trustees of the reform school 
at Pontiac. In 1870 Mr. Early was elected state senator from 
the Twenty-third district, composed of Winnebago, Boone, 
McHenry and Lake counties. His senatorial colleague was 
General Allen C. Fuller, of Belvidere. After the state had been 
re-districted he was elected senator in 1872, from the Ninth 
district, which included Winnebago and Boone counties, and 
again in 1874, for the full term of four years. By the election 
of Governor Oglesby to the United States senate and Lieuten- 
ant-Governor Beveridge becoming governor, Mr. Early became 
acting lieutenant-governor of the state. Mr. Early died Sep- 
tember 2, 1877. He was father of A. I), and John H. Early. 
Mrs. Early and Miss Bertha reside in East Rockford. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Edward F. W. Ellis was born in Milton, 
Maine, April 15, 1819. He was admitted to the bar in Ohio. 
In 1849 he went to California, where he was unsuccessful in 
commercial speculation, and resumed the practice of law; in 
1851 he was a member of the California legislature. Colonel 
Ellis came to Rockford in 1854 and became a member of the 
banking firm of Spafford, Clark & Ellis. Upon the outbreak of 
the civil war Colonel Ellis raised a company for the Fifteenth 
regiment, called the Ellis Rifles. He was chosen lieutentant- 
colonel, but was acting colonel at the time of his death. At the 
battle of Shiloh he was in command of the Fifteenth, which be- 
longed to General Hurlbut's division. On Monday morning his 
regiment was exposed to a terrible fire and Colonel Ellis was 
struck in the breast by a ball, and instantly expired. Colonel 
Ellis was a tall, noble-looking man, of much decision of charac- 
ter. The city of Rockford mourned his death with profound 
sorrow. Colonel Ellis' home was the historic homestead lately 
owned by Dr. W. H. Fitch, on West State street. In 1856 the 
property was transferred to Colonel Ellis, and there he lived 
with his wife and children. The latter were Blanche, now Mrs. 
Chandler Starr; Alma Hor tense, now Mrs. Fisher, of California, 
and Edward. The home was always characterized by generous 

Henry P. Kimball was a native of New Hampshire, and was 
graduated from Rochester university. Mr. Kimball came to 
Rockford in 1852, and taught school for some time. He had a 


local reputation as a horticulturist. As secretary of the Agri- 
cultural Society, Mr. Kimball achieved a unique distinction as 
a successful fair advertiser. Upon his invitation many of the 
most distinguished men of the last generation visited Rockford 
and made addresses. Among these were General Grant, Attor- 
ney-General Taft, Benjamin F. Butler, John A. Logan, Chief- 
Justice Waite, General Martindale, Wade Hampton, James R. 
Doolittle, Matt Carpenter, Benjamin F. Taylor and Will Carle- 
ton. In 1875 Mr. Kimball invited Jefferson Davis to deliver an 
address. This invitation created such excitement that Mr. Davis 
withdrew his acceptance. Mr. Kimball married Miss Ellen, a 
daughter of Dr. George Haskell. Their sons are Dr. Frank EL, 
Willis M., and Carl Kimball. Mr. Kimball died May 10, 1889, 
when sixty years of age. 

John Nelson was a native of West Gothland, Sweden, born 
April 5, 1830. He came to Rockford in 1852. His life was 
uneventful until a short time before his death, when he perfected 
the Nelson knitting machine, which revolutionized the knitting 
of hosiery. After General Grant had returned from his tour 
around the world, he visited Mr. Nelson's factory, and declared 
that he had never seen such perfect machinery for this purpose. 
Mr. Nelson died April 15, 1883. The Hotel Nelson is named in 
his honor. 

A. E. Goodwin, M. D., was born August 11, 1827, at Chel- 
sea, Vermont. He was graduated from Berkshire medical col- 
lege at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Dr. Goodwin came to Rock- 
ford in 1854. During the civil war he was a surgeon in the Elev- 
enth Illinois infantry and in the One Hundred and Eighth. He 
was wounded at Vicksburg. Dr. Goodwin was a member of the 
city board of education and of the public library board. Dr. 
Goodwin died May 14, 1889. His only surviving child is Mrs. 
Robert Rew. 

Chester C. Briggs was a native of Vermont. He was born 
in Dover, September 6, 1817. He was graduated from Dart- 
mouth college, and edited the Green Mountain Freeman, an 
anti-slavery paper. In 1853 Mr. Briggs came to Rockford and 
became the senior member of the banking firm of Briggs, Spaf- 
ford & Penfield. He was subsequently financial manager of 
the Kenosha Railroad company. In 1868 he became associated 
with the firm of Briggs, Mead & Skinner, in the manufacture 
of agricultural implements. The firm name was later changed 
to Briggs & Enoch. Mr. Briggs died January 24, 1892. 


James G. Manlove was a native of Dover, Delaware, where 
he was born December 15, 1812. He was admitted to the bar 
in Wisconsin, and settled in Rockford in 1851, and began the 
practice of law. He held the offices of police magistrate, justice 
of the peace, town clerk and alderman, and the confidence 
which the people reposed in him is attested by his repeated 
elections as town clerk and justice of the peace. Mr. Manlove 
died November 6, 1891. 

Robert P. Lane, M. D., was born in Hopewell, Bedford 
county, Pennsylvania, in 1818. He studied medicine with an 
uncle in his native state. Dr. Lane came to Rockford in 1851. 
He was a leader in the organization of the Rockford water- 
power company, and gave his personal attention to the con- 
struction of the dam. He was a member of the banking firm of 
Lane, Sanford & Company ; one of the organizers of the Second 
National bank, and continuously served as its president from 
1864 until 1881, when he resigned to accept the presidency of 
the Rockford Insurance Company. He had a fine personal 
presence and unusual suavity. He served as a member of the 
library board and was senior warden of the Episcopal church 
for forty years. Dr. Lane died March 7, 1891. 

Anthony Haines was a native of Marietta, Pennsylvania, 
born April 21, 1829. He came to Rockford in 1854, and 
formed a partnership with Elisha A. Kirk for buying and ship- 
ping grain over the Kenosha railroad. In 1880 he, with other 
gentlemen, organized the Rockford Street Railway company, of 
which he was elected president and general manager. Mr. 
Haines, at the time of his death in 1898, was vice-president of 
the Manufacturers National Bank. 

Charles O. Upton was born in North Reading, Massachusetts, 
in 1832, and came to Rockford in 1854. Mr. Upton has been 
prominent in the banking business of the city. He was a direc- 
tor of the Second National bank twenty years and the last two 
years was its vice-president. In 1889 he led in the organiza- 
tion of the Manufacturers National Bank, and was its presi- 
dent ten years. Mr. Upton served the public in the city council, 
on the county board, and as treasurer of Rockford one term. 
He now resides in Chicago. 

Carlton W. Sheldon is a native of New York, born in. Victor 
March 14, 1828. He came to Rockford in 1852, entered the 
law office of Jason Marsh, and was admitted to the bar in the 
autumn of the same year. In 1869 he entered the employ of 


the Rockford Insurance Company as adjuster, and remained 
five years, and in 1874 he was elected secretary of the Forest 
City Insurance company, and held this position five years, 
when he resumed the practice of law. Mr. Sheldon has four chil- 
dren: Charles E., George, Mrs. Dora S. Hart, and Miss Ethel. 

Isaac Utter was a native of New York. He came to Rock- 
ford in 1852, and formed a partnership with Orlando Clark, on 
the water-power. For twenty-one years he was associated 
with Levi Rhoades, in the manufacture of paper. Mr. Utter 
was a stockholder in the People's Bank and in the Wiunebago 
and the Second National. He was a man of great enersry, and 
good judgment in business affairs. Mr. Utter died May 7, 
1888. He was father of Mrs. J. M. Fraley. 

Alexander D. Forbes was born in Perthshire, Scotland, 
December 13, 1831. He came to Rockford in 1854, and in 
partnership with his father, Duncan Forbes, began busi- 
ness on the water-power. In 1864 they established the first 
malleable iron works west of Cincinnati. The father died in 
1871. Mr. Forbes is now president of the People's bank. 

Major Elias Cosper was born in Worcester, Ohio, in 1824. 
He came to Rockford in 1854, and entered the banking house 
of Robertson, Coleman & Company, as teller, and in 1857 he 
became its cashier. Upon the outbreak of the civil war Mr. 
Cosper sold his interest in the bank and entered the service 
with Company E, Seventy-fourth regiment. After the battle of 
Chickamauga he was promoted to the rank of major and pay- 
master of the army. Upon his return to civil life, Mr. Cosper, 
in company with T. D. Robertson, Melancthon Starr, and John 
P. Manny, organized the John P. Manny Reaper Company, and 
was its manager. Since 1874 Mr. Cosper has been connected 
with the Rockford Tack Company, and is its secretary and 
treasurer. Mr. Cosper may be called the father of the public 
library. He spent much time in soliciting subscriptions and 
was a member of the board of directors for more than twenty 
years. Mr. Cosper has a fine private library of about thirteen 
hundred volumes. 

John G. Pen field is a native of Vermont and settled in 
Rockford in 1854. Since that time he has been continuously in 
business as a broker and dealer in real estate and insurance. 
Mrs. Penfield gave the lot to the First Congregational church on 
which the parsonage now stands. They have three daughters: 
Mrs. Charles E. Sheldon, Mrs. Helen Revelle and Miss Kate. 


William A. Knowlton was a native of Chautauqua county, 
New York, and removed to the west when a young man. He 
came to Kockford in 1853 from Freeport, Illinois. After the 
death of J. H. Manny, Mr. Knowlton became business agent 
for Mrs. Manny. He retained this position several years, and 
was eminently successful. Mr. Knowlton was subsequently 
engaged in various manufacturing enterprises. He sustained 
financial reverses, and in the autumn of 1891 he removed to 
Chicago, where he died September 17th of the following year. 
Mr. Kuowlton was sixty years of age. His surviving family 
consisted of Mrs. Knowlton and five children : Mrs. Helen Gib- 
son, Mrs. Fred S. Hardy, Misses Evaline and Mary, and William 
A. Knowlton, Jr. Miss Evaline recently died in the east. 

John P. Manny was born in Amsterdam, New York, March 
8, 1823. He settled at Waddam's Grove, Stephenson county, 
in 1842. He came to Rockford in 1852, and for several years 
he manufactured knife sections for J. H. Manny's machines. 
Early in the sixties he perfected several inventions, which were 
handled by N. C. Thompson. After the war Mr. Manny became 
interested in the John P. Manny Company, in which he was 
associated with Elias Cosper, T. D. Robertson and Melancthon 
Starr. This company and Mr. Thompson paid him royalties 
upon his inventions, and the Mississippi river was the dividing 
line between their respective territories. Mr. Manny's income 
from this source was at one time forty thousand dollars ayear. 
He purchased the John S. Coleman estate on North Main street, 
which was his home for many years. This property is now 
owned by William Nelson. While residing at Waddam's Grove 
Mr. Manny married Miss Eunice Hicks. George J. was their 
only son who attained his majority. He died in 1892, leaving 
one son, Dwight, an employe of the Winnebago National Bank. 
Miss Florida Manny, a daughter, is also a resident of the city. 
Mrs. J. P.Manny died in 1864, and in 1867 Mr. Manny married 
a daughter of Melancthon Starr. They had four children : Mrs. 
Charles Sackett, John Starr Manny, Virginia and Henry Manny. 
Mr. Manny died November 16, 1897. 

Among other well-known citizens who came to Rockford 
during this period were : Horace Brown, T. J. L. Remington, 
1850; J. M. Southgate, Andrew G. Lo wry, Horace Buker, 1852; 
Jacob Hazlett, D. A. Barnard, Samuel Ferguson, 1853 ; Henry 
Fisher, Melancthon Smith, T. W. Carrico, William and George R. 
Forbes, 1854. 



THE free public school system of Illinois dates from 1855. 
In December, 1853, a large common school convention met 
at Jersey ville, composed of many ad joining counties, andoneat 
Bloomington, for the whole state. These movements produced 
results. The general assembly, which met the following Febru- 
ary, separated the office of state superintendent of public 
instruction from that of secretary of state, and made it a dis- 
tinct department of the state government. The state superin- 
tendent was required to draft a bill embodying a system of free 
education for all the children of the state, and report to the 
next general assembly. March 15, 1854, Governor Matteson 
appointed Hon. N. W. Edwards, state superintendent. In the 
following January Mr. Edwards presented a bill which became a 
law February 15, 1855. For state purposes the school tax was 
fixed at two mills on the one hundred dollars. To this was 
added the interest from the permanent school fund . A free school 
was required to be maintained for at least six months in each 
year, and it was made imperative upon the directors of every 
school district to levy the necessary tax. Thus the free school 
system of Illinois began when the taxing power of the state 
was invoked in its behalf. 

The school law was bitterly opposed, and narrowly escaped 
repeal. Sir William Berkeley, the royal governor of Virginia, 
said in 1670 : " I thank God there are no free schools nor print- 
ing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years." The 
spirit of this pious wish prevailed in southern Illinois ; and 
there was a repetition of the old conflict between the two dis- 
tinct classes of people in the two portions of the state. The 
southern portion was poor, while the northern portion was well- 
to-do ; and it was only as it was made to appear to the south- 
ern portion that it was receiving more from the state school 
fund than it was contributing, that the people acquiesced in the 


The charter of 1854 had conferred upon the city council of 
Rockford full power over its schools. June 20, 1855, the coun- 
cil passed its first school ordinance under the new school law. 
The city was divided into two school districts: East side, 
number one; West side, number two. A board of school in- 
spectors was appointed, consisting of George Haskell, A. S. Mil- 
ler, and Jason Marsh, after whom the Marsh school was named. 
In December the board voted to purchase of A. W. Freeman 
his lease of the basement of the First Baptist church for a school 
in district number two. Mr. Freeman was employed to teach at 
$800 per year. At the same time H. Sabin was engaged for the 
first district, and the old court house on the East side was 

The council had provided by ordinance for a school agent 
for each district, whose acts were to be approved by the coun- 
cil. July 27, 1855, the agent for the first district was author- 
ized to purchase from Solomon Wheeler, the tract on which 
the Adams school now stands. September 10th a contract 
was made for the construction of the building. April 28, 
1856, a contract was made for a schoolhouse in the second dis- 
trict, on the site of the Lincoln school ; the contractors were E. 
N. House, M. H. Regan, and James B. Howell. The progress 
of the buildings was delayed by unfavorable weather, and the 
late arrival of school furniture. 

August 14, 1857, in the afternoon and evening, occurred 
the formal dedication of the two union school buildings. 
Previous to this time Rockford had no schoolhouse of its own. 

The first district school had three principals from 1857 to 
1884. The first was Orlando C. Blackmer, who was appointed 
March 10, 1857. His assistant was S. F. Penfield. Mr. Black- 
mer is a brother of Mrs. N. C. Thompson. He is now living at 
Oak Park. 

Henry Freeman, Mr. Blackmer's successor, is a native of 
Massachusetts, born within twenty miles of Plymouth Rock. 
He was graduated from Teachers' seminary, Andover, Massa- 
chusetts, in 1839, and taught for one year in the preparatory 
department. Prof. Freeman began his life-work as principal of 
the high school at Bridgeton, New York, in 1840. In 1845 he 
was offered the principalship of Salem academy, at Salem, New 
Jersey, where he remained five years, until he was elected prin- 
cipal of Wallkill academy, at Middleton, New York. In 1855 
he was called to the position of principal of the high school and 


superintendent of schools of Freeport, Illinois. In 1859 the 
board of school inspectors invited Prof. Freeman to take 
the position of principal and superintendent of schools of East 
Rockford, at a salary of one thousand dollars a year. This 
position he filled twenty-one years, until he resigned in 1880. 
During this long service hundreds of pupils came under the 
influence of the principal. Prof. Freeman had high ideals of 
life, and his strong character was a potent factor in promot- 
ing that which was for the best interest of the pupils. His con- 
scientious efforts were appreciated, and occasionally his former 
pupils gather informally at his home and recall reminiscences 
of those formative years. 

