Skip to main content

Full text of "Recollections of the pioneers of Lee County [Illinois]"

See other formats











Tale of tl]e 'Airly ls)ays. 

Oh! tell mo a tale of the airly days, 

Of the times as they ust to be; 
" Pillar of Fire," and "Shakespeare's Plays," 

Is a 'most too deep for me ! 
I want plain facts, and I want plain words, 

Of good old-fashioned ways, 
When speech run free as the songs of birds, 

'Way back in the airly days. 

Tell me a tale of the timber lands, 

And the old-time pioneers 
Somepin' a pore man understands 

With his feelins', well as ears. 
Toll of the old log house about 

The loft, and the puncheon floor 
The old lire-place, with the crane swung on, 

And the latch striuyithrough the door, 

Tell of the things just like they wuz 

They don't need no excuse; 
Don't tetch 'em up like the poets does 

Till they're all too line for use ! 
Bay they wuz 'leven in the family 

Two beds and the chist below, 
And the trundle-beds, 'at each holt three; 

And the clock and tho^old bureau. 

Then blow the horn at the old back door 

Till the echoes all.hallo, 
And the children gatiiers home onc't more, 

Jest as they ust to do; 
Blow for Pap till he hears and comes, 

With Tomps and Elias, too, 
A niarchin' home, with the life and drums 

And the old Bed. White and Blue! 

Blow and blow till the sound draps low 

As the moaii of the whipperwill, 
And wake up Mother, and Ituth, and Jo, 

All sloopin' at Bethel Hill; 
Blow and call till the faces all 

Shine out in the back-log's blaze, 
Ami the shadders dance on the old hewn wall 

As they did in the airly days. 




When a stranger taps at our door we naturally expect to be tokl his 
name and errand, and if he wishes to become an inmate of our home, 
something of his history. 

To those, therefore, who care to become better acquainted with this 
little book, we will tell something of its birth and parentage. 

The Lee County Columbian Club, in common with others throughout 
the entire state, was organized by an officer of the Illinois Woman's Expo- 
sition Board for the purposeof opening communication with all parts of 
the county, o"f securing, for the various departments of the great expo- 
sition any and every item in our county which would add to its interest or 
give evidence of the history, growth, resources, culture, or natural feat- 
ures of the county. Also to facilitate communication with the State 
Board; to encourage the study of the Exposition; awakening interest and 
enabling us to enjoy it more intelligently. 

At one of our earliest meetings Miss Elizabeth J. Shaw spoke with 
much earnestness of the great historic events which are connected with 
Lee County, making it a point of interest not only to the state, but to 
the nation. 

This led to her being requested to prepare a sketch of those events, 
for the instruction and entertainment of the Club. 

We also wished to commemorate these events in some way by a county 
exhibit at the Exposition, and decided to offer a window, on which should 
be suitably represented, as a center panel, Father Dixon's cabin, the first 
white man's home on Rock River, and on either side of it pictures of 
Father Dixon and of Black-Hawk, types of the advancing and receding 

That such an exhibit would have been an appropriate and beautiful 
one, is beyond doubt. That the plan met with insurmountable difficul- 
ties and was reluctantly abandoned is a source of inexpressible and 
unceasing regret but such was the case, and we record it here that 
there may be at least this proof of the taste which proposed, and the 
cheerful willingness which would have carried out the project had it 
been possible. 

Meantime the Club had listened to Miss Shaw's admirable paper, 
(which forms a chapter in this book,) and to a second by Mrs. Chase, of 
Amboy, on the "Pioneer Women" of that township, which so awakened 
interest that we began to realize the opportunity for co-operation afforded 
by the county organization and to ask that similar papers be gathered 
from the entire county. 

We asked for papers referring to facts and experiences in pioneer life 
especially thatof the pioneer women, which had not already been recorded 
in the various histories of the county, endeavoring to make them more 
like the fireside chat of old friends than a mere formal record of names 


and events. In many cases the response was at once generous and 
sympathetic: friends caught up the spirit of the enterprise and gave us 
papers that will delight you as they have us; others equally willing did 
not realize that stories of pioneer women were most desired, cr, perhaps, 
thought with the good old deacon, that "the brethren always embraced 
the sisters;" or feared, as another deacon did in regard to heaven "that 
there'd be so many more women than men, that it wouldn't be interest- 
ing," but they wrote delightful papers in the masculine gender, and they, 
too, will give you pleasure. 

But alas! many others equally willing and anxious for our success 
"would gladly aid us but it was so long ago they had forgotten, etc., etc." 
One of our best contributors says: "Sometimes I fave up, here; some- 
times I followed them up with a "Columbian Shorter Catechism," and in 
this way I became possessed of some interesting and picturesque incidents. 
At one time about all I could get was 'the way they heated the water to 
scald the hogs.' I thought if our book lived and should ever reach those 
whom we shall never live to see, my part of it would be those hot rocks a 
thunderin' down the ages!" 

Others wrote more formal particulars, but all have been preserved 
and all are of interest. 

When we were obliged to abandon our hope of the window, it was too 
late to attempt any other project, so we decided to collect all this 
material at once, and publish it as a book for our exhibit. 

Not that it is as desirable an exhibit as the window would have been, 
or as it might have been made had we known the end from the beginning 
but we had no better resource. 

So, whether you see it among the varied exhibits at the great exposi- 
tion or place it among your household treasures, this is its history, and it 
is yours as well as ours. It is not all we wished or hoped, probably not 
all that you expect, but if you are inclined tocriticise the omission of any 
matter remember that the omission is your own. If you say," why did 
you not put in this, or that?" we shall address the question to you, in 
reply. Such as has been given us, we give you, wishing no less than you 
that it was more complete. 

Look upon its failings then, with allowance, drop a tear on the sad 
pages, and laugh with your children over the merry ones. Teach them 
how true it is, and that it was written for them. Then we shall feel 
that the mission of our little book has been fulfilled, for as Webster says: 
"Those who do not look upon themselves as a link connecting the past 
with the present, do not perform their duty to the world." 

. D. G.Gfcase. 

e Fir .st 

MIDWAY between Chicago and the Mississippi River, in north lati- 
tude, between 41 and 42 degrees and in west longitude 12 degrees 
and 30 minutes, lies Lee County. Fifty years ago the Indians 
roamed at large over the vast billows of prairie land, glided up and down 
the silvery streams in the light canoe, and lodged beneath the protecting 
branches of the beautiful trees that bordered the winding rivers. No 
boundary line of town or county then intersected this part of Illinois. 
Since 1680 the Illinois country had been subject to France or Great Britain, 
and not until 1783 had the United States claimed possession of it. Even 
then the Starry Flag waved aloft in imagination only, for no white man 
had claimed its protection. As late as 1818 the settled part of the state 
extended only a little north of Alton. A remnant of the French Colony 
founded by LaSalle in 1680, many of whom had intermarried with the 
Indians; and American emigrants, chiefly from Kentucky, Virginia and 
Pennsylvania, had increased the population of Southern Illinois to the 
number of twelve thousand. These, strengthened with the aid of one 
company of regular soldiers, resisted, in the war of 1812, the combined 
encroachments of the English with the Kickapoos, Sacs, Foxes, Potta- 
wattomies, Winnebagoes and Shawnees. These tribes still encamped at 
intervals in Northern Illinois, and not until after the close of the Black 
Hawk war in 1831 and 1832, when the Indians were relegated to their 
claims beyond the Mississippi river, was this portion of the state open for 
the peaceful abode of the white man. Here, a few miles east of us, lived 
Shabbona, chief of the Pottawattomies, with his tribe, and Black Hawk, 
chief of the Sacs, dwelt at the junction of Rock River and the Missis- 
sippi, while farther north were the Winnebagoes, and farther south the 
Kickapoos and Shawnees. 

The atrocities and treacheries of the Indian have been commented 
upon until every one has sufficient information in that direction, and 
we will turn to other characteristics not as often described; and as this 


section of the state of Illinois was inhabited by the tribes above men- 
tioned and the Foxes, (as named by the French, but called Ottogamies 
by the other Indian tribes), we will direct our attention to what we can 
learn of them; our predecessors on these prairies. Here in our groves 
and beside our streams they built their lodges, hunted and tlshed, fought, 
loved and died, while down in the southern part ot Illinois, as in south- 
ern Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri, the tlrst faint gleams of the dawn 
of civilization were beginning to illumine the green and flowery wilder- 
ness of the Great West. Here and there, miles apart, the rising smoke 
from the solitary cabin would send a gleam of hope to a weary traveler, 
or a ray of light from some lonely hut would beckon the benighted 
wanderer to the comfort and joy of human companionship. It is true 
that in these wild regions the human beings were sometimes inhuman, 
and the unhappy explorer found a terrible welcome; but far, far oftener 
the mercy which had come from heaven net him, and having been shel- 
tered, warmed and fed, he proceeded on his way to untried fields beyond. 
Year after year brought new inhabitants, and farther and farther west 
and north the pioneer opened up a high-way for multitudes, in time, to 
follow, and to reach, at last, the homey of the red men here. The hard- 
ships of those who led the way to civilization there, were soon to be borne 
by the brave spirits who inaugurated prosperity for us here, and before 
this story is ended, we shall see wiih admiration what noble men and 
women were led forth by the unseen hand to prepare the way for us who 
followed. One short extract describing pioneer life in Southern Illinois 
arid adjacent territory years before the pioneers had reached here, and 
then we will tarry awhile with the original li settterg" before we take up 
the histories of our own. It is from the autobiography of Peter Cart- 
right, the renowned itinerant Methodist preacher who commenced his 
labors in 1804, at the age of nineteen years, and continued them for sixty 
years; and whose circuit extended 600 miles, and who is said to have 
preached 18,000 sermons. 

"We killed our meat-out of the woods, wild, and beat our meal and 
hominy with a pestle and mortar. We stretched a deer skin over a hoop, 
burned holes in it with the prongs of a fork, sifted our meal, baked bread 
eat it, and it was first rate eating, too. We raised or gathered out of the 
woods our own tea. We had sage, bohea, cross-bone, spice and sassafras 
teas in abundance. We made our sugar out of the water of the maple 
tree, and our molasses too. These were great luxuries in those days. 
Ministers of different denominations came in and preached through the 
country; but the Methodist preachers were the pioneer messengers of 
salvation in these ends of the earth. People unacquainted with frontier 


life fifty or sixty years ago, can form but a very imperfect idea of the 
sufferings and hardships the early settlers of these western states under- 
went at that day, when Methodist preachers went from fort to fort, 
from camp to camp, from tent to tent, from cabin to cabin, with or 
without road or path. We walked on dirt floors, sat on stools or benches 
for chairs, ate on puncheon tables, had forked sticks and pocket or 
butcher knives for knives and forks, slept on bear, deer or buffalo skins 
before the fire, sometimes on the ground in open air for downy beds, had 
our saddles or saddle-bags for pillows of feathers; and one new suit of 
clothes of home spun was ample clothing for one year for an early Meth- 
odist preacher in the west. We crossed creeks and large rivers without 
bridges or ferryboats, often swam them on horseback or crossed on trees 
that had fallen over the stream, drove our horses over and often waded 
over waist deep, and if by chance we got a dugout or canoe to cross in 
ourselves, and swim our horses by, it was quite a treat. The above course 
of training was the colleges in which we early Methodist preachers grad- 
uated and from which we took our diplomas. Here we solved our 
mathematical problems, declined our nouns and conjugated our verbs, 
parsed our sentences, and became proficient in the dead languages of the 
Indian and back-woods dialect." 

The Abbe 'em, Domenech, a missionary to the Indians, has given an 
account of some of the customs, traditions and legends of those tribes, 
which from having once inhabited this part of Illinois, are of greatest 
interest to us. He described many lovely and beautiful traits in these 
poor untutored children of the wilderness, and translated some of their 
songs and legends, specimens of which are introduced here. 

Those who have read the life of Black Hawk will recollect his long 
nnd heavy mourning for his departed children, and also, that his greatest 
sorrow and regret in leaving the country, which had been ceded to the 
whites, was in bidding adieu to the graves of his ancestors. 

One historian who had known the Indians well, speaks of their great 
tenderness for their children. Not having any regular time for eating, 
and depending much on wild game for sustenance, they are sometimes a 
long time without food, as the hunters are not always successful. Some- 
times the father returns home without sufficient game to supply the 
family, in which case the parents invariably continue their own fasting 
while all which has been taken is given to the children. 

Black is the sign of mourning among Indians as among us. Among 
several of these northern tribes, a woman who hasjost a child in the 
cradle, places it in its little wicker bed which she has lilted with black 
feathers, and carries it about with her for one whole year, in all her 

- 12 

emigrations, places it in her cabin, speaks to it and sings, gay or sad. as 
if the child were still alive and could smile and answer her. The widows 
of the Fox Indians remain several months without changing their clothes 
or giving any care to their.dress. This custom is common in many tribes 
of the north. 

The Sacs and Foxes place their dead, wrapped in blankets or buffalo 
skins, in rude coffins made of old canoes or the bark of trees and bury 
them. If the deceased was a warrior, a post is erected above his head 
painted with red bars, indicating the number of men, women and chil- 
dren he has killed during his life and who are to be his slaves in the land 
of shadows. 

The grief of these children of the desert has in it something so touch- 
ing and simple that it strikes even the coldest hearts; and often they 
are seen talking, weeping or singing by their graves as if the dead could 
hear them. 

Although some of the Indians are very poetical, the sweet cadences 
of measured rhyme have never been known among them, but like the 
Orientals they chant their songs of love or of war. "The finest song 
known " is the one improvised and sung by the celebrated Chippewa 
Chief Onaoubogie before and after a great victory which he had gained 
over the Sioux, the Foxes and the Sacs. The translation is by the 
Abbe' em Domenech. 

A chief of a tribe not having a permanent army at his command, is 
obliged to have recourse to voluntary enlistment whenever he wishes to 
declare war against a hostile tribe. Then, through the medium of 
couriers whom he sends to every lodge and village of his nation, he 
assembles all the men capable of bearing arms; after which, in a pre- 
paratory ceremony, he extemporizes a few stanzas of energetic poetry, 
which he sings with fiery enthusiasm gesticulating and accompanying 
himself with the drum and raquetts. The auditors' imagination Is 
gradually excited by all they hear; they become animated with the war- 
like ardor of their chieftain, arid generally finish by enlisting en masse to 
fight and die under his command. 

" Hearken to my voice, you brave heroes! 

The day is coming when our warriors 
Will fall upon our cowardly enemies. 

My heart burns with a just vengence 
Against the cruel, treacherous race 

Of the Sioux the Foxes and the Sacs. 
Here, my breast is covered with blood. 

Behold! behold the wounds caused by the conlliet! 
Mountains tremble at my cries! 
I fight! I strike! I kill! 

13 - 

But where are my enemies? they are dying, 

They fly in the prairie like foxes; 
They tremble like the leaves during a tempest, 

Perfldous dogs! you have burnt our children. 
We will hunt during five winters. 

And we shall mourn for our massacred warriors 
Until our youths having become men, 

Shall be instructed for war. 
Then will our days end like those of our fathers. 

You are no more noble warriors, you are gone. 
My brother, my companion, my friend, 

To the path of death, where all the brave go ; 
But we live to avenge you 

And we will die as died our ancestors." 

When the son of a warrior wishes to get married, "he takes his flute 
and goes at night towards the cabin wherein she rests whom he has 
chosen for his future spouse ! " He begins by playing a melancholy tune; 
then he sings words of his own composition which enumerate the charms 
of his beloved. He likens her to the sweet perfumes of the wild flowers, 
to the pure water that flows from the rocks, to the graceful trees of the 
forests, and to the verdant banks of the river in which she bathes. He 
afterwards promises her a long series of happy days in his wigwam, until 
the hour when they should depart for the enchanted prairies, where joy 
is without end. 

The following is selected by Abbe' em Domenech from a great number 
of Indian love chants that had become popular on the prairies, and trans- 
lated by him. 

"My Dove's eye, listen to the sound of my flute; 
Hearkea to the voice of my songs, it is my voice. 
Do not blush, all thy thoughts are known to me. 
I have my magic shield, thou canst not escape. 
I shall always draw thee to me, even shouldst thou be 
In the most distant Isle, beyond the great lakes. 
I am mighty by my strength and valor. 
Listen, my betrothed, it is to thy heart that I speak. 

The finest bears of the prairies shall become my prey, 

I will exchange horses for necklaces; 

Thy moccasins shall become shining beads. 

Fly not from me; I will go even up to the clouds to keep 


The Great Spirit is for me, my betrothed; 
Hearken to the voice of my song, it is my voice." 

We have given two specimens of Indian poetry, one of war, the other 
of love. The two poems which follow were improvised and sung by In- 
dian women. In the village, as in the forests, when the child wishes to 
sleep its mother suspends the cot in which it lies, and which she has or- 
namented with the greatest care, to a beam or to a branch; she then 
rocks it to and fro, singing a song which is either extemporized or be- 
come popular from habit. The literal translation of the song given 


below being impossible, the translator was oblige to be content wilh 
reproducing the sense, and not word for word of the original. 

"Balance, balance thou pretty cot. 

Boll on, roll on aerial wave; 
Sleep, sleep, baby, sleep, sleep, 

For thy mother watches over thee. 
It is she who will ever rock thee, 

Sleep, sleep, baby, sleep, sleep. 

Little darling, thou art thy mother's love, 

Sleep, sleep, my child, sleep sleep. 
Tiny cradle, balance, balance. 

Rock my baby near me; 
Sweet darling do not weep, 

For thy mother watche* over thee. 

Boll on, roll on, aerial wave. 

Gently rock my sleeping babe; 
His mother is near him watching 

That he may not be alone, 
Wave in the air thou pretty cot; 

Wave, wave, sweet little child." 

The musical beauty of the Indian words repeated of t as in the song 
is said to constitute an indescribable charm. 

Many can doubtless recall the sad story of the Indian woman who, 
distracted and heart-broken at having been abandoned by her husband, 
embarked in a canoe with her baby, and allowed herself to perish in the 
St. Anthony Falls. When she saw that the current carried off her frail 
skiff, and that all hope of lite was lost, she rose, holding hei infant in 
her arms, and began losing in a solemn and sad air the following words: 

"It was for him whom I solely cherished with all the love of my heart; 

It was for him that I prepared the freshly killed game and that my 
cabin was so daintily bedecked; 

It was for him that I tanned the skin of the noble stag and that I em- 
broidered the moccasins which adorn his feet. 

Every day at sunrise I anxiously awaited the return of him whom I 

My heart beat with joy as soon as I heard the step of my brave hunts- 

He would throw down his load at the door of my cabin it was a deer, 
and I would hasten to prepare it for the repast. 

My heart was attached to my spouse, and to me his love was more 
than all the world ; 

But he has forsaken me for another and now life has become a bur- 
den to me which I can no longer support; 

Mv child is also a grief to my heart, for he is so like him. 

How can I endure life when all its moments are so cruel and so poign- 
ant to me ! 

I have elevated my voice towards the Master of Life; I have besought 
Him to take back the life He had given me, for I wish for it no longer. 

I am going on with the current that carries me off, and that will sat- 
isfy my desire and my prayers 

I see the waters foaming. I see it gush forth impetuously, it shall be 
my Hhroud. 

I hear the deep murmurs of the gulf, it is my funeral song, Farewell! 


The" Sacs and Foxes, as Well as Several other tribes, believe that at the 
time of the deluge, a man and woman remained on the summit of a high 
mountain, after all the rest of the human race were drowned. When 
the waters subsided the Great Spirit took pity on these two beings, and 
sent them fire by the raven whose plumage was then white; the raven, 
having stopped to feed on the carcass of a buffalo, let the flre die out, 
and returned to heaven to fetch more. Then the Great Spirit as a pun- 
ishment, changed the color of its feathers from white to black and gave 
the flre to another bird, which carried it faithfully to its destination 
without stopping. Different tribes have varieties of the same traditions 
more or less embellished, and which it is useless to introduce here. 

A?t every step in the study of the religion of the Indians, one perceives 
that if not of Hebrew origin it is, at least, strongly imbued with 
Biblical tradition, more or less perverted by the fantastic and vivid 
imagination of these simple beings with their passionate love for all that 
is marvelous. 

Some authors equally distinguished for their erudition and their 
practical knowledge of the Indians, have looked upon the legend we are 
about to relate, as a distorted reminiscence of the redemption which was 
sealed upon Calvary. 

Ascending the Mississippi, a little above St. Louis, between Alton 
and the Illinois river, there, is a narrow pas-* confined between two high 
hills, at the bottom of which runs the Piusa, a rivulet which flows 
into the river. At this place is a smooth, perpendicular rock, upon 
which at two or three yards hight an immense image of a bird with out- 
spread wingS is chiseled on the stone. This image, from which the 
streamlet takes its name, is called by the Indians, Piusa, that is to say, 
the man-devouring bird, and is thus named from the circumstance that 

" Many thousand moons befor the arival of the white men, Nanabush, 
the benevolent intercessor for mankind, destroyed the great Mammouth 
or Mastodon, the bones of which are still to be found in many parts of 
America. At that time there was a bird of such prodigious strength 

~ 18 

and size, that he could easily carry away a stag in his taloris. This bird 
having once tasted of human flesh, from that time forward, would eat no 
other food. He was as cunning as he was strong; he used to make a 
sudden dart at an Indian, carry him away to one of his caves in the rock, 
and there devour him at leisure. Hundreds of warriors had been 
unsuccessful in their attempts to destroy him. Entire villages were thus 
laid to waste by him, and terror was spread among the tribes of Illinois. 
At length Outaga, a warrior chief, whose renown extended far beyond 
the great lakes, withdrew from the rest of his tribe, spent a whole month 
in fasting and solitude, and prayed to the Great Spirit to deliver his 
children from the fangs of Piusa. During the last night, the Great 
Spirit appeared to him in a dream, and commanded him to select twenty 
warriors, and to hide them in a place which he pointed out to him, each 
man being armed with a bow and a poisoned arrow. One warrior alone 
was to show himself openly, and become a victim to the winged monster, 
at whom all the others were to let fly their arrows, the moment the bird 
fastened on its prey. 

"When Outaga awoke, he gave thanks to the Great Spirit; he then 
went back to his tribe, related his dream, and the twenty warriors were 
forthwith chosen, armed, and placed in ambush, Outaga himself offering 
to become the victim and so perish for the rest of his tribe. From the 
rising ground where he stood, the brave Indian beheld the Piusa perched 
on his rock. He drew himself up with majestic bearing, planting his 
feet firmly on the soil; and laying his right hahd upon his calm and 
unmoved heart, he lifted up his voice and began the death chant of the 
warrior. The monster spread out his wings, and quick as lightning fell 
upon the Indian chief. But every bow was ready strained, every warrior 
let his arrow fly, and each arrow pierced through the body of the Piusa, 
who sank and expired at the feet of Outaga with a savage and terrific 
shriek. The Great Spirit rewarded the sacrifice of the generous chief by 
suspending over his head an invisible shield which preserved him from 
being hurt by his friends' arrows, or by the talons of the bird." 

In remembrance of this event the image of the Piusa was carved on 
the rock, and no Indian ever goes past this place in his canoe without 
aiming a shot at the monster's effigy. The rifles have left innumerable 
marks on the stone, and the whole fable seems to borrow an air of truth 
from the fact that all the natural caverns in the surrounding hills are 
filled with bones of thousands of human beings. 

The celebrated Methodist preacher, Peter Cartright, D. D., who 


labored for more than sixty years chiefly in the Mississippi Valley, leaves 
this in his autobiography published in 1856, in describing his first visit to 
Rock Island Mission, which corroborates the truth of the above. 

"Here on the north side of Rock River, on the rising ground from the 
Mississippi bottom, stands the sight of one of the oldest Indian towns in 
the north or north-west. It is a beautiful site for a city. There are to 
be seen lying, bleached and bleaching, the bones of unnumbered thousands 
of this poor, wild and roaming race of human beings. It was the 
center of the vast and powerful, unbroken, warlike tribes of the 
north-west. This particular spot was claimed by the notorious Black- 
Hawk and his tribe. If they had been civilized, and had known the real 
arts of war, it would have been utterly impossible for the Americans to 
have vanquished and subdued them as they have done. When I looked 
at the fields in cultivation by the whites, where the ground had been for 
ages the country of the Indians, a spirit of sorrow came over me. Had 
they been an educated and civilized people there no doubt would now be 
standing on this pre-eminent site, as splendid a city as New York. But 
the^ are wasted away and gone to their long home. I saw a scattered 
few that there crowded back by the unconquerable march of the white 

A tradition prevails among the Sacs and Foxes in which we can trace 
a great analogy to the Mosaic account of the creation of man and the 
confusion of tongues. According to those Indians the Great Spirit 
created, in the first place, two men; but on seeing that His work was 
thus insufficient for its purpose, He took from each man a rib, of which 
He formed two women. The Indian race are descended from these two 
couples. All men were at first united in one great nation: but they 
became wicked, and after that the Great Spirit visited them and gave 
them the knowledge of several tongues, thereby creating among them 
confusion, which compelled them to separate and to form all the differ, 
ent tribes which are yet in existence. 

Before bidding adieu to the first inhabitants of these prairies, let us 
cast a kindly glance at the departed, and, as it were, leave a wreath of 
prairie flowers over the remains of that diminishing race whose once 
loved acres we now inhabit. No longer can the green mounds, their 
sacred tombs, receive the pathetic care of friend or descendant. The 
proud race of the children of Nature has drunk of the bitter cup of 
humiliation and desolation. Let us cherish compassion for their mis- 
fortune, and in the twilight of their setting sun linger in tender reveries v 
before we say farewell. 



Jofii2 eo23 MargjsvrelL Dexter. 


FAR out in the Atlantic ocean, there is, or was, an enormous, sub- 
merged forest called "gulf weed," from its connection with the 
great "Gulf Stream" from the Gulf of Mexico. This is so dense as some- 
times to impede the progress of ships, and when encountered by Colum- 
bus on his exploring voyage westward, it was thought by the superstitious 
sailors to be a barrier placed there by an angry Providence to prevent 
their passage; or at all events, to warn them against further progress. 
But Columbus was a man with a purpose too grand to be overawed by 
the ocean forest and a thousand other ills, and his fearless perseverence 
reaped a rich reward. 

How many a Columbus we have met and have not known it. How 
many grand spirits have crossed our pathway and, perchance, walked and 
talked with us day by day, whose earthly environments have blinded us 
to the regal honors we were receiving in sharing their company. They 
may have been rough in speech, unlettered and awkward, and coarsely 
clad, and yet all these external appearances were but as the husks which 
had hidden and protected the finest, noblest souls that shall be unveiled 
in Paradise. 

n And through marsh and fen and bog and slough and dangers seen and 
unseen, in the years gone by these Columbians, both men and women 
have pressed on, hoping and believing that somewhere in the Great West, 
sweet Mother Nature with smiling face and green and sunny garments, 
was waiting to receive them to an earthly home which, to the wanderer's 
vision, appeared a type of "Canaan's Happy Land," beyond the swelling 
flood of Jordan. 

On a day in the latter part of May, 1835, when not a human habita- 
tion, save the ruins of some Indian lodge, marked the landscape, two 
heavily laden wagons, each drawn by two horses, and containing house- 
hold goods, a tent, two men, two women and four children, moved slowly 
onward until they reached some rising ground, sheltered by trees near 


the banks of Green river, just east of the present locality of Binghampton. 
Here they alighted and pitched a small tent, : ,the two men preparing for 
an encampment, while the women were busy in making ready the even- 
ing meal. The elder woman tended and watched the twin babies, two 
little boys; the younger woman performed the more active service. The 
older man was smaller than the younger and wore spectacles. The 
younger was a gieat, strong, stalwart man', ruddy and grey eyed, his step 
fearless, the work of his hands as if a determined will reached through 
every fiber to finger tips. The elder woman was thin and quiet, with a 
look in her face as if motherhood was in her heart but perchance not in 
her life, while she lavished on the little ones the tenderness of a real 
mother. The young mother was a "perfect woman nobly planned," of full 
habit, finely proportioned, with large blue eyes and beautiful complexion. 
The little Thomas, five years old, and Mary, three, with the twins, 
Matthew and Mark, complete the group of the first white inhabitants of 
Amboy the Dexter family. 

The older man was he whom we have heard spoken of as "Old Doctor 
Dexter," and was an uncle of John Dexter. He married a maiden lady 
just before emigrating west, and they soon located in a little cabin be- 
tween Lee Center and Inlet Grove. 

John Dexter was born October 8th, 1803, of hardy Welsh parentage, 
whose ancestors emigrated to America in the early part of the 17th cen- ' 
tury and settled in Connecticut; their descendents emigrating to Maine, 
New York, Canada, Michigan, Illinois, and later on, to Iowa, Kansas, 
California, and the Sandwich Islands. 

Mrs. Dexter's maiden name was Margaret Mclnarrie Dudgeon, of 
Scotch-Irish Presbyterian ancestry, that came to America the latter 
part of the 17th century and settled in the state of New York, their 
desceiidents moving into Canada and the western reserve; and from 
Canada came John and Margaret Dexter with their four children. 

They first reared a cabin twelve feet square with a shed roof, and in 
this they lived for some time before building the addition as represented 
in the engraving. 

The country around seemed inexpressibly beautiful to our new inhabi- 
tants, and Mr. D. named the place Palestine, because it seemed to him 
the Promised Land. If not "flowing with milk and honey" it yielded 
wild honfly and fruit, and every kind of game in abundance. 

Here was the grove with its singing birds and the music of the running 
river, far broader arid more beautiful then than now, since the swamp 
lands from which it takes its rise have been drained. The voices of 


children and all the sweet sounds of nature broke upon the sublime 
and majestic silence of the vast expanse around them; and on a clear 
morning, sometimes the whole country from Palestine Grove west, and 
from Dixon to Sterling on Rock River, was mirrored on the sky in the 
wonderful mirage. 

About six miles from Mr. Dexter's cabin lived Adolphus Bliss, who 
had settled there the year before. This was considered a near neighbor. 
Mr. Dexter planted a garden and some sod corn, and with cows and 
chickens, which he had obtained, they made out to live and wait for the 
future. But a cold winter was at hand, and notwithstanding the joy of 
the summer days, the hardships of pioneer life were at the threshold. 
The hungry wolves prowled about the dooryard, and Mrs. Dexter had 
often to drive them away and watch to keep her children safe from them 
as well as from rattlesnakes; and later on, from fever and ague and the 
diseases of a new country. The only roads then were the Indian trails. 
The nearest grist mill was tlfty miles away, and when out of flour they 
ground wheat in the coffee mill, and instead of bread, often ate hulled 
corn. The long winter wore away, and in the spring James Doan and 
wife arrived and settled near; in the autumn Mr. John Doan and family 
came, and three miles east the Ingals family settled. Andrew Bainter 
came in the spring of 1837. Asa B. Searles and Benjamin Wasson in the 
fall, and the Blairs and others soon followed. 

From different sources we have glimpses of the home life at Mr. Dex- 
ter's. We hear of Mrs. Dexter lending books, among them the "History 
of the Reformation," and an ancient bible, its leaves yellow with age, yet 
in good preservation as if evidently cared for, is in possession of the 
family. On a blank page is the following in Mr. Dexter's writing: 

The Bible is the best of books 

With which this world is blest. 
Take that away and do but look 

What nonsense is the rest. 

Therefore that Book, the Bible true, 

My heart shall ever prize. 
And when despise its truths I do. 

May darkness close my eyes. 

John Dexter is my name. 

Great Britain is my nation, 
Vaughan is my dwelling place, 

In Christ 1 hope for salvation. March 17. 1833. 

Mr. Thomas Dexter, now living in Woodland, California, writes: "Of 
my mother, I remember her struggles to care for her little brood. 
There were angels, as Emerson says, hovering around; Toil and Want 
and Hope and Mutual Faith; and other angels Gracious Mother Wasson 

and Doan and Frost and Bainter and Badger and Bridgeman. The UD 
certain eye of youth made me see them as unapproachable. In 1837 an 
old Congregational minister from Maine, Mr. Stinson, stopped with us. 
He was thoroughly orthodox, and drilled us on the King's 'Highway. 
Don't forget that he and Mr. De Wolfe, an Episcopalian, and James 
Hawley, a happy Methodist, helped to lay the foundation of Amboy's 
Spiritual Zion. Mr. DeWolfe used to hold services about once a month 
in our old log house, and Father Corbett alternated,;" 

Mrs. Dexter let no opportunity be lost for her children's benefit. As 
the years went by and the new settlers moved in and a school-house was 
built, at every meeting and on every school day they were sent, dressed 
with perfect neatness, their bright faces and shining hair reflecting the 
mother's love. A lady who used to see them at church, says: " I never 
saw sweeter looking children. I knew very little of their mother, but I 
can recall her lovely complexion and large blue eyes." Mrs James Doan, 
still living, says: "You cannot say too much in praise of Mrs. Dexter. 
She was exquisitely neat and an excellent cook, a most devoted wife and 
a very affectionate mother. As intimate as I was with her, I never heard 
her complain throughout the years of her hardships. Every one loved 
her." She was always busy. In her husband's absence she had the whole 
care of ten cows. She sold butter and eggs at Dixon, the nearest market, 
arid paid for a cooking stove with butter at five or six cents a pound giv- 
ing $66.00 for it. The stove was oblong, about three feet by eighteen inches, 
with an upper story about half way the length of the stove for an oven, 
and three griddles on top. Rut after all her sacrifices to obtai'n it, she 
soon discarded it and went back to the old fireplace. She made crab- 
apple dumplings for a treat for the children and stewed green grapes for 
a feast with their bread; and let the neighbor's boys come to play in the 
house, never frowning at the noise they made. 

After the Dexter's had settled here the Indians encamped near them 
and raised corn on land where Mr. Badger now lives. The young Indians 
were playmates with the white children and there was no little spirit of 
emulation between them in the skillful use of the bow and arrow. Mr. 
Thomas J. Dexter writes: "On our old farm wandering bands of Potto- 
wattomies, Sacs, (or Sauks), Foxes and Shawnee Indians would pitch their 
tents, and never offer violence to any one unless first aggravated. Shab- 
bona was a grand Indian who loved peace, and undertook to save white 
families from the rage of other warriors who had determined to slaughter 
all in northern Illinois. Many times I have gone with him when a boy 
to Chicago. As to trips to Chicago, I recollect, as yesterday, taking a 
faithful old team that knew if they followed Lewis Clapp, or "Uncle" 




Ben Wasson, Andy Bainter, Uriel Bridgman, Simon or Chester Badger 
or AsaSearles they would get to Chicago all right, and sell wheat, threshed 
with a flail for 30 or 40 cents a bushel. It is hardly probable your average 
Lee County boy of today, from 11 to 15 years of age, would care for that 
sort of a job. It was a good school, nevertheless. Mrs. John Doan, 
mother of James Doan and Mrs. Andy Bainter, was good as gold reflned. 
She was earnest in all that makes men better. Mrs. Bridgeman, Mrs. 
Wasson, Mrs. Badger, Mrs. Patience Searles, and on Memory's walls I find 
high toward heaven 'Aunt' Mary, a good Catholic and Christian, wife of 
Elisha Dexter, and Mrs. James Hawley, and Mrs. Farwell and Mrs. Davis. 
Are their names not writ-ten in the Book of Life?" 

The night cometh as well as the day. and Mrs. Dexter had need of the 
ministry and sympathy of these good neighbors. Sickness often came to 
her and twice death had entered her home and left the cradle empty. 

"The last sad act is drawing on. 

A little while by the golden gate 
Of the holy heaven to which you are gone, 

Wait, my darlings, wait." 

Through the long vista of years and with the aid of others' eyes, we 
glance again into the home of the Dexter's. The mother is pale and her 
light step gone and her face carries a look of sadness. So much to do and 
her strength waning; yet she quilts and knits and sews, and is always 
busy. Mr. Dexter, with Mr. Warren Badger and Mr. Palmer, has built a 
flouring mill. The little Thomas, five years oid when we flrst knew him, 
is a lad of fourteen now; Mary, who was three, is a Miss of twelve; the 
twins, Matthew and Mark, are in their eleventh year, andSimon, the flrst 
white child born in Amboy, is nine years old; Martha is seven and the 
little Harriet is but two. Between her and Martha, two little ones, Jesse 
and Harriet Elizabeth have folded their wings here for a while and then 
gone to the skies. The cabin has been enlarged, but still in the largest 
room, where the family lives, there is a bed in one corner, and the old 
fire-place, with its chimney outside to give more room, sends out its 
cheerful home light on this wintry March evening. 

The flickering flre throws the shadows o'er 
The cabin's well swept puncheon floor; 
The tea-kettle sings on the swinging crane, 

And a bannock browns in the ruddy flame, 


The children, weary of work and play 
At home or at school all the live long day, 
Sleep sweetly, nor dream of coming care, 
While the gentle mother watches there. 


And tirelessly ever the wintry gale 

Through the burr-oak trees sings its lonely tale; 

Its tale of the home of long ago, 

So far away, yet remembered so! 

A light is set in the window for him 

Who is coming home in the starlight dim; 

By the cheerful hearth stands his vacant chair, 

And the fragrant supper is waiting there. 

Above the rude couch where the children rest, 
She .bendeth low like a heavenly guest; 
She stops by the youngest in loving guise, 
And shades the light from the tender eyes 

Then rocks the cradle with gentle swings, 
And softly the notes of a lullaby sings; 
Her needles flash bright in the fire-light's blaze, 
As she knits and dreams of the coming days. 

And she knits and rocks and dreams again, 
And the lullaby sings with its sweet refrain, 
While the stockings grow for the little feet, 
And the weary mother fain would sleep. 

Fold up the work and lay it by ; 

The moon is bright in the bending sky. 

The one thou hast watched for is at the door, 

And thy loving vigil, at length is o'er. 

Best, rest weary mother, nor care for life's pains, 

As heaven grows nearer and earth life wanes; 

Just as thou art watching their needs to see, 

So the white winged angels are guarding thee! 

Heaven's light they are shading from thy dear eyes, 

Not ready yet for the glad surprise; 

He who had not where for His beautiful head 

Is breaking for thee thy daily bread. 

"The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak," 
Thou hearest not what the angels speak; 
"As is thy day so thy strengh shall be," 
"The arms everlasting are underneath thee." 

Plume, plume thy wings for the sparkling air; 
They are making ready thy dwelling there! 
If thou leavest thy darlings a little space. 
More surely shall they behold His face! * 

A few weeks have passed away and April's smiles and tears have come 
and gone. Another little girl, but eight days old has joined the other 
children under the sunny espaliers of heaven. There is pain and sorrow 



and a nameless dread around the place where the dying mother lies. 
Over the prairies, the white faced, black horses of Dr. Adams are speed- 
ing to the stricken home, and from Dixon Dr. Nash is hurrying to meet 
him. Mr. Thomas Dexter writes: "I remember our faith that they could 
cure her, and our poor, helpless prayers. I remember the mournful cortege 
of friends who bore her body to that sand hill burial place; Rev. Luke 
Hitchcock's prayers and the presence of Father Birdsall, the Wassons 
and Badgers and Doans and Hawleys and Frosts and others all are 
photographed on my memory. 

Forty-eight years have passed away since these scenes were enacted. 
Mr. Dexter died May 22, 1888, in the Soldiers' Honce at Quincy, 111. His 
last wife, Mrs. Leapha M. Palmer, who was the widow of his partner 
killed in the mill, died May 15, 1863, and Mr. Dexter, although sixty years 
of age, enlisted in the 46th 111. Infantry. He had been in the army while 
in Canada. He had a martial spirit and, like the brave Massena, he 
loved the terrible music that rolled and reverberated over the battle field; 
withal he was a stern lover of justice, and he believed he was enlisted in 
a holy cause. Had he lived in the time of the Crusade he would surely 
have followed Richard Coaur-de-Lion to Palestine. 

Thomas J. Dexter married Miss Eliza Hills, a sister of Dr. Harmon 
Wasson's wife, and ex-Sheriff Hills, of Dixon, in 1852, and had four daugh- 
ters. The eldest was named by her aunt, Mrs. Wasson, Nina Lee, for 
one of Columbus' ships and for Lee county. Who has a prettier passport 
to a place in our Lee County Columbian book? Her home is in Honolulu. 
Mr. D., her father, lives in Woodland California. 

Mary Jane married John Tourtillott, of Sublette, Oct. 5, 1856, and died 
Oct., 1878. Two of her four children are living Thomas and Ella Mary. 
Matthew died some years ago. Mark is living at Clear Lake, Iowa. 
Simon is at Rice Lake, Minn. He served through the war in the 34th 
Illinois Infantry with honor. 

Martha Ann married Lyman B. Ruggles and removed to California. 
She, too, has passed away. Harriet married Mr. Fessenden and lives 
near Mason City, Iowa. 


Copied from the old family bible, as recorded by Mr. Dexter. 
John Dexter, son of Elisha Dexter, was born in the state of Connecti- 
cut on the 13th day of February, 1773. Died, Oct. 30, 1815. 
Jane Dexter was born Feb. 11, 1772. Died, July 14, 1839. 
John Dexter and Jane Niece were married at Genesee, N. Y., 1796. 



Amos Dexter was born February 3, 1797. 

Elizabeth Dexter was born October 31, 1798. Died, September 1816. 

Hiram Dexter was born April 24, 1801. 

JOHN DEXTER was born October 8, 1803. Died, May 22, 1888. 

Mary Dexter was born July 27, 1805. Died, December, 1849. 

Elisha Dexter was born June 8, 1807. Died, April, 1859. 

Asahel Dexter was born March 14, 1809. 

Ahijah Dexter was born February 6, 1811. 

John Dexter and Margaret Dudgeon were married September 24, 1829, 
at Youngstown, N. Y., by Mr. Hinman, both being residents of Vaughan 
Upper Canada. Margaret (Dudgeon) Dexter was born Sept. 5, 1812, in 
Masonville county, N. Y., and died at 7 o'clock a. m., May 21, 1845, at 
Amboy, Lee Co., Illinois; then called Palestine Grove. 


Thomas J., born October 22, 1830. 

Mary Jane, born November 8, 1832. Died October, 1878. 

Mathew Ralph and Harvey Mark, born July 27, 1834. 

Simon, born July 22, 1836. 

Martha Ann, born May 13, 1838. Died Augusts, 1887. 

Jesse, born March 18. 1840. Died, March 21, 1840. 

Harriet Elizabeth, born May 2, 1841. Died, March 17, 1843. 

Harriet Elizabeth, born April 7, 1743. 

A daughter, born April 22, 1845, Died, April 30, 1845. 

Thomas, Mary, Mathew and Mark were born in Vaughan, Home Dis- 
trict, York County, Upper Canada. Simon, Martha Atm, Jesse, Harriet 
Elizabeth and Harriet Elizabeth 2d, and a daughter, (eight days old) 
born in Palestine Grove, Inlet Precinct, Ogle County, 111., now Arnby, Lee 
County, Illinois. 

e Doat2 Faroitv. 

ANOTHER family was soon to be added to the settlement, and In 
the spring of 1836 James Doan and his young wife took up their 
abode here. She is still living to relate her recollections. 
Susan, Daughter of Frederick and Margaret Bainter, was/ born in 
Montgomery county, Ohio, May 17. 1819, where she lived until eleven 
years of age, when she removed wifch her parents to South Bend, Indiana. 
She remained here four years and then removed to Berrian county Mich. 
Here, on March 27, 1836, she was married to James Doan, arid on the 24th 
of the next month they started for Palestine Grove, in company with 
Mr. D.'s father, brother, and sister, where after a fatiguing journey of 
twenty-one days, they arrived May 13, 1836. They found the country beau- 
tiful and felt compensated for their great struggle for a home in what then 
seemed the " far west." There were a great many Indians here, but this 
did not trouble her as she had been accustomed to seeing many of them 
from childhood and could speak their language quite well. 

Soon after their arrival they com ruenced making a temporary shelter 
to protect them from the rain and sun, living in the wagon in which 
they had journeyed until it was done. The mosquitoes were a terrible 
annoyance, a large brush fire being the only protection from them. 

They began immediately to break prairie and to plant crops for the 
coming summer and winter. This being done, James' father, John Doan, 
with son Gibson and daughter Jemima, returned to Michigan for the 
remainder of the family, leaving James and Susan in care of the crops, 
etc. The few months following are strongly impressed on her mind as 
being some of the most lonely and desolate of those early times. After 
the routine of household duties was over for the morning and noon she 
would go where James was at work and spend the time as best she could 
until he could go back to the house with her. At that time she was but 
seventeen years old. Tears were plentiful and cheap with her in those 
days, yet she felt it was best for them to remain and she would not ask 
to return to the old home. 

At last a day of rejoicing came. On the 19th day of September they 
saw in the distance the returning family, John and Charlotte Doan with 
their sons and daughters. 


Young hands in a new country cannot be'idle, and James set to work 
to build a better house. The site he selected was on the bank of a small 
creek that they called Willow Branch, a lovely, picturesque place. The 
house must be made of logs, the one thing plentiful. He hewed them on 
both sides, and then made a raising to place them one above another. 
The men who helped him do this were Darius, Cyrrino and Cyrenus Saw- 
yer, Mr. West, Mr. Stearns, Mr. Reynolds from Inlet Grove, John Dexter 
and C. F. Ingals* The dinner that Susan prepared on this occasion was 
pronouuced delicious by the hungry house-raisers. It consisted of mashed 
potatoes, wild squirrels, pumpkin pie, coffee, wild honey and bread and 
butter. This was the second house built and occupied in this section. 
The first was John Dexter's. A small shanty had been made by Mr. 
James Hawley, half a mile farther south, but he and his family occupied 
it but a few days. It was afterwards improved and used for a while by 
Asa Searles on his first arrival, and still later was owned and lived in by 
Mr. Bridgeman, but James Doan's was the second house that was occupied. 
The Hawley place was the regular camping ground of the Indians, and 
used by them forseveral years after the white settlers came, many Indians 
camping there at different times. They were peaceable and quiet and 
were not feared by any one. Their little tents or huts made of poles and 
bark in the old Indian style remained for several years. There were a 
number of graves made of poles and dirt, but unlike similar graves of 
the Pottawattomies in Indiana, there was no dead Indian seated in one 
corner, surrounded by gun and camping outfit asif en route to the "happy 
hunting grounds." In one place, near, the remains of a child were 
fastened to the top of a small tree. James bent the tree so that they 
could see the little bones that lay in the rude^opeu casket of Indian 

Their chief pastime was wandering through the grove in search of 
berries and wild noiiey, there being plenty of both. They would often 
walk to Inlet Grove and to 0. F. lugals', one of their nearest neigh- 
bors, who lived about three miles east. 

The old Central railroad was surveyed and partly built through this 
town, passing nearly through Rocky Ford. In 1838 Mr. Doau worked on 
it for a time, but sickness overtook him and his family and at one time 
he and the youngest were so near to death's door that the watchers knew 
not which would be the first to go; but, happily, both recovered. 

People living here now can hardly realize the many, many hardships 
the earliest settlers had to contend with. In 1836 Mrs. Doan, in company 
with Mr. and Mrs. John Dexter, made a visit to Dixon. The way was 




desolate, not one house in those long twelve miles, and they neither met 
nor saw anyone on the way. On their arrival they found one double log 
cabin, one side being used for a store, and the other for a living room for 
the merchant and his family. The store contained groceries and dry 
goods. Of the latter one could have carried nearly all away in his arms. 
This store was kept by a Mr. White, and John Dixon, jr., was postmaster 
at this time. The mail department was in its infancy, as well as the 

Their post office was at Inlet Grove, and every letter cost the one who 
received it twenty-flve cents. A newspaper was a luxury seldom indulged 
in. Mills were few and far between, the nearest being Leeper's mill, forty 
miles distant, several miles below Princeton. It was a small, inferior 
affair. James was a jovial fellow and fond of a joke. He praised the 
little mill and told the miller he thought he had a very good mill, for 
just as soon as it got one kernel ground it commenced immediately to 
grind another. This is a sample of all the mills in those days. They 
sometimes would have to wait a number of days for their turn, and then 
wait for the grist. When they had eaten the lunch they carried with 
them they would work for their board and for what the oxen would eat, 
by cutting and hauling logs. One time Susan used up all the flour and 
meal and ground corn in the coffee mill to make a meal or two before 
their return. This was to her a small matter compared with the anxiety 
for the absent ones so long gone. 

The first death was a little girl of John Dexter's in 1843. John Fos- 
dick preached the funeral sermon. The second was Frederick and 
Delilah Bainter's little boy, Franklin, in August, 1844. Rev. Luke Hitch- 
cock attended the funeral; and in October of the same year James' father, 
John Doan, died. ilev. L. Hitchcock led the services of this funeral also. 

After enduring the hardships of a new country for eight years, Susan 
with her husband and three children, William, Sarah and Francis, re- 
turned to South Bend, Ind., near the home of her girlhood. In the spring 
of 1849 James left his lamily to try to make a fortune in California. He 
made his trip overland and was quite successful. When about to return 
he was cruelly murdered on the 13th day of August, 1853. No clue to the 
assassin was ever discovered. 

The following year she returned to Illinois, having laid her little 
Francis in the grave, and her husband in an unknown grave, unknown 
at least to her. Here she has since resided. In September, 1866, she was 
married to O. J. Fish, of Franklin Grove, when she removed to his home 
where she lived until his death, which took place October 20, 1888, since 


which time she has lived, part of the^time, with her daughter, Mrs. 
William Gray, of Dixon, and the remainder at her home in Franklin 

Since the above was written other incidents in the lives of this family 
have been given by one familiar with them. They are of too much inter- 
est to be omitted. 

Mr. Doan was a kind hearted man, never passing a little child without 
a gentle word or laying his hand upon it; and he was a most useful 
-pioneer. He .^invented the plow which he manufactured^ in company 
with his brother-in-law, Mr. Bainter, and which was the beginning of 
the plow manufactory at Binghamtou, conducted by others afterwards. 

Many instances of his kindness are recalled by some now living. Once, 
when two sons of Chief Shabbona were riding on horseback in the vicinity, 
one of them was thrown and quite severely hurt. Mr. Doan took him 
home, and seconded by the assistance of his wife and the young Indian's 
brother, tenderly cared for him until he could be taken home to Shabbona 
Grove. This was indeed the act of a true neighbor, when their cabin 
had but one room. This son of Sahbbona was so badly injured that he 
never recovered, although he lived for some time. 

Mrs. Doan was of the same kind spirit of her husband. She was an 
intimate friend of Mrs. Dexter, and spent much time with her, when 
Mrs. D. by reason of sickness, or the care of her little ones, could not 
leave home She was a gentle, retined woman, skilled with her needle, 
and better adapted to assist in the lighter than in the heavier work of 
pioneer life, although sharing in both. She helped Mrs. Dexter in making 
her children's clothes, and fashioned and made at home the first wardrobe 
of Col. Simon B. Dexter. 

Once, when Mr. Dexter had gone to Chicago with produce, Mr. Doan 
happened to be passing the creek on his way to Inlet Grove. He saw 
Mrs. Dexter cutting ice to water the cattle. He immediately went to 
her relief, and finished the work for her. His quick perception discovered 
to him that Mrs. Dexter was a sick woman. He took her into his 
"jumper," a vehicle which he had fashioned from the boughs of trees, 
and went to her home, got the baby and carried both to.his house. Leav- 
ing her and the infant in care of his wife, he went for his mother to "help 
nurse her up;" and got a sister to go and stay with the Dexter children. 
This was in the morning. At evening, Mrs. D. felt so much better that 
they took her home, Mr. Doan's mother going with her and remainig sev- 
eral days, until she could leave her well, her daughters gladly fulfilling her 
duties at home, so that their mother might comfort those who needed her. 



It is pleasant to dwell on this side of pioneer life'when the infant 
settlement abounded in the infantile graces of Christian life, and thought 
more of doing good, hoping for nothing in return, than of sectarian tenets 
and the external things of religion. Truly, in these waste places there 
was a ladder where the angels of God ascended and descended, although 
the eyes of mortals were holden, and saw not the heavenly vision. 

On the 19th day of September, 1836, John and Charlotte (Odell) Doan, 
with their children, Joseph, William, Jemima, Sarah, Gibson, Charlotte, 
Elizabeth, Anna, Jonathan and Ruth, arrived in this settlement to re- 
ceive the glad welcome of their oldest son, James, and his wife Susan 
who came in May and who had been watching anxiously for the arrival 
of father, mother, brothers and sisters. 

They commenced immediately to build a house and ere long had com- 
pleted one, the largest log house in this section for some time. 

John Doan was a man of excellent character, kind and true. He had 
been raised with the Quakers and partook of their quiet demeanor, sound 
principles and undemonstrative disposition. His wife belonged to the 
Methodist church, and in all her good works and usefulness in the com- 
munity, she was sanctioned and encouraged by her husband. She was 
one of a number of women doing the most good in those early days, con- 
stantly seeking the sick and needy and rendering every possible assist- 
ance to the sufferers within her reach. She had a large family and could 
leave the care of the household with the older ones. She was strong and 
healthy and ambitious in all her undertakings. The itinerant ministers 
often held their services at her home; these generally occurred on week 
days. The first minister was by the name of Lumery, who alternated 
later, once in two weeks, with another by the name of Smith. Smith 
died at Corrydon Dewey's while on the circuit, and Lumery went on 
the rest of the year. Smith died in the winter of 1838. Then came 
Father Gorbitt, a good old man from Indian Creek; then a Mr. White; 
after that Eev. Luke Hitchcock, stationed at what is now Lee Centre, 
often held meetings and officiated at weddings and funerals. 

Mrs. Doan was a devoted and reverent student of her "blessed Bible," 
and regretted that, having always lived on the frontier, her advantages 
for educatiou had been so limited. Those who knew her spoke of her as a 
"Mother in Israel." Mr. Thomas J. Dexter, in writing of her and his 
mother and Mrs. Col. Badger, Mrs. Wasson and Mrs. Patience Searles and 
Mrs. Varner, says there was a "Holy of Holies in everyone of their lives. '> 

Her husband died in 1844, at the age of sixty-two years, having been 
born in North Carolina September 10, 1782. They had lived together 


thirty-five years, their marriage occurring December 28, 1809. Rev. Luke 
Hitchcock preached the funeral sermon, and in one short year a beloved 
daughter followed her father. Mrs. Doan outlived several of her chil- 
dren and died at the ripe age of eighty-one years, while with a daughter 
in Missouri. 

She was in usual health; her grandaughter entered her room in the 
morning to see if she was ready for breakfast and found her just reaching 
for her cap, almost ready to join the family. After a few minutes, as she 
did not appear, they went to see what detained her and saw her lying 
across the bed, dead. She was born September 25, 1788, and died 
December 28, 1869. 

" No stream from its source 
Flows onward, how lonely soever its course, 
But that some land is gladdened. No star ever rose 
And set without influence somewhere. No life 
Can be pure in its purpose and strong in its strife, 
And all life not be purer and stronger thereby." 

Jemima Doan Bainter was born in Wayne county, Indiana, March 8, 
1816. She was the oldest daughter of John and Charlotte Doan who were 
natives of North and South Carolina. When about eighteen years of age 
she moved with her parents to Berrian county, Michigan. In the spring 
of 1836, she came with her father and two brothers, James and Gibson, 
and James' bride, to Lee county, Illinois, then known as Jo Davis county. 
They came in a large wagon drawn by three yoke of oxen, as there were 
no railroads in those days; and twenty-one days were spent in this journey 
of two hundred miles. They passed through Chicago, a dirty, muddy, 
little trading post, with no attraction for the home seekers, who were 
bound for Palestine Grove, where their ideal of a perfect farm was to 
be with timber and prairie adjoining it. 

The greatest hardship of the journey was in crossing the first seven 
miles of country directly west of Chicago. The ground was mostly cov- 
ered with water from six to eighteen inches deep, and the weary travelers 
were obliged to wade through to lighten the load for the poor tired oxen. 
When the sun went down they were only part way across. After turning 
the oxen loose to care for themselves as best they could, they ate a cold 
supper and slept in the wagon. There were no roads and many times 
all the things had to be taken out to get the empty wagon through the 
sloughs and across the bridgeless creeks. When the roads were good she 
sometimes would ride, but she walked most of the way. No wonder she 


was delighted with the beautiful sight of what was to be her new home. 
She and Susan, her brother James' wife, had secretly planned that, no 
matter how the place looked, they would say they were pleased; so glad 
would they be to end that long tedious jonrney. James had visited 
the place in October, 1835 and selected his own, as well as a claim for his 
father, and anoter for his brothes Joseph. The day of their arrival was 
May 13, 1886. After making a shanty and getting the early seeding done, 
she with her father and Gibson, returned to Michigan to bring the 
remaining part of the family to the newly prepared home, leaving 
James and his young wife here to wecome them back in the following 

The 3rd of May 1838, she was maaried to Andrew Bainter, from Mich- 
igan, a brother of James' wife. This was the first wedding in this part 
of the country and was attended- by a great many, and was a merry time. 
Mr. Frank Ingals and his sister, Deborah, who afterwards married Dr. R. 
F. Adams. Mr. Wasson's family Mr. Sawyer's and a number from Inlet 
Grove were present. The young people enjoyed it so well they kept the 
games going until the break of day. In the following fall they com- 
menced housekeeping in a small hewed log house which Mr. Bainter had 
built with no tools except axe and hammer. This was the third house 
built in this section. The floors, as in all the others, were hewed out of 
logs. They called them puncheons. It was situated near a little creek 
called Willow Branch, on a claim, there being no land in market at that 
time. Here she spun and wove for themselves and others, making beau- 
tiful flannels, bed-spreads and blankets, table linen and towels; and as 
her family grew, making all their winter clothing, sewing and knitting 
by the light of a single candle, thinking it extravagant to burn more than 
one at a time She delighted in fanciful paterns in weaving, and the 
one piece of fancy work indulged in was netting, which adorned the cur- 
tains aroundjthe bed and across the one little window. As their living 
was plain one might think that good health would have been assured; 
but this was not the case. They had fever and ague and many dsieases 
common to a new country; and the yourig physician, Dr. E. F. Adams, 
was kept busy, riding on horse-back many miles each day. 

Chicago was the nearest market and a week or more was spent in taking 
a load of produce to this place. A load of dressed hogs would be sold for 
$1.25 a hundred, and oats for ten or fifteen cents a bushel. Everyone 
who took a load must carry a lunch basket and live entirely on its con- 
tents, or his expenses would exceed the price of his produce sold. One 
man who indulged in a few luxuries had nothing to bring home but a 


calico gown for his wife; but he was an exception, as most of the early 
settlers were economical. These trips were mostly made in the winter, 
the women attending to the chores, and doing the best they could. When 
the nine days had passed there was great uneasiness about the absent 
ones and great would be the joy when the creaking wheels in the cold 
frost would be heard in ihe distance Sometimes the cause of delay 
would be the death of a horse, and again a broken wheel, sometimes an 
unusual storm. When the marlcet at Peru and La Salle was opened, 
they thought it only a small trip to go there with their produce. When 
the I. C. R. R. was built, and Amboy was located, it seemed like a new 
era, as indeed it was, to the pioneers of so many years. Mr. and Mrs. 
Bainter were members of the Methodist church for many years. Then 
came the war the cruel war. They gave their oldest son to the country's 
cause, and many parents can tell the anguish these few words contain. 

After this they removed to Indiana, their one request being to have 
their remains brought to Illinois for burial. Andrew was the first to go. 
He died March, 1884, and Jemima followed him in December of the same 
year. Their graves are side by side in the little cemetery at Bingham- 
ton, near the place where, when life was full of hope, they met, with 
loving cheerfuness I/he hardships of those early days. 


Jemima was full of fun. Once when returnig from some gathering 
at the "Inlet" with her brother James, his wife and a sister, they found 
the creek risen so that they could not cross in the wagon; there was one 
way to cross; James could swim the horse and one girl at a time could 
tuck up her garments and by riding on her knees behind James and hold- 
ing on to him, cross high and dry in safety. JemJma watched the droll 
spectacle and laughed until she cried. The ring of her jolly ha! ha! used 
to make the woods echo with her glee, and reach ears too far off to know 
the cause of it. 

Another time, she with her brother James, wife and sister, strolled out 
in the grove on one of the long Sunday afternoons, and forgetting the 
distance from home, found themselves obliged to cross a branch of the 
creek where the water was several feet deep. So the girls had to do just 
as anybody would -wade in, carrying their shoes and stockings. So they 
had a little drama all to themselves on that quiet Sunday; but Jemima's 
laugh reached the ears of her mother who was enjoying a solemn medita- 
tive walk, somewhere on the other side of the stream; and good mother 
Doan knew the laugh. One can imagine a gentle chiding with some of 
Solomon's words as an accompaniment. 


Mrs. Cynthia Varner lived in the Doan neighborhood, near the log 
school-house, She was a widow with three small girls, at times depending 
on the neighbors to keep the wolf from the door: yet aver ready to do all 
she could for the sick and afflicted; her neighbors taking care of her 
children when she could be of service to any one in trouble. Many of 
them appreciating her usefulness and aware of her necessities, alwavs 
left a sack of flour for her when returning from mill, and contributed 
many other things. She was a "hardy pioneer," and a devout member 
of the Methodist church often leading in prayer-meeting and other serv- 
ices. Her greatest horror was heresy. One old settler writes: "I recol- 
lect her rising in her seat at a meeting in the old log school-house when 
.Toe. Smith and Sidney Rigdon were present, and calling on God to smite 
the "blasphemers." No mention is made whether any one else was dis- 
turbed by them. Mrs. Varner died June, 1892, aged 82 years. 

There is a little anecdote related by Dr. H /of Minneapolis, with 

regard to the capture of Black Hawk, which may not be out of place here 

Dr. H said he had never seen it published, although he could vouch 

for its truthfulness, his home having been in the vicinity of the place 
referred to in the story. 

Lying between Appleton and Oshkosh, along the southern and western 
side of Lake Winnebago, was a valuable tract of land included in what 
was known as the Black Hawk purchase of 1832. This land was given to 
an Indian by the name of Juno, as part of the compensation for informa- 
tion leading to the capture of Black Hawk. Juno was a confidential 

friend of Black Hawk and had married into his family Dr H thought 

was a brother-in-law of the warrior. He with his family continued to 
occupy the land long after his betrayed and defeated comrades had gone 
in search of new homes beyond the Mississippi River. 

On the first day of January, 1864, the most terrible blizzard that had 
ever been known swept over the northwest, and, unlike others, was so 
cold that mercury congealed. Juno had gone to Oshkosh; the storm 
abated, but he did not return. His family (he had a large one), watched 
in vain. The weeks lengthened into months arid no tidings of Juno 
reached them. At last when spring came, and the warm sun and winds 
melted the great banks of snow which had drifted around their dwelling, 
his body was discovered lying prone in the path a few feet from the door 


of his home, where he had fallen, and over which his own children had 
been walking for many weeks. 

In Ford's History of Illinois, mention is made of "Three Winneba- 
goes," who "gave intelligence that Biack Hawk w;is encamped at Cran- 
berry Lake." Doubtless further knowledge of the whole transaction 
would reconcile the not altogether conflicting narratives. 

MR. ASA B. SEARLES was a native of Chenango county, New York, 
and was born January 27, 1810. Later in life he was for several 
years in South Bainbridge, New York. He there attended a school 
which his brother taught, and had for a schoolmate Joseph Smith, the 
future Mormon Prophet, whom he described as being kind-hearted and 
possessed of much brain, which was supported by a large, strong body. 

At the age of nineteen years he was engaged in piloting pn theSusque- 
hanna River. He then be -ameacqtiainted with those who were afterward 
some of our most noted pioneers. He continued in business on the river 
for six years. On the 19th of September. 1832, he was married to Miss 
Patience Stockwell, of Bainbridge. On the 19th of August, 1837, he left 
there for Palestine Grove with a two-horse team, in company with thir- 
teen others. He arrived here October llth, and for a while lived in the 
cabin which James Hawley began; but soon entered land and moved to the 
farm still owned by his children in Binghamton, near where the Tile 
Factory now is. It was he who laid nut Binghampton and named it for 
the town by that name in New York. He erected a hotel and was the 
first postmaster here. His son Lemuel has favored us with the docu- ' 
ment which has the seal of the postoffice department stamped upon it. 
and the signature of the Postmaster General, John M. Niles. The name 
of Winooski was given to the Palestine Grove postoffice. It is the Indian 
name for Onion River. The document reads thus: 




"WHEREAS, On the 28th day of May, 1840, Asa B. Searles was appointed 

postmaster at Winooski, in the county of Lee, State of Illinois; and 

whereas he did, on the 22nd day of June, 1840, execute a bond, and has 

taken the Oath of Office, as required by Law; Now KNOW YE, That 

confiding in the integrity, ability, and punctuality of the said Asa B. 

Searles, I do commission him a Postmaster, authorized to execute the duties 

of that office at Winooski aforesaid, according to the Laws of the United 

States, and the Eegulations of tlie Postoffice Department', To HOLD the said 

53 - 

office of postmaster, with all the powers, privileges and emoluments, to 
the same belonging, during the pleasure of the Postmaster General of the 
United States. 

"!N TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused 
the SEAL OF THE POSTOFFICE DEPARTMENT to be affixed, at Washington 
City, the 30th day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and forty, and of the Independence of the United States the 
Sixty-fifth." , JOHNM. NILES." 

The mail was carried through once a week by a man on horse-back, 
who had been a soldier in the Black Hawk war. 

The remains of the old log building in which the mail was distributed 
was standing a few yeaas ago. After Mr. Searles resigned, Mr. Warren 
Badger succeeded him. Mr. Searles was the first assessor of Amboy. 
His wife died December 19, 1846, and was the first one buried in the cem- 
etery at Binghampton. She was a sister of Mrs. Alvan Thompson and of 
Mrs. Leapha M. Palmer, who afterwards married John Dexter. She was 
an excellent woman, who enjoyed the sincere respect of all. 

Six years afterwards Mr. Searles married Miss Amanda Headlee, who 
had five SODS. The oldest, Lemuel, served his country under Gen. Custer, 
in the 7th U. S. Calvary. Mr. Searles was possessed of excellent qualities, 
and was untiring in his efforts for the prosperity and increase of the set- 
tlement in its early days. The city park was once a part of his estate. 


anel Eti^afee'tft 

MRS. ELIZABETH HALE, wife of Benjamin Wasson, was a daugh- 
ter of Isaac and Elizabeth (Lewis) Hale, who emigrated from Ver_ 
montto Pennsylvania in 1790. A letter from her daughter Clara- 
Mrs. Backensto which gives an account of the emigration of the Wasson 
family to Illinois, together with a few incidents of their subsequent his- 
tory, seems a fitting introduction to our sketch of Mrs. Benjamin Wasson. 


"I regret the history you speak of was not written during my mother's 
lifetime, as her memory was so much better than mine. Those trying 
times made a more vivid impression on her mind. I was too young. 

"My father, Benjamin Wasson, and his family, consisting of his wife 
Elizabeth, three sons, Lorenzo, Harmon and Warren, two daughters, 
Clara and Roxy, started from Harpersville, Boone county, New York, some 
time in the latter part of August, 1836; his destination Knoxville, Illi- 
nois; his outfit, two teams and wagons, one a large covered wagon for 
goods: He expected to go through Ohio, but the second day out he heard 
that the Black Swamp, in Ohio, was impassable, so he crossed into Can- 
ada, at Lewistown, passing through Detroit and Chicago, down the Illi- 
nois River to Peoria, and from thence to Fannington, where he found an 
old neighbor from New York, Mr. Samuel Johnson, jr., who was just 
ready to move his family to Dixon, Illinois, having his goods packed and 
waiting for the teams which did not come; so father unpacked our goods 
from the wagons into the log-cabin vacated by Mr. Johnson, packed Mr. 
Johnson's goods and family into our wagons and leaving us in the log- 
cabin took Lorenzo and accompanied Mr. Johnson to Dixon's Terry, as it 
was then called. So you see we found a home, such as it was, at the end 
of our long journey of six weeks. Father drove one of the teams for Mr. 
Johnson and the journey proved to be a longer and more tedious one than 
they expected, both for teams and drivers. Mr. Johnson, who was a 
shoemaker, had some sides of sole-leather with him, and these they were 
obliged to spread down as bridges for the teams to pass over the quick- 
sand swamps. They could never have completed the journey had it not 
been for them. 


"Your grandfather was so charmed with the country in the vicinity of 
what is now Amboy, that he concluded to locate claims for himself and 
two oldest sons, and did so on what is now the old homestead. 

"He then returned to Farmington and found us settled. Harmon had 
dug potatoes on shares until he had enough to last us through the 
winter; also by husking corn, had bought some pigs; so father concluded 
to stay there a year, so as to raise provisions to last until he could get 
started in the new place, as the country was so unsettled that it was im- 
possible to get provisions. 

"In the winter, he and Harmon and Lorenzo went to what was then 

.Palestine Grove, where they cut the logs for the "Old Log Cabin," and 

with the assistance of John Dexter, John Doan and his two sons, James 

and Joseph, rolled them up and put the roof on, after which they returned 

to Farmington. 

"The next summer, in August, after the crops were attended to, he and 
the boys went back to Palestine to get out rails and fence a small piece 
of ground, make hay, build a stable, break prairie and sow some wheat, 
taking Clara (myself) along to cook and keep house for them. For six 
weeks I lived in that lonely cabin on the wide prairie (I was but fourteen 
then), and many a scare I had. The last day and night we were there, 
father and the boys went to the timber, cut some logs and hauled them 
to Rocky Ford, where there was a saw-mill, run by Meek, I think, and 
had them sawed into boards, from which they made our floor the first 
floor made of sawed boards in that country, the others being made of. 
puncheon, that is, logs split into strips. They did not get home until 
ten o'clock at night. The next morning they laid the floor, after which 
we started for home in the afternoon. It was about ninety miles from 
Amboy to Farmington. My father made several journeys between the 
two places and we moved to our new home in December, 1837, a cold, 
cheerless wind and snow in our faces most of the way. 

"Father used to have to go to Peoria to get his grain ground into flour. 
The last journey he made was in the winter; he expected to get back be- 
fore we got out of bread, but before he got home there came up a furious 
storm of snow and wind, drifting it into hollows and sloughs so they 
became impassable. Father reached Greenfield, now LaMoille, late in 
the day, and notwithstanding that it was dangerous to cross the prairie 
during the storm, he had been delayed so long he feared we were in need, 
so he resolved to push on. He did, but was obliged to go before the horses 
and beat a track for them through the hollows. He reached Thomas 
Fessenclen's late at night completely tired out. He stayed there tbe 

- 58 

remainder of the night and reached home the next morning, just as 
mother was making the last corn-meal into a Johnny cake. 

"Mother always kept a beacon light burning in the little north window 
of the old cabin, so that if any person was wandering on that wide prai- 
rie it would guide them to a shelter. 

"In about three years father built a frame house, Uncle Jesse Hale, 
from Pennsylvania, occupying the log house. Father brought the lumber 
for the new house from Chicago across the country, ninety miles. 

"In the spring of 1849, father went to California. He died on the way 
back, of congestive chills never reached home." 

So here, in the winter of 1837, the Wasson family took possession of 
their new home with its one small window, and that toward the north 
but how much light and cheer and comfort flowed forth from that cabin 
as the years went by, it needs a mighty pen to tell. 

Little Clara, fourteen years old, had been the flrst to consecrate it to 
home. Her light footsteps had sounded on the puncheons which would fly 
up at one end when she trod on the other. She had acted the woman's 
part in preparing the food and in "keeping house" for her father and 
brothers, she had roamed about the prairie in their absence, gathering 
grapes and plums, often calling on Mrs. Dexter, who loaned her books, 
among others, the "History of the Reformation," which she read through. 
She had staid alone when father and brothers were belated, from being 
detained at the saw-mill, and in the darkness had hidden, trembling in 
the covered wagon, listening to the howling wolves, and not daring to 
enter the cabin lest some dreadful creature might be lurking in a corner. 
She did not then know of the "Banditti." Was it the fore-shadowing of 
their dark deeds which even then filled her with terror? But, at last, 
she heard the welcome sound of the coming wagon with the boards for 
the floor, which were laid the next morning, and in the afternoon they 
were all on their way to Farmington. This was in September, and in 
December all the family returned, the trip requiring two days. The flrst 
night they stopped at a Mr. Bond's, the next at Mr. Doan's. 

In Mrs. Backensto's letter we see what wise and prudent forethought 
had been displayed by Mr and Mrs. Wasson, in making ample provision 
for the winter by improving the opportunities, both here and at Farming- 
ton. Hence they were prepared to make themselves comfortable and to 
do good to all whom Providence might lead in their way. They seemed 
never to think of their own comfort or convenience, either physically or 
financially, when they could assist others in this new and sparsely settled 
country. From the time of Mrs. Wasson's coming she always endeavored 


to keep a 'light in the only window at night, especially on dark and stormy 
nights, so if there were any belated travelers wandering on the prairie it 
would guide them to a shelter; and any who came received the warmest 
welcome and the best the house afforded. The light could sometimes be 
seen for miles, to the old Chicago road. 

Mrs. Wasson was a ministering angel in sickness. During a long 
season of ill health she had studied medical works, and in this country, 
where doctors and nurses were not to be had, such knowledge proved to 
be invaluable. She would often leave, her bed on dark, tempestuous 
nights and ride miles toattend upon the suffering where her ministrations 
were most successful. There was a strength and self-possession in her 
character which invited the confidence of the sick: there was a flrrn, 
sedate, yet cheerful kindness which carried a most salutary influence into 
the chamber of sickness. She was above medium height, straight and 
strong, with a commanding presence. Her complexion was fair, her eyes 
blue, and her hair a soft brown. No one could have doubted her straight- 
forward, uncompromising integrity. It came to be a saying, "Mrs. Was- 
son can do anything for everybody," and her husband kindly lent her 
his aid. 

Not very long after their coming, a death occurred about two miles 
away. A family by the name of Abbott lost a little daughter; there was 
no lumber to be had for a coffin, so Mr. Wasson took the remains of an 
Indian canoe, made of a black walnut log which one of the boys found on 
the prairie, partly consumed by flre, and made a pretty casket for the 
little one. 

Whenever a wandering missionary came along, as they sometimes did, 
Mr. Wasson would send one of his sons on horseback to notify the settlers 
that there would be Divine service at his house. Mrs. Wasson would set 
the cabin in order and every one who could come would do so. 

We have seen how ready Mr. Wasson was to assist his wife in her use- 
fulness, and there are many like instances remembered. Twelve years 
after their settlement here the excitement caused by the California gold 
mines induced him, in company with his youngest son, to try his fortune 
there. They proceeded to Nauvoo, and after resting at Mrs. Smith's, Mrs. 
Wasson's sister, crossed the river into the then track less west. After long 
and anxious waiting, the sad tidings of Mr. Wasson's death, which oc- 
curred in February, 1851, reached his family; and Mrs. Wasson was 
destined to walk the rest of Life's pathway in the shadows. To her might 
have been dedicated the following lines, so literally did she seem to 
realize them in her life: 


"Arise my friend, and go about 

Thy darkened house with cheerful feet; 
Yield not one jot to fear nor doubt, 

But baffled, broken, still repeat; 

'Tis mine to work, and not to win ; 

The soul muW wait to have her wing*; 
Even time is but a landmark in 

The great eternity of things. 

Arise and all thy tasks fulfill, 

And as thy day thy strength shall be; 

Were there no power beyond the ill, 

The ill could not have come to thee. 

Though cloud and storm encompass thee, 

Be not afflicted nor afraid ; 
Thou knowest the shadow could not be 

Were there no sun beyond the shade." 

She continued her active life, carrying on the farm and "going about 
doing good." She had joined with Mrs. Col Badger, Mrs. De Wolfe and 
others in sustaining worship in the form she most loved, while she could, 
but when that failed she worshipped in the Methodist Episcopal church. 
With her social nature she entered into the work of that society, held 
socials at her house and assisted in every way. When Mr. Broaduax 
was here, and the Episcopal church again held seivice, she attended it. 
Her son, Harmon, h;id studied medicine and was practicing here. He 
often spoke of the great assistance his mother's experience and advice 
had been to him. 

Mrs. Wasson had three brothers who settled in this county; Jesse, 
David arid Alva Hale; also a sister, Mrs. Trial Morse, who was killed in 
a tornado in the summer of 1859. At the same time her oldest daughter, 
Emma, was so badly injured that she died after two weeks of intense 
suffering, having nearly every bone in her body broken. Mrs. Morse was 
killed almost instantly, being caught in the whirl and transfixed through 
the abdomen with a fence-stake. When Mrs. Wasson was notified of the 
calamity, she hastened to the dreadful scene. With stony face and tear- 
less eyes, she looked upon the wreck of her sister and niece she could 
not weep. She said it would do her good if she could, but she had passed 
through so much trouble she was beyond it. She consoled herself with 
the reflection that her sister had "gone home to her God in who;n she 
had always trusted and was better off." 


"We make the least ado o'er greatest troubles, 

Our very anguish does our anguish drown: 
The sea forms only just a few faint bubbles 

Of stifled breathing, when a ship goes down." 

Mrs. Wasson continued to live on the old place until near the end of 
1863, when to the hardships of pioneer life and numerous added afflctioris 
her health gave way and the old home was broken up. She went to live 
with her youngest child, Carrie, who married Rev. Erastus DeWolfe, and 
went home to her reward, May 18, 1874. 

The older children, Lorenzo D. Wasson, Dr. Harmon Wasson and Roxy 
Emma, who became Mrs. Simon Badger, all died at Amboy, in the prime 
of life, and Mrs. DeWolfe is now numbered with the departed ones. Mrs. 
Clara M. Backensto is at Fort Logan, Colorado, and Mr. Warren Wasson 
is at Carson City, Nevada. Mr. Arthur P. Wasson, son of Lorenzo D., 
owns and lives on the old farm and has sons and daughters. The remain- 
ing grandchildren and great-grandchildren are scattered from New York 
to Colorado and Nevada. 

The old "Wasson house" has gone to decay and disappeared. Until 
within a few years, the two-story, weather-beaten mansion which con- 
tained the first floor of sawed boards in the place, and which had held a 
welcome for all who sought its hospitable doors for so many years, stood 
dark against the sky, a landmark indeed, and for some years unoccupied. 
How often have been recalled to passers by some of the lines of "The De- 
serted House." 

"Gloom is upon thy lone hearth 

O silent house ! once filled with mirth ; 
Sorrow is in the breezy sound 

Of thy tall poplars whispering round. 

The shadow of departed hours 

Hangs dim upon thine early flowers; 
Even in thy sunshine seems to brood 

Something more deep than solitude. 



JAMES BLAIR came here In the spring of 1838, and located a claim 
just west of Rocky Ford, where his son, Edwin M. Blair, now resides- 
Here he built a log cabin, broke prairie and prepared for his family; 
boarding, a part of the time, before they came, at Mr. Dexter's. The 
next Spring, Mrs. Blair, with her two youngest children, sons, came the 
long tedious journey from Jamestown, New York, via. Pittsburgh, Penn- 
sylvania, down the Alleghany River and the Ohio to St. Louis, up the 
Mississippi to the mouth of the Illinois River, and up the Illinois to 
Peru; and from thence by wagon to this place. 

In June, Mr. E. Blair, with a brother and two sisters, traveled the 
same route, and at length reached the new home in the "far distant west." 
So the whole family were here with the exception of the oldest son, 
James, who followed in 1846. 

It is hard to conceive what must have been their feelings on reaching 
this wilderness, after having lived in a place like Jamestown, a village 
on the outlet of Chautauqua Lake, where the boats plied up and down, 
and where there was a fine water-power for extensive business; good soci-" 
ety and many advantages to leave with regret. Some of the sketches of 
pioneer life which have proceeded this, have depicted the trials to which 
the family were soon to be introduced. Fever and ague and billious dif- 
ficulties were prevalent, and often there were not well ones enough to 
care for the sick. Mrs. Blair possessed the heavenly gift of knowing just 
what to do to relieve the suffering and in some cases which called for the 
greatest skill, she was the means of their restoration to health. 

At one time Mrs. Wasson was ill and weak and unable for a long time 
to perform her accustomed duties. Mrs. Blair visited her frequently and 
once recomended her to make an infusion of timothy hay and to drink 
it freely, having known a similar case cured by that means. Mrs. Was- 
son followed her advice and was very soon benefltted by doing so. Many 
instances of Mrs. Blair's usefulness and neighborly kindness and success- 
ful treatment of alarming maladies are related. Sickness came to her 


own family and she had need herself, of the ministrations of her friends; 
and she was not without them. Indeed, instances of reciprocal kindness 
warm from the heart, of noble forgetful ness of self, unshrinking firmness, 
calm endurance, and sometimes reckless bravery are so often brought to 
light in searching out these incidents of pioneer life, that the faith in 
human nature which only happy childhood knows comes back, and !l a 
light that never was on land or sea" glimmers through the mist. 

Mrs. Blair was a quiet home-woman. Her oldest children were daugh- 
ters who married and left home early, leaving her with a large share of 
household labor to perform; yet she hadcasther "bread upon the waters," 
and in due season it returned to her. 

One cold winter night when the prairie was covered with snow and ice, 
she was taken very sick. So alarming was her illness that it seemed im- 
possible for her to live until morning. Her son Edwin went for Mrs. 
Hook; she was at home alone with her three little children, her husband 
having gone on one of those pioneer journeys. When she heard how Mrs. 
Blair needed her, she thought at first, that she could not leave her child- 
ren; but she had taught them filial obedience in her cheerful, loving 
decided way, and she knew she could trust them. So she awakened her 
oldest daughter and told where she was going, and, covering the three 
together in the warm bed, gave directions for them to stay there until 
she returned, and she would come as early in the morning as she could. 
She started with Edwin straight across the prairie, for there were no 
roads or fences then. She found it so very slippery that it would take a 
long time for her to get there no rubbers in those days so she sat down 
and took off her shoes and went in her stockings, that no time might be 
lost. Fortunately her stockings were thick woolen ones, of her own knit- 
ting. She, too, was one who knew just what to do in sickness and trouble, 
and her prompt assistance brought relief to Mrs. Blair; and Mrs. Hook 
returned home in the morning to find her children safe where she had 
left them. 

It would be gratifying to Mrs. Blair's children and descendents to hear 
all the kind and respectful words that are spoken of her by those who 
have known her all these years, and the tender and appreciative things said 
of her by her daughter-in-law. Mrs. E. M.Blair. Her last sickness was ex- 
ceedingly distressing, the result of a fall, and after lingering many weeks 
and receiving the loving care of her son and family she went Home! 

Mr. James Blair was born at Blanford, Connecticut, June 3, 1788. 
Mrs. Fanny (Hamilton) Blair, was born at Worcester, Massachusetts, 
February 15, 1792. They were married about 1814, at Stockbridge, Oneida 


county. New York. They had eight children. One son died in childhood. 
The others were James E., Winthrop H., Edwin M., William W. and 
Charles L., and two daughters, Elmina and Caroline. 

James R. came to Illinois in -1846, and died March 18, 1857. Charles 
L., the youngest, was drowned September 3, 1850. Elmina Jane, died 
March 10, 1853, at East Grove, Bureau County, Illinois. Mr. James Blair 
died at Aniboy, Illinois, June 12, 1851. Mrs. Blair, his widow, died at 
the same place, January 17, 1881. 

There are at this time, 1893, three sons and one daughter living: E. M. 
Blair, who lives on the old homestead, two and a half miles southwest of 
Amboy, W. W. and W. H. Blair, of Lamoni, Decatur county, Iowa, and 
Mrs. Caroline Kimball, of Neilsville Clark county, "Wisconsin. 


One Autumn Mr. Blair went to Chicago with a load of wheat, drawn 
by three yoke of oxen. It usually required about nine days to accomplish 
the trip, with mercy to the oxen. At that season of the year it was the 
custom to camp out on the way, and also to carry ones' own provisions as 
far as possible in order to have anything left from the money received for 
the produce. One place of encampment was at Desplaines, about twelve 
miles this side of Chicago. It was in a large grove, the trees not too close 
to render the place aught but a delightful camping ground. There were 
gathered there over a hundred and fifty teams, on the way, either to or 
from Chicago. There was one man who came from Knox county, with an 
ox team, who had kept up with his companions who catne with horses, 
all the distance. The way he accomplished the feat was by breaking his 
encampment an hour or two earlier in the morning than his companions 
did, traveling later in the evening, or until he overtook them. On this 
morning, when Mr. Blair was present, this man yoked up his team and 
got under way about three o'clock in the morning. He appeared to be a 
happy man, for as he proceeded on his way singing, the morning air bore 
back the words he sang: 

"O how happy are they 

Who their Savior obey, 

And have laid up their treasures above: 

Tongue can never express 

The sweet comfort and peace 

Of a soul in its earliest love." 