The third and last principal was Prof. McPherson, who 
remained until 1884. George G. Lyon was chosen principal 
of the Second district school, March 10, 1857. He was suc- 
ceeded by E. M. Fernald, E. N. Weller, J. H. Blodgett, and 
W. W. Stetson. 

October 21, 1861, the number of school inspectors was 
increased from three to five. In 1884 the city of Rockford was 
made one school district, with one high school, in pursuance of 
an ordinance drawn by Hon. Alfred Taggart. 

Provision was made for the construction of Kent school- 
house for South Rockford, soon after the arrangements had 
been made for the East and West side schools. This school 
for the greater part of the intervening time has been in charge 
of one man. Prof. O. F. Barbour, a native of Ohio, came to 
Rockford in 1859, and was for a time engaged in the dry goods 
business. In September, 1866, he became principal of the Kent 
school, and has retained this position for thirty-four years. 
For more than twenty years Mr. Barbour has also been a 
member of the library board. 

The general law of 1872 for the incorporation of cities was 
silent on the school question, and when Rockford was organ- 
ized under the general law, it retained the school features of ita 
special charter. School boards are elected by popular vote in 
other cities of the state, and have the taxing power. Rockford 
stands alone, with its board of school inspectors, appointed by 
the mayor, which has only advisory power. No subsequent 
statute concerning boards of education will apply to Rockford, 
and it would require new legislation at Springfield to change 
the board from an appointive to an elective body. 



The agitation for a public library began in 1852. Several 
years elapsed, however, before a library was established, and 
information concerning these early efforts are very meagre. 

The Sinissippi Division No. 134 of the Sons of Temperance, 
of Rockford, surrendered its charter to the grand division April 
15, 1852. Its former members resolved to reorganize under 
the name of the Rockford Library Association. All members 
of the division who had paid their quarterly dues to the close 
of the preceding quarter, were to be equal sharers in the library. 
A request was made in the Forum of April 21st for the return 
of all books belonging to the library. Thus, so far as known, 
the first circulating library was the small number of books 
owned by the Sons of Temperance. The Forum of October 27th 
published a call for a meeting of the trustees of the Library 
Association for October 30th, and for the annual meeting of the 
stockholders on the first Saturday of November. No other 
reference to the library is found immediately thereafter. 

At the annual meeting of the Young Men's Association, 
September 11, 1855, it was proposed to extend its sphere of 
usefulness by providing a library and reading-room. A com- 
mittee of three was appointed to confer with the old Library 
Association, with a view of obtaining its books. So far as can 
be learned, this effort to establish a library and reading-room 
was not successful. 

It was not until March, 1857, that the first successful effort 
to establish a library was made. In that month a subscription 
paper was circulated, with the following statement of its object : 

"We, the undersigned, agree to take the number of shares 
set opposite our names, in an association to be incorporated 
under 'the general law of this state, for the purpose of the estab- 
lishment of a public library in the city of Rockford. Said library 
to be under the management and control of aboard of trustees, 
to be elected by the stockholders. 


"Shares to be fifty dollars each. Ten dollars per share pay- 
able upon the formation of the association, and ten dollars per 
share per annum thereafter, in such amounts and at such times 
as shall be determined by the said board of trustees. Shares 
subject to forfeiture by the trustees for non-payment of install- 

The first four names upon the list pledged twelve hundred 
dollars, and by the autumn of 1858 six thousand dollars had 
been pledged. William L. Rowland collected a considerable 
portion of this amount, and a schedule of cash payments has 
been preserved by him. The library was duly organized Octo- 
ber 14, 1858. Rooms were secured on the third floor of Rob- 
ertson, Coleman & Company's bank. James M. Wight, Seely 
Perry, Selden M. Church, Elias Cosper, and Thomas D. Robert- 
son constituted the first board of trustees ; Elias Cosper was 
chairman; Spencer Rising, treasurer; F. H. Bradley, librarian. 
The original board was composed of gentlemen of exceptional 
literary equipment. Others rendered efficient aid in the selection 
of books. Among them was William L. Rowland, who was 
subsequently apppointed librarian of the public library. The 
books, although few in number, possessed very high merit. 
The number of volumes at this time was about one thousand ; 
number of magazines and newspapers, thirty-eight. During 
the next few years the library steadily received accessions. 
According to the annual report of the stockholders, made Octo- 
ber 11, 1860, there were 1,134 volumes. There had been 
drawn during the year ending October 4th, 1,669 volumes. 
This was an increase of 396 over the preceding year. Several 
gentlemen acted as librarian for short terms, and received a 
nominal compensation. Among those who rendered this ser- 
vice were John F. Squier and Hosmer P. Holland. 

This library served its purpose several years; but during 
the war popular interest began to decline. The library was 
finally closed, and about 1865 the books were sold at public 
auction in a building on North Main street, directly north of 
Mr. Ash ton's block. Some of these books are now in the public 
library, and quite a number, in excellent condition, are in the 
private library of Robert H. Tinker. The first library was 
organized under a general law, and was entirely supported by 
private subscriptions and annual fees. It was not until 1872 
that the legislature enacted a law which provided for a tax 
for the support of public libraries. 


In the summer of 1856 a movement was begun for the 
founding of a co-educational seminary in Rockford, under the 
control of the Methodist Episcopal church. February 14, 1857, 
an act of the legislature was approved, to incorporate the Rock- 
ford Wesley an seminary. The incorporators were E. F. W. 
Ellis, T. D. Robertson, D. W. Ticknor, and W. F. Stewart. 
There were to be twelve trustees, appointed by the stockholders, 
eight of whom should at all times be members of N the Methodist 
Episcopal church. Aboard of three visitors was to be appointed 
by the annual Rock River conference. The company was to 
have a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars, divided 
into shares of one hundred dollars each. 

A farm of about two hundred and sixteen acres was pur- 
chased of William M. Rowland. It adjoined Judge Church's 
farm on the west, and extended north to the State road. The 
purchase price and accrued interest amounted to nearly twenty 
thousand dollars. A large portion of this tract was platted 
into town lots, and it was proposed to build a college suburban 
town. The sale of lots occurred April 29, 1857. The sub- 
scribers to stock purchased lots. Rev. W. F. Stewart had been 
transferred from the Ohio to the Rock River conference, and had 
been assigned to the Second or Court Street church. Rev. Stew- 
art was made purchasing agent for the seminary by the annual 

August 31, 1857, the ceremony of breaking ground for the 
seminary buildings took place under the direction of Rev. T. M. 
Eddy, who was in attendance upon Rock River conference, which 
was then in session in Rockford. Several hundred people were 
in attendance. An address was made by Rev. J. C. Stoughton, 
agent of Clark seminary ; and Rev. W. F. Stewart gave a brief 
history of the origin of the seminary movement. 

When the ground was broken, fifty-seven thousand dollars 
had been subscribed. The enterprise, however, was unsuccess- 
ful. Quite a number of houses were built, but in time several of 
them migrated into town on rollers, and the land reverted to 
farming purposes. 

In October, 1857, Rev. Stewart began the publication of the 
Rockford Wesleyan Seminary Reporter, in the interest of the 
seminary. Only four numbers were published. Both Rev. Stew- 
art and Rev. Stoughton have died within the past few mouths. 


BAYARD TAYLOR, in a letter to the Tribune, published in 
the spring of 1855, paid Rockford this generous tribute : 
"I last wrote to you from Rockford, the most beautiful town in 
northern Illinois. It has the advantage of an admirable water- 
power, furnished by the Rock river; of a rich, rolling prairie, 
which is fast being settled and farmed on all sides, of a fine build- 
ing material in its quarries, of soft yellow limestone, resembling 
the Roman travertine ; and of an unusually enterprising and 
intelligent population. Knowing all these advantages, I was 
not surprised at the evidences of growth since my first visit a 
year ago. People are flocking in faster than room can be fur- 
nished, and the foundations of two new hotels, on a large scale, 
show the requirements of the place. I was pleased to note that 
taste keeps pace with prosperity here, as elsewhere in the north- 
west. The new Unitarian church is a simple but very neat 
Gothic edifice, and the residences of Mr. Holland and Mr. Starr 
are very fine specimens of home architecture. The grounds of 
the former are admirably laid out ; there is nothing better of 
the kind on the Hudson." 

The charter of Winnebago Lodge No. 31, Independent Order 
of Odd Fellows, was issued by Geo. W. Woodward, grandmaster 
of Illinois, in 1847, to the following named charter members : 
Selden M. Bronson, Ansel Kenfield, Dewitt Clinton Briggs, 
Frederick II. Maxwell, and Rev. Nathaniel P. Heath. The lodge 
was instituted August 11, 1847. The place of meeting was 
Horsman's block, on the West side. 

Rockford Lodge, No. 102, Masons, was organized February 
13, 1851, under a dispensation from C. G. Y. Taylor, the grand 
master. The following named citizens constituted its first 
membership : Alfred E. Ames, William Lyman, Henry Carpenter, 
C. H. Spafford, William Hulin, E. H. Baker, Ansel Kenfield, 
John Fraley, James P. Burns, W. F. Ward, Jesse Blinn, and 
Buel G. Wheeler. E. H. Baker was the last survivor of this 
original membership. 


Social Lodge, No. 140, Odd Fellows, was instituted Febru- 
ary 6, 1854. 

Winnebago Chapter No. 24, Masons, was organized Decem- 
ber 12, 1854, under a dispensation from Louis Watson, grand 
high priest. The following constituted its first membership: 
A. Clark, Chauncy Ray, W. F. Fairish, H. Miltimore, John A. 
Holland, L. P. Pettibone, R. H. Cotton, Abiram Morgan, G. D. 
Palmer, and Ansel Kenfield. 'This chapter was constituted 
under another charter in December, 1855. 

Star in the East Lodge No. 166, Masons, was organized 
February 12, 1855, under a dispensation from James L. Ander- 
son, grand master. The charter members were: E. F. W. Ellis, 
R. H. Cotton, W. M. Bowdoin, William Hulin, S. G. Chellis, 
Jos. K. Smith, Joseph Burns, C. I. Horsman, B. G. Wheeler, G. 
W. Reynolds, John A. Holland, C. H. Richings, D. G. Clark, 
Adam McClure, Holder Brownell. 

The dispensation for Rockford Encampment, No. 44, Odd 
Fellows, was granted August 5, 1857, to the following patri- 
archs as charter members : James Fleming, J. H. Clark, Hugh 
Strickland, Enos C. Clark, G. A, Stiles, Joseph Schloss, and 
Robert Smith. The encampment was instituted by Deputy 
Grand Patriarch A. E. Jenner, August 26, 1857. 

The Rockford Burns Club was organized November 5, 1858. 
It is an association of Scottish- Americans, who meet annually 
on the birthday of Robert Burns. 

John A. Phelps, a Rockford attorney, died July 28, 1854. 
The bar of the city adopted resolutions of respect, and attended 
his funeral in a body. 

September 6, 1854, the city council passed an ordinance 
for the construction of sidewalks. 

About 1855 James S. Ticknor was appointed agent of the 
American Express Company, and held this position until 1881. 
Mr. Ticknor came to Rockford in 1854. He was preceded by 
his brother, D. W., who came in 1846, and taught school. The 
brothers were in the drug and book business a short time. J. 
S. Ticknor died September 18, 1899. 

February 15, 1855, a charter was granted the Rockford 
Central Railroad Company. The incorporators were Rockford 
citizens. It was proposed to make a connection with the Illi- 
nois Central at Mendota, and run through Rockford to the 
Wisconsin pineries, and make a north and south line to Cairo. 


Piles were driven in Kock river at Kockford, for a bridge, which 
are now used by the Burlington company. The route was sur- 
veyed, but no track was laid. 

In February, 1855, the Rockford Gas Light and Coke Com- 
pany was incorporated. The incorporators were Simon M. 
Preston, William Lyman, John Platt, Henry Fisher, and Jesse 
Blinn. A few years later Thomas Butterworth was made its 
manager, and he finally became the owner of the plant. 

May 17, 1855, occurred the sale of several hundred acres 
of canal lands in Winnebago county. These lands were selected 
as a part of the grant to the state of Illinois by the general 
government, to aid in building the Illinois and Michigan canal. 

In 1855 the legislature passed a very stringent prohibitory 
liquor bill, known as the Maine law. The bill was not to go 
into effect unless approved by a majority of the popular vote 
at an election to be held June 4th of that year. The vote 
in Winnebago county was a splendid endorsement of the bill. 
Every township in the county sustained the measure. The vote 
in Rockford was as follows: for the law, 752 ; against, 71. The 
vote of the county was: 2,153 in favor of the law; against it, 
363. The bill was lost, however, in the state. 

July 14, 1855, the starch factory belonging to Lewis, Smyth 
& Company was destroyed by fire. The loss was about $15, 000. 

The death of John A. Holland occurred September 29, 1855, 
at Mount Vernon, Ohio, while he was on a visit to his father-in- 
law, who resided there, in company with his family. The remains 
were brought to Rockford for burial. Resolutions of respect 
were adopted by the Masonic bodies and by the bar of the city. 
The funeral was held at the Unitarian church on Sunday. Rev. 
Mr. Murray, the pastor, preached the discourse. John A. Hol- 
land was born in what is now West Virginia. He came to Rock- 
ford in 1845, from Worcester, Ohio, where he had practiced 
law. He formed a partnership with T. D. Robertson in the 
practice of his profession. He was the attorney for the Galena 
& Chicago Union railroad, and assisted the Illinois Central in 
securing the right of way from Chicago to Cairo. Mr. Holland 
was an attendant at the Unitarian church, but was not a mem- 
ber. He was a man of comprehensive mind, great energy and 
sagacity, and always operated upon a large scale. He was a 
leading spirit in every public enterprise. The Holland House 
was named in his honor. Mr. Holland was father of Hosmer P. 
Holland. His second wife was a daughter of Dr. J. C. Goodhue. 



TUESDAY, November 11, 1856, John F. Taylor, sheriff of 
Winnebago county, was instantly killed by Alfred Coun- 
tryman. On that day Alfred and John Countryman came to 
Rockford from Ogle county with some cattle, which they offered 
for sale at such low prices as to arouse suspicion. The cattle 
were sold for a sum below their market value. The purchasers 
delayed payment until notice had been given the sheriff, and 
papers made out for the apprehension of the brothers, which 
occurred about nine o'clock in the morning. They were then 
arrested on suspicion ; and before they were taken to jail Sher- 
iff Taylor searched them for concealed weapons. He found pis- 
tol balls in Alfred's pockets, and upon inquiring for his revolver 
the prisoner replied that he had none. Sheriff Taylor, assisted 
by Constable Thompson, then started with the prisoners for 
the jail. Just as they reached the steps Alfred Countryman 
broke away from the sheriff , leaped over the fence on Elm street, 
and ran down that street, with the sheriff in pursuit. At the 
next corner, near the livery stable of Hall & Reynolds, the sher- 
iff had nearly overtaken Countryman, and was about to seize 
him, when the latter drew a pistol which he had concealed, and 
fired. The sheriff staggered a few paces, and fell. His only 
words were: "I'm shot; catch him." 