In the winter of 18, Mr. Heman Mead started from his home, adjoin- 
ing what is now the County Farm, in Eldena, for Pine Creek mill, near 


Mt. Morris, with a load of grain, crossing Rock River at Dixon, on the 
ice. He reached the mill in safety, had his grist ground and was on his 
way home, reaching Dixon about ten or eleven o'clock in the evening. 
He drove onto the ice, following the track over which he had passed in 
the morning. When in about the middle of the river, in the current of 
the stream, his horses broke through the ice, and horses, wagon and grain 
were drawn under. Mr. Mead had the presence of mind to throw his arms 
out over the ice, and having on a thick coat, the ice held him, freezing on- 
to the coat-sleeves. He shouted for help. For a long time his calls 
reached no ones ears. At last, some travelers who stopped at the Phoenix 
hotel, which was near the river, were shown by the clerk to their room, 
which, providentially, had a window which was not quite closed. As 
they were preparing for bed one of them said he was sure he heard some 
one calling as if in distress. On going to the window to open it to listen, 
he found it partly open, which fortunate fact allowed the call to be heard 
by him. They immediately descended to the office and a party of them 
started toward the river in the direction of the sound. On arriving 
where Mr. Mead was, they found it wonld not be safe to venture further 
without returning to the house and getting boards with which they could 
reach and rescue him. He was taken to the hotel and everything was 
done for his comfort. In the morning the good people of Dixon contrib- 
uted money enough to buy him another wagon, a pair of horses and a 
load of grain, and as there was some money left it was given him, and he 
was sent on home rejoicing. It makes one feel like breaking forth into 
singing the anthem of the angels of Bethlehem when hearing of such 

Mr. Blair relates an incident in which his father was the actor. He 
bad been to Wilson's mill on the Elkhorn, about thirty-two miles north- 
west of here, and was on his return home. He crossed the river at Dixon 
and came out on the Peoria road. It was in the evening and he lost his 
way. After traveling a long time, and it appeared as if he was coming 
back to where he had been, his oxen were getting too tired to go farther. 
He had no way to judge what direction to go, for the night was dark; so 
he moved his flour to the other end of the wagon and prepared to wait 
until daybreak. It was in December and he was suffering with the cold. 
Fortunately his dog went with him and taking him under the blankets 
which he had, he waited until dawn, the warmth of the dog keeping him 
from freezing. With the first light he espied the grove in the distant 
horizon and lost no time in reaching home. 


Mr. Blair describes the ruins of Indian lodges which were in the vicin- 
ity of his farm, in two or three different places; also the manner of dis- 
posing of the remains of the dead. The body of one Indian was standing 
tied to a tree and a fence was built around it higher than the head; the 
rails fastened close together as if to afford careful protection from incau- 
tiuus intrusion. This was quite near to the ruined lodges. Mr. Blair has 
seen two similar sepulchers of the Indian dead, in his journeyings in 
Northern Illinois. 

Mr. Blair, on one occasion, took ten barrels of flour from Grand Detour 
to Peru, from which place it was to be shipped; crossing the river about 
three miles north of Dixon. It was in the latter part of May or tlrst of 
June. On the way he got "sloughed" three times, each time having all 
the barrels to unload and reload. At one place his horse and heavily 
laden wagon sank so deeply in the mire that they were extracted with 
great difficulty. He was alone and it was evening. Usually two or more 
teams went in company to avoid such solitary disasters. Mr. Blair 
waded in and unfastened his horses from the wagon and led them out, 
and then started off to find help. He reached a house and found no one 
at home but the children; but with their knowledge he took a wagon and 
with that returned to the slough He wheeled it near the other wagon 
and alone lifted five barrels into it, attached his horses to it and drew it 
out, unloaded and repeated the work for the other five barrels, and so 
finally drew the mired wagon out, all the time the rain corning down. 

At another time, he with his brother-in-law, Mr. Abbott, took a load 
of wheat to mill in Grand Detour. It was in December and wheat suffic- 
ient for the winter was to be ground, lest the- mills should freeze up so 
that grinding would be impossible. They started in the morning with 
oxen, and reached their destination about five o'clock in the afternoon, 
there to find many waiting with grists which would require three days 
work. The river was frozen partly over, but chaining the oxen to the 
cart, they left them, and managed to get the grain over the ice to where 
a kind of wharf was built out to reach the ice, making a way to get the 
grain to the mill. But what could they do? There were no houses 
within several miles, and to wait three days seemed impossible. Soap- 
pealing to the kind hearted miller and telling him how far they were 
from home, he told them that if they would have the grain at hand and 


would wait until after all the others were asleep, he would grind theirs 
so that they could get away. About nine o'clock all were asleep and their 
grist was soon in the mill. A young man from Mt. Morris was there 
with a team on that side of the river, with whom Mr. Blair had formed 
some acquaintance that afternoon while waiting. He ventured to awake 
him and ask him to help them with the flour over the river, or out to the 
ice where they could transfer it to their wagons. He good naturedly con- 
sented and when the task was accomplished he refused to receive any 
compensation for his night's labor; Mr. Blair promising to return the 
favor if he ever had an opportunity. 

It was nearly or quite midnight when they started for home. They 
suffered extremely with the cold, especially Mr. Abbott, Mr. Blair taking 
care to exercise all he could. They arrived at Mr. Hannum's "hay-house" 
about five o'clock the next morning, when Mrs. Hannum prepared them 
a nice breakfast, and thus they were able to reach home in the morn- 
ing, greatly to the surprise and delight of the family. 

The summer of 1844 was one unusally wet and the stream at Rocky 
Ford overflowed its banks, washing away the south part of the bridge, 
over which the stage from Galena to Peoria (afterward from Galena to 
Peru) used to pass, stopping at Mr. Hook's. When the mail wagon ar- 
rived, the crossing was accomplished by swimming the horses over and 
taking the mail and passengers, if there were any, across in a boat, bor- 
rowing another wagon for the remainder of the route, and on the return 
trip crossing the same way, leaving the borrowed wagon and taking the 
mail wagon again on the other side of the stream. It was difficult to 
build a bridge at that time, the facilities for the heavy work required 
being unobtainable; so the bridge could not, at once, be repaired. 

It is not strange that in the quietude of these prairie homes, any unus- 
ual event like the rising of the river, and the destruction of the bridge 
should attract the neighbors to the scene; and here, on this day to which 
the story refers, were gathered Mr. John Hook, wife, baby and mother, 
Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael and child, who lived in a cabin near the Ford, 
and the stage-driver; some of them quite eager to take a trip in the boat 
across the water. Standing on the north part of the bridge which had 
withstood the flood, were Mr, Edwin Blair, and his brother, who had 
comedown to view the swollen river and the destruction caused by the 
flood. Mr. Blair saw, with fear, the party get into the boat and remon- 
strated with Mr. Hook; but Mr. Hook's perfect confidence in the ability 
of his mother, who could control a canoe while standing in it, made him 


blind to the danger. All ventured aboard, Mr. Hook remaining on the 
bridge with Mr. Blair and brother to see the departure of the pleasure 
seekers. Mr. Hook's mother, a tall women, standing in the center of the 
boat, Mrs. Hook arid baby and Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael and child, and 
the stage-driver, all in the boat. It sped from the shore, but immediately 
commenced careening and in another moment capsized, all sinking in the 
water. Mr. Hook was too much alarmed to know what to do, but Mr. 
Blair, whose presence of mind is proof i n cases of danger, with his brother, 
rushed to their assistance; snatching a long stick as he ran to aid in help- 
irg them to shore. While Mr. Blair waded in to reach out the pole to 
t!iem, he kept hold of his brother's hand, his brother holding on to the 
bushes in the water, tor the current was so swift and strong that it would 
have been useless to venture in unaided. With great difficulty they were 
Irawn out, Mr Carmichael reaching the stick with one hand and holding 
:o the women and children with the other. Mrs. Hook was unconscious 
when brought to shore, but through all had never relaxed her bold upon 
the little girl who was clasped tightly in her mothers arms all safe and 
uninjured. Mrs Carmichael and child were brought safe to shore. Mr. 
Hook's mother and the stage-driver were drawn by the strong, rapid cur- 
rent further down the river, and it was not without courageous efforts 
that they were rescued, while Mr. Hook was trying to restore his wife. 

The little one was Mrs. Hook's third daughter, who married William 
Livingstone and lived near Jacob Doan's. 

Those who came in later years, to whom many of these landmarks are 
without associations, can hardly realize how much they suggest to the 
pioneer, to whom, like the "Bells of Shandon," they must tell "many a 
tate" of '-youth arid hope" and the departed days. 

Mrs. Clara (Frisbee) Davis, widow of Josiah M. Davis, related some 
very interesting incidents relative to her early life here. She was a little 
gi'l of only seven years at that time, but she well remembered the journey 
ard her father's horses, old Tom and Jerry, and just how they looked. 
Hjr father, Sylvester Frisbee, came fromApulia, New York, in company 
w th Ransom Barnes, in 1838. They came in covered wagons, bringing 
what goods they could with them, Mr. Frisbee going back for the rest 
a.'terwards. Little Clara, for rest and amusement, would ride a part of 
the time with Mr. Barnes and then go back to her father's wagon. The 
loute was the old Chicago road, and Mr.Tripp kept the tavern at "Inlet." 
They went to Hannurn's hotel, called "The Temperance House." When 


people who ask where the "bar" was, Mr. Hannum replied, "that there 
was no bar, but plenty of good cold water and tea and coffee." Benoni 
Hannurn was a most excellent and useful man, always ready to do good 
as he had opportunity, and he found many opportunities. He was a true 
Christian and gifted in the use of language, consequently he was called 
upon to lead religious services at funerals and on other occasions, in the 
absence of ministers. He had previously learned the cabinet maker's 
trade and as he was a very kind man, he would sometimes, in cases of 
death, make the coffin and take all the charge of the funeral. 

Of Mrs. Hannum, whose likeness is in this book, Mrs. Davis said: 
"She was such a good woman, a lovely Christian day by day, alwa/s 
ready to do good and lend a helping hand whenever an opportunity pre- 
sented itself. She believed, as the Lord prospered one, in laying aside a 
tenth for Him, and she kept a purse for the Lord's money; so, wher, 
there was a worthy object she had something ready to give. She had 
learned the milliner's trade before coming here, and she used to make 
over and trim bonnets for women and girls around I remember so well 
of her making one for Mrs. Dexter. Mrs. Hannum's home was a model 
of neatness and comfort. Once inside the sod or "hay-house" one forgot 
its humble exterior. Mr. Edwin M. Blair tells of the comfort and good 
cheer received by him and hisbrotber-in-law, Mr. Abbott, on one occasiqn 
when on a cold return trip from Grand Detour where they had been io 
mill. It was very early in the morning of a December day, but so 
kindly were he and his companion provided for that the mention of tjie 
sod house or "hay-house," of Mr. Hannum, has ever since awakened a 
train of pleasant recollections, notwithstanding the trip was one of grat 

Mr. Hannum died in 1851. The next year Mrs. Frisbee died, and Uvo 
years after Mr. Frisbee married Mrs. Hannum. Of her step-mother, Mrs. 
Davis said: "I always felt that I was highly favored in having tjvo 
such dear, good mothers. I was a great mother girl and my mother w|as 
a very affectionate, devoted mother, so amiable and sweet-tempered, and 
a sweet singer, too, and a good Christian; and rny father was also." 

Dr. Gardner was our family physician. 1 have very pleasant recoll^c- 
tions of him and his wife. They lived three miles from us, but with tjie 
exception of one family, they were our nearest neighbors for a long tina'p. 
My sister and I were delighted when Mrs. Gardner was coming, for she 
was such a dear, sweet lady, and her babies were always so sweet anj 
pretty, we had great pleasure in tending them. We had great confldenct 
in Dr. Gardner, who carried us through some very dangerous illnesses; and 





he was a Christian. I remember hearing my father say it was worth a deal to "have a physician that was a Christian." 

Miss Clara Frisbee was married to Josiah M. Davis, son of Joel Davis, 
in 1849, Rev. Luke Hitchcock performing the ceremony. (Joel Davis was 
a brother of Cyrus Davis and of Mrs. Farwell. He earn e west in 1848.) 
Mr. Joel Davis and his son erected a frame house on a farm just west of 
the city limits. It was not finished during Joel Davis' life time, as he 
lived but a short time. Josiah went to California and was gone several 
years, his wife remaining with his friends here during his absence. After 
his return he finished the house which his father had commenced, with 
much taste. He planted trees, shrubs and rose-bushes. At the eastern 
entrance of the grounds was a broad gate, the upper part surmounted by 
a real bird-castle, of several stories height. There were trees at each side 
of the gate, and it looked so hospitable and delightful that it seemed to 
speak for the inmates of the retreat and say, as it gleamed white in the 
shade of the trees: 

"Stop, traveler, just a moment at my gate 

And I will give you news so very weet 

That you will thank me. Where the branches meet 
Across your road, and droop, as with the weight 

Of shadows laid upon them, pause, I pray, 

And turn aside a little from your way." 

-Once inside the large inclosure, everything told of rest and loving 
peace. The veranda from which one could see the birds flying about 
their houses for there were others besides the one over the great gate- 
waylooked out over the green fields with waving grain or corn; and an- 
other gate, a "wicket-gate," opened to the road which passed the house on 
the west from the Rocky Ford road to Union Corners. Mr. Davis named 
the place "Summer Hill Farm." He is remembered for his cheerful, 
sunny, kind nature and social disposition; and when in early manhood he 
passed away, leaving his devoted young wife and twochildren, there were 
many to hold him in affectionate remembrance, and to cherish an abiding 
interest in his family. 

Mrs. Davis remained at Summer Hill Farm until the best interests of 
herchildren seemed to favorachange. when with rare judgement and gen- 
tle firmness she parted with her "sweet home, "and went toChicago, where 
she educated them to nobly fill their places in life. Her son, Millard, 
has a family, and a beautiful home of his own, and is a prosperous mer- 
chant in Chicago. Her daughter Lizzie married Rev. Mr. Pears* 1 , a Con- 
gregationalist minister and is settled in Turner, Illinois. Mrs. Davis 
made her home with Mrs. Pearse, and was deeply interested in all the 


duties which devolve upon a pastor's family up to the time of her sickness 
and death, which occurred the last of April this present year. 

Mr. William Main now owns and occupies "Summer Hill Farm." 

Curtis T. Bridgernan came here in 1838, and bought a claim of 160 
acres of James Hawley, for $700. It was the finest piece of timber in 
Palestine Grove, mostly whi te and burr-oak. Mr. B. sold $300 worth for the 
old I. C. R. R., which was projected justaffcer the closeof the Black-Hawk 
war, in 1833, and was laid out and partly built in 1837, but abandoned in 
the financial revolution of 1840. The line is yet visible west of Rocky 
Ford. Mr. Bridgeiuan's claim is known as the Blunt farm, although now 
owned by William E. Ives. It was the favorite camping ground of the 
Indians, with its large trees and its contiguity to Green River. Here, 
sometimes hundreds of them encamped, led by their chief, Shabbona. 

Mr. Bridgeman lived on this claim five years, when he sold it and 
moved to Crombie Lane, and took up 160 acres of land, now the farms of 
Adam Mynard and Hiram Bates. Part of the building Mr. Bridgeman 
lived in is standing on the Bates farm and is used as a corn-crib. It was 
eighteen feet long and ten feet wide. This was their sleeping room. On 
the side was an addition made mostly of sod. 

In the fall of 1843, the weather had been mild and balmy as the "sun- 
ny south," and no precautions had been taken to bank-up the house which 
was only an unfinished frame building. One evening about the middle 
of November there was a light fall of snow. In the morning the family 
awoke to find the snow a foot deep in their sod kitchen, and it had to be 
shoveled out before they could get breakfast. From this time until 
spring the ground was covered with snow to a great depth and there were 
no signs of spring until the middle of April. The weather was bitterly 
cold nearly every day that winter. Mr. Bridgeman made a trip to Inlet 
Grove and got out timber for a new house that was made into lumber at 
Dewey's Mill. A building was erected which was considered quite a 
structure for those days, but the family never moved into it. Mr. Bridge- 
man sold his claim to David Searles and moved to the farm now owned 
and occupied by Mr. G. P. Finch. That was the suburb of the settlement 
then. All beyond was unbroken prairie to Rock River. 

Mrs. Bridgeman was a lovely woman, and highly esteemed in the com- 
munity. She was the mother of our townsman, Mr. Cyrus Bridgeman. 
She reared a family whose lives are an honor to her. 


Frederick Bainter, with his wife and one child, came from South 
Bend, Indiana, to this place in the fall of 1838. In the spring of 1839 he 
built a log house on the place now known as the John Warinck farm, 
where he farmed for several years, and then turned his attention to 
blacksmithing and making plows, erecting a blacksmith shop on his farm. 
In the spring of 1846 the house burned down, and he moved to the little 
burg of Binghampton, where he, with James Doan, built up quite an in- 
dustry at the stand now known as Kreiter's Mills. Many of the people 
will remember the improvements there made in the old style plow which 
he furnished to a great many farmers of Lee, Bureau, La Salleand other 
counties. It was at their home that Death made the first call in this 
neighborhood, taking their sweet baby boy Franklin. After a number of 
years they moved to Goshen, Ind., and later, to California, where Mr. 
Bainter died in 1875. His wife, who was always his helper and adviser, 
with the remainder of her family, are still spending their days in that 
most noted of beautiful countries. 


Mr. Cyrus Davis came here in 1839 from Newlpswich, N. H. On Jan- 
uary 30th, 1823, he married Miss Mary Appleton, of Dublin, N. H., fifth 
child of Isaac and Sarah (Twitchell) Appleton. Mr. Joseph Appleton, 
who was one of the early settlers here, was the oldest child of her brother 
Joseph. Mr. Davis was a brother of Mrs. Farwell. His farm was upon 
the site which is now a part of the city of Amboy, and was bounded on 
the north by the road now running past "the Hawk's house," now owned 
by William Armour, and past Mr. Rush Badger's; on the east, by the 
creek crossing Main street, 1-y Wm. E. Ives and south by Division street. 
His log house was a few feet east of the Baptist Church on Mason street, 
in what is now the middle of the street. His barn was where the Baptist 
Church stands, and his orchard just north. 

A little anecdote is told of Mr. Davis' attempt to mark where the 
regular road ought to be. He plowed a few furrows for the line of the 
road. The next morning as he "viewed the landscape o'er" he looked in 
vain for his turnpike. Some of the roguish young men had carefully 
turned all the sod back in place. Mr. Davis stood and looked at the joke 
n few minutes and walked silently away. 

In 1845 he built a convenient frame house, the first of the kind in the 
place. It is one of the "old landmarks" and is among the illustrations. 
After the streets of Amboy were laid out, it' was moved a few rods east 
and now stands directlv opposite the Baptist Church. The little child 
sitting on the door step in the picture is a grandson of Col. John. B. Wyman. 



CHESTER S. BADGER first came to the country from Broome 
County, New York, in 1837, stopping in Joliet, Illinois. In the fall 
of the same year he returned to Chemung County. New York, and 
in the spring of 1838 he came back to Illinois, accompanied by his son 
Simon; and in the spring of 1839 Warren came wibh mother and two sis- 
ters, Sarah and Rowena. They came by the Lakes through Chicago to 
Lee County and "landed on the site" now occupied by his grandson, Duer 

In 1840, Chester, son of Chester S., then but eighteen years old, drove 
a team from Broome County, New York, through to this place, where he 
found parents, brothers and sisters. The meeting, though joyous, was 
not without sadness. There was such a contrast between the pleasant 
home and the social life which they had left, and the pioneer life with 
its privations and hardships to which they had come, that even after all 
the years which have intervened it seems painful to Mr. Badger to recall 
the meeting. 

The house was a small, story and a half frame house, without lath or 
plaster. It had warped and shrunk so that although the family covered 
interstices the best they could, the northwest winds would drive in the 
snow until it not only covered the floor but the beds also. In coldest 
weather, to use Mr. Badger's own words, "We used to hang up three bed- 
blankets, or quilts around the fire and enjoy ourselves sitting inside and 
eating crab-apples, as we had no other kind of fruit." For our fencing, 
we drew logs a distance of three miles and split them into rails and then 
made fence. The Pottawattomie Indians, of whom Shabbona was their 
chief, roamed at will through here and encamped near Green River. 
Game was plentiful. I have seen forty deer going to drink in the creek. 
More rabbits than a strong man could carry away could be taken in a 
short time and but a short distance from home; and fish also, could be 
caught v in abundance, each weighing from four pounds to some times 
much heavier weight." 



In 1837 a man from New Jersey by name of Erastus De Wolfe, an 
Episcopalian minister, came into the country. He lived about half way 
between here and Dixon, on land now known as the De Wolfe farm, and 
preached in the Wasson school house. Mrs. De Wolfe organized a Sun- 
day School, commencing with six little girls, two of her own, two of Mrs. 
Wasson's, and two of Mrs. Badger's. This was in 1845. 

Sarah Badger, the older sister, taught school in Sugar Grove at $1.50 
per week and had luxuries pumpkin pie and crab apple sauce. Rowena 
taught in the old log school house, and afterwards near Mr. De Wolfe's 
place, and also near Grand Detour. 

The Badger family have been useful members of society. Mrs. Bad- 
ger is remembered with respect and love. She was a quiet, retiring 
woman of much refinement, and her sons and daughters have filled many 
places of usefulness in Amboy. Her daughters were among the earliest 
teachers, and her sons, Henry, Simon, Chester and Warren, have all con- 
tributed to Amboy's prosperity. The brothers engaged in the manufac- 
ture of plows and also built a mill, afterwards rebuilding it into a steam 
mill. Warren died in the prime of life, Simon in 1876, leaving one son, 
Mr. Rush Badger, and three daughters. He filled various offices of trust 
in the town, having been justice of the peace sixteen years previous to 
his death. Chester enlisted in the Eleventh Illinois Volunteers, and 
served in the Mexican war under Gen. Sterling Price. He afterwards 
went overland to California in company with his brother Simon. He has 
been a prominent man here, serving the town in many ways. He can 
remember numberless interesting events connected with the county 
which would have been worthy of record. He lives in retirement on his 
farm, which has been his home since first coming to this country in 1840. 
He has three children. 

Henry E. Badger was one of the early teachers here. He was. with 
his brothers, engaged in the manufacture of plows, and also in the mill 
known as the Badger Mill; has been supervisor, road commissioner, 
school trustee, postmaster, merchant and farmer. During the war he was 
most loyal, giving liberally to the Union cause. No soldier's widow or 
family who applied to him for aid was ever sent away unsupplied. No 
one has given more generously to support every good cause. His life has 
been embellished by a most excellent wife, who has filled her place at 
home, in church and in society with a devotion to be remembered grate- 
fully by many long after she can fill it no more. Mr. Badger has two 
daughters and one son living, Mr. Warren Badger, a prominent merchant 

- 85 - 

John Hook and wife, Mrs. Matilda (Berry) Hook, came to Eocky Ford 
in the fall of 1839. They were natives of Howland, Maine, a town on the 
JPenobscot River. They came in covered wagons, each drawn by two 
horses, Mr. Berry, a brother of Mrs. Hook, and others accompanying them. 

After reaching Buffalo, New York, and learning that travellers 
through Ohio encountered many marshy and difficult places of crossing, 
they took passage to Detroit on the steamer Milwaukee, and from there 
pursued their journey with wagons to Peru, where they resided until they 
came here. 

Mrs. Hook's narrative of the incidents of their trip is intensely inter- 
esting. Many were the kindnesses they received on the way, when they 
encamped near settlements and farm houses; many the invitations to rest 
and lodge under some one's roof-tree, while additions to their store of 
food were smilingly given. To hear her recount the story of her life in 
her cheerful and pleasant way, one would think that " the hardships of 
pioneer life" were but a series of pleasure excursions and encampments 
for the sake of the enjoyment of them. It would be hardly safe to have 
the story in her own words, even were it possible to remember them, 
least some young readers might be missing some day, to be found as 
young Daniel Boone was surprised by his father trying pioneer life on 
his own hook somewhere beyond the Rockies. 

Her house at Rocky Ford was for years an Inn, where the weary might 
find rest and the hungry, food, although it bore no sign. As stated above, 
it was the mail carrier's stopping place on his route from Galena to 
Peoria, afterwards changed to Peru. Travelers would seek lodging for 
the night inside their hospitable doors to be safe from the wolves, and 
they were not turned away, though a place on the floor were the only 

Men whose names, in after years were widely known have been served 
here, and Knowlton and Frazier on their passing from Dixon to Peoria 
or returning, were frequent lodgers, and often Sheriff Campbell was their 
guest. Here young Backensto alighted and made his toilet when 
first he visited Amboy to present himself before the queen of his 
heart, Miss Clara Wasson, whom he had met at the house of her aunt 
Mrs. Joseph Smith of Nauvoo. 

Our illustration of the bridge at Rocky Ford marks the place near 
which the Indian trail from Council Bluffs to Chicago crossed the ford; 
and in the time of the Black Hawk war, the command under Major Still- 
man forded the stream at this point on their way to Stillman's Run. 



In 1842 it was the mail route, and the carrier made the trip every week 
on horse back without failure stopping at John Hook's Monday nights as 
he went north, and Friday nights going south. A few years afterwards 
the post office was removed to Binghampton. 

The site on the ridge where Mr. Hook built his house, was on an old 
Indian camping ground on the trail which crossed at the ford. The 
Indians came frequently and in large numbers, on their way to and from 
Chicago to receive their annuities. When they found their old camping- 
ground occupied they withdrew to the wooded knoll south of the place 
owned by Mr. Bear, and east of Mr. Edwin Bliss. Mrs. Hook relates how 
the Indians rode up on horse back and surveyed their old place of en- 
campment, and finding it occupied, rode away, and selected the site 
already described. They would frequently remain for a month, hunting 
and fishing; for deer, prairie-chickens, rabbits, etc. were abundant. 

Before breaking camp to pursue their journey, they would prepare for 
it by roasting pieces of venison which they would put on the point of a 
stick, and keep it over the fire by confining the other end of the stick 
slantwise in the ground. After it was broiled and smoked in this way, it 
was packed for the journey. They appeared to enjoy a call from their 
white neighbors. Once when Mrs. Hook went to call on them in their 
tents, a pleasant young half-breed Indian, whose father was a French- 
man, of Milwaukee, where the young man and his brother who was with 
him had been educated, begged to take her fair haired, blue eyed baby to 
show to his people in the tents, promising to return it soon in safety. 
This was the first trip the young men had ever taken with their mother's 
people, and the parents were both with the company. The little one was 
not afraid and the young man carried it tenderly to the other tents where 
the women patted the baby's arms and cheeks and smiled upon it, as did 
the young man. He soon brought it back, pleasantly, the baby enjoying 
it all. His father's name was Juneau. His mother was a famous medi- 
cine squaw and used to be called to go twenty miles to cure the sick. 

Mrs. Hook used sometimes to carry them presents of milk and other 
food, taking a pail of milk and a dipper and so treating the Indian chil- 
dren all around. In return the mothers would treat with berries, or a drink 
made of maple sugar which they had made mixed with fresh water from 
the creek. They were frequent callers at Mrs. Hook's house where they 
received such favors as she could render them. Once as she was sitting 
at home, a shadow darkened the room, and on looking up she saw a tall 
Indian standing in the door, attracted there by the odor of something 
which was being cooked. He entered and raised the cover of the kettle, 


asking many questions about it. It was a turtle from which they were 
extracting the oil, and when told that it was for medicinal purposes, he 
was much interested. The Indians gathered many herbs, and roots 
which they washed and put up carefully to take away with them. Once, 
when two or three Indians called and asked for something to eat, Mrs. 
Hook sent out to them by her husband, bread, meat, etc., on separate 
plates for each, with knives and forks, just te see how they would use 
them. They good-naturedly laid them aside and taking the meat in their 
fingers and saying, "this is the way Indian eat" they ate it in their own 

Mr. Hook's family had been accustomed to Indians, for on the Penob- 
scot River in Maine there have always been many of them; some beau- 
tiful specimens of their work in baskets and moccasins finding the way 
around the country, and often being for sale. Mrs. Hook seems to have 
had an unusually happy faculty in dealing with them. If some cf our 
Indian agents <m the frontier might learn something from her, it would 
be a happy thing for both Uncle Sam's red and white children. 

The first school-house was built in 1839. It was a log house not far 
from where Seneca Strickland now lives. Mrs. Strickland, daughter of 
Andrew Bainter, remembers the log threshold over which she climbed 
when she ran away to school at the age of two or three years. This 
school-house had three windows, with twelve panes of glass in each, six 
by eight inches, and they were put in sidewise. Long benches were 
placed on three sides, with a broad board back of them, fastened to the 
wall by a support from the under side, which served as desks for the 
children to lay their books on, as well as to write upon. Near the long, 
high benches were two or three smaller ones for the youngest children. 
Here they sat, holding their books in their hands while they spelled b-a, 
ba; c-a, ca; d-a, da; etc. A blackboard was unknown to these little pio- 
neers, neither were there maps or charts; only the rough, dark logs and 
the small, low windows; yet they were happy and faithful, and to obey 
the teacher was one rule seldom broken. One of the first lessons the new 
teacher always gave to all, both large and small, was the first part of the 
spelling-book. To the small ones the great puzzle was to tell diphthongs 
and triphthongs, interrogations and exclamations; but if they could close 
the book and say the words, all was well. The teachers, in those days, 
were thorough; for example, there were two little girls not five years old, 
who had to stand on the floor and study their lessons because they had 
misspelled "chintz" and "stiltz," almost breaking their hearts. 




The first teacher was Miss Clara Wasson, greatly beloved by her pu- 
pils. Here afterwards taught Miss Lucy Ann Church, Charlotte Doan, 
the Misses Badger and Wasson, Ann Chadwick, and "a long line of dis- 
tinguished" teachers whose names we have not been able to obtain. Miss 
Clara Wasson, now Mrs. Backensto, writes, "I now remember my little 
school with great pleasure. Although quite inexperienced myself, the 
dear little people thought me a perfect teacher, which shows how inex- 
perienced the most of them were, having never attended school before. 
They were so quiet and obedient that the little ground squirrels would 
come into the school-room to eat the scattered crumbs." 

Mrs. Backensto relates another incident. "Just after the Dexter chil- 
dren had started home from school they came running back to rne saying 
that Thomas had been bitten by a rattlesnake. We soon found the snake 
and with a long switch whipped it to death, as this is the surest and 
easiest way to dispose of those venomous reptiles. Andrew Bainter tied 
his whip-lash tightly around the leg, just above the wound. I soon found 
some Seneca snake root, and gathering a qnantity, bruised some between 
two stones and bound it with my handkerchief on to the wounded foot 
and took him, with a quantity of the snake-root, home to his mother, in- 
structing her to steep some of it in milk and give him to drink, and to 
bind some fresh root on the wound, which she did; and much to my sur- 
prise and satisfaction the next morning he came to school just a little 
lame, and soon recovered entirely. What a blessed Providence to provide 
an antidote for that deadly poison within our reach; and thanks to my 
mother's instructions, I knew just what to do " 

There must be many interesting reminiscences connected with this 
school-house were there time and opportunity to collect them from those 
who participated in them. Later, when the larger* log school-house was 
built between Col. Badger's and Mr. Wasson's, the old log house was 
moved farther east, near to the Lewis farm, and the new school-house 
was the usual place for preaching; but for some years it remained where 
it was first located and was the place for religious services as well as 
spelling-schools, singing-school, etc. Previous to the building of this, in 
the winter of 1837-8, religious services were held in the cabins. We hear 
of a Mr. Vincent, a relative of the eminent eastern divine, Rev. Dr. Vin- 
cent, preaching at Mr. Briclgeman's cabin. Messrs. Lumery, Smith, Gor- 
bitt, White and others at the Doan and other cabins. Mr. Stinson and 
other lay preackers and Rev. Erastus De Wolfe at the Dexter cabin; also 
at Mr. Benjamin Wasson's. The meetings were often on week days, the 
men leaving their labor to worship at this Shekinah in the wilderness; 


coming in their carts or wagons, drawn by oxen or horses; often following 
the Indian trails through thickets of wild fruit trees and groves of oak, 
all converging toward the creek and vicinity of the old encampments. 

Rev. Mr. Farney preached the first sermon in the old log school-house; 
afterwards, Revs. Luke Hitchcock, John Cross, Charles Gardner and 
others supplied. At one of Mr. Gardner's meetings he had for an auditor 
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Mr. Gardner invited him to 
close the services with prayer, which he did. He and Sidney Rigdon 
held meetings there, afterwards, and Smith had followers here who speak 
of him now with a look of reverence and sorrow as "The Martyred Proph- 
et." They have always been good and upright members of the community, 
cherishing no sympathy with Brigham Young, whom they consider as 
one who "defied the laws of God and man." 

The old school-nouse was of use to all in the settlement. Some of the 
stories told of the spelling-schools held there are most amusing. Old and 
young attended, and one bright little girl of six years, who was a good 
speller, so interested Simon Badger that he managed to keep near enough 
behind her to whisper assistance when a particularly "hard word" came 
to her. Once when she was chosen on the other side she went with anx- 
iety at the loss of her gallant assistant, but it was not long before he had 
changed seats and she found he was at hand. 

Emma Hale, the sister of Elizabeth Wasson, was born in the town of 
Harmony, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, July 10, 1804. Her par- 
ents, Mr. Isaac and Mrs. Elizabeth (Lewis) Hale, were pioneers of a self- 
reliant race, brave, honest, of unshaken fidelity and unquestioned integ- 
rity. She grew to womanhood amid the rural scenes, labors and recrea- 
tions incident to farm life on the banks of the Susquehanna River. She 
was a good horse-woman, and a canoe on the river was her plaything. 
She was a fair scholar for the common schools of the time, and a good 
singer and possessed of a fine voice. She was of excellent form, straight 
and above medium height, features strongly marked, hair and eyes brown, 
while her general intelligence and fearless integrity, united with her 
kindness of heart and splendid physical developments commanded both 
admiration and respect. 

In 1825 Miss Hale became acquainted with Joseph Smith, celebrated 
in the history of the religions of the United States, as the founder of 
"Mormonism," "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," to 
whom she was married in the town of South Bainbridge, New York, at 
the residence of 'Squire Tarbell, January 18, 1827. Mrs. Smith lived in 


the family of her husband's parents, at Manchester, New York, until 
December, when they moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, and settled near 
her father's farm. 

In September of this year, Mr. Smith became possessed of the plates 
from which he is said to have written the ''Book of Mormon." These 
plates Mr. Smith bad during their residence in their home near Isaac 
Hale, and of them Mrs. Smith states: 

'I knew that he had them. 1 made a linen sack for Mr. Smith to 
carry them in. They lay on a stand in my room, day after day, for weeks 
at a time, and I often moved them in cleaning the room and dusting the 
table. They were of metal, and when thumbed, as onesometimes thumbs 
the leaves of a book, would give off a metallic sound." 

A gentleman, now a resident of A in boy, who was, three or four years 
ago in business in Binghampton, New York, gives an interesting account 
of a visit which he made while there to Harmony township, Pennsylva- 
nia, where the plates were said, by Mr. Smith to have been found. The 
historic spot is on the summit of a high hill not far from the Susque- 
hanna river, and is still visited as a place of interest. The stones which 
formed the foundations of the derrick used, still surround the deep exca- 
vation, which, although partially filled, by the caving in of the earth, is 
some eighty-five feet deep. A Mr. Benson, whose farm joins the land 
once owned by Isaac Hale, Mrs. Smith's father, and who was familiar 
with the early history of both the Hale and Smith families, was the 
guide and instructor of our informant. Smith was about a year in reach- 
ing the depth of a hundred or more feet, where he claimed the Angel 
Meroni had made known to him the plates were to be found. He, with 
some of his friends, would work at the place nntil the money gave out, 
when the work must wait until more means to carry it on were obtained. 
One enthusiastic follower spent his farm and beggared himself in the 
search for the hidden treasure. Some people thought Smith insane, but 
his preaching drew to him crowds of followers. 

In February, 1829, Mrs. Smith became an amanuensis to her husband, 
and from his dictation she wrote much of the celebrated Book of Mor- 
mon; and in this year it was completed and published in Palmyra, New 
York, by E. B. Grandin. It was i:i this year that Oliver Cowdery joined 
his fortune and influence with the new religious movement begun by 
Joseph Smith. 

The persecutions which followed now compelled a removal from Har- 
mony, and in August, 1830, the family moved to Fayette* Seneca county, 
New York. From there, in January, 1831, they went to Kirtland, Ohio, 


where Newel K. Whitney, one of the leading men in the Mormon society, 
befriended them. The sickness incidental to a new country prevailed, 
and Mr. and Mrs. Smith having lost their flrst child, adopted a little boy 
and girl, twin children of Mrs. John Murdock, who died, the father con- 
senting. September, 1831, they moved to Hiram, Portage county, Ohio, 
thirty-five miles south-east of Kirtland. The converts to Mr. Smith's 
preaching were constantly arriving from all parts of the country, greatly 
to the disturbance of antagonists to the Mormon religion, and in March, 
1832, the most violent persecution followed. Mr Smith was dragged from 
his bed, beaten into insensibility, tarred and feathered and left for dead. 
A strange part of this experience was, that his spirit seemed to leave his 
body, and that during the period of insensibility he consciously stood 
over his own body, feeling no pain, but seeing and hearing all that trans- 
pi red. 

When, after returning to consciousness, he managed to drag himself 
back to his home, Mrs. Smith fainted at the sight; and the little adopted 
boy, who took cold on that fearful night, died the next week. It was a 
long time before Mrs. Smith recovered from the shock of all these accu- 
mulated sorrows. The same night Sidney Rigdon was subjected to the 
same treatment. 

He now started on a mission to Missouri, Mrs. Smith returning to 
Kirtland and stopping with her friends, the Whitneys. It is here that 
Joseph Smith, now of Lamoni, Decatur county, Iowa, was born, Novem- 
ber 6, 1832. 

In April, 1838, the family moved to Missouri, in Caldwell county. Here 
Mrs. Smith hoped for the quietude and peace for which she longed, but 
great numbers of converts flocked to their leader. The people became 
alarmed and violent persecutions which it is useless and painful to de- 
tail followed. Accusations of every kind were made, and the extermina- 
tion of the Mormons seemed to be determined upon. The leaders, Joseph 
and his brother Hiram Smith and others were imprisoned, and a sum- 
mary death from shooting was expected by them. Mrs. Smith was now 
left with her family of four children; her adopted daughter, her three 
sons, the oldest six years old, the youngest five months, at the beginning 
of winter, her husband in jail for his religion's sake, powerless to help 
him. What could she do? She bravely visited her husband in the jail, 
taking her oldest son with her, and while she was permitted but a short 
interview, she obtained permission to leave the child a guest of his man- 
acled and fettered father, until the next day. 

After making such arrangements for the safety of herself and child- 


ren as she could, Mrs. Smith left the home from which she had been 
driven, and turned her steps toward Illinois. The winter shut in early, 
and when the fleeing pilgrims reached the Mississippi River it was frozen 
over and Mrs. Smith, weary, sad and heart-broken, crossed the mighty 
river to Quincy, Illinois, on foot, carrying her two youngest children, 
with the oldest boy and little girl clinging to her dress. She found a hos- 
pitable welcome at the home of a family by the name of Cleveland, where 
she remained during the long winter, sad, but trusting, and in faithful 
expectancy, waiting for her husband's relief and delivery from bonds. 
When, at last, he was free, she welcomed him with a wife's rapture, and 
was ready to begin again the life of devotion to his happiness as she had 
ever been. 

The little town of Commerce, in Hancock county, Illinois, at the 
head of the Lower Rapids, had been chosen for a resting place for the 
refugees, and the family reached it on May tenth. A celebrated river 
pilot, by the name of Hugh White, owned a farm on which was a hewed 
log house with a clap-board annex, which Mr. Smith bought, and into 
which he moved his family. Yet, even here, Mrs. Smith knew not what 
awaited her. All her married life had been such as to call forth the 
strongest courage and fortitude and faith of her soul, and in none of them 
had she faltered. What she had and what she was, she had placed on the 
altar of her devotions; and if God willed, she was content. 

The seasons of 1839-40, were seasons of severe trials to the new settle- 
meats. Fever incident to the new countries, the long exposure and cry- 
ing want endured by many in their forced exodus from Missouri, the fogs 
from the river and miasma from the swamps all combined to make the 
season sickly, and hundreds became victims, many of whom died. Mrs. 
Smith realizing the weight of the general burden and the necessity of 
proper nursing of the stricken people, opened her house for hospital ser- 
vice. Numbers of the severe cases were removed to her home and placed 
under her care. She, with her family of children, took shelter in a tent 
in the dooryard, she, and her children under her direction, doing all that 
they could to minister to the suffering. At one time she had ten of these 
unfortunate people in her care, herself and oldest son being the only 
nurses that were available, the boy doing little except to carry water 
from the spring near the river's brink to quench the thirst and lave the 
hands and faces of the fever tried souls. 

During a great portion of this trying time, Mrs. Smith's husband was 
at Washington, D. C., seeking to secure the intervention of the General 
Government, to obtain an official and final examination of the difficulties 

between the Mormons and their restless neighbors, arid security from the 
Government in their rights. Mr. Van Buren's answer to their plea when 
obtained was, 'Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for 
you." Commerce was changed to Nauvoo, the postofflce department recog- 
nizing the change April 21. 1840. 

On June 5, 1841, Joseph was again arrested, as a fugitive from justice, 
by Sheriff Thomas King, and taken to Monmouth, Illinois, where the 
case was tried before Judge Stephen A. Douglas, on June 8th. Orville 
H. Browning, of Quincy, Illinois, afterward Secretary of the Interior 
under President Lincoln, appearing for the defence. Mr. Smith was dis- 
charged, the judge giving expressions of indignation at the manner the 
prisoner had been harrassed by his persecutors. 

On May 6, 1842, Mr Smith was again arrested, tried at Springfield, and 
acquitted on proof of innocence. 

From this time until about June, 1843, there was a season of rest af- 
forded to the family, which Mrs. Smith was well prepared to enjoy. Sihe 
was chosen to preside over a society called ''The Female Relief Society," 
formed of prominent women of the large and rapidly increasing city 
(which had reached a population of 15,000), the object of the society being 
to seek out cases of necessity, sickness and distress in the city, to take 
cognizance of and institute measures for their relief. 

Mrs. Smith was chosen to preside because of her well-known probity, 
clearness of perception, experience and decision of character. This 
position she held until after the death of her husband, and the dispersion 
from Nauvoo took place. 

Mr. Smith's father died in the fall of 1841, and in the summer of 1842 
his mother became a part of his family. Of Mrs. Smith's care of her 
mother-in-law, that lady herself states: ''Soon after I took up my resi- 
dence at her house I was taken very sick and was brought nigh unto death. 
For five nights in succession Emma never left me, but stood at ray bed- 
sideall nightlong, at the end of which timeshe wasovercome with fatigue 
and taken sick herself. Joseph then took her place and watched with me 
the five succeeding nights as faithfully as Emma had done." From this 
sickness Mr. Smith's mother soon recovered, but she remained an inmate 
of the family until her son's death, after which, for some two or three 
years, she was cared for by her youngest daughter, Lucy Miliken, and her 
husband, when she returned to the home of Mrs. Smith, where she 
remained until May, 1855, when, in the presence of Mrs. Smith, her grand- 
son Joseph, and a neighbor, she passed into the great beyond. This aged 
mother was confined to her bed, a sufferer from rheumatism, by which 


her feet, hands and arms were distorted and mishapen for many years, 
during the greater part of which time she was provided for and taken 
care of at the home of Mrs. Smith, the widow of her son, Joseph. 

On June 13, 1843, Mrs. Smith, with her husband and children, started 
by carriage, at that time the only mode of traveling inland, to visit her 
sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Wasson, the wife of Benjamin Wasson, living in 
Amboy, Lee county, Illinois. On the same day Gov. Thomas Reynolds, 
of Missouri, appointed Joseph H. Reynolds, sheriff of Jackson County 
Missouri, to proceed to Illinois with a new writ to operate with Harmon 
T. Wilson, of Hancock county, Illinois, in arresting Joseph Smith, on a 
renewal of the same charge from which he had been discharged by a 
competent court. These two men followed Mr. Smith to Mr. Wasson's 
place, which they reached June 23rd, while the family were at dinner. 
They professed to be elders of the church, and desired to see "Brother 
Joseph Smith." When Mr. Smith appeared, in answer to the inquiry, 
these men presented their pistols to his breast, at the same time seizing 
him, but without stating their object, or showing a warrant or serving a 
writ. Mr. Smith asked what the meaning of the arrest was. To this 
Reynolds replied, with an oath at the beginning and end of the sentence, 
"Be still or I will shoot you." Wilson joined in this blasphemous threat- 
ening, and both struck him with their weapons, and without attempting 
to serve any writ or presenting any process warranting the arrest, they 
hurried him to a wagon near by, and would have taken their prisoner 
away without hat or coat but for the interference of a friend, Stephen 
Markham, who seized the horses by the bits and held them until Mrs. 
Smith ran from the house with her husband's hat, coat and vest. 

Here, as in Missouri, he was taken from the presence of his wife and 
children without explanation and without opportunity to bid his agitated 
and tearful wife good-bye. His captors hurried him to Dixon, where 
they confined him in a room in a tavern, waiting the hitching up of fresh 
horses. Mr. Smith's friend, Markham, had reached Dixon and under- 
taken to secure legal services. Hearing of it Mr. Reynolds again threat- 
ened to kill Mr. Smith, to which Mr. Smith replied: "Why make the 
threat so often? If you want to shoot me, do, I am not afraid." When 
Messrs. Shepard G. Patrick and Col. E. D. Southwick, whose services 
Markham had secured, attempted to communicate with Mr. Smith, Rey- 
nolds and Wilson peremptorily refused them access to him. By this time 
considerable excitement had been aroused in the town, and Col. John 
Dixon, the founder of the town, put himself in the front of an inquiry as 
to the facts of the arrest; and, learning that the sheriffs had shown no 


writ, or served any process, he became indignant and plainly notified 
Reynolds and Wilson, that it was possible such proceedings might do for 
Missouri, but that no man should be taken from the town of Dixon, with- 
out proper process, or without an opportunity for legal counsel and 

The sheriffs then allowed the attorneys to hold consultation with Mr. 
Smith, declaring, however, that they would only allow one half hour for 
the prisoner's benefit. So outrageous was the treatment of Mr. Smith, 
by these self-appointed custodians, that the indignation of the citizens 
of Dixon was roused to a high pitch; and but for the intervention of Col. 
Dixon and the dispassionate appeals of Mr. Smith, himself, and his attor- 
neys, Reynolds and Wilson, would have been lynched. During the ride 
from Wasson's to Dixon, they had constantly thrust their pistols against 
his side, with threats, until he was sadly bruised. As it was, however, 
the demand for proper treatment, seconded by the firm attitude of Col. 
Dixon and others, secured time to procure legal action. 

Col. Dixon sent messengers to the Master in Chancery and to Attorney 
Walker to come to Dixon at once, which they did. A writof habeascorpus 
was issued and served by Sheriff Campbell, of Lee county, ordering that 
Smith and his captors be brought before Judge Caton, then holding court 
at Ottawa. Reynolds and Wilson were arrested for assault upon Smith, 
and for false imprisonment. The party started for Ottawa, but stopped 
for the night at Paw Paw, twenty-five miles on the way. Here the next 
morning, many having learned of the arrest and the circumstances at- 
tending it, gathered at the hotel, all anxious to see the "Prophet," and 
to hear him preach. This would not suit Reynolds, who was fearful of 
what the effect of a speech from his prisoner might be, so he shouted, "I 
want you to understand that this man is my legal prisoner, and you must 

At this juncture, David Town, an elderly man, citizen of the place, 
who was an influential man of affairs and carried a hickory staff, ap- 
proached the irate sheriff from Missouri, and said to him with decided 
emphasis, "Sit down there!" pointing to a seat, "and sit still. Don't 
open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never 
learned manners in Missouri, we'll teach you that gentlemen are not to 
be imposed upon by a nigger driver. You cannot kidnap men here. There 
is a committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and, sir, it is the 
highest tribunal in the United States, as from it there is no appeal." 
This speech caused the sheriff to remain quiet, and Smith talked to those 
gathered for an hour and a half undistuibed. 


It proved that Judge Caton had adjourned court, and was then on his 
way to New York, so the party returned to Dixon. A new writ was issued 
returnable to the nearest court. This was the court of Judge Douglas, 
of Quincy; so the party started for that place, distant some two hundred 
and fifty miles. At Fox River, seven of Smith's friends met the posse, 
when Smith said to the sheriff: "I think I will not go to Missouri this 
time." This was June 27th, four days after the enforced arrest, and as 
yet, the sheriff had neither produced nor read a warrant, writ, or process, 
by virtue of which they were trying to take a citizen of Illinois out 
of the state with a hostile threat of evil treatment, if successful. 

From this the party proceeded to Nauvoo in spite of the protests of 
sheriffs Reynolds and Wilson, whom Sheriff Campbell had compelled to 
give up their arms, because of the threats they had made. They reached 
Nauvoo, the home of Smith, on June 30th, he havhig been all the time, 
since the 23rd, in the custody of these sheriffs without legal writ. 

As soon as Mr. Smith was arrested, Mrs. Smith determined to reach 
her home as soon as she could. After ascertaining the course affairs were 
likely to take at Dixon, under the vigorous regime of Col. Dixon, and 
Attorneys Patrick and Southwick, Mrs. Smith started with her children 
for Nauvoo, a young man named Loring Walker driving the team. She 
reached home some three days before the cavalcade accompanying her 
husband, and when he and his captors, Sheriff Campbell and the posse 
reached the city and her home, she was ready to receive them; and not- 
withstanding there were many to partake at her board, all were amply 
provided for and treated by her with every mark of kindness, hospitality 
and respect. The executive ability and energy of Mrs. Smith are demon- 
strated by the fact that at every stage of her husband's peace, prosperity, 
peril and distress, she proved equal to the emergency and conducted the 
affairs of his household, her station in society, and her public appearances, 
in the calm dignity and conscious rectitude of splendid womanhood. In 
August, 1843, she became landlady of the Nauvoo Mansion, a hotel quite 
noted during the last year of Mr. Smith's lifetime and for many years 

On June 12, 1844, Mr. Smith was again arrested and again dismissed. 
June 24th Joseph Smith and his brother, Hiram, were again arrested on 
the charge of treason. After consultation with Gov. Ford and others 
who advised that they should put themselves into the hands of the civil 
authorities to answer whatever charges might be made against them, 
and upon express promise of the governor that they should have a fair 
and impartial trial, Joseph and Hiram Smith did, on the 24th of June, 


1844, proceed to Carthage and presented themselves before him to be 
taken into custody. At this interview with the governor he pledged his 
own faith and that of the State of Illinois, that they should be protected 
from violence, and have a fair and impartial trial. At dark that night 
the constable appeared with a mittimus commanding him to commit Jo- 
seph and Hiram Smith to jail on a charge of treason against the state, 
issued by Justice Robert F. Smith. Appeal was made to the governor, 
but he permitted them to be lodged in jail. 

On the morning of the 26th, the governor, at 9:30 o'clock, visited the 
prison and had a lengthy interview with Joseph and Hiram Smith, in 
which he was fully informed of what had been done at Nauvoo, and upon 
which action the charge of treason had been made, and that it was done 
at the direction of the Governor himself. Governor Ford again gave his 
pledge that these men'should be protected from illegal harm. At 2:30 of 
the same day, on June 26th, the Smith brothers were taken by Constable 
Bettisworth before Justice R. F. Smith to answer for treason, and, on 
proper showing the trial was adjourned until noon of the 27th, to allow 
of getting witnesses from Nauvoo, eighteen miles distant. Afterwards, 
without notice to defendants, the trial was postponed until the 29th, and 
the prisoners were remanded to jail. 

On the morning of the 27th, Governor Ford and his escort went to 
Nauvoo. He had disbanded a portion of the state militia, but left the 
Carthage Grays in charge of the place (Carthage) during his absence, a 
detail from which body of troops had been stationed as guards at the 

Threats had been made openly that the Smiths would not be permit- 
ted to leave the town alive. These threats had been made in the hear- 
ing of Governor Ford; one Alfred Randall stating that he heard one of 
the soldiers say to Governor Ford: " The soldiers are determined to see 
Joe Smith dead before they leave town." The Governor replied, "If you 
know of any such thing keep it to yourself." 

About five o'clock in the afternoon of the same day, June 27, 1844, 
while Governor Thomas Ford was addressing the citizens of Nauvoo, a 
mob of armed men, some two hundred strong, disguised by faces black- 
ened, coats turned, and in other ways, approached the jail, a stone and 
wood building in the south western edge of town, and overpowered the 
guard, who tired over their heads, killed Joseph and Hiram Smith, and 
wounded ^John Taylor nigh to death. There were in the room, Joseph 
and Hiram Smith, John Taylor and Willard Richards, the last two 
named being the only friends of the two men killed whom the officers 


would allow to stay with them. Each of the men killed and Mr. Taylor 
were struck by four balls. Hiram Smith fell in the room; Joseph ran 
to the window and in making an effort to get out was struck by a ball 
and fell some feet to the ground. The mob, by order of the leader, set 
his body against a well-curb near the house, and would have flred a vol- 
ley at it, but he was already dead. 

Mr. Richards remained unhurt in the debtor's room where the pris- 
oners had been confined. Their work accomplished the mob retired. 

The tragedy was over; the long, long struggle was ended; the loving 
wife who had been faithful through all things for "better or worse," had 
only to wait in tearless woe the last home coming of him with whom 
she had plighted her faith for seventeen years. 

In the afternoon of the 28th the bodies of the two men were brought 
home to their grief stricken families and friends. The long pending 
stroke had fallen, and Mrs. Smith was a widow with a family of four 
children, the eldest thirteen. She shed few tears, but in stony eyed, 
silent grief bore her trial, and waited until thousands had passed the 
bier on which her dead was lying, when, with her children by her, she 
sat down by the silent form. ''My husband, O, my husband! Have they 
taken you from me at last?" That night she parted from her only stead- 
fast, earthly friend, and began the singular life of patient endurance 
and self-denial to which his death subjected her. 

An administrator was appointed to take charge of Mr. Smith's estate. 
That it was not large may be known by the fact, that with the usual 
widow's exemption the sum of $124.00 per year was allowed her for the 
care of herself and family. A number of creditors appeared, and what 
property there was left became the prey of the creditors and the legal 
costs, so that, by the time the estate was settled, it gave Mrs. Smith a 
few lots with their buildings in the town of Nauvoo, and some acres of 
land lying in the country. With this, and patient industry, she set 
herself to the task of rearing her family, which on the 17th of the next 
November after her husband's death, was increased by the birth of a 
son, whom she called David Hiram, for her brother David and her hus- 
band's brother. 

The troubles between the people of the adjoining counties and the 
Mormon people culminated in the expulsion of the latter from the state. 
Mrs. Smith had. by her opposition to the measures and policy of Presi- 
dent Brigham Young, become obnoxious to him, and to those who ac- 
cepted him, so that when in the fall and early winter of 1846 the Latter 
Day Saints left the state, she, ostensibly one of them, and yet opposed 


to their policy, was included in this extradition. Determined not to be 
' compromised with evil and its consequences, Mrs. Smith, to avoid possible 
insult, if not injury from the anti-mormon forces when they should 
enter the city according to the terms of capitulation, left Nauvoo with 
her family on board the steamer "Uncle Toby," Captain Grimes, com- 
mander, on the 12th day of September, 1846, for Fulton City, Whiteside 
county, Illinois, whither one of her friends, William Marks, had preceded 
her. She was accompanied by parts of four other families, whom she 
took under her guidance and care. Wesley Knight and family, Loring 
Walker (who had married a daughter of Hiram Smith) and his family, 
two orphan girls, (Angeline and Nancy Carter), and a young man by the 
name of William Clapp. Mrs. Smith remained at Fulton City until Feb- 
ruary, when, learning that the man whom she had left in possession 
of her hotel was going to dismantle the house and embark for Texas with 
the spoils, she made the trip by carriage to Nauvoo, which she reached 
in the alternoon of February 19, 1847, and so determinedly pushed her 
claims, that in three days she was again installed in her house as its 

Mrs. Smith nobly and faithfully fulfilled a mother's duties for her 
children until by marriage and death they left her. She continued to 
live in Nauvoo until her death, April 30, 1879. Her last words were, as 
looking upward, with feeble arms outstretched toward some one whom she 
seemed to see, "Yes, yes, I am coming." 

She became a member of the church over which her husband presided 
in June, 1830, and remained always in the faith she then embraced, so that 
when at Amboy, Illinois, in 1860, her son joined the Reorganized or Anti- 
polygamous branch of the so-called Mormon church, she was with him, 
and also united with that church In that faith she lived; in it she died, 
undeviatingly devoted and faithful. 

The life of this rare woman was passed in a remarkable period of our 
Nation's history. The same firmness and independence, love of right 
and hatred of wrong, which characterized her sister, Mrs. Wasson, and 
others of her family, also characterized her. From her own statement, 
if her husband was a polygamist she did not know it. She was not taught 
plural marriage, either before or after she united with the church in 1830. 
She knew of no such tenet in connection with the published faith of the 
body she was religiously associated with. If Joseph Smith ever had or 
claimed to have had a revelation from God authorizing the practice, she 
was not informed of it; and she stated positively and frequently during 
her lifetime that she neither saw nor heard such a document read during 


her husband's lifetime. After Smith's death and the succession of Brig- 
ham Young to the leadership of the church, Mrs. Smith steadily and 
positively opposed, not only the dogma and practice of polygamy, but 
Mr. Young's rule as well. She was never a convert to plural marriage 
or spiritual wifery. but always, from her inate womanly qualities, vigor- 
ously opposed to it. She was trusted by Mr. Smith in every station to 
which his work or station called him, and she always proved herself equal 
to the situation. 

She was patient and just with her children, reared her four sons to 
manhood, to honor and revere her name, and to bear the cross she bore 
so long, and to represent her in her opposition to the evil wrought to her 
husband's life by the introduction of false doctrines, productive of the 
evil with which the Nation has wrestled in Utah. She had the courage 
of her convictions, she hated tyranny and oppression, and her sons inher- 
ited from her the same spirit. Patiently she bore what she could not 
avoid or correct, fully believing in the law of compensation, and waiting 
until He who can, will make the evil give place to the good, the wrong to 
that which is right. 

Her advice to her son Joseph, on his leaving home to study law with 
Hon. Judge William Kellogg, at Canton, Illinois, is the key to her char- 
acter and the steadfast policy of her life. Handing him a Bible, she said 
to him: "My son, I have no charge to you as to what your religion shall 
be. 1 give you this book with this admonition; make it the man of 
your counsel; live every day as if it were to be the last, and you will 
have no need to fear what your future shall be." 

In 1840 Reuben Bridgeman and wife. Cynthia (Dort) Bridgeman, and 
children arrived here from Bainbridge, Alleghany County, New York, 
and located a claim about one mile north of this city. After land came 
into market Mr. Bridgeman bought several eighties and when his four 
sons, Curtis, Lewis, Edgar and Otis, became of age he presented each of 
them with a farm. Their daughters were Sally and Emily. Mr. and 
Mrs. Bridgeman were honorable people and always willing to lend the 
helping hand to their neighbors. They have long since passed to their 
reward, Mr. Bridgeman dying in 1866, Mrs. Bridgeman in 1871. Their 
son Otis was one of the first from here to enlist in the Union army. He 
was a member of Co. C., 12th Illinois Infantry, and was a brave soldier; 
but was taken sick while in the service and came home to die. The only 
member of the family living here now is Curtis T. Bridgeman, who re- 
sides on his farm south of the city. 



Jacob Doan, with wife and six children, came here in 1840 or 1841 from 
Ohio. They came by way of the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, 
taking a steamboat at Cincinnati. The boat was named "Old Detroit." 
They had a very pleasant journey which lasted about two weeks, the 
weather being warm and comfortable; but when they landed at Peru, Ill- 
inois, it was so cold that they nearly froze making the trip across the 
country to Palestine Grove. Mr. Doan soon bought the house which John 
and William Church had already built on the place now owned and occu- 
pied by Ira Smith. Here they lived for a number of years; then they 
moved to Rocky Ford and kept a store and hotel, but at last moved back 
on a part of the old farm, where they lived with their son David until 
after Mr. Doan's death. Mrs. Doan and her son David and family now 
live in Louisiana. 

Mr. James Daley, one of Amboy's oldest citizens, was born in Ireland 
in 1818. When nineteen years of age he emigrated to America. In the 
spring of 1841 he married Miss Ellen Prindle of Ottawa. Soon afterwards 
he came to Amboy and worked for several months on the old Illinois Cen- 
tral R. R. He received not a cent for his labor and the five hundred 
dollars which he loaned one of the contractors is due him to this" day. 
Mr. Daley was left without anything. He next worked for Thomas Fes- 
senden two months at fifty cents a day. In the spring of 1842 he moved 
to the Wassoti farm, where he remained nearly three years. In 1845 Mr. 
Daley settled on the farm where he now resides; and through a life of 
economy and fair dealing he has amassed a competency. Mr. and Mrs. 
Daley are quiet, kind, excellent people who command the respect of all 
who know them. ( Since this was written Mrs. Daley has died.) 

Rev. John Cross, a Presbyterian minister, lived at Temperance Hill 
and named the place Theoka, but for some reason it has outlived that 
name. Mr. Cross was a warm advocate for human freedom, a friend and 
fellow worker with Owen Lovejoy, and was imprisoned at Ottawa for 
his services as conductor on "the under-ground railroad." He made no 
secret of his work. He posted bills in Mr. Bliss's bar room side by side 
with Frink and Walker's stage route advertisement: "Free ride on the 
Underground Railroad, and signed his name "John Cross, Proprietor." 
He had a pair of horses, one cream colored and the other bay, with which 


he took his passengers, who were flying from slavery to freedom, often 
going through from here to Chicago in a day, sometimes having as 'many 
as four passengers. Palestine Grove being but about forty miies from 
the Mississippi River, it was easily reached by those who were sheltered 
and directed by other friends of the slave, who often helped them on 
their way to this point. These under-ground depots were stationed all 
along the way from "Dixie's Land" and Ihestation-aqentswere in commun- 
ication with each other. There was another station at Aurora. There 
were young lads who used to hear and take note of all these proceedings, 
who, when they grew to manhood, buckled on their armor and fought 
valiantly for the Union, and for that Freedom of which our starry flag is 
the ensign. 

In 1841 Martin Eastwood left his borne in Alleghany County, New 
York, when a young man with his wife and one child, nine months old, 
to seek his fortune in the west. They came all the way in wagons. A 
man named Munger, with his wife, agreed to drive one team through, 
but stopping in Michigan with relatives they were persuaded to remain, 
and Mrs. Eastwood was thus obliged to drive in his stead, the rest of the 
journey. The two wagons were covered and contained their household 
goods. Three chests were made to flt inside the wagons. They crossed 
the Illinois River below La Salle, and came north to Inlet Grove, stop- 
ping a few days with David Tripp. At that small place there was one 
store kept by Mr. Haskell. From there they went to Temperance Hill 
and stopped with Mr. Hannum's family, who were living in a sod house 
at that time. After remaining there a few weeks, Mr. Eastwood com- 
menced western life by breaking the sod for a living. He built a house 
which could be moved from place to place by the ox team, and he, with 
Mrs. Eastwood and child, lived in it; changing their locality when the 
work of breaking prairies was done for the last employer; his oxen, with 
which he had done the work moving them, his wife and child living in 
the house at the same time. This was the way he supported his family 
for a while. After a few years he was able to buy a tract of land, paying 
$1.25 an acre for it. He built a house 14x28 feet, with two rooms. The 
posts were set in the ground and boards nailed on them. At this time 
there was but one house between them and Dixon. That was occupied 
by Levi Lewis. Mr. Farwell's farm comprised the track of land where 
Amboy now is. They did their trading at Grand Detour. 

Mr. Eastwood succeeded in raising a crop, but his only way of realiz- 


ing any money from it, was to take it to Chicago, and that was easier 
said than dqae. The roads were not in as good condition then as now, 
and a great/ many times they mired down in the slough. One man could 
not ventured go alone, as it was often necessary to unload the wagon, 
and take two teams to draw it from the slough. After all this hard labor 
and privation, which required so much time, they would sometimes re- 
turn with nothing, their expenses having exceeded the amount received 
for their produce, although having taken provision with them from 
home, which they hoped would be sufficient for the trip; as places where 
it was possible to secure a lunch were few and far between. 

One day when Mrs. Eastwood was alone with the children, she dis- 
covered that a drove of cattle that was herding on the prairie, had broken 
down the fence and was in the corn. At first she knew not what to do. 
She could not take both the children with her; but, equal to the emer- 
gency, she soon found a way. Tying the little boy firmly to the bed post 
so that she would know where he was, she took the youngest in her arms 
and went a mile to the boundary of the farm and drove the cattle out of 
the corn and then repaired the fence as best she could to save the crops 
which her husband had toiled so hard to raise. At another time she left 
her little boy alone playing on the floor for a short time while she was 
engaged with her work. She returned just in time to see a snake crawl- 
ing on the floor, and the little one reaching out his hand to take it, think- 
ing it a pretty plaything. Mr. Eastwood lived on this farm twenty-one 
years, after which he moved to Whiteside County, and from there to 
Kansas. He and his wife were both living when last heard from. 

Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Cyrus (Davis) Farwell moved to this place in May, 
1841, and bought a claim of 160 acres of Mr. Sawyer for $100. His farm 
embraced all south of Division street as far as the river, and as far east 
as the brook which crosses Main street, east and west to the bridge on 
West Main street, extending over all the ground on which the railroad 
buildings are now located. 

This farm house was a log cabin situated where Mr. Zeek's house now 
stands, on the corner of Main street and Adams avenue. It was the one 
owned by Mr. Sawyer, removed from the head of Dutcher's pond to that 

Mr. Farwell planted the cotton wood trees which now shade Main 
street on each side, past the Congregationalist church, in 1847. In 1852 
Mr. Farwell sold his farm to H. B. Judkins, who bought it for the Illinois 
Central R. R. Co. He then purchased the farm now owned by Mrs. A. 
H. Wooste'r, where he lived till the weight of advancing years caused 


him to sell his farm and move to town. He owned and occupied the pro- 
perty now improved by Dr. Travers. 

Mr. Farwell built Farwell Hall, which was used for religious services, 
schools, place for polling, public hall, etc., etc. He was a public spirited 
and useful citizen, foremost in every good work. He was an anti-slavery 
man when it was unpopular to be so; was for,,temperance and the reforms 
of the day, and occupied many places of honor and usefulness in the 

Mrs. Farwell was very active and capable. "She looked well to the 
ways of her household and ate not the bread of idleness." In 1875 her 
husband died, and after spending some time in her daughter's family 
she went to a son's in Colorado, where she died. She expressed a great 
desire to be buried by the side of "that dear friend," referring to her 

The following is taken from a local paper. "Died. In Amboy, Illi- 
nois, March 5, 1875, Mr. Joseph Farwell, aged 85 years. 

"The deceased was born in Fitchburg, Mass., May 14, 1790, of the orig- 
inal Puritan stock, which settled throughout the New England States. 
While a child, his parents moved to Harvard, and at the age of 25 years, 
he united with the Congregational Church of that place. The aged 
couple, who have lived so long and happily together, were married in 
1819, and they moved to Lowell, Mass., in 1826, where Mr. Farwell united 
with others in forming the first Congregational Church of that place. In 
a few years he helped establish the second Congregational Church in 
Lowell, and again the third church of that order, in all of which he was 
held in high esteem, and officiated as deacon. 

In 1836 the family moved to Amboy, Michigan, where Mr. Farwell 
aided again in founding the first Congregational Church of that place. 
In May, 1841, he moved to this place, then Palestine Grove, where he and 
Mrs. Farwell united with the Lee Center Congregational Church, but in 
due time they united with Mr. and Mrs. John C, Church, Mr. and Mrs. 
Blocher, and Dr. Abbott, wife and daughter, in organizing the present 
Congregational Church of Amboy. Mr. Farwell remained a consistent 
and influential member of the church until his death. He built the old 
Farwell Hall, on the west side, near the old U. B. church, and for a long 
time his church, and nearly all the public meetings were held in that 
building. At the time Amboy was laid out, he was the owner of the land 
in the original plot. The Monday before he died was the first election 
at which he ever failed to vote. Mrs. Farwell was ten years his junior. 
Their children are Joseph, Cyrena (wife of Deacon Church), Cyrus and 


Brainard, and this is the first death in the family. His last expressions 
gave evidence of the faith and hope with which he lived. His last sick- 
ness was brief, having suffered but a day or two, and retaining his con- 
sciousness to the close. His last utterances were about "going home," 
and 'Glory to God in the Highest.' His funeral last Sabbath was largely 

Among those who came at an early day, to what is now, the pleasant 
town of Amboy, was Mrs. Gyrene Church. In the year 1836, Mr. and Mrs. 
Farwell, with their three sons and one daughter, then Miss Gyrene Far- 
well, left their home among the hills of Massachusetts to journey to the 
far west; settling for a few years in the wilds of Michigan. These few 
years gave them a severe experience of frontier life, and in 1841 they 
left a region filled with malaria and ague and finally settled at Palestine 
Grove, as it was then called. For a time they shared the log house of 
Cyrus Davis, a brother of Mrs. Farwell. 

Those log houses by the way, were a little like the traditional omnibus 
we hear so much about, for they not only could always hold one more, 
but could take whole families into their elastic embrace. In those days 
it was comparatively a simple matter to enter a claim, and build a 
little house, so a short time only, passed, before our friends found them- 
selves in their own home. 

In 1842, Miss Farwell was married to John C. Church, familiarly and 
affectionately known to many, in his later years, as Deacon Church. For 
years they enjoyed the simple pleasures, and shared the more sober inci- 
dents, which always attend life on the frontier. One experience our 
friend enjoyed, which seldom falls to the lot of people in these days; and 
that was, assembling with her husband, and four others, at her father's 
house, on the 27th day of June, 1854, for the purpose of organizing a church. 
It was was the first religious society, and was the first church formed in 
the town. It must have been a great pleasure, to see from this small 
beginning, a church grow and prosper so wonderfully, and become such a 
power for good. 

The most conspicuous trait in our friend's character, was her intense 
love of home. She was in all respects a most devoted mother. 

The society of the gay world had little attraction for her; and when 
sorrow came to her, as it does to all, arid she saw, one after another, her 
little children go away to the better land, she did not murmer or com- 
plain. To her friends, she was ever loyal, and those In sickness or sorrow 


knew the kindness of her heart, and the largess of her hand. What high- 
er honor can we pay her memory, than to quote a few words from the 
great Solomon, in his beautiful tribute to woman. "The heart of her 
husband doth safely trust in her." and, " Her children shall arise up and 
call her blessed." 

The following interesting letter from Mrs. Lucy (Church) Ramsey, 
written to her niece, Miss Ella Church of this city, has just been handed 

MY DEAR ELLA: You ask me to contribute something to the early 
history of Amboy, and I will try now. 

This is the third time I have been solicited for items for the Lee 
County History and I have just begun to realize that I am a pioneer 
woman myself. 

We came from central New York to Lee County in the Fall of 1841, 
and my first Illinois winter was spent near where Amboy now is, teaching 
their first school and board ing 'round so had unlimited oppor- 
tunities for observation. 

Where Amboy and adjoining towns now are was called at that time 
Palestine Grove, and different places referred to as "North Side," "South 
Side," or "East End of the Grove." 

A majority of my patrons were from Ohio, Indiana, or states farther 
south; but their dwellings and manner of life were quite similar, whether 
they were emigrants from Carolina or Connecticut. 

The houses were built of logs, and most of them had floor of puncheon 
and roof of shakes. 

One side of the room was a huge fireplace, and there all the food was 
prepared in skillet, kettle or bake oven. 

On the opposite side was a bed or two the other sleeping places were 
in the loft overhead. 

One night after we had all retired arid were asleep, we were awakened 
by that hoarse, distressed breathing of a child with croup. The father 
ascended the ladder, brought down the little lad. held him a little while 
before the fire, there placed him in bed and all was quiet again till 

When I enquired what cured him so quickly the answer was: "1 took 
my pocket knife and started the blood a little between the shoulders." I 
never heard of the remedy before or since, but it was effective that time. 

I think in looking backward to fifty years ago, we discover more hard- 
ships than we actually realized when we were actors upon that stage. 


But soldiers like to "flght their battles o'er again" and a story loses noth- 
ing in the telling. 

These people interested me. They were kind, hospitable, and gen- 
uine. The men were good husbands and affectionate fathers; the women 
real home makers. They spun, colored, wove, and fashioned the garments 
for their families. They toiled, of course, but it was for those they loved, 
and it could not be called hardship. 

Every one likes to do as well as his neighbors, and they never come 
nearer to it than they do on the frontier. 

No time or place is entirely exempt from sickness, and almost every 
one had to suffer with ague and fever; but cancer, diphtheria, and 
nervous prostration were unheard of. 

Perhaps I ought to tell of that little first school bouse. It was of the 
same style of architecture as the homesteads its furniture a desk across 
one side, a few rough benches, and a chair. But the children were just 
as precious as those of the present day; and for docility and brightness 
would compare favorably with those of 1893. 

I do not suppose the legend of "Acadernus' Sacred Shade" had any 
thing to do with the choice of site for this temple of learning, but it was 
built among the oaks south of the Inlet, and when summer came with 
its birds, greenery and wild flowers it was very pleasant. 

Religious privileges were not wanting. Besides the circuit-rider of 
the frontier, there was an Episcopal clergyman, a Congregationalist min- 
ister, and a Baptist elder settled on farms in the vicinity, who occasion- 
ally gave out an appointment to preach; and settlers for miles around 
came to hear and meet their neighbors. All were neighbors then who 
lived no more than ten miles away. 

Well, those days are remembered with those of logs ago. May I never 
lose the memory of them! 

Joseph B. Appleton was the oldest child of Joseph and Hannah (Knowl- 
ton) Appleton, of Dublin, New Hampshire, and was born March 9, 1819. 
He was a nephew of Samuel Appleton, of Boston, Massachusetts, one of 
that city's "merchant princes." Of this noted uncle there is an interest- 
ing sketch from which the following is taken for the encouragement of 
Amboy boys: "A few weeks previous to his death he was heard to say 
that, before he began the business of a merchant, he worked chopping 
down trees on one of the lots of land which his father had purchased in 
Dublin, New Hampshire, and that he then thought of settling upon it. 
But as it was in the month of June and the weather very hot he was not 


satisfied with that kind of labor, and concluded to procure a living in 
some other way. Accordingly he left the woods and engaged in trade. 
The result is well known." From a letter written in his 87th year to the 
committee of arrangements in response to a letter requestihg his personal 
attendance at the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the settle- 
ment of Dublin. New Hampshire, the following is extracted. After ex- 
pressing regret that age and bodily infirmities compel his absence, he 
says: " I have always taken an interest in the town of Dublin. In or 
about the year 1786. 1 resided there four months, and was engaged, during 
that time in teaching two different schools, say of two months each, at 
eight dollars per month. * * * In one district it was arranged for the 
schoolmaster to live with the family that would board and lodge him the 
cheapest. Having been informed where I was to board, I set out for my 
new home on foot, carrying the greater part of my wardrobe on my back, 
and the remainder tied up in a bandanna handkerchief. On arriving at 
the place of my destination, I found my host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. 
Fairbanks ready and apparently glad to see me. They were to receive 
for my board, lodging and washing sixty-seven cents per week. Their 
house was made of logs with only one room in it, which served for parlor, 
kitchen and bedroom. I slepton a trundle-bed, which during the day was 
wheeled under the large bed, where the master and mistress of the house re- 
reposed during the night. Every morning and evening there were family 
prayers and readings from the Bible, in which I sometimes took an active 
part. After spending two weeksatMr.Fairbank's,! removed to Mr. Perry's. 
He was a good farmer, his wife an excellent house-keeper; and I finished 
my school term very pleasantly to myself and, I believe, very satisfac- 
torily to my employers. Since that time great improvements have been 
made in the public schools of Dublin. I am informed that it contains as 
good schools, and turns out as competent teachers as any town in New 
Hampshire. In consideration of the "good and healthful condition" of 
its public schools, and of the "spirit of improvement" which appears to 
animate those who are engaged in them, I am induced to send to the 
town of Dublin my check for the sum of one thousand dollars, to be ap- 
propriated to educational purposes in such manner as the superintending 
school committee shall deem expedient." Mr. Appleton sent the follow- 
ing toast: "The Common Schoolsof Dublin. Uncommon in Excellence." 
This letter was written in 1852 and the school which he taught was in 
1786, more than a hundred years ago. When Amboy shall celebrate her 
centennial, which of our children's children will remember her in this 


So Joseph Appleton was not the first one by the name to try pioneer 
life. He came to Illinois in 1842, stopping at Batavia, New York, and 
teaching school awhile. He bought land in this place from the Sawyers, 
remaining little over a year before returning east, and tarrying with his 
aunt, Mrs. Cyrus Davis, while here. He came to own several hundred 
acres, a part of his land being the homestead known as the Appleton 
Place, on Main street, West. He married Miss Abbie H. Hunt, of New 
Ipswich, New Hampshire, on September 17, 1844, and they started for 
Illinois the next month. On arriving in Chicago they met Asa B. Searles, 
with a lumber wagon, who brought them to Palestine Grove. The same 
fall Mr. Appleton built a log cabin on his farn>, and afterwards a good 
frame house which was destroyed by fire a few years ago. 

Samuel E., Isaac J., Abby R. (Mrs. Charles Thayer) who lives at Wa- 
verly, Iowa, and Maria N. (Mrs. George Woods), of Canton, Illinois, are 
their children living. Julia, an infant daughter, died August 17, 1855 
and on the 28th of the next month Mr. Appleton died He was one of 
the most capable, active and prominent citizens of the lown. 

Mr. Appleton's widow married Dr. T. P. Sleeper, of St. Albans, Maine> 
and they have two daughters, Anna A. and Emma A. 

Our fellow townsman, Samuel E. Appleton, was born September 7th, 

1845, served in Co. I, 134th Regiment Illinois Volunteers in the war, do- 

ing garrison duty in Missouri and Kentucky. He has, at this writing' 

just been elected town collector by his friends, of which he has and de- 
serves many. 

William Rolf reached Amboy in 1842, and a few years afterwards 
married Mary S. Pyle, a daughter of Samuel Pyle. Mr. and Mrs. Rolf 
lived in Rocky Ford and for a time the postofflce was in their house. 
When the mail carrier arrived all the contents of the mail bag would be 
dumped upon the floor, and the letters and papers which belonged to 
this office selected from the rest, which were put back into the sack to 
be assorted in life manner at the next postoffice. Soon after the city of 
Amboy was laid out Mr. Rolf bought a lot here and built a house, where 
he lived several years. They now reside in Albany, Illinois. 

Rev. John Ingersoll, the father of Robert G., followed Rev. Joseph 
Gardner, and preached for two years in the Wasson school-house, divid- 
ing the time between Amboy, Inlet Grove and Bradford. He, with a 
daughter and two sons, Clark and Robert, boarded for a time in the 
family of Asa Searles. He afterwards lived just north of the Chicago 


road and snpplemented his meager professional income with the proceeds 
of farming. He used to speak with reverence and tenderness of the 
mother of his children who had died previous to his coming to Illinois. 

Mr. Ingersoll was a stern Presbyterian of the old school. He is said 
to have borne a striking resemblance to Gen. Jackson's pictures; and he 
was a warrior, too, ready to fight Apolyon whenever his Majesty appeared 
with young or old. 

"The Elder" transmitted not his form and features to his jovial son, 
who was even at that age irresistably charming to some of his playfel- 
lows, so that some boys forgot their work when he was near. 

One day, on his way to school with other scholars, there was a place 
to cross where the water had overflowed the rustic bridge, and there was 
no way to pass except to wade through the cold and ice-laden water. 
Little Clara Frisbee was one of the number, and the kind hearted boy 
took the little girl up and carried her carefully over. Mr. Wheat, the 
teacher, already at the school-house, was looking from the window and 
witnessed the gallant service, and when the children arrived he looked 
at Robert with a roguish smile which would have annoyed some boys, 
especially as the other scholars joined in the minh. But Robert, as he 
dried his wet clothes and warmed himself at the flre, looked as if nobody 
enjoyed the fun better than he did; and the little maiden, all unconscious 
of anything droll in the picture from the window, wondered what pleased 
them so. Robert was, at that time, about fifteen years of age, very "self 
sustained" and sociable. Years afterwards, when the notoriety of Rob- 
ert G. Ingersoll first reached Arnboy, his old schoolmates here were sur- 
prised to learn that it was the veritable Bob. of the old log school-house. 

One who knew his father well, and had often entertained him, re- 
marked that it was not surprising that Robert swung to the other ex- 
treme in matters of a religious nature, for although he was not the boy 
of whom it was said that his father kept him tied up all day Sunday and 
made him sing "Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love," yet Bob's exper- 
ience was not altogether unlike that boy's. 

Mr. Ingersoll owned a horse named Selim which he traded for cattle, 
the result proving that either the minister or the owner of the cattle was 
not a judge of horse flesh. 

He was a strong advocate for temperance and on one occasion when 
he was in company with Mr. Slyvester Frisbee, he was invited by an ac- 
quaintance to a barn raising. The Elder asked if they were to have 
whiskey there. On being answered in the affirmative, he replied that he 
could not attend. Mr. Frisbee followed the example. 


It is related by one who used to attend his meetings, that if any of 
his hearers arrived late, he would stop, and then begin the sermon again; 
and that his discourses were rather prolix. 

Among those who moved here in 1844, was Orres Adams, of Milford, 
Otsego county, New York. Mr. Adams was then fifty-two years old, and 
his wife, Mrs. Mehitable. two years younger. 

Himself and wife and their two youngest children, aged eleven and 
nine years, Henry and Ellen, constituted the family. They lived, for sev- 
eral years, near the Wasson School House, at that time, the center of the 
settlement. The school house was newly builded, and people came from 
all directions to attend church. Mr. and Mrs. Adams soon became 
acquainted with all their neighbors. Rev. Luke Hitchcock, Rev. Mr. 
Harris, Rev. Charles Cross and other pioneer preachers were callers at 
their home and were always given a cheerful welcome. Mrs. Adams was 
one of the early members of the Methodist church and was ever ready to 
speak a good word for the cause of Christianity. Those who knew Mr. 
and Mrs. Adams, speak of them as kind neighbors, enjoying the confi- 
dence and respect of all. Their married life was nearly three score years 
and ten. Sixty-seven years they walked together and died at a ripe old 
age at the home of their son, Henry Adams at Binghamton. Their 
daughter Ellen who married Jay Andruss. died when about thirty-seven 
years of age. No kinder woman ever lived. 

Mr. J. W. Beresford has kindly consented to furnish some of his recol- 
lections of early times. Although a resident of Ambov but 36 years, he 
came to Illinois with his parents in 1822, at the age of seven years; and 
it is probable that very lew people are living in Northern Illinois who 
came here at that early date. Mr. Beresford attended the Old Settler's 
Picnic at Ottawa last fall, and among them all, none except himself 
could go back farther than 1829; Mr. Beresford being seven years in 
advance of them. His brother James was one of the number murdered 
in the historic Indian Creek Massacre. 

Mr. Beresford says: Perhaps for a better understanding of what fol- 
lows, it would be well to describe the part of Illinois referred to, and its 
inhabitants, as found in the spring of 1822. The vast and beautiful agri- 
cultural region of country from Peoria to Chicago, a distance of 160 miles; 
and from near the Wabash river on the south, to near the Mississippi on 
the west, there were no permanent white settlements at that time. The 
land (or most of it) belonged to the Government and was not organized 
into counties, but was attached to Tazwell county, Peoria being thecoun- 



ty seat. Over this large scope of country were various tribes of Indians. 
Among them was the Pottawattomie tribe, peacable, friendly and well 
disposed toward the white people. To this tribe it was resolved by the 
Methodist Episcopal Conference, at one of their annual meetings of the 
St. Glair Conference, to send a missionary for the purpose of educating 
and christianizing them. Rev. Jesee Walker, a member of that confer- 
ence was appointed Missionary, and large contributions and supplies were 
entrusted to him for this mission. 

Two ox teams and wagons, eight or ten cows and calves, a few young 
cattle and pigs, flour, bacon, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, groceries, cloth- 
ing, farming tools, carpenter and blacksmith tools, etc., etc., were turned 
over to Mr. Walker with instructions to establish a mission at or near the 
mouth of Fox river, or where the Fox river unites with the Illinois, 
about eighty miles above Peoria, midway between Peoria and Chicago. 

To carry out these instructions, a large keel boat was chartered, the 
supplies put on board, together with the household goods of two families 
etc. The teams were loaded and driven overland together with the loose 
stock. The party at this time consisted of Rev. Jesse Walker, Aaron 
Hawley, wife and two small girls, Pierce Hawley, ( brother of Aaron ) 
wife, and daughter Caroline about 16 years old, and two small boys, John 
and George. 

At Peoria they were joined by Robert Beresford and family, consisting 
of his wife and two small boys named James and John, also a school 
teacher Allen. Being thus re-enforced, together with four or five hired 
men, the party proceeded to their place of destination, where they arriv- 
ed, after many hardships and privations, in the month of June 1822. 
They were here met by about two hundred Indians, also a white man 
named Countryman, who had lived with the Indians a long time and who 
spoke their language fluently, acting as their interpreter' Here we also 
met Shabbona the head chief of the tribe, who afterwards, in 1832, render- 
ed such valuable service to the settlers by warning them that Black 
Hawk, with his band of savages, was coming to kill all the settlers in the 
country. Here the Indians remained and held a Pow-Wow lasting two 
or three days, and received presents from their white friends. 

Every thing was arranged satisfactorily. Some of the men were set to 
work erecting shanties for shelter for the families, and storage for the 
contents of the boat. Other men "started breaking team," planted sod 
corn and potatoes, and sowed buckwheat and turnips, in all about fifteen 
acres. Others of the party were preparing timber and erecting log cabins 
on the South side of the Illinois River near the new noted Sulphur 


Spring. When completed they were occupied by one of the Hawley fami- 
lies and the Beresford family. 

About this time it was discovered that the place was not on the Reser- 
vation, and it was thought best to erect permanent buildings on the East 
side of Fox River, about fifteen miles up that stream. Here were erected 
large and comfortable log houses. To this place most of the Mission 
party moved, and spent the following winter preparing to fence a large 
farm in the spring; the Hawley and Beresford families remaining in the 
first houses built. 