Countryman ran to the woods north of Kent's creek, with 
hundreds of infuriated citizens in pursuit. John Platt was the 
first to overtake him. He took his pistol from him, and, with 
assistance, secured his arrest. Amid threats of lynching, the 
prisoner was placed in jail and securely ironed. Samuel I. 
Church, the sheriff-elect, briefly addressed the crowd and 
assured them that the prisoner was secure. 

Sheriff Taylor was thirty-one years of age, and left a wife, 
and a son a year and a half old. He was an excellent officer, 
and was held in high respect by the community. The funeral 
was held Thursday on the public square, adjoining the jail, 


under the charge of the Masonic fraternity. The board of 
supervisors were in attendance in a body. The discourse was 
preached by Rev. W. F. Stewart. 

Countryman was indicted and tried for the murder of Sher- 
iff Taylor, at the following February term of the circuit court. 
The prosecution was conducted by U. D. Meacham, the state's 
attorney, assisted by William Brown. The counsel for the 
defense was Orrin Miller and T. J. Turner. The following gen- 
tlemen constituted the jury: Levi Tunks, Philo C. Watson, 
Anthony M. Felmly, Silas G. Tyler, Jacob B. Place, G. R. Ames, 
Allen Rice, Charles Works, J. W. Jenks, Edward Peppers, J. W. 
Knapp, S. P. Coller. The trial began on Monday, February 
23d. The case was given to the jury on Thursday; and Friday 
morning they returned a verdict of guilty. Judge Sheldon pro- 
nounced the sentence of death upon Countryman. One of his 
counsel, Mr. Miller, tried to obtain a stay of proceedings, so as 
to bring the case before the supreme court. But Judge Caton 
refused to grant a writ of error. 

On Friday, March 27th, Countryman was executed on the 
farm of Sheriff Church, a short distance from the city. The 
execution was witnessed by eight thousand people. In the 
absence of a military company, the two fire companies, armed 
with sabres and carbines, formed a hollow square at the jail, 
into the center of which the carriages, which were to form the 
procession, were driven, and as the procession moved to the 
place of execution, the fire companies formed a strong guard. 
Upon arriving at the scaffold, Rev. Hooper Crews offered an 
earnest prayer. The prisoner made a short speech and professed 
repentance and forgiveness for his crime. At seventeen min- 
utes past two the bolt was withdrawn, and Countryman was 
swung into eternity. His father, sister and one brother wit- 
nessed the execution. Before the body was taken down, Sheriff 
Church addressed the crowd as follows: "These painful proceed- 
ings being now concluded, and the sword of justice about to be 
returned to its sheath, I hope never again to be drawn with so 
much severity, I would thank you all for the good order you 
have maintained your conduct does credit to the city, and I 
hope you will observe the same decorum in retiring." 



IN 1856 was projected a railroad to connect Kenosha on Lake 
Michigan with Rockford. It was a part of the orginal plan 
that this line should extend from Rockford to Rock Island. 
January 20, 1857, a charter was granted to John M. Capron, 
Egbert Ayer, Thomas Paul, John Cornell, W. B. Ogden, John 
Bradley, Jason Marsh, George Haskell. David S. Penfleld, Rob- 
ert P. Lane, C. C. Briggs, C. H. Spafford, A. S. Miller, Jesse 
Bliun and Seely Perry. The company was to have a capital 
stock of eight hundred thousand dollars, to be divided into 
shares of one hundred dollars each, and was authorized to con- 
struct a road from a point near the state line in McHenry 
county to Rockford. This road was built as a means of reliev- 
ing Rockford from burdens imposed by the high freight and pas- 
senger rates of the Galena & Chicago Union. 

Books for subscriptions to the stock of the road were 
opened early in November, 1856, and on the 25th of the same 
month the company was organized by the election of the fol- 
lowing officers: President, C. H. Spafford; vice-president, R. P. 
Lane; secretary, E. H. Baker; treasurer, A. C. Spafford; execu- 
tive committee, J. Bond, J. M. Capron, R. P. Lane, D. S. Pen- 
field and Seely Perry. The subscriptions were made largely by 
farmers along the line, who gave mortgages on their real estate 
to secure their payments. The company negotiated these mort- 
gages in payment for iron, labor and other expenses in the 
building of the road. When these obligations matured many 
of the subscribers could not redeem them, and the holders of 
the mortgages foreclosed them. 

The contract for the construction of the road to Harvard 
was made in March, 1857, and the work was begun shortly 
afterward. The eastern division of the road was under the con- 
trol of another company, organized under a charter from the 
Wisconsin legislature. The progress of construction was im- 
peded by financial embarrassments, arising from the great de- 
pression which spread over the country in 1857, and the enter- 


prise languished. In August, 1858, the company applied to 
the council of Rockford for a loan of the city credit to the 
amount of $50,000 to aid in the completion of the road. An 
election was held September 2d, and the measure was carried by 
a majority of more than five hundred. This is the only instance 
in the history of Rockford of the loan of the credit of the cor- 
poration to a railroad. 

November 21, 1859, the road was completed between 
Rockford and Harvard, and the event was celebrated by a ban- 
quet at the Holland House the same evening. In 1864 the 
Galena & Chicago Union Railroad Company was absorbed by 
the Chicago & Northwestern, and the Kenosha & Rockford 
road, as a matter of course, soon came under the same control. 

The most beautiful home in Rockford during the period cov- 
ered by this history, was that of Mrs. J. H. Manny, on South 
Main street. The " Manny mansion " was built in 1854, by 
John A. Holland. The grounds had a frontage of three hundred 
and twenty-five feet, and extended from the northern limit of 
G. N. Safford & Company's lumber yard to a point below Kent's 
creek, and were fronted by a stone fence. The beauty of these 
grounds was due, in large measure, to John Blair, a Scottish 
landscape gardener, who came from Canada at Mr. Holland's 
solicitation. He laid out the grounds, and set the standard for 
landscape gardening in Rockford, and in this way he left his im- 
press on the city. Mr. Blair subsequently laid out the grounds 
of the Elgin insane asylum. It is said he now lies near Victoria, 
British Columbia. After the death of Mr. Holland, in 1855, 
financial reverses overtook his family, and about 1860 this 
splendid estate passed into the ownership of Mrs. J. H. Manny. 

The fine estate which adjoined Mrs. Manny's on the south 
was owned by Rev. Lansing Porter, the first pastor of the Sec- 
ond Congregational church. He built the stone fence which 
fronted the property. Mr. Porter sold this home to Elias Cosper, 
and he in turn sold it to S. C. Withrow, who, in the course of a 
few years, completed a beautiful home. 

The Rockford Register, of August 30, 1856, made this an- 
nouncement : " We have been shown the plans for a beautiful 
residence to be erected by Mr. Seely Perry. . . It is to be of 
brick, built in the Italian style of architecture, with cupola, 
verandas, etc., and it is estimated will cost some $5,000 or 
$6,000. The lot chosen for its erection is on the height above 



Mr. Marsh's fine residence, east side of the city, and commands 
a splendid prospect." This has in late years been familiarly 
known as the Schmauss property, and is now occupied as St. 
Anthony hospital. Forty years ago it was called "Perry's 
castle." Mr. Perry, however, called it "Perry's folly." 

In 1861, C. C. Briggs erected a substantial residence on 
East State street. It was built of Milwaukee brick, two stories, 
with cupola, and ornamented by a veranda, extending the 
entire length of the building on the west. Its estimated cost 
was $9,000. It stands today like a deserted castle, frowning 
upon the pleasant modern homes that have intruded upon its 
former spacious grounds. 

Judge Church's substantial stone residence on South Avon 
street was built in 1857, and is today one of the finest houses 
in the city. 

Gilbert Woodruff's spacious mansion was built by E. H. 
Potter. When financial reverses came to him, he disposed of 
the property to C. A. Shaw, father of Mrs. J. M. Southgate. 

The fine residence owned by Mrs. David Keyt, south of the 
city, was built by Orlando Clark, of the firm of Clark & Utter. 

Allen Gibson, secretary of the Rock River Mutual Insurance 
Company, built the residence now owned by Thomas D. Rob- 
ertson. Mr. Gibson expended $20,000 in the construction of 
this house and later improvements. 

The year 1856 is memorable in history for the fierce strug- 
gle for freedom in Kansas. On the 19th and 20th of May, 
Charles Sumner delivered his celebrated speech in the senate, 
on The Crime Against Kansas. It was marked by the usual 
characteristics of his more elaborate efforts, exhibiting great 
affluence of learning, faithful research, and great rhetorical fin- 
ish and force. It was, in the words of the poet Whittier, "a 
grand and terrible philippic." On the 22d of May following, 
Senator Sumner was brutally assaulted in the senate chamber, 
by Preston S. Brooks, a representative from South Carolina. 
Circumstances combined to create an enormous demand for Mr. 
Sumner's speech. 

The following letter, written by Hon. E. B. Washburne to 
Francis Burnap, of Rockford, is interesting in this connec- 
tion, because it has never before been published, and by reason 
of Mr. Washburne's prophetic utterances. The full text of the 
letter is as follows : 


The demand f or Sumner's speech is so great that it will [be] some 
time before your order can be filled. They cost two dollars per 
hundred, instead of one. We want to get a big edition of Bis- 
selPs great speech made in 1850 for circulation in our state. 
I find the twenty-dollar draft from you here. The excitement 
everywhere in the north is terrific. If we make no mistakes, and 
act earnestly and discreetly, the rule of the slave-power now 
ceases. Mr. Sumner is getting along. He was terribly beaten, 
but his blood will be avenged. 

Yours truly, E. B. WASHBURNE. 


In 1854 Anson S. Miller laid the foundation for his new 
hotel on the southwest corner of State and Court streets. The 
hotel was planned on a large scale. The foundation walls were 
four and a half feet thick at the base. The structure was to be 
built of cream-colored limestone, four stories high, with an 
attic and basement, which made it nearly equivalent to six 
stories. The size was to be one hundred feet on State street, 
by one hundred and twenty on Court, and its estimated cost 
was $40,000. Mr. Miller was unable to realize his ambition, 
and the work was abandoned after the walls were laid. 

The Winnebago National Bank block was completed for 
Robertson, Coleman & Company, in 1855. Messrs. Ticknor & 
Brother and O. Dickerman built the block adjoining, of same 
general style, a few months later. 

In June, 1855, a joint stock company, organized under the 
authority of an act of the legislature, began the erection of the 
Holland House, an extensive hotel which received its name 
from John A. Holland. The hotel was completed the following 
spring, and April 30th an elaborate inauguration festival was 
given by the citizens to Messrs. Pierce & Bingham, the proprie- 
tors. Isaac N. Cunningham, the former landlord of the Winne- 
bago House, was chairman of the committee on arrangements, 
and presided at the tables. Brief addresses were made by 
Judge Church, Mayor James L. Loop, Jason Marsh, Dr. 
Lyman, William Hulin, Melancthon Starr, C. I. Horsman andT. 
D. Robertson. Like most enterprises of this kind, undertaken in 
the interior cities of the west, the property was unremunerative, 
and passed into private hands. A man by the name of Bald- 
win held mortgage bonds, and foreclosed. He bid in the prop- 


erty at the sale, and then sold it to Robertson & Starr. Mr. 
Starr purchased the interest of his partner, and sold the hotel 
to his son, H. N. Starr. Later owners were W. B. Sink and C. 
W. Brown. The Holland House was destroyed by fire Christ- 
mas eve, 1896. The records of the old Hotel Company are 
said to be in the vault of the Winnebago National Bank. 

The telegraph line was completed to Rockford in October, 
1855. It was owned by the Chicago & Mississippi Company. The 
line connected at Freeport with the line on the Illinois Central. 

At the presidential election in November, 1856, Winnebago 
county gave John C. Fremont a magnificent vote. Every town 
in the county was carried for the Pathfinder. The total vote of 
the county was 4,154. The county gave a majority of 3,179 
for Fremont over Buchanan. The First Congressional district 
gave majorities for Fremont and Washburne of more than 
twelve thousand. William Lathrop was elected representative ; 
Samuel I. Church, sheriff; H. T. Mesler, coroner; Morris B. Der- 
rick, circuit clerk. Mr. Church was brother of Judge Church, 
and came to Rockford in 1848. He purchased a quarter of the 
school section; later he made it his home, where he died in 1886. 

In 1856 a military company was organized, under the name 
of the Rockford City Greys, which enkindled the enthusiasm of 
a large number of the young men of the city. In the summer 
of 1858 Colonel E. E. Ellsworth was engaged as drillmaster, 
and under his instruction the company attained a high degree 
of proficiency. In September, 1858, an encampment was held 
on the fair grounds, which continued four days. Companies 
from Freeport, Elgin and Chicago were in attendance. This 
company continued in excellent condition until the outbreak 
of the civil war, when, under the name of Rockford Zouaves, 
many of the company volunteered in the three months' service, 
under the call of the president for seventy-five thousand men ; 
and as part of the Eleventh Illinois volunteers, were detailed 
to garrison duty at Cairo and at Bird's Point. 

Colonel Ellsworth was a splendid specimen of young man- 
hood. He was received as a social lion by the young people of 
the city. He was frequently a guest at the home of Charles H. 
Spafford, and at the time of his death he was betrothed to his 
elder daughter, now Mrs. Carrie S. Brett. In 1860 Colonel 
Ellsworth organized a company of Zouaves in Chicago, and 
the following year he accompanied President Lincoln to Wash- 
ington. Upon seeing a confederate flag floating from a hotel 


in Alexandria, Virginia, he rushed to the roof and tore it down. 
On his return from the roof he was met and shot dead by Jack- 
son, the owner, who in turn was shot by one of Ellsworth's 
men, Frank E. Brownell. Colonel Ellsworth's blood was the 
first shed in the civil conflict. 

August 17, 1858, the completion of the Atlantic cable was 
celebrated by the citizens of Rockford with great demonstra- 
tions of enthusiasm. On that day the queen of England and 
the president of the United States exchanged messages. The 
event was celebrated in 'Rockford by a salute of fifty guns, fired 
by the City Greys, and the church bells were rung. Public exer- 
cises were held in the evening at the court house. Addresses 
were made by James L. Loop, Judge Miller, E. W. Blaisdell, 
Judge Church, William Hulin, and Dr. Lyman. The speech of 
Mr. Loop was exceptionally brilliant, and replete with noble 
thought. One paragraph from this address is quoted : "Great 
Britain and the United States the two great maritime nations 
of the globe, have met in mortal combat upon that briny 
deep; they have fought for the sea's supremacy, they have 
maintained on either side with all their prowess and power 
their respective country's glory, and well and gloriously have 
their names resounded through the world but no victory 
ever won by either upon the ocean can compare with this joint 
victory we have met to celebrate." 

October 27, 1858, Salmon P. Chase addressed the citizens 
of Rockford, on the political isues of the day, in Metropolitan 

In 1860 the census of the city of Rockford, taken by Thos. 
Boyd, showed a population of 7,046, and 8,117 in the town- 
ship. In 1836 there were 350 white inhabitants in the county, 
which included Boone, and the eastern half of Stephenson. In 
June, 1837, after Winnebago had been reduced to its present 
size, the county had a population of 1,086. In 1839 the village 
of Rockford had 235 inhabitants, and in December, 3 845, there 
were 1,278. In 1840 there were 2,563 in Rockford township, 
and in 1855 there were 6,620. 



ON Tuesday evening, May 19, 1857, acharivari resulted in the 
instant death of one of the party. Hon. William Bebb, 
ex-governor of Ohio, was residing in Seward township. His 
son, M. S. Bebb, had just returned from the east with his bride. 
Twelve young men of the neighborhood proposed to charivari 
the bridal party. They assembled at the Governor's house about 
eleven o'clock at night, and began their performance with cow- 
bells, tin-pans, three guns, and other articles which could con- 
tribute to the hideous din. The Governor at length appeared 
with a shot-gun and ordered them to retire. They paid no 
heed, and Mr. Bebb fired one barrel, which took effect in the face 
of William Hogan. The party then approached nearer the house, 
as for an assault, when the Governor discharged the second 
barrel at the leader, Lemuel Clemens, and instantly killed him. 
The crowd then speedily dispersed. 

The trial of Governor Bebb, for manslaughter, began Feb- 
ruary 4, 1858, in the circuit court, Judge Sheldon presiding. 
The prosecution was conducted by U. D. Meacham, the state's 
attorney, who was assisted by T. J. Turner. The counsel for 
the defense was the famous Tom Corwin, of Ohio, assisted by 
Judge William Johnson, James L. Loop, and Judge Anson S. 
Miller. The trial began in the court house, and in order to 
secure more room, an adjournment was taken to Metropolitan 

The greatest interest was manifested in the trial, by reason 
of the reputation of the defendant, and the celebrity of Mr. 
Corwin. A large number of ladies were daily in attendance. 
The jury consisted of the following named gentlemen: John 
Spafford, Putnam Perley, William A. Phelps, Joel W. Thomp- 
son, Horace Hitchcock, L. D. Waldo, Baltus Heagle, Benjamin 
F. Long, John Morse, S. M. Preston, R. K.Town, Isaac Manes. 

Both sides of the case were argued with great ability. The 
central figure was, of course, Mr. Corwin. The Register, in 
reporting his address to the jury, said: "It was just such a 


speech as Tom Cor win alone can make, and was listened to 
with breathless attention. It lasted some four hours, during 
which time he went over every particular of the case, applying 
the law to each point, and showing under what circumstances 
a man may kill another, and also detailing in great beauty of 
language the manner in which the people had become possessed 
of the inalienable right to enjoy their homes in peace, and undis- 

The case was given to the jury at five o'clock Monday after- 
noon, and at nine o'clock they returned with a verdict of not 
guilty. The Register concluded quite a full report of the trial 
with a commendation of the jury for their righteous decision. 

M. S. Bebb, whose marriage was the occasion of this dis- 
turbance, became a well-known citizen of Rockford. He had 
quite an extended reputation in the scientific world, and was 
recognized as the highest authority upon some species of the 
willow. Mr. Bebb was for some years a member of the public 
library board. 

Last June the Chicago Tribune published an interview with 
Hon. Luther Laffln Mills, who made some extraordinary state- 
ments concerning Mr. Corwin's method of conducting the case. 
It was stated that he came to Rockford weeks in advance of 
the trial, made the personal acquaintance of all the farmers 
and their wives, and so completely impressed his strong per- 
sonality upon the people that the acquittal of his client followed 
as a matter of course. This interview was republished in a 
Rockford paper, but it is declared by old residents to be a very 
pretty piece of legal fiction. 

The Commercial Block, now known as the Chick House, 
was built in 1857, by T. D. Robertson, C. H. Spafford and R. 
P. Lane. The block was sixty-six feet front by one hundred 
and two in depth, with basement under the whole. The first 
story was divided into three stores, fronting on Main street, 
and two offices or shops on Elm street. 

The Register of Jannary 31, 1857, estimates that the grand 
total for improvements during 1856 was $529,350. Among 
these was the Metropolitan Hall block, built by Charles and 
John Spafford and John Hall, at a cost of $16,000. During 
this year Thomas Boyd built the four-story, marble-front 
block on West State street, now known as the European Hotel. 
Its cost was estimated in the trade review at $10,000. 



"PHE famous Lincoln-Douglas debate was an event of local 
I interest as well as national significance. In April, 1858, the 
Illinois state Democratic convention endorsed Stephen A. 
Douglas for the United States senate. Abraham Lincoln was 
nominated by the Republican party at Springfield, June 17th. 
July 24th Mr. Lincoln sent a challenge to Judge Douglas to 
discuss the political issues of the day in a series of joint debates. 
The latter accepted the challenge, and named one city in each 
congressional district, except the second and sixth, where they 
had already spoken. Ottawa, Freeport, Galesburg, Quincy, 
Alton, Jonesboro and Charleston were the points chosen for 
these discussions. 

The second and most famous debate was held at Freeport, 
August 27th. It was the greatest political event ever held in 
this congressional district. Thousands were in attendance from 
the northern counties, and the excitement was intense. A 
special train was made up at Marengo, and run over the Ga- 
lena & Chicago Union road. It consisted of eighteen coaches, 
eight of which were filled with Rockford citizens. 

Mr. Lincoln's doctrine was that the government could not 
endure permanently divided into free and slave states ; that 
they must all become free, or all become slave. In Mr. Lin- 
coln's opinion, the principal point of debate was Judge Doug- 
las' doctrine of popular sovereignty, in connection with the 
Dred Scott decision. These two positions, in his judgment, 
were in direct antag@nism, and were, in reality, a shameful 

It was at this debate that Mr. Lincoln propounded the four 
celebrated questions to Judge Douglas, the answers to which 
swept away his last chance for securing the presidency in 1860. 
Previous to the debate, a conference was held at the Brewster 
House, at which E. B. Washburne and Joseph Medill urged Mr. 
Lincoln to refrain from such interrogations. But Lincoln was 
insistent. He said that if Judge Douglas answered them one 


way he would lose his prestige with the south; and if he 
answered them the other way, he could not retain the leader- 
ship of the northern wing of his party. 

The result justified Mr. Lincoln's prophecy. " Of that 
answer at Freeport," as Mr. Herndon puts it, Douglas "instantly 
died. The red-gleaming southern tomahawk flashed high and 
keen. Douglas was removed out of Lincoln's way. The wind 
was taken out of Seward's sails (by the house-divided speech), 
and Lincoln stood out prominent." 

The election occurred on the 2d of November. Mr. Lincoln 
received a majority of over four thousand of the popular vote, 
yet the returns from the legislative districts foreshadowed his 
defeat. At the senatorial election in the legislature, Judge 
Douglas received fifty-four votes, and Mr. Lincoln forty-six 
one of the results of the unfair apportionment law then in oper- 

Robert R. Hitt, the able representative of this district in 
congress, was the official stenographer of these debates. These 
famous addresses, which made Mr. Lincoln's national reputa- 
tion, and which, more than anything else, contributed to his 
election as president, owe their permanent form to Mr. Hitt's 
stenographic notes, the originals of which Mr. Hitt still hoards 
among his literary treasures. They were published in full by a 
publishing house in Cincinnati, in 1860. 

Mr. Hitt relates the way in which the Chicago Tribune failed 
to print a line of Lincoln's historic speech at Freeport in the 
Douglas debate the greatest of all Lincoln's addresses before 
the civil war. Mr. Hitt was reporting the speech, and was 
writing out his notes for the next morning's paper, when Owen 
Lovejoy, the abolition agitator, arose in the rear of the hall 
and delivered a harangue, which is now forgotten, but which, 
for the moment, roused the meeting to a frenzy of enthusiasm, 
while Lincoln's had seemed rather tame. Joseph Medill, the 
proprietor of the Tribune, was carried away with Lovejoy's 
speech, and came up to Mr. Hitt's desk excitedly, ordered him 
to stop transcribing his notes of Lincoln's speech, and to let 
the Tribune have every word of Lovejoy's harangue in the 
morning. The Tribune next morning was all Lovejoy, and 
there was only a word about Lincoln's oration. This is "an 
illustration," says Hitt, in telling the story, "of the fact that 
the contemporaneous impression of a great occasion does not 
always coincide with the judgment of history." 



CHARLES WILLIAMS was a native of Massachusetts. He 
v_. came to Rockford in 1855, and with his son Lewis, was 
engaged in the hardware business. Mr. Williams was the war 
mayor of Rockford, serving from 1859 to 1864. His home was 
the residence now owned by John Barnes. Mr. Williams died 
in 1876. He was father of Miss Elizabeth Williams and the late 
Mrs. C. L. Williams. 

William M. Rowland came to Rockford in 1855. He was a 
native of Connecticut, and when a young man he removed to 
Augusta, Georgia, where he was interested in the Iron Steam- 
boat Company. Soon after the repeal of the Missouri compro- 
mise, Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, memberof congress, inform- 
ally received the prominent citizens of Augusta. Mr. Rowland 
is said to have been the only gentleman present who did not 
offer congratulations to Mr. Stephens upon the repeal of that 
law, but assured him that it would prove a calamity to the 
south. Mrs. Rowland was a daughter of Rev. Henry Wight, D. 
D., a graduate of Harvard, and for forty years pastor of a Con- 
gregational church at Bristol, Rhode Island. Mr. Rowland died 
April 29, 1869. William L. and Robert C. Rowland are sons. 

William L. Rowland was graduated from Yale college in 
the class of 1852, and removed to Rockford with his father's 
family in 1855. When the public library was founded in 1872, 
Mr. Rowland was appointed librarian, and he has continuously 
retained this position. Under his able and conscientious super- 
vision, the library has grown from an exceedingly humble 
beginning to an institution worthy of a much larger city. The 
Rockford public library is universally conceded to be unsur- 
passed by any other library in the country of its size, for the 
use of the student and specialist. The library will be Mr. Row- 
land's monument. An uncle of Mr. Rowland, Rev. John B. 
Wight, a Unitarian clergyman, was the author of the first pub- 
lic library law of Massachusetts, enacted in 1851. Mr. Wight 
was sent to the legislature from Wayland for the express pur- 
pose of securing the passage of this law. 


Benjamin Blakeman was a native of Stratford, Connecticut. 
He came to Rockford in 1856, and carried on the lumber busi- 
ness, first on South Court, and later on South Main street. 
About 1871 he formed a partnership with William Dobson, in 
manufacturing. Mr. Blakeman is now retired from business. 
His daughters are Mrs. Theron Pierpont, Mrs. Anna C. Vincent, 
Miss Harriett, and Mrs. A. D. Early, deceased. 

Colonel Garrett Nevius, a native of New York, came to Rock- 
ford in 1858. He was a member of the Rockford City Greys, and 
in 1861 he enlisted with the Eleventh Illinois Volunteers, and 
arose to the rank of colonel. He was killed in the charge of 
Ransom's brigade on the enemy's works at Vicksburg, May 22, 
1863. Memorial services were held on the court house square, 
in Rockford, where the remains lay in state, and an address was 
delivered by Dr.Kerr. His body was then sent to New York for 
burial. Colonel Nevius was only twenty-six years of age. 
Nevius Post, G. A. R., was named in his honor. 

RobertH. Tinker was born at Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, 
in 1837, where his father, Rev. Reuben Tinker, was a mission- 
ary, sent out by the Presbyterian church. Mr. Tinker came to 
Rockford in 1856. He built the Swiss cottage, on Kent's 
creek, the most picturesque home in the city. The plan of his 
unique library, on two floors, with winding stairway, was sug- 
gested to Mr. Tinker by his visit to Sir Walter Scott's library, 
nearly forty years ago. In 1870 Mr. Tinker married the widow 
of John H. Manny. He was elected Mayor of Rockford in 1875, 
and served one term. Mr. Tinker has been interested in various 
manufacturing enterprises. 

John H. Hall came to Rockford in 1855, and engaged in 
the grocery trade. He served the city as alderman, and as a 
member of the school board. The Hall school is named in his 
honor. Mr. Hall was father of Mrs. H. N. Baker, and Henry 
and Miss Helen Hall. His death occurred in 1882. 

Lucius M. West was born at Vernon Center, New York, June 
19, 1820. He was united in marriage to Miss Sarah A. Sturte- 
vant, of his native county. In 1858 Mr. and Mrs. West and 
their three sons came to Rockford. In 1862 Mr. West built 
the store now occupied by M. M. Carpenter, where he carried on 
trade in rubber goods and boots and shoes. About 1874 he 
engaged in the manufacture and jobbing of enamel carriage top 
dressing, which has attained a world-wide reputation. Mr. West 
was actively identified with the religious interests of the city. 


In 1875 he appointed a religious service for Woodruff's Addi- 
tion, and for three years and a half conducted a mission school 
there, and furnished the building at his own expense. Deacon 
West was benevolent, and freely gave of his means to relieve 
the sick and needy. He died August 20, 1893. 

Charles L. Williams was born in Sherburne, Chenango 
county, New York, October 20, 1828. He was graduated from 
Hamilton college in 1847, and in 1851 he received the degree of 
M. A. from his alma mater. Mr. Williams came to Rockford in 
1859, and engaged in mercantile business. He married a 
daughter of Mayor Charles Williams and subsequently pur- 
chased his father-in-law's house on North Main street, which 
included the lots now belonging to John Barnes and Mrs. Julia 
P. Warren. Mr. Williams took an active interest in organizing 
the public library, and from 1872 to 1878 he was a member of 
the board of directors. Mr. Williams has four children : Mrs. C. 
R. Smith, of Chicago; Mrs. W. D. Williams, of Omaha; Miss 
Sarah, and Lewis A. Williams. 

Daniel N. Hood was born in Salem, Massachusetts, Septem- 
ber 25, 1834, and came to Rockford in 1858. Prof. Hood was 
for many years at the head of the musical department of Rock- 
ford seminary, and for more than ten years of this period he 
was organist of the Second Presbyterian church in Chicago. 
Prof. Hood now resides in Boston. He is father of Mrs. Frank 
D. Emerson. 

Gilbert Woodruff was born near Watertown, New York, 
November 20, 1817. He came to Rockford in 1857, and soon 
after he purchased and platted a farm which is now known as 
Woodruff's Addition. Easy terms of payment were given pur- 
chasers of lots. Mr. Woodruff is therefore in a real sense one 
of the builders of Rockford. He has been president of the Rock- 
ford National Bank since its organization; president of the 
Forest City Insurance Company since its organization in 1873 ; 
and president of the Forest City Furniture factory since 1875. 
In 1842 Mr. Woodruff was united in marriage to Miss Nancy 
Fay. They had five children : Mrs. Sarah Parmele, Volney D., 
Mrs. Emma Ferguson, William F., and Mrs. R. W. Emerson. 
Mrs. Woodruff died in 1877. In 1879 Mr. Woodruff married 
Mrs. Augusta Todd. Mr. Woodruff was mayor of Rockford 
from 1873 to 1875. 

Horace W. Taylor was born in Granby, Massachusetts, 
February 1, 1823. He was was graduated from Amherst in 


1848. In 1857 he came to Rockford and was admitted to the 
bar in the autumn of the same year. For forty years Mr. Tay- 
lor was a well-known member of the legal profession of this city. 
In 1866 he began his work as master-in-chancery under 
appointment of Judge Sheldon. This position he held until his 
death, except an interim from 1872 to 1876. Mr. Taylor was 
elected a member of the legislature in 1878, and served one 
term. His death occurred at a sanitarium at Kenosha, August 
29,1898. His immediate surviving family are: Mrs. Taylor, 
and two daughters, Mrs. J. R. Crocker, of Chicago, and Miss 
Ama. Mr. Taylor was the first president of the New England 
Society of Rockford. 

Marquis L. Gorham was a native of Vermont, and came to 
Rockford in 1857. He obtained a patent for a seeder manufact- 
ured by Clark & Utter, and for a corn cultivator made by N. 
C. Thompson. He was also the inventor of the first twine 
binder, the patent for which was sold to C. H. McCormick. Mr. 
Gorham died at Philadelphia in 1876, while attending the cen- 
tennial exposition, when he was only about forty-five years of 
age. His daughter, Mrs. Alice Harrison, died in 1882, and the 
last surviving child, Mrs. Lillian Harrison, died in 1890. 