Here we record the first birth and death of a white child in the 
country. There was born to Robert and Mary Beresford a daughter, 
who lived only two or three months, and was buried not far from the 

About this time a few settlers came; a Mr. Brown and son settled on 
the South side of the Illinois River, about one mile above the mouth of 
the Fox River. Mr. Bailey settled at Bailey's Point, John Ramsey and 
family, near the cabin first built; also the Pembroke family and a few 
others settled near these two Mission Stations. 

In the fall of 1825 the families of Hawley and Beresford moved to what 
is now called Holderman's Grove, three miles from Mission Grove. 
About this time was solemnized the first wedding in the country. A 
young man, named Williard Scott, frequently going and returning be- 
tween Chicago and Peoria, and stopping at the Mission, formed the ac- 
quaintance of our Mission girl, Caroline Hawley. In due course of time 
arrangements for a wedding were made; and Williard Scott and his 
brother Willis, accompanied by a young lady from Chicago, came to the 
Mission, where Willis and his intended remained while his brother went 
to Peoria and returned with marriage licences for all four of the high con- 
tracting parties. They were married at the Mission Chapel by our 
worthy Missionary, Rev. Jesse Walker. 

A short time before this marriage, a young chief offered Mr. Hawley 
ten ponies and a large amount of furs for his daughter Caroline. To 
this proposal the young lady demurred, her father informing the savage 
that it was not the custom, and it was contrary to the religion of the 
whites to sell their daughters for wives. 

Late in the autumn of 1829 three families from Ohio, viz., John 
Green, R. Debolt and Henry Baumbach settled at and near where the 
town of Dayton is now located. During the following two years, other 
families from the same place in Ohio, came and settled near the first 
comers in Dayton. Some of their names we will enumerate. Win. Strat- 




ton. Mathias Trumbo, Mrs. Pitzer and sons, the Govens, the Donovans, 
the Armstrongs and Doctor David Walker and family, two sons and three 
daughters all grown persons. 

From these points settlements spread in all directions; some on Bock 
River, Desplaines, DuPage and Fox River and their tributaries. 

Shortly after this the country was organized into counties; elections 
were held, county officers elected and courts of record established. This 
brings us up to the spring of 1832, when the Black Hawk War broke out. 
Settlers Scattered all over the country, heeding the warning given by our 
friend Shabbona and his sons at the risk of their own lives. The settlers 
had barely time to gather at a central location, build fortifications and 
organize for mutual protection before Black Hawk was on the war-path 
in full force. The first outrage was the massacre of the Davises, Halls 
and the Pettegrew families on Indian Creek, on the 20th day of May, 
when thirteen men, women and children were butchered. Two of the 
Hall girls, young ladies, were taken captive. A month later, near this 
place, James Beresford was killed and two men named Schermerhorn 
and Hasseltine on Fox River were killed. The history of the Black 
Hawk War is so familiar to many that, the outrages committed need not 
be repeated here. 

David Searles and wife moved from Otsego County, New York, to Lee 
County in 1844 and located in Crombie Lane on the farm now owned by 
Hiram Bates. His family consisted of his wife, Eliza Ann, daughter of 
Mr. Orres Adams, and daughter Eugenia. Mr. Searles was a prominent 
citizen and considered quite wealthy for those days. When land first 
came into market, many settlers were not able to pay for their claims, 
and they came to him for assistance. He held the office of Constable and 
afterwards Justice of the Peace. When township organization was 
adopted, he represented Amboy as its first Supervisor. About 1850 he 
bought out the dry goods and grocery store of Wasson & Crocker at Bing- 
hampton. Soon afterwards he was appointed postmaster; the office was 
kept in the store. Mr. Searles died in May 29th, 1857, and his wife fol- 
lowed him the next year, January 12, 1858. Mrs. Searles was blessed with 
an amiable disposition and she had the spirit of a true Christian. She 
spoke ill of no one. Eugenia Searles, the daughter, now Mrs. Booth, re- 
sides in Chicago. 

Addison Brewer was married to Miss Maria Adams, daughter of Mr. 
Orres and Mrs. Mehitable Adams, in Milford, Otsego County, New York, 
in 1844, and arrived here in the spring of 1845. He bought the 160 acres 


in Section 12, which is now owned by Mr. Josiah Little. Henry Adams, 
who drove breaking plow fur Mr. Brewer, bare-footed, says that the kill- 
ing of a rattlesnake was almost a daily occurence. Mr. Brewer was the 
first town collector of Amboy. His widow is now the wife of T.D. Yocum 
and resides in Amboy. Of her hospitable home and generous traits, her 
friends are not weary of telling. Her only son, Harlan L. Brewer, en- 
listed, when only sixteen years of age, in the 12th Illinois Infantry and 
served through the war. He now resides in Rock Falls. 

Mrs. Yocum can tell of many of the hardships of pioneer life and of 
the kindly ministrations of the pioneers to each other which brightened 
the dark days, when both herself and husband were sick, yet obliged to 
work, he fainting away over the wood he was sawing. 

J. Henry Adams, son of Mr. Orres and Mrs. Mehitable Adams, came 
here with his parents in 1844, at the age of eleven years. He worked on 
the farm and attended school, improving such educational advantages as 
he had at that time. He lived near the Wasson school house, which was 
a central location then. Mr. Adams relates, from his great memory, 
pleasing incidents of "Uncle Ben Wasson" and others. Robert G. Inger- 
soll, then a neighbor, was a playmate, who, with his father, then a 
preacher here, is elsewhere mentioned in these sketches. Mr. Adams 
has always remained in Amboy, taking care of his parents, who lived to 
a good old age. He married Miss Catherine M. Crafts of New York, for- 
merly a teacher, and who is a relative of the present Speaker of the 
House by that name at Springfield, Illinois. 

Although living on his farm a short distance from this city, Mr. 
Adams finds time to "follow the bent of his genius." and engage, more or 
less, in work for the press of Lee County, with which he has been con- 
nected in different ways for many years. He was correspondent for the 
Dkcon Telegraph six years, and was three years local editor with Wm. H 
Haskell. He, with Wm. M. Geddes, established The, Amboy News, and 
they continued together in its publication five years. He was associated 
one year with Capt. Wm. Parker, of the Eock Falls News. Mr. Adams 
sold out his interest to W. M. Geddes; was afterwards local editor for Dr. 
Loomis. Perhaps no man in town has a more extensive acquaintance, 
both from his long residence here and from his public duties, which have 
brought him in contact with many. His kind and genial disposition, 
making him ever ready to confer a favor, has won him many friends. In 
the collection of reminiscences for these days, he has been of thegreatest 
service, and has placed the descendants of the pioneers, and all who may 




treasure these records of the past in after years, under perpetual obliga- 
tion, much being preserved which, but for his untiring assistance, must 
have been lost beyond recall. 

A fellow laborer and friend, Mr. William Keho, of the Journal Office, 
pays him this tribute: 

"As a general man upon a country weekly and as a newsgatherer, Mr. 
Adams had but few equals and no superiors. With an experience of 
eighteen years, a wide acquaintance, and possessing that peculiar faculty 
of separating the wheat from the chaff, he is able, at all times, to pre- 
sent the news to his readers in a bright, crisp manner. He has been 
associated with different papers as correspondent, served for years as 
local editor upon the Amboy Journal and Amboy News, at one time own- 
ing a half interest in the latter; at no time posing as a bright star in the 
literary field, still, his quiet, unassuming ways have won for hiru hosts of 
friends who are grateful for the words of consolation and solace to the 
bereaved, encouragement to the disheartened, and the well wishes to 
those starting afresh with brightened prospects. He is gifted with a 
wonderful memory, and having lived during a period when matters of 
local historical importance transpired, he possesses a wealth of informa- 
tion which should be recorded and placed to his credit, that generations 
to come may know the true worth of the man whose presence we now 

It was a matter of general regret when Mr. Adams closed his regular 
work with the News and Journal, and readers and subscribers for those 
papers felt that they had met with a personal loss. His gentle compan- 
ion seems always imbued with the same unassuming desire for being use- 
ful to every one, and is ever interested in Mr. Adam's pursuits. The re- 
fining influence of her presence is evident in her home and family. She 
has set her life to his "Like perfect music unto noble words." Theirchil- 
dren are Lulu, Leo M., Jessie, Kate and Harry. 

e Le\Vn,s F 30221 1^/. 

HAS BEEN a marked family in this county since Nathaniel Lewis, 
wife and children, emigrated to this place, and took up their 
abode on Temperance Hill in 1843. They were the same who, in 
company with Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hale, emigrated from Vermont to 
Pennsylvania in 1790. There, for more than fifty years they lived, and 
when again they took up pioneer life, they were the parents of twelve 
children, all living six sons and six daughters. Mrs. Lewis was a sister 
of Isaac Hale, and sister-in-law of Charles Pickering, M. D., a grandson 
of Hon. Timothy Pickering, of revolutionary fame, whose names are re- 
corded with honor in Johnson's cyclopaedia. Of their children, the younger 
ones came with them, the older following with their families a year or 
two later. Their names wereLevi, Nathaniel, Timothy P., Joseph, Hiel, 
Miles, Esther, Elizabeth, Sarah, Ann, Lurena and Olive. The four young- 
est brothers settled in this vicinity and assisted in the organization of 
this township. 

Levi, the oldest son, left four children; Joseph, a minister of the U. 
B church, and Reuben, and two daughters, Phila A. (Mrs. Peter Maine) 
arid Mrs. M. L. Virgil. All settled in Amboy and are still living. 

Nathaniel's children were Mary, Julia Ann, Addison, Zebulon, Louisa, 
Ira, Anthony, Milinda and Sarah. This family left Amboy. 

Timothy P. had one son, Charles, and two daughters, Lurena and 

Joseph married Miss Rachel Cargill, of Cheshire county, New Hamp- 
shire, and came here from Pennsylvania in 1845 with five children, all of 
whom are now dead. Their names were Gaylord J., James C., John, 
Andrew J. and Electa Jane. Joseph Ellis was born in Amboy. 

Hiel had Ira W. (now Circuit Clerk), Orin, Percy Irwin and Dayton, 
and one daughter who married Win. Dresser. 

Miles had two sons and three daughters: Everett and Robert, Alice. 
Alpha and Elizabeth. 

Sarah married Sabin Trowbridge arid lived in Lee Center. She had 
two daughters and one son. He starved in Andersonville prison. 


Ann married Austin B. Trowbridge and had five children. 

Lurena married Augustus Trowbridge. 

Olive married A. G. Skinner and had children. 

It would require far more space than we have here to record the brav- 
ery and patriotism of the descendants of Nathaniel Lewis. There were 
twelve of them in the Union army at one time. Three died in Ander- 
sonville prison, none of them knowing the presence of the others. Three 
sons of Joseph, brothers of our post master, J. E. Lewis, gave up their 
young lives to their country. Their mother, Mrs. Rachel Lewis, now liv- 
ing here with her son, J. E.. still mentally gifted though eighty-seven 
years of age, has related some of the events of her pioneer life which are 
treasured in this article. Could the reader have heard the stately, noble 
looking old lady relate her pioneer history with the beautiful, kindly 
smile, as if it was but a dream which she was telling for the pleasure of 
her hearers, the contrast between that and these written pages would 
make them dim indeed; for the wondrous smile told of the dissolving 
toils of earth and the sweet peace beyond. 

They with their five children, Timothy P. and family, Miles and family 
and their sister Elizabeth -Mrs. Hezekiah McKune and family, and two 
young men, came together from Pennsylvania to Illinois. They had con- 
structed a flat-boat and on this they all took passage up the Delaware 
River to Binghampton, New York, where they sold the boat and came by 
canal to Buffalo, and from there by steamboat to Chicago. They reached 
Chicago Saturday night, and Sunday morning employes from the differ- 
ent public houses flocked to the boat to secure the passengers. "The 
Great Western" hotel had just been completed and to this our company 
came. Here from the window of her room Mrs. Lewis looked out upon a 
vast and seemingly unlimited prairie, with scarcely an object in view. 
With her little daughter, Electa, brought all the long way in her arms, 
she remained at the hotel, taking care of her own and theotherchildren, 
while other members of the party were preparing for the toilsome journey 
in the ox-carts and wagons across the country to Palestine Grove. After 
the usual fashion of camping out by night and alternately riding and 
walking by clay, they at last reached the Inlet where they met John Dex- 
ter, who, having recently lost his wife, offered- them the use of his cabin 
until they could be otherwise provided for; himself and children still re- 
maining there. They were soon stricken with fever and ague, which no 
one seemed to think at all alarming, though they suffered greatly from 
it. Everyone had it, and seemed to take it as a matter of course. 

In the fall they moved to a house which stood vacant, on the Chicago 


road, just beyond the house built some years ago by Captain Pratt, and 
on the opposite side of the road. Some of the family were carried on beds, 
some could hardly sit up through the long, hard ride, so it was a cheerless 
and difficult "moving." But they found very kind neighbors, and Mrs. 
Lewis says she doesn't know how they could have lived through the winter, 
had it not been for them Mrs. Davis, a daughter of the man who owned 
the place, the family of Solomon Parker, who lived on the Peru road, and 
Mr. Campbell, then sheriff, who lived on what is still called the "Camp- 
bell Place," just beyond the North - Western railroad crossing 
on the Chicago road. His wife and daughter came almost every day to 
see them, prepare food and try to make them comfortable. Sometimes 
only one of the family would be able to be out of bed, and not infrequent- 
ly, they could only creep out of bed, fix the flre, or make a kettle of hasty- 
pudding, and get back again, weak and shivering. 

Dr. Gardner lived near, and his visits gave them hope, and he was wel- 
comed with joy. Sometimes Mrs. Gardner visited them, carrying broth 
or gruel, or helping to make the beds and sweep. One time Gaylord 
cried because he " couldn't eat any more " of her gruel " it was so good." 
Any one who ever had the ague, would know the fierce hunger that fol- 
lows the chill and the burning fever, and appreciate the child's tears. 

There was no water within a half a mile, and the little boys had to go 
between chills to get it. This was no light task in that long, cold winter, 
and they finally rigged up a sled, or broad, boat-like arrangement on 
which they could draw a barrel. To this they hitched a young steer, 
borrowed of a neighbor. The frisky team made then a good deal of 
trouble, and costf them some tears and trials, with runaways and upsets, 
but they persevered, and succeeded at last in getting a good supply of 
water with comparatively small labor. 

While the family were all sick, and in the coldest of that long-to-be- 
remernbered "hard winter," the baby died; the only little daughter, Electa 
(for whom her little niece, the daughter of James Lewis and his wife, 
Lucy Burnham Lewis, was named, many years after). The father was 
very dangerously sick, the mother hardly able to sit up. The daughter 
of a neighbor, Miss Hankerson, came in, just as the dear little girl lay 
dying, took her in her arms* and held her till all was over. Then she 
gently robed the little body for its last rest and laid it in the upper drawer 
of the old fashioned bureau. A Mr. Ferguson made the little coffin of 
plain wood, without paint or stain or covering of cloth, and Mrs. Lewis 
says: "1 shall never forget how I felt to see my baby laid in that cold, 
hard box." Only one boy, Gaylord, was able to sit up during the simple 


funeral services. The father lay unconscious, and it was six months 
before any one of them could visit the spot where the baby was buried. 

Then, the spring had come. They had spent nine months at South 
Dixon, had passed through experiences which forever after leave a differ- 
ent light on all the world, and with sadness and in gladness they returned 
to Amboy and located on the farm which had been vacated by James 
Doan. Here they still found many of the "hardships of pioneer life" yet 
they were prospered and beloved. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis were members of 
the Methodist Episcopal church, he being steward, trustee and class 
leader, sometimes holding all the offices at one time. 

The oldest son, Gaylord, whose youthful ambition was aroused with 
the cry of "Ho for California^ followed the example of Josiah Davis, James 
Doan, Benjamin Wasson and son, and others from this vicinity, and went 
from here in company with two others with ox teams. He passed through 
"hair-breadth 'scapes," but reached there in safety and did well. He 
was not a miner, but captain of a supply train, riding his white mule at 
the head of a line of pack-mules, the six days' rough journey from San 
Francisco to the mines. Those were hard, rough times, but he wrote 
cheerfully, and hoped to help his parents a great deal. In August he 
had seven hundred dollars ready to send them, when he went to San 
Francisco the next time, but he spoke of Indian trouble with some ap- 
prehension. That was the last they ever heard from him; though after a 
long time they learned that a large company were killed by the Indians 
in a canyon, and they feared that he might have been one of the number. 
Hope was abandoned by all but his mother, who says: "He was nineteen 
years old then, he would have been fifty-nine now, and all these years I 
have lived in suspense, hoping against hope, that I might, at least, learn 
his fate." 

Then came the cruel war, and when President Lincoln's call for 75,000 
men reached Amboy. and the Lewis boys heard the summons, and en- 
listed, their parents gave them up like the Spartans of old; and there is 
something now in the stately mien of that widowed and aged mother, 
that makes one doubt not that she would not hesitate, yet, to sacrifice 
those dearer then her own life, in a sacred cause. James C. volunteered 
in Company I, 89th Illinois Volunteers, was wounded May 9, 1864, and 
died at Chattanooga, July 23d. John enlisted in Company G, 39th Illinois 
Volunteers, (Yates Phalanx) August 20, 1861, served under McClellan, 
and Shields, and in January, 1863, came home to die within the year, 
November 29, 1864, from disease contracted by exposure in the army. 
Andrew J. enlisted in Company G, (Yates' Phalanx), August 2, 1861, and 


died at Foley Island, Charleston harbor, July 4, 1863. The only son, or 
child, left was too young to go. 

On January 15, 1882, the aged couple celebrated their golden wedding, 
and that day was the last that Mr. Lewis was able to walk out. He died 
a few months later, in the early spring. 

Only for lack of time and space many interesting reminiscenses for 
this work might be gathered from this pioneer mother whose memory is 
remarkable. Her little granddaughter, who resembles her, said to-day: 
"The bureau that grandma's little girl was laid out in, is up in her room 

With tender reverence we leave her, surrounded by her loved ones, 
and the mementoes of those gone before. 

May a rich " Harvest Gathering of the Heart" await her in the Beau- 
tiful Land. 

A. D. Smith was born in Ithica, New York, September 11, 1821. In 
1843 he came to Lee Center intending to practice medicine, but as the 
people of those early days were more ready to invest their all in land in 
lieu of pills and powders, he joined the mass and purchased a great amount 
of land. In 1854, despairing of a railroad, he sold out for a pittance and 
returned east. The next year the railroad was laid out, and land rose 
beyond all precedent. In March, 1855, he was married at the residence 
of his brother, Dr. N. W. Smith, of Wilmington, Vermont, to Harriet W. 
White, of Erving, Massachusetts. After traveling through Vermont, 
Massachusetts and New York, he came to New Boston, Illinois, the fol- 
lowing October, where he remained for three and a half yjears. He then 
came to Lee county, where he resided until his decease, which occurred 
in Amboy, January 9, 1886, having been crippled, and in. poor health for 
twenty-five years. In his last, lingering illness, his mind often reverted 
to the old pioneer friends and the trials they had shared together. When 
hauling grain to Chicago they would camp out, sleeping under their 
wagons, as hotel fare would have cost the price of their loads. He and 
Deacon Jonathan Peterson and Joseph Eddy were the only Republicans 
in Lee Center and vicinity, to call a caucus, when a gang of roughs at- 
tempted to break up the meeting; but he and Mr. Eddy went out and 
soon restored order among the belligerauts. So from small beginnings 
mighty revolutions are wrought. 

Mr. Smith left a wife, five sons and one daughter, his oldest married 
daughter having preceded him eleven months to the spirit laud. His 
oldest son, Oren E.- settled in Wendell, Kansas, Newman W. on the 


home farm, Fannie Jane married in Chicago, Abram L, in Lee county, 
George A. resides with his mother in Amboy, John E. E. is a resident of 

It is not undue commendation to say of Mrs. Smith, who was an edu- 
cated teacher in New England, that she is one who would justly remind 
one of the words 

" Full many a gem of purest ray serene 

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear; 
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen 

And waste its sweetness on the desert air." 

And yet her excellences are not wasted or lost but garnered up in the 
hearts of loving friends, a most devoted son, and in the archives of 

John H. Gardner came west in 1844, with his wife and three children, 
from Steuben county, New York, and bought of Ransom Barnes the farm 
in this township now owned by Sylvester Chamberlin. Mr. Gardner sold 
it to Isaac Gage and bought where his son John M. now lives in Lee 
Center. While still a young man he buried his wife, and was left with 
five children, one an infant, five days old. Mrs. Gardner died November 
19, 1849, aged 32 years. He struggled on and in due time secured a reward 
for his labors and privations in a fine competency, after giving his chil- 
dren many advantages. 

The oldest child, Robert M. Gardner, was born August 7, 1839, and 
died June 26, 1860. John M., the second son, lives on the old homestead 
in Lee Center. He is a useful and reliable man, well read on all subjects, 
trusted and depended upon by all who know him; has been supervisor in 
his town for years married Miss Alice L. Clapp. Lucy E. Gardner is a 
valued resident of Amboy. Nancy E. married Thomas Houghton. They 
have one daughter, Lucy Emma, educated at Rockford Seminary. Mr. 
Houghton is freight agent at the Illinois Central railway station, and 
never fails to look after the interests of the company as if they were his 
own; is faithful in all his duties, in small as well as in large things. He 
was a soldier in the late war, and was wounded for life. Emma L. married 
Henry C. Bond and lives in South Bend, Indiana. Malvina married Henry 
Maynard and lives in Harvey, Illinois. 

Mr. Gardner died September 11, 1871, aged 62 years. He was a singu- 
larly straightforward man, owed no man anything and "his word was as 
good as his bond." His children are proud of his memory. He would be 
proud of his children were he living. 


It is impossible to make as extended mention as the subject deserves 
of Martin Wright, one of the early settlers of what is now Amboy town- 
ship but so near Lee Center that his interests have always been more 
closely connected with the latter place. Mr. Wright was a typical New 
Englander, firm in principle, upright in life, and unflinching in adherence 
to duty. We have not been able to learn at what time he came west, but 
know that he was one of those who aided in establishing the Congrega- 
tional church, and the Academy in Lee Center, being one of the first, if 
not the very first of its Trustees. His first wife was a daughter of Dea- 
con Ransom Barnes, and died in the summer of 1860, leaving a daughter, 
Helen, now the wife of Curtis C. Hale and residing in Iowa. His second 
wife was Miss Eliza Clapp and she survives him. His pleasant home was 
swept away by the terrible tornado of 1860, but he rebuilt on the same 
spot, and livpd there until his death about ten years since. It is now the 
home of Mr. Sylvester Clapp. 

IN or near the year 1845 David and Jesse Hale, brothers of Mrs. Wasson, 
came to Temperance Hill; a younger brother, Alva, following in the 
fall of 1845. Jesse and Alva had adjoining farms, now owned by Rus- 
sell Leak. David married Rhoda Skinner. Their children were Au- 
rilla, Ira, Chester, Priscilla, Betsy and Rhoda Jane. Mr. Hale was noted 
for his integrity. He and his brother Jesse were soldiers in the war of 
1812. He died April 16, 1878; Mrs. Hale Oct. 15, 1874. 

Jesse Hale married Mary McKune. Their children were Silas, Julius, 
Charles, Franklin, Tyler, Robert, Tamar, Anna, Elizabeth and Hester. 
Mrs. Hale was the beloved "Aunt Polly Hale" of all the neighbors far 
and near; the friend in sickness and sorrow as well as in joy, and a de- 
voted wife and mother. She brought the seeds of flowers and herbs from 
her old home and shared them with her friends, and made the herbs use- 
ful to the suffering pioneers. Three of her sons gave their lives to their 
country. Frank, lieutenant in the 12th Illinois, was killed at Corinth. 
Tyler, a captain in the same regiment, was killed at Fort Donelson. 
Capt. Robert, of the 75th Illinois, was killed in July, 1865, while on duty 
for a sick officer whose place he volunteered to fill. Elizabeth, the only 
surviving daughter, who lives in Missouri, is remembered still by her old 
neighbors with gratitude and affection. 

Alva married Clara Rouse and lived in Sublette. Children: Oliver, 
Jesse, William, Stalira, Lydia, Betsy and Eunice. Two sons were in the 
army viz., William, sergeant in Co. C., 13th Illinois Volunteers, and 
Jesse in 89th Illinois. William served several years and was wounded. 
He is well known in Amboy, is a prominent member of the Episcopal 
Church, a kind neighbor, and has been, for many years, a faithful and 
efficient conductor on the I. C. R. R. 

Mr. Alva Hale died April 18th, 1882 his wife the llth of January, 
1880. He was a genial man and never sick until the sickness preceding 
his death. He possessed remarkable energy in his old age. Sept. 30th, 
1871, he, with his brother David, started for Missouri to visit a brother. 


On returning, David proceeded to Nauvoo to visit his sister Emma, 
while Alva came directly home. Arriving at Mendota and the train for 
Sublette not being due, he started home with satchel and gun, walking 
all the distance without apparent fatigue. 

There were three brothers and three sisters of the Hale family living 
in this vicinity, all greatly respected. Alva, Jesse and David Hale, 
and Mrs. Benjamin Wasson, Mrs. Morse and Mrs. Joseph Smith; 
the latter not a resident of Lee county. The following extract from an 
article written by Mr. David Hale, and published in one of the Amboy 
papers, May, 1876, is worthy of presivation. 

I, David Hale, was born March 6, 1794, in what is now Oakland, on 
the Great Bend of the Susquehanna River, near where the Susquehanna 
depot is now built, on the New York railroad, Susquehanna county, Pa. 
First settler, my father, Isaac Hale, with my Uncle Nathaniel Lewis and 
their wives emigrated from Vermont to Pennsylvania in 1790. 

I joined the Methodist Episcopal church at the age of seventeen years. 
I was enrolled in the Pennsylvania malitia at the age of eighteen. In 
1812 I was a drafted malitia man; in 1814 joined Col. Daniel Montgomery's 
regiment that was ordered to march and defend Baltimore; but we met 
an express with orders for Col. Montgomery to discharge his men, which 
he did; peace soon followed. 

In 1823, 1 married Rhoda Skinner; my age twenty-nine years and hers 
nineteen. We had two sons and three daughters. We moved to Lee 
county, Illinois, in 1847. During the summer of 1847 we lived with 
brother Jesse Hale, in the Temperance Hill settlement, where we found 
Uncle Nathaniel Lewis and wife (who emigrated with my father and 
mother from Vermont to Pennsylvania in 1790), with all his family except 
Nathaniel C., who came after awhile, viz: Six sons and six daughters: 
while my father's family numbered six sons and four daughters. Brother 
Alva Hale was here with his family of three sons and four daughters, 
My wife's brother, AlpheusG. Skinner, was there with his family of three 
sons and three daughters. Between Temperance Hill and Rocky Ford 
lived Francis Northway and family and Elder Joseph Gardner and family: 
next Reuben Bridgman and family; next Curtis Bridgman and family; 
next John C. Church and family; next Cyrus Davis and family; next Jo- 
seph Farwell and family; next Joel Davis and family; next Joseph Apple- 
ton and family; next Shelburn; Frederick R. Dutcher and family, with 
Widow Hook and her sons, John and Aaron and their families. On the 
Crombie Lane lived Lyman Bixby, Wilder Crombie, Samuel Bixby, David 


Searles, Moses Crombie; west of the lane lived Orres Adams; Lorenzo 
Wasson's farm, a quarter of a section; west of this Benjamin Wasson. 
father of Lorenzo, owned a quarter section with good house and barn and 
the land well improved. At Binghampton I found two old acquaint- 
ances, Col. Badger and Asa B. Searles, for over fifty years ago we were 
pilots on the Susquehanna River. At Inlet lived Esquire Haskell, who 
kept a store and the postottice. East of Palestine Grove lived Dr. R. F. 
Adams and C. F. Ingals, well known in the timeof the Grove Association 
for the protection of claims. But after awhile this passed away and the 
township organizations came tip, of which some abler pen than mine may 
or can write. 

Had Mr. Hale passed on one mad further west he would have men- 
tioned Mr. Seth Holmes, Mr. Elijah Hill and Mr. Warren Hill, all excel- 
lent citizens who, with their families, were a benefit to the town. 

Mr. Holmes had seven children, Mary Jane, wife of Cyrus Bridgman, 
Demmis H., wife of Henry Cushing, Isaac A., James W., Warren H., Al- 
mira and Jacob C. 

James W. was one of the first volunteers in Co. 1, 4(5th Illinois Regi- 
ment. He fought at Donelstwi ami Shiloh, was in the siege of Corinth 
and the battle of Hatchie and the siege of Vicksburg, where he was 
wounded and taken prisoner. He was discharged Dec. 1863 on account of 
his wound, leaving a noble record as ;i gallant defender of the flag of our 
Union. All the children but Isaac, James, Jacob and Mrs. dishing have 
joined their parents mi the other shore. Mr. and Mrs. Warren Hill, and 
Mr. Elijah Hill have also passed away. 

Mr. Moses Cromhie was born in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, in 
1804, was married to Miss Louisa Morse, a native of the same state, in 
1828, and moved to Lee County in 1837. While living here he was one of 
those engaged in work on the first plows manufactured in Lee County. 
His home was where Mr. William Acker now lives, his brother, Wilder 
Crombie, living on the same road, which ever since has borne the name 
of Crombie Lane. Mr. and Mrs. Crombie were useful citizens, and their 
memory will live as the generations pass away. Mrs. Crombie opened a 
school in her house before any school house was built, and "was like a 
mother"' to her pupils, who remember her with affection. Among her 
scholars were Roxy Wasson (afterwards Mrs. Simon Badger), Warren 
Wasson, Lewis Bridgman, Sally Bridgman, Emily Bridgman, Sarah 
and Rowena Badger, Mary .and Clara Frisbee, her own sons, Thaddeus 
and John, and two little girls, Delilah and Rhoda (last name forgotten.) 


The little Frisbee girls were carried to school every Monday morning and 
sent for Friday night. Mrs. Frisbee sent with them a basket of roast 
chicken, doughnuts, pies, etc., and they sat at the table with the family 
through the week, exchanging the good things of life and partaking of 
Mrs. Crombie's warm food with her children. Mrs. Clara (Frisbee) Davis 
speaks now with enthusiasm of Mrs. Crombie's motherly care; of the 
kindness, friendship, and hospitality among the people; of the good they 
were ever doing each other without money, if not always without price. 

Mrs. Crombie taught every useful thing to her little flock, not neglect- 
ing knitting and sewing. Among the books used were Webster's Ele- 
mentary Spelling Book, Olney's Geography, History of the United States, 
Common Arithmetic and Grammar. But few as charming reminiscences 
have been related as those of Mrs. Crombie's home school for her own 
and her neighbor's children, before "the first log school house" was built 
in 1839. 

At this same home, on July 5th, 1843, the first religious society here 
was organized, called "The Congregational Church of Palestine Grove." 
Mr. Crombie was chosen one of the deacons. The first minister was Rev. 
John Morrell, the second Rev. John Ingersoll, father of Robert G., the 
third Rev. Joseph Gardner. 

Samuel L. Pyle came to Amboy from New Jersey in 1845, and bought 
of the government 160 acres of land in the western part of the township. 
A son-in-law, P. Battles, now owns the place. "The Wood Hotel" 
painted on a sign in front of Mr. Pyle's house, brought to his door many 
farmers who stopped with him on their way to and from LaSalle, where 
they went to market their produce. 

Through Mrs. Pyle's efforts a Sunday School was opened at her home, 
where, during the summer months, children received religious instruc- 
tion. Mrs. Pyle was a most estimable woman. There was a large family 
of boys and girls, all highly respected, who married, one after another, 
and moved away. The old couple spent their latter days in the city of 

Samuel Bixby came here in 1844 from Hornby, New York, and was 44 
years old. His bell-crowned white hat and dialect proclaimed the genu- 
ine Yankee. He was born and reared in Vermont. He purchased a 
claim of Rev. Joseph Gardner and is still living on it, his house being 
on Crombie Lane, while Mr. Gardner's was on another part of this farm. 


Mr. and Mrs. Bixby were excellent people. They had four children. 
When they first came they united with the Baptist Church and be is now 
the only living representative of that early association. His house was 
the stopping place for pioneer ministers and they were always given good 
cheer. His first wife, who was familiarly known to the neighbors as 
"Aunt Lucretia," died many years ago, but her good influence still lives. 
Mr. Bixby is enjoying his ripe old age in the society of his second wife, 
who was formerly Mrs. Elijah Hill. 
Lyman Bixby came the same year. 

Mrs. McKune gives^us'the following story of her pioneer experiences, 
which, written by one nearly^eighty-two years old, is a veritable "old set- 
tler's story." She says: 

"My husband, Hezekiah McKune, with myself and four children, left 
our native home in Susquehanna, {Pennsylvania, June 10th, 1845. We 
came to Binghampton, New York; from there we took passage on a canal 
boat for Utica, thence to Buffalo, from there by steamer to Chicago, 
where we were met by a man by the name of Peterson from Palestine 
Grove, our place of destination, in this country. 

"Mr. Peterson had two yoke of oxen and a wagon. We bad four 
wagons, and purchased a pair of oxen, andafter four days travel we 
reached our home, which we bad traded for. It was a log house with 
lean-to and attic, which we reached by climbing on pegs driven into the 
wall. We could count stars through ,the roof; sometimes as many as 
twenty at a time. 

"On our trip I sometimes got tired of riding, and would walk until a 
rattlesnake would buzz across my path, then I would take my place in 
the wagon again. I saw one rattlesnake crawl through the floor of our 
house, it was a small one and I killed the intruder. 

"We had the usual amount of sickness and privation incident to a 
new country. Three times we took families in to live with us, of from 
three to six in number, who stayed as many months apiece. We enter- 
tained ministers, travelers and tramps, and as we were on the road from 
Dixon to Peru it was a convenient stopping place. I recollect several of 
those early settlers who used to call at our house; among the most note- 
worthy were Dr. Gardner and Rev. DeWolf, as they were hauling onions 
and other produce to Peru. 

"We had no great trouble with wolves, although when Mr. McKune 
was returning one evening from helping a neighbor butcher, they came 


so close to him he could hear them breathe and snap, but he hung on to 
the liver he was carrying, and reached home safely with no further 

"I am now in my eighty-second year and have survived my entire 
family except one, my only daughter, Mrs. Thayer." 


"The sun was tipping the western horizon and I was starting for further 
west from the Davis house. Somewhere between there and J. B. Apple- 
ton's, not far from where the Passenger house stood afterwards, and 
where the present Illinois Central railroad depot now stands, there was 
a bad slough, a rather broad, treacherous place to cross that looked dan- 
gerous. But in those days we had to take a good many risks, and I 
started in very unwisely as it proved. The horse went in, out of sight, 
all but his head and neck. Though summer, the water was very cold, 
being a spring, and I had to be active to contrive to get him out before 
he should become weakened, or perish. It was beyond call of anybody 
and soon would be dark. I was alone and "something had to be done 
pretty quick." I got out horse and buggy too; no need of detailing how 
it was contrived, but 1 had no help. Most of us in those times, were often 
forced to be "a law nnto ourselves." I knew good men, pioneers then, 
who became wonderfully self-reliant, forced to it by overmastering cir- 


Mrs. Wasson was full of energy, determination and fertility of resource 
in trying situations the very woman for pioneering. In the early days 
fresh meat was furnished to a neighborhood by "changing around." One, 
when about to "kill a critter," would notify in advance, and when butcher- 
ed, the meat would be distributed in proper proportions to different 
families, according to size. One winter morning, Mr. Wasson (Uncle 
Ben) and the boys, Lorenzo, Harmon and Warren were about to start 
"down into Palestine" with the ox-sled "to get up wood." Mrs. Wasson, 
somewhat emphatically told them she was "out of meat and she had got 
to have a hog killed before they started into the woods." (Nothing about 
dressing.) They caught the hog, "stuck" and bled it to death, flung ij, 
into the kitchen and started for the woods. When they got in from 
their work there was waiting for them a good meal of fresh pork, cooked 
in acceptable manner, served with vegetable accompaniments. Mrs. 
Wasson was famous for keeping up a good garden. She was, as I can 

146 - 

testify, a most estimable, judicious woman; indeed of all the typical 
pioneer women of the early settlement 'round about Amboy township' 
there was no more compendious, representative woman, whose own per- 
sonal history was almost the history of the region itself, than Mrs. Benja- 
min Wasson; and I personally know she was good. She was a joyful pres^ 
ence at the bridal, an angel of mercy at the bedside of the dying. There 
was no trouble within her range, she was not ready as far as possible to 

Frank Northway and family came here in 1844 from Steuben county, 
New York, and took up a claim two mile's north of Amboy. His house 
stood in the track of the cyclone of 1861 and was torn to pieces, his family 
almost miraculously escaping death. Some years ago the family moved 
to Chicago, where Mr. Northway died at a good old age. His wife and 
daughters still reside there. 


Patriotism, the memory of the way the Glorious Fourth was observed 
at the old home in the eastern states, and the love of a good time gener- 
ally, constrained our pioneer friends to celebrate the day in this place. 
If we are overstepping the boundary of 1845 by two or three years, we 
trust our friends of The Club will forgive us, since it was the first and all 
the first there ever will be which was observed within this township, 
and most of those who took part in it have passed away or are pressing 
hard upon the unseen boundary line. 

Some of the good people of "Inlet" joined in the celebration with 
ready heart and willing hands, rendering such aid as to insure success. 
Dr. Welch, then a young man of enthusiasm and great executive ability, 
did much to make it what it was a most satisfactory and delightful oc- 
casion. The people met in the Wasson School House, where, after reli- 
gious exercises and music, Rev. James Brewer delivered the oration. 

The choir was made up of Dr. Welch, Rev. James and Deacon Ira 
Brewer, Mrs. Brewer, Mrs. Welch, Miss Pratt and Misses Sarah and 
Rowena Badger Deacon Farwell adding the music of his violin. 

Mr. Brewer, in his address, dwelt upon the advantages and beneflcient 
working of our government as established by ourselves to satisfy the de- 
mands of our circumstances and needs as a people. He compared the 
heavy burdens of taxation and labor resting on the populations of other 
and what were considered the most favored people of other lands; of the 
shameless extravagance of wealthy and titled classes, as witnessed by the 


suffering poor of those lands, etc., with the freedom and the compari- 
tively happy condition of the people of this land. Deacon Farwell, as one 
of a committee, asked it for publication, but Mr. Brewer modestly de- 
clined the honor. 

The choir sang "with spirit and with the understanding" "The break- 
ing waves dashed high," "My country, 'tis of thee," and the following 
hymn to the tune of Dort: 

"God bless our Native Land, 
Firm may she ever stand 

Through storm and night; 
When, the wild tempests rave, 
Ruler of wind and wave. 
Do Thou our country save 

By Thy great might. 

For her our prayers shall rise 
To God above the skies ; 

On Him we wait. 
Thou, who art ever nigh, 
Guarding with watchful eye. 
To Thee aloud we cry 

God save the state! " 

A bountiful and delicious dinner had been prepared, to be served in a 
charming spot under the shade of large trees on the banks of Green 
River, near the Binghampton bridge and Plow factory. All the ladies in 
the vicinity had been notified, ''and many, like the Badgers arid Wassons, 
were paragon caterers and cooks." Mrs. Welch and her sister, Mrs. Has- 
kell, roasted a pig, too large to go in an ordinary stove oven, so each 
roasted a half, titling each half skillfully together when served. Dr. 
Welch contributed a large quantity of delicious peas. Mrs. Jonathan 
Peterson, the champion biscuit maker, furnished biscuits, butter, and 
honey, and others furnished chickens and various other dainties. The 
tables were spread with the cleanest and whitest of table cloths brought 
from the family stores of New England, New York and Pennsylvania. 

Grace was asked by a Free Will Baptist minister, Mr. Chamberlain, of 
Inlet. Mr. Warren Badger was toast-master. Squire HaskelPs toast is 
the only One remembered "Thespiritof '76! It has kept well for seventy- 
two years; and is good proof yet, thank God! and please Him it will pre- 
serve Its strength and purity untold ages yet to come! " 

Dr. Weteh pronounced the speeches, toasts and responses equal to 
any he had ever heard in Buffalo, New York, his eastern home, and the 
dinner a sumptuous banquet. 


Rev. Jas. Brewer writes: "We were ludependent of Oranges Groves 
or Oyster beds. Our ice cream was in its liquid state, as it always had 
been. We were in Palestine, yet near to Paradise, and feeling almost as 
independent as certain ones we read of when they were there. We were 
a family gathered from the north, south and east, and were at the ex- 
treme west. Not one of us but might boast of the fact that he had by 
labor earned what he had, and was using, and that he coveted no advan- 
tage over others which was not justly his own. Each of us saw in every 
other a brother and a friend. I would go farther to attend another like 
it than any I have attended for many a year. 

"It has done me good to turn my thoughts for this little while to the 
'long ago' of my own life and the lives of so many others in your vicinity 
who were blessed and a blessing while living there, some of whom dear 
friends, may God bless them ever! still remain, whileothers have passed 

into the skies." 


NO SKETCH of the pioneer women would be just, without linking 
their names with the first religious services held. Every one will 
realize how joyfully they would welcome the messenger who brought 
the glad tidings, and the healing balm from the Great Physician to their 
lonely lives and weary hearts; how the choicest viands which their cabins 
could yield, and the best of the flocks from barnyard or field would 
be prepared for the itinerant laborer in the divine work. The bless- 
ed souls who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and to whom the 
promise of relief is given, are not found among those who are most ready 
to wrangle about the form of the cup from which the life-giving draught 
is partaken. Turn back to the lives of the first women here, in proof of 

It is with deep regret that we bring this imperfect sketch of the pion- 
eer women of Amboy to a close, having left so many of the most beauti- 
ful lives unmentioned. We leave them with the unfaltering belief that 
an angels' hand has recorded every gentle deed of every earnest, loving 
women, whose life may often to herself and to others, appear to have 
been too much obscured; whose lot in life may have seemed to be cast in 
a place for which Heaven had riot designed rt. but who will find as the 
shadows of earth flee away, that she had never been forsaken even "for 
a small moment, and that through the furnace, s one had walked beside 
her "whose form was like the Son of God." 

How many of those sweet women who found it impossible to "realize 
their ideal" have idealized their "real," and like gentle, stately Deborah 
Ingals, who prepared and served, in the rude cabin, from a puncheon 
table with puncheon stools for seats, a repast which was a foretaste of 
Heaven's banqueting to her loving brothers, and like the aroma of Para- 
dise in their memories for more than fifty years afterwards, have dis- 
pensed hospitality with refinement, and cultivated the most beautiful 
graces of womanhood, as truly and effectually as can be given now amid 
the rich supplies and the formalities and fashions of later years. The 


self-respect, and the giving of reverence due to others, the gentle cour- 
tesies and kindly acts between fellow-mortals are not dependant for their 
loveliness upon the latest fashion and the silver plate. The more simple 
the more heavenly. That "Heaven lies about us in our infancy'' is not 
more true of individuals than ot settlements and townships and nations. 
The ox-cart for a chariot, the dry goods box or the crockery crate for a 
sleigh, holds more smiling and happy, loving faces than the thousand 
dollar coupe or the escutcheoned brougham. " We are but children of a 
larger growth " and like the boy astride a stick for a prancing steed, and 
the little girl with a row of corn cobs for her Sunday school class,. imagin- 
ation has greater room for play, and contentment is more sure than when 
the ideal is realized in the things that man or woman can form, It is 
from such facts that we learn to know indeed that " The beings of the 
mind are not of clay," that nothing of earth can satisfy the soul. 

One of the first settlers in this vicinity, of whom it may almost be 
said his "eye is not dim nor his natural force abated," although more than 
seventy-six years have rolled over his head, says: "The women of those 
early day were usually sensible, plain, industrious, economical and un- 
complaining. Their family cares and daily duties appeared to be their 
continual recreation. Domestic happiness was the rule. Conjugal di- 
vorce was unthought of. 'Is marriage a failure' none but a lunatic would 
inquire about. In those days the aid of every member was essential to 
family success. The people were too poor to afford war with their friends. 
If happiness, as many claim, is the only human good, how does the case 
now stand? The human family have more wisdom, but some ask, "Is it 
not folly to be wise." In those days labor and capital had no controversy. 
Acquisitiveness is the lion faculty of our age. Why will sensible people 
be so foolish? 

Assemblies of the people enacted local civil laws, 'Voxpopuli, Vox Dei' 
(The voice of the people is the voice of God), being the controlling spirit. 
It was enacted that all the controversies might be submitted to a board 
of three men regularly elected annually, from whose verdict there was 
but one appeal, viz: To the People assembled in Grove meetings. Thus 
the time, expense and annoyance of the Maw's delays' so much in vogue 
today were all avoided. The salary of this unpretentious court was voted 
to be $1.00 each per day. Justice and equity were, in those days, more 
highly esteemed than technicalities of statutes or even common law. In 
cases of assault where both men appeared to be in fault, it has been 
known that both plaintiff and defendant were fined alike, with popular 


For eighteen years the settlement made small progress, and good wild 
land was still to be obtained at $1.25 per acre. Then came, in 1854, the 
Illinois Central railroad which gave business and emigration an impetus 
which has continued with more or less activity until the present time. 

As late as 1857 there was scarcely a farm south and west of the city 
fenced in, and one could drive miles west from Amboy with not a house 
in view, save two or three against the distant horizon, like ships far out 
at sea, A pocket compass is treasured now, the size of a watch, which 
was used in those days by a physician to find the most direct bearing 
toward some settlers' houses to be visited. No tree or fence or stone was 
to be seen, only wagon tracks in every direction; and the howling of 
wolves was no unusual sound on winter nights out on the prairie. 

In summer the vast expanse of "living green," the Jonliness and 
silence, as the traveler rode over the plain, all combined to awaken a 
sense of sublimity kindred to that aroused by the grandeur of the ocean. 
Then, after the long, still ride in the sunshine and wind, the grazing cat- 
tle, and the tinkling bells of flocks and herds would herald the human 
habitation. Will any one who has heard them in the first great despair 
of homesickness, ever forget the sound of those tinkling bells as their 
strange music fell upon the listening ear; when the bright sunshine and 
peaceful herds were so discordant with the sad harpings within the soul? 
But homesickness is not incurable. 


LEE COUNTY is divided into twenty-two townships, each town have- 
ing an average of 23,040 acres. 

Amboy is the central town, the exact geographical center being 
in a grove of locust trees on the farm of William Acker, once the home of 
Deacon Moses Crombie, three-fourths of a mile northeast of the C. B. & 
Q. railroad station. 

The Illinois Central railroad passes through the town from southeast 
to northwest, and it is known that freight trains can be brought into 
Amboy from each direction with less steam power than is required to 
carry out the same. This has given the impression that Amboy is a "low 
countrie." The civil engineer of the northern division of the Illinois 
Central railroad company located here, F. B. Doty, has furnished the 
the following statistics of the survey along the line of the railroad through 
Lee county, the Ohio river at Cairo, at low water mark being the base of 
measurement. Sublette is 178 feet higher than Amboy, Eldena is 60 feet 
higher, while beautiful Dixon is 54 feet lower. Resting between these 
two elevations, with a declivity so gentle as to be unobservable and un- 
known to many of her inhabitants, lie her prairies and groves and homes. 
Sublette and Eldena stretch their protecting arms southeast and north- 
west, and how much Amboy is indebted to them for deliverence from 
tornadoes and the destruction thence, we can never know. Physicians 
pronounce this a healthy locality. 

Amboy township was incorporated in the winter of 1854-5, and the 
charter for a city in 1857 was laid before the legislature by John B. Wy- 
man, Wm. E. Ives and J. V. Judd, a committee chosen for that purpose. 
It was enacted and approved February 16, 1857, and adopted at an elec- 
tion on the 2nd of March. 

John B. Wyman was the first mayor. The city has just held an elec- 
tion, and this Columbian year of 1893 which dawned with Capt. Geo. E. 
Young as mayor, witnesses the incoming of Dr. C. E. Wilcox, with the 
following aldermen: 


First Ward C. H. Long, Lewis Entorf, W. T. Smith. 

Second Ward W. V. Beresford, Isaac Edwards, Herman Penne- 

Third Ward I. R. Patterson, Frank Egan, Chas. Keifer. 

Marshal John H. Harvey i 

Night Police Thomas Monahan. 

City Attorney Charles H. Wooster. 

Treasurer M. Carroll. 

Police Magistrate Thomas Hines. 

City Clerk M. J. Monahan. 

The township supervisor is A. J. Tompkins. 

Amboy has two weekly newspapers published here, viz: The Amboy 
Journal, editor, Geo. A. Lyrnan, and the News, editor, James H. Preston. 

The first editor of the first newspaper published in Amboy was Augus- 
tus Noel Dickens, youngest brother of the author, Charles Dickens. It 
was called the Lee County Times. 

There are seven houses of worship and nine church organizations. 

The Congregational church, pastor. Rev. Mr. Dickerman; Baptist, Rev. 

Mr. Mason; Methodist Episcopal church, Rev. Mr. Morley; Catholic, Rev. 

Father Lonergan; Episcopal, Rev. Mr. Sweetland; Lutheran, United 

. Bretheran Advent, Latter Day Saints. 

There are four school houses, ten teachers, three assistants and (445) 
four hundred and forty-five pupils. 

Mr. I. F. Edwards, superintendent. 

Miss Anna Warnick, principal. 

Miss B. Woods, grammar department. 

Miss L. Merrow, assistant. 

Mr. P. C. Deming, grammar department. 

Miss C. Poland, assistant. 

Misses M. Campbell, J. Carroll and J. Curtin, intermediate depart- 

Misses A. Carson, L. Morris, M. Sparks and Mrs. F. Jewett, primary 

The Illinois Central railroad company's shops, and the offices of the 
Northern Division, located here, bring to the town monthly payments of 
($25,000) twenty-five thousand dollars. There is a co-operative creamery, 
tile factory, etc., etc. A beautiful park of twenty-five acres, shaded by 
stately trees, with a half mile driving course adjoins the city on the 
eastern limits. Arnboy rejoices in a band which discourses music, always 


welcome to old and young, to the sad as well as the gay. We append the 
names of the "boys." 

Fred J. Blocher, leader; William Keho, Jean Wamsley, Conrad Asch- 
enbrenner, Frank Blocher, Edward Thomas, Fred Wohnke, Percy Dem- 
ing, Henry Maus, Ed, Staup, C. Gilbert Emery, Hugh Carroll, Frank 
Fehr, Cornelius W. Maine, Henry Wilson. 

The location of the town is excellent for those desiring to engage in 
the manufacturing business, as a direct outlet by rail in four different' 
directions, intersecting all other main lines in the state are available 
within a few rods of vacant city property; the Illinois Central railroad 
and Chicago Burlington & Quincy railroad crossing here. The engraving 
of the Illinois Central railroad depot and the company's offices is a correct 
representation of the building which occupies the site of the old Passen- 
ger House, the three story brick building with dome which was once the 
central building and pride of the city. Efforts have been made to obtain 
a picture of it but none was found. It was destroyed by flre November 
15, 1875. 

Amboy has been devasted by flre once and again, but it was restored 
and improved by the destructive visitation. One heavy cloud has hung 
over it, and it is not yet entirely dispelled. When in its youthful lux- 
uriance, and greatest prosperity, a railroad tax was voted upon it which 
has curtailed its resources and prevented its development. It is now 
being steadily diminished. Let us hope that, like some of our city trees 
which have been trimmed on every bough and branch and limb until 
people cried "it is ruined," but which now stand firm and symmetrical, 
resisting every gale, Amboy will emerge from the trial, stronger and 
wiser and better for the struggle. 

An artesian well has been added to the city, and though its water may 
not flow from 

"Where Alph, the sacred river ran, 
In caverns measureless to man," 

Yet it is considered excellent water by those who use it, and it comes 
from a depth of over 2000 feet. Amboy has excellent bridges and side- 
walks, good streets, macadamized in part, and well cared for; and adjacent 
stone quarries. Her streets are beautifully shaded, in some places em- 
bowered; all lighted with electric lights suspended aloft at every corner, 
and like the Star of Bethlehem "go before" the traveller all the way. 

So may that Star indeed pioneer us all the way, until it shall stand 
over the open Gates of that "strong city" where "the righteous nation 
which keepeth the truth may enter in." 


ip j' 

From Mr.s. 

WE received the following pleasant account of the early settlers 
of Alto township through the efforts of Mrs. George Gary, who 
is, in turn, indebted to Mrs. Charles R. Hall for it. She writes: 

"My deceased husband and myself came to what is now known as 
Alto township, then a part of Willow Creek, to make it our home, in May, 
1855. Mr. Hall was through the township for the first time at Christmas 
of 1851, and at that time there were but two families in the township 
now called Alto. They were John Grimes, who settled at 'Plum Thicket,' 
and Jedediah Loveridge, one mile west, just south of the present town of 
Steward. In 1855 families had multiplied to at least half a dozen, whose 
names as I now remember them were Esquire Holcomb, wife, son and 
daughter; Mr. Williams, wife and fourteen children; Josiah Carpenter 
with his mother and sisters; Mr. and Mrs. Mills, the only member of the 
family now living in the township. 

"A school house was built on a site across from the cemetery in Stew- 
ard in the summer of '56 and the following winter the first school was 
taught by Miss Carrie Whitcomb. The year following Miss Addie Rey- 
nolds was the teacher. During the summer of '57 we held our first meet- 
ings in the new school house, and during the next year a society of the 
M. E. Church was formed, consisting of seven or eight members. 

"Our eldest son, Irving E. Hall, died in April, 1857, in his fourth year, 
and his was the first death and burial in Alto township, though several 
others soon followed. 

"My husband and myself, with our family, lived in Alto until May, 
1866, when we moved to the adjoining county of Ogle, where we have 
since resided. Our pioneering was very different from that of the set- 
tlers in the older townships, but it may be of interest to know who were 
first in Alto. MRS. ARIAN C. HALL. 


Bs.tsj/ (Bfex.T2G.ftar3) Grimed. 

BETSY BLANCHARD was born at Attleborough, Mass., June 21st, 
1794, and was united in marriage to John Grimes on June 17, 1818. 

Born and raised in the primitive log cabin, she was of the sturdy 
stock of the pioneer, and well fitted by nature and by disposition for the 
vicissitudes and trials of those early days. She removed to Illinois in 
1842, her husband locating for a brief period at Oregon, Ogle county, re- 
moving to Plum Thicket, in Alto township, Lee County, in 1847, where 
she resided until the day of her death, March 1st, 1872. 

She was a very energetic woman, and aside from performing the press- 
ing household duties, incident, to pioneer days, she reared a family of ten 
children, seven boys and three girls. 

Widely known and universally respected she died regretted by a wide 
circle of neighbors, who will always remember her friendly offices. 


IN the year 1835 the first settlers came to this section of Illinois, C. 
Royce, J. Clark and I. Rosecrans settling north of what is now called 

In '38 Andrew Drumraond and John Weatherington, with their fami- 
lies, came and settled on the west side of Lafayette Grove came in big 
wagons or ''prairie schooners," being about twice the size of a wagon of 
the present time. These were covered with sheeting and drawn gener- 
ally by oxen. 

They brought cattle and sheep with them and with cards and spinning 
wheels came prepared to manufacture their own clothing. Taking their 
yarn eight miles to a weaver, when some member of the family would 
work for the weaver to pay for weaving. These pioneer women carded, 
spun, wove and made into garments for all members of the family. They 
also made woolen caps for the men in winter and straw hats for summer 
use from the straw gathered from the wheat fields, which they braided, 
sewed and shaped with their own hands. An expert could braid and sew 
one of those hats in a day, which was worth at that time fifty cents. 
Men's home knit socks sold readily, too, at fifty cents per pair. They 
raised flax, too, from which they made all their summer clothing. 

The first school was taught in a log house covered with basswood bark. 
Miss Benedict, now Mrs. Barton Cartwright of Oregon, Ills., was the 
teacher. The same house was used as a Methodist Church. The first 
Christian Church was organized by Elder Walworth in 1841 and services 
were held in the "big barn" of John Weatherington, which is one of the 
old landmarks of today.. The farm is now owned by Ira Coakly, of Dixon. 

The site of the village of Ashton was known as the "big hill" and is 
the highest point in Lee County. When the farmers' cattle strayed 
away they could take a field glass and go to the big hill and view the 
prairie for miles around. Mr. Erastus Anderson, now living in Ashton, 
was the first settler in the township, he having settled on a farm in 1849. 
He was almost out of the settlements at that time, and there were not 
many more until about '54, when the railroad was built from Chicago to 
Dixon; when the company made a station here and called it Ogle Station; 
when Ashton township soon settled up. 


A SEPARATE history of Bradford before 1845 would be a very lim- 
ited affair, as the people, with very few exceptions, settled first in 
and about Inlet. The territory, which is now divided into the 
townships of Lee, Bradford, Amboy, and China, was known as Ogle 

We are told that the first settler in Bradford townsnip was Oman 
Hillison, a Norwegian, and a man of remarkable courage and ambition. 
He came to this country alone, walked from New York to Chicago, and 
when be decided to settle in Bradford, built a sod-house, in which he 
lived until the '40's. His wife, now Mrs. Elizabeth Aschenbrenner, still re- 
sides upon her farm in Bradford. 

A Mr. Whitmore and Mr. Sherman Shaw are said to have been the 
first to build houses in this township. Mr. John Hotzel was the first 
German settler in Bradford, and at his house was organized the German 
church society, which now worships in the church in Bradford. 

The name of Shaw is found frequently in the list of old settlers, and 
we are informed that the first house built in Lee Center, proper, was for 
the first widow in the town, Mrs. William Shaw, whose husband, we are 
told, tnet with a tragic death. He, with family, started for Mendota in 
a sleigh; when nearing Sand Grove, just beyond the Inlet, a wolf was seen 
running over the snow. In drawing up his gun from the sleigh bottom 
the trigger snapped and the contents of the gun were discharged into his 
body, causing death in a few hours. 

Many of the name still go in and out among us; many are gone on to 
the silent land; some of whom won a "good degree" in the trying days 
of the Rebellion. 

Among those of the descendants who have removed to other states, 
we had a pleasant word not long since from William Gardner, son of 
Joseph Gardner and Hannah Shaw, who assures us that he has not for- 
gotten his Lee County home and friends. His uncle, John H.Shaw, was 


an officer of the Volunteers. Fortunes have been gathered by some, and 
younger generations are moving on in the steps of their fathers. 

Mr. Edwin Pomeroy, of Bradford, with John H. Gardner introduced 
the first reaper in this vicinity. It created great interest all through the 
farming community and people flocked from all directions to see the first 
trial of the new machine in a wheat field, owned by Mr. Pomeroy. John 
H. Gardner, his partner in the enterprise, was not a citizen of Bradford, 
but of Lee Center, and his son, John M. Gardner, still lives; on the home- 
stead near the village; though property is still owned by the family in 

In one of the hill towns of Massachusetts, just fifty years ago, Mr. 
Ira Brewer wooed and wedded a maiden, and her name was Mary Mary 
Phillips. Then came the wedding journey to the far west, and the selec- 
tion of a home and the settling therein. The experiences of true pioneer 
life followed. We are glad to be able to give our readers a few reminis- 
cences from Mr. Brewer, and to introduce to the public the face of her 
who has been the guiding star in the lives of her husband and family, 
Mrs. Mary P. Brewer. Mr. and Mrs. Brewer engaged in and oftea origi- 
nated the moral and religious enterprises of that early day. Attending 
church and Sunday-school, when they owned one horse, Mrs. Brewer 
would ride the horse while her husband walked by her side, often singing 
the old songs, 'There is a Happy Land, or, 

"I'll awake at dawn, 
On the Sabbath morn, 
For 'tis wrong to doze 
Holy time away." 

The knowledge that Mr. Brewer understood music, soon brought to 
him the opportunity of conducting the first singing-school in Inlet. He 
was formally appointed to the position in this wise: Dr. Welch hands a 
subscription to Mr. Brewer, saying, "You are to teach singing-school," 
Mr. Brewer cogitates: ''Well, I guess I know as much about music as any 
one here, and it will help along as far as it goes in sociability and in 
dimes so I'll try." Then a subscription list was raised in Lee Center for 
a singing-school, then over in the Wasson school house, until finally Mr. 
Brewer found himself the singing master in six schools. There was no 
organ or organist to depend on, which to our modern singers in Israel, 
would seem an appalling fact, but with the ingenuity born of necessity, 
Mr. Brewer went into a blacksmith shop, selected his material and ham- 
mered out a tuning-fork, with which he pitched the key for those old mel- 
odies which have never died out in the hearts of the singers. Hang, yes, 


hang up the old tuning-fork where the sight of it will bring to mind pic- 
tures of the time when our parents and grandparents gathered reverently 
to worship God, in the old log school houses and cabins on the prairies, 
when the whole family came, moved by the principles which actuated 
the pilgrim fathers. Pictures of when those whose heads have whitened 
in the march of time, stood erect in their young man and maidenhood, 
and sang the songs of Zion, with fervent gratitude for the past and with 
kindling hopes for the future, when these prairies should rejoice and 
blossom as the rose. 

Mr. Brewer says: "In giving a history of the early settlement of this 
county, ib seems necessary, in order to do justice, to look at the situation 
of the county at the time of settlement. We have to remember that the 
first settlers came here and located on Government lands, and of course 
all the property that was subject to taxation was what little personal 
property was owned by the settlers. The laws were inadequate to the 
circumstances of the people, so that the people had to become a law unto 
themselves. Hence we see the need of the 'Grove Association.' and the 
'Society for the Furtherance of the Cause of Justice,' to see that things 
were done honestly. I could name many of the stern old pioneers who 
were instrumental in keeping early settlers and the affairs of our county 
in good condition. The people saw the necessity of good schools, and 
that good order should prevail, and in their poverty they determined not 
to be without. And poverty it was. But few of the settlers had any 
money no capital but pluck. Well, the neighborhood west of the pres- 
ent Lee Center, decided to have a school in the summer of '43. So they 
met and hauled logs on the land then owned by Sumuel Ullrich, and had 
a log rolling bee. This building stood for years as school house, church 
and town hall. 

"In the fall of '43, 1 remember Mr. G. R. Linn and Daniel Frost coming 
to me with the good news that they had raised $40.00 to support a school 
for three months. They desired me to act as teacher and I could have 
this magnificent salary, with the privilege of boarding with them or 
boarding mjself. 1 accepted the offer and boarded myself, except when 
I had night schools. Then I took tea with the above mentioned gentle- 

"The older settlers had the larger part of the grove. When it was good 
sleighing there was liable to be some claim jumping by settlers, in the 
way of hauling timber from other claims. Then it was the duty of the 
president of the Grove Association to order a meeting, and the clerk to 
mount a pony and give the settlers notice. But the worst cases were 

-- 175 

when some persons would jump a home claim. I remember several such 
cases, one of which I will relate. A settler on Temperance Hill had a 
claim jumped. 'The Grove' was called together and it was decided that 
the claim belonged to the original claimant, and that the jumper must 
give it up, which he declined doing. Uncle Russel Linn rose, with as 
much dignity as if he was in class meeting, and said: 'Gentlemen we 
have come here to make homes for ourselves and our families. The gov- 
ernment has held out inducements for us to come, and we have made our 
homes, and we intend to defend them if we die on the defence. 
Then, we hope we have boys that will arise and avenge our death.' 
The man saw Uncle Eussel with his seven boys and made up his mind if 
he had to kill the father and all the boys before he could obtain peacable 
possession, he would give it up. 

It took longer to go to Chicago in those days than now. Sometimes 
we thought it a little hazardous, both for those who went and those who 
remained. Indians encamped in the grove a part of the time; and then 
there was a large band all over the state that used to steal horses and 
other property, and make bogus coin. When 1 started for an eight or 
ten days' trip, leaving the girl wife at home, you can imagine the trial it 
was to me, and I well knew it was to her, as she stood on the door step 
to see me off. When I went to mill in Aurora it was a similar experience. 
The first church service we attended was in June, '43. It was held at the 
home of Mr. and Mrs. Mosses Crombie, on what is now called Crombie's 
Lane. An uncle of J. M. Gardner's preached. Mr. Bender moved to 
Bradford in 1845, building a house a little north of where he now resides. 
He was the first town clerk in Bradford township. 

Of the old settlers from whom we have no farther data than the time 
of their settlement we give names which are familiar, but around which 
we have no "experiences" with which to adorn our pages. Frank DeWolf 
whose sister, Mallnda, married Sherman Shaw, a good "mother in Israel," 
who left us not long since for a better home, and Nelson DeWolf, came 
in 1837. Edwin Pomeroy, who with Lewis Clapp, was long accounted the 
possessor of the richest proportion of worldly goods in our part of the 
county, came in 1844. Jesse Woodruff, C. Bowen, L. Shumway, Samuel 
Cobel, William, Warren and Stephen Clink, in the years from 1841 to 
1843. Mr. Ralph Evitts, a familiar figure in county affairs, 1842; Charles 
Starks. in 1839; Sherman Shaw, the grandfather of the present owner of 
the title, in 1839; Elias Hulburt and Ebenezer Whipple, in 1842. 

It will readily be seen how closely interwoven are the stories of the 
older townships, and how difficult a task it is to disentangle a straight 

176 - 

thread of narrative from such a web of changing residence, intermarriage 
and removal. Could the old settlers have better understood our purpose 
and set their daughters to the pleasant task of our assistance we might 
have made much more satisfactory and gratifying work. As it is, re- 
member the warning of the introduction, it is yours as well as ours with 
its failings or its success. 




ZACIIALUAH MELUGIN was the first person who settled at the 
Grove that still bears his name, in J834. lie took part in the Indian At the close of the war the garrison was situated at Dixon 
and Mr. Melugin returned from the war and came to the Grove on the 
first stage that came from Galena to Chicago. He brought with him his 
camp equipments and lived alone nearly two years, when he was joined 
by liis sister, Mrs. Robinson, who remained with him until his marriage. 
At that* time there was no house between Inlet and Paw Paw, nor be- 
tween Rochelle and Troy Grove. A. O. Christiance and John Gilmore 
came to the Grove in June, 1835. Mus. EZRA BKIIKY. 

' e, L. (3 r VG . 

When there was a call for troops for the Black Hawk war, Zachariah 
Melugin, then living near Springfield, Sangamon County. Illinois, en- 
listed at Rock Island. At the close of the war he returned to Sangamon 
County. In the fall of 1833 he went to Dixon. 

Father Dixon and others persuaded him to go to the Grove, now 
known as Melugin Grove, to establish a stage station on the stage and 
mail route between Chicago and Galena via Dixon's Ferry. The stages 
commenced running January 1st, 1834. 

He was the first settler and kept the house alone the first winter. 
There were many Indians about. They were always friendly and thought 
highly of him, and used to go in and spend the evenings with him when 
he was alone. 

The spring following his sister Mary (my mother) came from Sanga- 
mon County and stayed with him until he and Mary Ross were married 
at Ottawa, Ills., October 12th, 1834. That summer of 1834 mother was 
the only white woman at the Grove, and none between there and Dixon, 
twenty-miles distant. A great many bands of Indians belonging to the 
Sac, Fox, Winnebago and Pottawattomie tribes, passed through the 
Grove, sometimes stopping for a few days, often complimenting mother 
by calling her a "brave squaw." During that summer she carried water 
from a spring eighty rods from the stage station, going by a mere path. 
They had a cow, but no churn; she would put the cream in a coffee-pot, 
set the water pail on her head, take the coffee-pot in her hands and shake 
it as fast as she could all the way to the spring, carrying a pail of water 
in one hand and coffee-pot in the other going back; in that way she could 
soon finish the churning. Once during that summer she visited Mrs. 
Dixon, at Dixon's Ferry, and there, on the first evening of her visit, she 
first met my father, John K. Robinson. He had served in the Black 
Hawk war, enlisting at Rock Island from Hancock County, Ills. At the 
close of the war he remained at Dixon's Ferry. 

Father and mother were married at the home of her brother, Zacha- 


riah Melugin, by the Rev. Harris, September 10th, 1835. 

They had decided to be married when the circuit rider (the pioneer 
Methodist preacher) should next visit the Grove. When he came he 
found within less than a mile of the stage station a small company of 
men building a log house, the expectant bridegroom one of the number. 
At his invitation the men left the work and went to the station, where 
their wives were, and there the marriage took place, that being the first 
wedding at Melugin's Grove. 

About one-half mile from Zachariah Melugin's my father built his 
house (of one room) of unhewed logs, as did all the settlers, the spaces 
between the logs were filled with small pieces of wood, then plastered 
over with mortar made of clay, the roof and floor boards were obtained 
by splitting trees. Shelves for dishes, etc., were made by boring holes in 
the logs, driving in long pins, and laying a board across the pins. 

The fireplace warmed the room, and there the cooking was done; cook- 
ing utensils were very scarce, the bread was baked in iron kettles having 
iron covers, the kettle being placed in one side of the fireplace and com- 
pletely covered with live coals and hot ashes, potatoes were also roasted 
in the ashes. 

Gourds were used for baskets, basins, cups, dippers, soap dishes, etc. 
Hollow trees cut in suitable lengths were used for well curbs, bee hives, 
and for storing the vegetables and grain. Large trees were hollowed out 
into troughs and placed under the eaves to catch the rain water, in sugar 
making to hold the sap; small troughs were used to knead the bread 
in, and some of the babies slept in cradles made of troughs. Father made 
butter bowl, ladle, rolling pin, brooms and other articles of wood, for use 
in the house. All this was done by hand, and with rude implements; he 
also mended his harness, and was cobbler for his own family, keeping 
their shoes in repair. Some families had no timepiece, they told the 
time during the day by the sun had a noon mark in a door or window 
at night by the position of the stars in the Great Dipper in the north. 
For want of looking glasses, when they wished to see how their hair was 
dressed, they looked in the well or watertrough. Some of the early set- 
tlers were very destitute the children having but one dress apiece, made 
of unbleached muslin, colored with butternut bark the mother washed 
and ironed their clothing while they were in bed. 

Father's first house was one story and had but the one room, with fire- 
place in one end, door in the other, windows in opposite sides of the room. 
The windows were small, having but one sash each, containing six panes 
of glass. The fireplace was made of such rocks as they could pick up, 


filled in with mortar made of clay; the chimney was built from the 
ground up, on the outside of the house, and with sticks filled in and plas- 
tered over with mortar. The door was made of such hoards as they could 
split from the trees, and was hung on wooden hinges, and had wooden 
latches the hinges and latches were made with the pocket knife. The 
latch had at one end a string (1 presume of buckskin) attached to it, the 
other end passed through a hole in the door over the latch when they 
wished to secure their house at night they pulled in the latchstring. 

Father had a compass and when he built his house he placed it with 
the points of the compass, then at noon the sun shone straight in the 
door or window. In that way they obtained the "noon mark." Mother 
had several marks in the first house, to mark the different hours. 

They made their own brooms by taking straight young hickory trees, 
perhaps three inches through, peeling off the bark, then with their 
pocket knives they commenced on the end ol the stick they .intended for 
the brush part and peeled the stick in narrow strips or splints about one- 
sixteenth of an inch thick, and fifteen to eighteen inches long. The 
heart of the stick would not peel and that was cut off, leaving a stick 
about three inches long in the center of these splints. The splints being 
dropped back over this stick, then they commenced on the handle end 
and stripped splints toward those already made, and long enough to 
cover them, when the stick was stripped small enough for the handle, 
the splints were all tied together around the stick left in the center of 
the splints first stripped, the remainder of the handle was then stripped 
to complete the handle. 

They guarded their fire carefully, for they had no matches, and if 
their fire went out they had to kindle with flint and steel, or go to a 
neighbor and boriow fire. 

Mother was better fitted for pioneer life than some of the settlers. 
She knew all about spinning, weaving, knitting, coloring, making sugar, 
butter, candles and soap, and the use of a fireplace for cooking, all of 
which were new to some of them. She spun, colored, wove, cut and 
made our woolen clothing and blankets, also her own linen for house use 
and garments for the family, and spun her linen thread for sewing. She 
often spoke of the hardships of others, but very seldom of her own. 

The early settlers were self-sacrificing and helpful. In sickness and 
sorrow they would do all in their power for each other. They were also 
hospitable, often inconveniencing themselves greatly to accommodate 
travelers and new neighbors; when they had only one room, they would 
take in an entire family to stay until they could cut logs and build a 


house for themselves. 

Their nearest, market was Chicago, eighty miles distant, taking from 
Qve to seven days to make the journey. Often when the father was away 
the Indians would look through the windowsatthe family, hut they never 
harmed any of the settlers at the Grove. 

They had no fruit except the wild fruit in the Grove. Father carried 
the first currant bushes to the Grove on horseback from Nauvoo. 

The nearest flour mill was Green's mill near Ottawa, Ills. Also woolen 
mill, where the wool was made into rolls, ready for spinning. 

Father and mother used to go to meeting on the same horse, father in 
the saddle, mother sitting behind him. 

Zachariah Melugin and Abraham Lincoln were warm friends during 
the Black Hawk war. After the war Lincoln visited him, spending a 
day and night with him at grandfather's home in Sangamon county. 

Father was the first justice of the peace, and also the first school 
teacher; teaching in his own house until the first school house was built 
in 1837. 

Religious services were held in private houses until the first school 
house was built. The first church organized was the Methodist Episcopal 
(do not know the date). The first Sunday school was organized by Rev. 
Haney, of the Methodist Episcopal church, in 1847 or 1848 Cornelius 
Christiance was the first white child born at the Grove, John Melugin 
the second, W. W. Gil more the third, all born 1835. 

A. ^i. Christiance was the first post master. Charles Morgan and son 
were the first merchants, and kept millinery. Dr. Bissel was the first 
doctor to locate there. Henry Vroman was the first tailor. 


. V. 

A. V. Christiance was born in Schenectady county, New York, in 1808. 
He lived in the east until he was twenty-seven years old. His health 
was poor, and his physician advised him to go west; he took his advice 
and, accordingly, himself and his young wife, started for the west, to find 
a home and regain failing health. They had been married but a short 
time and their earthly possessions were not very extensive -an ox team 
and a covered wagon containing their few housekeeping utensils, con- 
sisting of a bed, and bedclothes, a few dishes and kettles and such like. 
They journeyed for many a day and finally reached the south side of 
Melugin's Grove one summer evening just as the sun had set behind the 
trees, and the landscape was one of beauty and seemed to inspire the 
heart of Mrs. Christiance with admiration and to promise rest and a home 
for the future. So she said to her husband, who was preparing to camp 
for the night, "let's stay her and take up a claim, this is the best place we 
have found yet. I don't want to travel another day." 

So they rested till the morning and then began their preparations for 
a home. They had to sleep in the wagon till the house was ready and the 
cooking was done by a fire made of wood piled up on the ground. In 
speaking of it she said: 

'How happy I felt when our little log house was done. It was not 
very big, -as there was only one other man in the Grove or near there. 
That was Zachariah Melugin. We had our pick of the land and built on 
the south side of the Grove, by the side of the old Chicago and Galena 
road. We kept a sort of tavern for the accommodation of travelers 
there in the little log house with a mud chimney and a fire place to cook 
over and keep warm by." 

They lived until they could afford to put an addition made of logs on 
one side, then on the other till they finally got money and means to build 
a comfortable, commodious frame farm house. There the first white 
child was born in the township, and they named him Cornelius. The old 
Indian, Shabbona, used to stop there quite frequently and talk, and tell 

188 - 

stories of the Black Hawk war and how he helped warn the settlers and 
they escaped the cruel scalping knife. Roving bands of Indians used to 
pass by the house and Mrs. Dr. Carnahan, who lives at Compton, a 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christiance, said: "I have seen the Indians 
lying on the barroom of our house so thick you could not walk across 
without stepping on them. One day my mother went to the door and 
called to one of the Indian's dogs, as she supposed, to feed it, but my 
father happened to come to the door just then and told her it was a wolf. 
She was about to let it in and feed it. She shut the door pretty quick 
you may be sure." 

Mr. and Mrs. Christiance continued to live on the same farm arid in 
the same place till her death twenty-two years ago, and there sixteen 
children were born to them. Mr. Christiance is still living there but his 
mind is a wreck. Cornelius, the oldest child is there looking after his 
welfare, having been appointed conservator. 

Five of the children of Mr. Christiance are living, two daughters, and 
three sons. 

While keeping tavern in those early days Mrs. Christiance used to have 
many curious guests. She was a lively little woman and I have heard 
her tell about getting meals for Joseph Smith, and for many that she felt 
afraid of, and whom she afterwards learned were notorious horse-thieves, 
and members of the banditti of the prairie. And she used to stay alone 
for days at a time while her husband went to Chicago for groceries or to 
sell a load of grain to get a supply of things they must have in order to 

Life was hard in those early days but gay in a certain sort of way. 
The woods had plenty of wild game, and wild fruit, such as plums, rasp- 
berries, blackberries and strawberries. 

Neighbors were far apart, but after going ten or fifteen miles, borrow 
some flour and visit awhile, or to exchange newspapers, how glad the folks 
were to see each other. And then if you happened to call after dark 
when maybe you could not very well get there any earlier, the neighbor 
did not excuse herself, instead of asking her neighbor to stay over night. 
Yes, there was more genuine hospitality in those old pioneer days than 
there is now. 


Samuel Argrave came to Lee county in 1845, and hired out to work on 
a farm by the month. He worked in this way one year; at the expiration 
of that time he entered a claim in the south-west quarter, section 25, in 
Viola township. He erected a dwelling on it, and he and his wife had to 
live as best they could while trying to get a start in life, and own a home 
of their own. Their first furniture was mostly what he made with his 
own hands; but then it was the fashion to be poor, and but for the fact 
of being without many of the necessaries of life, they were happy in their 
new made home with its scant furniture and many inconveniences, it 
was their home and for four years they lived there and together tried to 
beautify it and cultivate the land. 

In 1850 Mr. Argrave started for California with a wagon, and traveled 
in the usual way, and reached the golden state in safety. He worked 
there at the mining business, and was very successful. After remaining 
two years he returned to Melugin to his family. He had many thrilling 
experiences to relate on his return home, but the wife who remained at 
home in the new country what of her life during those early days? She 
said, in speaking of it, >l l have known what it is to want for the many 
little things that go to make up the comforts of home, and had it not 
been for the kindness and generosity of John Gilmore and William 
Guthrie I don't know what I should have done; but thanks to their kind- 
hearted generous help, I was kept from becoming destitute. After Mr. 
Argrave returned they were paid for their kind deeds. But California 
is a long way off, and in those days it was a long, tedious and often-times 
a perilous journey. So this help was given me without any guarantee 
of reward, because who could say what might happen to him. Even if 
he made money and started for home he might never get home with it. 

His safety was her great concern, and all through the long months 
that made the years her anxious heart, pondered the question over and 
over again; will he ever return? And one glad day he came home to 
his loved ones with means enough to supply all their wants, and prosper- 


Ity continued to smile upon his effort from that time till now. In 1865 
he enlisted in Company I, 15th Illinois Infantry, and was in the service 
eight months. They have four children. They reside at Compton, and 
are well supplied with the comforts and luxuries of life. The winter 
(1892-3) they spent in Florida. He is now nearly blind, but his 
faithful wife cares for him so tenderly. His comfort is her first thought, 
and her eyes are gladly used to promote his happiness and wellfare. 

They have one son living at Compton, Samuel Argrave, and a 
daughter living there also, she is the wife of Minor M. Avery, and a son 
and daughter living in Viola township, Wintield Argrave and Mrs. Mary 
Hutch inson. MRS. E. S. BRAFFBT. 

In the month of April, 1848, S. W. Carnahan and wife, with eight 
children, started by team from Columbia County, Pennsylvania, to make 
the then long and to be dreaded journey by team to our new home at Me- 
lugin's Grove, Lee County, Illinois. This place we reached after an une- 
ventful journey lasting six weeks. Upon reaching our destination we 
found a temporary abiding place in the shape of an old log house stand- 
ing on the east side of the Grove, belonging to John Gilmore, which had 
but recently been vacated. In this we lived until fall, where father pur- 
chased forty acres of land and on this decided to build a home of our own. 

With no lumber yard within forty miles, and the nearest saw mill at 
a distance of ten miles, it was of course necessary to construct the house 
of logs. This we did, building a flre place of sticks and mortar in one 
end. In the spring he placed a land warrant on an adjoining 160 acres 
of land, to which in due course of time he received a patent from the 
government. The following fall we sent, by a neighbor who was hauling 
a load of grain to Chicago, for a cook-stove, for which we paid less than 
$20, including all the necessary furniture a price that compares favorably 
with a like article at the present time. This, with our new house, com- 
bined to make the following severe winter more easily endured than the 
first we spent in that country. 

Father being a carpenter was called upon several times during this 
winter to make coffins for neighbors who had died. I remember one in 
particular that he made for a woman who died at Twin Grove, eight 
miles from where we lived. I accompanied father when we went to de- 
liver it, driving two horses hitched to a sled; by the time we reached the 
house a violent snow storm had set in, and against the advice of our host, 
we started on our eight mile drive across the prairie, facing the blinding 
storm and without a single track to guide us. When about half-way 
home one of the horses floundered into an open well, but was prevented 
by the harness from going to the bottom. By the united efforts of father 
and myself we finally succeeded in getting it out, and starting again on 


our journey, reached home after dark, greatly to the relief of the anxious 
ones awaiting us there. 

During the summer season the grass covered the prairies from three 
to four feet in height, and during my first terra of school taught at^ 
Knox's Grove, it was no uncommon thing to have from ten to twelve rat- 
tlesnakes cross my path while going from my hoarding place to the school 
house. As this was during the days when teachers "boarded around" 
the distance of course cannot he definitely stated. 

Our family not being among the very first to move into the country, 
did not experience so many of the hardships incident to the life of the 
first pioneer. A store only one-half mile distant furnished us with all 
necessary groceries, while pork could be had, brought to the door for one 
and one-half cents per pound. Good milch cows could be purchased 
reasonably, the first one father boughtcosting hut thirteen dollars. When 
1 taught school and "boarded around," the wages could hardly be called 
"first class" at the present day, as two dollars was the remuneration 
granted for each week's service, and that to be collected from the patrons 
of the school, each family paying according to the number of pupils sent. 


The following verses were written in 1836 or '37 by Mr. Melugin, after 
whom Melugin's Grove was named. They were printed in the Rock River 
Register, which was the first paper printed on Rock River. 

Come leave the fields of childhood 

Worn out by long employ. 
And travel west and settle 

In the state of Illinois; 
Your family is growing up, 

Your boy's you must employ, 
Come till the rich prairies 

In the state of Illinois. 

It's on Chicago river. 

Near to the border line. 
A fine commercial city 

CHICAGO you may find, 
It's like old Adams' castle, 

Sprung up the other day, 
And stripped the rag from off the bush 

Of Michigan, I aye ! 

A little further westward. 
Near to the Land of Mines, 


Upon the Mississippi, 

GALENA you may find; 
A ride upon the railroad 

Pull soon you may enjoy, 
And cross at Dixon's Ferry, 

In the state of Illinois. 

Down on Rock River, 

Such land was never known 
If Adam should cross over it, 

The soil he'd surely own; 
He'd say it was the garden 

He lived in when a boy, 
And straight pronounce it Eden. 

In the state of Illinois. 

Then move your family westward, 
Good health you'll there enjoy, 

And rise to wealth and honor 
In the state of Illinois. 


Then come along, come along I say; 

Come from every nation, come from every way. 

Then come along, don't you be alarmed 

Then come along, don't you be alarmed, 

For Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm. 

Preserved and contributed by Dr. U. Roe, Franklin Grove. 




IT is customary to speak in glowing terms of the men who brave the 
dangers and endure the hardships of a new country, passing over the 
ones who silently endure the hardships and privations making rough 
places smooth for them whenever it is in their power to do so. What 
would our great country be now, if the wife had not toiled silently by the 
side of the sturdy pioneer and cheered him by her loving presence, guarded 
and directed him by her wise counsels, or helped with her ever ready 
hand at tasks that were too hard for frail woman? If their history could 
only be written, what a story of self-sacrifice, silent endurance and dis- 
play of courage it would present: for way down in their hearts they suf- 
fered daily tortures that not even their husbands dreamed of home- 
sickness, loss of friends, privations found only in new countries and 
went down to their graves unmentioned. The unwritten history of this 
country is full of these silent martyrs. 

The subject of my sketch, Sarah Gray Whitney, was one of these 
women. Born in 1791 near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in her early child- 
hood she moved with her father's family to the western part of New 
York, then a wilderness. Here she lived and grew up to womanhood, 
when she married Nathan Whitney, The first two years of her married 
life she spent with her husband at the father's, for he was not of age and 
the stern old gentleman required him to work his time out. Then she 
moved with him upon a new place that had to be cleared, for it was for- 
est land. They had not been there long before the War of 1812 broke out, 
and when her husband was drafted into the army she was left alone with 
her infant as were most of the neighbor women; for only the old men 
who were too infirm to handle a musket, or boys who were too young, 
were left at home. 

Before her husband left for the war he had succeeded in getting a 
woman with her child, whose husband had also been drafted, to stay 
with her; but one day an Indian was seen in the cornfield near the house 
gathering roasting ears, which so frightened the women, that each 


seized her little child and ran to a neighbor's for protection, where there 
were two boys about twelve and fourteen years of age. Each boy seized 
a musket and went in search of the Indian, who had disappeared, which 
was fortunate for him for had he been found he would certainly have been 
fired upon by the boys. After that her companion could not be persuaded 
to enter the house again, even when she knew the Indian had no evil 

The rest of the time until the close of the war she spent alone, endur- 
ing the hardships of securing the-crops, constantly on the lookout for an 
Indian attack and suffering great anxiety for her husbands safety. 