Norman Cornelius Thompson was born in Knoxville, 
Georgia, May 25, 1828. Mr. Thompson entered Yale college, 
and during his junior year his father's home and store were 
destroyed by fire. This misfortune changed his course in life. 
Mr. Thompson came to Rockford in 1857. He built one of the 
largest manufacturing plants on the water-power, and his 
immense output contributed in no small degree to the prestige 
of Rockford as a manufacturing city. Mr. Thompson was a 
public-spirited citizen, and a generous supporter of the First 
Presbyterian church. Financial reverses overtook him in 1884, 
which resulted in the suspension of his bank in East Rockford, 
and his retirement from his manufacturing industry. Mr. 
Thompson died July 4, 1898. N. F. Thompson, of the Manu- 
facturers National Bank, is a son, and MissNormaC. Thompson 
is a daughter. 

Thomas Butterworth was born in Manchester, England, 
September 6, 1827. He learned brick-lay ing in his native coun- 
try. In his twentieth year he came to America, and landed at 
New Orleans. On account of yellow fever, he immediately went 
to Cincinnati. He entered the employ of Stacy & Company, the 
proprietors of the Cincinnati gas works, and in their interest 


he was sent to repair the works in Rockford about 1856. The 
latter plant was then owned by Lane, Sanford & Co. He 
remained in Rockford and assumed the management of the 
works. He also continued the business of contractor, and built 
Brown's Hall, the old People's Bank building on State street, 
and other buildings. He subsequently sold his contracting 
business, and in time became the sole owner of the gas plant. 
In 1878 Mr. Butterworth was elected a member of the legisla- 
ture, as a Democrat, and served one term. His death occurred 
at Ashville, North Carolina, April 5, 1885. His surviving family 
were Mrs. Butterworth, and seven children: Mrs. Will Tullock, 
Mrs. E. M. Botsford, Mrs. Paul F. Schuster, Mrs. Hosmer 
Porter, Mrs. Geo. Roper, and Chester and William Butter worth. 

William H. Townsend came to Rockford in 1857, from 
Springfield, Pennsylvania, He was in affluent circumstances. 
His home was on South Third street, well known in later years 
as the residence of Dr. D. S. Clark. Mr. Townsend was a stock- 
holder and director of the Rock River Mutual Fire Insur- 
ance Company, and the later reverses of the company were a 
source of such anxiety to him that he became deranged. June 
2, 1869, his body was found in Rock river, about four and a 
half miles south of the city. Mr. Townsend was about sixty 
years of age, and had been a member of the board of education. 
He was held in high esteem, and his death was a great shock to 
the community. Mr. Townsend was father of Mrs. D. S. Clark. 

F. H. Manny came to Rockford in 1859. He was a cousin 
of John P. and John H. Manny. For some years he was en- 
gaged in manufacturing on the water-power. His home was the 
residence owned later by W. F. Hudler, on the South side. He 
met with reverses in 1875, went to Waukegan, and from there 
to Chicago. Mr. Manny died in Chicago April 15, 1899, at the 
age of eighty-two years. The remains were brought to Rock- 
ford for interment. He had one son, James, who so far as 
known by his friends, is no longer living, and three daughters, 
the first and second Mrs. Farrington, and Miss Harriett. 

Among other well-known citizens who came to Rockford 
during the period covered by this chapter are the following: 
George Trufant, George H. Dennett, Win. McKinley, 1855; A. 
C. Burpee, 1856; David Keyt, S. F. Penfield, D. S. Hough, H.B. 
Hale, W. H. Smith, C. A. Shaw, 1857; John R. Porter, 1859. 

Other citizens engaged in active business during the fifties 
were : L. H. Todd, dealer in boots and shoes; Thomas Ennett, 


contractor ; D. Miller, boots and shoes ; J. W. Seccomb, books ; 
C. T. Sackett, painter; W. G. Johnson, painter; Robert Smith, 
hatter; J. B. Agard, grain buyer; Joseph Burns, dry goods; 
Wm. Lyman, physician ; John Fraley, druggist; Israel Sovereign, 
hardware dealer. James B. Skinner, who conducted a black- 
smith shop on North Main street, became the founder of the 
manufacturing firm of Skinner, Briggs& Enoch. He was father 
of Mrs. C. F. Henry and Mrs. A. C. Gray. 

Several early settlers should have been mentioned in their 
proper chronological order. Among these were the Talcott 
family. The first permanent white settlers of Rockton, with 
the exception of Stephen Mack, were William Talcott and his 
son, Thomas B. They came from Rome, New York, with horse 
and wagon, in 1835. The father removed his family to Rock- 
ton in 1837. Wait, Sylvester and Henry Talcott were younger 
sons. William Talcott held a captain's commission in a com- 
pany of New York state militia during the second war with 
England. His death occurred September 2, 1864. Thomas B. 
was one of the first three county commissioners elected in 1836. 
He died at Rockton October 1, 1894. The Talcott family were 
the first proprietors of the northern village. Samuel Talcott 
settled there in 1843. 

Levi Rhoades was born at Hinsdale, New York, June 25, 
1830. In 1847 he came to Rockford. He learned the cooper's 
trade, and during the war he laid the foundation of a large 
estate in supplying the demand for barrels. He continued in 
this business until 1884. Mr. Rhoades was interested in many 
manufacturing enterprises, and was a man of great force and 
executive ability. He was elected mayor of Rockford in 1876, 
and served one year. His death occurred November 19, 1891. 

W. D. Trahern was born in Louden county, Virginia, March 
24, 1824. In 1848 he came to Rockford, and the following 
year he began the manufacture of threshing-machines. In 1862 
Mr. Trahern engaged in the manufacture of iron pumps. Mr. 
Trahern was successful in business, a considerate employer, and 
was highly esteemed. He died November 2, 1883. 0. P. Tra- 
hern is a son. 



DURING the pastorate of Rev. F. A. Reed, the congregation 
of the First Methodist church became so large that he 
suggested the formation of another church on the West side. 
In 1851 the Methodists living on the West side held their Sun- 
day and Thursday evening prayer-meetings at the home of the 
leader, James B. Skinner, on North Main street. The organi- 
zation of what is now the Court Street Methodist church was 
completed January 1, 1852, in the First church. The charter 
members, as nearly as can be ascertained, were as as follows : 
James B. Skinner, Charlotte L. Skinner, William Hazard, 
Louisa Hazard, Elizabeth Keyes, Rev. Wm. Fowler, Mrs. Eliza- 
beth Fowler, Daniel Ticknor, Thomas Peters, Ann Peters, Clark 
Fisher, Francis Richards, Lucy Richards, James Preston, Ann 
Preston, Jonathan Hitchcock, Mrs. J. Hitchcock, Asael Ives, 
Mary Ives, Dr. Charles N.Andrews, Mary Dewey, Joanna Davis, 
George Boyd, Alzira Andrus, George Reeves, Elizabeth Reeves, 
G. W. Reeves, W. J. Cole, Mary Cole, William Hamley, John 
Travis, Mrs. Travis, John Austin, Mrs. Austin. 

The following board of trustees was elected: William J. 
Cole, James Taylor, Charles N. Andrews, Jonathan Hitchcock, 
and James B. Skinner. In 1852 the Dorcas Society was organ- 
ized. January 14, 1853, a lot was purchased on North Court 
street, and the erection of a church was soon begun, with John 
Austin, architect ; Jonathan Hitchcock, mason; and W. J.Cole, 
carpenter. During the erection of the church, the congregation 
worshiped in Boyd's Hall. Rev. Luke Hitchcock was presiding 

The conference of 1853 sent Rev. Chatfield, who remained a 
part of the year, and then returned to Michigan. Rev. William 
Tasker, pastor of the First church, assumed oversight of the 
church until the next conference. In September, 1854, Rev. W. 
F. Stewart was appointed pastor. The dedication of the new 
church occurred in November, 1854, conducted by Re vs. Hooper 
Crews, Bolles, Stuff, and Agard. The cost of the building and 


grounds was seven thousand dollars. A revival followed the 
opening of the new church, and during that conference year one 
hundred and forty persons were added to their numbers. 

In 1864 Court Street church was set off in the Mt. Morris 
district, and William T. Harlow was appointed presiding elder. 
This division of territory was unsatisfactory, and in 1865 this 
charge was returned to the Rockford district, where it belonged, 
and where it has since remained. August 26, 1857, the confer- 
ence met with this church. This conference was signalized by 
the passage of stringent anti-slavery resolutions, and in "break- 
ing ground" for the Wesleyan seminary, to which reference was 
made in a preceding chapter. The first pastors served in the 
following order: 1853-54, Rev. Chatfield; 1854-55, Rev. W. F. 
Stewart; 1856-58, Rev. Luman A. Sanford; 1858-60, William 
P. Gray; 1860-61, Revs. James R. Goodrich, William E. 
Daniels, T. B. Taylor. Rev. J. H. Vincent, founder of the Chau- 
tauqua movement, and now a bishop of the church, was pastor 
from 1861 to 1864. During his absence on a trip to Europe, 
the pulpit was supplied by Rev. Daniel P. Kidder, D. D. 

Information concerning the early history of St. James' 
Roman Catholic church is very meager. The records are said 
to have been destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. Mass was 
celebrated in the homes of Catholic settlers of Rockford by 
priests located at New Dublin and Freeport, previous to 1850. 
Father Gueguen said mass and baptized children in 1840. 
The permanent organization dates from 1850. John McAnar- 
ney is said to be the oldest resident Catholic in the city. In 
1851 Artemas Hitchcock and wife conveyed to Rt. Rev. James 
Oliver Van de Velde, for one hundred and fifty dollars, lot one 
in block twenty-six, as found in Duncan Ferguson's map of the 
village. A second conveyance was from John Lee and wife to 
Anthony Regan, bishop of Chicago, of lot two in the same block, 
for four hundred dollars. Father Hampston was appointed 
priest of the parish in 1851 by Bishop Van de Velde. He was the 
first resident pastor, and built the first church in 1852. It was 
a small, one-story frame structure, with a seating capacity for 
two hundred people. The citizens of the town contributed a 
portion of the money with which the church was erected. Father 
Hampston died while in charge of the parish, and is buried under 
the present church. He was a man of studious habits, modest 
and retiring in manner, and highly respected by the citizens. 


The present St. James' church was begun in 1866, and dedi- 
cated the folio wing year, under the pastorate of Rev. J.S. O'Neill. 
The pastors of St. James' church have been as follows : Revs. 
John Hampston, George Hamilton, William Lambert, J. Bulger, 
John P. Donelan, J. S. O'Neill, Joseph McMahon, T. J. Butler, 
James J. Flaherty. The only surviving pastors are Fathers 
McMahon and Flaherty. The latter started the parochial school 
in 1886, and in 1891 completed the present brick structure. 
The school is in charge of the Dominican Sisters. 

Dean Butler was a priest of more than local reputation. He 
was born in Limerick, Ireland. He completed his education in 
the College of the Propaganda, in Rome. He possessed unuslial 
musical ability ; and while in Rome was a member of the pope's 
choir. It is said Dean Butler was the papal ambassador at the 
baptism of the Prince Imperial, son of Napoleon III. and Eugenie. 
During the civil war, Dean Butler was chaplain of the Irish Bri- 
gade. He was a man of literary tastes, and for some years was 
a member of the Rockford public library board. Dean Butler 
died at Rome in July, 1897. 

The formal organization of Presbyterianism in Rockford 
occurred in 1854. There were Presbyterians, however, in the 
city before that time. These naturally affiliated with the Con- 
gregational churches, and were not an unimportant element in 
their strength. The building begun as a Congregational church 
on North First street, and afterward abandoned, was often 
called the Presbyterian church. It was really the joint effort 
of Congregationalists and Presbyterians. The Presbyterian 
clergy of this country have been distinguished for piety and cul- 
ture, and the church has been a stalwart champion of the fun- 
damental Christian doctrines. The writer is indebted for the 
facts given herewith to historical addresses delivered by Rev. 
James Cruickshanks and Rev. J. K. Fowler. 

Early in 1853 a few devout adherents of this faith lay the 
foundations of a Presbyterian church in Rockford. The first 
meeting was held in the summer in the old court house (the 
abandoned Congregational church) on the east side of the river. 
Rev. R. G. Thompson, of Beloit, preached the first sermon to a 
congregation of twelve persons. Services were subsequently 
conducted at intervals by members of the Chicago presbytery, 
until the arrival in December of Rev. Hugh A. Brown. In 
November, 1853, these services were held in Peake's Hall and 


in the court house. In December services were regularly held 
twice each sabbath ; first in Horsman's Hall, and later in War- 
ner's hall, over C. F. Henry's clothing store. February 1, 1854, 
the little band resumed worship in the court house, where, July 
8th of the same year the formal organization of the First Pres- 
byterian church of Rockford was duly effected, with thirty-eight 
members. Rev. G. F. Goodhue, of Marengo, presided. 

The original members of this church were as follows : Wil- 
liam Johnson, Christina Johnson, Margaret Johnson, Deborah 
Burns, Charles M. Priestly, James Forbes, Esther Armstrong, 
Isabella Marshall, Elizabeth Clow, William McCall, James Nes- 
bit; John Bull, Rebecca Kozier, Thomas Meredith, Grace 
Hinch, John Martin, A. Ferguson, Mary Parland, Janet Shep- 
herd, Mary Johnson, Archibald Johnson, Michael Burns, Shep- 
ley Priestly, Fanny Moore, Petrina Forbes, Peter R. Marshall, 
Robert Clow, Sarah Forbes, Jane Blaine, Anna Nesbit, Sarah 
Bull, David* Meredith, Nancy Meredith, Elizabeth Lijin, Mary 
Martin, Mrs. A. Ferguson, William Shepherd, and John Tul- 
lock. William Johnson, Michael Burns, Thomas Meredith and 
Shepley Priestly were chosen to the eldership, and Robert Clow 
and William McCall were elected deacons, who were ordained 
and installed in their respective offices on the following day. 
A choir was employed September 17th to lead in the service of 
song, and November, 1855, the choir, by a resolution passed in 
the session, was allowed the use of an instrument for use in pub- 
lic worship. In October, 1855, H. C. Meslor and William Shep- 
herd were elected and installed as ruling elders. 

December 3, 1855, the clerk of the session was instructed to 
apply to the board of domestic missions for an appropriation 
of three hundred dollars to aid in the support of Rev. Hugh A. 
Brown, as the stated supply of the church. February 10, 1857, 
Rev. Moses Ordway, of the presbytery of Chicago, was requested 
to be present at a meeting to make choice of a pastor. Rev. 
Hugh A. Brown was chosen. He declined the call, though he 
continued to supply the pulpit until January 1, 1858, when 
Rev. John M. Faris, of the Richland presbytery, synod of Ohio, 
was unanimously chosen pastor. 

The first report to the presbytery in 1855 shows that the 
membership had increased to fifty-five, the families to thirty- 
eight, and the congregational expenses to six hundred and 
twenty-five dollars. Rev. Faris' pastorate continued four years 
and a half, until October, 1862, when failing health made his 


resignation necessary. His pastorate was successful. The 
communicants increased the first year from seventy-seven to 
ninety-seven, and the congregational expenses from seven hun- 
dred to thirteen hundred dollars. 

Rev. Faris' successors have been Revs. Faunt Leroy Senour, 
J. S. Grimes, A. J. Leyenberger (now shortened to Berger), 
James Cruickshanks, J. K. Fowler, J. R. Sutherland, George 
Harkness, B. E. S. Ely. 

In September following the organization the congregation 
worshiped in the old Unitarian church, on the northeast corner 
of Elm and Church streets. Services were held in the old court 
house from November, 1854, until March 1, 1855, when the old 
Unitarian church was purchased. The society used it for a time 
on the old site, and then removed it to the northeast corner 
of State and Winnebago streets, where the church continued to 
worship until December 20, 1868, when they took possession of 
their present house of worship. 

The sabbath-school antedates the church six months. It 
was organized the last Wednesday in December, 1853, with 
fifteen pupils, promptly after a stated supply had reached the 
field. Mr. Brown may have directed the school for a time, but 
Michael Burns was the first superintendent. 

The First Swedish Lutheran church was organized January 
15, 1854, with seventy-seven communicants and thirty-two 
children. Late in the summer of 1855 it was decided to build a 
church. The original estimate of cost was seven hundred and 
seventy-five dollars. Its actual cost, however, was sixteen 
hundred dollars. This church was erected on the corner of 
North First street and what is now Lafayette avenue. It was 
a frame structure, forty-five by thirty-eight feet, and twenty- 
eight feet high. It had a seating capacity for three hundred 
persons. The dedication occurred November 23, 1856. Dr. 
Hasselquist preached the dedicatory sermon. This building is 
still standing, and forms a part of J. Friedman's double house 
on North First street. 

The first pastor was Rev. A. Andren, who was called in the 
spring of 1856, and entered upon his duties in August of the 
same year. Rev. Andren built a parsonage on the church lot 
at his own expense, with the understanding that afc the termi- 
nation of his pastorate the church should buy the building at 
its original cost. Rev. Andren's pastorate continued until the 


close of 1860, when he removed to Attica, Indiana. In May, 
1860, the church decided to withdraw from the synod of North- 
ern Illinois, and join the Augustana synod. At that time the 
church had one hundred and fifteen communicants. 

The present church was built in 1883, at a cost of about 
sixty thousand dollars. It is the largest auditorium in the city, 
with a seating capacity for eighteen hundred. Its membership 
is fifteen hundred, with eight hundred children. This is the larg- 
est membership of any Swedish Lutheran church in America. 

The Christian church was organized March 18, 1856, with 
twenty-five members. They first held meetings in the old court 
house. Thefirst records are meagre. An edifice was completed in 
1856. It stood on the site of the Trinity Lutheran church, and 
its estimated cost was $1,748. The clergy of the Christian 
church discarded the prefix Reverend. The first elder was Issac 
Shaver, who served one year. He was succeeded by L. J. 
Correll, who remained two years. Lorenzo D. Waldo, who came 
to Rockford in 1845, was for thirty-two years an elder of 
this church, and an honored and faithful minister of the gospel. 
Mr. Waldo died July 12, 1888. He was father of Billings R., 
Henry D., and Misses Jennie, Mabel and Ada Waldo. 

The Westminster Presbyterian church was organized Jan- 
uary 3, 1856, with twenty-two members. Many of these had 
taken letters from the First Congregational church. A frater- 
nal feeling prevailed at the time of separation, but there was a 
conviction among those who were distinctively Presbyterian 
that there was an opportunity for a society of that faith. The 
organization of the church occurred in the old Congregational 
church. It was first called the Second Presbyterian church, 
and the name was subsequently changed to Westminster. 

The constituent members were as follows : Thomas Garri- 
son, Mrs. Electa Garrison, Ralph Giddings, Mrs. Cornelia Gid- 
dings, Joel B. Potter, Mrs. Adaline B. Potter, E. S. Rose, Mrs. 
Jerusha C. Rose, Eliza W. Rose (now Mrs. E. T. Cleveland), 
Charles Williams, Mrs. Sarah S. Williams, Frederick A. Hart, 
Mrs. Sylvia Hart, Eusebia More, Eliza White, Stephen Rose, 
Mrs. Amanda H. Rose, Frances Rose, Stephen Rose, Jr., J. H. 
Wheat, Mrs. Frances E. Wheat, Juliet F. Wheat. Three of this 
number are still residing in Rockford: Mrs. Adaline Potter, Mrs. 
E. T. Cleveland (formerly Miss Eliza M. Rose), and Mrs. Frances 
E. Wheat. Joel B. Potter, Charles Williams, J. H. Wheat and 


J. S. Rose constituted the first board of elders. The first dea- 
cons were Stephen Rose and Ralph Giddings. Rev. Morrison 
Huggins was the first pastor, who served until 1859. He liter- 
ally gave his life for his people, and died during his pastorate. 
As he consciously drew near the end, he said: "A pastor's 
death-bed is his people's." 

The first place of worship was the historic court house on 
North First street. In the summer of 1856 a chapel was com- 
pleted on the ground now occupied by the lecture room of the 
church. This chapel soon proved too small, and public worship 
was conducted in Metropolitan Hall, pending the erection of 
the present church, which was dedicated in 1858. 

The following have served the church as pastors or stated 
supplies: Revs. Morrison Huggins, L. H. Johnson, Charles 
Mattoon, Charles A. Williams, W. S. Curtis, J. H. Ritchie, T. S. 
Scott, S. L. Conde, W. M. Campbell, W. T. Wilcox. 

The Winnebago Street church had its origin in a Sunday- 
school, which was started May 20, 1856, and which held its ses- 
sions in a grove on the river bank. From the grove, in Octo- 
ber, the school went, by invitation of the directors, into the 
new Kent schoolhouse. The Sunday-school continued to grow 
until a church became a necessity. The sabbath-school was 
under the supervision of the Court Street church. The church 
was organized March 4, 1864, at the home of Israel Sovereign. 
The presiding elder, Richard A. Blanchard, acted as chairman. 
The roll of members numbered twenty-eight. The following 
board of trustees was elected : Israel Sovereign, Fred. A. Arnold, 
Josephus Lakin, Benjamin F. Whittle, and Stephen Thayer.- 
Ground was broken for the new church August 8, 1864. The 
corner-stone was laid August 24th. The address was made by 
Rev. Thomas M. Eddy. The cost of the church was eight thou- 
sand dollars, and was dedicated February 12, 1865, by Dr. 
Eddy. The parsonage was built in 1867, at a cost of twelve 
hundred and fifty dollars. Rev. Robert Bentley served as pas- 
tor from 1864 to 1866 ; Rev. William D. Skelton from 1866 to 
1869; Henry L. Martin, 1869 to 1871. 

One of the results of the religious revival of 1858 was the 
formation of the Young Men's Christian Association. The first 
meeting preliminary to organization was held May 4, 1858, at 
the First Presbyterian church. A motion prevailed that an 
Association be formed, and an adjournment was taken to 


Tuesday evening, May llth. The next meeting, however, was 
not held until the 18th, when the constitution was signed by 
sixty persons, all of whom were members of the various evan- 
gelical churches of the city. May 25th, the Association met at 
the Baptist church. Rev. Hooper Crews delivered the inaug- 
ural address, and the constitution was signed by forty-five 
persons. On the following Tuesday evening, June 1st, the 
Association elected a portion of their officers, and at their 
next meeting, June 8th, the organization was completed. 
The officers were as follows: President, Horace W. Taylor; 
vice-presidents, S. F. Penfield, C. E. Buswell, William Wasson, 
Lewis Williams, R. P. Lane, William Brown, V. Daniels ; corre- 
sponding secretary, E. C. Daugherty; record ing secretary, 0. A. 
Pennoyer; treasurer, William Culver; librarian, C. E. Wingate. 
A standing committee and a committee on library and lectures 
were appointed. The lecture and library committees were 
requested to procure Sunday evening lectures, as often as once 
in each month, from the pastors of the city and others. 

During this formative period several animated discussions 
were held concerning the eligibility of Unitarians to member- 
ship. Among the leaders of the affirmative were Rev. A. H. 
Conaiit and Melancthon Starr. The Association was pros- 
perous for about three years. The last president was Lucius M. 
West. The outbreak of the civil war drew many of the young 
men into military service, and the Association ceased to exist 
about 1861. The meetings were held on the second floor of the 
stone building on the southeast corner of State and Wyman 
streets. Last year Charles L. Williams found the records of the 
Association among his household effects, and presented them 
to the present Association. 

The Third Street church was the second daughter of the First 
church. It was organized January 9, 1858, with about eighty 
members, while Rev. Hooper Crews was pastor of the parent 
church. Messrs. Benjamin Holt, William Brown, Charles Foster, 
Solomon Wheeler, George Troxell, Willard Wheeler, William 
Worthington, Francis A. Horn and James Chick constituted 
the first board of trustees. Two lots were purchased on the 
east side of North Third street for twelve hundred dollars. 
The church was built by John Early in 1858 at a cost of four 
thousand dollars. It was dedicated by Hooper Crews, Satur- 
day, October 9, 1858. Rev. Thomas M. Eddy, the well-known 


editor and author, preached the following Sunday morning. A 
small parsonage was built adjoining the edifice on the north in 
1859, at a cost of six hundred dollars. In 1866 the church was 
enlarged and improved at an outlay of eighteen hundred 
dollars. In 1871 the society bought a parsonage on State 
street, nearly opposite the Baptist church, for three thousand 
and nine hundred dollars. This property was subsequently 
owned by Henry C. Gill. In 1874 the society sold the former 
parsonage on Third street for thirteen hundred dollars. This 
church was visited by several successful revivals. 

The Third Street church became strong and influential. Rev. 
Nathaniel P. Heath served from 1858-60; Rev. Luman A. 
Sanford, 1860-62. May 19, 1876, the First church and the Third 
Street church concluded to unite their fortunes and spend their 
future as one body, under the name of the Centennial church. 

The State Street Baptist church was organized in 1858. 
During Rev. Ichabod Clark's pastorate of the First Baptist 
church, letters were granted to thirty -four members who wished 
to organize a society on the east side of the river. This pur- 
pose had its origin in the prayer-meetings held by the Baptist 
women in that part of the city. The first formal step to ward the 
new church was the organization of a Sunday-school, July 4, 
1858. July 13th, a prayer-meeting was held in the vestry of the 
Westminster Presbyterian church, at which notice was given 
that two weeks from that date a second meeting of those inter- 
ested in the new movement would be held. 

The organization of the church was formally completed in 
the vestry of the Presbyterian church August 17, 1858, with 
the following constitutent members : C. E. Buswell, A. S. Bus- 
well, Eliza Barker, Charles Barker, Sophia C. Chamberlain, 
Brewster H. Chamberlin, Susan Cram (Mrs. P. Mesick), Armina 
Cram, Ruhanna Compton, Amanda Crane, Abby M. Dennis, 
James T. Dunn, Jane L. Dunn, Ann A. Dunn, Thompson Dunn, 
Stephen Gilbert, Sarah Gilbert, Maria Gilbert, Jacob Hazlett, 
Jane Hazlett, Catherine Hazlett, Margaret Hazlett (Mrs. J. P. 
Largent), James B. Howell, Cardina M. Hathaway, H. H. 
Guthrie, Ellen Miles, George Mills, Susan Mills, Chichester Mills, 
Elizabeth M. Mills, Erastus B. Perry, E. R. Riggs, Charlotte A. 
Riggs, Sarah A. Stearns. Six of this number are still living in 
Rockford : Jacob Hazlett, Mrs. Jane Hazlett, Catherine Haz- 
lett, Mrs. J. P. Largent, Miss Eliza Barker, and J. B. Howell. 


The first board of deacons consisted of E. R. Riggs, J. T. Dunn 
and C. E. Buswell; Chichester Mills, clerk; R. Smith, treasurer. 

The next day, Rev. Edward C. Mitchell arrived in the city. 
August 31st he was called to the pastorate, which he accepted 
September 14th. The terms were three hundred dollars in 
cash, an equal amount in board for himself and wife, and two 
hundred dollars additional if circumstances permitted. One of 
the first steps was the engagement of Prof. D. N. Hood to con- 
duct the music. The church was prosperous during Dr. Mitch- 
ell's pastorate. A sociable was held in Metropolitan Hall, and 
plans perfected for a house of worship. A little chapel was 
erected on the corner of Market, State and North Fifth streets, 
which is still standing. This chapel was dedicated February 2, 
1860. Its cost was eighteen hundred dollars. It had sittings 
for two hundred and fifty people. This house was built at a 
cost of ceaseless industry and sacrifice, and with some of the 
forms of special effort incident to pioneer times. For nearly 
nine years this chapel remained the home of the society. 

The organization was first called the Second Baptist church 
of Rockford, but on the choice of a permanent location, the 
name was changed to indicate its relationship to the city, to 
the State Street Baptist church, October 26, 1858. 

The present house of worship was dedicated November 18, 
1868 ; the cost was more than thirty-four thousand dollars. 

Dr. Mitchell's successors have been : Revs. Spencer F. Holt, 
Henry C. Mabie, E. K. Chandler, A. R. Medbury, C. R. Lathrop, 
J. T. Burhoe, R. F. Y. Pierce, Langley B. Sears, J. T. Burhoe. 
Rev. Burhoe's first pastorate was the longest in the history of 
the church. It began in September, 1883, and closed in Febru- 
ary, 1892. His present pastorate began in November, 1898. 

Dr. Mitchell, the first pastor, died in New Orleans, in Febru- 
ary, 1900. He held positions of influence in his denomination. 
He was professor of Biblical literature at Shurtleff college; held 
the chair of Hebrew and Old Testament interpretation in the 
Baptist Union theological seminary; professor of Hebrew in 
Regent's Park college, London; president of a Baptist theo- 
logical school in Paris; acting president of Roger Williams uni- 
versity, at Nashville, Tennessee; president of Leland university, 
New Orleans. He also did considerable literary work. In 1879 
he revised and edited Davies' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon ; 
with this he issued the Principles of Hebrew Grammar. In 1880 
be issued a new translation of Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, 



THE presidential election of 1860 marked an epoch in Amer- 
ican history. The nation had come to the parting of the 
ways. Mr. Lincoln's prophecy that the government could not 
permanently endure half slave and half free, was about to be 
demonstrated before the world. Mr. Lincoln, by reason of his 
profound insight into the political situation, which he had 
shown in his debates with Judge Douglas, was the logical can- 
didate of his party. 

The nomination of Mr. Lincoln was received with great 
enthusiasm by the citizens of Rockford. In August the Rock- 
ford Wide Awake Club was organized. Its object was co-oper- 
ation for the success of Republican principles and the election 
of Mr. Lincoln. 

Saturday, September 1st, was a Republican rally day. The 
Wide Awake Clubs from neighboring towns were present. The 
special attraction was Cassius M. Clay, the celebrated orator 
of Kentucky. The exercises were held on the court house 
square, and it was estimated that fully twelve thousand people 
were in attendance. The first speech was made by Hon. James 
H. Baker, secretary of state of Minnesota. Mr. Clay was intro- 
duced by Judge S. M. Church. "His oratory," said the Register, 
"is not of the fervid kind, but he is a calm, cool, deliberate 
speaker, laying out his ideas into square blocks of solid argu- 
ment and building up an edifice supported by facts and figures 
which it is absolutely impossible to undermine or batterdown." 

During September and October, a series of joint discussions 
was held by Judge Allen C. Fuller, of Belvidere, and John A. 
Rawlins, of Galena, on the political issues of the day. One 
joint debate was held in each county of the First congressional 
district. Judge Fuller was the Republican candidate for presi- 
dential elector, and Mr. Rawlins was the candidate of the Doug- 
las Democracy. One discussion was held in Rockford Septem- 


ber 29th. These debates have a historic interest by reason of 
the subsequent prominence of the participants. Judge Fuller 
became the war adjutant of the state, and in this capacity he 
displayed great executive ability, and was the able supporter 
of Governor Yates, in the organization of the military forces 
of the state. Judge Fuller still resides in Belvidere. Upon the 
outbreak of the war in 1861, Mr. Rawlins came promptly to 
the support of the union cause; he was the confidential friend 
and adviser of General Grant during his campaigns, and in 
1869 he became his secretary of war. 