After the war, when her husband had returned, by her industry and 
frugality, she helped amass a comfortable fortune; for while her bus-band 
labored hard in the fields she was always busy with her household cares, 
spinning or weaving, making cloth for dresses for her ever increasing 
family; for she was the mother of ten children, seven of whom (six daugh- 
ters and one son) grew up to manhood and womanhood. Then, too, the 
linen had to all be provided by the wife's hands after preparing the flax 
and spinning it. She would weave it into sheets, and table linen of 
"bird's eye" and "diamond" paterns, with heavy fringes, some of them a 
quarter of a yard deep, knotted and tied by her own hands. This had to 
be combed out, which was usually done after the children and men of 
the house were sleeping soundly in their beds. When her daughters were 
old enough to go to school there were white aprons and white sunbonnets, 
all ruffled, that had to be starched and ironed, for six little girls, the 
ruffles crimped and fluted, after the children were in their beds or while 
she was "resting." Think of the yards of hemming and making that 
was done in those days, one stitch at a time, and compare it to our own 
swift-running sewing machines that can do more work in an hour's time 
than could then be accomplished in a day. Then, too, the amount of 
butter and cheese made by her without ever a thought of the amount of 
work she was doing would fairly appall a wo^rnan of later days, for even 
with our creameries and cheese factories we are apt to groan over the 
amount of work to be done with the help of all our modern improve- 

Of course the little girls had to be taught to work, for she was a strict 
disciplinarian, believing firmly that "Satan finds mischief for idle hands 
to do," and she could always find employment for her children, keeping 
even the youngest busy if necessary and at the same time never stopping 
her own busy hands. Then after all these years of hard work she had 
the mortification of seeing her home sold to pay the debts of another 

- 198 - 

that her husband had signed for. Leaving a large brick house (which 
was a constant regret to her all her life) moving from Albion to Elba, 
where another new house was erected and a comfortable home established 
when after a few years her husband sold out, this time settling in Union- 
ville, Ohio, then the boundary of civilization. 

Here after a residence of a few years she had to again endure nearly 
the same experience of the first home, for her husband met with nearly 
the same misfortunes in mercantile business, in which he had at this 
time engaged. By trusting others too far he lost nearly all of his pro- 
perty again. But before they again started westward it was decided 
that in the new home they would engage in the nursery business. With 
that prudent forethought that was her characteristic, she with the aid 
of her little son (A. R. Whitney of Franklin Grove nursery) washed out 
apple seeds, saving a half bushel for the first start, not forgetting cherries, 
plums and peaches. The apple seeds, only, grew well. 

Then the journey from Unionville, Ohio, began in January, 1838, end- 
ing in Illinois February 8, 1838. It was one of many hardships, as the 
swamps were almost impassable, mud prevailing most of the way until 
near the end, when it froze up, and the distance from Inlet to Franklin 
Grove was made in sleighs, where the Colonel met the family, he having 
started west several months before to look up a claim and prepare a 
habitation for them. 

The first house the family moved into was a Jog cabin situated down 
in the grove, where a family of ten occupied a house about sixteen feet 
square, which had two beds In it. These were occupied by the Colonel 
and his wife and their daughter and her husband, Dr. and Mrs. Gregory. 
There was a low room up stairs that was used as a sleeping room by the 
other members of the family, and it was no unusual occurrence for the 
occupants to have to shake the snow from the bed clothes in the morning 
before they could arise, or to amuse themselves by counting the stars 
through the cracks in the roof as they lay awake listening to the roar of 
the winds. 

It was here her great executive ability was again displayed, making 
partitions of blankets and such articles as came handy, cooking for a 
large family over a flre place, making bread and biscuit that were the 
envy and admiration of more than one good housewife, using the old 
fashioned tin oven or reflector for baking or an oven built outside of the 
house, made of clay (as no brick could be procured at that time), provid- 
ing lights by making the old fashioned "witches," until she could get 
tallow to make candles, which she did by dipping them or running the 


tallow into earthen molds, of which two out of a dozen are still in exist- 
ence 1 . For lamps those in which lard could be used for oil were substi- 
tuted for candles, when farmers were well enough off to raise their pork. 
On one occasion some member of the family killed some large owls, and 
when Mrs. Whitney tried out the fat, which yielded a small quantity of 
oil which she used in the lamp it also occasioned considerable sport for 
some of the mischievous members of the family; for one of the daughters 
had an ardent admirer who would prolong his evening call to such an 
extent that the "owls grease" was recommended to her to "rub on his 
eyes so he could see his way home earlier." 

The new house on the prairie was raised, and by May it was completed 
eno igh so the family could move into it. All the timbers in it were cut 
from trees in the grove at Franklin, and hewn into proper shape by Col- 
onel Nathan Whitney; even the shingles and siding and the first floor of 
loose boards were split out by him, but the permanent floor of matched 
boards was sawed by a mill down in the grove. It was when completed, 
(which took a year's hard labor) one of the most comfortable farm houses 
in this section, although it was not plastered for several years after they 
moved into it, for of course lime and other material for plastering could 
n6t easily be obtained. The family were better fixed than many who 
first came here, for Mrs. Whitney had six chairs taken apart and packed 
in the wagons when they moved from Ohio, and the colonel put them 
together again after they arrived here. So they enjoyed the comfort of 
three rocking chairs and three other chairs which of course was prefer, 
able to the three legged stools and benches which were also used. 

Comparative comfort began again after moving into the new house. 
It was here she used her first cook stove. 

When spring came, and it was very early that year, for many spring 
flowers appeared in March, the young ladies of the family found special 
enjoyment in the great flower garden that nature provided with such a 
lavish hand upon these vast prairies. It seemed as if no spot was too 
poor or mean to produce some tiny blossom. One young lady excelled in 
snake hunting, sometimes appearing before her frightened sisters with 
fourteen snakes hung over a long stick. These snakes she had killed 
during a short walk along the creek remarking that she "did not kill 
the half she saw for the ground was literally alive with them," as they 
had crawled out to sun themselves on the warm bank of the stream. 

"Yes, these were the happiest days of my life." remarked one who is 
old and gray haired now, when she recalls the old pioneer days. 

One great curiosity to the new settlers was the "drumming" of the 

200 - 

prairie chickens. It was a long 1 time before they Could determine where 
the peculiar noise came from. Occasionally a herd of deer would appear 
near the house and a little fawn was once a household pet. Wolves, tooi 
at that time were very common, their howling making the chills run 
over one, although they were not a very formidable foe. A little east of 
the old house is a large bank of the purest sand, varying in color from 
pure white to pink, green, yellow, etc.; and here it was that material for 
scouring the floor was found. Nature, too, provided fruits very bounti- 
fully then, although the variety was not very great, but blackberries, wild 
plums and even the wild crabapple were used for sauce, when sugar could 
be obtained; excursions for gathering these fruits were always enjoyable 
affairs, especially if some new acquaintance was made, for the people 
then were more open-hearted and social than now. Each one was about 
as rich as his neighbor. 

One of the first things that was done in the spring was to break up a 
plar-e to plant the apple seeds which had been frozen and sprouted by Col- 

As the years passed new furniture was added and the new home en- 
larged but of course it was riot done with the ease that such things are 
done now adays; for Chicago was the nearest market for many years and 
wheat only fiftj cents a bushel, and everything purchased there was 
high priced. 

As new friends were made and her motherly love and sympathy dis- 
played, she became "Mother" to all who knew her. There is many a 
young man who, being without friends to care for him, can thank her for 
nursing him during illness, for it was no uncommon occurrence for Dr. 
Nash to drive out from Dixon and say to her, "Mother there is a young 
man sick down in the Grove (or elsewhere) and if you don't take him in 
and care for him he will die;" and "mother," ever ready to respond to the 
suffering of others, would inconvenience herself, take him home and 
nurse him back to life and health again. Yes, many a poor starving 
heart, that had left home and mother in the east, found motherly love 
and sympathy in her presence. 

After the daughters were married, Harriet to James McKenney, Eliza 
Ann to Daniel McKenney, and Cornelia to Ahram Brown, and grand 
children began to arrive what a place of pleasure the old house was for 
"mother" no grandchild ever called her grandmother was ever indulg- 
ent to their whims. Only occasionally some of the oldest grandchildren 
can remember their pleasure being marred by the appearance of a hunt- 
ing party of Indians, whose red blankets they thought were covered with 


the blood of their victims, and they fled for safety under "mother's" bed, 
seeking protection behind the old fashioned valance that hung down to 
the floor. Another childish horror was an ancient Hibernian who lived 
not far away, who would put in an appearance now and then, and who 
seeing the little children clinging to mother's skirts in childish fear would 
add to it by taking off his cap and repeating some gibberish into it and 
end by saying that he "had a cellar with two rooms in it where he cut off 
naughty girls heads and put their head in one room and their bodies in 
another for the cats to eat." Truly he was a veritable "Bruin" or "Blue- 
beard" to their childish imaginations; although in reality he was a kind- 
hearted man, but "mother" saved them, so they thought. 

It is one of their childish remembrances, too, that brings up the little 
bag that hung on the post at the head of her bed for preserving apple 
seeds when the apple trees began to bear, and which seed was used for 
enlarging the nursery. So it will be seen that the great nursery that 
now stands on the old place is a living monument to her industry and 
forethought. And oh! the cakes and turnovers she made for them, was 
there ever anything half so delicious since? These and many other child- 
ish impressions can now be recalled that are pleasant to dwell upon. 

Always living on the outskirts of civilization, never realizing what her 
fondest expectations had hoped for, seeing the accumulations of years 
swept away from her, she lived an example of heroic fortitude worthy to 
be followed by the best. Ah, yes, she was of such stuff as generals are 
made of. She died at the age of seventy-two, beloved and honored by all 
who knew her. 

If I have not written in full of Colonel Whitney it is not through disre- 
spect or disloyalty, for everyone knows he helped make history, and our 
county bears evidence of his.abilty. Everyone knows he lived over a 
century, a grand old man whose life was one long effort to do good* Yes 
a hundred years of well-doing that was not marred by unjust or evil acts, 
and nothing that I can say will add anything to its lustre. Men build, 
but women lay the foundations. 


Amos Elussey was one of the early settlers of Lee County and was for 
more than half a century a valued citizen of Franklin Grove. The tract 
of land which he purchased from the government, the deed for which 
was signed by James K. Polk, becaiue one of the finest farms in the 
township. Mr. Hussey was born in Little York, York County, Pa., in 
1806; he was married in 1834 to Jane Fredonia Holly, who was the 
first while child born in Fredonia, New York. 

In-making honorable mention of Amos Hussey it is but just that we 
should equally honor the memory of his noble wife. 

Through all the hardships of a pioneer life her cheerful courage never 
faltered, while her zeal and energy seemed inexhaustible. 

Money was scarce in those early days, as well as helpful machinery 
for the cultivation of their land, and the early settlers used to take their 
grain to Peru and later to.Chicago with their own teams. What stories 
of those early experiences we have heard them relate illustrating so viv- 
idly the constant struggle against adverse circumstances! but their en- 
ergy, industry and patent endurance were rewarded. In time Mr. Hus- 
sey became the owner of two hundred and forty acres of land, on which 
he made substantial improvements and enjoyed a pleasant home. He 
was a man whose strict adherence to principle made him universally 
trusted and respected. In early life he was politically a Whig and later 
a staunch supporter of the Republican policy. Religiously he was a 
Quaker, while his wife was a Presbyterian one of the organizers of that 
socirtv in Franklin Grove. ELLA E. HUSSEY. 

Gf T 

On the twenty-sixth day of December, 1834, Dr. John Roe and family, 
consisting of a wife and flve boys, crossed the Illinois river enroute for 
the Rock river valley. The first stopping place was Knox's Grove, which 
they reached at ten o'clock at night. The Vermilion river was frozen, 
and altogether the journey was one of extreme difficulty. Little Uriah, 
ten years of age, drove flve pigs. He walked, having the only pair of 
shoes among the children. These were rough and clumsy, made by a 
shoemaker who came to their house, and the soles cut from the skirts of 
a saddle. The other four boys, Frank, John, Bolivar and Matthew, had 
their feet wrapped in rags, and huddled close in the bedding to keep 

The next stopping place was Bliss' Grove, and starting from thence 
next morning, facing a northwestern storm, the boy cried that he could 
drive the pigs no further. He was freezing and they were obliged to re- 
turn and lay over at the cabin in Bliss' Grove two or three days. They 
came up to the present site of Washington Grove, making their un- 
guided way as best they could. There was no other way except the Kel- 
loge's trail and Bole's trail, which ran too far to the west. 

There were three families living thereabouts, those of Smith, Fay 
and Blackmore. This was the early winter of 1835 and the family 
stopped at Blackmoor's, as they had pre-arranged. The cabin was sixteen 
feet square, with a blanket for a door, no floor, and not a nail in it. The 
Roe family numbered seven and the Blackmore nine there were sixteen 
persons in the sixteen feet square cabin. Mrs. Blackmore, the grand- 
mother, died in 1835 at an advanced age. 

Their neighbor Fay had a cabin near the spring on the Paddock farm, 
and had dug a winding passage from his cabin for a hundred feet to a 
covert, from which he hoped to escape in case of an Indian attack. 

In the spring the doctor sold one yoke of oxen. The hogs were turned 
in the woods to fatten on the acorns, when killed they readily sold at 
twenty-one dollars a hundred. Corn cost two and a half dollars a bushel. 


He made one hundred sugar troughs and tapped sugar maples in the 
center of the grove about the twentieth of February. From this labor 
he secured one thousand pounds of sugar, one barrel of molasses and two 
barrels of vinegar, made by letting the sap sour in the sum. 

He built a cabin and later added another, making it double, near the 
route between Dixon and Rockford. It soon began to be known through 
the settlement that the house on the hill where there was always a light 
burning at night was the Doctor's house, and toward it they came from 
all directions. 

This was the origin of the name Lighthouse, which clings to the neigh- 
borhood yet. Another way to distinguish their cabin in summer was the 
brown leaves and dead branches of four acres of "girdled" trees which 
surrounded it. A great tree near was also a signal of the way to the 
cabin. For years and years, early and late, through winter and sum- 
mer, the doctor rode over the region around, administering medicine, 
advice and good cheer, indeed, like his Master, he went about doing good. 

Speaking of the rarity of the atmosphere Dr. U. C. Roe says on a 
clear, cold morning from their elevated location they could plainly see 
the smoke curl up from the cabins in Franklin Grove, and distinguish 
the tall trees near Melugin's Grove. Their cabin was twenty feet square, 
with roof of shakes four feet long, held on with logs. There was not a 
nail in it. The fireplace was of stone broken out of the ledge, a stick- 
chimney, daubed with mud. The walls were all chinked with mud. The 
boys sleeping up in the loft sometimes were covered with six inches of 
snow which drifted in, in the night. 

In the summer of 1835-36 Miss Chloe Benedict, a daughter of Mrs. 
James Clark and afterwards wife of Rev. Barton Cartwright, taught 
school in a log-house. In the winter of 1836-37 Mr. John Colyier taught. 
In 1837-38 an Irishman, a Mr. Graham, taught a large school of some 
forty pupils in the Roe cabin. Mr. Graham was a very capable teacher 
who sharpened quills into satisfactory pens, smoked constantly and was 
an excellent penman. One class was Uriah Roe and Miua Wood, now 
Mrs. John R. Chapman of Franklin Grove. They read in "The History 
of Christ." 

To this school came, beside the five Roe children, Mina Wood; Har- 
low, Rielly and Bradford, Daniel McKinney's children; Clinton, John 
McKinney's son; Richard, Morton, Theodore and Hutchinson, Richard 
McKinney's children; John Whitson, Cyrus Brown, Almeda Brown (later 
Mrs. U. C. Roe), Parker and Elizabeth Plantz, Henry and James Martin, 
Rufus and Emily Wood (later Mrs. George H. Taylor of Franklin Grove.) 


The seats and school apparatus were very scanty or altogether want- 
ing, but one scholar affirms it was one of the best schools he ever at- 

In the winter of 1837-38 C. B. Farwell, now the Chicago millionaire, 
taught the first term in the "Red School House." 

In February, '36, a man came to Dr. Eoe's cabin asking for help. He 
had started from Rockford for Prophetstown, following the Indian trail, 
and while fording Kite creek his oxen had been caught in the ice and his 
wagon box had floated off with his wife, children, and a chest in which 
was concealed a pocketbook containing five hundred dollars in "Joe 
Smith's currency." 

He had freed the oxen and they were probably on their way to their 
home. The wagon box had lodged at an island. To this the Doctor 
swam again and again until the woman and children were safe on dry 
land, but the chest had burst open, the pocketbook fallen into the water, 
and could not be found. 

The family were kindly cared for at the Roe cabin, and. next morning 
little Uriah was sent to tell the story of the disaster to the stranger's 
brother. It was quite an undertaking for a boy of eleven to go so far 
alone, but he trudged along till he came to the battle-field at Stillman's 
Run, and then in the long grass, partially covered with snow, he saw 
skulls and bones which wolves and badgers had dug up, Scared at the 
awful sight, the story of the battle fresh in his mind, as he says his "hair 
fairly stood up on his head." 

But he did not turn back, and reached his journey's end in time to 
eat supper with the bachelor brother of the stranger, in the only house 
in what is now the city of Rockford. 

The supper was of "johnny cake," cucumbers and salt, and was, he 
said, the ''best supper he ever ate in his life." The pleasure of seeing a 
living man, added to a boy's keen appetite, made it so and then, too, 
while he had had corn bread and pork for his lunch on the way, this was 
johnny cake, so there was the sauce of variety. 

The oxen were there as soon as he, and they brought them and the boy 
to Dr. Roe's. 

About a vear after a fisherman found the lost pocketbook in the creek. 
With great care the soaked bills were put together, so that they were 
redeemed, the man found and the money restored to him. 

That he was grateful to Dr. Roe for such kindnesses goes without 

Mrs. Roe had at one time a pretty pet deer, of which she was very 


fond, and which was always very gentle. She made a red collar for it, 
that it might not be injured by hunters, as it ran in the grove. 

One day she had invited quite a large tea party of ladies, gentlemen 
and children. She had spent considerable time in preparing for the 
great event, and set her table in the space between the cabins, to have 
ample accommodation. 

Just as they were ready to take their place, the pet deer came bound- 
ing up, frightened by some boys, seeking Mrs. Roe's protection. 

It sprang to her side across the table, scattering the feast in every di- 
rection, breaking the dishes, and almost spoiling the supper. 

But I presume, like Mrs. Ingalls, she soon had another ready, which 
was eaten with even better appetite than the first would have been. 

According to the best data Cummings Noe built the first cabin in 
China township, in 1835 or '36. 

This cabin, called the "Noe House," stood about eighty rods north of 
where W. H. Hausen now lives. Col. Whitney came here in 1835, and 
there were no houses, but in 1836 he found Mr. Noe's cabin, and those of 
James Holly and his father-in-law, Charles Harrison. The Noe family, 
eight in number, came from Ohio. 

Mrs. Sanders says she remembers hearing her mother, Mrs. Edward 
Morgan, tell of his kindness to her family in pioneer days and that he 
was an excellent man. They moved to Willow Creek, near Twin Groves, 
in 1846. 

Lorenzo Whiting taught school about 1840 near Tolman's timber, a 
short distance from the present site of Franklin Grove. He moved to 
Bradford, near an old friend, Thomas Doe, and from here was elected to 
the State Legislature, and long known as the "farmer senator." 

Miss Sarah Edmonds, afterward Mrs. James Nettleton of Franklin 
Grove, was also an early teacher in China township. She taught at the 
school house east of Amos Hussey's homestead, and boarded there. Je- 
rome Hussey was one of the primary scholars, and Sam Conner another 
but Sam used to go to sleep over his lessons, while Jerome never did. She 
was a faithful worker in the W. C. T. U., Band of Hope, and Junior 
League, in which the writer bad the privilege of assisting her. Her 
presence was like a ray of sunlight, cheering, invigorating, helpful and 
restful. Marion Edmonds Roe, speaking of her, says: "In many a hum- 
ble home she seemed God's angel to the sad and poor, and those whose 
need was greatest found the kindest welcome at her door." She died in 


William Clark Robinson came to Franklin in 1843 and bought the 
farm now owned by his son George. Henry S. Buckman and his brother, 
Ira Robinson, lived with him two or three years, then they divided the 

In 1844 he married Harriet Hausen, then a successful teacher. He 
had a drug store in town for a number of years, but retired to his/son's 
farm in his later years and died in 1891, aged 74 years. 

In 1835 Lockwood Miner came from -New York, the third of the first 
three men at Franklin Grove Col. Nathan Whitney the first, Cyrus 
Chamberlain second. 

In 1836 his father, Cyrus R. Miner came. 

Lockwood located on a claim of eighty acres, now known as the Joe 
Lahman farm, but owned by David and John Inagy. Until his father 
came with the rest of the family in December he stopped with the Mor- 
gan family in their double log cabin north of the Grove. This cabin is 
still standing, and in a good state of preservation, on Ezra Withey's land, 
opposite Conrad Durkes' house. 

Edward Stoddard, who married Willa Morgan, moved it there, and 
"It is just as it was when I ate dinner in it in 1840" says an old settler. 

In January, 1837, the Miners moved to a small cabin, without doors 
or windows, built on the present site of the "Gabriel Miller" home, and 
owned by James Nettleton. 

He afterwards built the western part of the old "Bishop Hughes' Ho- 
tel," but now owned and named by Isaac Downing the "Downing House." 
One of the settlers says- "He was Christian, honest, strict, set in his 
ways, and tenacious of his creed and politics." He was a class leader in 
1840 when the Rev. Jas. McKean was a missionary in the Rock River 
District and the class met at his house. He was born in 1782, in Massa- 
chusetts, was married three times Timothy Lockwood was the only is- 
sue of the first marriage; and Sarah, the good wife of Otis Timothy, Albert, 
Daniel and David of the second; and Elsie of the third. Daniel died in 1852 
on his way to California, Lockwood in Missouri 1870. Mr. Miner closed 
a long and useful life in 1846. 

"Father Withey" is an old settler and with his aged wife has lived in 
China township nearly forty-seven years. He came here in 1847, and in 
1850 bought one of the first, if not the first threshing machine in the 
country. He threshed for the settlers all about, taking one-tenth of the 
grain in payment, which he hauled to market and sometimes sold for 
twenty-five cents a bushel, but with care and good management he has 
secured a pleasant ahd comfortable home. 


In 1843 Christian Lahman, with his family and his father-in-law, Mr. 
Emmett, came from Pennsylvania and located north of Franklin Grove, 
on the land now occupied by his son David. Mr. Lahman and Mr. Em- 
mett were both Dunkard preachers, and as others of their faith took de- 
grees there were in time twelve preachers who, at different times, led 
their simple earnest services Mr. Lahman and his wife have reared a 
large family of children, of whom several are settled near the Grove. 
Joseph, a minister in his father's church, lived a little west of town of 
David we have spoken already. Maggie, now Mrs. Alex Miller, has gone 
west; Joshua lives south of our town; John is president of the Franklin 
Grove Bank and lives in town; William lives in Chicago. The family is 
of German descent and have shown their native perseverence and energy 
as well as integrity and upright character, and as a consequence are all 
well off, not only in this world's goods, but in the esteem of their fellow 

In the fall of 1838 Philip Stahl came from Maine, with W. H. and 
Harrison Hausen. They stopped at Cold Water, Michigan, to work for 
a time. Here they met a family named Bridgeman, with a son-in-law, 
Wm. Church, wife and child. They hired these men to take their chests 
of clothing on their wagons, paying them enough for their board and 
passage to aid them materially in keeping up supplies. 

Mrs. Bridgeman was a brave, sensible woman, who made the best of 
their difficulties and was always cheerful, but her daughter, Mrs. Church, 
was much more timid and despondent. 

They bought supplies at the towns on the way, cooked by a camp flre, 
and came on as fast as they could. When they reached the Inlet the 
party separated, the three men going to Franklin to keep bachelor's hall 
in the "Noe house" till spring, the rest going to Palestine Grove. They 
worked in the timber all winter, carrying their frozen buckwheat cakes 
for lunch, but they were hale and hearty and it did not affect their 
strength or appetite. 

A family by the name of Cooper lived for several years on land now 
included in the farm of Samuel Lahman. Harry Cooper and his wife 
were well educated and great readers; he is said to have been sharp in 
business and she very ladylike. Their daughter Reform married Harry 
Godger, who taught school here about 1840. 

"Old Harry," as the father-in-law was called, rather objected to the 
match. Taking an immense pewter plate in his hand, he astonished the 
wedding guests by saying, "Here, Reform!" "Why father, what shall I 
do with it?" said the bride. "Melt it up, and run it into Harry's head for 


brains!" was the brusque reply. 

Louisa, another daughter, taught school at Whipple's Cave about 1839, 
and is supposed to have been one of the first teachers here. She married 
Mr. Warnsley and lived near Troy Grove. The family went to LaSalle in 

When I asked Mrs. Sanders about her family she showed me the old 
"Family Record" in her "Testament and Psalms" and said "These were 
the first children at the Grove." Her father, Edward Morgan, built a 
rude shanty near Marcus Wingert's present home, and good Mrs. Roe, 
seeing the smoke from the chimney as she stood in her own cabin door 
miles away, exclaimed "Praise the Lord! We have neighbors." They 
came from Ohio, their little daughter Willa riding most of the way on 
horseback beside the wagon. There were three other children besides 
Baby Rachel now Mrs. Sanders. As they came in May, 1836, they were 
probably the first family at the Grove, after Cummins Noe's. His children 
were born before he came west, so Mrs. Sanders thinks her brother, John 
Wesley Morgan, born in 1837, was the first one at the Grove. He mar- 
ried Caroline Bremrner in 1863, and lives in the west. 

School was kept alternate weeks at Mr. Morgan's double log cabin, 
and at Whipple's Cave. "Two days' meetings" were also held here, for 
Mr. and Mrs. Morgan were Christian pioneers. 

A man who worked for them says that when the mother would swing 
the kettle of mush from the fireplace for their supper, the children 
scrambling about her, tired with play and eager with hunger, never 
failed to hush iheir voices and bow their heads while the father offered 
thanks for the simple meal. Mr. Morgan died in 1847, his wife in 1863. 

"Squire" Jeremiah Whipple located near the "Cave" which bears his 
name in 1837 with his family of wife and four children. 

He had been out the year before, and agreed with Jesse Holly, to 
bring out machinery for a saw mill, which they were to run in partner- 
ship. The sites of the house, the saw mill, and the dam are still to be 
seen, though the buildings are gone. 

For many years Joseph Whipple lived with them. 

Almost all the boards used in the houses of the vicinity were sawn at 
that mill and paid for often in labor and commodities. 

Joseph was an old line Whig, and Jerry a strong Democrat, both well 
read in politics, so they made the double log cabin ring with party argu- 

Most of the lawsuits of the day were tried by Squire Whipple, who 
had been a Justice of the Peace in New York and was an able man. 


Here, too, people of all religious names gathered on Sundays for 
"meetings," singing as heartily, praying as fervently, and worshipping as 
devoutly, as in a more pretentious building. 

The Whipple, Cooper and Hausen families leaned to Universalism; 
the Morgan, Minor and Chamberlain families were Methodist; the Tol- 
man, Hussey, Holly, Ayerhart, Rowland, Chilson, O'Connor, Brenen, Mc- 
Farland, Yale, Johns, Whitney and Nichols families were of various de- 
nominations, but here they all united as one. 

The meeting over, little knots of friends shook hands, chatted over 
the news, and then drove away with their ox teams. 

Emily Whipple married a Mr. Tompkins, and Isabelle, Decatur Far- 
rows; both went to Iowa, thence to Pike's Peak. 

Cyrus Chamberlain has been so fully mentioned in another paper that 
I will not add more than to say, in the words of an old settler, that he 
"was an intelligent, large-hearted man." 

A kind old gentleman whose modesty prevents my giving his name 
told me the following story: 

"Perhaps you would like to hear about the first doctor at Franklin 
Grove, and as he was a cousin of mine I can tell you about him. It was 
in 1844 or '45 that Rufus B. Clarke came to Wisconsin with his wife and 
daughter. He was an excellent mechanic, so made a good living and all 
went well until he lost his wife. Soon after, hearing that a family 
named Nichols whom he knew lived at Dover, this state, he drove to 
that place with his daughter, and here he was married a second time. 
The lady whom he married was in the last stages of consumption, and 
the doctor told Clarke it was of no use for him to attend her, as he, 
Clarke, could prepare and administer the quieting remedies which were 
all she could use. So he loaned Clarke several medical books, which he 
studied diligently. His wife soon died, and he decided to attempt mar- 
ble work, at least long enough to get stones for the graves of his wives. 
Having secured them, he prepared to make the journey to Wisconsin 
where the first wife lay. A young fellow named Olivard was to go with 
him, and as his means were limited he hit upon a plan for defraying ex- 
penses of which the reader may judge for himself. 'Olivard,' said he, 
'times will be hard between here and there, and I have hit upon a scheme. 
You just act as my waiter, take care of the horse and call me 'doctor' and 
I guarantee we'll come out all right.' 

"So putting in his books and case of medicine they started, reaching 
Franklin Grove (called at that time both 'Fremont' and 'Chaplain') the 
first night. They put up at the Miner House, now standing south of the 

211 - 

Downing House, then used as a tavern. Olivard, true to his part, called 
Clarke 'Doctor,' and the landlord caught at the word. 'Are you a doctor' 
sir?" he asked anxiously. When told that he was he went on to say 'My 
wife is sick in there, I was just thinking I must send to Dixon for a doc- 
tor, but this is good luck, you have come and you can see her.' Clarke 
pronounced the case a mild one, prescribed some simple remedy, and both 
he and the landlord were relieved the next morning to find the good 
woman much better and 'quite bright.' Nothing would do but the new 
doctor must drive out and prescribe for the sick in the neighborhood, 
and at the landlord's urgent entreaty he promised to consider the place 
as a possible location. 

"After the stone was set at his wife's grave and they were ready to 
return, Clarke said to his assistant, 'See here, Olivard, if I am going into 
this business I must understand surgery. I know where a young Indian's 
body lies, and I am going to get the bones to study.' The bones were 
secured, placed in a box, and as they came through Franklin he left them 
there. Going on to Dover, he settled up his affairs there and returned to 
Franklin, to the great delight of the landlord. He boarded at the tavern 
and his barn stood on a part of what is now Charles Hausen's lawn. 

"As Dr. Clarke's practice increased he took Dr. Yager into partner- 
ship. He married a daughter of Mr. Woodruff of Bradford andmoved to 
Rockford, thence to Racine. Here he connected himself with a manu- 
facturing establishment. From here he went to Chicago. He made one 
more removal to Iowa, where he was elected State Senator, and held the 
office at the time of his death. 1 must add that the bones of the Indian 
were forgotten, and he sent to his cousin for them, while in Rockford. 
His cousin opened the box, added a good supply of beef and pork bones 
and sent them on. History does not tell us whether the science of sur- 
gery was greatly aided thereby or not." 

The "Old Chicago Road" has been mentioned by several writers and 
is a familiar name to every old settler, as the stage and mail route from 
the Lake Shore to Galena. 

Starting from "the river" as everyone called Chicago in an early day, 
the ox teams went on to Berry's Point, nine miles; to Brush Hill, twenty; 
to Naperville thirty: to Aurora, crossing Fox River forty miles out. At 
Sugar Grove Cyrus Ingham's' sign "entertainment" hung out. Then Big 
Rock ten miles; Little Rock four miles farther and Somananc six. From 
here to Indian Creek or Ross' Grove ten miles: to East Paw Paw four, 
where Wirrick's tavern stood; through Melugin's Grove six miles, and 
Inlet six. Here was David Tripp's tavern and here the Franklin Grove 


men left the "old road." 

Squire Haskell had the postoffice and stage station at Inlet, and at 
what was Cephas Clapp's place in Lee Centre old Whittaker hung out 
his "sign." This was three bottles hung between two poles 

At Temperance Hill good Mr. and Mrs. Hannum furnished a very 
different entertainment in their sod house. Next was Dr. Gardner's, 
then six miles further on was "Dixon's Ferry." 

The trips over this road were long or short, as the roads varied; men 
slept under their wagons, and carried food and fodder from home, as they 
went over it to sell grain and get the few luxuries they could afford. 
Often teams had to be "doubled up" to pull through a bad "slough." 
Wagons must be pried out with fence rails, and sometimes the rails 
were laid in a corduroy road, over the worst places. Sometimes the 
wagons were driven into a stream, end boards taken out, arid a bridge 
made over which the grain was carried. Men made little but they spent 
less, on these trips. An illustration of this is given by Charles Hausen 
who made his first trip with Otis Timothy, spending one shilling only, 
for a dinner on what is now South Water Street, Chicago. As old Mod- 
est Gehant used to say "They conld stand up under a good deal 

George Yale had a board shanty near the farm of Kincaid Runyan and 
George O'Connor worked for him. One winter's night in a snow-storm, 
they heard a cry for help, just as they had settled for the night, and 
found a family which had strayed from the "old road" and were almost 
perishing with cold, at their door. They were taken in, a new supper 
cooked, and everything done to make them comfortable for the night. 
Just as they were ready for the night a second time a second call was 
heard, and another party, lost in the same way begged a shelter. So 
covers were stretched, teams crowded closer, children put to sleep on 
boxes and trunks, and the fire piled with fresh logs. Another supper 
was made ready, and as hearty a welcome given as if they had been the 
first. The one small room was so crowded that the elders could not 
sleep, so George took his violin and played the rest of the night, while 
those who could get room enough danced, "till broad daylight." 

On one of his trips Charles Hausen sold his wheat so well that on his 
return he traded one yoke of his oxen for a fine dark bay horse which he 
called "Bill." In Saumanauc he traded the other yoke. for a chestnut 
called "Old Baldie." Leaving his wagon and yokes he rode the forty 
miles bareback to Dixon, where he bought a harness of James and Hor- 
ace Benjamin, and went back for his wagon. When he reached the 


Grove, his team created quite a sensation; James Holly and Charles Har- 
rison calling out "Why there's Old Barney!" It proved that they had 
known the horse in Ohio, where Holly had owned him, and often driven 
him to Harrison's when he was "courting." Among other stories they 
told how he had once pitched Holly out at the gate, and jumped the 
fence, drawing the sleigh after him. When Holly got up he was aston- 
ished to see Barney quietly standing in the yard, apparently waiting for 
the pretty girl to open the door. At any rate Barney was the only fel- 
low Holly ever allowed to court his girl, and the old horse worked long 
and faithfully. Although not an old settler in every sense, he was a pio- 
neer of 1835. 

Adam Vroman bought out Holly and Harrison and they went to 

"Little Mike" Brewen and O'Connor lived with Mchael McFarland, 
near Sproul's farm, three jolly old bachelors from Ireland. McFarland 
used to ask "Now what's the news? No News? Faith then, if there's 
no news it's good news, for there's no bad news." 

One old settler remembers that on these trips they sometimes had to 
eat a frozen lunch, and that Streator used to soak his in whiskey, and 
brandish it above his head, as he drove along. Another story is of a man 
who sold his load for twelve dollars, and felt so rich that he got a pair 
of boots. He had no box on his wagon, only a rack, and as he forded the 
river near Geneva, the boots got loose and were washed down stream 
beyond recovery. He says he never shall forget his 'feelings as he 
watched them floating down the stream. 

John Hartzell once lost his oxen on his way out of Chicago, and sup- 
posed they were stolen, but unwilling to give up hope, he returned and 
renewed his search. On this second trip he met a pleasant German 
girl, to whom he proposed marriage and was accepted. He found his 
oxen soon after and came back doubly rich, 

"Blast it!" says an old settler, "we used to go to Chicago for two shil- 
lings! But those days are gone by." 

Hugh Moore came west from New Hampshire in 1836. In 1837 we 
hear of him as one of a company formed to protect actual settlers in 
their claims. His brother Rufus carne with him, James in 1835 all 
three are dead. Hugh was greatly respected in Lee county; was a public- 
spirited man who did much for the good of the people in an early day 
His claim was made near Grand Detour; his son James lived just west of 
Dixon for years. It is related of one of their ancestors that on his voy- 
age to this country from Scotland, in 1710, food became so scarce that 


at last the company cast lots to decide which one should be sacrificed to 
save the rest. The lot fell on this ancestor. During the night as he 
prayed to be prepared to die a son was added to his family and the re- 
mainder of the company decided not to take the life of a man who would 
leave a wife and eight helpless children in a new country. They came 
to land before it was necessary to choose a substitute. The child born 
that night grew up and reared a large family, some of whom became 
prominent citizens and took good rank at Yale and Harvard. 

My grandfather has often told me the story of how her children took 
care of her, as they thought, when grandfather went on his long trips to 
Chicago or Peru with grain. She was five miles from neighbors, and 
fearful of Indians, of wolves, of claim jumpers, and much else that was 
more indefinite. Once when she had kept the children awake as long as 
possible, for company, after they had one by one dropped off to sleep, she 
was terribly frightened by a sudden rush and crash at the half-sash win- 
dow of the cabin. She sat, too frightened to move, for a time, but at 
last gathered courage to hang a blanket before the opening. Then she 
waited in fear and trembling till morning only to see the window sash 
hung round the neck of her good old cow. 

But the children all felt sure that they had saved mother from wild 
beasts and Indians, and assured their father that each had done his part 
when he came home. And so they had, dear children! Had they not 
watched and prayed and then trusted the Good Father, Who did care for 


Veteran of tBs 

The Rev. Barton Cartwright, being asked for a paragraph, sends us 
the following, in the trembling hand of a veteran of eighty-three years: 

"I was born in Auburn, New York, in 1810. I came to Illinois in 
1833, and met Black Hawk on his way to Washington prison. 

"The first Sunday in May, that year, I held my first meeting in Illi- 
nois, in Warren county. I formed the first class in April. But you want 
something of your own field. Rev. James McKean was our first preacher 
in that part of the country. He preached all through what are now Ogle, 
Lee and Whiteside counties. 

"I was sent on the circuit in 1837. I went from north of Byron to 


Fulton, then to Dixon, where I preached in a school house, at' Franklin 
in Edward Morgan's cabin, at Sterling in Brother Bush's house, at Mt. 
Morris in a small school house, preaching every day but Saturday. 

"Once I rapped at a cabin door just as the mother was regretting 
their coming so far from religious privileges, and the father cheerfully 
answering 'the preachers will be here soon.' 

"In the winter of 1836-7 I went to New York in a "jumper," through 
Canada, Eochester and Syracuse. 

"On the circuit I generally went on horseback, and often swam the 
Rock or the Mississippi by the side of a skiff, to reach my appointments- 
April 9, 1839, I went to conclude a very pleasant engagement with Miss 
Benedict, in the presence of Eev. Thomas Hitt, at the home of her step- 
father, James Clark. 

"As I came through Warren county a man joined me, and rode by my 
side as far as Dixon. When I reached Mr. Clark's Col. Sealey and a 
constable from Portland were just behind, and I might have been arrested 
for being in the company of a counterfeiter, if I had not been well known. 
As the man had been seen with me, they thought he might still be near. 
They caught him at Inlet, and I was able to take my part in the wedding 
ceremony without interruption. 

"Once when I arrived at a house quite late, the owner gave me a bed 
on the floor, and grudgingly told me he 'had an uncle who was eaten out 
of house and home by Methodist preachers.' 'Ah,' said I, 'they must 
have had sharp teeth. What is my bill?' 'One dollar.' 

"Strange to say, I had the money and paid it, though it was a very 
rare thing to find anyone willing to take pay from a preacher. Two years 
after the man wanted some office and that dollar seemed to be in his way. 
He wanted to return it to me, but I told him to ' send it to his poor 
uncle.' " 

Si fas P. Tofrr?a.T2. 

Silas P. Tolman, in the fall of 1837, left New York state with his 
family enroute for the undeveloped west. 

After a journey of about eight weeks with three horse-teams, one to 
convey the family, the other two the household goods, he arrived at a 
point in Illinois now known as Inlet Grove. 

~ 216 

Probably the distance traveled, which at that time required eight 
weeks, could with present facilities be covered in about twenty-four 

The family remained at this point (Inlet Grove) during the winter, 
but early in the spring of '38 resumed their journey and pitched their 
tent upon the present site of the village of Franklin Grove. After pur- 
chasing a claim of three hundred and twenty acres the subject of this 
sketch proceeded to make a home for himself and loved ones. 

He first built a log house or cabin for temporary use but soon there- 
after erected a more substantial dwelling, the second frame house built 
in Franklin Gro\e. This same house, with some modern improvements, 
is at the present time occupied by his son, A. W. Tolman. 

During the war of 1812 our subject served as drummer-boy. 


The old schooner "Saunup" hove to, and a small boat put off over the 
blue waves of the Narragansett for the city of Providence. In the boat 
was a boy charged with the task of bringing his mother and five younger 
children from Maine to the far off prairies of Illinois. He was a well- 
built, energetic lad the short history of his sixteen years is soon told. 
His father, Charles Hausen Sr., had moved from the old homestead at 
Bristol, in Maine, with his wife and older children Henry, Harrison, 
Harriet, Charles, Jane and Sylvanus to "Old Button," later Glenburn, 
near Bangor, where he hoped to purchase and improve a large tract of 
land for his sons. 

Here he built the house (about 1825) which is still standing. 

Finding that his friends who had emigrated west found ample farms 
unencumbered by stone, tree or hill, Mr. Hausen decided to come also. 
Several neighbors having located near Dixon's Ferry, the two older sons, 
Henry and Harrison, started in 1838 with Philip Stahl to secure land. 
They were twenty-two and twenty respectively, and made the long trip 
with that brave spirit, which characterized the early pioneers. 

Having sold the farm, two years later, the summer of 1840, the father 
came to prepare a home, leaving the boy Charles to bring the family of 
younger children later. 


In September they started, the mother grieving to leave the ancient 
landmarks of her life, the grave of her little daughter, and the friends of 
youth and womanhood. From the Penobscot they shipped in the 
schooner "Sanup,"and anchoring in Narragansett Bay for supplies from 
Providence, we find the pioneer boy accompanying the sailors to land. 
The voyage had been pleasant after the seasickness had worn off. The 
remembrance of good Capt. Parker's stories, the songs of the sailors and 
their shouts in the rigging, the kindness of the burly negro cook, who 
made special bowls of soup for the seasick lad, filled his heart to over- 
flowing. Never in the long years after did he find, it seemed to him, 
such sincere friends as those on this trip from the old home to the new. 

At New York City they took a steamboat to Albany. From Albany 
to Buffalo the voyage was made in the tedious canalboat, their experience 
in being bumped out of bunk at night being anything but pleasant. 

The old lake boat "Gen. Wayne" brought them to Toledo. At Toledo 
they landed, taking the little corduroy railroad thirty miles to Adrian, 
Michigan, a stage ride of seven miles further bringing them "to the 
woods" where the Sears family lived, who had been near neighbors for 
years in Glenburn. Here they rented a house of a man named Batchelor 
and unpacking what goods were needed, the mother and little folks re- 
cuperated from the long journey. 

The day before they arrived a son of Mr. Batchelor had died and 
shortly after they moved in his "house he came over and gave the boy 
Charles work at "girdling.,' Taking him to the very tree where his son 
had last worked he told him of his own boy. The "girdlings" were trees 
"girdled" to kill them, and at these tough old forest monarchs he spent 
the next six weeks, getting fifty cents a day. This small sum meant 
much to the family moving so far into a new settlement. His hands 
blistered and swelled, but what of that, had not his father trusted him 
to bring out the mother and children? He must take a man's part in 

After a time Mr. Peufield, of Inlet, Lee county, Illinois, arrived, sent 
by the father at Franklin Grove for them. Part of the goods were packed 
in the tightest possible manner, the rest sold, and the family took up the 
journey again. 

It was fall and quite cold, but the greatest difficulty was that but one 
wagon had come. In this Mrs. Hausen, her little girls Faustina and 
Kate, aged twelve and ten years, and her little boy Norman, of eight, 
rode; Sylvanus walking part and Charles all the way from Adrian to the 
Franklin Creek. 


It was December and the early snows fell thickly; the wolves howled 
afar off around the taverns; the way was long and weary, but their faces 
were steadfastly toward the new west. 

'These gardens of the desert, 
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful. 
For which the speech of England has no name 

The prairies." 

Arriving at Inlet Mr. Penfleld put up at his own home for the night, 
the family going on to their friend's Russel Lynn's. But for our boy? 
He had come nearly forty miles that day, but only seven miles off were 
father, brother, home! He and Sylvanus pushed forward, leaving mother 
and sisters to rest. It was dark when they reached the frame house of 
Col. Nathan Whitney, now the vinegar house at A. R. Whitney's nurs- 
ery, and the kind old man arose from the supper table to direct thefn. 
Going part way down the hill he pointed to the light in the window of 
Yales' house, saying "Follow the light, boys, and you will get there all 

On reaching Yale's cabin, which stood near where Ferris Ramsdell's 
orchard is, they crossed the creek and came to the "Noe house" vacated 
the winter before by Amos Hussey and occupied by the father and sons 
while looking over the land and deciding on a location. This house stood 
about a mile and a quarter west of the present site of the railroad depot 
in the village and a quarter of a mile north of W. H. Hausen's present 
residence on his "Grove Stock Farm." 

Tired, but satisfied, they lay down to rest too weary to talk. The 
boy's task was accomplished when the team brought the family and 
goods the next morning. The house was made of logs with puncheon 
floor, door and furniture. A fireplace answered for stove, a cross-leg 
puncheon bench for table, puncheon benches three feet long for chairs, 
bunks against the walls for beds. Pegs along the wall were the only 
staircase to the loft overhead, but the beds the mother brought were 
warm. Young blood flowed swiftly and life was all before them. 

On Monday morning the pioneer boy began work for Col. Whitney, 
doing his first day's work in Illinois in the barn still standing opposite the 
vinegar house. He helped set out the orchard and shade trees in the 
northern part of the nursery. The good colonel's wife said no one cut her 
such neat, measured sticks of wood as Charles did. Her quiet manners, 
little kindnesses and gentle praise won his boyish heart, and placed her 
high in his lifelong esteem. 

The two talked together as they worked the man with the rich ex- 


perience in army and civil life, and the boy with his first, fresh impres- 
sions and ardent hopefulness and as they planted the trees thoughts 
and principles springing from the sage councils took root in the boy's 
heart, to bring fruitage in manhood. 

The father of the family purchased the land now owned by S. C. Hau- 
sen and built a commodious frame house two or three years later. The 
boards for it were sawn in Whipple's mill near where "Whipple's Cave" 
is and were of oak and walnut, the shingles being as long as barrel staves. 

W. H. Hausen, the oldest son, took the land lying east and has passed 
his life there. Besides improving and importing his herd of stock he 
cultivated his fruit trees until in September, 1872, he was able to ship 
ninety-seven varieties of apples and fifteen varieties of pears to the Iowa 
State Fair. 

Harrison took the land lying west of his father's and resides still at 
the same place, and as fast as the other sons became of age they pur- 
chased land lying near, until nearly all that lying west of the village of 
Franklin Grove for three miles^and including large portions of adjoining 
timber has become their property. 

Life was hard in those days, but it meant much. Privations were 
patiently borne, schools were poor and the term short. The nearest doc- 
tor was that good old man, Dr. Gardner. For preaching they were 
dependent on the itinerants whft with Bible and saddle-bags made infre- 
quent but welcome visits. 

Yet life had its joys as the years came and went spelling schools, 
singing schools, "bees," parties and sleigh rides in "bob-sleds." 

Every new pioneer was welcome to the best any house or cabin con- 
tained, and among those surroundings the pioneer boy of Maine grew up 

into sturdy, vigorous manhood. 


E. G. T"Br?2a,s. 

E. C. Thomas, of Franklin Grove, Illinois, was born at Batavia, New 
York, November 9, 1813. His mother was Rebecca Campbell, of Scotch 
descent. His father, Silas Thomas, was of Puritan stock. When yet a 
babe, he moved with his parents to East and West Bloomfield, New York. 
In 1823 he moved to Porter, Niagara county, New York, and in 1835 mar- 


ried Mary Ann Nichols, of Wilson, Niagara county, New York. 

In 1836, with his wife, he started for Michigan going via canal from 
Lockport to Buffalo, and steamer to Detroit, settling in Oakland county, 
Michigan. They remained here three years, Mr. Thomas working for 
$13.00 a month. During this time they were visited by John Nichols, 
father of Mrs. Thomas, who went to Illinois and reported so favorably of 
the country, that Mr. Thomas and wife concluded to move there, and, 
purchasing a team and wagon they, with their two children, Mary and 
William Henry, started for Illinois in 1839, On their way they passed 
through Chicago which was then a small town built in a low marshy 
place and they stopped in the vicinity of what is now Franklin Grove. 
Their first night in this vicinity was spent in Whipple's cave, and the 
next day they moved into a shanty twelve feet square, built by Mr. 
Nichols. In building the shanty a fallen tree was used as one side of the 
building. The roof consisted of split hollow logs. The next spring they 
moved into a house built near the old homestead. 

In August, 1842, Mary Ann Thomas, wife of E. C. Thomas, died leav- 
ing a babe, Ruby Thomas, and the two children before mentioned. Soon 
after her death Mary Duncan, sister of Mr. Thomas, took the three child- 
ren to McHenry county, Illinois, and cared for them. 

The sickness of Mrs. Thomas completely exhausted the resources of 
Mr. Thomas, and as a result the sheriff levied on and sold his property 
to satisfy the doctor's bill. 

In the winter of 1842 Mr. Thomas went to the lead mines near 
Galena, Illinois, where for some time he worked at fifty cents a day in 
order to get money to make another start. He brought back to his for- 
mer home $30 in silver with which he purchased a yoke of three-year-old 
steers and a sled. In October, 1845, Mr. Thomas married Harriet A. 
Whitmore and again commenced Jarming with his oxen and sled. At 
that time there were only about fl ve wagons in that part of the state. 

As a result of this union there were ten children, of whom all are now 
living except Ella Josephine, who died at the age of two and one-half 

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, among many hardships and privations, lived 
and prospered. Mr. Thomas had the misfortune to lose his beloved wife 
in October, 1867. Thereafter he devoted himself to his children and at 
the age of 79 years is remarkably active and well. 


"MotfW Bystreet. 

Mrs Bradstreet, formerly Clarissa Todd, was born in Litchfleld, Con- 
necticut, April 27, 1800. She was the tenth child of Samuel and Mary 
(Dudley) Todd. Her father served seven years in the Revolutionary war, 
returning uninjured. She received her early education from her grand- 
father Dudley, who had been a school-master for years. Six of her 
brothers and sisters taught the pioneer schools in New York. Being very 
energetic and faithful she cared for her parents with marked tenderness 
and thrift until September 10, 1820, when she was married to Daniel 
Moore Bradstreet. In 1831 she was converted, and united with the M. E. 
Church in the spring of that year. The mother of twelve children, she 
buried seven in New York, and in 1844 came to Illinois to rear her 
remaining five. Hers was the rough lake voyage and long jaunt over the 
prairie in a wagon from Chicago to Hugh Moore's cabin, near what is 
now Grand Detour. Her husband entered a claim at Dixon and moved 
his family to "Hoosier Hill." In 1864 the family moved to Franklin 
Grove, where her life was pleasantly passed. She died August 25, 1889. 
Her funeral sermon was preached from her chosen text, II Timothy 4, 
7, 8, by Rev. E. D. Hull of Kingston, assisted by Rev. G. M. Bassett, her 
pastor. She rests in peace. 




D. M. Bystreet. 

Mr. Bradstreet was a pioneer of 1844. 

He was born in Vermont November 6, 1795, of English and Scotch 
ancestry. His father was of an aristocratic family who held high offices 
in church and state in New England. His mother was Martha Jane 
Moore, whose people were Scotch and lived near Londonderry, New 
Hampshire. Her first ancestor to this shore was James Moore, who 
came in April, 1719. He married a Mack. Mr. Bradstreet, named Daniel 
Moore for his mother's people, was brought up by his greatuncle, Robert 
Mack, until manhood, when he moved to New York, where he was en- 
gaged in milling. 

His mother remained with her father's family until his majority, 
when he did all to make her life one of comfort, he being dutiful and 
particularly attached to her. His brother, William Bradstreet, was a 
hotel keeper after moving to New York from New Hampshire. 

In 1820 he married Miss Clarissa Todd, a daughter of Samuel and 
Mary Dudley Todd, who made him an exemplary wife, his married life 
being one of noticable happiness. 

In 1830 he was converted and united with the M. E. Church, for which 
denomination he preached, exhorted and helped in revivals from time to 
time, his wife greatly aiding him by her wise counsels and rare exper- 
iences. Having lost his fortune in the years of commercial disaster he 
came to Illinois in 1844. 

He lived on the claim he entered at Dixon, converting it into a beau- 
tiful country home, until 1864, when he retired from active life and 
resided in quiet and comfort at his home in Franklin Grove. 

He was a very strong Republican and took great interest in politics. 
Having been a major in a company in New York drilled for the 1812 war, 
his grave is reverently covered with the flag and with flowers each 
Memorial Day. He died May 15, 1877, at the advanced age of eighty-one 
and was buried with honor from the M. E. Church of Franklin Grove and 
escorted by the G. A. R. and a very large concourse of citizens and chil- 
dren, the public schools being closed in respect, being laid away under 
the last salute of the soldiers. 


Col. Whitney, with long white hair, sat at the foot of the coffin during 
the funeral services the last of the 1812 veterans in the vicinity the 
Major having gone on, and the Colonel awaiting the summons of depar- 


fiiff " 


A beautiful stretch of country situated five miles east of Rock River, 
with its groves and prairies, was in those early days called "Hoosier 
Hill," as the Hoosier population outnumbered the Yankees. There were 
many families from Kentucky also, and one of whom, by name of Ferrell, 
greatly endeared themselves to us, and when my mother met them and 
heard the cordial greeting of "Howdy, Howdy!" she felt that she had 
found friends in this new country who doubtless would prove true as 
those left behind. Their ways of living and talking were very different 
from ours and often amusing. For instance, on inquiring after the 
health of Mr. Ferrell his good old wife would say, "O, John is noaccount," 
meaning he was sick, and their "lots and slivers," representing quantity, 
sounded very odd to the Yankees. 

Before the lands came into market the pioneers made preemption 
claims and built cabins and went on improving the -lands until they 
could be entered at Dixon. Lee county was not set off from Ogle. 

One settler, a Mr. C., wanted to hold more claims -than he could pay 
for, and in that way kept the newcomers from settling up the prairies. 
This greatly enraged the Hoosiers and when father came seeking a home 
they turned out enmasse to cut logs and assist in building a double log 
cabin. On the eve of its erection mother and five small children were 
landed on the broad prairie encircling it. Just then Mr. C. rode up and 
threatened to tear the cabin down. This the Hoosiers resented and they 
rallied their friends and came that first night to fight if need be in our 
defense. They divided into two squads; the first squad watched until 
two o'clock a. m. and no enemy appearing they decided on having a little 
fun. First they took all the caps and boots of the party sleeping and hid 
them; then they rattled the boards and screamed like Indians on the 
warpath, awakening the sleepers, who, thinking the enemy upon them, 


rushed out bareheaded and barefooted, snatching their rude weapons, 
cudgels, tongs and pokers, to the scene of the supposed conflict. No 
sooner done than their places were tilled upon the floors by the first party 
of watchers. It took some little time before the half-dazed, half-awak- 
ened sleepers understood they were the subjects of a practical joke, and 
then what a chorus of cheers went up from that new cabin! 

The years went on and the family became warm friends with their 
early foe, who now sleeps the long, long sleep. The others, also, have 
"moved on to silent habitations." 

Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell are buried at Payne's Point, and the pioneer and 
wife whom they befriended, are at rest in Franklin Grove Cemetery. 


Yafe 002^ 

Nathanial Yale, with family, settled in Lee county, near what is now 
known as Franklin Grove, in the year 1836. At that time there were only 
three families within a radius of eight or possibly ten miles. There was 
no land under cultivation in that vicinity, but several parties had taken 
up claims by plowing a furrow around the portion of land selected. The 
country was inhabited principally by prairie wolves, deer, and a variety 
of wild game. 

At that early day there was no trading post nearer than Aurora, Kane 

The Yale family first settled on what is now known as the Hussey 
farm, but afterwards built a log cabin on the banks of the Franklin 
Creek near the culvert. After remaining there for a number of years 
they removed to another farm east of town, locating permanently. 
Fighting prairie fires was no unusual experience and at night the howl- 
ing of the wolves increased the gloom and loneliness of pioneer life. 

The family consisted of ten children, six boys and four girls, of whom 
five have died, four live in Iowa, and one, Charlotte Tolman, is still living 
in Franklin Grove. LUCY B. (TOLMAN) COOKB. 


In writing a sketch of Temperance Hill and vicinity I had much pre- 
ferred that a more competent person had been selected, for in reference 
to the earliest settlements or prior to 1845 my memory is not very distinct. 

My father, John Leake, came from Leicestershire, England, landing 
in New York June 10th, 1840. He immediately pushed on to the "far 
west" and halted at Dixon's Ferry Here he secured employment for a 
time. During that first year in the state he made a trip down the Miss- 
issippi river to New Orleans. Here, friendless and alone, he lived "three 
days on three ten cent pieces," then secured employment and prospered 
for a time. Returning to Illinois, he was at Dixon's Ferry in time to 
meet my mother and three boys, who arrived in August, 1841. Two of 
my mother's sisters, Mrs. Edward Willars and Mrs. Daniel Leake, with 
their families, accompanied heron this long journey. They set sail from 
Liverpool. England, in a sailing vessel and were thirty-four days on the 
waters, then they traversed the Hudson Eiver to Albany, New York, 
then across New York by canal to Buffalo, then via the lakes to Chicago, 
then by wagon to Dixon's Ferry. After a little time my father secured 
a claim. Then a cabin was built by setting rude posts in the ground, 
roofing with boards, siding with shakes and chinking thecracks and crev- 
ices with mud. In cold weather the outside was banked up with any 
rough material that could be secured. To this little hut there was one 
door, with the "latchstring hanging out," and one window, set so high 
that persons sitting in the room could net see objects outside. Across 
one end was set two beds lengthwise, which filled the space, but under 
them the ground was the only floor. Table and chairs were not, but a 
large box served for one and other rude things for the others. This one 
room served all the purposes and conveniences of home. For lights at 
night there was not even the pine knot so often used in the forests, for 
the prairies were almost destitute of timber. A tin cup holding about a 
pint was filled with clay made hollow in the middle. In this center was 
inserted a wire, wrapped round several times with cloth, the hollow in 
the clay was filled with lard, the top of the cloth lighted and so a lamp 
was formed for the entire house. 

In lighting fires, the tinder-box came into good use. Paper was 


burned, but before it reached the condition of ashes the fire Was extin- 
guished by placing a weight upon it in a box. This made the tinder. To 
ignite this a spark of flre was thrown into the box by striking a piece of 
steel with a flint. This was touched with a home-made match (a piece 
of wood dipped in brimstone), and thus a flame was kindled. 

By selling his coat my father was enabled to buy a cow, and by labor- 
ing for twenty-five cents per day and taking for payment anything that 
could be used in the family continuous living was maintained. The 
scarcity of money in those early times made these things necessary. 

The winter of 1843-44 was very severe, set in early and continued late. 
Much suffering among the early settlers resulted, and also much loss of 
stock through lack of feed and shelter. We were driven from ourshanty 
by a snowstorm in November. Whether our parents slept any that night 
or not I can not say, but when we children woke in the morning our beds 
and everything in the room were covered with snow. We were hurried 
off to my uncle's, Mr. E. Willars, who lived in a log house. Following 
this hard winter were smuil and inferior crops. The wheat was smutty 
and made poor flour. The mills here and there established had not 
proper machinery to clean it out, so the flour was often of a dark hue and 
made darker bread. My eldest brother, William J. Leake, then a lad of 
eleven years, was frequently sent to Meek's Mill a distance of seven or 
eight miles with a "grist." He would ride a pony with a bushel or bushel 
and a half of wheat in a sack, thrown across the pony's back. When 
this was ground the flour was put in one end of the sack and the bran in 
the other, then boy and sack were mounted on the pony and rode home. 

Many of earth's nobility settled on these prairies in those early flays. 
Mr. B. Hannum opened his house for the accommodation of travelers. 
Mrs. H. was a careful housekeeper. She used to say, "I always had a 
place for everything, and everything in its place," so, if people stopped 
there once they were almost sure to come again. Their house was also 
open for the preaching of the gospel on the Sabbath day. Mr. H. was a 
strong temperance man. Once, in helping a neighbor at threshing time, 
his principles were put to the test. There was pudding on the dinner 
table with brandy seasoned sauce; when Mr. H. perceived this he refused 
it and asked for some without the sauce. By his influence and wish the 
vicinity was called Temperance Hill. Here, too, was a station of the 
'underground railroad" of early abolition times. John Cross kept the 
farm now owned by Mr. William Woolcott. He had an excellent wife, 
three daughters and two sons. Their house was made a shelter for many 
a poor slave seeking liberty in the Dominion of Canada. 


The faith, courage and perseverence of the early settlers was phenom- 
enal. They pressed on, nothing daunted. My mother used to say she 
never felt afraid of her children wanting bread in this country if they 
had their health, but she did have that fear in England. Oh! those early 
years! their memory is full of brightness to me. From April to Novem- 
ber the prairies were a perpetual flower garden of ever varying hue. Wild 
game was abundant; in summer and autumn the groves were full of 
fruits and nuts; nearly all the year round the streams furnished fish for 
our tables. 

Those who maintained their homes through industry and frugality 
secured a competency and some gained wealth, while those who lived in 
idleness or unrest came to poverty. THOMAS LEAKE. 

j' JJi 

"The good missionary, discoverer of a world, had fallen asleep on the margin of 
the stream that bears his name. Near its mouth the canalmen dug his grave in the 
sand." BANCBOFTS HIST. U. 8. 

A warrior falls the battefleld 

Hath trumpet echoes for his fame; 
A patriot dies, and nations yield 

Large tribute to embalm his name; 
A chieftain sinks, and far resound 

Proud eulogies; of doubtful birth, 
God's lowly servant rest hath found, 

Unnoted by the wise of earth. 

Of him no lettered marbles tell. 

None rear the monumental pile; 
For him no pealing organ's swell 

Floats down the long cathedral aisle; 
There, but the tall pine's branches sweep; 

There, wild vines dewy blossoms spread- 
The forest rills with wailing deep 

Are winding round his narrow bed. 

But humble hearts, and faithful tears, 

With few and simple words to heaven, 
Mourned by his grave whose sunny years 

To show the better path, were given; 
Who on his Master's mission came 

To cheer, to harmonize, to bless; 
The first to breathe that holy name, 

Amid the smiling wilderness. 

Deeply his gentle mind was stirred, 

With fervent trust his soul imbued. 
When low the warning voice was heard, 

In the grey cloister's solitude. 
For him the world was passing by. 

In drowsy pageant dusk and cold, 
Ambition held her lure on high, 

Wealth vainly spread her nets of gold. 


One cause, one truth, bound to advance, 

With high resolve his spirit burned. 
He grazed a last long look on France, 

Then to the broad blue ocean turned. 
And what to him was land or clime 

And what to him was gain or loss? 
Called by the embassy sublime. 

To teach the path, and plant the Cross. 

Since then deceit, and crime, and strife, 

Have swept that forest race away; 
Scarce marked upon the page of life, 

Those heroes of the elder dav 
Urged by all grasping avarice, 

In friendly guise the foe has come, 
With evil deed, and strange device. 

To seize the Indians' ancient home. 

And skilled in falsehood's tortuous maze 

With tongue and pen they've sought to brand 
His lofty faith, that longed to raise 

To light the sovereigns of the land. 
His hope no earthly passion fed. 

His moral strength no force could bind 
The master spring, in love to spread, 

God's pure dominion over mind. 

At one dread tribunal arrayed, 

When justide ope's the fearful scroll. 
Among the accusers undismayed 

In peace possess thy tranquil soul, 
Perish the bauble wealth of fame 

Or conquest's meed, or empire's dross- 
There is incribed thy righteous name, 

Soldier and servant of the Cross. 


Bf a 

"Lift welthe twilight curtains of the Past 

And, turning from familiar sight and sound, 

Badly and full of reverence let us cast 

A glance upou Traditions shadowy ground." 

We look backward through a long vista of years, and, like a beautiful 
picture see our own fair county. There are the green, unbroken praries. 
stretching away mile after mile, traversed by deer, antelope, and vast 
herds of buffalo. Forests, dark with the shade of oak and ash, of hickory 
and walnut. Rock River, winding in and out by bluffs and valleys, its 
clear waters reflecting the flowers that grew on its banks, and the grand 
old eagle that built her eyrie on many a rocky crag. We see too a strange, 
wild race inhabiting this wilderness. The silent moccasined foot of the 
red man trod these forests, and his villages dotted the valleys. The 
families constituting these villages, who lived, fought, and hunted to- 
gether, were called tribes, and the heads of these tribes were called 
chiefs. Their succession generally depended upon birth, and was in- 
herited through the female line. The braves spent their time in idle- 
ness, their wants being supplied by the squaws. The children were 
educated in the school of nature. Their savage passions were roused by 
tales of murder and battle, for the echoes of the war song never died 
away. They loved bright colors, and when they made visits or assembled 
in council they came in brilliant array, and a braves dress was often a 
history of his life, so symbolic were his uses of color and figures. It 
seems strange that these societies, or tribes, could be maintained with- 
out laws, but their ways of governing grew out of necessities. There was 
no public justice. Each man revenged himself. The power of the chief 
depended largely upon his personality, if he was eloquent he could more 
easily control his warriors. They were entranced by eloquence, and 
would listen for hours to a chief or brave who possessed this talent. 
Councils constituted their enjoyment, but war was their pathway to 
fame. Solemn fasts proceeded their departure to battle, and they sang 


their war songs, and danced the wild dances to better prepare them for 

These Indians had no temples, nor priests, nor ceremony of religion. 
The believed in a hereafter, and in a Great Spirit, but not in a general 
resurection of the body. Their veneration for the dead excelled that of 
all other nations, and the graves of their forefathers were sacred above 
everything else to them. Other nations can point to art and literature 
as the enduring mementoes of their ancestors, but the red man's only 
history is his grave. It has been asked if these Indians were not the 
wrecks of more civilized nations. Much has been said and written upon 
this subiect but the shadows are dim that glimmer across the voiceless 
darkness of uncounted centuries, and time has buried one fact after 
another in the grave of uncertainty. 

The onward march of civilization was, however, bringing a strange 
new enemy to dispute the Indians' claim to this lovely Rock River valley. 
The Galena mines having been opened, a tide of emigration from the 
southern settlements swept along. In 1827 O. W. Kellogg made a trail 
from Peoria, then Ft. Clark, through the wide prairie. He crossed Rock 
River probably above Truman's island passed between Polo and Mt. Morris, 
then west to West Grove,and north to Galena. In 1828 John Boles, bearing 
to the west, crossed the river near the location of the present bridge, and 
this became the common road. About this time the government establish- 
ed a mail route from Peoria to Galena. The mail was carried on horseback 
once in two weeks. John Dixon, then Circuit clerk at Peoria, secured the 
contract. He, as well as the traveling public, was obliged to cross the 
river in canoes and swim their horses. J L. Bogardus in 1828 attempted 
to establish a ferry but was driven away by the Indians, and his boat 
burned. Soon after John Ogee, a half-breed Indian, built a cabin and 
ran a ferry until the spring of 1830, when he sold it to Father Dixon. A 
postoffice had been established at Ogee's Ferry. Upon taking charge of 
it Mr. Dixon was also appointed post master, and his name given to both 
office and ferry. Many of the incidents of early pioneer life occurred 
here, and men learned lessons of patriotism and pluck soon to be tested 
and tried in the Black Hawk war, a brief history of which I am to give. 

It is the history of the most picturesque and bloody Indian war of the 
state. The true story of its stormy incidents and tragic end has never 
been written, because never free from personal or partizan prejudice. It 
is the story of the calling out of 8,000 volunteers and soldiers of the regu- 
lar army, an outlay of two million dollars and a loss of 1,000 lives. Going 
back to 1804, we find that on November 4th of that year General Harri- 


son made a treaty with the Sacs and Foxes by which they ceded all the 
territory lying between the Wisconsin, the Fox, the Illinois, and the 
Mississippi rivers, with about one-third of Missouri. The land amounted 
to about fifty million acres. For this they were to receive $1,000 a year. 
By this treaty the Indians were permitted to live and hunt upon these 
lands until sold for settlement by the government. A difference of 
opinion regarding this clause was the origin of the struggle. However, 
the treaty was reconfirmed in 1815, 1816 and again in 1822. Not far from 
Rock Island, then Ft. Armstrong, was situated the chief Indian villaget 
Saukenauk. It was composed of 500 families, and surrounded by 3,000 
acres of land in cultivation. Their forefathers were buried here, and the 
affections and interests of the tribe centered around this village. This 
tribe was divided into two bands, one friendly to Americans was led by 
the Chief Keokuk. He was gifted with a rare eloquence, by means of 
which he retained his influence in favor of the whites. The wild, turbu- 
lent spirits, the chivalry of the nation, arrayed themselves under the 
banner of Keokuk's rival, Black Hawk. It had been the policy of the 
British during the period between the wars of the revolution and 1812 to 
foster a spirit of hostility among the Indians toward the white settlers. 
In the latter war Black Hawk had served as an aid to the great Tecum- 
seh. Long after peace was declared he continued to visit Maiden, Canada, 
to receive presents from the English. Black Hawk was distinguished for 
courage, but was of a grave, melancholy disposition, disposed to brood 
over imaginary wrongs. He was not a Tecumseh or a Pontiac. He had 
not the military genius to plan a comprehensive scheme of action, yet he 
made a bold attempt to unite all the Indians from Rock River to Mexico 
in a war against the pale faces. Like Tecumseh he had his prophet 
whose influence was great in making recruits to the band. 

In 1823, although the lands had not been surveyed, white settlers 
began to squat on the cultivated portions. Taking advantage of the 
absence of the Indians on their annual hunt, they fenced in the corn 
fields, drove away the squaws and children, and even burned their lodges. 
Disturbances naturally followed. In 1828 Go'v. Reynold demanded the 
expulsion of the Indians, and President Jackson ordered their removal 
across the Mississippi before April 1, 1830. A portion of the tribe, with 
Keokuk at its head retired peaceably. Black Hawk refused to abandon 
the ancient village, and an arrangement was made with the settlers to 
dwell together as neighbors. Encouraged by the government the squat- 
ters practically took oossession of the land. No outbreak occurred until 
1831, after the return from the annual hunt, when the Indians were 

241 -- 

ordered to depart. Black Hawk replied with greatdignity that the lands 
were his, and he would defend his rights and the graves of his people, 
and threatened death to all who should remain. In response to com- 
plaints from the settlers Gov. Reynolds, on May 20, 1831, made a call for 
700 volunteers, and notified Gen. Gains, commander of the military dis- 
trict, to repair to Rock Island with a few companies of regulars. The 
militia assembled at Beardstown to the number of 1,400 and were organ- 
ized and ready to march by the 20th of June. 

The brigade was put in command of Gen. Duncan of the state militia, 
arid marched to a point on the Mississippi, eight miles below the mouth 
of Rock River. Here they joined Gen. Gaines with a steamboat and sup- 
plies. When the troops reached the village next morning they found that 
the Indians, alarmed by their numbers, had crossed the river. The 
soldiers burned the lodges and returned to Rock Island. Black Hawk, 
then, for the first time, ratified the treaty, and promised never to cross 
the river without permission. The government also agreed to furnish a 
large amount of corn and provisions, and thus ended the campaign of 
1831. In 1832 the old chief again crossed the river, and directed his march 
to the Rock River country, hoping to make the Pottowattomies and 
Winnebagoes his allies. He might have succeeded in this plan had it 
not been for Father Dixon's influence over these tribes. Gen. Atkinson 
was then sent to Ft. Armstrong with regular troops. In response to the 
governor's call for volunteers, four regiments, an odd battalion, a spy 
battalion, and a foot battalion assembled in Beardstown in April and 
were placed in command of Brig. Gen. Whitesidas. There were also two 
mounted battalions numbering four hundred men, commanded by Major 
Stillman. The force consisted of 2,000 volunteers and 1,000 regulars. 
Abraham Lincoln commanded a company in the 4th regiment, 
and Sidney Breese held the position of 2nd lieutenant. The army 
reached Ft. Armstrong May 7, 1832. They were there reinforced by Col. 
Taylor in whose command was Lieut. Jeff Davis. It was here divided 
into two wings. One was commanded hy Gen. Atkinson, who proceeded 
up-the river by boats. The other, under Gen. Whitesides, marched by 
land. Reaching Prophetstown they found it deserted. Pushing forward 
they reached Dixon's Ferry May 12th. They found here the battalions 
under Bailey and Stilirnan eager for battle and fame, and unwilling to 
attach themselves to the main body. They were sent to Old Man's Creek 
to coerce some hostile Indians at that point. Black Hawk, supposing 
they were Atkinson's force, sent a flag of truce; but the rangers killed and 
captured the messengers, save two. Upon their return Black Hawk tore 


the flag in tatters, and at the head of his warriors, with the war cry of 
the Sacs, advanced to the charge. The volunteers beat a hasty retreat 
and only halted when they reached Dixon's Ferry. This was called trie" 
battle of Stillman's Run, and the whites here lost eleven men, and had 
several wounded. On May the 19th the entire army proceeded up the 
river leaving Stillman's men at Dixon. They, however, deserted, and 
Gen. Atkinson returned with his men, while Gen. Whitesides, force went 
in pursuit of the enemy. Black Hawk had divided his warriors intosraall 
bands, and they were sweeping clown upon defenseless homes, killing and 
scalping all who came in their path. Seventy Indians made a descent 
upon the small settlement of Indian Creek, a tributary of Fox River, and 
massacred fifteen persons belonging to the families of Hall, Davis and 
Pettigrew. They took two young girls, prisoners, Silvia and Rachel Hall. 
After scalping their other victims they hurried these girls away by forced 
marches beyond the reach of pursuit. They had a long and fatiguing 
journey through a wilderness, with but little to eat, and were subjected 
to a variety of fortune. At last their friends, through the chiefs of the 
Winnebagoes, ransomed them for two thousand dollars, and they were 
delivered at Dixon. The horrible experiences of that day, together with 
the treatment they received, left its awful impress on their minds. In 
after years my mother knew these girls, then grown to womanhood, and 
it was an often remarked fact that they had never been seen to smile. 
They would sit, silent and melancholy, for hours, taking no part in the 
conversation, nor manifesting interest in their surroundings. 

The volunteers becoming dissatisfied were mustered out by Lieut. 
Robert Anderson, of Ft. Sumpter fame. Gov. Reynolds again called for 
2,000 men whose enlistment should be for the war. Gen. Scott was or- 
dered to proceed from the east with 1,000 regulars, and while these were 
being organized 300 volunteers were recruited from the disbanded com- 
panies. General Whitesides and Abraham Lincoln re-enlisted as privates 
in this number. The new forces were divided into three brigades, with 
. a spy battalion to each. Major John Dement commanded one of these 
battalions. The volunteers' force was also increased by a battalion under 
Col. Henry Dodge. Posey's brigade was ordered between Galena and 
Rock River. Alexander was dispatched to Plum River to intercept Black 
Hawk, while Henry remained at Dixon with Gen. Atkinson. On June 
6th Black Hawk led an attack on the fort at Apple River, the engage- 
ment lasting fifteen hours. Here the women and children showed rare 
courage and presence of mind, busying themselves during those awful 
hours in moulding bullets. The enemy at length retreated after destroy 


ing everything in their path. On June 14th occurred the engagement at 
Pecatonica where Gen. Dodge pursued a party of Indians, who had mur- 
dered some white settlers, until they took shelter under a high bluff of 
the river and there killed the whole party. This charge was as brave 
and brilliant as any on record in this or any other Indian war. 

While passing through Burr Oaks grove June 16th a company 
of soldiers were attacked by seventy warriors, but owing largely 
to the courage of private Gen. Whitesides they were repulsed with great 
loss. June 17th Capt Stephenson had a skirmish with a party at Prairie 
Grove where a number were killed. June 25th occurred the battle of 
Kellogg's Grove. 

Major John Dement with his battalion had received orders from Col. 
Taylor at Dixon to defend their post. Accordingly he took position in 
the heart of the Indian country. Learning that Black Hawk and a 
large force were in the vicinity he went out with a party to reconoiter 
and was suddenly attacked by 300 warriors. Finding himself in danger 
of being surrounded by a superior force he slowly retired to h's camp, 
closely pursed by the enemy; here he took possession of Kellogg's first 
log house. His defense was so brave, and his aim so sure that the Indians 
finally retreated, leaving many dead upon the Held. When the news of 
the battle reached Dixon's Ferry, Alexander's brigade was sent in the 
direction of Plum River, while Gen. Atkinson marched toward Lake 
Koshkoning, farther up Rock River. It was supposed Black Hawk had 
concentrated his forces here with the intention of ending the war in a 
general battle. Reaching this point July 2nd. no enemy was found, and 
being destitute of provisions Gen. Henry with Dodge's battalion which 
had joined him was sent to Ft. Winnebago for supplies: hearing that 
Black Hawk was in the vicinity they gave pursuit and on the 21st over- 
took him in a ravine near the Wisconsin River. Amid the yells of the 
Indians and the cries of the whites the battle raged until the Indians 
were overpowered and driven from the field. The main army under Gen. 
Atkinson having joined Henry and Dodge, the whole crossed the Wiscon- 
sin River and on the 2nd of August overtook Black Hawk at the mouth 
of the Bad Axe, where his warriors were defeated and dispersed. This bat- 
tle broke the power of Black Hawk, who was taken prisoner August 27th 
and delivered to the United States officers. The final treaty of peace was 
signed September 21st. Black Hawk, Neopope, and the Prophet were 
imprisoned at Fortress Monroe till June 4, 1833. On parting with Col. 
Eustis, the commander of the fort, Black Hawk addressed him with sim- 
ple pathos: "The memory of your friendship will remain until the Great 

244 - 

Spirit says that it is time for Black Hawk to sing his death song." Pre- 
senting him with a beautiful hunting suit and some feathers of the white 
eagle he said: "Accept these from Black Hawk and when he is far away 
they will serve to remind you of him. May the Great Spirit bless you 
and your children." 

After a tour of the principal eastern cities Black Hawk was returned 
to Ft. Armstrong August 1st, where he was made the ward of Keokuk. 
He died October 3, 1840, at the age of eighty years, and was buried near 
the Mississippi River, where no passer by bestows even the tribute of a 
sigh to his memory, and his only requiem is the plaintive note of the 
lone whippoorwill. August 15, 1832, the troops were mustered out at 
Dixon's Ferry by Lieut. Robt. Anderson, and disbanded by General Scott. 
Thus ended the Black Hawk war, which in our backward glance at time 
we little understand or appreciate. Compared with the civil war it may 
seem trivial, but not in proportion to the number of inhabitants and the 
facilities. It was a war without roads or bridges, without railroads or 
telegraphs, and without the modern equipments of to-day. It was a war 
with barbarians, full of horrors which in these faraway days, no heart 
can conceive, no tongue can tell, and no pen can write. It was a war 
between these rude children of nature clinging to kinsman, home, and 
country, and a race of brave pioneers who saw in the future a rising na- 
tion spread over this rude and fruitful land advancing to a destiny beyond 
the reach of mortal eye. And, however, historians may disagree about 
the right and wrong, none can deny that it was the means of hastening 
the early settlement of northern Illinois by a better class of people than 
in other portions of the state. 

Dixon's Ferry was at that time the central point of interest between 
Chicago, then a small frontier post, and the Mississippi. The settlers 
from Rockford being obliged to go there for their mail. From 1829 to 
1835 all the emigration to Galena and the lead mines crossed the river 
there. It was made up of all conditions and sorts of men. There the 
red man came to barter their furs, and there the chiefs gathered in sol- 
emn council. There during the war the troops rendezvoused because it 
was the most central position for supplies, and the most advantageous 
ground for maneuvering both. There was built the most pretentious 
fort in the state, It consisted of two block houses situated on the north 
bank of the river a few rods west ef the'ferr}. It was guarded by a com- 
pany of infantry, thus assuring the safety of the crossing to all. There 
the wandering red men bade a last farewell to their hunting grounds, 
and sought a home beyond the great river, where they hoped to escape 


the onward march of the white man. There Father Dixon distributed 
the forty thousand rations sent from Rock Island for them. There were 
gathered citizen soldiers who had held every office in the gift of the 
people, and who had achieved honor and success. There at a little out- 
post in a prairie wilderness was assembled a group of men whose fame 
has spanned the world. Would that time permitted me to call the roll, 
to, "Roll back the tide of time, and raise the faded forms of other days. 1 ' 
In fancy's dream we would see Father Dixon, the first white settler, the 
noble representative of a proud ambitious race, exchanging the courtesies 
of life with untaught savages, and they called him friend. Born at a 
time when the republic had a name but not a history, and gifted with 
rare unselfishness, justice and patriotism, he exerted all his energies to 
uplift degraded humanity. In the accomplishment of this mission he 
was able to render most important service in the war, and won the re- 
spect and friendship of the many eminent men of his acquaintance. His 
roof sheltered all, friend and foe, and the Indian chiefs in solemn council 
sat down to his table as honored guests. Though filling many offices 
acceptably, his chief interest was the advancement of the town which 
bore his name, and for this he labored with generous and untiring zeal. 
He had the honor of being a passenger on Fulton's first steamboat up the 
Hudson and paid the first fare the famous inventor received. A true 
honest manhood crowned his life and his grave is hallowed by the loving 
memories of the community. Peacefuily he sleeps, his dirge the rustle 
of the leaves and the soft moan of the beautiful river he loved so weli. 
Under the same shadows lies one who when a lad of thirteen came 
with his parents from the plains of Tennessee, seeking a new home in a 
new state. From that day John Dement directed his best energies to 
building up the commonwealth, and our territorial and state laws to-day 
bear the impress of his sound sense and good judgement. In early man- 
hood he was chosen to public office and continued to serve the people in 
county, city and state through a long life. While acting as state treas- 
urer he took pajt in the three campaigns of the Black Hawk war. In 
the first he acted as aide-de-camp to Gov. Reynolds and was witness to 
the treaty. The following year, while residing at Vandalia, he again 
enlisted and was sent by Gen. Whitesides with six men to visit Shabbona, 
the Pottawattomie chief, thirty miles north of Dixon, and warn him 
not to" allow Black Hawk to come upon his lands to live. While out on 
this expedition he learned the location of this chief's land and on the 
following day reported to the commander at Dixon. He then returned 
home and for the third time joined the volunteers, was made commander 


of a spy battalion and reported to Col. Zachary Taylor at Dixon. From 
there he was sent in search of Black Hawk and led the brilliant engage- 
ment at Kellogg's Grove, where for the first time the troops held their 
position till reinforcements arrived. In the story of Black Hawk's life, 
as told by himself, he complimented the young white chief in an eloquent 
manner on his coolness, and courage, and it is a remarkable fact that the 
histories all coincide in awarding the palm for military tact and daring 
courage to Col. Dement and Henry Dodge, afterwards his father-in-law. 
Col. Dement is identified with the story of the war from beginning to 
end and no one had a more intimate acquaintance and friendship with 
the many distinguished men engaged in it. It is greatly to be regretted 
that the the events of that time had not been written at his dictation, 
with all the wealth of personal and local incidents he had at command. 
With the addition of the personal recollections of Mrs. Dement, then 
Miss Dodge, no history in existence would have been of more interest or 
value. Many of the facts I have given you have been verified by a letter 
from Geo. W. Jones. 

He served in the war as adjutant to Gen. Dodge and was afterwards 
United States Senator from Iowa, where he now resides. Although 
nearly ninety years old he narrates the scenes of that long ago time with 
great clearnees and recalls many interesting anecdotes of pioneer life 
and distinguished men. Very touching and very beautiful are the mem- 
ories of his dear old friends, Col. Dement and the Dodge family, which 
this old man so lovingly lingers over as a precious part of his own young 
manhood. After the war Col. Dement was again called to fill offices of 
honor and trust and at length removed with the land office from Galena 
to Dixon, There he passed the happiest years of his life rejoicing in the 
rising fortunes of the city, part of which bears his name. These scenes 
had woven a spell about his heart which no separation could break and 
coming age but added strength to the enchantment which was a "twi- 
light of the brightness passed away." 

In these times of danger and hardship women too had a place. Mrs. 
Dixon was the first white woman who settled in Lee county and she was 
well equipped for the allotted place in life. She was remarkably intelli- 
gent, warm-hearted and ready for any good work. Under her roof all 
were welcome and she had the tact and insight to keep the peace and 
friendship of all, red and white, who gathered there. The winter pre- 
ceding the war Black Hawk and a number of chiefs held a council at 
Dixon's Ferry. These chiefs were invited to sit down to her table three 


times a day, where she presided gracefully, eating and drinking with 
them. Black Hawk, as spokesman for the rest, thanked her for her great 
kindness and ever afterwards remembered it. The nearest neighbors 
were Mr. Kelloggs, who had settled at Kellogg's Grove in 1828, and some 
families who had located at Buffalo Grove, now Polo, the same year. In 
1831 the Kelloggs moved to Buffalo Grove and the Reeds arrived the same 
day. Annie Kellogg, now Mrs. E. B. Baker of Dixon, and Fanny Reed, 
now Mrs. Fanny Dixon, are the only persons in Lee county who were 
here during the war and no history has the reality which attaches to the 
story from their lips. In 1831 the settlers, fearing an outbreak, joined 
others at Apple River and commenced to build a fort, when a dispatch 
was received informing them that a treaty had been made and they 
might return. In 1832 a messenger arrived at Buffalo Grove with the 
news of Stillman's defeat and advised them to go immediately to Dixon. 
Mrs. Baker remembers that morning distinctly. Her father had gone to 
Galena for supplies and her mother was alone with a hired man and her 
two little children. Leaving the breakfast table her mother and the 
man mounted their horses, each taking a child. Little Annie rode on a 
pillow, the only article they brought away with them. Arriving at 
Dixon, Mrs. Dixon gave them a generous welcome. Mrs. Baker remem- 
bers the Indians, of whom she had no fpar. She has often seen Black 
Hawk and describes him as a large, hard-faced Indian not at all noted 
for beauty. She went freely to their wigwams and was taught their 
dances by the chiefs, After their departure the Indians rifled the house 
of everything save the feathers, which they turned out of the ticks on 
the floor. Mrs. Baker's greatest trial was the loss of a certain little 
wooden dog, very dear to her childish heart, which she had forgotten in 
her flight. After spending two weeks with the Dixon family they were 
all sent to Galena with an escort of soldiers and did not return to their 
homes until late autumn. On the road they passed their old home and 
found every tree and shrub loaded with a strange fruit feathers. A 
number of Indians had improvised a thicket by cutting down small trees 
and sticking them in the ground, and were hidden behind them. They 
were so near the road that they easily recognized the party. These 
women and children had always been honest, truthful and kind in all 
their dealings with the savages, and to this they owed their escape from 
a cruel death. Can we realize in any degree the heroism lived every day 
of these brave lives? In 1833 they were again compelled to leave their 
homes by rumors of war, but returned before harvest and were never dis- 
turbed afterwards. Mrs. Baker remembers Dixon when it consisted of 


Father Dixon's log house, located on the site of Frenzel's meat market, 
and the block houses on the north side. The army was encamped on the 
flat north of Main street and west of Galena street. 

Perhaps no group of tents ever sheltered so many men who afterwards 
became famous in our own country and the whole world. There was 
Sindney Breese, who came to Illinois in 1818, and for sixty years was a 
strong factor in professional, political and judicial life. In 1831 he pub- 
lished a law report, which was the first book printed in the state, person- 
ally assisting in the work. ' In 1832 he volunteered as a private in the 
Black Hawk war, where he rose to an office outranking Taylor and An- 
derson. To him belongs the honor of projecting the Illinois Central 
Railroad, and he desired no other inscription on the marble above him. 
In 1840 he had the greater honor of making the first congressional effort 
to build the great Pacific railway. He confronted opposition in congress 
and out, in regard to the new route for the commerce and wealth of the 
east to enter the western world. The monument commemorates these 
services, and the grand old man went proudly to his grave with the 
consciousness that what he had done would live after him as the heritage 
of a great man to his country. 

The name of Robert Anderson will ever be associated with the fall of 
Fort Sumter, the central act of the war, and the most important from a 
military standpoint. The story of the insult to the nation's flag, and his 
gallant defense, as it flashed over the North was the signal for a resur- 
rection of patriotism which swept away all party lines and united the 
people in one common love of country. Yet the man so strong and brave 
in the war lifted a little wounded Indian child from beside its dead 
mother, had its arm amputated, and tenderly cared lor its wants. He 
lived to unfurl the old flag again over the fort, and over an undivided 
nation. Perhaps he learned lessons of bravery while marching through 
this valley under command of Col. Taylor, of whom it was said, "he never 
surrendered," and who was afterwards President of the United States. 
Though he was a slaveholder he was wise, sincere and honest, and bitterly 
opposed to the extension of slavery. He was not a statesman by genius 
or habit, but he was a personal example of a patriot striving, in his own 
last words, "to do my duty." This sentiment he strongly emphasized in 
his speech to the volunteers at Dixon's Ferry, where he said: "You are 
citizen soldiers, and some of you may fill hi^h offices, or even be President 
some day, but never unless you do your duty. Forward! March!" Did 
some shadowy finger of prophecy open to him the doors of futurity? Did 


he see himself, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis filling these places? 
May we not believe that the sound of the war cry and the sight of tha 
scalping knife cast a witchery over the soul of the young Lieut. Davis, 
never to be broken till in madness he lifted his hand against the Union, 
and proclaimed his loyalty to the State and to the slave power. How 
infamous that descent from conspiracy to treason, from treason to rebel- 
lion, from rebellion to a civil war which rent asunder the most sacred 
ties of humanity, tilled hearts and homes from sea to sea with anguish 
and tears, and baptised this fair land with the life-blood of 300,000 of the 
republic's bravest sons. And yet the sacrifice was not complete until the 
assassin's hand struck clown the idol of a loyal people Abraham Lincoln. 
In the rank and file of the Indian war he walked a simple childlike man, 
unknown to fortune or fame. Gifted with a rare patience and a wise 
moderation, born of a native kindliness, he had ever that charm given 
only to those in whose souls the fountain of tears and the fountain of 
laughter lie close together, and their mingling waters bear men along on 
a resistless current of sympathy. Even then hung over him that strange 
sadness which cast a shadow over his life, "My destiny is upon me." He 
had that which endures in human character the power of growth, the 
upward movement, the aspiration for better things, which thirty years 
later sent him forth to be the ruler of the greatest nation on earth the 
leader of its embattled hosts in a conflict between North and South, 
between firearms and genius, and between the great principles of Free- 
dom and Slavery. By the singular power of his personality he achieved 
a victory which won for him the reverence of a nation, and the worship 
of an emancipated race. How passing strange that with the eyes of the 
world upon him in those dark days, the memories of his early life in Lee 
county and Dixon should find a place. After the fall of Fort Sumter, 
in conversation with Robert Anderson he reminded him of those meet- 
ings which he had forgotten, saying, "You mustered me into the United 
States service during the Black Hawk war as a high private of the Illi- 
nois volunteers at Dixon's Ferry." 

Though never again permitted to visit these early scenes, the ideal of 
his life has become the ideal of many lives, adding to the moral and 
spiritual capital of the world, and sounding the key note of a strain 
which abides forever. 

One by one they have vanished from our sight till only two remain 
who lived through the scenes of the Black Hawk war. Could they but 
tell their story here to-day your hearts would be filled with admiration 
and regret that we who reap the fruit of their toil have failed to preserve 


these precious bits of tradition and history now buried with the dead. 
The American nation, though young in years, has, by means of its vast 
accumulations of wealth, been stamped throughout the civilized world 
with materialism. And as this wealth flows in perennial streams among 
the people is there not danger that we may fulfill the prophecies of for- 
eign nations by allowing this characteristic to stamp itself too deeply, 
not only upon our lives, but upon our exhibits at the World's Fair. On 
the women of America rests the burden of modifying this tendency by 
awakening and cultivating an interest in all educational matters. 

No subject is attracting more attention from women's clubs in con- 
nection with the World's Fair than the history of our own country. It 
has become a duty as well as a pleasure to collect and preserve all that 
relics, record or tradition can add to the unwritten pages. Whether it 
is possible or practical with our facts to make such an exhibit remains 
to be decided upon. To what bright sister shall belong the honor of 
devising some plan of action by which we may be represented in the his- 
torical exhibit of the state if nothing more. Why should not Lee county 
be made a point of historical interest, for time and history do at last 
come to hallow and make remarkable all places connected with great 
men and great enterprises. What a picture for the artist's brush! A 
solitary cabin standing by the Indian's "Sinnissippi," amid the vast sol- 
itudes of a prairie desert, and in its open door Nachusa, the herald of 
peace and goodwill, receiving on the one hand a deputation of the native 
sons of the soil bearing in their hands their rude offerings; on the other 
a group of men whose names and deeds adorn history's page, and speak 
to listening multitudes through song and story, through marble and 
canvas, and floating over all the banner of our own proud state with the 

simple legend, "Illini" the land of men. 



THE writer of the following reminiscences came from eastern New 
York to Illinois in the early spring of 1846. The land he left was 
highly picturesque, being characterized by high hills with deep 
valleys between. It was a rocky region, and the cultivated fields being 
largely reclaimed from the prevailing forests, bore striking evidence 
of their original estate by the numerous stumps remaining, which 
awaited the action of time to crumble into dust: The land to which he 
came, however, was a signal contrast to this. Forests there were none 
worthy the name. Narrow skirts of timber fringed the sluggish streams, 
while all the land between these water-courses lay in a broad and beau- 
tiful expanse of undulating prairie, studded with wild flowers of various 
hues and forms. The view of this heautiful land was enchanting, and as 
we traversed it by stage for at that time there was not a foot of railroad 
in the state we thought it the garden spot of earth. 

Leaving Chicago which then was but a respectable village, clustered 
on the shore of the lake about the mouth of the insignificant bayou 
called the "river" we were not long in reaching the first stage station. 
Here fresh horses were secured and with successive relays of animals, and 
under the direction of skilltul "Jehu" drivers, we swept over the beauti- 
ful emerald ocean until we reached what was then known as the "Rock 
River country." Enchanting as had been the scenery all the way, it 
seemed to us that nothing could excel the beauty of the region around 
what was then known as "Dixon's Ferry." For miles before we reached 
the little cluster of houses so named, the landscape seemed to acquire 
new attractions at every step, until, ascending the eminence to the east 
of the valley, we attained a view of the valley and the crystal stream 
rolling through it, our involuntary exclamation was, "surely nothing can 
excel this." The judgment then formed has not been reversed, though 
nearly half a century has since passed away. 


Our destination being Galena, the center of the mining section of the 
state, we were not many hours in reaching that city, which we found to 
be at that early day a far more attractive and more wealthy place than 
Chicago. The principal industries were mining lead ore, smelting it and 
shipping the lead. As the chief market for this metal was England, the 
circulating medium in and around Galena was largely gold of the denom- 
ination of sovereigns. These having in the mines a local value exceeding 
bv some four or five cents each what they would bring elsewhere, were 
kept very largely in that portion of the State. Little paper money was 
in circulation, and what there was seemed to be looked upon with suspi- 
cion, as indeed it might well be, for the banks were then mostly of a 
private, and very largely of an irresponsible character. Silver for small 
change was quite plentiful, though it was hard for eastern ears to recog- 
nize it under the new names it bore. The "levy," "flp," and "bit," were 
the names of honest silver coin, and names brought in by the emigrants 
from the south who found their way to the mines in search of remuner- 
ative employment. These same persons, from, the southern portion of 
the state, and largely of the least thrifty class, gave, it was said, the 
soubriquet, "Suckers," to Illinoisans. 

The calling of the writer of these reminiscences, that of minister of 
the gospel, and a home missionary, led him to make frequent excursions 
into the region round about Galena, extending as far south upon the 
Mississippi Eiver as Bock Island and Keokuk, and as far east and south- 
east as Rockford and Dixon. It was a peculiarly wild, and in an early 
day, lawless region. 

Notwithstanding the fact that all through the mining region, and 
down the Mississippi river and up through the Rock River valley, and 
east and south to the Illinois River much lawlessness prevailed, I have 
to record with pleasure that I was never molested nor insulted on the 
other hand, my profession being known, I was invariably treated with 
respect and courtesy. In that early day transportation was granted me 
without charge on the steamboats, and entertainment was free to me as 
a clergyman, both in hotels and private residences. Often when I have 
offered pay it has been kindly but firmly refused; and this courteous 
treatment was not confined to the Christian or even the moral portion of 
the various communities visited. On a certain occasion, when on a mis- 
sionary tour, I saw a number of men gathered around a log cabin by the 
roadside in a very lonely forest. I halted my horse and spoke to them. 
1 told them that I was a minister of the gospel and asked the privilege 
of addressing them upon the subject of religion. They readily assented 


and politely asked me to alight. One man took my horse, another 
opened the door and led the way into the cabin. 1 then discovered that 
it was a rough backwoods drinking saloon. The only table in the room 
was covered with bottles filled with liquor. These were quickly removed 
and placed on the wide window-sill, and th< table became my pulpit. 
Dispensing with singing I opened my Bible and preached to an attentive 
audience "of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come." What 
theresult was I don't know; I only know that rough men were willing to 
listen as the gospel was proclaimed, and treated the bearer of the divine 
message with courtesy and kindness. 

The last remnant of the aborigines had been removed from Illinois 
before my arrival in the state, though many who had participated in the 
conflict which preceded and accompanied the last serious outbreak, 
known as the "Black Hawk War," still lived, and had many tales to tell 
of the struggle between the early settlers and the red men. A block 
house for the protection of the inhabitants living between Galena and 
Dixon had been built on Apple River, near the little mining town of 
Elizabeth, some fifteen or sixteen miles south of Galena. The families 
residing in this region extending as far west as the Mississippi river, and 
as far east as Freeport and south to Dixon, had been notified probably by 
Shabbona, an Indian always friendly to the whites, of an intended out- 
break of the savages, and many of them had repaired to the block-house 
near Elizabeth, resolved to defend themselves against the foe. They 
had not long to wait. A marauding band of Indians surrounded the lit- 
tle fort, and, protected by the trees and dense shrubbery, lay in wait to 
pick off any who might be exposed to the deadly aim of their rifles. In 
the meantime those in the block-house were prepared for defense. A 
platform had been built some five or six feet above the floor, and upon 
this the men were ranged ready to fire from the port-holes left between 
the logs. The women in the meantime, under the leadership of "Aunt 
Betty Armstrong," as she was familiarly called, a strong minded and 
courageous woman, moulded bullets and loaded the muskets of their hus- 
bands and brothers, determined to do their part in defending themselves 
and their families from the savages. The siege continued for many 
hours. In the course of the battle as Mrs. Armstrong herself informed 
me an Indian bullet pierced the neck of one of the men upon the plat- 
form and he fell among the women below. "As he lay there," to employ 
Mrs. Armstrong's own words, "You never saw a hog bleed prettier," Mr. 
Harsha, "than he did." His jugular vein was cut as neatly as a knife could 
have done it, and in a few minutes the man was dead. One of the other 


men on the platform was so frightened at this that he dropped his gun, 
and was about to abandon his post. Seeing this, added Aunt Betty, 
"I pointed a gun at him which I had just loaded, and told him that if he 
did not stand his ground there would be another white man lying dead 
in less than a minute. This settled it, and no one else played the coward 
during the fight." Finding that they could not take the little fort, the 
Indians raised the seige and quietly left, bearing their dead and wounded 
with them. 

Another battle took place with the Indians about this time, not far 
from Elkhorn Grove, which was more disastrous to the whites than the 
one at the block-house on the Apple River. The whites, in attacking the 
Indians who were hidden in a thicket, became exposed upon the open 
prairie, and were repulsed with the loss of several of their number in 
killed and wounded. An Indian pony from which one of these was shot 
was kept until his death at a great age, by Col. Mitchell, at Elizabeth. 
The man who was shot from the pony was Col. Mitchell's son-in-law, but 
his name has escaped me. These skirmishes were preliminary to the 
Black Hawk war. Into the details of the Black Hawk war this narrative 
need not enter, as the incidents of that event, which ended for the State 
of Illinois the drama of Indian confliets, have passed into general his- 
tory. The following, however, in connection with the now thriving city 
of Dixon, communicated to me by Mr. Dixon himself, the founder of the 
town, may be of interest. When the Black Hawk war broke out, General 
Scott, who had charge of the Northwestern Military Department, and 
was at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, ordered the militia, which had been 
called out for the defense of the citizens, to rendezvous at Dixon. To 
muster these volunteers into the .United States service, General Scott 
sent two young Lieutenants from Fort Snelling to Dixon, while he him- 
self with the regular troops intended to descend the Mississippi Eiver, 
and attack the Indians in their principal village near the junction of 
Rock River with the Mississippi. Mr. Dixon kept the only tavern then 
in Dixon, being a double log cabin, and entertained the militia officers, 
as well as the two lieutenants sp.nt to muster them into service. One of 
these young officers sent from Fort Snelling as Mr. Dixon afterward told 
me, was a bright, sprightly young man, very talkative, and exceedingly 
inquisitive as to the habits of the Indians, while the other seemed very 
quiet, retiring and modest. The young men were about twenty-two or 
twenty-three years of age. They administered theoath to the volunteers, 
among whom was a captain about their own age who was dressed in Ken- 
tucky jeans, hailing from Sangamon county, Illinois, and then went on 


to join General Scott at Rock Island. 

Years rolled away and the great rebellion was inaugurated, when the 
the three young men meeting thus in Dixon during the Black Hawk war, 
filled the most prominent positions in the land. The Sangamon county 
captain was Abraham Lincoln; president of the United States; the. 
sprightly young lieutenant was Jefferson Davis, president of the South- 
ern Confederacy, and the modest, retiring young lieutenant, as Captain 
Anderson, was the first to defend the flag at Fort Sumpter, in Charleston 

Being in New York City shortly after the evacuation of Fort Sumter, 
I related, one evening at the supper table of Mr. Black, of the firm of 
Ball, Black & Co., the then noted jewelers, the above facts as they had 
been told me by Mr. Dixon. William Black, a son of Mr. Black, remarked, 
on hearing me, that Captain, now General Anderson, was living in the 
city, and if I wished he would take me to see him, as he was acquainted 
with the general, and we could ascertain whether he would confirm Mr. 
Dixon's statement. Gladly assenting to Mr. Black's proposal I fixed upon 
the next evening to make a call. 

During the afternoon of the next day I was in the book store of Rob- 
ert Carter & Bros., 530 Broadway, and related to Robert Carter the facts 
as above given, touching Lincoln, Davis and Anderson, and told him that 
I expected to call on General Anderson that evening for a confirmation 
of Mr. Dixon's statement. Just as I had finished my remarks to Mr. 
Carter, a gentleman, who had been standing with his back to us looking 
over the books upon the shelves, turned suddenly, and stepping up to us, 
said: "That is so, sir, for I was there myself." Upon this, Mr. Carter 
introduced me to the gentleman, saying, "Rev. Dr. Gallagher, Mr. Harsha.' 
Dr. Gallagher then proceeded. "Yes," he said, "I was chaplain at Fort 
Snelling at the time, and was sent by General Scott with Davis and 
Anderson to Dixon, and when they had mustered the troops there into 
the service of the United States, we went on to meet General Scott at 
Rock Island, and 1 well remember the difficulties we encountered in find- 
ing our way across the then trackless prairies." Dr. Gallagher was a 
Presbyterian clergyman, and at the time of this interview, was the flnan 
cial agent of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. The 
testimony was no less unexpected than gratifying. 

According to the appointment I went that evening and called upon 
General Anderson. When I told him the object of my visit, and had 
asked him for his recollection of what had occurred at Dixon, he fully 
confirmed Mr. Dixon's statement, and added: "After the fall of Fort 


Sumpter, my nervous system was completely broken down, and Mr. 
Lincoln invited me to visit him in Washington. I had not met him after 
our meeting at Dixon, until my visit to him at ulie White House. There 
Mr. Lincoln reminded me of the Black Hawk days, and said to me, in his 
kindly, familiar manner: "Anderson, you and Davis administered to rne 
at Dixon the first oath I ever took to defend the Constitution of the 
United States." General Anderson inquired whether Mr. Dixon were 
still alive, and when answered in the affirmative, said: "Please remem- 
ber me to him, and say, if we never meet on earth, I hope to meet him in 

But the flight of time has brought to all our land marvelous changes. 
The beautiful prairies of those early days, have been turned under by the 
thrifty settler's plow, and where the wild rose, the aster, the golden rod, 
the buttercup and the daisy once nodded in the breeze, the corn raises 
its stately head, and the waving wheat fields bespeak the coming harvest. 
Neither forts nor block-houses dot the landscape to tell of defense from 
the Indian rifle and scalping knife. Thirfty towns, and villages, and 
cities; stately homes proclaiming wealth and luxury, have taken the 
place of the squatter's humble cabin. The hardy pioneers, who "bore 
the burden and heat" of those early days, are passed away, and their 
children and children's children enjoy the fruits of their thoughtful toil. 
The great rebellion has come and gone. Lincoln and Davis, and Ander- 
son, nearly all who bore a part in that great struggle, have passed into 
the eternal world. The few survivors of those pioneer days, white haired 
and feeble now, await the summons which shall call them into the land 
immortal. W. W. HABSHA. 


Dix0T2 1 . Fir^t Temperance Pte3gje. 

The sun that shines so brightly down 
This day, upon our pleasant town. 
Some sixty years ago had seen 
The first white settler on our green; 
"Nachusa," as the Indians said, 
Or, "man with white hair on his head," 
Then stood upon our river's banks, 
First pioneer among the ranks 
Of those who to Kock Valley came, 
To make themselves a Western name. 

Bock River courses in beauty there 
Around its lovely Islands rare. 
Although no bridge its breadth did span; 
The daily sun in splendor died. 
To rise again in all its pride, 
But only shone on prairie land 
Untilled by any white man's hand; 
The Winnebago Indians stood 
Possessed of Dixon's plains and woods, 
Although this country had been sold 
To Government for trade and gold. 

Thus, scarcely had the white man come. 

To find a cabin roof his home, 

When an old Chief and part his band, 

Around Nachusa's hearth did stand. 

And queried, in the red man's way, 

If he "had come to go or stay?" 

Owanica, his Indian name; 

Old Jarro, to our men, the same; 

He, the Pottawatomie language knew, 

And, as Nachusa spoke it too. 

They talked, and Jarro's men stood still, 

While he interpreted at will; 

And for their questioning glances, sought 

The whiskey which the white man brought. 


Nachusa sternly shook his head, 
"No whiskey had he brought," he said; 
"And would not buy or keep it there?" 
Old Jarro asked, wnile scowled his men, 
"If he would get some they'd be glad, 
It not 'twas bad 'twas very bad." 

Nachusa saw and quickly then, 

He took to Jarro and his men 

Both flour and corn, and many things 

Which only white to red man brings; 

And as the lowering brows gave way, 

He bade them call another day; 

And this on every day was done, 

Until old Jarro called alone; 

With such good food, his appetite 

Was scarce appeased from morn 'till night; 

And always did the white man tell 
Of whiskey, and its curse as well, 
Persuading him each day and hour, 
To free him from its evil power; 
And so the Chief proclaimed that he 
Was temperate, in Thirty-Three 
Declaring that himself and men, 
Should never be found drunk again; 
And this a "Temperance Pledge" became. 
Before this town was built or named. 

Some time had passed when Jarro went 
To make a grieved and sad lament; 
"Two warriors at Galena bought 
The whiskey which the Indians sought. 
And on the island, near the dam, 
Were many drinking, and he ran 
To tell their names Nachusa must 
Treat them with scorn and so be just." 

Two days' and nights' carousal high. 

And then the leading man drew nigh. 

Holding his hand in friendly token, 

As though no temperance pledge was broken, 

Amazement in his face to trace 

The anger in Nachusa's face, 

As, with arms crossed upon his breast. 

Nachusa stood in Quiet rest, 

Or backward drew, as the red man 

His questioning dialogue began. 


"Why was he angry V it was not he 
Who any wrong had done nor he" I 
"Stop" said Nachusa, do not lie, 
I know the reasons all, and why"; 
And beckoning him away, told cause 
Of all his anger bade him pause, 
"He would not see nor speak to him 
Without severest reckoning; 
For he was mad was very mad 
If red man drank would not be glad." 

The warrior stopped and looking sad 
Inquired "how long he would be mad?" 
"Until next moon? that was too long;" 
But fixedly was the white man strong, 
And sternly bade him give it up, 
The fatal, poisonous, whiskey cup, 
"Or cling to drink and never more 
Seek out his face or pass his door." 
Bock River's waters, coldly blue, 
Beheld the stormy interview. 

Eleven days after, in the light 
That shuts out day and takes in night. 
Just as the full moon's silvery sheen 
Was trailing o'er the prairies green. 
The Indian in the gloaming stood, 
With hands held out in gracious mood; 
Nachusa to the erring ran 
Made happy signs of friendly man, 
And thus the second pledge was made, 
Which lasted while old Jarro stayed. 

Nachusa told inquirers then, 
He lived before the "Old Wolfs Den." 
Across the waters dark and blue, 
For thus they all the country knew; 
The Old Wolf's Den, on North Side bluff, 
Where, though the climbing may be rough, 
The earliest and sweetest flowers grow, 
From which our stranger friends are shownl 
The town and finest elm tree known. 

Nachusa smoked the pipe of peace 
Though not from Indian theft released; 
So, with the tribe, when payment came 
For these same lands, he went to claim 
The specie for a missing cow 


And horse that wandered (none knew how) 
To Winnebago Fort, where Captain Lowe 
With kindly inquiries pressed him so, 
Nachusa told of Jarro's weal. 
And of his temperance work and zeal. 

The Captain laughed, sarcastic peals 
Which tells the hearer what one feels; 
Recalling all the friendly aid 
To ragged, drinking Jarro made, 
Declared that "he knew Indians well, 
And so could for a surety tell, 
That Jarro, if a chance he got. 
Would prove the most degraded sot;" 

And turning tothe sutler's store ; 
Beckoned the chief within the door, 
And in a pleasant, friendly way 
Asked him some questions as he stayed; 
The while he filled a large tin cup. 
And said the Chief should take a sup. 

Old Jarro thanked him kindly then, 
But said he "feared the great white man, 
And so would take the whiskey out 
And watch his chance, for thereabouts, 
(The Captain he would understand) 
Nachusa stood with threatening hand." 

The Captain for the Fort had left. 
When Jarro to Nachusa crept. 
And telling all the doubtful story. 
With Indian haughtiness and glory, 
Led him some distance in the wood, 
When the tin cup as well filled stood 
As he could bear it in his hand, 
The proudest chief in all the land, 
To prove the tempter was mistaken; 
The chieftan's pledge was not forsaken. 

Old Jarro raised himself upright 
And poised the cup in Dixon's sight, 
Then turning on; his heel, half 'round, 
He poured the contents on the ground, 
And with the noble thought and deed. 
The red man of the forest said, 
"Owanica had promised well! 
And you, Nachusa, now can tell 
That not a drop of cursed fire 
Has passed his lips he was no liar." 


For Winnebago lives in name ; 
The Winnebagoes who can tell 
If any feel the temperance spell? 
Kock River, bridged by many a span. 
And subject to the works of man, 
Still sees Nachusa's snow white head, 
And flows beneath his measured tread, 
And hears, with many an old time tale, 
Of the Temperance Pledge that did not fail. 


The full moon was the Indians time of reckoning. When the Central 
railroad was built in Dixon they cut away the old wolf's den for the north 
end of the railroad bridge. It used to be a large cave, and beyond the 
portion you could enter, a narrow passage led to the den the resort for 
many wolves. Winnebago Fort was on the peninsula between the Fox 
and Wisconsin rivers and about a mile from either. 

ONE OF" the most remarkable of the many noble women among the 
early settlers who made their homes in the Rock River valley was 
Mrs. Rebecca Dixon. 

Born at Peekskill, New York, and reared near New York City, of re- 
fined and cultured parentage, with a broad mind, well educated, she with 
her husband, early became possessed of a desire to go west and cast in 
their lot with the pioneers of a new and almost unknown country. They 
came first to Sangamon county, near Springfield, but afterwards moved 
t<> Peoria, Illinois, he having been appointed Clerk of the Circuit Court 
of Peoria county, and after remaining for four years, Mr. Dixon having 
contracted for carrying the mail from Peoria to Galena, arid being obliged 
to cross Rock River, became enamoured of the Rock River country, and 
soon purchased the ferry across Rock River at what is now Dixon. Here 
Mr. and Mrs. Dixon moved, and he established his claims to the territory 
covered by Dixon and its surroundings Here Mr. Dixon might be said 
to be "monarch of all he surveyed." His was the only white family on 
Rock River, and Mrs. Dixon the only white woman between Peoria and 
Galena, and her only neighbors were the red men of the forest. 

By her kind, gentle, yet firm and Christian deportmentshe soorvgained 
the confidence and esteem of her neighbors and -ever retained it. The 
door of her log cabin was never barred, and the latch string was never 
drawn in niyht or day. "The latchstririg was always out." "Nachusa," 
(the white haired) as the Indians called Mr. Dixon, was always the recog- 
nized friend of the red man, and they consulted him in all their difficul- 
ties; and when any of them incurred his displeasure the culprit came to 
Mrs. Dixon at the first opportunity, saying, "Nachusa mad, me 'fraid 
Nachusa," and begged her to intercede for him and persuade Nachusa to 
turn away his anger. The Indians had a wholesome fear of Nachusa, 
and dreaded his anger. Old Shabbona, chief of the Winnebago tribe, 
was, for years after the Indians left this region, an annual visitor at Mr. 
Dixon's, where he spent days in smoking and chatting with "Nachusa." 


The Indians respected and revered Mrs. Dixon, and were always ready 
to do her bidding, and were completely under her control. 

Here Mr. and Mrs. Dixon endured patiently and cheerfully all t'i< 1 
privations and inconviences incident to a new country, among which the 
loss of intelligent and refined society, the complete isolation, the lack of 
the comforts and luxuries of a well appointed home were not the least. 
Yet she never laid aside her dignity, her queenllness of deportment, her 
refinement, her self-respect, her perfect womanliness. No man, however 
low his instinct, could be in her presence a moment without feeling 
awed and subdued by her queenly dignity and perfectly ladylike presence. 
Though a frail, slight woman, probably never weighing more than ninety 
pounds, and never in robust health, she neither feared or failed to adhere 
to her strict temperence principles in the presence of the roughest 
traveler who asked shelter in her home. If he attempted to bring liquor 
into the house, she took it from him, saying simply: "This is forbid i- n 
here, "or, "We cannot have this," and poured it on the ground. 

Dr. Oliver Everett, who was always their family physician, has many 
times said in the hearing of the writer, "She was a wonderful woman 
and I count it one of the greatest blessings and privileges of my life that 
I was permitted to enjoy the society and friendship of Mrs. Dixon. Rev. 
Thomas Powell, who was a member of the Sunday school in New York 
City, of which Mr. Dixon was superintendent before coming to Illinois, 
expressed himself in like manner, and said she was a wonderful woman, 
and that he counted it a great privilege to have been permitted to sit at 
her feet and be a learner. Rev. Mr. Powell was for many years a mis- 
sionary of the American Baptist Missionary Union and has many times 
preached in Dixon. Mrs. Dixon was at home in the governor's mansion, 
and also in the homes of the poor. Mr. Dixon being on the Board of 
Public Works, was frequently called to the capital of our state on busi- 
ness and was accompanied at times by Mrs. Dixon. She was always re- 
ceived by the officials with due respect and with the unaffected greeting 
due to a heartily welcomed and highly esteemed guest. 

Everyone honored and respected her, and when the community was 
solicited by her for aid in the care of the sick or for the relief of the poor 
and destitute, everyone was ready to respond cheerfully to her request. 

She was an exceedingly interesting conversationalist a keen observer, 
and intelligent upon almost any subject, and very kind and sociable with 
the children and youth, for whom she always had a word of encourage- 

But the crowning glory of Mrs. Dixon's character was her deep, fervent, 


unaffected piety. No one could speak disrespectfully of Our Savior or His 
cause in her presence. 

"Whose I am and whom I serve," was what she had to say of Christ; 
and she lived it out. Her influence was most salutary. In her own home 
she conducted family worship, Mrs. Dixon being a silent worshipper. 

It is a remarkable fact that during the time they resided on the farm 
west of Dixon, now owned by the Dr. Everett estate, every farm hand 
who resided with them was converted and gave himself to the Saviour. 

Mrs. Dixon was the mother of twelve children, all of whom, except 
three, she outlived. One by one they were taken from her to the Father's 
home on high. Yet she never lost her faith, nor murmered or complain- 
ed. By God's grace she was able to say, "the Lord gave and the Lord has 
taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." 

Sickness and her great afflictions so undermined her health that she 
was obliged to retire from active service and "be laid aside." On the 
ninth day of February, 1847. she died at the age of fifty-eight years, in 
the full triumphs of faith, and in the hope of blessed resurrection. 

Dixon has been blessed in the lives of many other noble women, among 
whom were Mrs. John Richards, Mrs. Keizia Law, Mrs. Thummell, 
Mrs. Dr. Gardner, Mrs. Erastus DeWolf, Mrs. Harvey Morgan and many 
others, of whom their pastors could well say, "those women who labored 
with me in the gospel," as Paul said of the Phillipian women. All these 
died in the faith and left behind them precious memories. Would that 
some abler pen than mine might write fitting sketches of their lives. 

I have written what I have, that the memory of the virtues which 
shone more conspicuously in the life of Mrs. Dixon might not be over- 
shadowed and lost sight of in this fast age in which we are living. 


Tfie Pioneer Womerc o Dixon. 

THE following brief notes concerning some of the pioneer women of 
Dixon who came here prior to 1840 (with incidental mention of some 
of the pioneer men not elsewhere noticed in this volume) are not 
in the nature of personal recollections of the writer. But as one of the 
youngest of the second generation of the very early settlers in this com- 
munity, she has enjoyed the advantage of the family narratives of those 
far-fled days. In addition to this, the notes here presented are largely 
the reported recollections of the oldest settler of Dixon now residing in 
this city, whose memory reproduces with singular fidelity many scenes 
from that pioneer life since first, in 1836, as a girl of 13, she saw the 
waters of the beautiful Rock River, by whose side she has now lived for 
titty-seven years. The simple story of her early experiences at Dixon's 
Ferry will serve as a natural nucleus about which to group the few rem- 
iuiscenses herein narrated. 

Her parents, John and Ann Richards, were English settlers at To- 
ronto, Canada. Being possessed of some means, and being further 
deceived by the alluring reports that reached them of the opportunities 
and advancement of the great west, they resolved to remove thither. 
Accordingly Mr. Richards and his family voyaged by the Great Lakes 
from Buffalo to Chicago, and then, after a brief stay at Chicago, which 
gave no promise of the greatness and magnificence which now make it a 
titting place for the display of four centuries of the triumphs of the new 
world, our travelers se't forth for Dixon, their objective point, whose 
natural beauty was already far famed. Their trip was accomplished in 
four days and a half, in the customary prairie schooners the Pullman 
sleeping cars of those more leisurely days. Upon arriving at Dixon's 
Ferry Sept. 1, 1836, Mrs. Richards asked why the wagons stopped, and 
upon being told they were at their destination said, "But where's the 
town-"' Perhaps the surprise was justified, for there were then, count- 
ing every sort of structure, but eleven buildings in all. Two of these 
were general stores, so that, considering all things, the ladies of those 


days could not complain that their shopping privileges were abridged, or 
that there was any monopoly in the sale of "the latest." 

One of these stores, that of Messrs. Hamilton & Covell, was kept in 
the old log house of Father Dixon, at the corner of First street and 
Peoria avenue. The rival store stood on the north bank of the river 
near what is now the end of the railroad bridge, and was conducted by 
Mr. Geo. A. Martin. 

But, to increase the misery of the situation for Mrs. Richards, her 
baby, eighteen months old, had been taken ill on the way from Chicago, 
and just one week after reaching Dixon died. No coffin could be procured 
at that early day, and the best that could be done was to get Mr. Tal- 
mage, a carpenter from Buffalo, to saw boards for one and cover it with 
cloth. While Mr. Talmage was thus employed Dr. Everett first entered 
Dixon after his visit to Princeton. The grave of this baby was the third 
in Oak wood Cemetery. Singularly enough these first three graves were 
made during the same week. The first person buried in Dixon was a 
Mr. Lefferty, who had died from an illness consequent upon his swim- 
ming across Leaf River; the second was a Mr. Manning. 

As soon as possible Mr. Richards built himself a frame house on his 
farm on the river three miles north of Dixon, and immediately above 
Hazelwood, which had not as yet been built upon by Gov. Charter. A 
part of the lumber for Mr. Richard's house was hauled from Freeport. 
Only the ruined cellar wall now remains to show the location of this early 
home. Here in 1837 Gov. Ford spent several days on his way from 
Vandalia, then capital of the state, being delayed from proceeding by 
the swollen condition of the Seven Mile Branch. In order to obtain 
water more conveniently, Mr. Richards soon moved across the river and 
located on the Grand Detour road, when he became the nearest neighbor 
of the late Joseph Crawford. 

At the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richards, who were earnest Christians 
and members of the first Methodist class organized in Dixon (1837), the 
warmest hospitality was always extended, and many were the Methodist 
ministers, on their way to the then famous school at Mt. Morris, who 
shared their entertainment. 

Mr. Richards died June, 1852, leaving his wife and five children sur- 
viving. At this time his two sons, James and William, were absent in 
California, and one week before his death his daughter Mary had been 
married to Thaddeus D. Boardman. His wife, who removed the same 
year to Dixon and there died in 1877, long before her death had been 
familiarly and lovingly known as "Mother Richards." 


During her declining years she was tenderly cared for by her oldest 
daughter, Sarah, who remained unmarried, and who also devoted herself 
unselfishly to the care of the motherless children of her twosisters. Miss 
Richards now resides with the writer, her youngest niece, and, as above 
stated, is the oldest settler of Dixon now living here. 

Upon Mr. Richard's coming to Dixon, he found but ten families, those 
of Father Dixon, James Dixon, E. W. Covell, Saml. McClure, Caleb Tal- 
mage, Geo. A. Martin, J. W. Hamilton, James B. Barr, E. W. Hines and 
Alexander Irvine. The latter gentleman had previously been one of Mr. 
Richards' pastors at Toronto, though he never joined an Illinois Confer- 
ence. His daughter was engaged to be married to the Mr. Lefferty, 
whose sad death has been spoken of above as the first at Dixon's Ferry. 

An eloquent tribute to Mother Dixon is elsewhere paid in this volume 
and but little need be added here. A custom of her's, whose influence 
upon the frontier life of the little settlement can never be measured, was 
that of opening her house for preaching services whenever a minister 
happened to be in the community. That none might miss the then rare 
' privilege of hearing a sermon, she sent her conveyance throughout the 
settlement'and the surrounding country to bring the people to her home 
then located near the present site of the C. & N. W. depot. This she 
continued to do until 1837, when a school house was built just west of the 
cemetery. Worship was then conducted in this school house, which sub- 
sequently "wandered" down to Ottawa street, and from thence to Main 
street at about the site of Austin Bros.' store, where it "evolved into a 
grocery and saloon and was finally burned in 1859. 

Previous to the building of this school house Mother Dixon's house 
had been used for the first school also, and but for her efforts the school 
house might never have been built. The men of Dixon had started a 
subscription to raise money for a school house, but gave up in despair 
before a sufficient sum had been subscribed. With energy and determi- 
nation which must have put to shame the easily discouraged men, 
Mother Dixon took up the work and accomplished it. To her belongs the 
credit of getting built not only this school house, but also the first Bap- 
tist Church in Dixon. To raise the funds to build the church she went 
with her own horse and buggy from Dixon to Galena, collecting the 
money along the way. 

Mrs. James P. Dixon was formerly Miss Fannie Reed of Buffalo 
Grove. She was married to Mother Dixon's oldest son in 1834 and lived 
on Main street about half a block east of Galena. There- June 30th, 
1836 the first white baby in Dixon was born, and little Henrietta Dixon, 


we may be sure, was an object of great interest to the entire community, 
for all hastened to pay their respects to the little pioneer. She was mar- 
ried in 1860 to William H. Richards and now resides at Moline, 111. Her 
mother, the oldest settler of Dixon now living, spends a portion of her 
time at Moline, and the remainder in Dixon with her son Hon. Sherwood 
Dixon, and her daughter, Mrs. Wrn. Barge. 

The families of Mr. Covell and Mr. Irvine removed from Dixon as 
early as 1837. 

In May of 1837 Samuel M. Bowman, a cousin of Senior Bishop Thomas 
Bowman of the M. E. Church, came from Pennsylvania with his gifted 
and beautiful young wife. Mr. Bowman and his wife's brother, Isaac S. 
Boardman, who came west with them, opened at the corner of Galena 
and Water street the first dry goods store in Dixon, which was then the 
best between Chicago and Galena. Their goods were brought from Phil- 
adelphia and Pittsburgh by way of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers as 
far as Fulton or Savanna and from thence by wagon overland, or by flat- 
boat up the Rock River to Dixon. 

Mrs. Bowman was at this time only nineteen years old. She had been 
carefully educated at Cazenovia Seminary, New York, and was by nature 
and training well fitted for the exacting social position she was in later 
years called upon to fill. Although most tenderly nurtured, she entered 
upon her pioneer life with the courage, common sense and energy which 
ever characterized her. At first she lived in a part of the building occu- 
pied by her husband as a store. Subsequently Mr. Bowman built the 
residence now owned by Mr. Asa Judd, and known as "Maple Hill" from 
the beautiful trees then planted by Mr. Bowman. 

Mrs. Bowman, although always a Presbyterian, became a member of 
the first Methodist ctass organized in Dixon, in 1837, of which her hus- 
band was the leader. 

Mr. Bowman during his stay in Dixon was a frequent contributor to 
various magazines, and gave evidences of a literary talent which was 
afterwards utilized in a work on European travels and also as the chosen 
historian of the campaign of his friend and neighbor of many years, Gen. 
Wm. T. Sherman. 

Being unsuccessful as a merchant, Mr. Bowman studied law and was 
admitted to the bar in 1843. Meanwhile he took a contract for and 
erected the present Court House at Dixon. He then removed to St. Louis 
and engaged in the practice of law there, at San Francisco, Baltimore 
and Kansas City. During the war he attained to the high rank of brevet 
Major General. 


Mrs. Bowman spent much time in Europe for her health, and traveled 
there for a considerable time with her friend, Mrs. Gen. Lew Wallace, 
wife of the gifted author of "Ben Hur." She died at Kansas City in 1885, 
having survived her husband just ten weeks. Gen. Sherman pronounced 
the closing eulogy over the remains of Gen. Bowman, his friend and 
companion of thirty-five years. 

Isaac Boardman, who was for many years county clerk, circuit clerk, 
and editor of the Dixon Telegraph, was married to Father Dixon's 
daughter Mary in 1841, who died ten years later. Mr. Boardman died in 

In 1839 came Thaddeus D. Boardman aud Rev. W. E. Boardman, the 
brothers of'Mrs. Bowman and Isaac Boardman, 

Thaddeus D. Boardman, as has been said, was married to Mary, 
daughter of John Richards. They built and occupied the old stone 
house recently demolished by Mr. J. V. Thomas. After the death, in 
1862, of his first wife, Mr. Boardman was married to her sister Jane, the 
mother of the writer, who in 1872, in her infancy, was deprived by death 
of that mother's care. 

Mr. Boardman will be remembered by many with respect for his sin- 
cere Christian life and for the constant warfare he carried on against 
intemperance and other evils, while his simple trust in the honesty of 
human nature caused him to be often imposed upon by those on whom 
he relied, to his serious financial loss. His death occurred at Chicago in 

Rev. W. E. Boardman and wife resided in Dixon less than a year. 
During the war he was secretary of the great Christian Commission, and 
afterwards became a leading Presbyterian divine and evangelist, both in 
America and Europe. His later years were spent in London, where his 
wife now resides. Rev. Boardman and wife are best known as the authors 
of a number of widely read religious works. 

Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Talmage lived on what is now the R. B. Fargo 
farm, and were also members of the first Methodist class. Mrs. Talmage 
was from Buffalo, and is remembered as a quiet woman of strong domes- 
tic tastes. She was a cousin of Bishop Chase, first Episcopal Bishop of 
this diocese. After Mr. Tal mage's death she was married to a Col. Stev- 
enson, a near relative of Vice-President A.E.Stevenson. Her death 
occurred a few years ago. 

Mr. and Mrs. Geo. A. Martin, who had come in 1834, soon returned to 
Kentucky, their old home, but again moved to Dixon, where they lived 
on the Drew farm on the Palmyra road. 


Mrs. ,T. W. Hamilton, the merchant's wife, died at Dixon early in the 

"Aunt Khoda," wife of Peter McKinney, who came in 1836, was 
greatly admired and respected by all with whom she came in contact. 

Others who came to Dixon in 1837 were: Mr. and Mrs. Horace Benja- 
min, parents of Ed. Benjamin. Mrs. Benjamin subsequently was mar- 
ried to Aaron L. Porter, once sheriff of Lee county, and died in 1891. 
Miss Caroline Davis, who became Mrs. James Benjamin, mother of Mrs. 
Chas. H. Noble. Mr. and Mrs. Fred McKinney. the parents of Mrs. 
Libbie Wilbur (the second child born in Dixon) and Mrs. Chas. G. Smith. 
Mrs. McKinney was one of Dixons most loved and respected women and 
was familiarly known as "Auntie Fred." Her painful death from an 
accident occurred in 1892. Mr. and Mrs. Otis Loveland, and the daugh- 
ter of the former by a previous marriage, Miss Emiline Loveland, The 
latter soon married Smith Gilbraith, one of the most extensive owners of 
Dixon real estate of that day. After his death she was married to Mr. 
Seaman and both now reside in New York. She is an aunt of Mrs. 
H. E. Paine and Dr. H. J. Brooks. 

The then very limited supply of marriageable ladies was at this time 
greatly increased by the arrival of the six Misses Clark from Canada. 
One of these was soon espoused by G. W. Chase, Lee County's first 
recorder. It is related of the latter that his wife and his family, being 
desirous of getting him to remove to the east with them, induced him to 
enter the coach to kiss his wife farewell, when Sheriff Porter slammed 
the door shut, and the husband, much loath to leave his beloved Dixon, 
was rapidly driven away. 

During the previous year Stephen Fuller and wife, parents of Cham- 
pion Fuller, settled on the "Cave" farm two miles up the river, where 
the latter still resides. Mrs. Fuller was in delicate health and lived a 
very retired, quiet life. She was a member of the Baptist Church, of 
which Elder Cowell was the first minister in Dixon. Baptist and Metho- 
dist services were then held alternately in the old school house. 

In the "Bend" of the river and on the prairie east of town, during the 
year 1837, there settled the families of Mr. and Mrs. James Sauter, Mr. 
and Mrs. Solomon Shellhammer and Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Hetler. Mrs. 
Sauter still lives in the Bend with her children. Mrs. Hetler, at the 
present time, has a home with her son Judd in the Bend. She is more 
than ninety years old and for several years has been totally blind. 

Other arrivals in 1837 were David H. Birdsell and wife, from Albany, 
whose two daughters were married to Rev. Luke Hitchcock and Rev, O. 


F. Ayers. Mr. Birdsall succeeded James Dixort as postmaster, but Soon 
removed to Lee Center, where Mrs. Birdsall died. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel 
Brookner, both of whom, with their son, died during the great cholera 
epidemic in Dixon. Cyrus Williams and wife, whose daughter is now 
Mrs. Ira W. Lewis, wife of the present circuit clerk. Thomas McCabe 
and wife, who during the mining excitement removed to California, 
where they acquired considerable wealth. 

Rev. James Depuy, who came in 1837, was the first Episcopal clergy- 
man settled in Dixou. He had a wife and one child. Father Dixon gave 
him the block now occupied by Messrs. J. V. Thomas arid E. C. Parsons, 
and upon the foundation now covered by Mr. Parson's house Mr. Depuy 
built his little home. The house has been moved twice and is now 
owned by Mr. Kicken and stands on North Jefferson avenue. It is prob- 
ably the oldest house in North Dixon. Mr. Depuy had a well close to 
his back door and many years after Mr. Depuy's house was gone, the 
writer's only sister, when she was but four years old, fell into this well. 
Fortunately her father was close afhand at the time of the fall and 
immediately went to his daughter's rescue by letting himself down into 
the well in one of the buckets. The child the next day told the story 
thus: ''Papa was a long time coming for me yesterday. When 1 went 
down I went heels over head and I made a great splash." 

In the fall of 1837 Mr. David Law and daughter, Mrs. Mary McGinnis, 
came from New York. They were joined about six months later by Mrs. 
Law with her two sons, William and David (the present Dr. D. H. Law 
of this city), and her three daughters, Grace, Bessie and Theodosia. Mrs. 
Law lived to be an hundred and two years old. She died at the home of 
her daughter, Mrs. McGinnis, in 1782. Although so very old she was ever a 
great reader and enjoved conversing on the news of the times, which she 
did most intelligently. She lived to see wonderful changes wrought 
around her and took a keen interest in them all. Her life was ever that 
of a devoted Christian. Mrs. McGinnis still lives on her farm a few miles 
down the river. A woman of great talents she has sacrificed herself 
while she labored to relieve suffering and distress. She has been 

"A flower born to blush unseen 
And waste its sweetness on the desert air." 

Bessie Law became, in 1845, the wife of our loved and honored Dr. 
Everett, and though less generally known than was her husband, she 
was equally beloved by those who were so favored as to know her. She 
died in 1881. Theodosia Law became the wife of Wrn. Kennedy and 
removed to St, Paul, where she died in 1865. 

- 277 - 

While all of Mrs. Law's daughters were very attractive, Miss Grace 
was so strikingly beautiful in her youth as to excite questions at Sabbath 
service as to who that beautiful young lady might be. The delicately 
molded features, golden curls and exquisite complexion made her exceed- 
ingly attractive. She chose to remain unmarried and lived here until 
her death in 1892. She showed much the same characteristics as her 
mother and has been called the "Personification of Industry." 

The young ladies of this family with their very agreeable mother 
made their home a most delightful place to visit. They greatly enjoyed 
getting their friends in for a merrv evening and their Halloween parties 
are well remembered events. 

During the next year (1838) the number of familes in Dixon was 
greatly increased. Solon Crowell became associated with Mr. James 
Wilson (then an old bachelor, commonly called "Granny Wilson") in the 
management of Dixon's second hotel. "The Rock River House," the first 
hotel having been the "Western Hotel" erected in 1736. Mr. Crowell 
and wife later removed to Oregon and were the grandparents of Dr. 
Crowell and Mrs. Augustus Lord of this city. James N. Kerr and wife 
came to Dixon during this year. Mr. Kerr, with John Dixon, Jr., opened 
the first cabinet shop. His sister Eliza married Joseph Buckaloo and 
lived in the "Bend." Left a widow with six children, the eldest of whom 
was but twelve years old, Mrs. Buckaloo heroically set herself to the task 
of raising and supporting her family entirely by her own efforts. Her 
long and useful life was terminated in 1892. Three of her children, 
Thomas, George and Amanda, still reside in this community. John 
Lord and wife, parents of John L. Lord and Mrs. H. Kelsey, came also in 
1838 from New Hampshire. Mr. Lord engaged in the blacksmithing 
business at Dixon, but his wife died soon after their arrival. Mr. and 
Mrs. John Moyer, parents of Jeremiah Moyer and Mrs. Swygart, came 
during this year, and resided at first on a farm east of Dixon. The Edson 
family, consisting of Charles Edson, his wife and children, Joseph, 
Epaphras, Eliphalet, Clinton, Harriet, Lucy and Elizabeth, settled upon 
the present Abram Brown farm, southeast of town. They were a very 
highly cultivated and much respected family, deserving of more extended 
mention than can be given here. Those surviving live near Yeeka, Cal. 

Mr. Wm. Seward and wife, parents of Mrs. Wm. Peacock of this city, 
during this year bought Caleb Talmage's farm and moved upon it. David 
Welty, afterwards county judge, removed with his wife to Dixon in 1838, 
and afterwards for a time lived upon a farm near Walton. Charles 
Welty and Mrs. Leander Devine, of their children, still live in Lee 


County. Edward ^erry and wife, who came this year, after a few years 
returned to Toronto, their former home. Mr. Perry was strict , to the 
verge of Puritanism in his religious life. He and his wife were in the 
habit of spending that portion of the Sabbath left after attending church 
at the home of their old friend, Mr. Richards, whose long-suffering fam- 
ily, which contained several young people, were obliged those long Sunday 
afternoons to patiently sit and listen to Mr. Perry's unmelodious voice 
while he read to them sermons of some early divine. 

Miss Elizabeth Sherwoood came here from New York City in 1838 and 
was soon married to Mr. John P. Dixon, son of Father Dixon, who resided 
with her at her present home in North Dixon at the time of his death. 
This estimable lady, though of retiring disposition, is greatly loved by 
all who knew her. Her two children, Frank and Louise, now make their 
home with her. 

The same year Dr. Everett brought here from Princeton his first wife, 
Emily Everett. He had just built a home on the present site of the 
home of his daughter, Mrs. W. N. Johnson, and there he took his young 
wife. Mrs. Evetett showed unusual talents and beauty of character, but 
she lived only about five years after coming to Dixon. 

In February of 1837 Dr. Charles Gardner and Erastus DeWolf came 
here from Rhode Island and in the spring of '39 returned to stay. Dr, 
Gardner's family then consisted of his wife and two years' old daughter 
now Mrs. James A. Hawley. Their home was about six miles out on the 
Chicago road, and Dr. Gardner practiced medicine throughout the sur- 
rounding country. Mrs. Gardner was a most intelligent and enterprising 
woman who is remembered by her neighbors and friends with pure love 
and respect. Increased acquaintance with her brought increased esteem. 
Her surviving friends are strongly reminded of this true woman, by her 
daughters, Mrs. James A. Hawley and Mrs. E. C. Smith, who resemble 
their mother both in looks and characteristics. Mrs. Gardner died in 

Mrs. DeWolf was Mrs. Gardner's aunt and was a woman of noble 
qualities. She was the mother of Rev. Wm. DeWolf, who was so well 
known in Dixon. Her death occurred in 1851. 

Rev. Luke Hitchcock and Rev. O. F. Ayres, who married, as has been 
said, the two daughters of Mr. Birdsall, were among those who first came 
to Dixon in 1839. The former was the first regular Methodist Episcopal 
pastor in this city, and afterwards attained to high offices in that de- 
nomination. He and his worthy wife pass the decline of their useful 
life at Chicago with their daughter, Mrs. Wilson. Rev. Ayers came from 
' 279 

Albany, New York, and engaged in business here, preaching at places 
near home when a vacancy occurred. A more hospitable family than 
that of Mr. Ayres could hardly be found. They took great pleasure in 
entertaining and did it in a royal mariner. Mr. Ayres died in 1882, having 
lived to celebrate his golden wedding with his six children present. His 
son, D. B. Ayres, is still a resident of Dixon. Mrs. Ayres, since her be- 
loved husband's death, has spent her time with her children. 

Others who came with their wives in 1839 were Thomas March, a 
farmer living east of town; Herman Mead, father of Mrs. Sherwood Dix- 
on; I. D. McComsey (whose widow subsequently was married to Judge W. 
W. Heaton), and John Van Arnam. 

Only one couple who came in 1840 will here be mentioned, tor by that 
time so many new people were moving in that to speak of all would make 
this paper entirely too long. But the sweet face of one sweet woman 
who came in 1840 must be allowed as the list of this collection. Mrs. J. 
T. Little came from Castine, Maine, a young and beautiful bride. During 
the later years of her useful, Christian life, the curls of jet have gradually 
turned to silver, but now only serve to enhance the beauty of the dear, 
gentle face. Mr. Little was at first a merchant, having a store on Water 
street. His nursery, started a few years later, was the first nursery of 
Dixon. In all the vicissitudes of pioneer and after life, Mr. Little ever 
found in his wife a helpmate who brightened all the way as they have 
journeyed hand in hand toward their heavenly home. 

On the fourth of July, 1840, were celebrated no less than three mar- 
riages in the old school house; The plan was to have all three take place 
at six o'clock in the morning, but one couple from Palmyra found the 
hour too early for them; the other two couples, Libbie Coggins and Daniel 
Stevens, and Annie Bobbins and James Campbell were more determined, 
and at the appointed time were married by Rev. Luke Hitchcock. When 
the knots were both securely tied loud congratulations were, at the 
proper moment, unexpectedly sounded from the mouth of a cannon which 
had, unknown to the wedding parties, been placed close to the school- 
house door. Miss Bobbins had come from New York in 1836. 

Others of the young pioneer women, before marriage seemed to them 
desirable, succeeded in supporting themselves by teaching school. The 
first of these to teach in the "Bend" was Miss Ophelia Loveland, who 
afterwards was married to J. B. Brooks and was the mother of Dr. H. J . 
Brooks and Miss Madgie of this city. She received for her service the 
munificent sum of one dollar and a quarter a week and "boarded' round." 
Her successor, Miss Jane Wood, afterwards Mrs. Horace Preston, received 


the same amount, and where there Were small children in the family 
with whom she was spending her week, she slept with the children in a 
trundle bed that was trundled out from under the larger bed. Mr. Pres- 
ton was at the time courting Miss Wood, and each week he hired a horse 
and buggy for $1.50 to go for her and bring her home. On considering 
the small profits of that arrangement it seemed to them better to go into 
partnership, which they accordingly did. 

It is with the conviction that scant justice has been done in the pre- 
ceding pages to these noble pioneer women, that I take my leave of 
them. Of their many virtues, of their useful lives, their hardships and 
their joys, I have been able to say but little. Of some, entitled to the 
highest respect and extended eulogy, the limits of this article have pre- 
cluded me from giving more than a mere passing recognition. Doubtless 
this catalogue of names is incomplete. Nor can a history now be written 
which shall bring the reader into genuine sympathy with the lives of 
these pioneers. They are now all but gone, and their very names will 
soon perhaps be forgotten. But the foundation they laid, and the works 
they wrought, and the influence they extended upon those who follow in 
their footsteps, will endure. 


Dr. OtiVer Everett. 

WHAT a fund of material I might have had for this little sketch 
of mv father's early life in the west, had I treasured in my mind 

all that I have heard him recount. As it is, I fear it will be 
very meager. 

My father, Dr. Oliver Everett, was born in Worthington, Mass., Sept. 
12th, 1811. He was one of a family of fifteen children, ten of whom lived 
to reach man and womanhood. He received his education in the school 
of the neighborhood, working upon the farm in summer and attending 
school in winter. He then entered upon the study of medicine, teaching 
school in the meantime to pay his way through college. In June, 1836, 
he graduated from the Berkshire Metlical College connected with Wil- 
liams College. His old preceptor, Dr. Daugherty of Marlborough, N. Y., 
then offered him a partnership with him. but "Westward ho!" was the 
watchword then, and he declined, determining to seek his fortune in the 
much-talked-of but cornparitively little known West. 

Two years previous his elder brother and a married sister had pre- 
ceded him and located at Princeton in this state. I hope I may be par- 
doned a littls digression here, that I may relate anflncident in my aunt's 
wedding journey. A year or two before her husband had come west and 
taken up a claim, on which he had built a log cabin. In 1834 he returned 
to Massachusetts and married her, and they made the journey to Chicago 
in the usual manner. When they reached there either the funds had run 
low or there was no conveyance to be obtained to take them the remain- 
der of their journey. He found her a boarding place, left her and 
walked to Princeton, got his ox team and wagon and proceeded to Chi- 
cago, returning to his little log cabin in triumph with his bride at his 
side in the ox cart. Thus were difficulties overcome by those old pioneers 
of the early days. 

But to return to my father. He bought as large a stock of medicines 
and instruments as his very limited means would allow, and with a 
small but comfortable outfit of clothing, for all of which one chest was 
amply sufficient, he turned his steps westward, to see what fortune and 
the future had in store for him. In those clays the journey was made by 
stage or wagon from my father's home to Albany, thence to Buffalo via 
the Erie Canal, and from there by steamboat by way of the lakes to Chi- 
cago. When he arrived in the latter place he found there was no way 
for him to reach Princeton, where he intended visiting his relatives for 


a few days, except by walking. Leaving his heavy baggage there, he 
slung his carpet-bag over his shoulder on a stout stick and started on his 
long, lonely tramp knowing nothing of the country or what clangers he 
might have to encounter. One hundred and five miles did he pursue his 
weary way over the trackless prairies in the heat of summer, suffering so 
from thirst for the streams were scarce that he was glad to scoop with 
his hands the water from the hoof-prints of cattle, which recent rains 
had filled, and in that manner quenched his thirst. Think of it, you 
pampered young men of to-day, who think it a hardship to walk even a 
mile or two. 

After spending a little time with his relatives in Princeton he bought 
a horse and started out to seek a location. On the third day of Septem- 
ber, 1836, he rode into "Dixon's Ferry" and here he decided to "pitch his 
tent" and "grow up with the country!" When my father came here 
Dixon had four log houses, a frame house, a blacksmith shop and two or 
three houses in course of construction. In a letter written a few years 
after he came here, I find the following description of the place as he 
first saw it. "This slope, where the heart of the town now is, was then 
covered with large, spreading trees, while the ground beneath, perfectly 
clear of underbrush, presented a smooth green surface, which with the 
ever-beautiful river at its base and the opposite bank rising gradually in 
the distance also covered with trees and presenting a clean, park-like 
appearance, with the bluffs crowned with lofty trees and the islands dot- 
ting the river, appearing like compact, rounded masses of green foilage, 
veiled only by the silver lustre of the maple leaves, presented a scene of 
of beauty and loveliness which has passed away forever from this place. 
The woodman with his ax, the quarryman with his pick and crowbar- 
are sad despoilers of beauty." 

When a mere lad my father had developed a great fondness for the 
study of botany and geology, which had been fostered by his friend and 
preceptor. Dr. Daugherty. Together they pursued these studies in leisure 
hours, and roamed the hills and vales for new specimens of flora and 
minerals. These western prairies, covered with such an endless variety 
of rare flowers which were strange to him, and the limestone formations 
hereabouts so different from the sandstone of New York and the granite 
of his native state were sources of enjoyment to him. Many an hour 
that might otherwise have been lonely they helped him to pass. From a 
child 1 can remember how, when going to make a country call, he always 
tucked under the buggy-seat a good-sized tin box, in which he was wont 
to bring home well moistened his specimens of flowers, as fresh, almost, 


as when gathered. In this way he acquired one of the most complete 
herbariums in this state. He continued this practice until within a few 
years of his death. 

In those early days the country was very sparsely settled, and many 
places where my father was called to attend the sick were ten, twenty 
and sometimes forty miles away, but in summer's heat or winter's cold, 
he never hesitated, no matter how long the distance. He was forced by 
circumstances to perform many strange offices, aside from alleviating 
pain. Not a few times was he called where there was no neighboring 
woman to bear a helping hand, and he would, as tenderly as any woman, 
bathe and dress the tiny, helpless creature who had just begun its life's 
journey. One time he was called a long distance to see a man who was 
very ill. When he got there he found that he had but a few hours to 
live. The man had not realized his condition until that late hour, and 
was most anxious to execute a will before he died. There was no lawyer 
within many miles, and even if one were sent for, he could not get there 
in time. He begged my father to draw up his will. My father had no 
knowledge of such craft, and hesitated, for he feared it might not be 
valid, but later on consented. He drew up the will and had it signed 
and witnessed. The man died soon after with his mind at rest, and I 
will add that the will my father made that day held good in the eyes of 
the law. 

When he had been here about six weeks he received a letter from his 
brother in Princeton, who all his life had been a great tease and fond of 
his little joke. I take the following extract from that letter: "We were 
very glad to receive your letter through Mr. Mosely, who has just returned 
from Dixon's Ferry. I understand that you have had a new patient, and 
that you had a most desperate case, inasmuch as you gave saddlebags and 
all at one dose. I have some curiosity to know whether the patient recov- 
ered or not. I expect you will immortalize your name if "successful in 
the case." My father was ever most easily teased, and I have no doubt 
the above had the desired effect. 

In those early days the wolves were in great number, and it was no 
uncommon occurrence for him, on his long rides into the country, to be 
followed by a pack of the hungry creatures. At that time he had no 
knowledge of the use of firearms, and another alternative occurred to 
him for disposing of his troublesome bodyguard. Before starting to 
make a call a long distance away he would mix a quantity of strychnine 
into little balls of bread or meat and carry them with him in his saddle- 
bags. When the wolves began to follow him he would throw the balls 

- 284 

out, one by one. and have the satisfaction of beholding some of his foes 
stretched lifeless before he had passed out of sight on the prairie. 

In the summer of 1837 my father began the erection of a house. In 
August of the same year he was married. I cannot refrain from taking 
the following extract from a letter describing his wedding, written by 
an aunt in Princeton to another member of the family. It is so amusing 
that I copy it entire. " I have just returned from the nuptial ceremon- 
ies of Dr. Oliver and Cousin Emily. This morning at nine o'clock was 
the hour of their plighted vows at the hymenial altar. They were mar- 
ried at Mr. Bryant's, not, as is usual on such an occasion, in the house, 
but in the little grove near the house. There were six.couples present to 
witness the performance. The grove was clear from underbrush, and 
being of itself a peculiarly romantic character, together with the taste- 
fully arranged tables for the reception of the cake, wine, sangaree, lem- 
onade, etc., rendered it a spot delightfully interesting. Next I must give 
you a description of the bride. She was clad in a rich royal purple silk 
dress; on her neck was a blonde lace ruffle, plaited down to a point, and 
neatly enclosed with a bow of white satin riband; on her head was 
thrown an elegant white blond veil (presented by the doctor), that hung 
nearly to the ground: her hair hung in graceful ringlets, and round her 
head was tastefully entwined a wreath, artificial in form, but composed 
of natural materials, viz: oak leaves ornamented with flowers. The 
bridegroom also was dressed in superb style, and in short, the betrothed 
pair in point of splendor far exceded anything I have witnessed in this 
country." I never imagined my dear father could have been such a 
x 'sieW." They drove across the country to Dixon for their wedding 
journey. As his house was not completed they boarded until part of it 
was made habitable, when they went to housekeeping. From the time 
my father had a home of his own he had a garden in which he cultivated 
both flowers arid vegetables, and in which it was his delight to work in 
leisure moments. Being called from home for a few days at one time he 
wrote his young wife a very brief letter, bidding her "be careful and keep 
the gate closed so that the cows will not get into the garden." 

One of the gentlemen who boarded at Mr. Gilbraith's, next door, was 
the owner of a black bear, which was kept chained to a large tree in the 
backyard. My sister Emily was a baby at that time and her cradle had 
been brought into the kitchen that her mother might have her near while 
she was attending to her household duties. She was sleeping and her 
mother had gone to another part ot the house, leaving her alone. A few 
minutes later my father entered the house aud to his horror beheld the 


huge beast with his head over in the cradle snuffing at the unsuspecting 
infant, probably with the intent of ascertaining what sort of a cub she 
was. He lost no time in driving the bear out, and he was soon secured 
to the chain from which he had escaped. 

In 1842, after five brief years of married life, my father lost his wife, 
who died quite suddenly, having been ill but a few days. 

On the fifth of February, 1846, he was married to my mother, Bessie 
Law, by Rev. Luke Hitchcock. On account of my grandfather Law's 
death the preceeding December, it was a very quiet wedding, after which 
they drove from the farm to their home, and my mother at once took her 
new duties upon her by preparing their supper, of which they partook in 
the kitchen which is still a part of my home. I never saw a more united 
or happier couple than were my father and mother. They were indeed 
one in every respect; in their tastes, their feelings and in every particular. 
In all the years they lived together I can never recall one cross or even 
impatient word passing between them. 

My father had been some years in the west before he learned to use 
fire arms. After that he never went into the country unaccompanied by 
rifle and shot gun, and many a deer he brought home, as well as quanti- 
ties of geese, ducks, prairie chickens and quail, so that the table was 
always bountifully supplied with game. I remember one of his anecdotes 
in regard tothe^game, which afforded him untold amusement, but brought 
woe to the hearts of the unoffending small maidens. He had been many 
miles away on a professional call and returned just at nightfall bringing 
into the house with him a large goose, which he laid at my cousin's feet, 
saying, "Here Kizzie is a goose for you to pick." My sister Emily clapped 
her hands and demonstrated great joy at her escape, for it was a rule in 
the family that the girls were in turn to pick the game, and they both 
detested picking a goose. Her joy was of short duration, however, for 
my father returned again to the house, bringing with him another goose, 
which he handed to Emily. He went to and from the buggy until he had 
presented each of the girls with five geese, and still one remained, which 
in all made eleven' that he had brought down with one shot of his double- 
barreled shot gun. The girls were at first disgusted, then indignant, 
and finally became speechless from shere amazement and despair. Oh! 
no, you Nimrods of the present day, this is no "fish story," but fully wit- 
witnessed and duly sworn to by his much abused victims and others. 

At one time when a large sum of money had been deposited in the 
land office, which was just across the street from our house, there were 
grave fears that a scheme was on foot to rob the office. Mr. Mixter, the 


land agent at that time, came. to my father and asked his assistance in 
hiding the money. They dug a hole in one corner of our cellar and after 
nightfall the money was brought over and placed therein. They then 
replaced the earth and stamped it down until there were no traces left 
of the ground having been disturbed. There it remained until arrange- 
ments were made in the course of a few days for its removal to Chicago. 

It is needless to say that my father's slumbers were none of the sound- 
est during that time, or that his rifle and shotgun were kept within con- 
venient distance, for the country at that period was infested with a band 
of robbers and horsethieves. My father was one of the sufferers at their 
hands, for he had a flrie black mare stolen, and could never obtain the 
slightest trace of her or her abductors. 

The county jail it those years was in the northwest corner of the lot 
now owned by Mr. George Steel, and just across the street south from our 
house. Many were the alarms the family had from that quarter. When 
Croft, one of the men who committed those terrible murders on Green 
River in the early days, cut his throat, with a razor accommodatingly 
supplied him by his own wife, the sheriff rushed, over for my father. 
When he got there he at once saw that nothing could be done to save the 
man's life, and, indeed, it was but a few moments until he breathed his 
last, thus closing another chapter in that terrible record of crime. I will 
relate one other incident connected with the jail that occurred some 
years later when Mr. Porter was sheriff. One night Mr. Porter had 
neglected to lock in their cells the five or six prisoners, most of them 
desperate characters, confined in the jail. They planned among them- 
selves a sham flght, which would necessitate the sheriff coming into 
their midst, when they intended to overpower him and make their escape. 
Their plan worked well up to a certain point. When Mr. Porter heard 
the disturbance in the jail he at once entered fearlessly, telling his wife 
to lock the door after him. He was almost instantly struck down by one 
of the men,- with two stove legs tied together as a weapon. Seeing this, 
Mrs. Porter lost no time in getting to the window and calling loudly for 
help, and adding that Mr. Porter was being murdered. My father, hear- 
ing her call, jumped from his bed, seized his gun from the corner of the 
room, and without waiting an instant, ran to the rescue in his night- 
clothes: entering the jail he saw Mr. Porter lying in the little narrow 
passage-way, bleeding and apparently lifeless, and the desperate men 
making every effort to break open the door. At once pointing his gun at 
4hem my father shouted, "Into your cells, every one of you, or I'll shoot!" 
The prisoners literally fell over each other in their haste to obey hiscom- 



mand. It has always been a question in my own mind as to what it really 
was which impelled such a precipitate flight on the part of the prisoners 
the gun, or the extraordinary appearance my father must have pre- 
sented. Other neighbors by that time were at hand, well armed, and the 
jail door was opened, the men securely locked in their cells, and Mr. Por- 
ter carried out. His wounds, most of which were on his head, were clai.- 
gerous, but not fatal. Upon examination the following morning it was 
ascertained, not a little to my father's chargrin, that he had valiently 
gone to the rescue with a gun in which there was no load. 

My mother was best known in her own home, and was among the poor 
and distressed, ever seconding my fathers's efforts for their relief. She 
cared little for society at large, but was warmly attached to her friends. 
Her unselfish devotion to her own famiiy can never be expressed and is 
known only to those who experienced it through every day of her life, 
which came to a close, after a long and most painful illness, on the fourth 
of May, 1881. 

The summer the dread cholera so devastated our little town we child- 
ren were sent into the country to stay at our grandmother's, but my 
mother refused all of my father's appeals to her to accompany us, and 
stayed at his side through it all. One man, a stranger here, without 
either home or money, was taken with the disease. My father put a cot 
in his barn and brought him there, while my father cared for and nursed 
him through that terrible illness, until death relieved him from his suf- 
fering. My father was called to see an Irish woman who lived in a little 
shanty below our house, and found she had been attacked by the same 
disease which had but a few short hours before carried off her husband. 
He did all that he could to relieve her that night. Early the following 
morning he went again, to find that the "Grim Destroyer" had been be- 
fore him. Nearly every one was paralyzed with fear, and the poor creat- 
ure was alone, except for her little child a few months old who lay in 
the bed beside her trying to draw nourishment from her cold breast, and 
patting with its tiny hands her dead face. He lifted the little, helpless 
thing in his arms, and carried it home to my mother. She kept and 
cared for it several days, until the priest, hearing of it, came and relieved 
her by sending it to a relative of its parents. One man, who was very ill, 
came to the house for some medicine. My father was not at home, so he 
sat down under a tree in the yard to wait for his return; my mother in 
the meantime doing all she could for his relief, but in vain, for death 
came to him where he sat. Such were some of the scenes through which 
my father and mother passed in that dread time. 


A Frenchman, whose name has escaped my memory, came here in the 
early days, bringing with him an old French woman as housekeeper. 
He remained but a short time, leaving the poor old lady to shift for her- 
self in this strange new country, and in destitute circumstances. She 
lived in a little log cabin on the corner of Galena and Second streets, 
where Mrs. Lewis now lives, and tried to support herself by making lace, 
an undertaking in which she was not successful. My father and mother 
furnished her with fuel, wood and other necessities of life, until her 
health failed completely, when they brought her to their own home, and 
cared for her for several years, until her death. Some of the early set- 
tlers now living will still remember "Old Madame Gabriel," as she was 
always called. Hers was the first dead face my childish eyes had looked 
upon, and I have a vivid remembrance of it even yet. 

One night, while my father was away from home on an all night call, 
my mother had a very bad fright. About twelve o'clock two men came 
to the door, and demanded admittance. She asked them what they 
wanted, but repeated demands for admittance was all she could get in 
reply. When she refused, most decidedly, they threatened to break in 
the door, and immediately began to carry out their threats. My mother 
and the servant girl moved all the large pieces of furniture and piled 
them up against the doors, for the men would try first one door and then 
another. Then an interval of quiet would ensue, when only their voices 
could be heard, muttering beneath the windows, which were protected 
by ^tout shutters. Again the attack on the doors would be renewed, and 
so it was during all the hours of that long night, which to my mother, in 
her terror, seemed endless. Just as the day was dawning, after a terrible 
onslaught, during which it seemed that the door must give way every 
minute, the disturbance ceased. Soon after my father returned, and 
when it was light two empty whiskey bottles were found beneath the 
window sufficient explanation of the occurrence. 

Who would have thought that our dignified parents could have perpe- 
trated such as First of April jokes? I am loath to admit this, but it is a 
lamentable fact. My mother and aunt Theodosia, who had been the 
victims of many of my father's jokes, conceived the idea of "getting 
even" with him. It was the First of April and the hour was at hand. 
Early in the morning they told him that he had received an urgent call 
to Mr. Mixter's. After hurrying through his breakfast he departed in 
great haste, unsuspicious of the trap into which he had fallen. When he 
reached the house he found Mr. and Mrs. Mixter happy and smiling, but 
as he afterward remembered showing some surprise at receiving a 


friendly call at so inopportune an hour. After chatting for some time he 
inquired who was sick; their looks of dismay, and finally Mrs. Mixter's 
exclamation, "Why! Doctor, don't you know it is the First of April," 
threw the requisite light on the situation. He departed amid roars of 
laughter, but ic was many a long day before he was allowed to forget how 
beautifully he had been "April fooled." 

When I think of my father's busy life and how really few leisure hours 
he had at his disposal, I can but look with wonder upon the extensive 
collections of specimens in geology and natural history which he acquired- 
He spent but little money upon them, but many, hours of exhaustless 
patience and painstaking. Some of my earliest recollections are con- 
nected with his collection of birds. I can see him now. with coat off and 
hard at work, while we children watched with open mouths and eyes the 
process uf removing the skin so carefully that scarcely a feather would 
be ruffled, only to see it tilled out again, and the bird set up "as natural 
as life" when all was done. Of insects, bugs and butterflies alone he had 
between two and three thousand specimens. With what infinite care he 
arranged the silken, gossamer wings and tiny, slender legs. Taken al- 
together his was one of the largest private collections in this state. His 
later years were devoted mainly to the accumulation of the fossil sponges 
in this vicinity, of which he was really the discoverer. The eighth vol- 
ume of the Geological Survey of Illinois, in which they are described and 
illustrated, has to say of them as follows: "The collection described on 
the following pages comprises, without doubt, the most interesting and 
important addition to our knowledge of Palaeozoic sponges, ever made." 

In looking over his papers I have come upon letters from Asa Gray, 
(whose works on Botany are so widely known) Major Powell, A. H. Wor- 
then and others of distinction, which illustrate what his standing was 
among scientific men. 

It is told by members of his own family that as a boy, my father was 
extremely fretful arid irritable, and that when he was quite small, his 
mother had to bribe him with a snoon full of apple sauce before she could 
induce him to go to bed. The old saying, "the boy is father to the man," 
certainly was at fault in his case, for all who knew him recognized the 
extreme evenness of his disposition. 

I quote the extract given below from a paper written by Dr. C. C. Hunt 
of this city, and read at the meeting of the Illinois 'Medical Society in 
1889, in regard to one branch of his practice: "For many years ilinre 
was scarcely a case of importance for many miles around that he was not 
called upon, sooner or later, to visit. He personally attended over thirty - 


six hundred labor cases, and saw in consultation, probably, many hun- 
dred more. This, considering the sparseness of the population during 
the greater part of his professional career, indicates an amount of hard 
work and physical exposure, that were simply immense." Mv father was, 
at one time, offered the chair of Obstetrics in the Rush Medical College, 
of Chicago, but declined. He was elected mayor of Dixon in 1863. He 
was a member of the first Board of Trustees for the Northern Illinois 
Hospital for the Insane, at Elgin, serving from 1869 to 1873, when he re- 
signed the position. He was also the first Pension Examining Surgeon 
appointed in this district, receiving the same without solicitation, and 
serving until his resignation took effect. 

In the spring of 1862, my father was sent south with many other phy- 
sicians, after the battle of Shiloh in anticipation of another battle near 
Corinth. Upon returning home, some twelve thousand dollars were in- 
trusted him by the "boys" to bring home to their friends throughout the 
county. This he did, carrying the large amount of money in his satchel, 
which certainly was a mark of great confidence in his fellow-men, if 
rather a risky proceeding. During the entire time of the war, he at- 
tended the families of soldiers free of charge, and when in need, supplied 
them with wood from his farm, and with money. In this way he served 
his country, as well perhaps, as many a man who went to the front. 

The photograph of the first house in Dixon, to be illustrated in this 
book, was taken from a painting by Noah Brooks. My father, from mem- 
ory ,Vdrew the sketch of Father Dixon's log house, arid Mr. Brooks painted 
it, supplying the figures, wagon, and scenery; the latter, not true to 
nature, as I have often heard my father say that the trees were so large 
in those days, and so free from underbrush that a horse and buggy could 
be driven almost anywhere through the woods. At one time when he 
was making a call at Mr. Brierton's, on what is now known as the Days- 
ville road, he looked across the country from the high hill to White Rock 
and saw a herd of deer grazing there, which will illustrate what the tim- 
ber was, to enable one to look through it so great a distance. 

On the third of September, 1886, the fiftieth anniversary of my father's 
settlement in Dixon, he had a reception, sending out between three and 
four hundred invitations to old friends and patients, near and far. In 
the afternoon the reception was given to those from the country and sur- 
rounding towns, and to the old settlers of the earliest years; in the eve- 
ning to the city friends and patients. Very few regrets were received, 
and our rooms were crowded, both afternoon and evening. I can see be- 
fore me my father's happy face, and the joy shining through his eyes, to 


which the tears of deep feeling had welled; nor, shall I soon forget how 
much pleasure he took during the following winter in recalling each inci- 
dent of that "red letter day." In the evening a beautiful reclining chair 
was presented him by his friends, the Hon. E. B. Washburne, who came 
from Chicago to attend the reception, making the presentation speech 
in the following words, which I copy from the Evening Telegraph of that 
date 4 

"MY FRIEND: It has fallen to my lot to voice the kindly feelings of 
your many friends. It is with great pleasure I undertake the task. You 
and I have been friends for many years, and I have had none better than 
you. Both of us were Yankees seeking new homes. You were a little 
bitspryer than I, and came to Dixon's Ferry in 1836; I was four years 
behind you. * * * It was always a great pleasure for me to visit Dixon. 
Two of my dearest friends lived here. They were big hearted men, kind, 
honest and true. 

"A wit's a feather, and chief a rod, 

An honest man's the noblest work of God." 

I know of no man in honor of whose fiftieth anniversary of settlement 
I would go as far as I have on this occasion. To make your remaining 
years and all hope and trust they will be many more comfortable, and 
as a slight token of their great love for you, your friends have asked me 
to present this beautiful chair. It is with more than ordinary pleasure 
that I speak the feelings of these, your neighbors, who have presented 
you wiih this beautiful token of their respect and love. Two men who 
lived here 1 have long known as the most kind and honest men that I 
have ever known, and I need not say that I refer to Father Dixon and 
you. Doctor Everett." I also copy the closing sentence of the article 
written by Mr. John Moore of the Dixon Sun and published in that paper. 
"As we looked over the great gathering of friends that came up last Fri- 
day night with such spontaneous expressions of regard, we could but 
wonder if there might not be hovering near, an immensely larger circle 
of old friends, tried and true, showering their blessings of benediction on 
the silvery head of him who sat in our midst; and the thought would in- 
trude itself that some day there would be another meeting at the Doc- 
tor's house, when the eyes of the visible ones would be dimmed with 
parting tears, but that larger host would, with outreaching arms and 
welcoming smiles, come to the reception of the grandly good old man." 
To me the conception seems very beautiful and comforting. I am very 
pleased to pay this little tribute to Mr. Moore, for no one has overwritten 
with so much feeling or so fittingly of the old settlers as he has in the 


articles which have from time to time come from his pen. 

I-cannot close this paper without alluding to my father's great love 
and veneration for Father Dixon. For forty years they were the closest 
friends. No young man ever had a wiser counselor or truer friend than 
was Father Dixon, and each year that passed but cemented their friend- 
ship more strongly. I have so many times heard my father say that he 
had known Father Dixon as intimately and nearly twice as long as his 
own father, and that he was sure that he had loved him quite as well, for 
he had never met a better man or even, be thought, one so good. In his 
later years his one keen regret was that the loved and revered founder of 
our town had no monument to mark his last resting place and his most 
earnest desire was to see one placed there before he, too, had passed 
away. "Then," he was wont to say, "I can die happy." At one time he 
and Mr. Alexander attempted to raise funds for this enterprise, but failed 
in the undertaking. Not long will the good old Father Dixon's grave 
remain unmarked. My father's hope will be fulfilled, though his eyes 
behold not the monument which, through the efforts of the Ladies' Cem- 
etery Associatien, will soon be raised. 

After a short illness my father died on the 1st of May. 1888, but his 
memory still lives in the hearts of many who knew him well and loved 

Law arcel 

MY grandmother, Mrs. Kezia (Hillis) Law was born in Hillisboro, 
near Belfast, County Down, Ireland, on the second of July, 1782. 
The marriage of her father and mother wasquitea romance. One 
day when her mother was out riding her horse took fright and ran away 
with her, plunging into a white thorn hedge, where both horse and rider 
were held fast. Rescue was at hand, however, and young Hillis, who had 
witnessed the accident, relieved her from her dangerous and unpleasant 
predicament. The outcome of this adventure was not only one, but two 
cases of "love at first sight." In the face of opposition (principally on 
account of their extreme youth and that the young man had just com- 
menced his medical studies), they made a run-away marriage. When they 
returned, hoping for forgiveness, the lady's father was so incensed at his 
daughter's disobedience, that he decreed that they should never meet 
again until the young husband had taken his degree. Stern old Scoth- 
man, that he was, he never wavered in this determination, and their lit- 
tle child was able to run alone before they received his forgiveness and 
were united, nearly three years after their rash marriage. 

My grandmother was the youngest of the family of six children. Ire- 
land was in a very troubled state during her young days. Her father was 
obliged to leave his country on account of the part he took in the rebel- 
lion, and enlisted as surgeon on board one of the ships of the East India 
Company. Soon after reaching his destination, he died Of yellow fever. 
No communication from him ever reached the family from the time of 
their parting, until they received the sad intelligence of his death in a 
strange land. In 1812 my grandmother was married to David Law, 
who was born in December, 1772, at Grange, County Antrim, Ireland. 
In 1817 they emigrated to America with their three little daughters, my 
aunt Grace, the youngest, being then a babe but two months old. My 
grandmother's mother also accompanied them. She, however, did not 
long enjoy the blessings of our free country, for she died two years after 
their arrival here. When they first came to this country, they settled at 


Hoboken, New Jersey, where they remained two years; then removed to 
Weehawken. After a period of three years, they made their home in New 
York City, where they lived until the year 1838. 

Their home during that time was a refuge for many a poor Irish emi- 
grant until employment could be procured for them. My grandmother 
never turned a deaf ear to the cry of distress, and was ever to he found 
in homes visited by sickness and death. One of their pensioners was an old 
Revolutionary soldier, who had lost a leg during the war. They gave him 
a room and every clay his meals were carried to him. It was a matter of 
much surprise and conjecture how it was that ''Old Josie" always man- 
aged to have his dishes returned perfectly clean. My mother, then a child 
ever full of pranks, determined to solve the mystery, so, after taking him 
his dinner one day, instead of leaving the room as usual, she hid behind 
the door, and was greatly amused to find that he "licked the platter 
clean." Their old home is now a portion of the far famed Central Park, 
of New York City. 

Such glowing accounts of the west reaching them, and particularly of 
Illinois, they decided to come here, where some of their friends and rela- 
tives had proceeded them. My grandfather, together with his oldest 
daughter, Mrs. Mary McGinnis, and three of her children, reached Dix- 
on's Fferry on the third of September, 1838. My grandfather had pre- 
viously sent out monev and taken up land, on which a log cabin had been 
built to secure it. Twenty feet distant from that was another log cabin, 
in which Captain Graham was living while his own house on the Rock- 
wood farm (now owned by Smith and Lord), was in the course of con- 

On reaching Chicago my grandfather hired teams to bring them to 
Dixon, of McCormick (later of reaper fame), and also bought his first ox- 
team of that same person. When they arrived at their journey's end, and 
reached the little log cabin down the river, they found seven men in the 
adjoining cabin, sick with fever and ague. ' Only one of them had a bed, 
the rest being rolled in blankets and buffalo robes on the floor. 

It was almost night when they arrived. You can perhaps imagine 
the welcome they accorded my aunt Mary, after having been for so many 
months deprived of a woman's care and companionship. She was not 
prepared for such a scene 6f desolation arid discomfort, and it is little 
wonder that she says, "she never can forget it," or the first supper that 
was served for the weary travelers, viz: a large tin platter of salt pork, 
swimming in gravy, an immense corn-dodger, and bowls of black coffee. 

- 295 - 

Their beds were spread on some loose boards on the earthern floor of the 
cabin. The following clay my aunt Mary, and a woman they had brought 
with them, set to work to bring about a better state of affairs. The 
household goods they had brought with them were unpacked, beds set up, 
and everything arranged with as much comfort as possible. 

Captain Graham had brought a gardener out with him in the spring 
from New York, and he had raised a fine crop of vegetables, which, with 
the supplies my grandfather had broughL of coffee, tea, sugar, rice, crack- 
ers, etc., enabled them to live comfortably. There were but few cattle 
in the country at that time, and butter was fifty cents a pound, eggs fifty 
cents per dozen, and all such commodities equally high. Later, my grand- 
father enclosed the space between the two log cabins, which made them 
a very commodious house for those days, and one that I remember well, 
as many happy days of my childhood were spent within its walls. 

They suffered many privations during that winter of 1838-9. Their 
house was built of rough logs, the cracks filled in with clay and mortar, 
but before 'the very severe weather had set in the walls received a coat 
of plaster, which aided greatly in keeping out the cold. There were 
large fireplaces at either end, where they had to do all their cooking. 
It was a very cold winter, with much snow, and nearly everyone in the 
country was prostrated by fever and ague. Accommodations were scarce, 
and the "latch-string" was left out for friend and stranger, alike, and my 
aunt Mary had a housef ull, aside from her own family, to nurse and cook 
and care for during that winter. Before the spring came two inmates 
of the little log cabin had passed into the "sleep which knows no wak- 
ing," and were laid to rest on the bluff. 

The following June the remainder of the family in the east joined 
them. I have an old journal, which my aunt Grace kept during their 
journey from New York to Chicago. It was written in pencil in a small 
blank book, and the writing is almost illegible, but by the exercise of 
much patience, and the aid of a strong magnifying glass, I have suc- 
ceeded in deciphering it, and have felt amply repaid for my trouble. 
There were in the party my grandmother, her three daughters, two sons, 
and a grandson, and William Kennedy (who years after became the hus- 
band of the youngest daughter, Theodosia), a man-servant and his wife 
also accompanying them. They left New York the sixth of June, taking 
a steamboat up the Hudson to Albany, where they had secured accommo- 
dations on a canal boat as far as Buffalo. The youngest daughter was ill 
when they left New York and continued very ill through the entire 
journey, never being able to leave her bed, and having to be carried from 


one boat to another, when they had occasion to change. At one time 
they feared she would never live to reach her journey's end. 

Aunt Grace says in her journal, "Oh! the horrors of a canal boat." 
Of course, traveling three hundred and ninety-four miles, at the rate of 
two and a half miles an hour, as she said they did, together with the 
numerous stoppages at the locks and to take in passengers and freight, 
must have made the journey seem interminable. The flrst few days were 
very stormy, with strong wind, and the grinding against the locks and 
other boats, caused them much discomfort. On such days they were 
closely confined to the boat, but when the weather was pleasant my 
mother, Aunt Grace and the boys would walk miles along the tow-path, 
which somewhat varied the monotony. They were thus enabled to visit 
many places of interest on their way, and enjoyed a delightful day with 
a cousin at Syracuse, while the boat was undergoing some needed repairs. 
The canal boat was very crowded and had they not had their own cabin 
and table, they would have experienced even more discomfort. 

They arrived at Buffalo on the fifteenth of June and went on board 
the steamer "James Madison," for their trip around the lakes. They had 
very comfortable staterooms and found the change from the canal boat 
very delightful. The flrst few days they encountered very stormy weather 
and nearly every one on board was prostrated with sea-sickness. At 
Detroit numbers of sight-seers came on board during the time the boat 
remained there. The appelation "dude" was unknown in those days, 
but I think might/wlth justice have been applied to some of the above 
mentioned, froKfmy aunt Grace's description of them, as follows: "The 
greater parj/of them were foreigners, French and English, with velvet 
coats and caps, white kid gloves and canes. The first view they had of 
the Indians was at Mackinac, where the majority of the passengers 
landed, to visit the fort and satisfy their curiosity concerning the "noble 
red man of the forest." They made many delightful acquaintances on 
board the boat, and greatly enjoyed the trip, with the exception of the 
few stormy days before alluded to. They arrived in Chicago on the twen- 
ty-first of June, where my grandfather met them with teams and wagons 
to convey them and their belongings to Dixon's Ferry. 

My grandmother must have had but a faint conception of the difficul- 
ties or expense of transportation from Chicago to Dixon, judging from 
the amount of luggage she brought with her. She, however, was not so 
much to blame, for nearly every letter my grandfather or aunt Mary 
wrote to her contained a list of much needed articles. At that time 
there was but one small store in Dixon, and it was impossible to obtain 


what they required. Then, too, the supply of money my grandfather had 
brought with him had run very low, as he had sustained some severe 
losses by means of counterfeit money, which at that time was being 
largely circulated throughout the west. 

I take an extract from the one letter I have been able to secure, writ- 
ten by my aunt, for I think it may prove of interest. "Be particular to 
bring every thing you want, for you can get nothing here. My father bids 
you sell the plows at whatever you can get for them. Of all things, do 
not forget the seeds: 1 oz. of Brooklow: do. of Early York Cabbage; do. of 
Savoy Cabbage; do. of Wellington seed; 2 oz. of Okro; do. of Nasturtium 
seed, 2 quarts of Windsor beans. Try and get some parsnip seed from 
Mr. Dunn. Remember the early and late peas; get some flower seeds. 
Richard says for you to pack your roots in moss and clay. You need not 
bring the pigs I wrote you about, for my father has got a very handsome 
breed. Bring six reaping hooks, four curry combs, three strings of sleigh 
bells, two large and one sm ill, the same as we have, and two cow bells 
(copper). Get your churn, tubs and pails made in Greenwich street (op- 
posite Clinton Market). Bring the crowbars, picks and dragging ma- 
chine, four large hinges with hooks, for the barn doors, and all the hinges 
about the house, and all the iron you have, and buckles for harness straps 
scrap iron for shoeing sleighs, one large saw and butcher's knife, one bar- 
rel of clover seed, and one of Timothy seed. Bring two pieces of the same 
kind of cloth Mr. M. got father for wagon covers. Make bags and put 
your beds in them; get plently of matting and wrap round your chairs and 
furniture. Bring two pounds of saltpeter and six bottles of fever and 
ague medicine." 

This is but one of several letters that were written, containing direc- 
tions of what they were to bring with them, all of which my grandmother 
followed to the letter. Is it any wonder then, that my grandfather stood 
transfixed at the magnitude of her luggage? In addition to her house- 
hold goods and all the things she had been directed to get, she had brought 
enough young fruit trees, apple, peach, pear, plum and cheery, also small 
fruits and flowering shrubs of many varieties, to stock a nursery. Some of 
them are still living on the old place, where they were planted by hands 
long since folded to their rest. My grandfather was so greatly disgusted 
at the amount of luggage she had brought that he gave away in Chicago 
two wagon loads of her much prized fruit trees and shrubs (greatly to her 
dismay), also, leaving there several barrels of old iron and peach pits. 

They had brought their own carriage from New York, so the tiresome 
drive over the prairies was performed in comparative comfort. During 


itiy grandfather's absence in Chicago my aunt Mary had been very busy 1 
making preparations for the reception of the family white-washing the 
walls of their future abode, and giving it every appearance of comfort 
that was in her power. When she saw the wagon train at a little distance, 
she started out with her youngest child to meet them and give them wel- 
come. So browned were they by their rough life of hardshipand exposure, 
that she was supposed, by her unappreciative relatives, to be a squaw and 
her papoose. Not flattering, certainly, but perhaps excusable on their 

The man servant they brought from New York with them was quite a 
character, and very much given to composing what he called "poetry," a 
specimen of which I will give below. There were originally about twenty 
verses, which he set to music, likewise of his own composition, but these 
will suffice to hand down to future generations. I wish I might convey 
to you the fine rich brogue in which they are said to have been sung by 
the composer, or even the most excellent imiltation given by my mother 
and other members of the family, which I am confident could hardly be 
distinguished from the original: 

"We crossed at Dixon's Ferry, 
On the twenty-sixth of June, 
Among the rolling prairies, 
And the flowers in full bloom. 

I'll vote for William Henri Harrison, 
And I'll tell you the reason why, 
He'll stop the speculation 
That runs the country dry. 

I hired by the month 
As you very well do know, 
And took the fever and ague, 
Which caused me muckle woe." 

I have not given the verses in the original order, but one here and 
there, as they could be recalled from memory's depths. 

During those first years they suffered many privations. My grand- 
father was nearly seventy years of age, his oldest son, a delicate lad, who 
had suffered from hip disease, and the other boys too young to be of much 
assistance. Times were hard and it was almost impossible to get hired 
help of any kind, so that often my aunt Mary, my mother and the other 
girls had to go out into the field to assist in planting the corn, getting in 
the hay and harvesting the grain. 

They had no well or cistern for some time, and all the water they used 
was hauled in barrels from the creek, a mile or more away. Their drink 


ing water was obtained from a spring in the ravine back of the house, 
about three quarters of a mile. My cousin, Margaret, used to put a jug 
on either end of a strap, throw it over her horse's back in front of her and 
gallop off to bring the water. In the summer season they used to take 
their washing to the spring to rinse the clothes. As soon as they could 
they nad a cistern made. Mv grandfather made two or three attempts 
to have a well dug, but each time after getting down about twenty feet 
they struck solid rock, and had to abandon the enterprise. 

The game which was ia such abundance here, and the river teeming 
with fish, furnished the boys much enjoyable sport, as well as being a most 
welcome addition to their larder. Their prairie chickens were brought 
home in such quantities that my grandmother used to take the breasts 
and salt them, afterwards having them smoked. They are said to have 
been delicious prepared in this way. Sometimes there would be a little 
grumbling that the wings and legs only were left for the table, but this 
was a very rare occurrance, so plentiful were they. 

Two or three times after their arrival here they were visited by roving 
bands of Indians, of whom they were somewhat afraid. So stealthily 
would they approach that the family would have no knowledge of their 
presence until they would see a face at the window, or the latch would be 
raised and half a dozen of the red men stalk into their midst. A demand 
for food would invariably be made, which was always supplied them. The 
chief men of the tribe and their squaws only would enter the house, 
leaving the remainder of the tribe outside. One squaw in particular I 
have heard described as being very beautiful, with a wealth of raven hair, 
which she wore in two long braids. The youngest child of my aunt, who 
greatly admired her, would sometimes venture near and touch her hair, 
an act that was resented with fiercest scowls. While the family were 
engaged in preparing the food for them, the Indians employed themselves 
in examining every article of furniture with the greatest curiosity. That 
which attracted them most was the looking glass, and they took the 
keenest delight in standing before it, admiring themselves in almost 
every conceivable posture. They seemed to have a certain etiquette in 
regard to accepting hospitality, for if their plates were too well filled to 
enable them to consume all the food thereon, they carefully cleaned off 
every scrap and carried it away with them. Whether for a time of need, 
or because they considered it the proper acknowledgement for their enter- 
tainment, I dj not know. One young chief took so great a fancy to my 
cousin, Margaret McGinnis (a dark slip of a girl), that he offered to trade 
a pony for her. An offer, it is needless to say, that was "declined with 


thanks." The family were never troubled by any depredations from the 
Indians or annoyed by them in any way. 

My grandfather, like the majority of farmers in those days, raised 
sheep. My grandmother spun the wool into yarn; and all the girls were 
adepts in the art of knitting. Not only were all the family socks and 
stockings fashioned from the yarn, but many other useful garments. My 
mother and aunt Grace knitted warm jackets for all, and heavy hunting 
coats for the boys. They were pretty well supplied with literature for 
those days, and in the evening all would gather around the big fireplace 
and one would read aloud while the rest were employed with their sewing 
and knitting. My grandmother also spun the flax that was raised upon 
the farm, from which they knit their summer stockings, gloves and mitts 
and the hats, too, that the girls wore. I have one of the latter that 
my mother knit. It presents a very funny appearance now, but 1 
imagine it (when well starched and ironed into the desired shape, and 
with a ribbon around it), might have been very pretty, if a trifle odd 
looking. Certainly, that "necessity is the mother of invention," proved 
true in their case. 

After the supply of shoes they had brought from New York had given 
out, my grandmother made the shoes for herself and daughters. She had 
lasts, awls, wax-ends (that she made herself), and everything that was 
required for the making of them. The uppers were of cloth, and for the 
soles she used old leather. It is a wonder to me how she could do it; hav- 
ing no previous knowledge of the craft, it seerns an almost impossible 
task. There were no shoemakers here then, but a year or two later one 
appeared on the scene, and my grandfather would hire him to come to the 
house, where he remained until the entire family were well shod. 

It must not be supposed that during those years of hard work and 
privations, they had no amusement. In an old diary I find a description 
of a Hallow'cn party at their old home in 1841, where all the old flal- 
low'en tests of fortune were tried by the youug people; such as burning 
nuts, the three cups, diving for an apple in a tub of water, the ring placed 
in the cake, and gazing into the looking-glass as the clock strikes twelve 
to see one's true-love looking over one's shoulder, etc. A right merry 
time they had until the "wee sma' hours." 

From many old letters and anecdotes, the truth has been forced upon 
me that the young people of those days were no wiser than at the pres- 
ent time. Then there were dinners and balls at Governor Charters' and 
other neighboring houses to which they went. Many were the jolly rid- 
ing parties they had through the lovely country. They generally rode to 


church, either to Sugar Grove or to Dixon, on horseback. My aunt Grace 
was never able to conquer timidity sufficiently to learn to ride, and was 
thus deprived of much pleasure. 

Three years after the family came west, the eldest son died, and was 
laid to rest on the high bluff overlooking the river on the Rockwood place, 
which had been set apart as a burial ground. The second break in the 
family circle occurred three years later, when my grandfather passed 
away in December of the year 1845, leaving them in a new country, with 
no protection or support other than boys, my uncle David being but 
fifteen, and my cousin, James McGinnis, fourteen years of age. Amid 
many discouragements, they struggled through the succeeding few years. 
My grandmother's orchard and garden had however, more than fulfilled 
her expectations Everything was done under her personal supervision, 
and not a little of the work by her own hands. People used to come 
many miles for the pleasure of walking through her garden, and seldom 
was it that they departed empty handed, as she was ever most generous, 
and freely gave both roots and cuttings. That may have been one reason 
why it thrived so well. 

The two older boys caught the gold fever and in January, '52, started to 
California, crossing the plains in a covered wagon, as many a one had 
done before them. On my cousin, William McGinnis, a lad not nineteen 
years of age, rested all the responsibility of managing the farm, and right 
well he did it. No boy ever worked harder or more faithfully, amid the 
burdens that were placed upon him. 

My aunt Mary has a journal which she kept from the beginning of 
1852 until the ending of 1856, which I have perused with much interest. 
It is mainly a record of unceasing labor by every member of the family. 
There are. however, two or three items which I give. First, that all 
important topic, the weather. During the first of January, 1853, there 
were terrific rains, lasting three or four days without cessation. At that 
time their cellar was flooded, and the water even reached the first floor 
of the house. In all this down-pour they were obliged to work unceasingly 
to save their stock, but in spite of their efforts some of it was lost, mainly 
pigs and very young calves. The last week of the same month the snow 
fell for four consecutive days, and they carried between thirty and forty 
bushels of snow out of their house, where it had drifted in. During the 
first two months of that year, snow and rain fell for more than two-thirds 
of the time. In April, of that same year, there was a terrible storm, 
hail-stones falling the size of a goose egg. 

It was not to be all clouds for them that year, for the crop was abund- 


ant. Such peaches as my grandmother had that year, have never been 
raised about here, either before or since. They were of great size and 
enormous quantity. That year they sold between three and four hundred 
dollars' worth of peaches alone, and in addition small fruits and apples, 
of which they had a large supply. The great abundance of the wild 
fruit in those early years can scarcely be imagined. When they went out 
blackberrying, they used to take tubs to bring them home in; yes, and fill 
them too. I have heard it said, that letters were written to friends 
'back east," by some of the earliest settlers here, telling that the straw- 
berries were in such profusion that in driving across the prairies the 
wagon wheels were dyed red from the juice of the berries. 

My cousin, Margaret McGinnis, was a famous horsewoman, and small 
and slender though she was, never knew the meaning of the word fear. 
Many a colt on the place did she break to harness, and she was quite as 
much at home on the bareback of a horse as in the saddle, and indeed, 
usually rode in that way. She was also as proficient in the use of shot- 
gun and rifle as were the boys themselves. It is not so many years ago 
since I saw her take the gun, go out and bring down a hawk flying over- 

In 1852, my aunts, Grace and Theodosia, felt that during the hard 
times the family were subjected to, and as their assistance was really not 
required on the farm, they ought at least, to support themselves; so they 
came into town and carried on dressmaking for some years, until the lat- 
ter was married. They were both earnest workers in the church, and 
took an active part in most enterprises that were started. The love of 
flowers was a perfect passion with aunt Grace, and she always sur- 
rounded herself with them. She was in delicate health many years 
before she died, but worked in her garden often, when she should have 
been in bed, and with her house-plants up to the very day she was taken 
with her last sickness. Her hands were never idle, and she could not be 
happy apart from her sewing and knitting, being employed with the lat- 
ter industry, even while she was reading. The restless feet are stilled; 
the busy hands are folded now, for rest came to her a little over a year 
ago, at the age of seventy-five. 

My grandmother was a woman of great determination of character, 
and in her old age (for she lived to be one hundred and two years old, 
lacking one month), was a remarkable woman, inasmuch as she retainer 
the vigor of her intellect, which was always bright, until the very last. 
She took the greatest interest in all the topics of the day, reading the 
newspapers and keeping herself thoroughly posted in regard to both homo 


and foreign news. A few months before her death she read the life of 
the First Napoleon with the keenest zest. She had the most gentle, lov- 
ing disposition, and charity beyond words to express, but could, when 
occasion required, assume the most imposing dignity of manner and com- 
mand. I have seen her draw herself to her full height, and say to a 
member of the family (woman grown, who was speaking in some heat), 
"That will do, Madame," in a tone so awful that not another word would 
be uttered. I have a very distinct remembrance also, of the way in 
which she was wont to punish me, when a child, for some misdemeanor 
of which I had been guilty. She never raised her hand to me, but would 
take me by the shoulders and give me so vigorous a shaking that the 
teeth would rattle in my head. 

My grandmother's bible was her constant companion, and she had the 
most beautiful faith I have ever known, never murmuring, never ques- 
tioning, but accepting all that was sent as God's will. She lived to see 
most of her loved ones pass on before her to " That undiscovered coun- 
try, from whose bourne no traveler returns;" and with the words "Tarry 
not, Lord, for I come," ever on her lips calmly awaited the summons, 
which came to her in May, 1884. 

I was told that as this was to be a woman's work, I must confine my- 
self more particularly to the lives of the women of the family. This I 
have endeavored to do, although by so doing, I have necessarily omitted 
much of interest concerning those of the family who were boys at that 

A DISTINGUISHING feature connected with the history of the 
city of Dixon and its neighborhood, including the township of 
Dixon, and one much commented upon by visitors from the old 
settled states of our union, is the fact that the inhabitants of this partic- 
ular district are gifted with a very high social standing that there seems 
to be an air of aristocratic breeding among them which is not found gen- 
erally outside the Wraits of our eastern cities and early established com- 
munities. The cause of this distinguishing feature can be traced to the 
emigration from the city of New York of a number of choice families in 
the years of 1837 and 1838 to the Roclc River Valley; Dixon's Ferry being 
the terminus of their long journey. 

A financial crisis had overwhelmed the entire country in the year 1837 
The business men of the city of New York, particularly the importers of 
foreign goods, had suffered tremendous reverses of fortune, and many of 
them becoming wearied with the wear and tear of commerce, determined 
to seek fortunes for themselves and families in the attractive west. 

Dixon's Ferry on Rock River had been reported' to some of these fam- 
ilies as being the central point of the most beautiful portion of the great 
western country which had so many attractions for them, and to this 
point their future steps were directed^and at this point the present 
flourishing city of Dixon is located. 

One of these families was that of Captain Hugh Graham, formerly 
captain of one of the Black Ball line of ocean packets the ocean grey- 
hounds of that day who settled a few miles down the north side of the 
river from Dixon's Ferry. He had a commanding appearance and was 
very choice of the language he used. An acquaintance from Dixon vis- 
iting him one day at his farm remarked that he had notseen him in town 
for a long time. "No sir," said Captain Graham, "the boundary lines of 
my plantation are now the limits of my peregrinations, sir." 

Another family was that of John T. Lawrence, who had lately grad- 


uated from the military academy of West Point and of David Law, Sr. 
who both settled close neighbors to Captain Graham. Of those who 
settled up the river from Dixon's Ferry were the Wetzler and Bradshaw 
families, both distinguished for their high social relations in the city of 
New York. Of the young unmarried men who formed part of this colony 
of refined and educated families were Charles F. Hubbard and young 
friends, familiarly called the "Bluff Boys," who settled down the south 
side of the river from Dixon's Ferry a few miles; and Guy Carleton Bay- 
ley and his brother Richard Bayley, who settled up the river on the south 
side a few miles from Dixon's Ferry. These young men were brothers of 
the future Archbishop of Newark, N. J , and connected with the old 
Knickerbocker families of New York City, who formed the Four Hun- 
dred of that day. 

At the same time spring of 1838 and in the same company, came 
also a young man who afterwards filled the most prominent position in 
the social and intellectual life of Dixon and its surrounding Alexander 
Charters universally named and known as "the Governor" on account 
of his handsome and commanding appearance, his elegant manners and 
his unrivaled hospitality, which made his home, named Hazlewood, a 
household word throughout the entire western country. He selected for 
his home the most beautiful spot to be found in the state of Illinois 
three miles upstream on the north side from Dixon's Ferry. He was a 
widower with a young son, James B. Charters, then seeking his education 
in the University of Dublin, Ireland. 

Hazlewood was a fine estate of six hundred acres and the hospitable 
mansion was situated on the bank of the river at an elevation of one 
hundred feet, overlooking one of the most charming views to be found 
upon any river in any county. 

The Governor's hospitality was universal. He entertained the rich 
and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, the titled personages and 
the untitled, with the same warmth, the same elegance of manner and 
the same degree of dignity. He was visited by every distinguished man 
and woman who happened to pass through Dixon and its vicinity. His 
visitors included Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, William Cullen 
Bryant, Margaret Fuller, Countess of Ossoli, many dignitaries of the 
church and state, and many noblemen from abroad. 

It was a common remark in those early days, when anybody inquired 
of the hotel proprietor in Dixon the way to Hazlewood he was told to 
"cross the river and take any road he pleased, that they all led to Hazle- 


The Governor was assisted in his hospitable duties by his brother, 
Samuel M. Charters, and his niece, Fanny Charters, daughter of Samuel. 
She was eighteen years of age when she came with her father to reside at 
Ilazlewood, and being a most beautiful girl and of fine education, she 
added immensely to the attractions of Ilazlewood. Her admirers con- 
sisted of all the marriageable young men from many counties around 
Dixon and she shed a lustre upon the society of that early day which is 
even felt to the present time. 

The Henshaw family, who setiled on Rock River at Oregon, was also 
a part of this little community which moved from New York City in the 
spring of 1838 to Rock River, and formed a very interesting portion of it, 
too. Mr. and Mrs. Henshaw had two daughters, very pretty girls, Emily 
and Josephine. Mr. Henshaw speaking of them used to to say, ''Emily 
will marry for an establishment, but Josephine, Josephine, she will go 
for the heart." \He proved to be a true prophet, for Emily married a rich 
Mr. Clark of Chicago, for whom Clark street in that city was named, and 
Josephine gave her heart to Mr. Joseph Latshaw, of Princeton, and ever 
remained a happy, loving wife. 

Another of that band of early settlers of 1837-38 was John Shillaber, a 
native of Salem, Massachusetts, who having resided abroad for several 
years had all the bearing and appearance of an Englishman. He was a 
man of large means for those days and settled on Pine Creek, near Rock 
River, a few miles from Dixon's Ferry. He lived alone with his servants 
and retainers in dignified style and was always styled My Lord Shillaber, 
and treated everybody with a haughty reserve. When meeting an ac- 
quaintance who would offer his hand in salutation Lord Shillaber would 
graciously present the forefinger of his right hand and allow that mem- 
ber to be shaken. Occasionally he would send a communication to the 
Salem newspaper Describing the beauty and magnificence of the Rock 
River scenery and of the prairies surrounding his plantation. According 
to his reports the game upon his preserves was plentiful, because when 
he wished a supply he would go out and knock the prairie hens over with 
his cane, and the wild turkeys were very, very abundant. 

To recall the number of influential people who came in early days to 
make their homes in Dixon would be a difficult task. Suffice it to say 
that their descendants at the present time speak for themselves nowhere 
in the west can be found a community gifted with such a refined, pol- 
ished, highly educated and distinguished looking people as that now 
dwelling in the city of Dixon and its environs. OLI? SETTLER. 

TBe Magic 




MONG the improvements of the age but few things have made 
more rapid advancement than the art of photography. A score o 
years ago it was scarcely classed as an art, and a photographer was 
regarded more as an artisan than an artist. A glance at the pictures of 
those days and of these will warrant the distinction. The early produc- 
tions of the photographer's skill were crude affairs and unsatisfactory 
even to the comparatively uncultivated taste of that period. The con- 
centration and diffusion of light was but little understood, the chemicals 
were but poorly adapted to their purpose, and the operator himself was 
frequently a man of little if any artistic appreciation. Then it took sev- 
eral minutes' exposure to secure a negative, and the result as shown in 
the family portraits of the period was usually a stiff figure, partly out of 
focus, one side in bright light and the other in a deep shade, and the 
countenance unnatural, generally expressionless. Now all this is changed, 
and by the instantaneous process, a picture is taken unerringly true to 
nature; the most fleeting'shadow of a smile or a frown is caught in the 
twinkling of an eye and the very grace of motion is almost preserved. 

These contrasts were vividly presented in a half hour's wandering 
through the oldest gallery in this part of the country. 

There is a little sort of honeycomb instrument by which a man may 
be multiplied in miniature twenty-five times in the snap of a finger, 
receiving that number of perfect portraits about the size of a postage 
stamp, while from yonder closet comes life-size portraits, twenty by 
twenty-four inches in size. 

This little affair, that looks something like a spiritualist cabinet, is a 
place where the most wonderful feats of magic are performed. Here sits 
the magician, his head half hidden under the folds of a dark curtain, 
with his more than rnagic pencil, putting hair on bald heads and erasing 


wrinkles wrought by the hand of time. Faces merely comely when they 
go in here, come out radiantly beautiful; faces careworn and cross are 
touched with beatific serenity. Moles magically disappear into dimples; 
and freckled faces are transformed into complexions of angelic trans- 

Here is a chair, simple in appearance, but with some half dozen at- 
tachments, clamps, rests, ball-sockets and swivel joints, capable of a 
hundred transformations, and by means of which a tired mother'? temper 
is saved from explosion, a restless baby rendered docile and happy, and 
a fat and frowning child transmogrified into a smiling cherub. 

But all the magic of a photograph gallery lies not in apparatus. Seated 
in the reception parlors, how full of reminiscences of the far away past 
are the pictured walls on every hand. How kindly look down upon us 
the faces of thefriends of other days. The sturdy pioneers, who have 
long since moved on to that bourne from whence no traveler returns, 
seem to belie the Shakespearian adage and come back to us in veritable 

From yonder frame look out the calm and kindly features of the ven- 
erable John Dixon, father and founder of our city, whose snow-white 
locks fall gracefully over his broad shoulders. The friend and counselor 
alike of the white man and the red, Nachusa was a name universally 
revered and beloved. Yonder is Dr. Everett, another grand old man, 
who for more than a score of years was principal medicine-man of the 
pale-faces in Northern Illinois, and who assisted in ushering into the 
world most of those earliest to the manor born. 

Over there is Father Whitney, the centenarian, who having rounded 
his hundred well spent years of life, passed to his peaceful death. Old 
as he is, there remains a merry twinkle in his eyes that tells that for 
him life had not lost its enjoyment. When he came here the west was a 
vast wilderness, and the virgin prairies between Dixon and his Franklin 
home, untouched bv the plow, was one vast sea of emerald green, heaving 
with billows of wild blossoms in gorgeous rainbow tint. Here is the 
portly figure and genial face of Governor Charters and his protege, Geo. 
Foote. How they speak to us of the whole-hearted hospitality of Hazle- 
wood of clays and nights ever to be remembered, but never to return. 
Here are James L. Camp and B. F. Burr, who for so many years between 
them ran the politics and postoffice of Dixon. There is Dr. Gardner, of 
Thompsonian practice, who late in life thought himself not too old to 
follow Greeley's advice to young men, and went west to found a new 
home, which he did not live to enjoy. Here is McL. Wadsworth, who 


having escorted hundreds of old settlers through the peaceful portals of 
Oakwood cemetery, at last himself reclines beneath its leafy shades. 
There, the lips firmly set, and eyes that fairly sparkle with animation, is 
Col. John Dement, the hero of the Black Hawk war and the sturdy 
standard-bearer of Northern Illinois democracy, whose will was iron and 
whose heart was as staunch as oak. There is Hon. Joseph Crawford, 
with features more mild but no less firm; whose feet have pressed nearly 
every foot of sod in Lee and surrounding counties, as government sur- 
veyor;*a careful business man, eminently honest and universally honored, 
conscientious and conservative, a wise counselor and cultured companion. 
Here is the fine, aristocratic face of Judge John V. Eustace, tinged with 
a smile of slightly sarcastic humor. With a heart as tender as a child's 
and a soul that would flash into instant fiery indignation at the committal 
of wrong that took the form of meanness, be it against friend or foe. A 
man who, not without fault, was one of the manliest of men. 

Here is the lithe figure and bright features of the suave E. B. Stiles, 
who could refuse a man a favor with such infinite grace that the solicitor 
would retire feeling in better mood than if almcst anyone else had com- 
plied with his request. Isaac S. Boardman, first clerk of Lee county, 
and who in his many years of editorial control of The Telegraph never 
told quite all that he knew. Isaac Means, his implacable enemy, but a 
man who beneath a brusk exterior hid a warm and generous heart. 
Squires Morgan, Stevens and Bethea, a triumvirate of justices of the 
olden kind,~a terror to wrong doers. Robert F. Lang, whose rugged old 
Scotch features beam with energy, honesty and an iron will, and whose 
handiwork, as endurable as his sturdy good qualities, is seen in the piers 
of the Dixon bridge. Col. H. T. Noble, one of Dixon's early educators, a 
soldier of unimpeachable patriotism^ man of fertile brain and unbounded 
public spirit. Others will write of his military and public record, but 
this portrait brings out a dimly developed memory-picture of a little 
stone school-house among the first buildings in Dixon constructed of 
that enduring material. Within its walls the first teacher, in 1848, was 
James Lum; the second, in 1850, Henry T. Noble. On each side of the 
small room ample enough, however along the wall were two or three 
rows of seats and primitive desks. At one end, opposite the door, was a 
huge fire-nlace, up the capacious chimney of which in winter escaped 
nearly all the heat from the burning logs beneath. To the left was the 
teacher's desk, the receptacle of not only his books, but of our marbles 
and balls and apples and chewing gum, which so often became a sort of 
contraband of war. On the seats at this side sat the girls. (We called 


them girls in those days young ladies you would call thetn now.) Many 
of them I can recall to memory, though most of them are beyond recall 
in fact. Jane Ann Herrick, tall and queenly, who afterward became 
the wife of the school teacher and lost her life in the terrible bridge acci- 
dent of May 3, 1873. Ann Ophelia Potter, handsome and bright, after- 
ward Mrs. F. A. Soule. The Mead sisters Laura and Parmelia the 
former now Mrs. C. J. Reynolds, of Colorado Springs, the latter (Mrs. 
Hoffman) also a victim of the bridge disaster. There, too, sat Franc 
Noble, the teacher's cousin, fat, fair and full of frolic, something of a 
totn-boy, perhaps, but with a heart bigger than any boy's. The Ayers 
girls, Libbie and Mary. Henrietta Dixon and Sarah Elizabeth McKen- 
ney, first and second children to the manor born. Anna Eustace, now 
Mrs. B. F. Shaw, stately and dignified even in her young girlhood. These, 
with many others, more dimly remembered, were the lambs who sat at 
the teacher's right, while at his left, with the kids, sat Edward and Ed- 
win, the twin Sterlings, who were so much alike that it was difficult to 
avoid punishing one for the misdeeds of the other. "Bird" and "Jim" 
Ayres; Joe MorrelJ, the embodiment of good-natured mischief; John 
Wealty, now in Washington; John L. Lord and his brother "Gus"; "Ep." 
Edson and "Eph." Groh; J. D. Messer, who was always with Will 
Van Amaru; Henry Dement and Oscar McKenney. To all of us in those 
far-away days Henry T. Noble, in his vigorous young manhood, was not 
only a teacher, but a friend and companion. 

But upon the gallery walls hang other pictures. There is Col. Silas 
Noble, so long recorder of the government land office, who, though well 
advanced in life, was too full of patriotic fervor to remain at home while 
younger men were fighting for the preservation of the Union. James 
Goble, one of Lee county's early sheriffs, always in good spirits, fond of a 
good story and a good laugh, and perhaps for that reason a general favor- 
ite with the young folks. E. W. Hine, we believe Dixon's first or second 
merchant tailor, who nevertheless was very much more than the "ninth 
Dart of a man," being a refined and cultured gentleman, whose home in 
early days was a favorite resort for congenial spirits. His family of five 
has now no living representative. 

James Van Arnam, whose optical organs had a decidedly intro- 
spective turn, was a character in those days, who is said to have said 
that if he knew that he had a drop of honest blood in his body he would 
open his veins and let it out. "Jim," however, was the self-constituted 
righter of many wrongs in the primitive days, and marshalled at least 
one party to tar and feather a man for the ill-treatment of an orphan 


girl. James Hatch, whose picture wears a pleasant smile, was Dixon's 
first baker, who in 1848 baked all the crackers and hard bread for Dixon's 
delegation of gold hunters, to be used in their three month's trip across 
the plains. These were baked in an oven in the basement of the house 
still occupied by Mr. Hatch, corner of Peoria and River streets. The 
upper floor was then occupied as a dwelling and wagon shop by the fami- 
lies of John Moore (father of the writer) and E. B. Blackman, and well 
do we remember seeing E. B. Baker and others of the California crew ride 
the rail with which they worked the dough to a proper stiffness. 

There is Theron Cumins, emphatically a self-made man, who laid the 
foundation of his fortune in the suburban village of Grand Detour, and 
is now at the head of the oldest and most extensive manufacturing com- 
pany in the city. A man of few words, but whose words are fraught with 
forceful meaning, he not infrequently reminds us of General Grant. 

Dr. John B. Nash, for many years one of the two physicians in this 
region of country. A tall and intellectual looking man of pleasing coun- 
tenance and kindly heart. Retiring from practice, he opened the first 
drug store in the village. He became one of the early students of and 
converts to the spiritual philosophy, and his home was the most promi- 
nent rendezvous of its exponents. He was among those who visited Pike's 
Peak during the gold fever, and there became lost to his familv and 
friends his bones probably rest in some unknown spot in the mountains 
of Colorado. 

Oh, there is John W. Clute, who half a century ago commenced per- 
fecting the soles and repairing the understanding of the people of this 
community, and is still pegging away, the first and the last of the wor- 
shippers at the. shrine of St. Crispen, his useful career has not yet waxed 
to an end. While he pounds his lapstone he can relate in detail most of 
the local incidents in the lapse of time since 1840. 

Here hangs a portrait of Henry K. Strong, of the township's constab- 
ulary, who with James C. Mead and the writer divides the honor of set- 
ting type for the first paper printed in Lee county, May 1, 1851. It was 
the Dixon Telegraph, still hale and hearty in its forty-second year. The 
wife of the editor (Mrs. Chas. R. Fisk), was, in all probability, the first 
woman who set type on any paper in this part of the country. The print- 
ing office was over the store of Little & Brooks, now D. W. McKenney's 
livery stable on River street, and The Telegraph, after many removals, has 
returned to within a half block of its birthplace, the writer still occas- 
ionally taking a hand at the case. 

Here is W. W. Heaton, one of the earliest judges of the circuit court 
of Lee county, a man small of statue, but of broad culture, solid rather 


than brilliant, slow but sure. Well do we remember the accident by 
which he was deprived of his second wife one of the first fatal accidents 
to occur in Dixon. Mrs. Heaton, her son and infant daughter were re- 
turning from a drive. The horse became suddenly frightened and 
unmanagable by his boy driver. The carriage was overturned, and the 
mother, rendered helpless in her endeavor to shield her babe, was thrown 
violently against the corner of the Methodist Episcopal church (now the 
residence of J. W. Kent) and was instantly killed. 

Joseph Cleaver, almost forgotten perhaps, came to Dixon in 1845, and 
was postmaster in 1854, dying in July of that year, one of the first (I 
think the very first) victims of the cholera epidemic. 

There is the brawny, black-eyed J. M. Cropsey, the veteran Vulcan of 
the village, who was equally skilled in forging a horse-shoe or spinning a 
yarn, and whose fertile imagination might have earned him the title of 
the Jules Verne of the West. Not far off is a picture of David Welty, 
who came from Buffalo, New Vork. in the spring of 1838, and for many 
years was "mine host" of one of the earliest hostleries, the Western 
Hotel, which by another name still stands on Hennepin avenue. 

Oh, here we have a galaxy of distinguished individuals a sort of 
'Lincoln cabinet" picture in fact. The central figure is "Deacon" 
Quartus Ely, and he is surrounded by a coterie of a dozen choice spirits, 
not all old settlers, and several of them already mentioned. There is 
Hal. Williams, a brilliant young lawyer; Ferris Finch, an artist who 
buried his capital talent under a government appointment at the capital; 
Ozias Wheeler, one-time sheriff of Lee county; James L. Camp, Dixon's 
best known postmaster; P. M. Alexander, the pioneer hardware dealer; 
the two Benjamins "Andy" and "Jim"; L. A. Divine, Judge Welty, B. 
F. Shaw, the veteran editor of the Northwest; Henry Becker and Isaac 
Boardman, an apt follower of his partial namesake, Izaak Walton, and a 
disciple of Nimrod. In the days of auld lang syne this cabinet met in 
frequent session, and shrouded in vaporous wreaths arising from choice 
Havanas or less aristocratic, but more maladorous "kinnekennick," its 
members oft discussed the chequered affairs of life. Even kings and 
queens, as well as knaves, were admitted to thfese sessions. As in the 
outside world, hearts were sometimes exchanged for diamonds, and clubs 
and spades were frequently found in opposition. Ah, is it true that in the 
game of life spades always win? They have turned the sod upon the 
graves of most of "Deacon" Ely's cabinet; but it may be that with "the 
great majority" they are now engaged in the discussion of weightier 
themes. Let us hope so. as we turn their pictured faces to the wall. 



Mr*. E. B. 

Mrs. E. B. Baker, the subject of this little sketch, was the first white 
child who crossed Bock River. She was born on Fancy Creek, six miles 
from Springfield, Illinois, in March 1827. Her father, Mr. Kellogg, was 
appointed to lay out a road between Peoria and Galena, where the land 
office was then situated. This he did in 1828, and it was known as Kel- 
logg's trail, and was the only thoroughfare between the central portion 
of the state and Galena. In the spring many people made their way to 
the lead mines over this route, as the mining fever was at its hight, and 
in autumn emigrated southward again with the birds. At one time 
quite a large party, men, women and children, forded the river near 
here in their wagons. The young men of the party considered this a fine 
opportunity to go bathing, and, as the wagon train passed on, disrobed 
and disported themselves for some time in the crystal waters. At last, 
realizing that the time was passing, they returned to the bank, only to 
find that not a vestige of their clothing remained. The Indians had 
crept up and .stolen every garment, and they were forced to follow on 
after tha wagon train in a state of nature. In laying out the trail Mr. 
Kellogg was so delighted with the northern part of the state that he 
determined to take up a claim, the same known in history as "Kellogg's 
Grove," and in 1829 moved his family there. In 1831 the Dixons, to whom 
he was related, having located at "Dixon's Ferry," and strongly urging 
him to settle near them, he moved to Buffalo Grove, where for some 
years he kept a public house. There were but four large rooms in the 
house, but no other "tavern" being within many miles, they sometimes 
accommodated as many as fifty in one night; beds being laid all over the 
floors, while some slept wrapped in their blankets, thankful to be under 
the shelter of a roof. When the rush to the mines set in they would 
often serve as many as two hundred extra meals in a day, of which Mrs. 
Baker, then a child wouldikeep count with kernels of corn. Three times 
were the family forced to leave their home on account of expected 
Indian outbreaks; once during the Blackhawk war, once previous and 
another time later. Mr. Kellogg served as a scout or guide during the 
time of that war. 


It was no uncommon occurrence for the Dixon children to drive to 
Buffalo Grove in the early morning and breakfast with the Kellogg 
family. One night there had been a very heavy frost which covered the 
thick prairie grass as with snow, so the Dixon boys thought it would be 
a grand idea to have a sleigh ride, and they "hitched up" and drove to 
their uncle's before the frost melted. No record is left of the manner in 
which they returned home. 

The wolves were a source of great annoyance to the Kelloggs, often 
killing a calf or a pig before rescue could come from the house. A 
favorite dog deserted them for the companionship of a pack of wolves. 
He came back some time later, displaying a most sneaking, abject 
appearance, but did not remain long, for in a few days he returned to 
the companions of his adoption. I have heard it related that an uncle 
of my own, while plowing, was sometimes followed by wolves which 
would devour the mice turned up by the plow in the furrow. 

Mrs. Kellogg was greatly troubled at the lack of educational advant- 
ages for children, and made every effort to secure the best instruction 
those early days afforded. One winter ''Father Dixon" would hire a 
teacher to come to his house, and the Kellogg children attended that 
school; the next winter the teacher would hold forth at Mr. Kellogg's, 
and the Dixon children would go there. Mrs. Baker attended school one 
year at Gaatiot's Grove near Galena. 

In 1845 she was married to Eli B. Baker, and the year following they 
came to Dixon to live; their home being the A. S. Dimick house on the 
corner of Main and Ottawa streets. 1849 Mr. Baker went to California 
with many others whom the recent gold discoveries had drawn thither. 
Mrs. Baker was put to sore straits sometimes to provide, lor herself and 
little family while he was pursuing his long, weary way across the con- 
tinent, bnt after his arrival fortune favored him, and he was enabled to 
send home the means with which to provide a home of their own, and 
during his absence Mrs. Baker built the house on the corner of Boyd 
street and north Ottawa avenue, now owned; I think by Rufus 
Forsyth. Some years later she became associated with Mrs. Jane Little 
in the millinery and dress-making business, which was carried on 
successfully for some years. 

Mrs. Baker was ever ready to go to the assfctance of the sick at one 
time taking care of a cholera patient prior to the epidemic, until death 
ensued. Latterly, during some years she adopted the profession ol 
nurse, and how excellent she is in that capacity can be certified to bj 
many who have received her unremitting care. She has been a woman "of 


sorrow and acquainted with grief," for of her five children but one 
remains her youngest, an invalid son, to whom she devotes her life. 
Two of her children met their death in the terri^e bridge disaster of 
1873. We, in whose midst she has lived these many years appreciate her 
worth, and know how bravely she has borne all her afflictions. 

Most of the old settlers are familiar with the following story, of which 
I have heard two versions, both having the same tragical termination, 
but I give the one which I have heard the oftener. Invitations were out 
for a party, and Susan Murray, who was quite a belle at that time, had 
sent fora pair of white satin slippers, one of which she found she could 
not wear on account of a troublesome corn. She impatiently exclaimed 
"if I only had a chisel I would cut the toe off," whereupon "Jim" Ben- 
jamin, who was standing near and had overheard her, most obligingly 
procured a chisel for her. She then asked him to strike the chisel with 
a hammer while she held the instrument. This he refused to do, but 
offered to hold the chisel while she did the striking act, thinking it only 
a joke, and, upon carrying out his part of the proposed program was sur- 
prised to see her strike so vigorous a blow as to sever the toe completely 
from the foot. 

In the early years there lived here a man whose wife was sadly 
addicted to the use of intoxicants, and when indulging in one of her 
sprees was a source of terror to the neighborhood. One evening a party 
of young men found her laying on the street sleeping off the effects of 
the liquor she had imbibed. They produced a board, on which they 
bound her firmly from shoulders to feet, and then carried her over the 
river to her home, which was situated in what is now known as "Parson's 
Addition," and there set the board upon end at the side of the door. I 
will not give the names of the young men, for some of them still reside 
here, and are now very dignified elderly, professional and business men, 
and might regard it as not a good example to their sons, as well as taking 
a great liberty with their names. 

There is a story, too, of one time when a number of the older boys 
went hunting or skating up the river and killed a muskrat, whereupon 
someone my informant thought Noah Brooks wrote up the affair in 
startling characters as the murder of an innocent, unoffending citizen of 
a neighboring settlement, Amos Krat by name, whereat some of the 


good fathers, who knew that their sons were of , the party \ (especially 
Uncle Fred MoKinney), were greatly alarmed lest their boys would be 
implicated in the direful punishment which was sure to follow. 

Another one refers to a time when paper, for some reason, was not to 
be had for the weekly issue of the only Dixon paper, and it came out on 
pink and yellow sheets about the size of a farm sale bill, with the motto 
"Smaller by degrees and beautifully less; fret not'thy gizzard." 

Andrew .T. Brubaker can be classed among the old settlers, as he came 
here in 1849. He made his advent here on foot, having walked from his 
father's farm on Pine Creek, a distance of ten miles, and carrying bis 
wardrobe in a red bandana handkerchief. When he arrived at Rock 
Eiver he found the bridge gone. In response to his "hello" Mr. Alexan- 
der came across the river and rowed him over in a skiff. He and the above 
mentioned gentleman were employed at the same time, and for some 
years in Mr. Brook's store. Upon Mr. Brooks' retirement from the gen- 
eral merchandise business, Mr. Alexander set up in the hardware line, 
and Mr. Brubaker continued in that branch of the business with which 
he was most familiar. Of all the business men here in 1855 only these 
two gentlemen, with Mr. Eells and Mr. W. J. Carpenter, continue in the 
business in which they were originally engaged. J. C. Ayers, who at that 
time had a hat and cap store, is still in business, but of a different nature. 
The flattering attention with which Mr. Brubaker now waits upon the 
ladies is due to the early training which he received in Mr. Brooks' store, 
as he thus describes it: "In Mr. Books' store the millinery department 
was the hardest to learn and get along with. It was no small task to fix 
one of those old-fashioned 'prairie schooner' bonnets on a lady, and triiH 
it up with ribbons, flowers and feathers to match, and then tell her that 
she looked beautiful, and that it became her very nicely, but 1 got there 
after awhile." Mr. Brubaker has always been much interested in music, 
and has probably sung at more funerals than any other inhabitant of 
Lee county. He organized the first Methodist choir, and was its leader 
for a number of years. Up to that time congregational singing had been 
in vogue, sometimes one pitching the tune, again another; often it woul"d 
be pitched too high, or very much the reyerse; frequently they would get 
the wrong meter and utter confusion ensue. One old settler used to say, 
"they first screwed on one tune, and if that did not fit, they would screw 
on another." Mr. Brubaker had much trouble in persuading the old fogy 
members and deacons to allow him to organize a choir, but later on they 


conceded that it was a great improvement, and showed no desire to 
return to the old way.- 

In 1851 the first brass band, composed of eighteen members, was organ- 
ized, of whom Mr. Brubaker and Mr. 13. F. Shaw are the only representa- 
tives remaining at Ilie present day, the others having passed away or 
gone to "pastures new." Mr. Shaw played the bugle and was for some 
time leader of the band. The writer of this is unable to positively assert 
that the stagnation in the growth of Dixon wasdue solely to the music (?) 
thus evolved by Mr. Shaw as bandmaster, but if so, his genial disposition 
has eventually overcome the terrifying effects of the bugle blowing of 
long ago, and timid strangers are now venturing to make Dixon their 
home, just as i'f no awful sounds had once put to flight everything human 
within hearing. 

I have picked up many good stories about "Andrew," but he says they 
are not true, and seriously objects to their publication, so I must content 
myself with the only one to which he "owns up." Tallow candles were 
used in Mr. Brooks' store in addition to lamps, and it was bne of Mr. 
Brubaker's duties to light up. On a first of April Henry Webb, who was 
the insoigator of most of the mischief on foot, proposed that Andrew be 
"April-fooled, and invited all the boys to come and see the fun. Fiae 
imitations of candles were made out of potatoes and placed in the candle- 
sticks. Evening came, and with it a goodly crowd of the boys, and not 
long after their eyes were gladdened by the ineffectual attempts of our 
friend to light first one candle and then another. At each failure the 
unrighteous laughed, and he, becoming flustered, finally exclaimed, "My 
goodness, I can't make these candles light." Roars of laughter and 
shouts of "April fool" sounded on all sides, Andrew says he took the 
joke well and only remarked good naturedly, "Well, boys, that is all 
right, but you can't play that trick on me again." 

One incident which occurred in those early years I think worthy of 
relating, concerning a shoemaker by the name of Daniel Cuppernell. He 
was an extremely profane man, and one day while he and a companion 
were at work at their trade in the basement of a house which stood on 
the south side of Main street, near the corner of Peoria, a Heavy thunder- 
storm camp up. The Hashes of lightning were so vivid, and the roll of 
"Heaven's artillery" so incessant that the other man expressed some fear. 
Cuppernell, with a terrible oath, said, "Let God Almighty do his worst, 
I'm not afraid of him." No sooner were the words uttered than a bolt of 

- 321 

lightning came down the chimney, killing him instantly, while his com- 
panion escaped unhurt. 

Mrs. James A. Watson (Susan Clute), was quite noted for her beauty 
as a girl, and at one time was the acknowledged belle of Dixon. She was 
very public-spirited also, and it is said that she, together with some 
other young ladies (probably more for sport than aught else), accom- 
plished some quite successful campaigning for William'.Henry Harrison 
in 1840. 

One person well known to all is Adam Scheer. His father came to 


Dixon in 1845 with his family. They were not long from Germany and 
could speak but a few words in English. Two weeks after their arrival 
here Mr. Scheer died. At that time they were living"on a farm- known 
as the Warn place, west of town. The family had a great deal of sick- 
ness the first year or two, and one summer when Mrs. Scheer was sick 
with a fever, a neighbor going there to offer assistance, found little 
Adam his mother's nurse, and she, poor soul, in a burning fever was 
carefully covered by a feather bed, as well as laying upon one, according 
to the German custom. The lady had this removed and by whatever 
means were at hand, soon managed to have her more comfortable. When 
Adam was eleven years old he went to live with Mr. arid Mrs. J. T. 
Little. After they moved out on their farm he worked there during 
the summer, but in the winter he would come to town and work for his 
board and attend school, that he might receive the benefit of the better 
educational advantages afforded here. In 1849 his two elder brothers 
went to California, leaving Adam his mother's stay and support until her 
death, which occurred during the cholera epidemic in 1854. Adam was 
somewhat superstitious and of a timid disposition in his young days. 
The writer hereof knew of his great fear of ghosts and when a small 
child succeeded in giving him a fright which he remembers to this day. 
She arose in the very early aiorning before it was fairly light and hid 
herself at the back of the woodpile, where she knew he would soon come 
for wood for the kitchen fire. When he had filled his arms, she sprang 
out, Happing her nightdress wildly. Adam gave a shriek, threw the 
wood down and made good use of his heels until safe shelter of the 
kitchen was reached. I'll never tell what happened to the little girl but 
simply say that from that time on she never tried to frighten Adam. 

All who know him know how faithful he is to every trust reposed in 
him. He is an efficient worker in the Baptist church, and on Memorial 

- 322 - 

day what would we do without Adam? He is never absent from his post 
of duty and having served in the army, his heart and soul are in the work. 

As in all newly settled countries, the beaux were so much more num- 
erous here that every girl within twenty miles was in great demand 
when a dance was to be given. There was one family in the "Kingdom" 
where there were two or three daughters, but owing to the violent tem- 
per and stinging tongue of their mother, the young men were extremely 
shy of bringing upon their heads the wrath and sound berating of the 
matron, which invariably followed their appearance upon the scene, so 
they were wont to draw cuts to decide which would be the victim, the 
shortest straw being the herald of doom. He who was so unfortunate as 
to have drawn it would take his life in his hand and heavy of heart pro- 
ceed on his way to invite the young lady. 

The Tallmadges were well known here in the early days, having come 
in 1835. He wa-s a venerable-looking old man with snow-white hair and 
beard, but very much disfigured by a hare-lip. He usually wore black 
clothes, the coat (like "old Grimes'" of nursery lore) "all buttoned up be- 
fore," and a high silk hat. A small child, seeing him pass the house one 
day, called: "Oh! mother, come quick, there goes our Heavenly Father." 
Mrs. Tallmadge was much younger than her husband, and in many ways 
an excellent woman, but possessed of many fancied ailments from which 
she was always sure she was going to die and sending for the doctor in 
hot haste without the least necessity. "Tell it not in Gath," but I have 
heard it whispered that Dr. Everett kept an excellent quality of bread 
pills on hand for patients of that description which always proved so 
efficacious that a speedy cure was sure to follow. 

Mrs. John Brown, then a girl, was at Mrs. Tallmadge's and one evening 

was taken very sick and the doctor was scot for but failed to put in an 
appearance. A still more imperative summons just as day was dawning 
brought him about ten o'clock. Mrs. Tallmadge met him at the door, 
fairly bombarding him with reproaches, and wound up by saying: "Why 
Dr. Everett, you ought to be ashamed of yourself: you have a very sick 
patient in there (indicating the bedroom), I can tell you." Regarding 
her with some amazement, the doctor replied in his deliberate manner: 
"Why, Mrs. Tallmadge, I thought it was you and I knew there was no 
liurry.' ! 

There is another story of a man who was not always strictly honest. 
He went intotyr. Brooks' store (so my informant said) qnp day, and 

ing himself unobserved, confiscated some butter, which, like "Hantly 
Andy," he placed in his hat. A clerk, who had witnessed the act, spoke 
to some others who were in the store, asking their aid in carrying out a 
plan for the culprit's undoing: so as Mr. S. came forward with most inno- 
cent meiri, they gathered about him talking and laughing, and finally 
hemmed him into a corner near the stove. Someone complained of feel- 
ing very cold and the wood was thrown on the fire with no sparing hand, 
so that soon the room became very warm and poor Mr. S. was in the 
warmest place, in fact, almost "too hot to. hold him.'' What is that 
stealing slowly down his cheeks, trickling clown his nose, bedewing his 
forehead and matting his hair'-' Butter! yes, butter rivers of butter. 
Surely "the way of the transgressor is hard." 

One time when work was in progress upon the Illinois Central rail- 
road, Dixon was threatened with a serious riot. One or two of the gang 
of workmen had been arrested and placed in jail, whereat their comrades 
were very much incensed and they struck work, inarched in a body to the 
town threatening to burn it. This catastrophe was averted by Prophet 
Myres, who missed no opportunity for making a speech, and as they came 
in line across the bridge, he beheld an audience ready at hand, such as it 
was rarely his good fortune to meet. Mounting a dry goods box on the 
corner opposite Mrs. Baker's present home, he began a characteristic 
harangue, and soon had the mob in such a good humor that they entirely 
forgot their errand of vengeance and when he was through quietly dis- 
persed, much to the relief </f the citizens, who fearing the worst, had 
armed themselves to defend their hoiues. 

I have been told the story of how one fearless woman saved her home 
from claim jumpers. Otis Loveland came here in 1837 and took up the 
claim since known as the Loveland. farm, and with his wife and two young 
children lived in a small house where the milk factory now stands. In 
those days there was the same lawless element here that we read of in 
the west, peculiar to all newly settled countries, and claim-jumping was 
not by any means an unheard-of occurrence. One day when Mr. Loveland 
was away from home three or four men armed themselves intending to 
jump the claim, anticipating no opposition. Mrs. Loveland saw them at 
a little distance, and having been informed of their intentions, deter- 
mined to thwart their plans. She placed a rocking chair across the open 
door and taking her knitting in her hand, calmly seated herself to await 
their coming. When they reached the house they told her to move out 


of the way, for they wanted that claim and were going to have it, too. 
She replied: "You shall not step one foot inside this house unless you 
first pass over my dead body." 1 suppose they did not quite care to kill 
her, for they finally departed, swearing as they went. This lady was the 
step-mother of Mrs. J. B. Brooks. 

When Mrs. Brocks (then Ophelia Loveland) taught school in the 
"Bend" she received the enormous salary of one dollar and a quarter per 
week and "boarded around." This was not a very great hardship as the 
people, in most instances, were pleasant and kind, but there were two or 
three exceptions where the housewives were poor cooks arid their houses 
none too cleanly. One place the children bragged of what good things 
thev were going to have to eat when the teacher came thereto board. 
The "good things" resolved themselves into dried apple and peach pies, 
which were made without first stewing the fruit. If not quite to the 
taste made in this way, they may have proved filling, particularly with 
fluid accompaniment. 

Another place the teacher was awakened at break of day and sewing 
laid out for her until school time, and as soon as she returned she was set 
at work again until bedtime. At the end of the week this thrifty matron 
returned no thanks, but only expressed regret that Mrs. Brooks "could 
not stay long enough to make Susanna a dress." A child in this same 
family died while Mrs. Brooks was teaching in the neighborhood, and 
the balance of the children were put into deep mourning, consisting of 
black calico ruffles worn around each child's neck. 

Mrs. Brooks saved enough money from her school teaching to buy a 
quarter section of land in Wisconsin, which she afterward sold for four 
hundred dollars to assist her husband in buying their home on Galena 
street, where Mr. Tillson's store now is, reserving, however, the price of 
a half-do/en silver spoons which she "was bound to have." She was a 
kind-hearted, hospitable woman, never so happy as when entertaining 
her friends. One time during the early days of the war her sister, Mrs. 
Tludd (well-known to many old settlers), was visiting her and Mrs. Brooks 
gave a tea party in her honor. Mrs. Rudd was a very strong abolitionist, 
in fact, kept a station on the underground railway in the southern part 
of the state. Some of the guests at the party were what was termed 
"copperheads" in those days. Mrs. Rudd was an extremely outspoken 
woman and not prone to "hide her light under a bushel," or her opinions 
either. A very heated discussion arose and for a time it appeared as if 
bloodshed was imminent. Mrs. Brooks, who had left the loom to attend 
to her tea arrangements, was very much amazed and disconcerted a little 


later when two ladies, who had taken umbrage at Mrs. ftudd's remarks, 
came with their wraps on to bid her good bye. Her dismayed query, 
"Why! you are not going without your supier?" brought forth an explan- 
ation, and through her intervention peace was patched up. harmony 
restored, and they did not go home without their supper. 

We have been told that there were no rats in Dixon for a number of 
years, and that the first that was seen here came in a load of goods be- 
longing to a Baptist minister which Mr. Little moved from LaMoilleand 
as the goods were being unpacked a rat jumped from the wagon. That 
there was no lack of them later will be illustrated by a little story which 
at least, has the virtue of being true. It was told us that once when a 
guest of the Dixon house was leaving, after having seated himself in the 
stage with several others, he shouted to Henry McKenuey that there was 
something that he wanted attended to before he came this way again. 
Mr. McKenney, all smiles and anxiety to please, as became a good land- 
lord, wanted to know what he could do for him. "Why," said he, "I 
want you to teach those rats of yours to hold up their tails when they run 
over a man's face." 

John Brown came to Dixon in 1836, with no intention of locating, but 
here he remained until the day of his death, a most worthy citizen. In 
1840 he married Eliza Cotton, who had come from Canada the year before 
with two Quaker families, the latter returning from "whence they came" 
not long afterward. As soon as they were married they went to live on 
the farm now well-known as the McRoberts place. There were no neigh- 
bors near at first and when Mrs. Brown saw a storm coming up she would 
hasten to town; but later, when she had one baby to carry, and then two, 
it became quite an undertaking, for three little daughters came to them 
during the three they lived upon the farm. They then moved to 
town and occupied the Chapman house near Dr. Paine's present home. 
Mrs. Brown is rich in reminiscence and I would that I might write more 
that she has told me, but "the day of reckoning is at hand" and 1 must 
confine myself to a few items. Mr. Brown had been an employe of Seth 
Thomas in his clock factory before coming west, and in 1843 he sent for 
some clocks, with which he supplied many of the homes in Dixon. One 
of those self-same clocks is ticking away as merrily in our dining-room as 
it did fifty pears ago when my father first bought it, and Mrs. E. C. Smith 
has another. 

Soon after they moved from the farm Mrs. Brown had a very severe 


illness of three months duration, and she was forced to rely upon her 
neighbors for the care which she in turn had given them. No pen can 
picture the kindness and devotion of one to another in those early years: 
sacrifices were made every day quite as a matter of course, which at the 
present time would be regarded as immense. One's personal comfort or 
convenience was never considered if there were sick to be cared for. High 
or low, rich or poor, each received the same attention. Mrs. James Hatch 
is spoken of as one of the best of women, and I should think deservedly, 
for when Mrs. Brown was so long ill she weaned her own more healthy 
baby that she might give nourishment to the veiy delicate babe of her 
sick neighbor. 

Another who was never weary of well-doing was Aunt Rhoda McKen- 
ney, the wife of Uncle Peter, of whom she was the exact opposite in al- 
most every respect, even to size, as he was a little lean man, while she 
was a large and exceedingly fleshy woman. When her time came to die 
she was surrounded by the loving hands of those unto whom she had 
ministered. At this time Uncle Peter was inconsolable, crying as if his 
heart would break, he turned to one who was there and said, amid his 
sobs, "Is it posssible she is going off with all that fat on her?" 

Mrs. Brown, too, was ever ready to go where she was needed, and 
mf.ny a sick person received her tender care. One time, when she was 
with a very poor woman, she was obliged to wash the new arrival in an 
ordinary quart bowl, and later, as there were no other dishes in the 
house except plates, furnish the woman with gruel from the same bowl. 
So it was that these people who have lived out their lives among us wen^ 
about doing good. Mr. Brown died in 1878 but his wife still lives to bless 
her children with her presence and does not look the seventy-six years 
which she has numbered. 

There are one or two funny stories in which James YanArnam figures. 
One time when Jim was going to Chicago that prince of jokers, Perse 
Cheney, telegraphed a description of him to the police and notified them 
to arrest him as soon as the train reached the city. This was done and 
Jim was held in "durance vile'' until an order for his release came with 
the assurance that no one would appear against him. Jim determined 
that he would unearth the perpetrator of the joke which hiid been played 
so successfully upon him and soon traced it to Mr. Cheney. Not long 
after these two were taking a drive in the country and came to Mrs. 
Dana's fine orchard. This matron had the reputation of being a some- 
what formidable person for trespassers to meet and it was well-known 


fact that she was the owner of some still more formidable dogs. The 
"forbidden fruit" looked very tempting and Jim suggested that Mr. 
Cheney go in and pather some apples while he would go on to the house 
and engage the old lady in conversation. This was readily agreed to by 
his unsuspecting companion, and Jim went on his way rejoicing. The 
manner in which he engaged the lady in converse was to tell her that 
there was a fellow down in the orchard stealing her apples and advising 
her to let the dogs loose. When Mr. Cheney heard them coming he took 
to a tree and there he remained, "forgotten of the world 1 ' but not by the 
quadrupeds (unfortunately), for nearly two hours, then the dogs were 
called off and he, being permitted to descend, was obliged to own that 
for once in his life he had been "paid back in his own coin." 

It will be remembered that Jim was well, yes cross-eyed. One time 
when he was about to butcher a beef with an ax the man who was hold- 
ing its head inquired with some trepidation if he was going to hit where 
he was aiming or where he was looking, "cause, if it was where he was 
looking, he wanted to get out of the way." 

Jim was marshal at the time that Mr. J. C. Ayres was city clerk, and 
he was in the habit of coming up into that gentleman's office when he 
had any writing to do. One day when Mr. Ayres was engaged in making 
out some pension papers for an old lady who was waiting in the office, Jim 
came in as usual and asked for pen and paper and seated himself at the 
opposite side of the desk to write a letter. His contortions and facial 
expressions while undergoing this ordeal can better be illustrated by pan- 
tomine than described, so I shall not attempt it. After laboring pain- 
fully for some minutes Jim looked up at Mr. Ayres and asked "how do 
you spell anxious?" The old iady, some little distance off to one side, 
and on whom Jim's "weather eye" was fixed in wild interrogation, 
straightened herself up, began to hem and haw, and at last blurted out 
"ank-no-anck-no, no-ancqu-no, that's not it. Well (with a deep sigh), 
I'll give it up! I used to be a beautiful speller, but I can't spell worth a 
cent since I lost my teeth." 

Isaac Means came here in 1845, followed three years later by the other 
members of the family. They lived on a farm two miles east of town on 
the Franklin Grove road. Mrs. Jane Little, a daughter of i.he family, 
resided at that time in the house now occupied by George McBride on 
Ottawa avenue. She was well-known here, always jolly and laughing, 
the life of every gathering. She was the only woman (so far as I have 
heard) ever admitted to the rites of Masonry, and this honor she obtained 


by that propensity of our Mother Eye, which is said to have been trans- 
mitted to all her descendants in the female line, viz., curiusity, but the 
story is too long to tell now. She had a family of four boys and many a 
struggle had she to rear them until they were able to do for themselves. 
She, too, has passed into the "beyond" with so many others of those early 

Mr. Means died in 1878 at the age of ninety-five years. His wife sur- 
vived him until 1881. There were four old ladies who were often invited 
to tea at one or other of their daughters, and they were dubbed the 
"Irish Convention" by some of the irrevelent young members of their 
families. They would assemble soon after dinner so as to have a long 
afternoon's visit, knitting in hand. They could certainly do more real 
genuine visiting "to the square yard" than any others I have ever seen. 
They were Mrs. Means, noble-looking, with deep-toned voice, Mrs. Law, 
placid of countenance, straight and dignified, Mrs. Richards, with sweet 
laughing face and loving manner, Mrs. Mulligan, the youngest of the 
party, with high sweet voice and look of supreme contentment. Memory 
brings their dear faces so plainly before me that I can scarcely believe 
that I* shall never again behold them in the flesh, and as I write I can 
e'en hear the hum of their happy voices which have been stilled in death 
these many years. 

A few years after the Means came here a very sad accident occurred 
in their home. During a severe thunder storm in the early morning 
their daughter Charlotte, a beautiful girl who was soon to have been 
married, was struck by lightning and instantly killed. Her mother in 
the room beneath also received a severe shock. 

Mrs. Maxwell, the only remaining member of the family here, was 
married in a striped calico dress. There had been one or two quite styl- 
ish weddings here a little before and Mr. Maxwell made up his mind 
that there should be no "high jinks" when they were married, so it took 
place just as he had planned it. I will add, however, that they gave a 
very <well supper to their friends an evening or two later. Mrs. Maxwell 
has reared a family of whom any mother might feel proud, and the years 
have dealt so gently with her that her 'hair is only sprinkled with gray. 

One time there was an Irish family living in the basement of Jim 
VanArnam's old stone house who would neither pay their rent or vacate 
the premises and Jim determined to take matters into his own hands. 
Some masons had been at work in the upper story and had left a heavy 
timber there, and one night he went to the house, took off his boots and 


crept up stairs, laid hold of the timber, raised it and let it drop with a 
tremendous thud just over the heads of his sleeping victims, then made 
his escape undetected. A day or two later the woman came to Mr. 
Ayres (to whom Jim had unfolded his plan) for the purpose of borrowing 
some money with which to build a shanty. Mr. Ayres remarked that he 
had supposed that she was well fixed where she was. She then began 
telling him of the fearful noises they had heard there in the dead of 
night, guns going off and dreadful pounding and not a soul about the 
place, and no one could convince her that a horrible murder had not 
sometime been committed there and for all the world, in that house 
they would not stay. So Jim got rid of his tenant. 

The best part is still to come. Mr. Ayres owned the old "Dixon Gar- 
dens" east of town and was greatly annoyed by the young Hibernians of 
the neighborhood, who continually kept breaking into the house smash- 
ing the windows and destroying all that was destroyable. Jim's success- 
ful campaign flashed into his mind and he resolved to emulate his noble 
example. He got a dark lantern and late in the evening would let him- 
self into the house, turn on the light and flash it about. To make mat- 
ters still more sure, he asked an old Irishman in the neighborhood, who 
was in his office one day, if he had noticed anything strange about the 
house. He had not, and Mr. Ayres, swearing him to secrecy, told him 
all he had heard that the old man (who had formerly lived thereand 
died) "waited." Of course the startled old man told everyone he met 
(as it was intended he should) the fearful story, and sure enough, that 
same night a strange, uncanny light was seen flashing here, there and 
everywhere through the old house. From that time the boys never 
troubled the house but took trouble to give it a wide berth. Not long 
after Mr. Ayres had an opportunity of selling the place and was congrat- 
ulating himself on his good fortune, but before the transaction was quite 
completed, the man had heard the grewsome tale and would have none 
of it, although the hero of the exploit even humbled himself to confess 
to him the boyish pranks which he had been playing. It was all in vain, 
and Mr. Ayres lost the sale of the place and since has not yearned to 
follow Jim VanArnarn's example in any way. 

As I read over this paper which I have written, somewhat unwillingly 
it strikes me that it is a little (in parts) after the manner of "Peck's 
Bad Boy," or the "Danbury News" and I shall censure no one should the 
book be laid aside after a perusal of one or two of my stories. I have 
garnered them from the memory of various old settlers and they are well 
authenticated, yet I tremble at my boldness in presenting them to you, 
all unaccustomed as I am to writing, but ; 'as ye are strong, be ye also 
merciful." GRACE E. Jonxsox. 

Some Earf^/ Horoeo, ef? DIXOT?. 

VERY late in the course of our preparation of material for this little 
book we were deeply pained to learn that the hand of death had 
been laid upon one of our most gifted contributors well-known 
and loved in Dixon -Mrs. S. A. Bethea. To her had been assigned the 
pleasant task of preparing a chapter upon the pioneers of Dixon but 
the story was unwritten, for death came too soon. To those who have 
been associated in this work there will always be a missing "number" in 
the promised programme, a vacant chair at our table. To all who read, 
there will be a missing chord in the harmony. Efforts to fill this blank 
have resulted in various shorter papers which will be read with interest, 
we trust, but at the eleventh hour it has fallen upon unworthy me to en- 
deavor to picture to the friends of today some of the early homes of 
Dixon and their occupants. Both time and opportunity for gathering 
material for such a sketch have been inadequate, and no one can regret 
more than myself that hearty desire and deep interestcannot be equalled 
in results. 

Many will discover (as Mr. Sabin Trobridge used to say in his S. S. 
praters) "sins of o-mission and sins of corn-mission," but they are not 
idW/uZsins, and 1 trust they will be forgiven and that those who see 
them will not fail to remember that they are all partakers thereof, since 
all have been asked, again and again to "lend a hand in the gathering 
of these "Recollections" and far too few have responded. All honor t 
the "few!" 

I begin with the first home in the town Father Dixon's log cabin, so 
often referred to in these pages which stood partly in J. M. Cropsey's lot, 
partly in Peoria street. It was a large "double cabin," the space between 
the two cabins (about twelve feet,) being enclosed and used as a dining- 
room in mild weather. Here Father Dixon lived for seAeral years, but 
in 1837 he was living on the Cyrus Williams farm, in what is now "High- 
land Park" near where the homestead of the Williams family stood the 
present site of Robert Fargo's house. 


After a short time he went to the farm, now known as the Dr. Everett 
farm, where the} 7 lived until Mrs. Dixon grew too feeble to be alone; then 
they came to the home of his son James, in the small brick house opposite 
the Dement place, where in 1847 "Mother Dixon" died. The old cabin 
was again used as a dwelling house at one time and was occupied by the 
Loveland family. Here Ernmeline Loveland was married to Smith Gil- 
braith, one of the original stockholders of the town, and one of its most 
promising business men Father Dixon's cabin was also used as a hotel. 
as a store, and was finally called the "Buzzard's Roost" in 1840. I have 
not been able to learn its fate, but the probability seems to be that it 
was used as a part of Cropsey's blacksmith shop for a time, and then torn 

James P. Dixon had a log house on Main street, and in a "lean-to" 
was the P. O (when it wasn't in Father Dixon's hat). Jude W. Hamilton 
had a little frame house near, which after several removals stood for a 
long time just east of the express office and was pulled down in 1870. 
This was the first frame house in the town, and was, probably, built by 
John K. Robison, and one of the sons of Father Dixon. John W. Dixon 
built the house on Ottawa street known as the Gilbraith house, lately 
occupied by Mr. Ingraham, but sold it to Mr. Gilbraith as soon as it was 
done, and built for himself the one next it, now owned by George Mc- 

Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Kellogg with their little girl, now Mrs. E. B. 
Baker, went to New York on a visit in 1837, and on their return brought 
with them their neice, Elizabeth Sherwood, a young lady of eighteen, to 
spend a year with them and her aunt, Mrs. Dixon. We must believe the 
year, or the visit, a very long one, fur the lady is still here. She was 
married in 1839 to John W. Dixon, at the home of her aunt at Kellogg's 
Grove, by the Rev. James DePui. They went first to the home of Father 
Dixon, on Dr. Everett's farm, but came to the McBride house within a 
year. After Mrs. Dixon's death they lived for many years in the house 
which Mr. Bovey used, until lately, for an office at his lumber yard, on 
Water street. As Mother Dixon died only six weeks before Mr. John W. 
Dixon, the double bereavement drew Father Dixon to his widowed 
daughter-in-law, and he made his home with her ever after. In the early 
'50's they came to live in North Dixon, on N. Jefferson avenue where 
Father Dixon died in 1876, and where Mrs. Dixon still lives with her son 
and daughter. 

Elijah Dixon, Father Dixon's third son, never had a home here. He 
went when a young man to establish a stage route between Janesville 


and Milwaukee, in company v. ith Richard Lovelaticl. Not long after this 
was accomplished he was seized with pneumonia and died at Janesville. 

Father Dixon's fourth son, Franklin, died at the early age of sixteen' 
His memory is enshrined in the name of the pretty "Franklin Creek,'' 
whicli in turn gave the name to Franklin Grove. We learn that Father 
Dixon found the pretty stream when hunting one day, and not long after 
proposed to a party of relatives to go with him to see it. They were 
greatly pleased with the country and the creek, and when asked for a 
name Mrs. Kellogg said it "should be named for Frank." 

Mrs. Dixon also lost two children, at Galena, whither she fled for 
safety during the Blackhawk war, and a beautiful daughter of three and 
a half years died of scarlet fever at Dr. Everett's farm, when there had 
been no other case heard of for many months. She was the pet and pride 
of the household, and her death was a sad blow to the family. The 
ice was going out of the river, and the water so high that the little 
coffin was carried at great risk in a skiff across the river to t^e cemetery, 
unattended except by those who rowed the boat. Tuis was the youngest 
child, but of the large family only two, I believe, survived the mother, 
and not one was left to mourn the father's death. 

Two stories so characteristic of Father and Mother Dixon have recent' 
ly been told me that 1 give them here. The first is of a local historian 
who was "writing up" the Blackhawk war. He read some paragraphs to 
Father Dixon, which were more high sounding than eiiact, and quickly 
roused Father Dixon's spirit. He corrected the statement carefully, as 
suring the writer that "history should be exact, rather than pleasing, 
and he would not for one moment allow any such misleading inference to 
appear in print." But the young writer was so proud of his periods that 
in due time it came out in a local paper. The next time he met Father 
Dixon the old gentleman said quietly: ''I see you did not make that 
correction: you can now take your choice: correct it yourself in the next 
issue of the paper, as much to your own credit as you can, or I shall do so, 
and if I make the correction it will be in no measured terms." It is 
needless to add that the correction was made without delay. 

It is also said that Mother Dixon at one time entertained three min- 
isters who did not disclose their calling until they were on the eve of 
departure for which she severely reproved them thus showing that a 
woman who could preside with such dignitj when entertaining Indian 
chiefs, as to call forth their admiration, could also reprove unhesitating- 
ly when she felt rebuke was merited. The ministers acknowledged the 
justice of her reproof, and promised never to do the like again. 


The little house next the one where Mrs. John W. Dixon lived so long 
(on River street) was occupied for a time by A. T. Marphy, one of the 
early settlers of the town. Here also lived for many years the old ferry- 
man, John Neimeyer, bnt in time it became the famous, or infamous 
''hole in the wall" where there was so much drinking. After serving a 
better purpose (as a store room for Lorenzo Wood's woolen goods) it was 
at last pulled down. 

We turn from the story of Father Dixon's family to that of their dear 
friends, Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Little. Mr. Little was one of the fi.rst mer- 
chants in Dixon, and with his amiable wife has been associated with the 
iaterests of the town for over fifty years. 

, Mr. Little was induced to leave his native place (Castine, Maine) 
through correspondence with a very dear friend, Joseph A. Wallace (a 
brother of Gen. Wm. Wallace), who came to Ogle county and was em- 
ployed as a clerk in the store of J. B. Crist in "Oregon City." 

Mr. Wallace wrote such glowing letters about the west, and particular- 
ly of the Rock river country, that he infected Mr. Little with the western 
fever, and in 1839 we find him writing to eastern friends in terms equally 
enthusiastic from "Oregon City." We quote from a letter addressed by 
him to S. K. Upham, in Castine: "Dixon, or Dixonville (as it is also 
called), is a larger place than this, and is a central point. The great 
Central R. R. through this state passes through (or will pass through) 
Dixon. It has been in progress at that place, but work is now abandoned 
for want of funds; will be continued next summer [1839). There is but 
store there now, of any consequence, and very poor goods. If we get our 
goods there in any season we shall do well. Our store room is the best in 
this section of the country, and I think it a much better place to sell 
goods than Oregon City. There never was a prettier place for a town, 
and within two years it will be almost a paradise." Mr. Little also says 
that he shall never forget the beautiful vision of his first glimpse of 
Dixon as he came down the river in the stage with Leonard Andrus from 
Grand Detour. He was also delighted to see what he felt sure was a 
church steeple on the river bank. He had heard Dixon called a "hard 
place," but here was evidence of another sort, he was sure. Alas! for the 
truth! What he supposed was a church steeple was the chimney of tne 
old distillery on Water street, and the revulsion of feeling may be better 
imagined than described. 

In December, 1839. a Mr. John M. Fish, of Alton, and J. B. Crist, of 
Oregon, formed a partnership for tbe transaction of the mercantile busi- 
ness at Dixon. Mr. Fish went to Alton to purchase dry goods, groceries), 


and .such other articles as then made up the stock of a western variety 
store. These were shipped up the Mississippi river and were to be landed 
at Savanna, but the weather became so intensely cold that the river 
froze over and the steamer could go no farther north than Tully, Mo. 
Here the goods were landed and the steamer returned to Alton. 

The boundary war between Iowa and Missouri was in progress, and 
the Missouri troops being in need of such articles broke into the ware- 
house and took possession of the goods. Mr. Fish and Mr. Little had 
bought the goods which Mr. Crist added to the stock of the firm, and had 
sent them from Oregon to Dixon taking into their partnership S. G. D. 
Howard and assuming the firm name of Fish, Little and Co. Hearing 
of the seizure of their goods Mr. Fish went at once to Tully and replev- 
ined them, taking them back into the country about forty miles to Sand 
Hill. Not finding any prospect of getting them to Dixon before spring he 
decided to sell what he could where he was. 

Messrs. Little and Howard were, meantime, selling the Oregon goods 
in the Gilbraith store on the corner of Hennepin and River streets, nuw 
occupied as a brewery. 

The ice went out of the river in February, 1840, with a sudden rise of 
the water, which left gieat cake? twenty inches thick all along the bank, 
flooding the cellars and destroying twenty barrels of salt belonging to 
S;nith Gilbraith in the store just spoken of. Mr. Little, being very anx- 
ious to learn the state of affairs at Sand Hill, purchased a skiff of William 
Peacock, fitted it with a sail, and accompanied by Isaac Robinson (land- 
lord of the Rock River house, which stood where Paul Lord's wagon shop 
m w is) started down the river. They came upon a gorge at Como, where 
the, ice was piled four feet high, so they stopped for the night at a farm 
house. They tied their boat to a tree, carrying their baggage to the 
house. During the night the ice went out, leaving their boat high and 
dry, hanging to the tree. The remainder of their trip was very pleasant, 
and they entered the Mississippi at Rockingham. which stood directly 
opposite the mouth of Rock river. At Burlington, Iowa, they sold their 
boat, Mr. Robinson going on to New Orleans and Mr. Little getting pas- 
sage by stage, wagon or skiff, as best he could, to Sand Hill. Here he 
found Mr. Fish in a little one-story log "store." where he had his goods 
arranged in a sort of sutler's style, and where he was also postmaster. 
They divided the goods and dissolved their partnership, Mr. Little re- 
turning to Dixon with his share. His partnership with Mr. Howard con- 
tinued for some tirue but ended with Mr. Little assuming the whole 
business and building a large store on River street, which is now a part 

of D. W, McKenney's livery stable. This drew so heavily on his capi- 
tal that he closed his business and rented the store to Garrett, Seaman 
& Co., entering their employ as clerk. Mr. Little says: "It might show 
some of the young men what it cost in labor and sacrifice to develop a 
new country, to learn that for the rent of my store, the board of the 
two clerks, and my own services as cleric I received seven hundred dol- 
lars a year." 

Some time after this Mr. Little formed a partnership with J. B. 
Brooks, of whom he says he was "one of ihe best business men and one 
of the best men who ever resided in Dixon" and adds also "It is due to 
Mr. Brocks that he be brought to the notice of the readers of this his- 
tory, for no man has ever done more to build up this town than J. B. 
Brooks and no man has better represented the industrious, prudent, 
liberal, faithful, honest business man in this communitv than he." 

"This generation has no idea how much it is indebted to him that 
Dixon was enabled to pass, with so little disaster, through the financial 
embarassments of the state and country." It is the pleasure of many 
friends to notice that his son, Dr. H. J. Brooks, inherits the traits of h's 

In October 1840 Mr. Little was married to Eleanor Cobb, of Bangor, 
Me., and the young couple immediately started for their western home, 
intending to reach it in time for the groom to cast his first presidential 
vote for Gen. Wm. Henry Harrison, but the steamer in which they took 
passage from Buffalo to Chicago encountered a terrifflc gale off Thunder 
Bay and was compelled to return to Detroit, where her passengers 
awaited the coming of the next boat a week later. 

Their first fifty miles out of Chicago was made in a four-horse coach, 
but after being duly "sloughed," the passengers were transferred to at wo- 
horso lumber wagon, in which Mr. and Mrs. Little rode on a carpenter's 
tool-che=t. At Oregon they were again placed in a coach and had a more 
comfortable ride the last part of the journey, through scenery as de- 
lightful as that romantic route still affords. They went first to the old 
"Western Hotel," (now ',Huntly House,'' on Hennepin street,) then 
kept by Geo. A. Hawley, from Baffalo, N. Y. Mrs. Little's room was 
directly over the bar-room, and heated by the pipe from the bar-room 
stove; we may imagine it was far from pleasant, so that she prized the 
more, the kindness of "Mother Dixon," who took the young stranger to 
her home whenever Mr. L'ttle was absent on business, and by every 
charm of her warm motherly heart strove to dispel the loneliness which 
might else have been hard to bear. There were other dear and kind 


friends, too, for says one who has told us much of that time: "Dixon in its 
early settlement was favored with the society of many refined, cultivated 
families, many devout, active, Christian men and women," and another 
adds: "It seems to me that the porportion of such was larger than it is 

It was no doubt largely due to the influence of "Mother Dixon" that 
Mr. and Mrs. Little became members of the Baptist church in 1841, in 
which communion they have been devout and faithful members ever 
since. Mr. Little says: "All the various religious services were held in 
the same old school house at that time, but there were grand sermons, 
fervent, effectual paryers, and sweet songs of Zion thai, have echoed in 
the heart of many an old settler ever since." 

After a time Mr. and Mrs. Little commenced housekeeping in a little 
house of one quite large room, a bedroom so small that it was impossible 
to shut the door without getting behind it, a pantry, and a hole beneath 
which did duty as a cellar. This house stood on the corner of what is 
now Galena avenue and Second street, where Mrs. Lewis' milliner's store 
is. In this small compass they lived and boarded the two gentlemen who 
aided Mr. Little in the store, P. M. Alexander and Mr. Howard, and no 
one can doubt the testimony of an eye-witness that it was "tidy, home- 
like, and comfortable." 

Their next home was a part of the large building, comprising both 
store and house, on Water street, referred to before. Here Mrs. Barge 
remembers going to see Mrs. Little's first baby and the delight with which 
such arrivals were always hailed. At this home, too, first entered Dixon 
society another familiar personage as a member of Mrs. Little's family, 
whose lasting devotion to them is but one of the many evidences of a 
noble character Adam Schiere; but we leave a "story" of Adam to 
another pen. 

In 1841, too, Mr. Little entered into an agreement which we CODJ for 
the benefit of young men who feel that their services are not duly 
appreciated or remunerated or consider success a consequence of a large 
salary. It states that "The said Little agrees to pay the said Alexander 
one hundred dollars in such merchandise as he may want, at twelve and 
a half per cent advance from cost, and the remainder of the hundred 
dollars over and above the amount in goods he may want, the said Little 
agrees to pay him in good par money. The said Little agrees also to board 
the said Alexander and pay for his washing. And the said Alexander on 
the other part agrees to discharge the duties of clerk in the store of said 
Little, to devote h. js time to the said Little's interest, and to do all 

-337 - 

that may be required of him by the said Little, which may be reasonable 
as clerk in his store for one year from the first day of September, 1841," 
duly signed by J. T. Little and P. M. Alexander. Of Mr. Little's business 
connectiocs at a later date we have already written. He spent some 
years in the nursery business when the confinement of a store told upon 
his health, but is now living in town again. Age has silvered his hair 
and enfeebled his steps. Mrs. Little's sweet face is touched by the same 
gentle artist, but their hearts are still warm with affection for the home 
of their adoption. Mr. Little says: "I am now an old man, and have 
seen Dixon become a thriving manufacturing city, with first-class educa- 
tionol facilities, superior church privileges, and a thriving, energetic 
population, and though I myself have suffered many reverses of fortune 
and am, consequently, unable to help pecuniarily in building up the city, 
I still feel deeply interested in its prosperity and bid it 'God speed' in 
every laudable enterprise." 

There was little choice of labor in those days, but there was no aris- 
tocracy but that of worth so "labor and capital" were not the vexed 
questions they are now. P. M. Alexander worked for Father Dixon sev- 
eral months when he first came on his farm. Then he came back to 
town and he and Richard Loveland were employed by Mr. Gilbraith to 
cut timber on the island, which they sold for $1.25 per cord. They also 
sawed and split some of it for Dr. Everett for fifty cents per cord. 

His business connection with Mr. Little, which was the beginning of 
his mercantile life and the foundation of his success as a merchant, was 
spoken of a few pages back. In 1847 Mr. Alexander brought his bride to 
Dixon Eliza Howell, a sister of the late G. L. Howell. She is said to 
have been a very quiet, retiring person, yet a delightful companion to 
those who were privileged to know her intimately, and a devoted Chris- 
tian. She brought with her the first piano in the town (the one at Haz- 
elwood being, probably, the only other one then in the country), and we 
can well imagine that her musical ability was fully appreciated in the 
little community. She was a woman, too, of rare self-possession and 
moral courage, as a single instance will show. At one time her husband 
had been ill for many weeks, his disease baffling Dr. Everett's skill to 
such an exent that he told the young wife that the remedy he was about 
to prescribe was his last hope. If that failed there was no chance for her 
husband's life. Instead of yielding to tears or faintriess she returned to 
the sick room with such a serene face that her very presence inspired 
hope and so cheered her husband that his recovery dated from that hour. 
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander spent nearly nine years in Mrs. Brooks' home, 


then built a house on Water street (then the principal street of the town). 
They lived to enjoy the fruits of their patience and perseverence in their 
beautiful home in North Dixon for many years, but Mrs. Alexander's life 
went out with so many others in the terrible "bridge disaster" of 1873. 
Mr. Alexander is still among us honored and esteemed. His story is a 
good lesson to the young men of the present day. 

Judge Heaton, whose name has been referred to several times in these 
pages, lived early in the "forties" on East First street. His wife was a 
most amiable woman, and one whose memory the few surviving women 
of that time cherish with great affection. She was thrown from her 
carriage and killed at the steps of the old Methodist church (now J. W. 
Kent's home on Second street), her babe, Mar>, being saved and cared 
for for some time by Mrs. Everett. 

Judge Heaton later married Mrs. Lucinda McCouasey, who survived 
him several years. She was a most motherly, kind-hearted woman, beloved 
by all her associates and remembered in many a Dixon home for her 
thoughtful kindnesses and her cordial hospitality. Her home was in the 
house now occupied by Dr. Garrison, but either at their marriage or SOOH 
after Judge and Mrs. Heaton moved to the pretty cottage on Third street 
so long associated with their names and faces, where they made a happy 
home for their group of children, and a pleasant assembly point for their 
young associates. 

The first blacksmith's shop was on Main street, and the first smith 
lived in a part of the same building. In 1839 he was succeeded in business 
by Horace Preston, a brother-in-law of Judge Wood, and long a well- 
known citizen of Dixon. He worked at his trade here for fourteen vears, 
then went to his farm near town. His daughters are still living here, but 
he and his gentle wife (a sister of Judge Wood) have joined the great 
multitude beyond. He built the brick house still standing on Peoria 
avenue near the corner of Main street where Col. and Mrs. Cyrus Aldrich 
lived for a time, afterwards in a house near the Main street arch, built 
and occupied for many years by Judge Wood. The Colonel was in the land 
office here and widely interested in the sale and settlement of lands about 
Dixon. Mrs. Aldrich was a woman of superior rank, cultivated and re- 
fined, and one who entertained most delightfully. I well remember the 
delights of her hospitable home, and the childish awe with which I lis- 
tened to her conversation with people who were to me almost too great 
to venture to address in any ordinary manner, chief among them Bayard 
Taylor. They removed to Minneapolis, where the Colonel died some 
years ago, and where Mrs, Aldrich is still living. In the house where 

-339 - 

they first lived there lived in after years another couple of whom some 
mention should be made, though they are not strictly old settlers of 
Dixon Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Harsha. They were Illinois pioneers and 
well-known all through the northwest part of the state. Mr. Harsha was 
the first pastor of the Presbyterian church in Dixon, and with his noble 
wife, is still remembered and loved by many both in and out of that com- 
munion. Ris interesting contribution to our book makes this reference 
an entirely proper one, and their pioneer experiences as missionaries to 
Northwestern Illinois would add greatly to the interest of our book if 
Lee county could claim them all. 

Another house long associated with the history of Dixon stood on 
Galena avenue, near where Mr. J. H. Todd's store now is, and was 
occupied by J. B. Brooks, and here many of the old settlers boarded for 

Otis Eddy lived just above this place, about where the "Round Corner 
Block" is now, in a house which was moved to Hennepin street, and 
owned for many years by Hiram S. Mead. Indeed the "residence portion" 
of the town was clustered about the corner of Main and Galena streets, 
while the business street was on the river bank. When Mr. O. F. Ayres 
built the stone store, which has since been replaced by the Schuler block, 
many thought him very unwise to build so far out of town, and ladies 
dreaded to walk down across the slough to see Mrs. Heaton because pigs 
and fleas were so numerous in the warm sand of that quarter. 

Judge Wilkeson also lived on Galena street, but further down, quite 
near the corner of River street. His family are spoken of as evincing 
refinement, intelligence and culture, as well as more wealth than most 
pioneers. He was a son of Judge Wilkeson, of Buffalo, a very able man' 
and one of the original stockholders of the town five in number. 
The others were Col. Wight, of Galena, Father Dixon, Smith Gilbraith 
and James Boyd, of Princeton. 

It is very greatly to be regretted that the name of the streets in North 
Dixon, given them in honor oc these early and prominent settlers, should 
have been changed thus, in time, effacing them from the memory of 
the town. 

Judge Wilkeson built the first saw-mill in the county, at the foot of 
Peoria street, but it was used for this purpose but a short time, being 
soon converted into a distillery, the chimney of which so deceived Mr. 
Little on his approach to the town. 

The first brick business building was put up by James and Horace 


benjamin in 1346, just where Morton's drug store is now. They built one- 
half and A. T. Murphy the other. 
D. B. McKinney built another soon after, nearly opposite. 

Nearly opposite the Brooks home, on Galena street, stood a neat and 
(then) roomy brick cottage, the home of E. W. Hine, who was a tailor, 
but afterward studied law and was for a long time Recorder of Deeds 
and J. P. Many of us still remember the house, standing in the oncom- 
ing rush of business blocks, like an estrayed and frightened child in a 
street parade. Mrs. Hine is spoken of as a very lovely woman. She, with 
her husband, son and daughter slipped so quietly away to the beyond, 
that they might have been forgotten by the next generation had they 
not written their names with such as Rockefeller's and Peabody's as 
public benefactors. The names are in smaller capitals to our eyes, but 
to Him who "sees not as man seeth" who can say their gift was less than 
the largest, since it was their all? They gave their home to St. Luke's 
church, and a fine business block (occupied by J. H. Morris & Son) has 
taken the place -of the old house, bringing a valuable addition to the 
income of the church. 

There is a record in the county histories to the effect that an Episcopal 
church was organized here in 1837, but it seems impossible to add to this 
any particulars, and difficult to trace even this to a firm foundation. But 
from a document yellow with age, entitled "A Record of the Proceedings 
of St. Peter's Parish in Grand Detour," we learn that on April 8th, 1847, 
at six o'clock p. m., a meeting was held at the house of S. M. Harris, 
where forty-four persons, whose names are given, signed an agreement to 
"associate themselves together under the name of and style of St. 
Peter's church." And there is no reason to doubt, as an old settler tells 
us, that the corner stone of the Episcopal church in these parts was the 
faiihful devotion of Mr. and Mrs. House. With their names we find 
associated those of Paine, Harris, Cotton, Cumins, Bosworth, Pank- 
hurst, Andine, and others, and they should be honored by some nobler 
record than these simple lines, yet are they "writ on high." Of those 
who met on that memorable evening only one is still among us; a 
"mother in Israel" beloved and honored by all the church Mrs. Laura 
C. Paine. Some are gone to other homes, some swell the ranks of the 
Church Triumphant and some alas! have forgotten their pledge. 

The Rev. James DePui, an Episcopal minister, came to Dixon 1837, 
and both Father and Mother Dixon were so anxious that some minister 
should settle here, and became so warmly attached to Mr. DePui that 
they offered him his choice of a lot, if he would stay. 


He chose to locate in Korth Dixon, and built a house (now owned by 
Mr. Kitchen) on the block where Mr. Parsons now lives. When the town 
was laid out, the street line came so near his house and well that, Father 
Dixon made his block four hundred feet instead of three hundred. The 
people were evidently much gratified by Mr. DePui's decision, for Mrs. 
Dixon says the first donat'on party ever given in the county was made 
for him soon after he moved into the house, before it was entirely com- 
pleted. Mrs. Dixon, then Miss Sherwood, and her future sister-in-law, 
Mary Dixon, came over to stay all day, and help Mrs. DePui with the 
dinner. The people came from far and near, through the whole day. 
bringing with them gifts of such as they had, all cheerfully given and 
all acceptable. 

There was so many hams that Mr. DePui's little son, who saw them 
hanging in the unfinished chamber, was utterly dismayed, and told his 
mother they "would have to eat ham all the rest of their lives." After all 
had departed and the family were preparing for the night, a loud rap 
sounded on the back door; on opening it they found the last donation, 
but no sign of the donor. It was a wash tub, wash board and broom. 

Farther down on Main street was a house where lived one of the best 
of the "Old Settlers" one who has robed for the first and the last time, 
more of our fellow-citizens than any other one person Aunt Sally Her- 
rick. She persistently refuses to be made the heroine of any "story" 
but "her works do follow her," and she will be lovingly remembered as 
long as Dixon has a history. She went among the sick and afflicted, 
dressing a child here, making a bed for a weary sufferer in another place, 
carrying gruel and broth to those who had poor appetite (or little to sat- 
isfy it), calling the attention of the well-to-do to the needs of the poorer, 
and all so quietly that it was as if it had been done by some unseen hand. 
Not infrequently she stood by the sick bed while Dr. Everett went out to 
get suitable bedding to make a comfortable place for a sufferer, and then 
leaving him she would go home, or elsewhere, for fresh underwear for 
the patient, and, perhaps, for a poor, unwelcome baby. One old settler 
says: "If any pioneer woman deserves to be mentioned it is Aunt Sally 
Herrick, for she went among the rich and poor, night and day, without 
thought of herself until it seemed as if the people could not have lived 
without her." She lived first in a house on Main street, but soon after 
her husband bought a shop (he was a carpenter) and she begged to be 
allowed to "fix it up." He said it "was all right now," but before he 
realized what she was doing, she had whitewashed walls and ceiling, par. 
titioned it with white cloth, and made of the old building the most tidy, 


cheery home imaginable. "And 1 was the proudest Woman you eVef 
saw!" Aunt Sally says. Here they lived until Mr. Herrick built the house 
now owned by Mrs. Worthington: from there they moved to the home 
where Aunt Sally now lives on West Third street, which was so far out 
in the country that her husband thought she would not be so completely 
at the call of all the new babies and recent mourners. The first night 
in the new home he felt quite a sense of security but before midnight 
there was a rap, and a request to go to a friend; the second night there 
was another call, and the third still another, so Mr. Herrick finding there 
was no safety in distance, like a wise man held his peace. 

To Mr. Herrick the town owed its first hearse. In the earlier days 
the coffins were carried upon a bier, by the bearers, up the long sandy 
road to the cemetery. Then they used a light open wagon, but Aunt 
Sally said she ''got so tired seeing the corpses she had dressed with such 
care, shook up in that wagon" that she gathered funds from all possible 
sources for a hearse. When it came it had no trimmings or curtains, so 
she added these herself and fitted it up in the most becoming style. It 
must have been a comfort to others beside Aunt Sally to see the bodies 
of dear friends carried in the more suitable vehicle, 

Up the river Col. Johnson built the house now known as the Van- 
Arnam place, but called in early days the "Steamboat Hotel" because it 
was built with a long central room, with bedrooms each side 1 , after the 
manner of steamboats Col. Johnson also set out the beautiful row of 
maples along the river bank below his place, which add so much beauty 
to our autumnal landscape. His daughter was the wife of Dr. Nash, 
who came here the same year his sister, Mrs. Sally (Nash) Herrick did, 
1142. Dr. Nash practiced medicine here for some years, but finally, in 
company with Silas Noble built the Union Block, in which he opened a 
drug store, which he kept for several years and sold to B. B. Higgins. 
Dr. Nash built the house in which D. W. McKenney now lives, and Silas 
Noble the one owned for so many years by Mrs. Ruth Porter. 

Col. Johnson did not stay here very long, and the next occupants of 
his house were a couple to whom Lee county, indeed Northern Illinois, 
owes much the Rev. and Mrs. Luke Hitchcock. As pioneer preacher 
and presiding elder, Mr. Hitchcock travelled all through these parts. 
Always a devoted Christian, an intelligent citizen and a faithful friend, 
there are men and women scattered abroad over many states who will 
rise to bear witness to the noble record of Luke Hitchcock and his wife. 

Mrs. Hitchcock's sister, Mr?. O. F. Ayres lived in a small house, still 
standing, just above the home of our venerable ex-drayman Dan Bresna- 


ban, and her boys used to run across tbe hill to play with the "Judson 
boys" when the Rev. Philo Judson lived in another little house, back of 
Col. Johnson's. Mr. Ayres was also a minister, but owing to feeble 
health never took charge of a church in the west. However, if the rec- 
ords were searched, they would doubtless prove that he married more 
couples and attended more funerals than any minister in Dixon. Mrs. 
Ayres survived her husband many years, and has been much interested 
in the gathering of these "Recollections," and we hoped would add 
something to these pages. 

The announcement of her death as I near the completion of this paper 
brings to mind the last time we met. It was a pleasant evening party 
at the home of her son D. B., and as a group stood about her she most 
feelingly referred to pioneer days, when she had known the mothers of 
many present. As we said "good night" she said "good nights would be 
sad, were it not for the thought of good mornings" and one added "yes, 
'good mornings' in the Father's House." 

I have spoken of Judge Wood's house in another place, but Judge 
Wood himself should have more extended notice, since he was one of the 
first lawyers in Dixon, and held almost continuously some legal office, 
from the time he came here in 1842 till his death a few years since. His 
first wife was a sister of Alonzo Maxwell, a beautiful little woman and 
the mother of four children. His second wife was a true second mother 
to them and a woman of most lovely character. Her death, near the 
time of business reverses left hirn a saddened and broken-spirited man, 
so it is hard for those who knew him in late years only, to realize his true 

Daniel and Christopher Brookner came here in 1837. Daniel lived in 
a small house not far from the Washington nouse, now occupied by Mrs. 
Hayes, and he, with his wife and son were among the victims of the chol- 
era epidemic. Christopher had a cabinet and furniture store. He came 
to this country from Germany in 1834 and to Dixon in 1837. He is said to 
have sought the comfort of domestic life rather than the strife of public 
contest, hesitating to push himself into prominence, but his industry, re- 
liability and integrity gained him the respect and esteem of all who knew 
him. In 1846 he married Miss Jane Robinson, who had recently come 
here from Oberlin, Ohio, with her sister, Mrs. Chas. Weed. They were 
married in the house where they afterward lived, where the bride then 
boarded with Mrs. Alonzo Mead. The wedding was early in the morn- 
ing, for the bridal party were to drive to Rockford in a sleigh. One of 
Mrs Mead's family remembers how in the efforts of the children to get a 


peeo at the ceremony through a stoVe-pipe hole, soniebody nearly fell 
through, and how "old inaid Cummins" (as the veteran school ma'am was 
called when her back was turned) vainly tried to restore order and quiet. 
Mrs. Brookner remembers that there were only two or threp houses on 
the north side of the river, and that she had seen deer skip from the 
south bank to the island through the clear, shallow water. 

Mr. and Mrs. Brookner lived in a small cottage where Mr. Gaffney's 
livery stable now stands on East Main street. They built their pleasant 
home in North Dixon in 1861. 

Up to 1849 or '50 there were no houses, except those named heretofore, 
the old log "block house" (about where Mr. Schatzman's house is now) in 
North Dixon, and an old "store" a little above. About that time Mrs. 
Baker built her house, and Judge Eustace, one of the most promising 
young men of the town, the house now owned by Jas. B. Charters, and 
then North Dixon grew rapidly. From one of the family we have the 

"This chapter would not be complete without a brief mention of the 
McKenney family, of which eleven children, (ten sons and a daughter) 
with one exception made Lee county their home. The first arrival here 
was D. B. McKenney, who came in 1835. In the spring of 1836 his father, 
Peter McKenney, came from Canada to join him, bringing with him his 
wife and two daughters, Eliza Ann and Catherine. 'Aunt Rhoda,' his 
wife, was one of the most amiable and kind hearted women ever known. 
She is said to have had a kind look and pleasant word for all, and no old 
settler refers to her without some term of respect and affection. 

The next fall Daniel, Robert, John, Frederick and James came, bring- 
ing their families, excepting the last two. Frederick soon after married 
Catherine Clute in Schenectady, N. Y. "Uncle Fred," and "Auntie 
Fred" were the endearing names by which they were well known; both 
are now dead, leaving two sons and two daughters to monrn their loss. 
James was married on New Year's Day, 1840, to Harriet Whitney, a 
daughter of Col. Nathan Whitney, of Franklin Grove. He died many 
years since, leaving four daughters. Frederick and James carried on a 
grocery business until 1849. They used to tell many interesting stories of 
their trips to Chicago to buy goods of sloughs with no bottom, and streets 
in Chicago where they had to have help to pull their wagons out of the 
mud with great chains. With the family of Robert McKenney came Dan- 
iel, Eliza and Caroline Davis and two helpers, Susan Alway and Wilmot 
Brown, both of whom found husbands and settled in Dixon, Eliza Davis 
died during her first year here, being too frail to endure pioneer life. 


Caroline married James Benjamin, leaving at her death a family of five 
children. Uncle Peter and his son D. B. kept the Dixon house, (which 
they built) for a number of years, selling out to Henry McKenney, who 
came with Richard from Canada, bringing with him his wife Eusebia 
Nash, afterward Mrs. Perry. Matthew McKenney also came at this time 
and died here, many years since. Richard McKenney bought a farm at 
Hickory Grove, where he died. The other sons, except one, and the 
daughter, afterward joined the family here and settled in this vicinity. 

I cannot close this paper without referring to the deep impression I 
have received in the talks with the few remaining pioneer women of 
Dixon and vicinity, on the subject of their early experiences, many of 
which are too sacred and personal for even these pages. There is no more 
convincing proof of the reality of Christian fortitude or the worth of 
Christian character than the story of their pioneer days. They had little 
idea of the career of latter-day women, but they had all the elements of 
character which today would have given them a high rank in any position 
where circumstances would have placed them. They had the spirit which 
inspires the true soldier, and though they did not command armies or 
conquer visible foes, they organized forces far less amenable to disci- 
pline, they fought desperate battles uncheered by martial music, and 
conquered enemies more unyielding, gaining for their daughters a peace- 
able heritage of civilization which these annals will, we trust, enable 

them to more fully appreciate. 


Owr F^rat Seftoot 


(Inserted by special request.) 

IN looking over, recently, some old papers, I came across the subscrip- 
tion paper for building the first school house in Dixon, and have 
thought that it would not be without interest to many of our readers. 
This paper was got up in January, 1837, and contains many names famil- 
iar to the old settlers. The subscription paper read as follows: 

We, the subscribers, agree to pay the sum severally attached to our names, for the 
purpose of erecting a school house in the town of Dixon. Said school house shall be 
for the teaching of Primary schools, and shall be open for religious meetings of all 
denominations, when not occupied by the schools. 

Said house shall be one story high and at least forty feet by twenty on the ground, 
and shall contain two rooms which shall be connected by a door or doors, as may be 
thought proper. 

The subscribers shall meet on Monday, the 20th day of February next, at 6 o'clock 
P. M., and choose three trustees to superintend the building of said house. The trust- 
ees shall have power to collect the money subscribed, contract for and purchase ma- 
terial for said house, and employ workmen to do the same. They shall see that it is 
done in a plain, workmanlike manner; so far as the funds shall warrant. 



Jas. P. Dixon, 

$25 00 

John Snyder, 

Oliver Everett, 

25 00 

H Martin. 

John Wilson, 

25 05 

W. P. Burroughs, 

Caleb Talmage, 

20 00 

John Dixon, 

J. B. Barr, 

10 00 

I. 8. Boardman, 

Samuel Leonard, 

5 00 

A friend. 

Jacob Rue, 

5 00 

M. McCabe. 

B. B. Brown, 

5 00 

Allen Wiley. 

Samuel Gatteu, 

6 00 

J. W. Hamilton, 

Edwin Hine, 

5 00 

Geo. L. Chapman, 

Elijah Dixon. 

15 00 

W. H. Eowe, 

Hiram P. Parks. 

10 00 

J. W. Dixon, 

John Q.Adams. 

00 10 

E. W. Covill, 


E. A. Statia, 

Seth D. Brittain. 

20 00 

S. W. Johnson, 

If he settles here. 

Robert Murry, 

Lemuel Huff. 

15 00 

Sam'l C. McClure, 

Alanson Dickerman 

3 5 00 

Mrs. E. N. Hamilton. 

5 00 

5 00 

15 00 

20 00 

10 00 

5 00 

10 00 

10 00 

5 00 

5 00 

10 00 

10 00 

25 00 

5 00 

10 00 

10 00 

15 00 

15 00 

Horace Thompson, 
Mrs. R. Dixon. 
L, D Butler, 
M L. Dixon, 
Mrs. A. Talmage, 
Mrs. M. H. Barr. 
J. Muphey. 
N. W. Brown, 
8. M. Boyman, 
John Richards, 
C.F. Hubbard. 
W. W. Graham. 
T. L. Hubbard. 
John Carr. 
George Kip. 
Wm. Graham, 

5 oo 

30 00 

s oo 

6 00 
5 00 

W 00 
5 00 
10 00 
10 00 
5 00 
5 00 
5 00 
5 00 
5 00 
5 00 


It will be noticed that many of the subscribers were persons living 
some distance in the country, and of those who came to the country dur- 
ing the next season. The reason that Father Dixon's name was not at or 
near the head of the list is that he was away that winter in Vandalia, 
tne the capital of the state. It may also be noticed that the matter 
dragged somewhat, as such enterprises often do, and the ladies took it up, 
Mrs. Dixon giving the largest subscription on the list and Mrs. Hamilton 
a generous amount. Again it may be noticed that one John Q. Adams, 
not our present John Q. Adams, but an unworthy bearer of a great name, 
in subscribing put two 00 where the dollars ought to have been, making 
his subscription but 10 cents. When his attention was called to it he said 
it was just as he intended to have it. His name was dealt with as was 
fashionable at that time it was expunged. 

The old school house was built during the summer of 1837 of the size 
and frame specified in the subscription paper, about twenty rods west of 
the cemetery, on or near lot one, block sixty-nine, now occupied by Harry 
Smith. It was built perfectly plain, without a cornice, and enclosed 
with undressed oak siding and a hard wood shingle roof. The inside 
consisted of two rooms, one six feet by twenty extending across the end 
of the building, serving as an entrance way or vestibule to the main 
room, which was twenty by thirty-four feet, with three windows on 
either side and one at the end of the room opposite the entrance. It was 
plastered on the inside with a single coat of coarse brown mortar, and 
was warmed during winter with a wood fire in a large box store. In 1839 
it was moved down on to the north end of lot five, block seventeen, on the 
east side of Ottawa street, just south of the residence of Dr. Nash, now 
occupied by Daniel McKenney, fronting to the north upon the alley. 
There it remained for several years, and was used for school house, meet- 
ing house and court house (the first three terms of the Circuit Court of 
Lee County were held in it). Elections and political meetings and con- 
ventions were held in it, and it was always used for whatever other pur- 
pose the people might congregate. 

The old school house was very plain, rough and uninviting to look up- 
on, but there are many recollections associated with it which are always 
dwelt upon by the earlv settlers with great interest, and should make the 
memory of it dear to the people of Dixon It was within its rough brown 
walls that the venerable and revered Bishop Chase, then Senior Bishop of 
the American Eniscopal church, first preached to the scattered members 
of his fold as were hereabout, and broke to them the bread of the sacra- 
ment, and where Rev. James DePui, a man of rare culture and gentle 


and genial social qualities, preached for more than twelve months. It 
was there that the Methodist and Baptist churches of this place were 
formed and'nurtured in their infancy. 

The Rev. Dr. Hitchcock and the Rev. Philo Judson, who for nearly 
half a century have been among the foremost laborers in the great and 
beneficent organization to which they belong, then in the vigor of early 
manhood, each preached his two years there. The Rev. Thomas Powell, 
a devoted missionary of the Baptist denomination, well known among 
the early settlers of no inconsiderable portion of the state for his indefat- 
igable and faithful service in the religious interest of the people, then 
often living remote from each other and either destitute or but poorly 
supplied with competent religious teachers; often held services in the old 
school house, and officiated at the formation of the Baptist church of 
Dixon. Also the Rev. Burton Carpenter, the remembrance of whose la- 
bors here is cherished by many of the old settlers, and who, in the high 
standing he afterwards attained in the denomination to which he be- 
longs, and in a life of great usefulness in another part of the state he has 
not disappointed the expectations of his early friends; commenced his 
labors in the ministry and preached about three years in this same old 
school house. During nearly the whole time religious services were held 
in the old school house, the Methodist and Baptist congregations occu- 
pied it alternate Sundays, the Methodist clergyman preaching at Inlet 
Grove or Sugar Grove, and Mr. Carpenter at Buffalo Grove the interven- 
ing Sabbaths. 

In the spring of 1840 there was a convention of the Whig party of the 
Jo Daviess representative district, which embraced the whole north- 
western part of the state, held at the school house, and Thomas Drum- 
niond, known in this generation as Judge Drummnnd of the United States 
Court at Chicago, then a youag lawyer of Galena, was nominated as a 
candidate for member of the House of Representatives in the State Leg- 
islature. He represented an extent of territory now constituting nearly 
two congressional districts. Among the teachers in the old school house 
was the late lamented W. W Heaton, whom the citizens of Dixon have 
seen rise by his industry and legal acquirements from the school mas- 
ter's chair to the bench. 

In the beginning of the year 1843 the Methodist church was finished 
and dedicated and the court house was so far completed that the courts 
were held in it and was used for religious and political meetings, and the 
old school house fell into comparative disuse. 

0\i/r Sefioof^ at arc Earf^/ Dav. 

DURING the first few years after the settlement of the place there 
were, of course, no schools, as there were not a sufficient number of 
children to support one, but Mr. Dlxon kept up a family school, 
more or less regularly, for the education of his own children, and em- 
ployed for this purpose a young lady from Bureau county, by the name of 
Butler. This was the only school taught in this region until the year 
1838. The previous year the citizens here erected a school house on a spot 
not far from where Mrs. Truman now resides, and the first school was 
opened in 1838 by Mr. Bicknell. It was small and supported by individual 
tuition fees. For the next two or three years this school house was used 
for a variety of purposes, being the only public building in the town. 

In 1840 Mr. Bowen was in charge of the school for a short time, but 
by his own indiscretion shortened his stay. Concerning his ability as a 
teacher I have been able to learn but little. One incident, however, will 
serve to show why he did not prolong his term He one day gave notice 
that he wished his pupils to come early the next morning, as he had 
a great natural curiosity to exhibit to them. Mr. Bowen then prepared 
to fulfill his part of the contract, and the next morning he climbed up 
through the scuttle and located himself there in the character of a bear, 
making all kinds of grimaces in close imitation of that exceedingly 
beautiful (?) animal as the pupils entered. Boys were boys then, as 
now, and ever will be, I doubt not, and were not slow to seize so good an 
opportunity for some fun. They accordingly pronounced him a bear 
indeed, and forthwith commenced an attack upon the savage animal 
with clubs and poles, so that poor, bruin was unable to descend and again 
assume his human form. This gave rise to so much ridicule and sport 
that Mr. Bowen could never recover his pedagogical dignity, and was 
finally compelled to abandon the school. 

In the winter of 1841-42 W. W. Heaton, then a young lawyer, taught 
the school, receiving, like his predecessors, compensation for tuition, and 
this not always in money, as corn, pork, potatoes, or any other product 


that could be used in a family, were gladly given and received for the 
labors and trials of the teacher. In this time the number of pupils had 
largely increased, so that in number and efficiency the school was now 
quite creditable. Among those attending school that year were: Orlando 
and Jane Ann Herrick (Mrs. H. T. Noble,) George Foot and Mrs. D. B. 

Mr. Heaton's path seems to have been no smoother than that of the 
teacher of the present day, and corporal punishment was not discarded 
then, any more than now, as the following will show. Having severely 
castigated one of the boys, the father became very much enraged, and 
made bitter complaints to O. F. Ayres, then one of the school directors, 
and threatened to wreak summary vengence on "that little stripling 
up there in that school." Such direful calamity was, however, averted 
through the intercession of Mr. Ayres, and the exasperated parent has 
ever since been a firm friend to Judge Heaton. The Judge's disciplinary 
powers were excellent, as some other of his pupils can testify from sor- 
rowful experience. 

About this time a dispute arose as to the title of the lot on which the 
school house stood; the party claiming the lot also insisting upon holding 
the building. This view of the matter was not at all pleasing to the 
tax payers of the district, and not having the utmost confidence in the 
promptness or justice of the courts, they sought a solution of thedifficulty 
by a more summary process. They determined, while night's sable man- 
tle was drawn over earthly scenes, that, by spiritual or muscular power, 
or both, they would cause the said school building to remove from this 
disputed territory to a more secure abiding place. John Hogan, Esq., 
now ex-member of congress from St. Louis, originated, planned and con- 
ducted the enterprise, aided largely by A. L. Porter, who as all know, 
was well calculated to assist in such work. N. G. H. Morrill was on 
hand to superintend the special work of removal, and then exhibited the 
same skill in the business that he has shown so many times since. On 
that memorable night he took some of his first lessons in the business of 
removals, which he has since followed faithfully to tne present time. 
Mr. Heaton wa roused from his midnight slumbers to be present, and 
see that the business should be done in a strictly legal (?) manner, and 
many of our citizens yet remember the gentle tap at their windows that 
night, and the mysterious whisper, "We're all ready!" and with the 
alacrity of veterans they obeyed the call. The expedition, under charge 
of the above named officers, and with full ranks, proceeded in the still- 
ness of the night to the scene of conflict. No rattle of the drum, nor 

351 . 

roar of cannon stirred the midnight air, as with the firmness of despera- 
tion they proceeded to accomplish their design. But when the building 
slid over the line of the disputed lot and was landed securely on undis- 
puted soil, the evening skies echoed to three hearty cheers from the vic- 
tors. The morning sun looked down upon the scene and saw the build- 
ing quietly resting on peaceful soil, where it was used for some time there- 
after for school purposes. It was afterwards removed to the lot now 
occupied by S. S. Dodge's jewelry store, and having been used as a gro- 
cery, hardware and drug store, was finally consumed in the great fire of 

Miss Ophelia Loveland, (Mrs. J. B. Brooks) taught the school during 
the summer of 1843, while the school house stood on the lot now oc- 
cupied by the residence of D. W. McKenney, which was its stopping 
place at the time of its nocturnal journey. The district then included 
both sides of the river, and extended up the river as far as Mr. Fuller's 
place, and yet the school numbered but about twenty-five pupils. Among 
these were Miss Helen Williams (now Mrs. Mulkins), and Miss Elizabeth . 
and Master James Ayres. One boy, still well known in this city, was 
punished severely for swearing, but his after habits plainly demonstrated 
that corporal punishment, at least one dose, is not a complete cure for 
profanity. An amusing incident occurred that summer among the little 
boys. Frank Dixon, son of John W. Dixon, on his way to school one 
morning, found a small piece of tobacco which he carefuily deposited in 
his pocket and took with him. At recess he called all the boys around 
him and told them he had something good which he would divide with 
them. He accordingly did so, giving a small piece of the treasure to 
each one of the boys except his little brother Elijah, telling them the 
men said it was good, and instructing them to chew it well, and swallow 
all the juice. The little fellows followed his example and advice closely, 
and very soon after recess began to ask to go home, complaining that 
they were very sick and didn't know what made them so. The truth 
was finally ascertained from Little Elijah Dixon, who alone was able to 
give a clear statement, and the sick ones were sent borne for medical 
treatment. Frank, the leader of the enterprise, has never since found 
it to his advantage to use tobacco. During these years the school was 
frequently taught by ladies. I have obtained the names of Miss 
Elizabeth Johnson, (Mrs. J. B. Nash), and a Miss Curtis, sister of Mr, 
Seavy, of Sugar Grove, and Mrs. L. A. Eamsay. 

During the winter of 1843-4 the school was taught by Lorenzo Wood, 
(Judge Wood, of this city.) There were in attendance at the school 


winter a very interesting cl.iss of young people, several coming in from 
the country around, so that this winter's school is rembered with 
much satisfaction by many of our citizens, because of its pleasant asso- 
ciations and the thorough instructions given by the teacher. Among 
the pupils names are found those of Miss Sybil VanArnam, (Mrs. E. B. 
Stiles), and Mrs. A. R. Whitney, of Franklin Grove. 

Between the years 1U<> and 1849, the school was taught by Mr. Cross 
and Mr. James Lumm. Of the former I have been able to learn but little; 
he taught a portion of the time in the public schools. He was somewhat 
deformed, his hands being somewhat drawn out of shape by rheumatism' 
and the universal testimony of the boys was that his fingers were apt to 
become so bady entangled in their hair that it was not only very difficult 
but very painful to disengage them. His school was fair, however, con- 
sidering the conveniences, or rather inconveniences by which he was sur- 
rounded. In 1847 James Lumm took charge of the school. He was very 
rigid in his discipline, and in his efforts to bring the school up to his 
standard in point of order and efficiency he met with much opposition 
and many complaints were made to the directors, but the general feeling 
of the community was largely in favor of the school, and the interest in 
school matters seemed, during Mr. Lumm's administration, to increase 
steadily. He was an amateur in natural history, and during^his stay in 
Dixon devoted considerable time and labor to the preparation of speci- 
mens in the various departments of this science. Dr. Everett, of our 
city, whose collections of Geological, Botanical and Ornithological speci- 
mens is among the best private collections in the state, was assisted by 
Mr. Lumm in its preparation When Mr. Lumm removed to Oregon, 
on leaving Dixon, and while pursuing other business, he still continued 
his pastime. Several years after he had gone west, one of his old friends 
from Dixon sought to visit him at his home in Oregon. After making 
many inquiries concerning him, he was directed to a humble cabin in an 
obscure place, to a man who spent most of his time among bugs, birds 
and animals. He went there and found his old friend surrounded by his 
gathered specimens, embracing the various species from the tiniest in- 
sect to the huge grizzly bear. This collection Mr. Lumm afterwards 
took to California and sold for thirty thousand dollars. During these 
years, from 1842. Mr. O. F. Ayres and Dr. Nash were elected and re- 
elected year after year to the office of school directors and bore the burden 
and labors atiendant upon the oversight of schools in a new country, in 
a praiseworthy manner. 

In 1848 Mr. Kay was employed to teach; he was a man of singular com- 


position and imparted considerable of his singularity to his school. He 
was finely educated and possessed a remarkable power of illustration, 
making difficult points very clear to his pupils, while on the other hand 
he was extremely visionary and impratctical in many things. His success 
as a teacher was not remarkable, as bis eccentricies predominated and 
exhibited themselves very prominently in his administration of school 
affairs. He sometimes left the school to go down town for business or 
pleasure, locking the children in, ami as may be imagined, ihe school- 
room presented a scene highly gratifying to lovers of fun. Once when a 
boy made his appearance at school with a cigar in his mouth, Mr. Mc- 
Kay very cooly appropriated the contraband weed to his own private use, 
and composedly smoked it in the presence of the owner and the rest of 
his pupils. 

During the years 1851 and 1852 the school was under the charge of Col, 
H. T. Noble; he was employed most of the time on a salary of forty dol- 
lars a month. Even as late as that time the public sentiment concerning 
school matters was very loose, and the material and conveniences for a 
school extremely crude. The old school house has been abandoned and 
a new stone building erected in the rear of the Nachusa house, since re- 
placed by Mrs. Burke's residence. The school house was very loosely built 
and being hgated by a fireplace in oneend it was very cold in winter, and 
one lady still remembers with great distinctness tnat she froze her heel in 
that school room one cold day. But with all these disadvantages, though 
the energy and tact of Col. Noble, the school was by no means inefficient, 
and the recollection of those days brings pleasant memories to many now 
residing in this city. Among the older pupils at this tiuie were Mrs. H. T. 
Noble, Mrs. Soule, Mrs. Hollenback and Mrs. B. F. Shaw. The loose ideas 
prevalent in the community concerning school discipline rendered it very 
difficult to maintain anything like proper order. A refusal, op the part 
of the teacher to allow the pupil to roam about the schoolrom ad libitum 
or sit with such of his schoolmates as he might choose, was considered 
sufficient cause for leaving school, and in very many cases the parents 
upheld the child in this spirit of insubordination. 

The school becoming somewhat too large for the small room in which 
it was held, a primary department was started in the spring of 1852 in 
the court house, under the charge of Miss Jane Ann Herrick. During 
Col. Noble's administration the location of the Illinois Central R. R. 
through Dixon was decided upon and great excitement prevailed through- 
out the town and vicinity. Col. Noble ( in his enthusiasm, went to his 
school-room and in a stirring speech announced the glorious event to his 


pupils and in the height of his anticipations promised them all a ride 
on the R. R. "clear through to Mobile." Many of the pupils are still 
awaiting the ride anxiously. 

Another little incident occurred that seems worthy of record. John 
Gilbrath, then quite a lad, frequently obtained permission from his 
mother to return home at three o'clock, but one day she refused to give 
his usual written note to the teacher, and on his way to school he ap- 
plied to J. B. Brooks, then a merchant in the place, for one. Mr. Brooks 
being busy, Mr. Alexander, then a clerk in the store, said he would write 
it for him. He did so, and hanrled the note neatly folded to Master John 
who, with a light heart and smiling face, tripped into the school-room 
and presented it to his teacher. Mr. Noble read it carefully and burst 
into a loud laugh. "John," said he, "do you know what this is?'' "Yes 
sir, it is a request for me to be dismissed at three o'clock." I think you 
are mistaken. It says: 'Here is a boy who needs a flogging and if you 
don't give it to him I will.'" Johnnie "slid." 

C. N. Levanwaj, then a young law student, taught the school in the 
years 1852 and '53, continuing still in the old stone building, the school 
remaining much the same in the character of the instruction and num- 
ber of pupils, as during the preceding years. Mr. Levanway afterward 
settled in this city as a lawyer, and so continued until the breaking out 
of the rebellion, when he enlisted in the 34th Illinois Regiment. He was 
elected Major and served nobly the cause he loved, and was killed while 
ordering his regiment to advance, at the battle of Pittsburg Landing. 

F. A. Soule succeeded him in the principalship of the school, still 
teaching in the old stone building, with nothing special in the character 
of the school to distinguish it from that of the few previous years. 

In 1853 William Barge assumed control of the schools, and continued 
in charge until 1859. Under his direction and excellent management, 
the school took the form, character and efficiency of a graded school. He 
taught a portion of the time in the same old stone building, but that was 
finally abandoned and the school transferred to a building known as 
the ''Land Office," now used by S. A. Vann as a residence. The old stone 
building having become wholly unsuitable for school purposes, the school 
directors were compelled to rent such rooms as they could find, and some 
of the time they were unable to find any. Under these circumstances it 
became necessary to provide a larger and better school hous. [Several pub- 
lic meetings were held and after fully discussing the matter it was decided 
to go forward and build, and the result was the erection of the "Uuion 
School Building" on Peoria street, in 1855, at a cost of $6,000. The place 


now occupied by J. C. Ayres' house. This building, through the presist- 
ence of Mr. Barge, was furnished wilh Chase's patent school seats, be- 
lieved to be about the first patent school furniture ever introduced into 
the state, the old wooden desks then being in use in Chicago. The schools 
now, owing to the better accommodations furnished, and the improved 
methods of teaching adopted, made such marked progress that they 
merited and received the cordial support of the community. To Mr. 
Barge must be accorded the honor of organizing the first graded school 
ever taught in our city. As soon as the new building was ready for occu- 
pancy it was filled, and 'the school was recommenced with a new impetus. 
In 1858 a high school department was established in the Methodist church 
building and A. H. Fitch was elected principal. 

A, M. Gow, in 1859, was employed as superintendent of schools, and 
James Gow was principal of the high school. The school then consisted 
of five departments and had an enrollment of about four hundred. These 
gentlemen continued in charge of the school until 1862, when the writer 
was elected to act, at once as superintendent of schools and principal of 
the high school, in which capacity he has labored twenty-one years- 
There has been a constant increase in the number of pupils since 1864 
and the buildings owned and occupied by the district being found too 
small, for two or three years rooms were rented in various parts of the 
city to accommodate the new departments which it was found necessary 
to form. 

In 1867, however, it was determined to erect a new school building 
which should be suited to the wants of the school in size, plan and ap~ 
pearance. By a vote so nearly unanimous as to show the general feeling 
in the community in favor of good public schools, the directors were 
authorized to borrow money on the bonds of the school district to the 
amount of thirty thousand dollars, to be appropriated to the erection of 
a good school house, and in September, 1869, we were permitted to enter 
our new and elegant building Very great credit should be awarded to 
the gentlemen then composing the Board of School Directors, Messrs. J. 
A. Hawley, H. D. Dement and David Welty, for the faithful manner in 
which they performed their duties, especially for the economy which they 
practiced in extending the funds in the erection of the building. I have 
traveled considerably through the state, have examined many of the 
best school buildings, and am conviaced that we may challenge the 
state in having the best buildings, for the money, wiihin her borders. 

The later history of our schools is sufficiently familiar to make it un 
necessary to record it here. The schools on the north side are of too re- 
cent date to be numbered among the pioneers. 


ip oj^ H armors 

oj 1 Har 122012. 

HARMON, in the southwest part of Lee County, was settled in 1853, 
and while to the elder residents of their parts of the county it 
would seem absurd to call this an early day, to those who partici- 
pated in that event it was a grim, hard realitj, savoring much of heroism, 
and bringing out the stern qualities of human nature that are character-, 
istic of the homesteader and early settler. 

Permit me to say that the homestead laws of our country developed a 
class somewhat like the gypsies. Homesteading was simply done for 
gain. A man was John Smith in Nebraska and Tom Brown in Kansas, 
and as soon as the real settler followed and bought him out he "moved 
on," simply "squatting" for gain, devoid of the homing instinct. 

Lee County was settled before the enactment of the homestead laws 
by people who came west to obtain lands to live on and make homes of. 
These people were sturdy and 'law-abiding, bringing their religious and 
coscientious practices of right and wrong with them. Both Dhe early 
settler and the homesteader are great civilizers, and endure hardships 
of which those who follow later have no conception. Such people are 
the "salt of the earth." 

In 1853, John D. Rosbrook, with three sons, came from Niagara 
County, New York, and settled at the "Lake," a clear body of sparkling 
water covering nearly forty acres on quite a rise of ground in what has 
since been known as Harmon Township. For nearly a year they "kept 
bach" in a small house. There was not a habitation in sight, the nearest 
dwelling was eight miles away, and for years this Rosbrook place at the 
lake was known as the ce nter of the settlement, and the points mentioned 
diverge from there. 

The following spring the two remaining sons came. At that time 
there were no traveled highways, but simply a trail across the prairie, 
crooked and deviating as it wound around the sloughs. 

A mile to the northeast of the lake there was t, large sand hill where 
the wolves used to congregate, brought there by the dead bodies of ani- 


mals that had been hauled there from the places where they had d:ed. 
Their fighting and weird, mournful howling in the cold winter nights was 
appalling, and to a boy eight years old, lying awake shivering in the star- 
light and gazing from a chamber window across the snow towards this 
nightly visitation of grim and grizzled prowlers, it was a source of lone- 
some homesickness; and a fervid prayer for redemption from such a 
scene of desolation, together with a flow of tears of pure wretchedness, 
were usually the last things of consciousness before slumber. 

Breaking prairie was of the first importance. Five yoke of large oxen 
were hooked to a plow sixteen feet iong, turning three feet of sod -two 
rounds a mile long making an acre. The driver of the oxen walked beside 
the team in the prairie gra^s, with a long gad or pole with a short lash, a 
very convenient whip to reach any laggard in the string. George Ros- 
, brook held the plow that turned the first sod in Harmon township. 
Snakes of all kinds would crawl up on the newly turned sod to lie in the 
sun. At the approach of the breaking team they would scurry away 
through the grass, and the driver was often tripped up by blue racers, flve 
feet long, coiling around his bare ankles. One day six large rattlesnakes 
were killed by the driver of that breaking team. Corn, potatoes and 
melons grew in abundance on the newly turned sod, without cultivation. 

Robert Tuttle came with his family from New Hampshire in 1853. He 
settled in Knox County, about two hundred miles south. He was a large, 
strong, stalwart man and had followed the life of a lumberman in the 
pineries. Leaving his family in Knox County he started afoot toward 
the pine woods of the north. He came on foot to Dixon, 111., where he 
was taken sick and after a very short illness died. Henry Stores, a resi- 
dent of Lee County, drove with a pair of horses to Knox County after 
Mrs. Tuttle, and she arrived at the bedside of her husband just previous 
to his death. Mrs. Tuttle was a sister of Mitchell Rosbrook, and in 1854 
she, with her family of flve children, settled in Harmon township, build- 
ing quite a good house for that early day. 

Afterwards, by the persistent efforts of this estimable lady, a private 
school was kept in this house, and the writer has seen deer shot at from 
the window of that school room as they were feeding on the prairie a 
short distance away. Some of the grandest dances of the early days 
were held there. Oliver Wagner often furnished the music, and fre- 
quently rapping his violin with the bow to call attention, like an auto- 
crat he would order all to their places, and after soundly berating them, 
personally and collectively, for mistakes, and again cautioning the boys 
to "dance on their toes," would command, "All forward again." 


in the sdtiie year came Thomas Sutton with a large family from thd 
State of Ohio, who settled one mile to the soath of the Lake. There 
were nineteen children in this frmily, and Sutton has often been heard 
lamenting that there were not an even twenty. One child, Pat, died at 
the age of eight years, and the wails of anguish and despair that went up 
from the stricken household were heartrending. Shortly after the death 
of this boy a circus came to A mboy, and Sutton with the whole family 
on a hay-rack started for the town. When asked if he was going to the 
show he replied, "Facts, the youngsters might die and never see a sarcus." 
They stayed to both afternoon and evening performance. Some of the 
older Sutton boys had been flirting with "corn juice" during the day, and 
as the evening show was a repetition of that of the afternoon, they hilar- 
iously entertained the audience by proclaiming before each act what it 
was to consist of, and to "watch sharp now and see this yer lady jump 
through that yer hoop." 

In later years the male portion of the Sutton household imbibed 
freely, and one night at eleven o'clock two of the boys brought up at the 
home domicile with a lumber wagon, to which were hitched a pair of 
recking horses, the boys having lashed them in a fury most of the way 
from town. Sutton took them in hand and 
gave them a great lecture on the evil of their 
wavs. He told them they ought to be ashamed 
of themselves, that they were bringing their 
father's gray hairs he was gray at thirty 
down with sorrow to the grave. He scolded 
them off to bed, and ordered two smaller boys' 
who had gotten up during the din. to put away 
the horses and bring "that yer." "That" 
proved to be a gallon jug, and two hours later, 
when Sutton called the two sodden boys from 
their beds to fiddle for him while he danced 
and dance he aid till sunrise he humbly 
begged their pardon for having scored them so. 
Corn was one of the nourishing products of the 
soil, and we are thankful that under its exhil- 
arating influence a feeling of forgiveness, if not"'of ^consistency, was re- 

In 1854 Mitchell Kosbrook came from New Hampshire with a wife 
and six children. They were typical of those Yankees who have bC2n 
successful in preserving the now England accent, very little of the flat, 


Western enunciation being noticeable in their speech, even at the pres- 
ent time. This Mitchell Rosbrook was a devout man and founded the 
first Sunday School in Harmon, it being very successfully conducted in 
John D. Rosbrook's granary. 

DuMitchell Rosbrook and his wife, above mentioned, George Stillings 
and the Tattles, were all born and raised at Lancaster, a wild part of 
New England within the shadow of the White Mountains, so they had 
been hardy pioneers before their advent to this country. Mitchell Ros 
brook built the first house ever built on Mt. Washington. It was built 
for a hotel in the "Notch" of the White Mountains, and all of the wood 
material in its construction was "packed" on the back of mules up a steep 
and devious trail along the mountain side. They would take a few boards 
and strap them on to each side of the mule with the rear ends of the 
boards just touching the ground, and in this way carried the lumber for 
miles up the mountain. It was a herculean task and required much labor 
and even suffering on the part of Rosbrook and his wife. Tourists visited 
the top of the mountain every summer and stopped at this mountain 
house to get dinner. Mary Tuttle, now the wife of George Rosbrook, 
then a girl of seventeen years, was cook at this hotel. In one day she 
cooked one hundred dinners. Since that time several magnificent hotels 
have been erected at this point and it has become a gieat summer resort, 
but the old Rosbrook house still stands and is pointed to as a landmark 
of the pioneer days. 

Mitchell Rosbrook and his family lived for two years on the farm of 
Dr. Gardner after they came west, and then settled in Harmon. Mrs. 
Rosbrock assisted in making the wedding outfit for a daughter of Dr. 
Gardner, the present Mrs. James A. Hawley. Thirty-one years later Mrs. 
Rosbrook assisted in making some of the wedding apparel for the daughter 
of the bride she had helped to robe before, the present Mrs. Powell of 
Council Bluffs, the daughter of James A. and Mrs. Hawley. So Lee 
County can point with pride to Mrs. Mitchell Rosbrook as one of the 
pioneer women of this country, both before and after her advent here. 
She still lives and is much respected bv all who know her, and is known 
far and wide as "Aunt Mary." 

The fiist two elections of officers of the township were held at the 
house of Mitchell Rosbrook. Jim McManus was elected supervisor, Ros- 
brook town clerk and George Stillings constable. The crowd gathered 
in the morning and wrestled or pitched quoits until night. Election day 
in Harmon has always been a day of festivities. The second year there 
was opposition to Rosbrook by Geo. P. Weeks also running for town cleric. 


Mrs. Rosbrook cooked and gave a free dinner that day to all that came 
and was rewarded by her husband being defeated for the office he was 
so anxious to obtain. When the votes were counted at night Rosbrook 
informed the crowd, with no inconsiderable anger, that they could after 
that date hold their election elsewhere. 

In the winter of 1856-57, Austin Balch with his wife and two children 
came from New. Hampshire. J ohn D. Rosbrook and two sons were in 
Dixon that day with a team, and the Balch family were taken out to 
their relative, Israel Perkinss. On the way they became lost in a snow- 
storm and brought up at the house of Reuben Trowbridge near Eldena. 
Mr. Trowdridge had but recently married, and the kindness shown to 
the careworn, homesick and heartsick Mrs. Balch and her colicky boy of 
three years, by his sweet-faced young wife, will never fade from memory. 

It was no uncommon thing to get lost on the prairies; indeed, it was 
quite a feat to avoid it, and required much skill and no small amount of 
practice to ride or drive five or ten miles in the night across a trackless 
prairie and not get bewildered. One wet, foggy, Christmas night along 
about in "60," a party of young people started to go to Mrs. Brill's to an 
oyster supper. On the way another party c f young people were overtaken 
who were going to the same place. At once there was a horse race, both 
drivers lashing their horses furiously. Presently one team ran out into a 
large slough and mired down. The boys were obliged to wade out in the 
watei and broken ice to unhook the horses and let them plunge out as 
best they could. Then they all pushed and Dulled at the wagon in con- 
cert but could not move it. Then the girls were carried ashore all but 
one; she was very heavy and no one dared to attempt to carry her. A 
council was held on the shore, while our teeth cracked together and our 
clothing stiffened in the wintry air. Finally Henry Bremer, the strong- 
est young man in the party, averred that he could carry her. He waded 
in, seized her and struck out. When about two rods from the shore he 
slipped on a piece of floating ice and, realizing that he would fall, at- 
tempted to throw her ashore of course she "lit"' in the water. The 
wagon box was then taken off and towed ashore, the wheels taken off and 
the wagon taken ashore in pieces. When a start was made all were be- 
wildered and lost and at midnight they found themselves back where 
they started from. A fresh team was hitched to the wagon and at two 
o'clock in the morning they arrived at Brill's. Mrs. Brill had been rec- 
ommended as a fine cook of oysters. She certainly did cook them well 
she began boiling them at nine o'clock in the evening and cooked them 
until we came. 


As the saying goes, "the latchstring always hung ont." Houses were 
not locked at night nor in the absence of the occupants. Frequently 
the settlers on coming home after night have found a roaring fire in the 
stove and people sitting around and enjoying it, whom perhaps the owner 
of the dwelling had never seen. Explanations would be in order, and 
usually it was a case of being lost on the prairie, and in wandering about 
they had discovered the house and simply made themsel.ves at home until 
they could get their proper bearings for a new start. Often we would 
hear men hallooing out on the prairie in the night, and would say to each 
other that some, one was lust. Putting the light in the windows we would 
go out and call in return, and usually would find them; but sometimes 
their voices would fade away, they not being able to hear us owing to the 
direction of the wind. Some people would get lost more easily than 

There were many jokes about old man Brill being so easily lost, and it 
was said that in going home after night he always got lost and often 
slept in his own straw stack not far from the house; indeed, Andrew Cus- 
tiss said that if Brill went out after a pail of water in the evening he 
probably would not find the way back to the house, but could always 
bring up at the straw stack. 

There was a raffle for turkeys one night at Brill's, four of the players 
putting in twenty-flve cents each, making a dollar for each turkey, the 
high man winning the fowl. After a while those not winning went home 
by two's or three's, the winners remaining and "sawing off" with each 
other. When they were ready to go home not a turkey was to be found, 
those who had departed early having passed near the turkey roost. The 
following day Brill, who was quite a hand to visit, called at a house two 
miles away where there were eight men, aged from twenty-flve to thirty, 
"keeping bach." They were a jovial lot of fellows, always cutting up all 
kinds of pranks and literally "made Eome howl." When Brill arrived 
there there were two of his turkeys in the oven and the men were prepar- 
ing for a great feast. Knowing Brill's tendency to always open an oven 
door so as to vvarm his feet in the oven, they kept a man on each side of 
the stove to fence him away. Brill sat and visited all day. They tried 
to entice him out to the barn to show him a new horse they had traded 
for, but he would not budge. He still sat there and as the weather was 
cold they had to keep up a roaring fire. They had no dinner and as no 
preparations were made for supper, at dark Brill went home. On opening 
the oven door, it is said, the turkeys were about as large as a couple of 
jack-snipes; they were thoroughly cremated. 


About this time came Patrick Grogan with a family of small children. 
Grogan was a jovial, lazy kind of a character, brimming over with fun 
and good nature, and enjoyed nothing more than to play the "Arkansaw 
Traveler" on an old three-stringed violin, while two of his barefoot chil- 
dren danced a breakdown by the hour. Or perhaps he and his sweet- 
faced wife, with a little child tugging at her breast, sang old-fashioned 
songs around the glowing embers of a fireplace in their log house. The 
firelight, flitting across their faces, both in sweet content, with their 
poverty, made a sweet picture of home life and wretched happiness, if I 
may use such a term, that will never fade from the memory of the silent 
boy who often sat and watched them, and who as a man has often 
wished he might exchange years of his life for part of Grogan's placidity. 

Thomas Sutton also lived in a log house. In those days there were 
royal oaks in Palestine Grove to be had by taking, or more plainly, steal- 
ing them. Sutton's father, old Uncle Joo, lived with him and was a 
queer character, with a comical Irish touch in his speech, a love of home- 
raised tobacco in his heart, and a "showing" around his mouth. He had 
seven mongrel dogs, all of different breeds, from a small "Fice" to a 
large, vicious female bulldog. These dogs were always with him, and 
followed him in any neighbor's house he chanced to visit. They were 
a terror to the residents of the community, as well as to the cattle that 
roamed at will on the prairie. The cattle would at times ieed up near 
to Cihe growing crops, and as there were no fences, "Uncle Joe" being on 
the watch would call, "Her, Fice! her Tinker! yer Watch! hi, Bull! 
you, Tige! come, Ginger! run them out o' that! Pluck them well, Tinker! 
Pull the lugs off 'em, Watch! Put them to h-e-1-1!" the last sentence 
ending in a high keyed shriek that we have often heard a mile away. 
The cattle were in great terror of these dogs, and soon came to knew 
that voice so well that they would raise their heads high in the air, and 
with their tails over their backs run as if for their lives. The bulldog 
has frequently been seen to leap up and Seize the tail of an ox close to 
the body, bite it off, carry it back and lay it at the feet of "Old Joe," 
who never failed to praise the act and to gloat over the trophy. Bull 
guarded the old man jealously, and many of the residents of the neigh- 
borhood were bitten by her. She would never attack a person watching 
her, but would steal around behind one, snap and spring away. She 
was the most treacherous and vicious dog Lee county ever contained 
She was low and heavy, of a dirty brindle color mixed with a little yel- 
low, her tail was cut off close to her body, and her legs were strong and 
very wide apart. Her head was carried low down to the ground, her eyes 


were bloodshot and never left your face, while her lips hung down, show- 
ing a cruel set of the whitest of teeth and the blood red gums below. She 
was always dreuling at the mouth, and her sinister look always meant 
mischief. A person's only safety was in being pivoted so as to whirl and 
keep her continually before him. 

As the years passed other settlers came and "Uncle Joe" used to visit 
at a house occupied by a man named Spangler, who had a house full of 
grown sons and daughters. Delia, the eldest daughter, was housekeeper, 
and was often provoked by "Uncle Joe" missing the ash box and spitting 
on the stove hearth. After months of patience she declared she would 
wash Uncle Joe's face with a dish rag the very next time he spit on that 
hearth. -Everybody laughed, nobody believed her. But one blustering 
day when he was in the interesting part of a fight he had once had in 
Limerick he missed the ash box, when without an instant's warning the 
robust daughter of Spangler seized him around the neck with the left 
arm an<? for about two minutes scrubbed his mouth vigorously with the 
dish cloth. Pie was white with rage but stalked away, and the last time 
the writer saw "Uncle Joe" was on that darkest of days for the nation 
when standing on the north bank of the Lake, his voice raised so that he 
was heard distinctly nearly half a mile away, he devoutly thanked God, 
again and again, that "Owld Abe Lincoln" was shot. Such was the dif- 
ference of opinions even here in our Lee county. 

In 1856-57 settlers came thick and fast. Joseph Julien, a brother of 
Antone and John Julien, settled a mile to the southwest. At threshing 
time Mrs. Antone Julien always came from Dixon to assist in couking fo r 
the threshers, and the wonderful meals this lady prepared were the talk 
of the neighborhood. The threshing time at Joe's was always looked 
forward to with keen delight by about a half dozen of us hungry young- 
sters who loved her sweet, gentle manner even more than her cooking, 
and each one was sure of a recognition from this sweet faced woman. 
And to this day the writer never meets her or walks by her home without 
a feeling of glad thankfulness for the sunshine she scattered along the 
way, so lasting are influences in our early life, 

E. A. Balch, C. H. Seifken, Israel Perkins and James Porter, with 
their families, and George Stillings, Charles Carby, "Yankee" Tuttle and 
others were among the early settlers. 

Two brilliant young men, accustomed to good cociety and luxurious 
homes, with some money, but no knowledge of farming, came from the 
city of Boston to make their fortunes in the new 'Eldorado." They 
quickly became the prey of the neighborhood, and many of the spavined, 


worthless horses and unruly oxen were tethered around their place on 
Sunday, arid usually sold to them at large prices. John D. Rosbrook often 
lectured them for being so easily separated from their money, and cau- 
tioned them again and again not to deal with certain unscrupulous 
neighbors. Owing to their want of knowledge of farming their crops 
were a failure, and in the fall they were obliged to send home for money 
to return with. They abandoned the house and land, which was known 
for years as the "Boston" house. 

Henry and Louis Isles, the sons of a very wealthy German family of 
New York city, were taken from the study of a classic course at home 
and sent here to learn to farm, and to harden their muscles with rugged 
work. Both were graceful and courteous in behavior, and their fine con- 
versational powers left with us a sweet remembrance of them in after 
years. They worked by the month for John D. Rosbrook, and manfully 
stood up to what to them must have seemed herculean tasks, while their 
blistered hands often gave us the heartache. One summer finished their 

One mile to the east lived, for a year, the Robinson family. Mcses 
Dillon, the now flourishing business man of Sterling, was a stepson or 
Mr. Robinson. "Mose," a little fellow in checked aprons, spent many of 
his hours at the Lake farm; and Mary, the wife of George Rosbrook, 
often gave him cookies to pick up chips for her. "Mose" told the writer 
not long since, that he had traveled wide, and eaten many toothsome 
dishes, but no morsel ever passed his lips that was as good as Mary's 
cookies. He showed the same ability in picking up chips as in his busi- 
ness career. Even in that early age "Mose" was a "hustler." 

Sammy Robinson, a nephew of Mr. Robinson, taught our country 
school. He was very small, about five feet high, and weighed, it would 
seem to me, about eighty pounds. At the breaking out of the war he 
went into the army and was pushed through to the front. One day in 
summer a party of twelve soldiers were sent out foraging, and donning 
tnything but the army blue, they passed boldly into the Confederate lines. 
Coming to a railroad track they followed it for miles, when on turning a 
sharp curve they found themselves in the midst of about a hundred con- 
federate soldiers loading ties onto a railroad train. They at once went to 
work assisting in loading tics. The overseer of the squad gruffly asked 
what they were doing here. The leader answered, "Detailed to help; 
this work must be pushed." With no conversation, but all senses on the 
alert, the northern soldiers watched each other. During the work, at a 
signal from the leader, they suddenly took possession of the train. Some 


started the engine and the rest fought the confederates off so they should 
not board the train. The train was run northward a few miles and then 
it was stopped while the hoys placed ties on the track hehind it in such a 
manner as to ditch the following train. But'the train in pursuit was run 
hy a fellow with nerves of steel, and, never hesitating at these obstruc- 
tions, his train kept the rails, knocking the ties like kindling wood from 
tie track. In the chase the captured engine was run into anotner squad 
of confederate men. The engine was abandoned and a break made for 
liberty; but they were captured, and Sammy Robinson with the rest of 
the twelve suffered for this foolhardy trick by being hung by the neck 
until they were dead. A history of this escapade has previously been 
published. I have simply brought it in here to show that one of this 
party was a former resident of Harmon. 

In those days Dixon was our market town, all farru products were 
hauled there. Between our settlement and Dixon were several sloughs, 
one of which was a terror to us, and was known as the "big slough." It 
was more than half a mile wide with water nearly all the way across, and 
a deep plunge in the middle, where we always expected to get stuck in 
the mud. Carefully looking back to that time, I cannot remember an 
instance in which we were disappointed. 

On the Fourth of July two of the Rosbrook boys started for Dixon at 
daybreak with two yoke of oxen and a small load of hay. They had been 
three days in cutting the grass with a scythe aud raking it up with a 
hand rake. When crossing the big slough the wagon settled to the hub, 
and the oxen mired down. Most of the hay had to be pitched off before 
the oxen could draw the wagon out. They arrived in Dixon at 2:00 o'clock 
in the afternoon and sold what hay they had left for seventy-five cents. 
They started for home at 4:00 o'clock, their conversation touching but 
lightly on patriotism. Indeed, as it is now remembered, they considered 
Washington's act in saving the country rather i&significant, and in 
regard to their locality, wholly unneccessary. We had often heard Lyman 
Rosbrook, who had lived in Lee Center many years before this time, tell 
of the hardships experienced by the early settlers in hauling grain to 
Chicago, but we doubted if their trials were any greater than were expe- 
rienced years afterwards in the shorter haul to Dixon. 

Prices of farm produce were low in the early days; eggs, four cents a 
dozen; butter, six cents a pound. Thomas Sutton once hauled two loads 
of an excellent quality of barley to Sterling. The buyers offered eight 
cents per bushel for it. Mr. Sutton not being satisfied with the offer 
hauled it to Dixon, where, after being at the expense of staying all night 


he sold the barley for six cents a bushel. Whiskey was ten cents a gallon, 
and other so called necessities were correspondingly low. Whether or 
not those were "Free Trade" times, the writer is not prepared to state 
but pardon me; this was in the days of Buchanan. 

Game of all kinds was very plentiful from 1855 to 1875. Charles K. 
Shellhammer has shot in one day, one hundred geese (a farm wagon box 
full). Kipp, a hunter from Dixon, shot sixty-six Mallard ducks at one 
shot. A drove of thirteen deer were chased by men on horse back by our 
place one day, and five of them killed after a ran of several miles, but a 
pair of beautiful sorrel horses belonging to George Stillings were ruined 
in the chase. 

This George Stillings was a great wrestler and quite a good jig dancer. 
He was so fond of dancing that a quick tune would at any time or place 
bring him to his feet for a break-down. He wandered away, and our 
neighborhood entirely lost track of him for more than thirty years. One 
evening, since the commencement of this article, there walked into our 
house a short, strong man, elderly, and gray as a rat. It was Stillings. 
Two of my sons now grown to early manhood were playing a mandolin 
and a guitar. They soon struck into "Money Musk," and then the "Devil's 
Dream." At the slightest hint from me Stillings, despite his sixty years 
of rugged life, was on rm feet, and dancec 1 as lightly and airily as of yore 
to the great delight of my family. 

Ferris Finch, Wellington Davis, Jerome Hollenbeck and Lon Hernck 
often came out on the prairie hunting, and usually made their head- 
quarters at the farm by the lake. We have known them to shoot in one 
day two hundred and fifty prairie chickens, many of them being shot from 
the carriage as they were driving over the prairie. One day after dinner 
Wellington Davis, who had drunk most of the milk punch that he had 
brewed for the crowd, was still sitting in the house by the punch bowl; 
Ferris Finch drew the charges of shot from Davis' gun when the latter 
was not looking, and then offered to bet him a dollar that he could not 
shoot two swallows in succession as they were flying around overhead. 
Davis, who was game and a crack shot, immediately accepted the chal- 
lenge. The sight he presented in whirling round the yard (one leg being 
about six inches shorter than the other), endeavoring to get aim, was 
very ludicrous. He, of course, missed both shots and immediately handed 
over the dollar, but he then wanted to wager ten that he could shoot the 
next two. The explosions of laughter that followed convinced him that 
his gun had been tampered with and he offered to whip Ferris Finch, to 
the great amusement of Herrick and Hollenbeck, who were lying on the 
grass shouting with laughter. 


In 1867 an insane woman wandered from near where Walton is out 
into the swamps and was lost., During the winter several hunting par" 
ties ware organized to hunt for her. In those days everybody possessed 
or borrowed a good saddle horse. There were many expert riders and fleet 
horses in the vicinity. Short'y after the start, one day in February, a 
wolf was sighted, and everybody cut loose for a run. Within a mile all. 
gave up but two horsemen. In three rnilos the wolf disappeared in the 
tall grass and some deer tracks were discovered. These were followed 
several miles, when by certain signs we knew we were close to the quarry, 
and rightly conjectured that the deer were in some heavy swamp grass 
half a mile to the westward. 

The saddle girths were tightened, conversation was held in whispers, 
while the horses rubbed their noses together, pricked up their ears and 
gazed excitedly toward the tall marsh grass, and pranced around over the 
snow. The mare nipped at the ear of the stalwart gelding, who stood 
out in bold relief against the fast approaching sunset. He seemed as if 
carved in stone, but the play of his muscles beneath the surface gave 
token that he understood the nature of our preparations and was anxious 
for the fray. 

Then we mounted, and with tightly grasped, rein, they were sent like 
a ball from the cannon's mouth straight to the westward, and the two 
best running horses in that part of Lee county were exerting every nerve 
and sinew to push their noses past each other, when about forty rods 
ahead of us, out of the long swamp grass, sprang nine deer. To those 
who have never een wild r leer run the sight is indescribable. They 
leaped up from the ground twenty feet and appeared, from a short dist- 
ance, to come down where they went up; but really they covered a dist- 
ance of from thirty to thirty-eight feet at each bound. They went up 
with head, legs and flanks stretched to the utmost; not a muscle moved 
while in the air, and it gave them the appearance of a flying squirrel or a 
great monstrous bat. They were dark brown as they went up showing 
the back and head and stiffened legs; they were white as they came 
down, showing the under side of the b.ody only. They leaped in different 
directions, and as some went up while others were coming down from 
those terrific bounds, the sight was thrilling and awe inspiring. And 
afterwards, when riding at bare-neck speed, right in among them and 
close up 'to a monstrous buck that was perfectly frantic with fear and 
desperation, it become not only exciting but very dangerous. 

It was an experience that but few people will ever have; a sight that 
only the great minority will ever view; and the remembrance of that 


thrilling chase wjll never fade from the minds of the two riders who rode 
at such a terrific clip across the bogs and snow, in the Winnebago swamps 
near Palestine. George Berlin succeeding in killing a fine buck after a 
hard chase for miles, the only doer captured that day. Berlin was rid- 
ing a race horse valued at three hundred dollars, belonging to Charles 
She'ilhammer. After that day he was worth about fifty dollars; but Ber- 
lin was more famous than General Grant.- 

The woman was found the next spring, by the cattle in the large herds 
bellowing and pawing around the place where she lay. 

The herding of cattle in those latter days was a great industry; some 
herds contained as many as three thousand head of cattle. The charge 
was about a dollar and a half per head during the season. The expense 
was simply the hire of two men to guard them. 

Sandhill cranes were more plentiful than bees among the clover blos- 
soms, and it was not an uncommon sight to see a thousand acres covered 
with them. Their playful antics were interesting and amusing: they 
would gather in squads of four or five, form a square, or nearly so, about 
six feet from each other. The old, or gander crane would utter their 
peculiar plaintiff call, when all wouid leap from th'e earth about six feet, 
bounding over and under each other, and all calling their loudest, while 
each tried to get the place occupied by some other. A veritable "Pussy 
wants a corner," as we see the children play it now. A sandhill crane 
stands nearly as high as a man; its color is a bluish gray. When gather- 
ing in large bands in the fall, preparatory to migrating, their appearance 
was like that of a large drove of sheep. They came in the autumn and 
usually remained two or three weeks. One day early in the fall, when 
only a few cranes had been noted flying away up in the air a crane will 
soar to a height to which an eagle never goes, and will stay up an hour 
without a movement of the wings the younger Rosbrook boy, then 
quite small, heard a crane calling and knew by the sound that it was in 
a melon patch in the middle of a cornfield. Softly stealing through the 
corn, he spied near the opening the head oi a crane and knew by its 
attitude that it was alarmed and about to fly away. With careful aim at 
its head, the only part visible, he pulled the trigger and took a couple of 
somersaults, as he always did when he shot that gun. Gathering himself 
up he was mystified to see the crane fly away. He could not understand 
it, as he knew the aim was good, and former experience had taught him 
that every thing went down before that gun when the aim was right, 
lie went over to the melon patch before starting home, and there in their 
death struggle, wore three cranes! one of them shot through the head; 
there had been four of tLem in the flock, and three of them in line. 


Wolves were fleet of foot and could run away from the fastest horse 
or dog. But George Rosbrook, when riding "Little Billy," a famed sad- 
dle horse, after cattle one day, saw and gave chase to a wolf, which after 
a hard run, he succeeded in killing, with no other weapon than an iron 
stirrup, swung by the stirrup strap. 

At one time on the Rosbrook farm at the Lake there was a tame 
' crane, a coon and a wolf. The crane had been found when small on the 
prairie. The coon and the wolf were captured when small, and were 
from litters that were dug out from holes in the ground. 

All of these pets showed their ingratitude. The crane flew away, and 
the wolf began catching tame chickens and was chained in the yard. One 
day Mary, the wife of George Rosbrook, took some scraps that were left 
from the table out to the wolf. After eating part of the food he went 
inside his kennel and lay with his head between his paws, watching the 
chickens as they came near to pick up the crumbs. Suddenly he sprang 
out and caught three of them at once. Mary who was watching from the 
door, ran out to save the chicks. Grasping the wolf by the neck, she 
choked him until his jaws relaxed and tbe chickens dropped out; but 
they were quite dead. As she released the wolf, she wa^ rewarded by his 
biting her quite through the hand. The coon had been busy for the past 
month tearing down corn at night and eating the young roasting ears. 
During the day he was the meekest and best behaved coon in the world, 
but at night he would make as much noise tearing down corn as a small 
drove of cattle. And so the wolf and coon both went one day to help 
swell "Forepaugh's Great Consolidated Show." 

In 1856. five thousand head of immense Texan steers were driven past 
our house on their way to Chicago: the summer had been consumed on the 
drive. Many of them would measure seven feet from tip to tip of horns. 
Near the lake the owner turned them into a fine field of corn of one hun- 
dred and sixty acres, and then calmly rode off to find the owner and 
bought the entire crop at the settler's figure. It 1857 two thousand very 
large, fat hogs were driven past our place toward the southwest. The 
owner claimed to have bought them in Milwaukee and was driving them 
to Missouri, which we thought a strange proceeding. 

I would like, if it- were not encroaching, to mention some of the early 
days of Dixon, the days of "Rough and Ready." Hiram Ruff, nick-named 
"Rough and Ready," was a queer character. He was small, wiry and 
quick, and a genuine sport. 

In those days Myron Bryson frequently drove the omnibus for the car- 
rying of passengers from the Nachusa house to the depot. "Rough and 


Heady" toad a fruit stand where BoltZenthal's cigar store now is. Bryson 
would say something to him which always seemed to anger him and old 
"Rough" would throw apples at the driver from the time the omnibus 
came in sight until it turned the corner, jumping up and down on the 
sidewalk and yelling with rage in the meantime. Indeed, the rattle of 
'bus coming down the street was a signal for all of the snap 11 boys to spread 
out in fan-shape from where Edward's coal office now is around to Man- 
gus' feed shed and "take in" the apnles on the fly, as they came sailing 
through the air. Apples were very scarce in those days, and "Old 
Rough" usually threw away about a peck every time the 'bus went by. 

Intending to confine my remarks to Harmon I ask pardon for this 

I am warned by the accumulated manuscript before me that no in- 
considerable space will be occupied in its publication. If the twenty odd 
towns in Lee county contribute as voluminously your book will ceitainly 
have the advantage of immensity. Before laying my pen aside I wish to 
offer an apology. Doubtless many persons are left out who are deserving 
of mention. In other places error? as to dates may have crept in. There 
are paragraphs that may reflect slightly on some persons particularly 
mentioned. To those I humbly apologize, and add that in my heart I 

have only the feeling of "good will to all." 





Lee Center. 

u IT will be be obvious to anyone at a glance that God has not made any 
such thing as a complete remembrance of past ages possible. He 
writes oblivion against all but a few names and things, and empties 
the world to give freer space for what is to come." 

In writing a sketch of this particular part of God's heritage we have 
drawn largely upon the memories of the oldest settlers, their sons and 
daughters, for stories which contain all the fascination of personal exper- 
ience and personal encounter. 

We have striven for accuracy in dates and locality, without which his- 
tory is but driftwood in the tide of events. In our search for ancient 
landmarks we hope not to be so entirely surpassed as was a certain Eng- 
lish gentleman who was boasting to a Yankee that .they had a book in 
the British museum which was owned by Cicero. "Oh, that's nothing,'' 
retorted the Yankee, "in the museum in Bosting, they've got the lead 
pencil that Noah used to check off the animals that went into the ark.', 

When our grandparents raked the ashes over the glowing coals upon 
their hearthstones, and retired to dream of the sons who had gone to the 
new country to make for themselves a home, they could not then realize 
what a garland, of honor already encircled their heads, or what a sceptre 
of power awaited their hands, for we hold that he who makes the oppor- 
tunity of discovery possible to another, himself refraining from the grat- 
ification thereof, justly deserves the conqueror's meed. All honor then 
to those who "remained by the stuff" and kept the hearthstone warm 
and bright for those on the frontier. 

It is with pleasure that we present the name and face of Mrs. Adol- 
phus Bliss to the readers of this sketch. She was ninety-three years of 
age on Valentine's day, the 14th of February, 1893. She. with her hus- 
band, settled in what is Lee Center township today, in May, 1834 the 
first white woman in the present township and the second white woman 
in the county. Here she lived one year before she had a neighbor nearer 
than Dixon. Our informant, her son, Mr. Volney Bliss, says "We have 


lived in three counties without moving," referring to the three names, 
Jo Davies, Ogle and Lee, which have been given this county. 

Near Mr. Bliss' home two hundred red men were in camp, awaiting 
payment and the repairing of their guns before their westward march. 
John Fosdick was a blacksmith and gunsmith and was 'employed by the 
government to repair their guns. These Indians were peaceably inclined, 
but nevertheless they must have struck terror to the hearts of many a 
woman by appearing in the most unexpected manner. One of the early 
settlers, Mrs. Ira Brewer, was sitting alone in her log cabin one day when 
suddenly the window was darkened and looking up she saw Indian faces 
crowded so thickly together that the light was entirely obscured. 
Another one, Mrs. Lewis Clapp, was frying doughnuts in her kitchen 
when a numter of Indians with their chief walked in and ranged them- 
selves around the wall. The woman did not scream, she greeted them 
with a calm exterior, finished frying her cakes I imagine it did not take 
long and then proceeded to pass them. But the chief relieved her of 
this hospitality by deliberately emptying the entire panfull into his 

These first settlers realized another's need as their own, and protected 
or respected the rights of each other at the peril of life sometimes. Of 
course there were exceptions to the rule, where individuals allowed the 
desire for possession to rule them, else, the need of an association for the 
adjustment of claims, called "The Grove Association," would have been 
unnecessary. Mr. Ira Brewer kindly furnished me with the original doc- 
uments of this association. We handled the worn and yellowed papers 
with exceeding care, for they embodied the very nucleus round which our 
laws enwrap themselves. 

Dated, Inlet, Ogle Co., 111., July 10, 1837. We read the following pre- 

"The encouragement which Congress gave to the pioneers of this 
country stimulated the present inhabitants to sacrifice property and case 
and commence a long and fatiguing journey in order to better themselves 
and their offspring; not only the fatierue of a long and expensive journey, 
but the privations to which they were exposed in consequence of the 
scarcity of the comforts of life and the'exposure to the inclemency of the 
weather in an open log cabin. Everything considered, we think it no 
more than right, just and honorable that each man should hold a reason- 
able claim, and at the land sales obtain his lands at Congress' price. 

Therefore, We, the subscribers, feel willing to come under any rules 
and regulations that are warranted by honor and principle in regard to 
our honest claims. 


"Therefore, We establish a few rules and regulations whereby we may 
be governed on principles of equity." 

This preamble is followed by seven Articles whereby the society should 
be governed, and a long list of names, some of them almost illegible. 

A few years later an "Association for the Furtherance of the Cause 
of Justice," was organized. We note a "cast iron constitution," includ- 
ing instructions to a "Committee of Vigilance." which makes it evident 
these were perilous times in the history of the county. In the spring of 
1836, the first sermon was preached by Peter Cartwright, "the backwoods 
preacher," at Mr. Dewey's house. A Methodist preacher :n those days 
when he felt that God had called him to preach, instead of hunting up a 
college, or Biblical Institute, hunted up a hardy pony and some traveling 
apparatus, and with his library always at hand, namely: the Bible, Hymn 
Book and Discipline, he started, and with a text that never wore out nor 
grew stale he cried "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins 
of the world." In this way he went through storms of wind, hail, snow 
and rain; plunged through swamps, swam swollen streams, lay out all 
night, wet, weary and hungry, held his horse by the bridle all night or 
tied him to a limb, slept with his saddle blanket for a bed, his saddle for 
a pillow, and his old big coat or blanket, if he had any, for a covering. 
Often he slept in dirty cabins, on earthen floors before the flre; drank 
butter-milk for coffee, or sage tea for Imperial, partook with hearty zest 
of deer or bear meat, or wild turkey, for breakfast, dinner and supper, if 
he could get it. This was old fashioned Methodist preacher fare and 
fortune, so says Peter Cartwright himself. 

During the summer of '36 there was occasional preaching in Inlet, and 
the first Methodist class was organized with John Fosdick leader. In 
the spring of 1837 Mr. David Tripp and family, also his brother-ia-law, 
Orange Webster, settled in Inlet. Mr. Tripp was the first Baptist in the 

town, and soon the first Baptist minister with the name of Hetler 

followed. Then one Turtillock and these two came occasionally 

and preached in Mr. Tnpp's house, until Mr. Tripp built a new barn. 
This was dedicated with a protracted meeting in which a large number 
were converted. The Baptist church was organized with Mr. Webster 
as deacon and Mr. Tripp clerk. They held meetings regularly at Mr. 
Tripp's place until a school house was built near the Dewey mill. The 
"circuit rider" for this district would come from the east and go west, 
taking about two weeks to complete his circuit. He was a young married 
man by the name of Smith. His stopping place in Inlet was at Mr. 
Dewey's. Here he was taken ill, and lived but a few dajs there was 


no physician in Lee county then. On the night of his death two families 
arrived from New York and took up their abode in the Tripp house. 
Mr. Birdsall, who came in the fall of '37, occupied a room in the Tripp 
house and his sons-in-law, Rev. Luke Hitchcock and Oscar F. Ayres, 
found shelter under the same hospitable roof; so the Eev. Luke Hitch- 
cock preached the first funeral sermon in the town of Lee Center over 
the remains of this young circuit rider. He was buried near Mr. Darius 
Sawyer's preseru home where a stone still marks his grave. 

One can imagine how gladly a regularly licensed physician would be 
welcomed in a community where sickness and death had made inroads, 
and when Dr. R. F. Adams arrived in 1837 to stay the people breathed 
more freely. Then came a physician b.y the name of Hubbard but only 
for a year, and Dr. Welch, now of Galesburg, followed Dr. Charles 
Gardner came at an early date and was held in high esteem throughout 
the county. The story is told that on the night of the arrival of Dr. 
Gardner and the Rev. D'Wolf at the Tripp house, there was quite a 
stir in the family, for professional gentlemen were much needed on these 
prairies. Tne guess was passed from one to another as to which was the 
"Rev." and which the "Dr." The unanimous decision was in favor of 
Dr. Gardner as the Reverend. When the truth was known a general 
laugh ensued in which the newly arrived joined as heartily as any. 
The first building occupied for a store stood on the ground where David 
Tripp's Grout-house stood, then the building was sold to Mr. George 
Haskell, who moved it nearer to Inlet creek, where it stood several years, 
when it was moved to the town of Lee Center and occupied for some 
years by Joseph Gary. The pioneer teacher was Miss Ann Chamber! in 
who in the summer of '36 occupied a room in Mr. Adolphus Bliss' house 
for that purpose. After this a log school house was built near Mr. Bliss 
house in which Mr. Olis Timothy taught. This gentleman is now living 
at Franklin Grove and from the pen of his wife we learn that Mr T. 
taught nearly three months in the winter of '37-38. That he boarded 
round, receiving $15 per month, having 20 or 25 pupils in attendance. 

In gathering items in regard to the early school teachers, we find 
that the first were invariably women. 

All honor to her who led the van in educational interests; with what 
cost of trial and patience and soul weariness, none can estimate. 

Among the name of old settlers we find the name of Mr. Roswell 
Streeter, and from the pen of his son, A. G. Streeter, we have the follow- 
ing: "My father made a claim on the land on which Lee Center is situ- 
ated in the year 1833. In the following year we moved from Allegheny 


county, New York, to near the claim and built a log house in the edge of 
Inlet Grove, where we found some protection from the winter storms. I 
was then 13 years old and the eldest of seven boys. Father improved the 
claim of 160 acres, and in after years when the government survey 
had been made, and the land offered for sale at the land office in Dixon, 
he entered the same. Later on father sold that part on which Lee 
Center now stands, and gate a portion more, (the amount I do not re- 
member) for the erection and maintenance of an academy. One or two 
years before these transactions I had left Lee Center for Galesburg, where 
I had been told there was a Normal labor school or college where a young 
man could wont his way through without money. I found that the labor 
department was not in working order, in fact it never was. On arriving 
in Galesburg I had thirteen dollars, and this with willing hands backed 
by strength, energy and a determined will to succeed, was all I had. It 
was enough, for I was ready to do whatever I could find to do. So I set 
up the business of making shingles with a froe and drawing knife. The 
boltSj shingle length, were sawn off the tree; with froe and maul, split to 
the proper thickness, then with shaving knife cut 'down to the proper 
taper. Many and rnanv a day I fixed my school books up before me to 
get my lessons while at work. 

I well remember the first school house and the time it was built in the 
old Inlet Grove. It was in the edge of the timber, and pretty well 
hidden from view by a hazel thicket on Mr. Bliss' land. Geo. E. Haskell 
teacher. T'was made of logs, cracks chinked and filled with mud, floor 
of split logs, fire place on one side, chimney out side made of rough stone, 
and split logs for seats. We lived a mile away, through the grove part 
way. We had to cross a small creek on the way with no bridge. When- 
ever the creek was over the banks, 1 would pull off shoes and wade 
through, then on to school, holding my book before me to make up for 
lost time. For Mr. Haskeli had promised the one who "left off head" the 
most times during the term, fifty cents. I attended school two winter 
quarters before leaving for Galesburg. In 1849 I drove an ox team in 
company with others to California, remained there in the mines eighteen 
months. After that took two droves of cattle to California to market. 
In 1855 I returned and bought land near where I now live and settled 
down to farming and stock raising." 

Mr. Streeter has been successful in business, at the same time has 
kept posted in the affairs of the general government and of the state, 
lie has seryed in four sessions of the state legislature, both house and 
senate. Has been candidate for congress, governor and president on a 
minority ticket. 


"A typical old sett'er,'' who proves to be Mr. Charles Ingals, came to 
Lee Center in 1836. He was a Yankee, born among the New England 
hills, upon a farm settled and tilled by four generations of ancestors. 
After the death of their parents, half a dozen brothers and sisters of the 
family went west, although the traditional advice to do so had not then 
been published. The subject of our sketch lived more than fifty years, 
on the territory which he selected for a home^*called at that time Pales- 
tine Grove, Ogle county, but now Lee Center, Lee county. Mr. Ingals 
who modestly speaks of himself in the third person, says: "The young 
man located, and without experience, council or cash, borrowed an ax, 
and the long fought battle of the prairies began. A cabin home was 
erected in two weeks, without the sound of a hammer or sight of a nail, 
that did good service for ten years. That cabin was made especially 
pleasant for two years through the efficiency and kindness of a well- 
beloved sister. A marriage alliance was then negotiated and solemnized 
without any undue nonsense and the bride and groom began a novel 
wedding journey of which an account is given by Mrs. Ingals a few pages 
farther on. 

In those early times transportation and team work was done mostly 
by oxen. 

As winter approached (the first winter north) these cattle became 
home-sick and strayed, often going south, to their formor homes among 
the stock fields and corn cribs of Egypt they having been brought from 
Southern Illinois. One morning our "typical old settler" found the last 
hoof of stock he owned was gone! No cow was left to furnish milk, no 
ox to haul fuel. The owner pursued on foot and was gone six weeks be- 
fore reaching home again with those indispensable animals. The ground 
was thickly covered with snow, prairies bleak, and the weather intensely 
cold. Today it seems strange that a man would foot it 500 miles under 
such circumstances for a few head of cattle. The reason was simple and 
plain he had to have 'em. His family, knowing nothing of his where- 
abouts welcomed him as one from the dead. 

Mr. Ingals in speaking of his chase after ^his cattle, reminds us of a 
story told by one of the old settlers concerning another. 

"I was eating breakfrst when I heard a man calling from the street. 
It proved to be Squire Bobinson, from Melugin's Grove and he waa in- 
quiring if we had seen any cattle. He had missed them when he tlrsfc 
went out in the morning, and started without his hat in pursuit, and he 
continued to pursue until he reached Dixon, still withoufa hat. I hope 
someone appreciated his energetic pursuit of knowledge no cattle, and 
presented him with a good, substantial hat. 




Next in order comes a letter from Mrs. C. F. Ingalls giving an account 
of their wedding tour, of which she says, "It was so pleasant that even 
then I could have turned about and repeated it with pleasure." We give 
her story in her own words, and she begins: 

"September <>, 1838, 1 was married and left my native town in Vermont 
for a new home in Illinois. 

"We had a one-horse wagon buggies not having come much into use 
there in which were two trunks and some smaller baggage: the trunks 
were not Saratogas, but contained our wearing apparel. A journey of 
1,000 miles lay before us. With constantly new and changing scenery, 
delightful and invigorating air, the trip was pleasant and enjoyable. 
Spent one week with friends in Indiana and arrived at our future home 
October 12. Then commenced the new experience of housekeeping and 
farm life in a log cabin 13x15 feet inside, with "loft" in which three cor- 
ners were occupied by beds and one by a ladder (for stairs). Below was 
a bed, cookstove, cupboard, small sink (or washstand), table, bureau, with 
chairs and benches needful for a family of six. A sister-in-law, who had 
been the previous housekeeper, was visiting us with her affianced, who 
were intending to marry and go east in the spring. In February we 
were visited by an aunt and her son-in-law from Ottawa. The proposi- 
tion was made that the wedding should take place at that time. A mes- 
senger was dispatched to the county seat for a license and clergyman. 
High water prevented his reaching the county clerk, so the license could 
not be procured. Our visitors then proposed that we all return with 
them and the ceremony be performed at their house. Hasty preparations 
were made. Flouring mills at Dayton being not far from Ottawa, three 
or four sacks of wheat were put up to take to have ground or exchanged 
for flour, and a company of six started. The snow was gone, frost not 
out of the ground enough to make the roads very soft, and the weather 
dull. About six miles brought us to the first creek, which was much 
swollen, and the question arose how it could be crossed. Our friend had 
a span of large horses which were unhitched, the sacks of grain placed 
upon their backs and swam across, then rehitched and the party ferried 
over, somehow, without getting wet. One or two other streams were 
crossed, after which the aunt proposed changing seats with one of the 
other partv. The lot fell upon myself, and I rode with our visitor. It was 
probably the middle of the afternoon when he said to the others: '<! will 
leave the road and strike across the prairie, which will be shorter, and get 
home to tell my wife that she prepare for the company." The others 
kept the road. The fog soon became so dense that we could see nothing 


at any distance. The wind was an uncertain guide. We rode on and on 
until night and'no indication of any habitation. At length, finding we 
were only going round and round in a circle we stopped, not knowing 
which way to go. There was a good moon and though foggy it was not 
dark. An umbrella protected us from the mist and it was not cold. 
When morning came we could see where the sun rose, and starting again, 
found ourselves but a short distance from the road and reached ourdecti- 
nation about ten o'clock. The wedding came off the evening of the same 
day, and the adventure caused much merriment. We returned to our 
home in a few days. The newly wedded couple (Dr. R. L. Adams and 
Deborah Ingals) left us in March for Vermont, but returned after a time 
to Lee County. Our cabin being near the main road north and south we 
often entertained travelers and had some pleasant experiences in that 
way. Another incident occurred the next winter. I think in February. 
One cold stormy afternoon a man came in for help to get a load out of a 
little creek about two miles distant, where it was stuck fast in trying to 
cross. My husband asked him to wait until the storm was over and be 
would help him, to which he readily assented. A friend from Princeton 
was visiting me at the time and as a natural thing I had tried to have a 
good supper that evening of chicken and such vegetables as we had. All 
was on the table and we were about sitting down when a step jarred the 
puncheon floor, one leg slipped into a large crack, and down went one 
corner, dishes, supper and all in a henp. Whether anything but dishes 
was saved I do not remember, but know another meal was cooked. The 
event had passed out of mind and was recalled years after by a neighbor, 
who heard the that stopped for help'relate it where she was visiting 
in another town. 

In those early days neighbors had no prescribed bounds, and roads 
were not fenced, driving eight or ten miles to make a social visit was no 
uncommon thing. If a minister stopped in the vicinity word was at 
oncesent around, the people would gather at some place and have service. 
Many enjoyable and profitable raeetings were held in different calins. 
Time passed, the population increased, also labor and care, which in a 
measure restricted the old, free intercourse. Schools and churches were 
established. Ycung people grew up, married and scatteied, some to 
build homes in other new places, some to the city to enter various avo- 
cations of life. Generations have come and gone. The ranks of old 
settlers are depleted until very few are left to be interested in the great 
enterprise now absorbing so much attention. 

A brother, Dr. Ephraim Ingals, also well known and highly esteemed 


in Lee county, sends us from bis beautiful Chicago hoire, with pictures 
of himself and wife, the following interesting story of pioneer days. 

In the autumn of 1832, my eldest brothers, Henry and Addison, next 
older than myself, came to Illinois and settled on the Illinois river, near 
where Chandlersville now stands. Mr. Lincoln surveyed my brother's 
farm for him. In the spring of 1836 my brother, Charles F. Ingais, took 
up a claim at the east end of Palestine Grove on the laud where he 
lived more than fifty years. Addison and Deborah, (our sister) came 
north with Francis to assist in improving the claim. She stopped near 
Ottawa, with her uncle, the father of R. E. Goodell, now of Denver, who 
was to some extent associated with the early history of Lee County, while 
the brothers went out to build a cabin for their home. 

During the two weeks they were building the cabin of logs they lived 
in a tent made of the cover of their farm wagon, for which their only 
team was a pair of oxen. When the cabin was inclosed Francis went to 
Ottawa with this team for Deborah, leaving Addison, then but sixteen 
years old, at the camp. The only persons he saw during his two days 
solitude were about seventy Indians who called uninvited while he was 
at breakfast. They asked fur food, of which he had little to give. An 
Indian trail from Green river east to Chicago passed close by the camp. 
This could be plainly seen a number of years later when the prairie was 
burned off, as it stretched away over the ridges towards Melugins Grove. 
The trail crossed the creek about a mile directly west of the Ingais farm, 
at what was called the thicket. This was a little fertile bottom on 
which grew numerous wild plum trees t.hat bore excellent fruit; also crab 
apples, butternuts, hazelnut, grapes and May-apples. As there were only 
wild fruits in the country then, these were all highly prized. This had 
been the site of an Indian camp during the winter of 1835 and '36 and 
their lodge poles were standing a number of years later. MA Ingais built 
his cabin in a hazel thicket, on the spot where he afterward built his 

Returning from Ottawa with Deborah he reached the camp in the 
evening, after a fatiguing day's ride of thirty miles, in a lumber wagon 
without springs, drawn by a pair of oxen. The cabin was not chinked, 
and its light of welcome as they approached it shone not from windows, 
but from between the logs. It had no floor and the stubs from recently 
cut hatfel brush were far from pleasant. As Deborah looked into the 
cabin, she said and in no spirit of irony "Francis, what a nice home 
you have provided for me.'' There was no better housekeeper than she 
Her linen and table, however simple they might be, were spotless. The 


beauty and excellence of thp first breakfast she prepared, served, though 
it was on a drygoods box gave memories that the lapse of near three score years 
lias not effaced. Her only neighbors were in the Doan settlement two 
miles west, Inlet Grove five north, Melugin's Grove seven east and settlers 
on the Bureau creek ten south. No one then built, except in immediate 
contact with the timber. The nearest store where a lady could shop was 
at Dixon, twelve miles away. This however did not much matter, for the 
simplicity of pioneer life required but little and had it been otherwise 
there was no money with which to make purchases. 

When fourteen years old, in the autumn of 1837, I joined this family, 
having remained until that time in New England, in the winter of 
1837-8 the three brothers and sisters used to attend religious services 
at the log house of a Mr. Bridgman, which stood just. across the creek 
west of the thicket, on the present road from Binghampton to Sublette. 
We went with the oxen and farm wagon with boards across the box for 
seats, following the Indian trail through the woods. A Mr. Vincent, a 
relative of an eastern divine of some eminence having the same name, 
was our preacher. The next place of worship in the v'cinity was a small 
log school house on the east side of the before mentioned creek, which 
was not of sufficient size to have received a name, a mile north of Mr. 
Bridgman, and near the "Widow Varners." I think it was called by her 
name. In this house Iuke Hitchcock sometimes preached soon after he 
came to Illinois. Rev. Joseph Gardner used to hold service there. At 
one of his meetings he had for an auditor Joseph Smith, the founder of 
Monnonism. Curiosity to hear Smith, induced Mr. Gardner to invite 
him to close the services with prayer, which he did. After the audience 
was dismissed, Smith said to Mr. Gardner in an apologetic way, "I was 
never gifted in prayer." 

Smith's wife was a sister of Mrs. Wasson. who lived near where Am- 
boy now is. He came there to visit, and on one occasion^ was arrested, I 
presume on some trumped up charge. His brother William, one of the 
witnesses to the finding of the plates of the Book of Mormon, lived in 
Palestine Grove, not far from Rocky Ford, and had some followers there. 
They projected a temple and progressed so far as to lay a corner stone. 
Smith lived in a very poor way, and seemed much adverse to labor. He 
went one day and cut some poles from the tops of fallen trees. Going 
home he fell from the load and broke his arm. I was sent for. but as I 
was ten miles away 5t was some time before I reached him and the plac- 
ing ot it in croper dressings gave him considerable pain. During this he 
suspended his groans long enough to say: "I was never blessed when I 



engaged in manual labor. I think I have another work to perform." 
That he should think a special providence was punishing him for bringing 
home a load of wood to keep his family from freezing, caused me to smile, 
notwithstanding my sympathy for him in his suffering. 

Our cabin was built of unhewn logs. It had but one room on the 
ground and one above which was but two logs high on the sides and but 
seven feet at the ridgepole. This was reached from the lower room by a 
ladder. The only implements used in the construction of the cabin were 
an ax, a froe, auger and a shave. No iron was used in the building and 
no sawed lumber except for the first floor and one small door through 
which a man could net walk upright with his hat on. The upper floor 
was made of rive boards and the roof of the same, held in place by 
weight-poles. Our furniture consisted of an improvised table, the legs of 
which crossed like those of a saw-horse, boards being nailed over the top. 
We had but two chairs. One of these had a splint bottom, and the 
other, from which this was gone, had been replaced by a board. We 
made other seats by putting legs in puncheons about four inchs thick and 
four feet long. These we cushioned by nailing coon skins around them. 
They had no backs and I need not say they were very uncomfortable. 

The chairs had the place of honor, and were reserved for ladies and 
favored guests. The joists on which the upper floor of the house was 
laid were made of small trees about six inches through at the butt, and 
as these were green when put in they allowed the floor to sag very much 
in the middle of the room. The upper floor, as I have said, was made of 
rive boards laid two deep on the joists, but not nailed. Sometimes they 
would become displaced so that a leg of the bedstead would drop through, 
which was enough to awaken even a tired boy. The roof was proof 
against rain, but sncw would blow through it plentifully, giving an ample 
added covering to the bed in the morning. The house sheltered on an 
average six persons and we were obliged to lodge travelers, as we were 
some miles away from any public house. 

I remember with much pleasure on one occasion that Owen Lovejoy 
was snowbound with us two nights and a day, for we lacked all mental 
stimulus. Our only paper was the Saturday Courier, a weekly, printed 
in Philadelphia, and only received by regular course of mail when it was 
about a month old. We had but two books, one the Lady of the Lake, 
of which I committed a good deal to memory; the other the Bible, which 
I did not like to read because I did not know how to read it. I have 
always regretted that I did not improve the opportunity I then had of 
becoming more familiar than I am with its merits. 


Our farm implements were as rude and imperfect as our cabin and its 
furnishing. Our harrows were made entirely of wood, the plows did not 
scour, the hoes were heavy and dull, both cradle and scythe had a home- 
made, straight snath with a single nib. We thrashed our grain by 
arranging the bundles in a circle on the ground, the heads all leaning 
the same way, and then driving both oxen and horses against them on 
the circle, one person constantly tossing up the straw with a fork, whil e 
another drove the animals. We sometimes separated the wheat from 
the chaff by passing it through the wind. A common expression of ex- 
cellence then was the "head of the heap." There were no mechanics 
near. 1 have tapped my boots from the skirts of a worn out saddle, using 
last and pegs that we had made. Wheat threshed in this manner was 
apt to be damp and dirty. I once took a load of it to Mo.ek's mill to be 
ground. This was a log building two stories high. It was near the road 
from Princeton to Dixon that passed by the toll-gate at the head of the 
Winebago swamp from which Green river takes its rise. Arrived at the 
mill after a tedious drive of ten miles or more along the south side of 
Palestine Grove, a considerable part of the way without a road, I found 
my wheat was too wet to be ground." I spread it in the sun and stirred 
it constantly during one bright, hot summer day and then it was ground. 
Theliitle flour obtained from it was very poor, black and heavy. The 
wheat was ground in the basement and then carried on a man's shoulders 
to the bolt on the floor above. I asked Mr. Meek how his mill was doing. 
He answered with a degree of pride, "You can judge; it just keeps one 
man packing." Being obliged to remain over night, Mr. Meek entertain- 
ed me with the most hospitable kindness. Our breakfast consisted of 
mush and milk, and though he had a number of persons in his family 
the table ware was limited to two tin cups and spoons. Mr. Meek and 
I were accorded the place of honor and were served alone at the first 
table. I once went with a sled to Green's mill, which was situated on 
Fox river near its mouth, in company with Charles Sabin and Sherman 
L. Hatch, who still lives in Lee County. I left home on Monday morning. 
While at the mill a violent rain melted all the snow and left water ir. 
the depression or the roadway across the high prairie which came to be a 
matter of great importance to us. It was warm on Friday morning when 
we set out for home with our sleds on bare ground, but it soon began to 
snow. It suddenly became cold and we were enveloped in the most 
severe blizzard I ever encountered. There was no house on the twenty 
miles of prairie between Green's mill and Troy Grove, where we designed 
to spend the night. As the water froze in the road on the high prairie 

398 - 

the wind kept it clear of snow and we could follow it; but in the sloughs 
it would soon be obliterated by the drifting snow and we would lose it. 
When we had crossed such a slough we would leave one of our number 
with the teams while the other two hunted up and down the slough 
until the road was found again. Had we lost our way I am sure we all 
would have perished, for the following night was extremely cold. About 
three miles from Troy Grove the road crossed the head if the Tomahawk 
creek. This being filled with snow appeared like an ordinary slough and 
we drove into it. Soon the wet snow banked up in front of the box on 
the sled and the horses were unable to draw the load. We unhitched 
our teams and mounting one of the hoises ran them to the shelter of the 
grove. We spent the night at Mr. Dewey's, and the following morning 
having provided ourselves with axes returned and chopped our sleds out 
of the ice in which they had become firmly frozen. We reached home on 
Saturday at midnight, having spent on the expedition six laborious, dis- 
agreeable and dangerous days, with results of only a few hundred pounds 
of poor flour. Not long since I inspected the Pillsbury A. mill at Minne- 
apolis. This has a daily capacity of seven thousand barrels of beautiful 
flour, nearly the entire labor of producing it being performed by auto- 
matic machinery, and I realized the extent to which we had been able to 
Substitute other forces for muscular power." 

We listened to the conversation of Mr. 0. L. Sawyer, who remembers 
away back in 1835 how he lived in his father's log cabin with nothing but 
a ground floor, and blankets in lieu of doors and windows. "I took a lit- 
tle trip from Galena to Inlet, on foot of course," said he. "It was in the 
winter and when I left Dixon I knew I should have to travel rapidly to 
keep from freezing. So I set out on a run and I kept it up pretty stead- 
ily for ten miles. I sat down to rest I can show you the very knoll on 
the farm owned by Mr. Chamberlain but in a very few minutes I felt 
sleepy. Rousing myself, for I realized my danger, I started on; but I 
couldn't run ny more, it was difficult to even walk to the first house, anc 1 
that belonged to Stearn and Reynolds on the farm owned by Mr. Ullrich, 
Sr. There 1 remained a few hours, suffering intensely from my exertions. 
I walked on to Inlet that night and mother was glad to see me. Mother 
was always glad to see us boys, and I never shall forget how sad she 
looked when I left home to make my own living. 'Twas the "last time I 
ever saw her, but I have this to remember, she was always the same kind, 
patient and amiable mother. She died when she was only forty-five 
years old, leaving a ramily of twelve children, and she was the first 
woman buried in the cemetery. The world knows nothing about the 


heroism of such women." Thus the son whose hair had whitened undes 
the frosts of three-quarters of a cent iry paid loving tribute to the mother 
whose form was hidden by the prairie sods more than fifty years ago. 

"Shall I tell you how 1 was cured of an attack of pleurisy without 
either physician or pills? I had taken a sudden cold which settled in my 
side. I knew by the hard pain that something must be done, and of 
course that something was to bleed me. I had a neighbor that had pei- 
formed this operation successfully for others, so I walked down to see 
him; he lived three-quarters of a mile away, but that's nothing when you 
want help hard. Luckily he was at home and I told him what I wanted, 
'All right,' said he, 'Grasp the broomstick and hold it out at arm's 
length.' Then he bound my arm tightly above the elbow and gave me a 
bowl to hold under rny arm. The incision was made and there I stood 
holding broom stick and bowl until a iaintness nigh unto death crept 
over me and I called for water. Enough! pain gone, cure performed, and 
I go home a weaker but a wetter man." Mr. Sawyer married Miss Nancy 
Shumway of Pennsylvania in 1842 and they commenced housekeeping on 
the last land sold by the government in this township, the deed being 
signed bv James K. Polk, president. On this farm they have lived fifty 
years long enough to celebrate their golden wedding, which they did in 
a most hospitable and enjoyable manner. But the desire to be with their 
children has induced them to sell the farm and remove to Iowa. Two 
brothers who came at an early day are still on their farms in Lee Center 
township. Mr. Joseph Sawyer, the father, was the first postmaster in 
Inlet, under President Jackson. It took 25 cents to get a letter from 
Pennsylvania then, but the government would trust you until the letter 
arrived at its destination. We heard from a lady whose friends were 
many and living in the eastern states that they were not always able to 
pay the 25 cents due when the letter arrived, and the postmaster would 
trust them until the postage bill would amount to several dollars, then 
it would take the price of a calf to pay the bill. 

A tavern built of logs and kept by Benjamin Whittaker stood where 
Mr. Cephas Clapp lived. Mr. Whittaker was a Virginian and built the 
house now occupied by Mr. Ullrich. Here the old stage coach halted in 
its tedious journeys between Chicago and Galena. 

An old settler's daughter tells us that when her mother first came 
here, in 1839, Whittaker's "sign" at hi.s tavern was three bottles hung 
aloft between two poles before his door. 

Of the perils of the trip from one part of the country to another in 
those early days, we can have no more graphic picture than the following 


sketch from the pen of Mrs. S. W. Phelps, long known and loved among 
the people of Lee Center and vicinity as the wife of the pastor of the 
Congregational church in that place: 

"My earliest reminiscences of Lee county, Illinois, clustering closely 
about Dixon, date back to 1832. Then a child of eight years, I was the 
junior member of a traveling party of five, en route from New York City 
to Galena, 111., Rev. Aratus Kent, who was returning to the "northwest," 
his missionary field, with his bride (my aunt), Miss Pierce, a teacher, 
and Mr. E. E. Hall, a young student in course of preparation for the 
ministry. The route was via Hudson River to Albany, thence across 
New York state by Erie Canal to Buffalo, onward by stage to Wheeling, 
Va., down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi by steamboat, and with- 
out detentions required a full month's time. 

We had left New York in September, but having been long delayed 
by cholera among us in Cincinnati, again in St. Louis by other illness, 
we w^re unable to leave that city till after the close of navigation on the 
upper Mississippi, beginning the overland trip of more than 400 miles by 
stage. Arriving at Springfield, 111., it was found to the dismay of the 
older travelers that the mail stage would travel no farther northward 
before spring After days of search for a good team for sale my uncle 
bought a stout pair of horses, an emigrant wagon, buffalo robes, and 
provided with a compass, a large sack of crackers and some dried beef, 
the best provision for emergencies of hunger which the town afforded, 
we set forth, soon to leave the "settlements" behind and to pass through 
a wilderness country made still more desolate by the "Black Hawk 

Stopping places became more infrequent, till for the later days of 
the dreary way they were forty miles apart, the blackened ruins of 
cabins now and then marking the deserted "claims." Roads (more prop- 
erly called "trails" by the inhabitants) long unused and either overgrown 
by pra;rie grass or burned over by autumnal fires, were difficult to follow. 

Late in the arternoon of Dec. 13th our wagou halted before a little 
cabin known as "Daddy Joe's." "Daddy Joe" had espied us from afar, 
and awaited our approach leaning upon the rail fence, smoking a cob 
pipe, his rotund figure topped off by a well ventilated straw hat. His 
son, yet a lad, occupied a post of observation upon a "top rail," his head 
also sheltered from the wintry winds by a similar structure. 

"Winnebago Inlet,' 1 known to "early settlers" as a "slough of des- 
pond," lay between us and "Dixon's Ferry." our haven of rest for the 
coming night, and my uncle asked directions to a safe crossing from 


"Daddy Joe." His advice given between long puffs of his pipe was that 
we should go no farther that "evening." He kindly offered shelter, food 
and his son as guide in the morning, as he was sure we could not "make 
the ford" before dark. His assertion that the "old ford" was impassable 
and that the "trail" to the new was "too blind to folks after night" was 
assuring, but anxious to push on, rny uncle urged the tired. horses to a 
lively pace. The result proved "Daddy Joe" the wiser man. The winter 
dusk came on all too early, the "old trail" too easily mistaken for the 
new, and in the uncertain twilight the horses plunged down the steep, 
slippery bank into the black abyss of the "old ford." The poor beasts 
floundered breast deep in the icy mush, till just beyond midstream they 
could go no further. The wagon settled to its bed and the three femi- 
nine occupants climbed upon the trunks in the rear end, there to perch 
for several hours. By desperate struggles an occasional jerk brought us 
a few inches forward, after each one the wagon again settling into the 
miry bed. Thus after several hours of exhausting effort the two men 
were able to leap to the shore from the backs of the horses, bye and bye 
to land the stronger horse and with his help to pull out his fellow, now 
hardly able to stand alone. Then, one by one, we were helped along 
the tongue of the wagon to "terra flrma." My aunt, exhausted by 
fatigue and fright, was lifted to the back of the better horse with a 
buffalo robe as saddle, her husband leading the horse. Mr. Hull followed 
coaxing along the other, Miss Pierce and myself bringing up the rear. 
We started by the light of the now risen moon along the trail in "Indian 
file" for a walk of three miles to "Dixorrs Ferry" 

I recall distinctly the feelings with which I trudged on in the deep 
silence of midnight under the glistening stars over the boundless 

The weary march ended at last, twinkling lights greeted our eager 
eyes and as we quickened our pace the moonbeams revealed a most pic- 
turesque, though somewhat startling scene. White tents gleamed and 
in every direction smouldering campttfes showed dusky, blanketed forms 
crouching or lying prone around them while a few white men in army 
uniform bearing lanterns moved about with alert step and keen eye. 
We halted at once,, the ladies greatly alarmed, but the watchers had 
noted approaching hoof beats and hurried to reassure us, explaining 
that several thousand Indians were there encamped, for the final settle- 
ment of annuities and other matters included in their recent treaty 
with the government. 

A moment later we were made welcome to the warmth and comfort 


of her neat cabin by Mrs. Dixon, who hastened to make ready a hot, rel- 
ishing supper, a royal feast to our famishing appetites. 

Our kind hostess gave up her own soft bed bv ihe cheerful hearth flre 
to the ladies, tucking me snugly away at the foot to a dreamless sleep, 
finding a resting place somewhere among her many guests for my uncle 
and Mr. Hall. 

In the gray of the earliest dawn Mr. Dixon and his stalwart sons 
started out with oxen, chains, and poles to rescue the abandoned "prairie 
schooner" from the "Inlet Slough," returning with it in triumphal pro- 
cession a few hours later. Meanwhile, some one had taken me out into 
the "great tent" among the warrior chiefs, adorned with paint and 
feathers and earrings, and gorgeous- in all the new toggery obtained 
from the agents. As we passed around the circle, a painted chief caught 
me up in his arms, seated me on his knee, admired and patted mj red 
cheeks, calling out "brave squaw, brave squaw," because I did not turn 
pale and run away in fear. 

All preparations for a fresh start were soon completed, and we made 
haste to leave Lee County soil at least so much of it as we were notcom- 
pelled to carry away upon our belongings. But "getting away" proved 
no easy matter. The horses had not been consulted. Once at the river's 
brink our troubles began anew. The ferry was a "rope ferry, "the boat a 
"flat boat" "poled" across the swift flowing river. The quivering horses, 
terrified at sight of the water, refused to enter the boat. After long and 
vain urging they finally made a wild plunge forward which sent the boat 
spinning from the shore as they sprang upon the boat, dragging the fore 
wheels of the wagon with them, the hind wheels dropping into the river, 
almost tossing us into the icy stream. Instantly Mr. Hall was in the 
shallow water with his "shoulder to the wheel," and somehow, between 
the efforts of men and horses the whole wagon was got on board. After 
a halt upon the shore for advice ind thanks to our friends; and a chang- 
ing of the soaked garments for dry ones by the chilled men, their dripping 
raiment fluttering from various points of the wagon cover, our long ride 
to the "lead mines" was again resumed. 

Upon the foregoing experience my only claim of being an "early set- 
tler" of Lee County must be based the transient settlement being con- 
fined to the few hours spent between the banks of the "Winnebago 

Twenty years later this pioneer journey came vividly to my thoughts 
while we waited in Dixon for the wagon from Lee Center, which conveyed 
us to the welcoming people who soon became "our people," whose welfare 


became the warp into which so many years of our own lives were inter- 
woven, whose sorrows we carried in our hearts, and in whose gladness we 
were glad our affections taking root so deeply among them that the pain 
of transplanting still lingers with an abiding ache in two hearts now 
grown more familiar with the minor key in life's experiences, than with 
the major music of its joys." 

There is a story that in those early days four families came here from 
the east with the few worldly effects which could be stowed in their 
wagons; 'but there was no home, nothing like home, except the blue sky 
and the genial sunshine. The mountains were only pictured in memory, 
and the little fields, outlined by straggling, irregular stumps, over which 
vines ran rampant all the summer, seemed far away. The prairies were 
so wide and the windsswept over them unchecked by either rocksor hills. 
It was all so strange, so new, that the wonder remains to this day why 
they did not all turn around and go back to their native homes. But 
the story goes that two families, never having taken their wagon covers 
off, retraced their steps. The other two remained and went to work with 
a will; cut and hewed logs and reared their cabins with the energy 
which characterized the true pioneer. A member of one of these families, 
Mr. Ralph Ford, relates how he hired out to work on a farm, the first 
year receiving $7 per month. The next year he was paid $9 and the next 
$11, showing steadv progression. 

Mr. Ford tells of a trip he made to Chicago, which in those days con- 
sisted of thirty-three frame shanties, standing in the water. He with 
two other men drove in some hogs, the round trip occupying sixteen days. 
As corn was plenty and cost only 6 cents per bushel, they fed generously, 
drove slowly, and at the 'end of their trip marketed their hogs for H 
cents per pound. In the spring of '40 Mr. Ford drove a pair of oxen to 
Chicago. The wagon was loaded with wheat. Many showers and a hot 
sun caused the wheat to sprout on the way. The grain depot consisted 
.if a floating wharf, or corduroy bridge anchored to the shore, where boats 
loaded and unloaded their cargo. It cost the man who owned the wheat 
20 cents per bushel to get it to Chicago, and he then had to sell it as 
damaged wheat to a starch factory down the river. 

Mr. F. took his turn at driving the old stage coach. A cumbrous 
vehicle it was, weighing 3300 pounds, and when weighted down with 
prairie mud and passengers, probably amounted to several pounds more. 
Four large horses were driven before the coach, from Chicago to Galena, 
and the passengers paid five cents per mile and had to carry a rail half 
the time, at that, to pry the stage out of the sloughs it had to pass. 


Starting from the tavern in Lee Center at noon, the driver must occupy 
his position until 12 o'clock at night: then the next man took it for 
twelve hours. 

Many romantic episodes occurred in the lives of these old settlers, and 
if we felt at liberty to repeat the stories which we have heard from their 
lips, it would lend both humor and pathos to these pages. We were de- 
sirous of finding who were the parties in the first matrimonial alliance. 
Mr. Volney Bliss furnished us with the desired information. 

In the jear 1836, a Mr. Albert Static and Miss Elmira Carpenter were 
married by Daniel M. Dewey, justice of the peace. "Speaking of wed- 
dings," said one of the old settlers, "reminds me of one I attended in 
those early days. The squire performed the ceremony standing in the 
open door of the house belonging to the groom. A good many of us had 
gathered around the door with old tin pans, horns and guns and as soon 
as the squire stopped talking, we began to deal out music (?)to the newly 
married couple. Oh, the horrid din! 'Twas .the first charivari I ever 
attended and almost the last. I believe there were two or three more in 
the neighborhood after that." 

The hard labor and isolated lives of our pioneers did not detract from 
their patriotic zeal. 

A lady informant, who attended the Fourth of July celebration in 1842 
writes: "I can only remember that it rained during the exercises, which 
were held in the little school house at Inlet. The rain ceased about the 
close, but the grass was so wet it was almost decided to eat the dinner 
we had prepared indoors, instead of marching to the booths where the 
tables had been improvised. The ladies disliked. the plan of adjourning 
to the school house, so we took a vote as to where the dinner should be 
uaten. We unanimously voted to go to the tables. This decision so 
pleased the gentlemen that they gave us three rousing cheers, and gal- 
lantly offered to go out and turn over the grass and shake the water out, 
so we need not wet our slippers or draggle our skirts. The orator of the 
day was Dr. R. F. Adams, now of Denver. Mr. Joseph Farwell furnished 
music with his his violin, and Mr. Joseph Sawyer beat the big bass 

In 1840 Luke Hitchcock married a couple, who, though they did not 
come here to live till years after, have always jbeen interested in Lee 
Center, and Lee Center in them, Mr. and Mrs. Cephas Clapp. Mr. Clapp 
had come west a year or more before, and when his sister and husband 
(Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Clapp) weno east in 1840 they brought back with 
them his promised wife, Mildred Snow. They had the pioneer's ex- 


perience in getting here, being "sloughed" and fording Bureau creek 
when their trunks had to be put on the seats of the wagon, and they 
themselves to sit like tailors on the other seals to keep dry; but the 
bride was just as brave and cheerful as she always has been and ao ready 
to bear anything for her loved ones. They were married at Lewis Clapp's 
and the next Sunday Mrs. Clapp remembers going to meeting in tne old, 
log school house at Inlet in the forenoon, and at Mr. Tripp's barn in the 
afternoon. Here she met many of the old settlers and formed ties of 
interest still strong and abiding. She remembers "Uncle Dan Frost" led 
the singing, and how well he sang; and that Mrs Dr. Gardner said with 
tears she "hoped they wouldn't be as homesick as ehe had been." 

Rev. James Brewer, now living at Wheaton, Illinois, expresses his 
commendation of the work in hand in the following words: "It is surely 
a very grateful thing that as the history of earth's glacial period has 
been rescued from oblivion by investigations of the boulders left from 
its movements, so there are those enough interested in the Genesis of 
Lee Center's history to take the pains to investigate the old boulders 
which still lie with striated surfaces along its course, and write out their 
story of an earlier age." 

Mr. Brewer rode on horseback from Montgomery, Ala., to Inlet in the 
fall of 1843. "I found my way by inquiring for large towns. At Spring 
field, 111., I inquired for Peoria, thence I came to Princeton, thence to 
Greenfield (now Lamoille), thence to Dixon's Ferry. At Green river 
(Inlet creek) I received the first knowledge of Inlet, the chief town of 
the Lee Center which was to be." Mr. B. speaks of several private 
schools in and about Inlet. "In one such Mrs. Sallie P. Starks taught a 
class of ten pupils, five boys and five girls, from about one year old to 
near twenty-one years old, and the excellence of her work is manifest in 
the noble after lives of such as Bets> S. Shaw, Emeline Williamson and 
Esther M. Chadwick. This woman taught 12 hours a day and all the 
year round. Several years after his first-coming to Inlet Mr. Brewer 
occupied the position of principal of the Lee Center academy, and the 
first bell, "an exceeding sweet and far sounding one," was purchased 
while he was teaching there. 

And now a word about this structure bearing the name of academy. 
In or near 1846 the question was agitated in regard to the erection of a 
brick building which would serve as a school building; also as a place for 
conducting religious services. When Mr. Moses Crombie and wile cast in 
their lot with the people of Lee Center Mr. Crombie was a carpenter by 
trade, and took the contract for building the brick part of the old acad 


etny. When completed it Was an imposing structure for those times 
and indicated the character of those who aided in its erection as true 
interpreters of the wisdom of knowledge. 

It was a grand step forward when in 1853 the stone part of the present 
edifice was added to accommodate the throng of students knocking at 
its doors for admission. 

In '53 Mr. S. Wright, of Battle Creek, Mich., assumed the reins of 
government. For the next three years the school was the principal edu- 
cational center of this and adjoining counties. Man}" pupils came from 
other states and almost every home In town sheltered one or more board- 
ers. Mr. Wright would proudly remark, "Yes, this is one of the best, if 
not the very best school in the northwest." We clip from an old cata- 
logue published during Mr. Wright's reign. "Lee Center Union Academy 
is pleasantly situated upon one of the most delightful and healthy prair 
ies of the west Lee Center is a small village, free from the contaminat- 
ing influences that are always associated with depots and larger places: 
it is also free from saloons and resorts of dissipation tnat have a tenden- 
cy to draw the youth from the path of rectitude The school is now per- 
manently established, and one which will afford equal advantages with 
any academy or seminary in the west. A valuable library is connected 
with the institution, to which the student can have access by the pay- 
ment of 25 cents per quarter." The names of seven trustees and five 
special directors are given, together with a list of six as "Visiting Com- 
mittee." The board of instructors are assigned to departments in ancient 
languages, ornamental branches and modern languages, instrumental 
music, mathematics, and two lectures on physiology and philosophy. 

Those were indeed the palmy days of dear old Lee Center pleasant 
white cottages embowered in trees, shady streets and grassy lawns made 
it a "faire greene countrie towne." It was the pride and pleasure of the 
dwellers therein to watch the surprise of relatives from the eastern states 
when introduced to the social circle there; they found homes of refine- 
ment and culture equal to those they knew in New England, daughters 
as lovely and accomplished and sons as noble and manly as any they had 
left behind, and they never failed to give it their highest meed of praise 
by saying, "It was so much like a New England village." Who of the 
younger "old settlers" will ever forget the time when they gathered about 
that old academy Lyceums, lectures, donations, traveling entertain- 
ments in the academy "chapel."' Or the time before the three pretty 
churches were built, when there was Congregational service and Sunday 
school Sunday morning, Episcopal service and Sunday school in the after 


noon, and Methodist in the evening, with almost the same congregation 
and children in all three; the greatest difference being that Deacon 
Cromhie and Deacon Barnes gathered the offerings of the congregation in 
the morning, Dr. Gardner and Mr. Garrett La Forge in the afternoon and 
two good Methodist brethren in the evening, and that there was a differ- 
ent parson in the desk at each. 

Nor did Lee Center and her young people fall behind the rest of the 
county in the next page of history; for in that old academy chapel were 
held some of the most stirring "war meetings," and thare were enlisted 
as large and brave a proportion as any town sent. Here, too, the girls 
gave many an entertainment for the benefit of the old "Sanitary Com- 
mission" which would not have shamed those of a city even, and sent 
generous returns to the "boys in blue." 

During this time schools were being established in adjoining towns, 
which of course detracted steadily from the attendance, until at present 
it ranks as a graded district school. Many of the pupils who have been 
sheltered beneath its roof are now breasting the current of life in places 
of honor and distinction. Many, in homes scattered throughout our 
Union, are fulfilling the promise of their early days 
"What the child admired 
The youth endeavored, and the man acquired." 

And many rest from their labors, for God called them. 

The feet of the younger generations tread in and out the old rooms 
now, the curriculum of study has been simplified, another bell swings in 
the weatherbeaten belfry, the corps of instructors has been narrowed 
down to two, still the influences of the olden time dwells in the hearts 
and lives of those who were wont to gather in the old academy, exhort- 
ing to truest man and womanhood. 

The Congregational church was organized at the home of Mr. Moses 
Crombie and called the "Congregational Church of Palestine Grove.'' 
Then we understand worship was conducted until 1849 in what was 
called the Wasson school house, after which it was moved to Lee Center. 
Of the organization of the Methodist church we have spoken before and 
we know that for many years Luke Hitchcock, among the best and best 
beloved of that communion, was here; that Philo Judson afterward a 
foreign missionary preached here, and that good old "Father Penfield" 
often filled the sacred desk, as well as the early circuit riders mentioned 
in other papers. The Episcopal church was not a pioneer organization 
here and gradually retrograded after its founders and chief supporters, 
Dr. Gardner and Garrett La Forge left the town, until it is opened for 
service only upon rare occasions. 


We were happy to find snugly pasted in an old scrap-book a letter 
descriptive of the audience that were wont to worship in the "brick part" 
of the old academy previous to the building of the churches. The style 
of the letter suggests that the writer must have been Mrs. James Crom- 
bie, who was long a resident of Lee Center, and our literary "star." She 
evidently arrived by stage in the early hours of a November morning, for 
she says, "How the winds whistled and penetrated when the stage un- 
loaded its passengers, and the moon looked coldly down upon the Acad- 
emy, as it stood there alone on the prairie, unenclosed or beautified by 
tree or shrub. It was well filled that Sabbath morning as we entered, 
for the Palestine people were over and added largely to the congregation. 
Mr. and Mrs. Farwell and Brainard, Mr. and Mrs. John C. Church, Mr. 
and Mrs. Cyrus Davis and some others were present from there. It was 
before the days of fashion and dress, although Miss Mary Barnes had 
spent a few weeks in the millinery rooms at LaSalle, and she had added 
a bright ribbon here and there in trimming some of the bonnets. Mrs. 
liodine was spending the winter at Mr. Charles Hitchcock's, from Staten 
Island, and she had a little of the city airs. Dr. R. F. Adams and wife, 
Dr. and Mrs. Ingals and Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Clapp were chatting to- 
gether before service. Deacon Barnes and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Moses 
Crombie, Mr. Lyman Wheat, Joseph 'ne and George, Mr. and Mrs. Swart- 
out, Ahram and Nelson, Mr. and Mrs. Bradford Church, Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles Frisbee, Mr. Martin Wright and Helen, Rev. James Brewer, 
principal of the academy, Miss Harriet Rewey, the primary teacher, Mr. 
David Smith and his two bright-eyed daughters, Mrs. Bourne and Mrs. 
Sancer, Mrs. Lee Clapp and Alice, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Bodine and Albert 
Z. Bodine, Mr. Ira Brewer came with his wagon filled. Uncle Elisha 
Pratt, Elisha and Sarah were down from Bradford, John Warwick, Sarah 
(Mrs. John Crombie) and Sabra. Esquire Haskell came in later. There 
was a weary look on the faces of those who came in the earlier days, 
telling of trial and care. The path had been hard to travel in opening 
up the farms and building new homes. The pastor, Rev. S. W. Phelps, 
was at the desk, and he had a quiet, unobtrusive expression as if shrink- 
ing from the duties before him. This is his first pastorate. Mr. Brewer 
pitches the tunes. Mr. John Wetherbee, the Misses Barnes, Mrs. Henry 
Frisbee and Mrs. Martin Wright composed the choir." Those of us who 
read these names realize that the greater number composing this audi- 
ence have "passed over." 

We next give a brief page from the pen of Mr. Phelps, the congre- 
gational pastor spoken of above, whose pastorate in Lee Center was 
longer than that of any other minister of whatever name. 


"1 have not been wont to consider myself an old settler of Lee county. 
I was not so old at my dropping down at Lee Center in 1852, that I 
escaped the suggestion of being a 'green yatikee.' 

"As for the 'settle idea,' I was so far from that relation to the prairie 
that I was never 'settled' at all; but was a sojourner, liable to be hoisted 
any year. 

"Old settlers were there already in their snug, hospitable homes, 
which timidly hugged the edge of the grove, or venturously dotted the 
treeless expanse of prairie. 

"My memory of Lee Center goes back to a time six years antecedent 
to '52, even less suggestive of settlement, as the creaking, lumbering mail 
coach, attempting to wrestle with an athletic stump, discourteously 
hurling its load of assorted passengers into a squirming heap of hurnanitv, 
at Inlet. It was a rather unsettling parenthesis in my return from a 
courtship trip of 1,000 miles, from New York to Galena. Hardly less 
vivid is the memory of a second excursion, in a 'Frink and Walker' stage 
from Galena to Dixon supplemented by a hard ride through soft mud, 
with a deacon (now counted among the faithful departed) to the village 
and to his tidy home. 

"Recollection includes one old settler that warned us (the girl I did 
not leave behind and myself) by a significant rattle to vacate a wild 
strawberry patch, and another that darted venom at the intrusive wagon 
wheel which jolted me and disturbed him at early dawn near BirdsaU 
bridge. Along with these recollections go that of a cramped schoolroom, 
adorned with meandering stovepipe, and furnished with pedagogic desk 
for the 'green yankee's' wearying attempts at sermonizing; that of Sun- 
day school, saved from midwinter wreck by three brave Baptist boys 
(Swartwouts); of Sunday afternoon rides or walks to out stations, through 
measureless mud or snow, or in the face of a blizzard escaped from the 
land of the Dakotas. 

"But I need not accumulate these reminiscences, but remind you that 
a farewell sermon finished a sixteen and a half year ministery with ex- 
pressions of an interest that has never been repealed in the people of my 
only pastorate." 

A sketch from Dr. Ephriam Ingals gave us a very complete description 
of their cabin home, and of the times when he pioneered in our county 
Both Dr. Ingals and his brother are now living in Chicago, enjoying the 
richly-deserved fruit of their labors. 

In the fairof 1841 a family arrived from the Knickerbocker state, con- 
sisting of Mr. Bradford Church, his wife and three daughters. We have 


a lively remembrance of this couple, so long interested in all that per* 
tained to Lee Center and her people. The lively wit and humor of the 
one and the quiet geniality of the other endeared them to the people with 
whom they dwelt nearly fifty years. Mrs. William Ramsey, a daughter, 
writes: "The next day after our arrival, being Sunday, we all went to 
church in Palestine. Agenerous pioneer had kindly thrown open his res- 
idence for an assembly room. It was of dimensions most fashionable in 
those days no trouble to have crowded congregations then. The speaker 
was a Rev. Baptist; I cannot remember his text or subject, just one word 
of it all remains, i. e.: "Simplify." I think Lee Center had not received 
ils name at this time. Inlet at the bridge was the town, with two saw 
mills, a store and a few mechanics. Looking back I can see but little of 
Lee Center except a house with its ruof sprouting out of the ground and 
the school house near the grove. I wish the school house had been left 
standing until now in its unpretentiousness, rough benches and all. It 
would be worth a pilgrimage to look at it. But its ministers were neither 
rough or common. Those I heard there in the winter of '41 were Luke 
Hitchcock, Philo Judson and John Hogan, local preacher and registrar of 
land office in Dixon. 

"Now I come to your 'We want all we can get about the women arid 
their work.' My dear, do you realize that this refers to the woman of 
fifty years ago? What can you expect? She had not yet thought of de 
liverence from the bondage of looking well to the ways of her household. 
Frances Willard was yet in her infancy and Samantha Allen had not 
been dreamed of. Some poet has written 'Noble deeds are held in 
honor, but the wide world sadly needs hearts of patience to unravel this, 
the worth of common deeds.' Pure religion and neighborly kindness 
were as dear to woman's heart then as they are now, and I think the 
dear words, 'she hath done what she could,' will as often be applied to 
women of that age as this. Just consider for a moment the pioneer 
woman in the midst of her family, her toil and her care, with six pairs of 
feet and hands to be protected from the rigors of this, climate one slender 
pair ot hands with her knitting needles to accomplish it; not as a busi- 
ness, oh, no! but just by filling up every spare minute 'between jobs. 
Then they had their neighborly social visits, when the women indulged 
in pleasant chat and mild gossip, keeping time with their knitting nee- 
dles, while their 'gude men' without engaged in discussions of political 
economy, reform, etc. and, poor dears, they seemed just as happy as the 
women of these days. 1 wonder why some ingenious writer has not 
taken for his theme 'The rise and fall of knitting work and its effect on 

411 - 

the republic." A bright little girl friend of mine says she 'can always 
tell the ladies who know how to knit, because they wear their hair parted 
in the middle.'" 

1 1 is a source of regret that the purpose of our book was not more fully 
understood, so that we might have had incidents and particulars from 
the experience ot many of them to make our story more complete and 
more interesting. We have beside those named or referred to in other 
parts of this sketch the names of "Uncle Russel" Lynn and "Uncle Dan" 
Frost and to their excellent wives not one word of honor has been given. 
Dear "Aunt Abbie!" and "Aunt Eulalia!" we pause to linger over their 
narne, yet realize that their quiet unobtrusive lives furnished little for 
the pen of a historian. But in not a few homes in Lee County, and in 
distant lands as well, are there those who rise up and call them blessed, 
whose lives have been consecrated to higher and nobler purposes by their 
influence and prayers, and eternity only can measure the widening circle 
of that influence and those prayers. Would 'there were more such 
mothers! more such women! and with these dear faces comes a throng of 
others the noble pioneer women of Lee Center who bore bravely and un- 
complainingly the "burden and heat of the day" Mrs. Luke Hitchcock, 
Mrs. Birctsall (her mother), Mrs. Warnick, Mrs. John H.Gardner, and her 
successor, "Aunt Lydia," and many more whose names, omitted here, 
are written on high in letters of living light. 

We cannot refrain from quoting a closing paragraoh from an author 
who appreciates the heroes of the past: "The pioneer! Who shall fitly 
tell the story of his life and work! The soldier leads an assault. It lasts 
but a few micutes. He knows that whether he lives or dies immortality 
will be his reward. But when the soldier of peace assaults tho wilderness 
no bugle sounds the charge. The frost, the wild beast, malaria, fatigue 
are the foes that lurk to ambush him. and if against the unequal odds he 
alls, no volleys are fired above him. The pitiless world merely sponges 
his name from its slate. Thus he blazes the trail; thus he fells the trees? 
thus he plants his stakes; thus he faces the hardships and whatever fate 
awaits him, and his self-contained soul keeps his finger on his lips and no 
lamentations are heard. Not one in a thousand realizes the texture of 
the manhood that has been exhausting itself within him. Few compre- 
hend his nature or have any conception of his work.'' 




VOLNEY BLISS was born in Huron County, Ohio, in 1828. About 
1830 his parents moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, from which place 
they Ccime in the spring of 1834 to Inlet and settled by the grove 
which long bore the name of Bliss' Grove before it became generally 
known as Palestine Grove. At that time there were several hundred In 
clians within a few rods of Mr. Bliss' cabin. Government was slow in 
settling with them and they were waiting for their money, blankets, 
guns, etc.. before going to Council Bluffs. It was nearly two ytars before 
"Uncle Sam" had them paid, but there were no railroads or telegraph 
lines then and everything moved slowly. The young braves were Mr. 
Bliss' only playfellows. Like Mr. Dixon at the ferry, his father, Mr. 
Adolphus Bliss, was the first white man in this vicinity. 

He opened a stage house, for he lived on the direct route from Chicago 
to Dixon, and Chicago was for a time his postofflce. 

Just one year after Mr. Bliss came, John Dexter arrived and settled six 
miles farther west Then they had a neighbor. Mrs. Dexter once 
walked all the way to Mr. Bliss' after fire. One would think it must have 
kone out before she could reach home with it. The next year the Ingals 
family came to the grove. It was really getting quite thickly settled. 

One can hardly hear of an old settler now who did not come through 
"Inlet." Bliss' Stage House has many associations. All the memories 
that cluster around the old stage coach arrivals with their human bur- 
dens and the mails, and the "underground railroad" are gathered around 
this place. Mr. John Cross had his advertisement fastened up beside 
that of Frink and Walker. Here was opened the first school in Lee 
County, with Miss Ann Chamberlain as teacher. 

Mr. Bliss is gifted with unusual powers of observation and memory, 
and he can give authentic information upon almost every event of inter- 
est which transpired within his range of knowledge. It is a pleasure to 
learn from him, und amusing to note how exactly his memory serves him 
in little particulars which most people forget. He remembers Peter 


Cartright and the si/e of his saddle-bags, and just how some preachers 
talked; and many lively incidents which would make a volume worth 
possessing. He could give an abstract from memory of every homestead 
that he knew. At a glance he takes in comparative distances and local- 
ities and every little object in view. He has a faculty of describing any- 
thing and presenting it to another's mind so clearly in few words that it 
is easier to remember it than to forget it. What a teacher he would have 
made or artist, or guide over the pathless wilderness or ocean. In 1842, 
at the age of fourteen years, he went to Chicago to work in the office of 
the Chicago Democrat, published by "Long John Wentworth." The office 
was at 107 Lake street, over Sherman & Pitkin's d-ry goods store. Lake, 
Water arid Randolph streets were then about the only ones which had 
buildings on them. That was the time when farmers carried grain, pork 
etc. to Chicago through the sloughs, and when it took a week to go and 

After Mr. Bliss returned home his father having died he attended 
school two winters at Dixon, making his home in the family of Judge 
Heaton, who was his guardian. 

When the war came he enlisted in Co. D, 15th Ills. Regt., and became 
first lieutenant in Sherman's arm}: was transferred from 17th corps to 
the Western Division, and finished service on the plains, remaining to 
the close of the war, his headquarters being at Fort Kearney and Fort 

Mr. Bliss was married in 1853 to Miss Pauline Treadwell of Susque- 
hanna Co., Pa., Rev. Joseph Gardner performing the marriage service. 
Mr. Bliss says they "celebrated President Pierce's inauguration in that 
way." Mrs. Bliss, like her husband, has an excellent memory. She was 
personally acquainted with some of those people whose career in this 
state will ever be remembered by many with interest. Her kindness of 
heart has endeared her to many, who in sickness or trouble immediately 
send for her; and her unselfishness is as proverbial as that of her hus- 
band. On the death of a beloved niece they adopted the little mother- 
less one, but it was not long spared to them. 

Mr. Bliss has been justice of the peace for fourteen years and assessor 

of Lee Center township for twenty years. 

Mus. D. C. CHASE. 


Ttie Wefty 

MY father, David Welty, was born in Williamsville, New York. He 
inherited a considerable fortune and was considered wealthy as 
riches were rated at that early day. He was an invalid and it 
was believed that should he remain in the east his days would not be 
long in the land. His family physician, Dr. White of Buffalo, advised 
him to go west, to make the entire journey on horseback and settle on a 
farm so as to have the benefit of open air exercise. He accordingly in 
the year of 1838 started from Buffalo, mounted upon a thoroughbred 
mare presented by a friend, whose name I have now forgotten. He was 
accompanied by several young men upon his first day's journey, among 
whom was A. L. Porter, who shortly afterwards removed to Dixon. The 
next morning after the first day when father resumed his journey west- 
ward these young gentlemen, citizens of Buffalo, each bid him a final 
goodbye with the firm belief that they would soon hear of his death. It 
is a remarkable fact that father outlived them all. The entire journey 
from Buffalo to Dixon's Ferry, as it was then called, was successfully 
made by him on horseback. 

The following year he sent for his family, consisting of mother and 
myself. We were accompanied by Grandfather and Grandmother Scott, 
went by steamer via the lakes to Chicago, and thence by stage to Dixon. 
Father remained with his family about a year in Dixon and then settled 
upon the land preempted by him on the Inlet Creek (Green River), in 
what is now Marion Township. 

It was related to me by father that when mother looked upon the 
long stretches of prairie, utterly devoid of houses, trees, or any other evi- 
dences of civilization or uncivilization, for that matter for the Indians 
had fled she exercised her woman's prerogative and sat down for a two 
weeks' cry. She gave her undivided attention to the business in hand- 
that of weeping. The contrast between the city of Buffalo with its charm- 
ing society and the bleak bare prairies of Illinois was too great, the trans- 


formation too sudden for this refined young woman, so there was nothing 
left her to do but to just open the tear ducts and cry it out. 

But time, that merciful assuager of all griefs, at last reconciled her 
to pioneer life. Old friends and acquaintances began to remove from the 
east and settle in Dixon or tlie vicinage. 

A double log house was built on the farm, the lumber for the doors 
and window sash, flooring, shingles, etc., had to be hauled by teams of 
horses from Chicago. This was about 1840. The floors of the house were 
covered with velvet and Brussels carpet and costly rugs, the furniture was 
of mahogany and walnut all brought from the east. The contrast be- 
tween that log house and its belongings was so great as to excite the 
wonder and admiration of strangers from the east who chanced to alight 
from the stages and enter our pioneer home. Many amusing anecdotes 
as to this were recounted by mother. Our house at the farm was on the 
stage road leading from Peoria to Galena. There were for many years 
only three houses between Dixon and Princeton, i. e., one at "Dad Joe's" 
Grove, one on the south side of Palestine Grove and the other in 
which we lived. After all, if my boyhood recollection serves me rightly 
father having nearly recovered his health, this circumstance, together 
with many visitors and sleighing and dancing parties at our house, im- 
provised by the young folks of Dixon, made us all quite contented and 
happy in our new home. In a few years our parents moved back to Dixon 
and lived at that place and at the farm alternately until their death. 

Of those who were contemporaneous pioneers with them I now recall 
the names of Major Sterling, Silas Noble, A. L. Porter, John Dixon, the 
founder of the town of Dixon, and his sons James P. and John jr., Gil- 
breth, James and Dan McKenney, Henry McKenney, Lorenzo Wood, 
George Chase, Judge Heaton, l; Than" Porter, Dr. Everett, Paul Gallup, 
Col. Dement. Max Alexander, E. B. Stiles, and McBoel (pronounced Buel). 
The last named was a fine performer on the violin and an all round artist. 
I remember that during a presidential campaign in which Henry Clay 
was the Whig candidate the ladios desired Mr. McBoel to paint them a 
banner with a likeness of Clay thereon, to be presented to the Whig 
Campaign Club. There was no picture of Cla> extant to copy from at 
that time in that "neck of the woods," and so poor Mac, who was always 
a gallant knight in his conduct towards the ladies, and regarded himself 
in honor bound to please them, was put to his trumps for a portrait from 
which to copy Clay's picture upon the banner. So, as a last resort, be 
began to inquire around among the people as to the general appearance 
of the great Con. moner. Alas! none had overseen him save old Doctor 

- 422 

.Jerry Coggswell, a prominent character of the town. Jerry said unto 
Mac. "paint a picture of a man about six feet high, of slender build, with 
small feet and small white hands, a long head with a high forehead, large 
ears, and when that is done paint in the middle of his face a big cattish 
mouth.'' The caricature of Clay was then painted on the banner by Mac 
according to the description of him as given by Jerry, the banner pre- 
sented with due form and ceremony by the ladies to the club in a neat 
little speech composed by Mrs. Nancy Noble, wife of Col. Silas Noble. 

These early pioneers of the Rock River Valley were absolutely ex opti- 
ma optime of the east, "generous to a fault," they helped each other in 
the trials and tribulations incident to that early day. They were men 
and women of education and refinement, they were self-reliant, independ- 
ent, bold and daring, and with their coadjutors builded a commonwealth 
which is at once the pride and glory of the whole country a common- 
wealth that gave us Lincoln and Grant and according to its population 
sent more young men into the army for the preservation of the govern- 
ment than any other state in the union. 

But Father Time with a gentle hand has at last drawn about many of 
them the shades of the evening of their useful lives; others are dead 
have passed over into the dark shadow of the valley of doath. Over them, 
"Twilight has pulled the curtain down and pinned it with a star." Peace 

to their ashes. 



ri Pir2eer,s. 

WE naturally and rightfully dwell upon our comforts as compared 
with those of our ancestors or predecessors, and it seems most 
appropriate that in this, the beginning of a new century from 
"in cuiintrv's discovery, we pause arid gather some of the experiences of 
the past, that may, perchance, assist the historian of the next century, 
and teach some lessons to the coming generation of the expense at which 
its blessings have been bought. It is certainly true that in many ways 
life has today new and peculiar pleasures, and a retrospect may help us 
to value them more highly. 

The broad, free west had been the land of many a youthful dream, 
and when my thoughts turned to it as a veritable home land I pictured 
some spot of natural beauty, with broad outlook, including many smiling 
homes and a tranquil lake or murmuring stream, as my home. 

I am not a pioneer. My first glimpse of the Prairie state was on 
October 23, 1869, when, with my husband, i reached Chicago from Provi- 
dence, R. I., which latter place we left October 21. On the 24th we 
reached "The Kingdom" and received a most hospitable welcome from 
Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Wetherbee, Mrs. Wetherbee being my husband's sister. 
Mr. Oilman had bargained fora tract of land adjoining Mr. Wetherbee 
and had already commenced preparations for house-building. We re- 
mained in Mr. Wetherbee's family until early the following February, 
when we commenced life in our own cottage, which in process of time 
',vas christened ''Woodside." 

I recall very vividly the wintry morning in November when I first saw 
the spot upon which I have now lived more than a score of years. 
Gradually the outook has widened, but on ttiat morning the blue -sky 
above, and the snow mantled oaks around, were all that could be seen. 
Then we were within the limits of the town of China, but a year or two 
after the township WHS divided and we took the name of the nearest rai!- 

-127 - 

road station, Nachusa, also the name applied to the pioneer settler at 
Dixon, by the Indians, which I once heard Father Dixon interpret as 
signifying ''white long hair." 

We are at the extreme northwest liaiit of Lee county, and our school 
district is about equally divided between the counties of Ogle and Lee. 
Our neighborhood name "Kingdom" for many years bore no enviable 
reputation, socially, and then carried a prefix which is now discarded. 
We have come to think it a very tolerable place in which to live and that 
the people compare favorably with other rural communities with similar' 
social and intellectual advantages. We have churches at different points 
within a radius of four miles, namely: At Grand Detour, Nachusa and 
Mt. Union. Twice a month we have services at our school house, under 
the auspices of the Evangelical association, which have been kept up for 
more than twenty years. A union Sunday school was organized here in 
18G8 by Mrs. S. A. Wetherbee. and superintended by her as lottg as she 
remained in the community. It is still maintained and has always been 
an "evergreen" school. It is now superintended by Mr. L. R. Floto, 
successor to John McCollum. We have also quite a flourishing L. T. L. 
and a Ladies' Missionary society. 

In an early day Cyrus Chamberlin, who then lived where Mr. Wether- 
bee now does, built a stone school house and donated it to the community. 
This house is still standing, having been remodeled into a tenant house 
by Mr. Wetherbee. Miss Nancy Teal, now the wife of A. O. Brown, 
ex-mayor of Parsons, Kansas, was one of the first teachers here. She 
remembers that her salary as teacher was twelve shillings a week. Mr. 
Chamberlin was interested in the school and his dwelling near. The 
teacher was of the age of sixteen. He furnished ner with a tin horn, 
instructing her that should she require any assistance to "blow the horn' 
and he would come. After a time one of the pupils was refractory and 
obstinate. She blew the horn. Mr. Chamberlin responded. She laid 
the case before him. The verdict was that "the boy must take his books 
and go home." When he reached home and told his story, the father 
seized a whip and hastened to the school house to chastize the teacher. 
Mr. Chamberlin caught the whip from his hand and bade him "go home 
and teach his child obedience." The pupil returned in a few days, con- 
fessed his fault and gave no further cause of complaint. Mrs. Brown 
has for many year? been actively engaged in Sunday school and temper- 
ance work. 

About the year 1850 the district built a school house, locating it on the 
boundary bet.veen Lee and Ogle counties, called "the Red," within 


whose walls the writer taught fcr nearly ten years. "The Red" in turn 
wave place to the present neat structure, built in 1888. Mr. C. C. Bucka- 
loo is now doing acceptable service as teacher here. 

Mrs. Isabel Teal relates that she came to this vicinity from New York 
state in 1836. Her husband, Elias Teal, was government surveyor. One 
season he had much business in that line on the west side of the Rock 
river, and moved his family there temporarily, occupying a rude house 
near the river. Here Mrs. Teal was taken sick. Neighbors were distant. 
The child of three months died in its sick mother's arms. They were 
two days and two nights without food. The third night, late in the 
evening, there came a knock at the door. To the inquiry, "who is there?" 
the reply was, "a friend." It proved to be a stranger who had been 
waylaid and robbed. When he took in the situation, he kindly minis- 
tcd to the needs of the sick, going to the river for water, for which 
tney had s all suffered, and under Mrs. Teal's direction prepared them 
gruel, and then departed, calling at the first bouse he came to, to apprise 
them of their neighbor's condition. Help soon came and the health of 
both was speedily restored. 

Immediately following this experience Mr. Teal returned to the east 
side of the river and purchased the land upon which he lived during the 
remainder of his life. The price paid was ten shillings per acre. Their 
house was of logs with an old quilt for a door and a sliding board for a 
window No mill short of eighteen miles; nearest market Chicago. 
Mr. Teal once took some pork there with an ox t^am and had to sell it 
at one dollar per cwt. 

There were no ministers of the gospel here in those days. A neigh- 
bor's child_died, and but for Mrs. Teal they must have laid it to rest 
with no word of Scripture or of prayer. There was, she say, one dear, 
Christian lady half a mile away, Mrs. Anthony, with whom she found 
solace. They used to run together for sympathy and worship, though 
timber lay between their homes and the howling wolves often seemed 
very near. Sometimes she became almost desperate, but for her 
children's sake she braved her hardships. Of her nine children, seven 
v,ith their father, have gone "the way of all the earth." Two daughters 
remain, both in the west. Mrs. Teal is now past her four score years 
and retains her faculties exceptionally well. Of her reminiscences 
then; are few mirth-provoking ones, yet she was quite merry over one. 

There was to be a government land sale in Dixon. She bad some 
money in specie that she had brought from the cast and would like to 
invest it in land, and she and Mr. Teal determined to go to the sale. 


She put her money in a hand-bag, concealing it beneath a circular cloak 
which she wore. The land did not go to suit Mr. Teal and they made no 
purchase. They went to a public house for dinner. She was afraid to 
lay down her bag, and afraid to take off her cloak lest it be seen, and 
notwithstanding they had a "quail pot pie" for dinner, which dish was a 
great favorite of hers, she was so cumbered with her hand-bag that she 
could not enjoy it. Returning home the cutter up-set in the snow, her 
bag string broke and the money all shelled out. What could she do? 
There was no alternative. She gathered up first herself and then gold, 
silver and snow all together, having many fears of leaving some behind. 
But when she reached home they counted it and found not a pie'ce miss- 

Whoever passes Teal's corner to-day and looks upon the broad acr 
and nice buildings, knowing nothing of the beginning, could have litti 
idea of the privations and hardships that have brought into this pleasing 
form this country home. 

From an interview with Mrs. Lewis Floto I learn that with her hus- 
band and eldest daughter, and in company with their friends, Mr. and 
Mrs. Herman Bachman and their little son, they reached Grand Detour 
in the autumn of 1850. They could find there no tenement or business, 
so crossed to this side of the river. About two miles above the ferry was 
a log house of two rooms, one of which was vacant, the other was to be 
soon, and into the empty one the two families went. Mr. Floto made a 
bedstead of fence rails and upon it they placed their straw bed, but Mr. 
Bach man did not get his bedstead done, and they placed their straw on 
the floor in the opposite corner, and thus they spent their llrst night in 
their new home. Their table was improvised from rough boards. A few 
benches, left by a former tenant, served as chairs. The house was old, 
made of logs and unceiled. They could see the moon and stars above, by 
night, and the sun by day. A short time after they moved their eldest 
son was born. The winter was cold and it was with difficulty that they 
could keep warm. Many days the mother was obliged to keep her bed 
with her babe that it might be comfortable. 

Mr. Floto, that v, inter, chopped wood at forty cents per cord, and 
boarded himself. When spring opened he found employment among the 
farmers at seventy-live cents per day paid in provisions. They knew 
very little of our language then and often had difficulty in understanding 
and being undeistood in their intercourse with neighbors, but had the 
advantage of some foreigners, inasmuch as there were two families and 
they were company for each other. As long as Mr. Bachman lived their 
homes were near. 

- 430 

Mr. Fluto lived in that log house five years. After the first, he found 
employment in the Grand Detour plow shops. The wife stayed at home, 
cared for her increasing family and in summer made garden and grew 
vegetables for family supply and for the village market. The husband 
took the orders, she prepared the vegetables, loaded them into a wheel- 
barrow, and he wheeled to the river, crossed over in boat, and delivered 
them before going to his day's work. 

At the end of five years they bought sixty acres of land in Ogle county 
just beyond the limits of Lee. Here they determined to have a home, 
dug a cellar, raised a house and covered it,' and then finished it as means 
came. It was against, their principles to buy anything till they had the 
money to pav for it, and they have maintained the practice through life. 

Ten children have been giver, them, each of whom they have aided 
generously when they have stepped from beneath the home roof to make 
one of their own. One son and four daughters have western homes. One 
daughter and three sons reside in the near vicinity of Iheir parents' present 
home, and one, Mrs. Emma Floto Girton, passed to "the beyond" five 
years ago. The parents have retired from the cares of farm life with 
ample means for comfort and even luxury. 

Some of the first whose acquaintance I made, and whose friendship 
has blessed my life, were dwellers in Grand Detour, said to be the oldest 
village in Ogle county, and at one time the largest, but. the Chicago & 
Northwestern railroad drew business from it to points along its line and 
its growth failed. Some of its present residents are sanguine for its 
future, believing a place so richly endowed by nature will yet attract 
capital and ability. 

History relates that in 1834 Leonard Andrus sailed in a canoe from 
Dixon Ferry up Rock river to this point, and that he was probably the 
first white man to view the lovely scenery of this portion of the valley. 
There he landed and laid claim to the beautiful site of Grand Detour. 
The next season he and W. A. House, witli their families, took up their 
residence there and built a log cabin. Their kitchen was located out of 
doors, and their culinary operations watched by loung'ng Indians. 

By July 4, 183H, there were two houses and a store. One of the houses 
was used as a tavern, kept by Israel Hill. The other, occupied by W. A. 
House, consisted of one small room used as a kitchen, dining-room and 
sleeping room. For a dressing room a patch of tall grass near the river 
bank was cut down, arid there they made their toilets, using the river as 
their mirror. 

The above named date was celebrated in Grand Detour by digging the 


town well. Mr. Ruel Peabody relates that on that clay there sat down to 
dinner in Grand Detour seventeen men, whose names he remembers, and 
three women. The rooster was killed, and there he first tasted potatoes 
in Illinois. The ladies' names were Mrs. Hill, Mrs. W. A. House and her 
sister, Miss Sophronia Wetherby, who was the first lady teacher in Grand 
Detour. One Mr. Goodrich taught the winter preceding her summer 
term in a slab shanty of two rooms, in one of which he lived with his 
family and in the other kept his school. 

The settlement had frequent recruits, among them in 1837 a newly 
wedded couple, Cyrus Aiken and his bride, Eliza Atherton, from New 
England. Mr. Aiken's uncle had settled on Rock river and wrote such 
glowing accounts of the country, including the offer of eighty acres of 
land to the young people if they would come and occupy it, that they 
scarcely hesitated, but were soon enroute for the land of their hopes. 
Reaching Chicago in the face of many difficulties they found a man who 
for one hundred dollars was willing to take them in his wagon across the 
prairies. When they arrived, after incredible hardships and weary 
delays, what was their surprise to find so small a village only two or 
three log houses, and one in process of erection for themselves. 

They began their western life in the uncle's home, with sometimes as 
many as twenty-five in the family, crowded together in two rooms. When 
after a few weeks their own house was finished they found the first night 
they were not the only inmates. Too weary to put up beds they slept on 
carpets and comfortables laid on the floor of split logs. Waking in the 
morning Mrs. Aiken saw something gliding along the side of the floor in 
the early sunshine. Examining, she found to her horror that it was a 
large rattlesnake. Their first act of housekeeping was to kill the unwel- 
come guest. Then as she went about preparing the morning meal, turn- 
ing to the shelves nailed to the wall where she had placed some bread 
brought with her, she found three gophers enjoying their breakfast from 
it. These destroyed she set about putting her house in order, but it was 
certainly housekeeping under difficulties. 

Again it is related that her husband had invited two young friends to 
visit them. She had stirred up a sponge cake, placed it in a tin "reflector" 
to bake and turned to other duties. After a little her husband asked, 
"What can I do to helpV" "You might see if the sponge cake is brown- 
ing," said she. So taking the hot but half-baked cake from the reflector 
he suddenly dropped it from his burned fingers. "Never mind," she said, 
"there is one left." A fragrant brown loaf of fruit cake stood in the 
window to cool while she laid the table. Glancing at her husband she 

- 433- 

saw that he was laughing most heartily. She missed the cake from the 
sill, and reached the window just in time to see a wild hog roll down the 
bank and swim over the river with her cake held carefully out of the 
water in his mouth. They remained in Grand Detour about two years, 
then moved on the east side of river to the land upon which -Rev. Levi 
Trostle has lived for many years. 

They left behind them a little grave, that of their first- born, and to 
the new home brought the second child, a few weeks old. The crops 
needed care and they moved in before the house was plastered or the 
windows in. The family was large, including helpers on the farm. Mrs. 
Aiken's health utterly failed, and for months she was confined to her bed. 
Three miles away, near Daysville, lived an aged physician, Dr. Roe, who, 
with his wife, became greatly interested in the young invalid. Carefully 
was she conveyed to their home and tenderly nursed back to health. The 
doctor was a Methodist class leader arid the only religious meetings were 
held at his house, and Mrs. Aiken was most happy to meet w.ith these 
Christians in their weekly service. 

From a book, written by Mrs. Galusha Anderson, entitled, "The Story 
of Aunt Lizzie Aiken," I learn many of the above particulars of the 
experiences of one of the most devoted pioneers of Ogle County. A 
faithful earnest Christian wife arid mother, when bereft of the compan- 
ionship of her husband and childless, she went about ministering to the 
needy and suffering in such a manner as to win all hearts. 

When the events of '61 filled the nation with sad foreboding, Mrs 
Aiken showed her sympathy by exerting herself for the comfort of those 
who had no loved ones to supply them with the necessaries of army life, 
and as the want of nurses began to be felt, she gave herself wholly to the 

All through the war from battlefield to camp and hospital, with love 
that knew no weariness she ministered to the suffering. Later, she 
entered a broader work, in the general hospital at Mempnis, where for 
many months she wa,s like a Christian mother to multitudes of our brave 
soldiers, light and joy springing up in sad and weary hearts when "Aunt 
Lizzie's" step was heard. 

In 1867 she was appointed missionary to the Second Baptist church in 
Chicago, and has so faithfully labored in that capacity as to win the 
grateful memory of a multitudend where her presence is still a bless- 

Of religious associations in Grand Detour, the Congregationists were 
the first to form a society. It was organized July 8, 1837, and .Rev. Colvin 

- 433 

W. Babbitt became the first pastor, it consisted of twelve members, of 
whom Mrs Esther Sawyer is believed to have been the latest survivor. 
The church of this society was dedicated November 12, 1848. The lum- 
ber was purchased in Chicago and hauled out by Ruel .Pea body, one of 
the first trustees of the church. The society is now disorganized and the 
building no longer exists. 

The first Episcopal service held in this place was at the residence of 
E. H. Shaw on an evening iu June 1837, Bishop Chase officiating. The 
pulpit was a three legged stool set upon a table and covered with a towel. 
Tallow candles were used for light. The church building was com- 
menced in April, 1849, and completed the following year. The Ladies' 
Sewing society paid the first hundred dollars for lumber, which was 
bought in Chicago by E. W. Dutcher, who hauled the first load. The 
house was consecrated by the name of St. Peter's church by Bishop 
Whitehouse October 22, 1852. Its first pastor was Andrew J. Warner. 

A Methodist class was formed by CK F. Ayers in 1839. Its church edi- 
fice was built by Cyrus Chamberlin in 1857, at a cost of $2,500. It was 
dedicated in January 1858 by Rev. T. M. Eddy, Luke Hitchcock, and 
Henry L. Martin. 

The first Temperance society was organized in February, 183 ( J with a 
total of seventy-one members. Chester Harrington, its first secretary, 
still lives. 

The first brick school house was also erected this year. Grand 
Detour's present schoolhouse was completed in 1858 and was ^t that time 
the best one in Ogle county. A mail stage line was established from 
Dixon to Grand Detour in 1838 by Leonard Andrus and is still main- 

W. A. House established the Ferry and was first postmaster. Abram 
Brown, now of South Dixon, was the second postmaster, receiving his 
commission from Van Buren. He, in partnership with Robt. McKenney 
a brother of "Uncle Fred," kept a store for several years, selling out to 
Chas. F. Throop. 

Of the merchants of the early aays Solon Cummins was the principal. 
Mr Throop continued his business there almost fifty years, retired from 
its duties a few years since, but still resides in Grand Detour, itsojdest 
settler. I asked him of the recreations and amusements of the early 
days; if they had any? "Yes, and we enjoyed them too. Those were the 
happiest days of my life. I remember the first pic-nic in Grand Detour. 
We rigged up a team, found one old worn out harness in one place, and 

- 434 - 

another in another. Got one horse here, and another there, and the 
wagon somewhere else, and went to the Ridge and had a day of real 

Again, "There was to havp been some kind of an entertainment at 
Oregon. Mrs House and her sisier Sophionia Wetherby both wanted to 
go, but it was cold weather, and tney had but one cloak between them. 
One of the gent%men lent Miss Wetherby his old green blanket coat 
and she was just as happy wearing it as though it was seak'kin." 

Once, on a very cold night, Miss Wetherby and Mr Throop were 
returning from an evening party. When two or three miles from home 
they became so cold the gentleman alighted, threw the wraps over the 
lady, seized the horse by the bridle and walked home. Miss Wetherby 
afterwards became Mrs. Stephen Hathaway. 

In those days the Indians sometimes annoyed the tidy housewite by 
walking in with their moccasins wet and muddy. To defend herself, she 
would take the broom, point to the door and s;iy "Marchee" and they 
would obey without offense. 

Mr. Abbott, father of the famous singer, Emma Abbott, at one time 
lived two or three miles up the river from Grand Detour. He was con- 
siderable of a musician, and on one occasion was to supply the music at an 
entertainment at Franklin Grove. One might, in those days, walk from 
Grand Detour to Franklin Grove and from Franklin Grove to Jefferson 
Grove without seeing a fence and scarcely a dwelling. Mr. Abbott 
started on foot with his violin for his companion, but found on entering 
a tract of timber, that he was closely pursued by a wolf. He sought 
safety in a tree which his weight bore almost to the ground, and in this 
uncomfortable position, played all night on his instrument to keep the 
wolf at bay. At daylight his unwelcome companion departed. It is re- 
lated that, while living at the above named home, his daughter, Emma, 
then perhaps twelve or fourteen years oi age, hearing that Miss Kellogg 
the vocalist, was to sing in Chicago, started on foot to hear her. She 
was successful and by the aid of interested friends obtained an introduc- 
tion to Miss Kellogg and by her friendly influence the way was opened 
for the cultivation and development of Miss Abbott's musical gift. 

The first visit 1 made with my husband, beyond walking distance, 
after coming to Illinois, was at Mr. Ruel Peabody's home, on the Days- 
ville ri-ad, some five miles from Kingdon. I had counted Mrs. P. and her 
daughter am-mg my friends from our first meeting at Mr. Wetherbee's 


home, before moving into our own, and every subsequent one has but 
added links to our friendship's chain. 

Mr. and Mrs. Peabody are "pioneers 1 ' in the full sense of the word, 
the former settling on the land on which he now lives in 1834. He built 
a cabin and lived as best he could, till his marriage fifty-two years ago, 
to Maria M. Newton, since which time they have together braved many 
trials and hardships with unfaltering courage, writing their names by 
kindness and love on many hearts. Three children were given them, of 
.whom but one survives, Emma, who about the ti ne of my first visit 
graduated from Oxford Seminary, Ohio, now the wife of Jlev. T\. E. 
O'Jtyrne, and at present ministering to the needs of her aged parents in 
the home in which she was born. 

Mr. Peabody, although now in his 87th year, and physicalJv infirm, 
retains his mental faculties remarkably well, and to him and his house- 
hold I am indebted for various reminiscences. lie came from Newport, 
N. II., in 1834. He journeyed on foot, with a traveling companion, except 
that they patronized the Erie canal and a boat across the lake, landing 
at Toledo. Averaged about forty-iive miles per day. Chicago contained 
at that day a U. S. garrison, with a regiment or two of soldiers stationed 
there and ten or twelve houses. 

A steamboat had landed the day before he reached Chicago with 
about three hundred passengers, and to use his own words "we could not 
get the privilege of leaning against a post; had to walk on. Across the 
plain where Chicago now stands, for nine miles, the water was leg deep. 
My feet was badly swollen. A man told me to put a pint of whiskey in 
each boot arid the swelling would go down. I said I would put it in my 
boots but not in myself. I did, and it worked as he said." 

Ho journeyed on until reaching ROCK river. Choosing his location, he 
built his cabin and .roughed it, at first, with neighbors few and far 
between. lie remembers counting llfty-six deer in sight at onetime: 
that he was the first to cross the creek above the present boundary be- 
tween Ogle county and Lee with a team. 

In those days the Pottavvattaiuies and Winnebagoes were his frequent 
guests, and were ever friendly. "Treat an Indian well and he will treat 
you well" he said. Once when he had invited one to take dinner with 
him, some one at table asked the Indian, "Why do you not use your 
knife and fork as 'smokey men' doV Indian replied: "I do not know 
whose mouth the knife and fork have been in, but I do know where the 
lingers have been." 

In 1837 flour was twenty-tive dollars per barrel, and very scarce. The 


nearest market was Chicago and no means of transportation but ox 
teams. It took nine days at least for a trip, often from ten to thirteen. 
It became customarv to go in company that they might help each other 
over the bad places, each team carrying rails with which to pry out the 
wheels when stuck in the mud. They took their provisions and provender 
for the whole time. Children didn't know the bearded, tired-out, 
fathers on their return. The women "who stayed by the stuff" had some 
experiences, too. I asked Mrs. Peabody to relate some of hers, bnt sbe 
sadly said she "had so long been trying to forget those days, she did not 
feel like recalling them." Those who best know her life's history feel 
that, she has, in the solitude of her horre, had many a conflict with lone- 
liness and sorrow, enduring all with heroic fortitude and patience. 

One Mr. York, whom Mr. Peabody knew, lived at Byron eighteen 
months before seeing a whi-te woman. lie was the ancestor of the York 
prominent in the history of Kansas, the exposer of the Benders. 

I will here insert some of the early recollections of Bradford McKen. 
ney, a nephew of F. C. McKenney. now a farmer neighbor of Mr. Pea- 
body's, but in the years of his prime, a lawyer of Rockfora, 111. His 
father, Daniel McKenney, moved into the then just completed log 
in which he and his two interesting daughters now live, on Nov. 27th ; 
1837. It is the only habitable log dwelling of which I know. The onlv 
Indians whom I remember were camped at Washington Grove in 1837. 
They were the Winnebagoes. Father took all of us children over to see 

In those days, the first house on the Daysville road, after leaving 
Dixon, was John More's where L. E. Hart now lives. The next was a log 
house of John Chamberlin's, on what is now knewn as the "Stiles place.'' 
Then came Squire Chamberlin, but further east even, than where Mr. 
Wetherbee's house now stands. The Wetherbee Creek, at that time, was 
crossed further east than now. The next house, and last one before 
reaching my home, was on the place on which Charles Floto now lives. 
Here, at my home, was a small poplar log cabin, twelve feet square. The 
only other house in sight was Ruel Peabody 's log house, some little dis- 
tance north and east of the house they now occupy. 

In the spring of '38 a brother of Emma Abbott's built a saw-mill, and 
also made shingles, on what is now known as the Atwood Creek, some of 
the timbers of which are now standing south of the bridge. He also built 
a chair factory on the bank south of the bridge, i now have in my pos- 
essian two chairs made there. He sold out to Atwood. 

1 am sorrowfully awaro that the foregoing incidents are a very 

437 - ' 

meagre list as to numbers, interest and variety, of those which survive 
in the memory of living pioneers or their descendants, but circumstances 
have been unfavorable to my seeking them out. One dear friend, Mrs. 
Hillis, from whose interesting store-house I hoped to gather largely, has 
been tot) much of an invalid to be invited to explore it, and the writer 
too much of a "shut in" to fulfill her hopes in regard to this paper. 

How wonderful it seems to us that so many of eminence in all the 
walks of life were evolved from isuch lives of deprivation and solitude! 
After all we can comprehend of the mode of life and lack of privileges of 
the days when our beautiful land, now so rich in resources of progress 
and enjoyment, was being uplifted from the abode of the savage, to be- 
come the home of a higher and nobler civilization, how little do we real- 
ize the cost? Papers and books fill our homes. They had none. Musi- 
cal instruments abound and a diversity of adornment hitherto un- 
dreamed of. Steam carriages transport us to and fro, and from