Among other gentlemen who made addresses in Rockford 
during the campaign were Judge Lyman Trumbull, Stephen A. 
Hurlbub, Governor Bebb, Melaucthon Smith, Colonel Ellis, 
James L. Loop and Judge Church. Richard Yates and Owen 
Lovejoy made speeches at Belvidere October 9th. 

The presidential election was held November 6th. Winne- 
bago county cast 3,985 votes for Abraham Lincoln and 817 
for Judge Douglas; Richard Yates received 3,986 votes for 
governor, and Mr. Allen 826. 

The election of Mr. Lincoln was perhaps the most notable 
event in the life of the nation. The shouts of victory had 
scarcely died away when one southern state after another 
openly revolted from the authority of the union. The election 
of Mr. Lincoln brought the sword, rather than peace. But the 
sword was drawn in a holy cause. For two hundred and fifty 
years the irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery had 
continued. The "land of the free" had made iniquity her law. 
Millions of bondsmen wet the soil with tears and blood. Cause 
and Effect, the chancellors of God, had come to enforce the 
truth that there were rights that states must keep or they shall 
suffer for their sins. Victor Hugo says of Napoleon at Water- 
loo : "For Bonaparte to be conqueror at Waterloo was not in 
the law of the nineteenth century. . . When the earth is suf- 
fering from a surcharge there are mysterious meanings from 
the deeps that the heavens hear. Napoleon had been impeached 
before the Infinite and his fall was decreed. He vexed God. 
Waterloo is not a battle ; it is the change of front of the uni- 
verse." So the Slave- Power had overleaped itself, and could no 
longer resist the advance of a more enlightened Christian civil- 

Abraham Lincoln was the divinely-appointed man for the 
hour. There seem to be certain superhuman adjustments that 


philosophy does not explain, that work out righteous results. 
Human wisdom does not foresee them; they do not destroy 
human freedom, but they do achieve their results with infallible 
certainty. The leaders of such events are like vEneas in the 
fable : they are often covered with a cloud woven by divine fin- 
gers, and men do not see them. But when they are needed the 
cloud breaks away, and they stand before the world prepared 
to do their work. Such a man was Abraham Lincoln. He was 
called to lead in a war made holy by the quickened moral con- 
science of the nation. Poets, and reformers, and statesmen 
had cast up the high way for the King, who should visit the nation 
with chastening. This judgment day was at hand, because 
Phillips, and Garrison, and Sumner had come ; because Whittier, 
and Lowell, and Harriett Beecher Stowe had come ; because 
Lincoln, and Seward, and Chase had come ; because Grant, and 
Sherman, and Sheridan had come; because the great and terri- 
ble day of the Lord had come ! 


Agricultural society organized, 172. 
Ailing, D. D., 49, 152, 156, 243, 245. 
Amusements, village, 133. 
Andrue, Isaac, 246. 
Articles of Confederation, 4. 
Atlantic cable celebration, 357. 
Attorneys, city, 316. 
Atwater, Caleb, 12. 

Baker, Col. Edward D., 207. 
Baker, Hon. E. H., 122-123, 347. 
Baker, Henry N., 123. 
Baker, Ira, 92, 122, 123. 
Banditti of the Frontier, 174-187. 

Briggs, Spafford & Penfield, 123,331. 

Dickerman, Wheeler & Co., 49, 331. 

E. H. Potter & Co., 331. 

Fuller & Tomkins, 331. 

Horsinan's Bank, 317, 331. 

Kitchel, Edward N., 331. 

Lane, Sanford & Co., 49, 235. 

Robertson & Holland, 331. 

Spafford, Clark & Ellis, 331. 

Winnebago National Bank, 355. 
Barbour, 0. F., 343. 
Barnard, D. A., 340. 
Barnum, Anson, 38, 86, 100, 155. 
Barnum, Daniel, 129. 
Barnum, Ezra, 38, 86, 87. 
Barnum, Harris, 129-130. 
Baume, Rev. James, 73. 
Beattie, John, 49, 144, 159, 246. 
Beattie, Misses 10, 49. 
Bebb, Gov., trial of, 358-359. 
Beers, Daniel, 38, 69, 71, 100. 
Bertrand & Sames, 324. 
Big Thunder, 34, 111. 
Births, first, 76. 
Black Hawk, 16-21. 
Black Hawk War, 14, 16-21, 63. 
Black, Ike, 45, 46. 
Blackmer, 0. C., 342. 
Blackstone, E. S., 104,131, 185, 237. 
Blaisdell, E. W., 218-219. 
Blake School, 31. 
Blake, Thatcher, 27, 31,36,63,87, 


Blake, Mrs. Thatcher, 31, 43. 
Blair, John, 353. 
Blakeman, Benjamin, 363. 
Blinn, Jesse, 313, 322, 333. 
Boilvin, Nicholas, 58, 59. 

Boswell, James, 36. 

Brett, Mrs. Carrie, 126, 244, 356. 


First Rockford, 231-233. 

Second Rockford, 314. 
Bridge tax levy, 233. 
Briggs, C. C., 337, 354. 
Briuckerhoff, Geo. W.. 29, 4H, 62, 70, 

78,88, 189,244, 245. 
Brown, Andrew, 103, 104. 
Brown, E. W, 276. 
Brown, Eunice. 87, 88. 
Brown, Horace, 340. 
Brown, Judge Thomas, 100, 159,185, 

242, 263. 

Brown, Judge William, 130, 276-277. 
Bundy, H. W., 85. 
Bundy & Goodhue, 85. 
Burnap, Francis, 120, 157, 167, 168, 

171, 194,213,251,354. 
Burhoe, Rev. J. T., 377. 
Burns, Michael, 246, 371. 
Bushuell, Horace, 95, 96. 
Butterworth, Thomas, 349, 365-366. 

Campbell, John, murder of, 177. 

Campbell, Thompson, 101. 

Carrico, T. W., 50. 

Catlin, Dr. A. M., 107-109, 229. 

Catlin, Dr. E. R., 47, 303. 

Catlin, Mrs. E. P., 93, 283. 

Cemeteries, 151-153. 

Census, County, first, 53. 

Census, resume, 357. 

Census, Village, first, 148. 

Chaney, Ralph, 175, 176, 177, 179, 


Charivari fatality, 358. 
Charters, Rockford, 314-315. 
Charters, Royal, 1. 
Chase, Salmon P., 357. 
Chetlain, Mrs., 92, 228. 

Baptist, First, 138-147. 

Baptist, State Street, 376-377. 

Catholic, St. James, 369-370. 

Christian, 373. 

Congregational, First, 87-96. 

Congregational, Second, 306-312. 

Episcopal, 284-286. 

Lutheran, First Swedish, 372-378. 

Methodist, Court Street, 368-369. 

Methodist, First, 68-74. 



CHURCHES continued. 

Methodist, Third Street, 375-376. 

Methodist, Winnebago Street, 374. 

Presbyterian, First, 370-372. 

Presbyterian, Westminster. 373-374. 

Unitarian, 194-200. 

Universalist, 229-230, 
Church, Samuel I., 93, 351.. 
Church, Judge S. M., 29, 38, 41, 50, 

62, 132, 167, 168, 171, 191, Q26, 

239, 241, 249, 264, 354. 
Church, Mrs. S. M., 87,238. 
Churchill, P. P., 38. 
Circuit courts, first, 100. 
City tax levies, 316. 
Claim fights, 76-80. 
Clark, Dr. D. S., 275,303. 
Clark, Dr. Dexter, 275, 331. 
Clark, George Rogers. 2, 3. 
Clark, Rev. Ichabod, 144, 145. 
Clark, Dr. Lucius, 274-275, 291 . 
Clark, Dr. L. A., 275. 
Clark, Orlando, 224, 234, 322. 
Clary, Rev. Dexter, 295, 308. 
Clay, Henry, 45, 258, 317. 
Clerks, city, 315. 

Coleman, John S., 279, 310, 334-335. 
Colton, A., 192, 193, 218. 
Commercial Block, 359. 
Commissioners' court, 55, 58, 154, 

157, 164, 201. 

Conant, Rev. A. H., 197-199, 287. 
Conick, W. G., 101, 215. 
Conick, Mrs. William, 50. 
Constitution of 1818, 55, 261. 
Constitutional convention of 1848, 


Corey, Alonzo, 163, 236. 
Corwin, Tom, 197, 358-359. 
Cosper, Elias, 197, 339. 
Cotton, Robert H., 50. 
Cotton, Mrs. Robert H M 50 312. 
County commissioners, 54, 58. 
County divided, 81. 
County jail, first, 156. 
County jail, brick, 159. 
County officers made elective, 201 . 
County seat contest, 154-159. 
County seat located, 58. 
Countryman, Alfred, execution of, 351 . 
Court house, first, 70, 88, 89, 101. 
Crawford, S. P., 145. 
Crews, Rev. Hooper, 73, 351 . 
Crime, first, 75. 
Croly, David G., 220. 
Crosby, Asa, 87, 92, 100. 
Cross, Robert J., 39, 53, 54, 55, 57, 

84, 121, 172, 191, 264. 
Cunningham Brothers, 124-125. 
Cunningham, I. N., 29, 43, 136, 156, 

172, 194. 

Cunningham, William, 103. 156. 
Curtis, Prof. E. L., 90. 

Curtis, G. W., 200, 327. 
Curtis, Rev. W. S., 90, 251 . 

Dacotas, 11. 

Dam, first, 222-224. 

Davenport, Col., 16, 184, 187. 

Davis, Jefferson, 15, 108, 337. 

Dennett, G. H., 366. 

Dennis, W. P., 47, 86, 168. 

Dickerman, W. A., 91, 235-236, 240. 

Reminiscences of, 235-247. 
Dickerman, Mrs. W. A., 113. 
Dixon, John, 212. 
Doty, Simon P., 54. 
Douglas, Stephen A., 76, 160, 161, 

250, 262, 263, 330, 360-361. 
Dow, Daniel, 144, 158, 169-170, 242. 
Driscolls, the, 174-181. 
Drummond, Thomas, 101, 242, 263, 

Dunbar, William E,, 38, 54, 55, 67,76. 

163, 168, 239. 

Early, Hon. John, 335-336. 
Ebbert, John, 271. 
Edwards, John, 116, 280. 

County, first, 54. 

Precinct, 56. 

Previous to 1850, 201-207. 

Of 1852-53, 319-320. 

Of 1856, 356. 

Of 1860, 379. 
Ellis, Col. E. F. W., 336. 
Ellsworth, Col. E. E., 356-357. 
Ely, Rev. B. E. S., 90, 372. 
Emerson, Prof. Joseph, 94, 334. 
Emerson, Rev. Joseph. 309-310. 
Emerson, Ralph, 322, 323, 334. 
Emerson, Mrs. Ralph, 334. 
Enoch, Abraham I., 39, 131. 320. 
Enoch, Henry, 69, 100. 
Enoch, Mary, 69. 
Enoch, H. R., 43. 

Fair, first, 172-173. 

Farnsworth, Hon. J. F., 191. 

Farwell, Seth B., 100, 181. 

Ferguson, Duncan, 120-1 21 . 145. 1 90. 

Ferguson, Samuel. 340. 

Ferry, 60, 61-62. 

Fisher, Henry, 46. 

Fisher, John, 62. 

Foote Brothers, 107-108. 

Foote, Rev. Hiram, 293. 

Forbes, A. D., 339. 

Forbes, Duncan, 324, 339. 

Forbes, Geo. R., 116, 246, 340. 

Fire department, 316. 

Floats, Indian, 13,14, 29, 41. 59, 77, 

Ford, Thomas H., 16, 53, 166, 167. 

175, 181, 262. 
Forty-niners, 288. 



Foundry, first, 233-234. 

Fraley, John, 367. 

Fraternities, 347-348. 

Freeman, Henry, 342-343. 

French, Irvin, 88. 

French occupancy of Illinois. 1 , 2. 

Frink, Walker & Co., 99, 102, 103, 

182, 237, 242. 
Fuller, Arthur, 287. 
Fuller, Margaret, 33, 197, 200, 287. 
Fuller, Gen. Allen C., 242, 378-379. 

Galena alien case, 261. 

Gas Light and Coke Company, 349. 

Geological survey, 6-9. 

George, Sampson, 42, 75, 284. 

Gibson, Allen, 354. 

Giddings, Joshua R., 333. 

Gipsy steamboat, 114-115. 

Gleason, H. W., 100. 

Goodall, Blanche. 96. 

Goodhue, Geo., 85. 

Goodhue, Dr. J. C., 40, 63, 66, 85, 

109,110-112,148, 163, 168, 173, 

188, 189. 
Goodrich, Dr., 45. 
Goodwin, Dr. A. E., 337. 
Goodwin, Rev. H. M., 92, 93, 94, 95, 

96, 227. 294. 
Gorham, M. L., 365. 
Grand jurv, first, 100. 
Grant. U. S., 160, 379. 
Greeley, Horace, 197, 327-328. 
Gregory, Eliphalet, 36, 54, 71. 
Gregory, Joanna, 69. 
Gregory, L. B., 170, 223. 275. 
Gregory, Samuel, 36. 37, 69, 71, 72, 

100, 271. 
Griggs, Joseph P., 53, 54, 57. 

Haight, D. S., 35-36. 47, 54, 55, 60. 

63, 66, 67, 70, 85, 86, 88, 97, 98. 

99, 100, 101, 102. 103, 148, 155. 

167, 171, 189, 213, 214, 215, 281. 
Haines, Anthony, 129, 338. 
Hale. Dr. H. B.,*366. 
Hale, John P.. 317. 
Hall, Alonzo, 191 . 
Hall, John H.. 363. 
Hall school, 363. 

Metropolitan, 126, 358. 359. 

Peake's, 129. 

Warner's, 196, 371. 
Hard, Giles C., 62. 99. 
Hard winter, the, 171 . 
Harper, Derastus, 156, 158, 159, 214. 

001 232 
Haskell, George, 36. 86. 114-117, 138, 

139, 156, 158, 167. 172, 214, 246. 

247, 289. 

Haskell, Rev. Samuel. 114, 117, 145. 
Hatch, Rufus, 93. 

Hazlett, Jacob. 340. 

Hempstead, Chas. S.,29. 164, 263,280. 

Henry. Patrick, 3. 

Herrick family, 125-126. 

Hitchcock, Jonathan, 105. 

Hitt, Hon. R. R., 256, 331, 361. 

Holland. John A., Ill, 121, 187, 191, 

239, 279, 349. 
Holland, H. P.. 345, 349. 
Ho-no-ne-gah. 22-25. 
Hood, D. N., 364. 

American House, 70, 101, 104. 

Brown's Cottage, 104. 

City, 316. 

Eagle, 104. 

Holland House, 355-356. 

Inn, The 104. 

Log Tavern, 104. 

Rockford House, 100, 103, 148. 162, 
172, 178, 174, 252. 

Rock River House, 104. 

Union, 104. 

Washington House, 252. 

Waverly, 104. 

Winnebago House, 136, 171. 241. 

242, 246, 252. 
Horsman, C. L. 42, 97, 133.144, 156, 

158,168,172,173,188, 191, 192, 

231, 241. 

Horsman, Mrs., 42, 241. 
Hough, D. S., 366. 
Houghton, Bethuel, 43, H6. 
Howell, Daniel, 103, 157, 192, 231. 
Howell, J. B., 144, 224, 273. 
Howes, Phineas, 46, 127, 136, 185. 
Hulin, William, 24, 129, 144, 158, 

159, 191. 
Huntington, C. A., 80, 129, 244, 275- 

276, 277, 289. 
Hurlbut, Gen. Stephen A., 191. 242. 

264, 265, 329, 330, 331. 
Hydraulic company, 222-224. 

Illinois, state, 5, 6. 
Illinois, territory, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 
Indiana, territory, 5, 17. 
Irving, Washington, 250. 

Jefferson, Joseph, 8f. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 4. 

Jenks, Cyrus C., 86, 100. 

Jennie June, 221. 

Johnson, I. D., 271. 

Journalists and Journalism, 215-221. 

Keith, Adam, 38 

Kemble, J. C., 45. 97, 149, 188, 189. 

Kemp, Joseph, 25. 

Kent. Aratus, 36, 289, 291, 295. 

Kent, Germanicuc, 26-31, 48, 53, 54, 

57, 61 62. 63, 65, 66, 70, 86, 87. 

88. 99, 103. 163, 167, 171, 208, 

209, 211, 214, 244, 281. 



Kent, Lewis, 208-209. 

Kerr, Dr. Thomas, 121, 146-147. 

Keyt, David, 310, 354. 

Kilburn, Benjamin, 50, 76. 

Kilburn, Milton, 38. 

Kimball, Henry P., 303, 336-337. 

Kimball, Mrs. H. P., 117. 

Kirk, E. A., 50, 129. 

Kishwaukee, village, 105, 108. 

Knapp, Rev. Jacob, 117, 139, 142-144, 

Knowlton, W. A. ,340. 

Lake, John. 46-47. 

Lake, Lewis F., 53. 

Lake, Thomas, 36, 40, 46, 84, 86, 

Land sale at Dixon, 213-214. 

Lane, R. P., 235, 338. 

LaSalle, 1, 2. 

Lathrop, William, 313, 314, 335. 

Latimer, Charles, 168, 171, 181, 282. 

Lawler, Thomas G., 96, 199, 228. 

Leach, Shepherd, 123, 124, 251, 252, 

Leavitt's town plat, 214. 

Lecture courses, 1853-1860, lectures 
by E. P. Whipple, Horace Mann, 
Geo. W.Curtis, Horace Greeley, Bay- 
ard Taylor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 
J. G. Saxe, James Russell Lowell, 
and others, 326-328. 

Lee, Geo. W., 105, 172, 188, 189. 

Leetown, 105. 

Lincoln, Abraham, 21, 108, 160, 161, 
202, 228, 262, 322-324, 334, 356, 

Lincoln-Douglas debate, 360-361. 

Logan, John A., 160, 330. 

London Company, 1. 

Loomis, H. W., 44, 243. 

Loomis, Nathaniel, 41, 44. 

Loop, James L., Ill, 163, 185, 186, 

242, 330, 335. 
Loss, Rev. Lewis H., 91, 92, 94, 289, 


Lovejoy, Rev. Elijah P., 116, 280, 361. 
Lowell, James Russell, 200, 328. 
Lowry, A, G., 340. 
Lyceum, 168. 
Lyon, Isaiah, 114, 136, 138, 139, 148, 

149, 156, 250. 

Mack, Stephen, 20, 22-25, 63. 

McKenney robbery, 182. 

Mail, first, 98. 

Maine temperance law, 349. 

Manlove, J. G., 338. 

Manny, F. H., 325, 366. 

Manny, J. H., 321-324. 

Manny, Mrs. J. H., 324. 

Manny, John P., 325, 340. 

Manny-McCormick suit, 322-324. 

Manny mansion, 353. 

Manufacturers, 1850-1860, 334-325. 

Marriages, first, 75. 
Marsh, Jason, 91, 94, 118-120,126, 
157, 163, 168, 173, 179, 181, 185, 

186, 191, 192, 238, 252, 289. 
Marsh school, 342. 

Marsh, Volney A., 93, 171. 

Martyn, James B.,36,65, 71, 85,100, 


Maynard, H. R., 50, 239, 243, 244. 
Mayors, 315. 
Midway, 65, 66. 
Mile-strip contest, 81-83. 
Miller, Anson S., 157, 168, 169, 171, 

185, 187, 206, 246, 289, 355. 
Miller, Asher, 62, 238, 308. 
Miller, C. F., 152, 168, 169, 171, 185, 

187, 246. 
Miller, D., 367. 

Miller, Horace, 70, 71, 130, 163, 172, 


Miller, Jacob, 104, 181, 189. 
Miller, John, 50. 
Miller, Orrin, 169. 
Mitchell, Rev. E. C., 140, 377. 
Mitchell, James, 100, 148, 159, 251. 
Molony, Dr., 250. 

Montague, Richard, 38, 152, 172,194. 
Montague school, 38. 
Morgan, Abiram, 29, 41, 138, 139, 

156, 241, 251. 
Morgan, Mrs., 41, 241, 251. 
Morrill family, 87. 
Morrill, Rev. John, 49, 87, 88. 
Moulthrop, Dr. L., 37, 163, 284. 
Moulthrop, L., 277, 284, 285, 317. 
Moundbuilders, 10, 11. 
Mulford robbery, 183-184. 
Myott, Catherine, 14, 59. 

Navigation Rock river, 188-191, 

Nelson, John, 337. 

Nevius, Col. Garrett, 363. 

Newburg, 105. 

New England influence, 253-256. 

Northwest Territory, 4, 5, 163. 

Norton, Rev. 0. W., 90. 

Oliver, Charles, 103, 174, 185. 186. 

Ordinance 1787, 4, 296. 

Patriotic celebration, first, 97. 

Peake, Laomi, Sr., 128-129,157,237. 

Penfield, David S., 93, 123, 213, 251. 

Penfield, J. G., 123, 339. 

Penfield, Mrs. J. G., 339. 

Penfield, S. F., 342, 366. 

Penfield, William, 86, 97. 

Perry, Seely, 46, 47, 277, 303, 315, 

333, 345, 352, 353. 
Perry, Mrs. Marie T., 294. 
Peters, William, 50. 
Phelps, John, 25. 
Phillips, Wendell, 253-254. 
Pioneer (locomotive), 271. 



Pioneers of 1838, 130. 

Pioneers, previous to 1840, 38-39, 50, 


Pioneers, trials of, 131-133. 
Plank road, 191. 
Platt, John, 50, 115, 116. 243, 
Plymouth Company, 1. 
Polish Claims, 149, 210-214. 
Political reminiscences, 201-107, 329- 


Pope, Nathaniel, 5, 162, 164, 165. 
Porter, Rev. Lansing, 90, 252, 308, 


Porter, John R., 366. 
Posson, family, 43. 
Postmaster, first, 98. 
Postmasters of Rockford, 226-228. 
Pottawatomies, 22, 34, 111, 170. 
Potter, E. H., 48, 87, 92, 100, 101, 

157, 213, 231, 232, 237, 289, 291, 

Potter, H. B., 40, 87, 98, 107, 108, 


Potter, Joel B., 92, 125, 131, 173, 238. 
Potter & Preston, 45. 
Precincts created, 56. 
Presiding elders, roster of. 74. 
Preston, Samuel D., 48, 87, 101, 149, 

Public librarr, first, 344-345. 


Galena & Chicago Union, 266-272. 

Chicago & Northwestern, 272. 

Kenosha & Rockford, 352-353. 

Rockford Central, 348. 
Railroad convention, 267-268. 
Rawlins, John A., 378-379. 
Reed, Charles, 58, 59, 60, 155, 247. 
Reed, Rev. D. M., 199. 
Reform of Judiciary, 260. 
Regan, M. H., 71, 249, 273. 
Rhoades, Levi, 367. 
Rib-town, 104. 
Richings, Dr. C. H., 42-43. 
River and harbor convention, 257-259. 
Robertson, Thomas D., 121-122, 157, 

158, 163, 168, 171, 185, 237, 239, 
279, 289. 

Robinson, Sylvester, 283. 

Rockford's attitude toward repudia- 
tion of state debt, 166-167. 

Rockford City Greys, 356. 

Rockford houses in 1888, 134-136. 

Rockford, incorporated as a city, 313. 

Rockford seminary, 287-295. 

Rock River Baptist Association, or- 
ganized, 140. 

Rock River conference, 68-74. 

Rock River Medical Association, 283. 

Rock River Mutual Insurance Co., 332. 

Rodd, Joseph, 224, 324. 

Roe, Rev. C. H. 146, 287. 

Rose, Benjamin A., 274. 
Rowland, William L., 345, 362. 
Rowland, William M., 362. 
Rowley, Isaac, 88. 

Sacs and Foxes, 16, 17. 

Sackett, C. T., 367. 

Sanford, Albert, 36, 243, 251. 

Sanford, Clara G., 10, 96. 

Sanford, G. A., 49, 84, 115, 116, 136, 

159, 167, 185, 214, 231, 235, 239, 

243, 251, 310. 
Sanford, Robert, 251. 
Sayre, James, 105, 

Schools, free public, 1855-'61, 341-343. 
School funds, 297-300. 
School houses and teachers, early, 

Scipio, 104, 155. 
Scott, Gen. 14, 19. 
Scott, Sir Walter, 250, 363. 
Searles, H. D., 104, 128. 
Seccomb, J. W., 277. 
Secession convention, Rockford, 162. 
Secession from Illinois, proposed, 160- 


Seminary at Kishwaukee, 107-108. 
Seventy-fourth regiment, 119. 
Shaw, Bela, 130. 233, 236, 237, 289. 
Shaw, C. A., 354, 366. 
Sheldon, C. W., 265, 338-339. 
Sheldon, Judge, 351. 
Sheldon, Porter, 265. 
Sherratt, Harriott Wight, 86, 118. 
Sherratt, John H., 60. 
Shumway family, 43-44. 
Silk culture, 247. 
Sill, Anna P., 94, 289, 290, 291, 292- 


Silsby, H. H., 45, 114, 136-137, 234. 
Skinner, Dea., 92. 246. 
Smith, Abraham E., 228. 
Smith, Melancthon, 227-228. 
Social life in the early forties, 248-252. 
Sons of Temperance, 344. 
Southgate, J. M., 120, 340. 
Southgate, Volney, 120. 
Sovereign, I., 367. 

Spafford, Amos Catlin, 91, 127, 224, 
Spafford, Charles H., 126, 171, 185, 

226, 227, 228, 249, 290, 320, 352. 
Spafford, Mrs. Charles H., 103, 126, 

171, 249, 251. 

Spafford, John, 127, 359. 
Spaulding, D. A., 44, 54, 55, 57, 66, 

67, 79, 87. 
Squier, John F., 345. 
Stage barn, 70, 88, 102. 
Stage coach, 102-103. 
Starr, Melancthon, 196, 278-280. 
State roads, 63 . 
Stillman's Run, 19, 108, 109. 
Stone, Judge, Dan, 100, 261. 



Sunday at the ferry, 245. 

Swedish emigrants, first, 332. 

Sweasy, Rev. Lewis, 107. 

Sumner, E. B., 52, 106. 

Sumner, Ephraim, 39, 52, 56, 105, 


Surveys, first, 66. 
Sweet, M. P., 101, 163, 185, 187, 242. 

Taggart, Hon. A., 343. 

Talcott, Henry, 39, 367. 

Talcott, Sylvester, 56, 75, 322, 334, 


Talcott, Thomas B., 39, 54,267,367. 
Talcott, William, 39, 367. 
Talcott, William A., 334. 
Taylor, Bayard, 197, 347. 
Taylor, H. W., 364-365. 
Taylor, James, 62. 
Taylor, John F., 350-151. 
Taylor, John W., 152, 156, 163, 171, 

245, 251. 

Taylor, Zachary, 21. 
Tax levy, first, 83-84. 
Telegraph line reaches Rockford, 356. 
Temperance society, first, 150. 
Thompson, N. C., 325, 340, 365. 
Thomas. Dr. Alden, 112-113, 158, 235, 


Thomas, Dr. H. W., 74. 
Thurston, Henry, 47, 97, 100, 103, 

Thurston, John H., 32, 34,35,47, 66, 

98, 103, 131, 182, 215, 249. 
Ticknor, J. S., 34-8. 
Tinker, Robert H., 86, 345, 363. 
Tinker, William H., 85. 
Todd, L. H., 366. 
Toms, Isaac, 50. 
Townsend, W. H., 93, 366. 
Township organization, 304. 
Trahern, W. D., 324, 367. 
Treaty of Paris (1763), 2; (1783), 3, 


Treaties, Indian, 12-14, 17, 59, 77. 
Trowbridge, L. A., 273. 
Trowbridge, Mrs. M. T., 86. 
Tullock, George, 170. 
Twelve-Mile Grove, 65, 78, 79, 103, 

105, 109, 242. 

Twogood, Sidney. 36,40,84, 86,102. 
Twogood, William, 50. 

Udell, Grant B., 171, 187. 

Upton, C. O., 338. 

Utter, Isaac, 234, 322, 339. 

Vance, John. 86. 
Vanceborough, 105, 106. 
Vanhorne, Rev. G. R., 68. 

Village plats, 104-106. 

Village of Rockford incorporated, 148. 

Vincent, Bishop, 68, 69. 

Virginia, 1, 2, 3, 4. 

Voters, first election, roster of, 54-55. 

Waldo, Hiram H., 91, 92, 235, 252, 

277-278, 330. 
Waldo, Lorenzo D., 373. 
Wallis, W. T., 93. 
Walton, Rev. J. E., 286, 312. 
Warner, Lynmn F., 278. 
Washburne, Elihu P., 242, 319-320, 

322, 329, 330, 331, 354-355, 360. 
Water-power company, 321. 
Warren, Edward, 171, 226. 
Waterman, John D., 228. 
Watson, Rev. Cyrus L., 89, 90. 
Watson. Peter H., 233, 322. 
Webster, Daniel, 20, 45, 317. 
Weldon, Jonathan, 80, 172, 285. 
Wentworth, John, 101, 110, 188, 215, 

216, 257. 

Wesleyan seminary, 346. 
West, L. M., 363-364. 
Wheeler, B. G., 227, 235, 290. 
Wheeler, Willard, 71, 124, 213, 231, 

239 313 
Whitman, Rev. S. S., 138, 140, 141, 

142, 250. 

Whitney, Daniel, 29. 
Whitney, Dr. Daniel H.,53,54, 59, 75, 

76.98,163,202, 264. 
Whittier, John G., 115, 
Wight, J. Ambrose, 97, 217-218. 
Wight, James M., 118, 157, 168, 185, 

191, 194, 229, 238. 
Wight, Miss Mary, 118. 
Wight school, 118. 
Wilcox, Rev. W. T., 374. 
Wilder, Nathaniel, 48. 
Williams, Charles, 315, 362. 
Williams, Charles L., 25, 364, 375. 
Winnebagoes, 10-15, 19, 34, 59. 
Winnebago county organized, 51-57. 
Winnebago village, 58, 59, 60, 61, 108, 

154, 155. 

Winters, John D., 99, 103. 
Woodruff, Gilbert, 48, 69, 364. 
Works, Charles, 87. 
Worthington, William, 128, 229, 237. 
Wyman, Ephraim, 37, 86, 148, 152, 

156, 194, 214, 233, 244, 279. 

Yates, Richard, 160, 379. 

Young Men's Association, 326-328, 

Young Men's Christian Association, 

103, 215, 374-375. 


On page 50, the name Henry Maynard should read Hiram 
li. Maynard. 

On page 66 it is stated that Charles B. Far well succeeded 
John A. Logan in the United States senate in 1886. It should 
read, in 1887. 

On pages 163, 185, and 242, James M. Loop should read 
James L. Loop. 

In the last line of the first paragraph on page 43, the name 
Dr. C. H. Richings should read Dr. Henry Richings. Also on 
page 129, in the paragraph on William Hulin, the same substi- 
tution of the two names should be made. 


HistOiy of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois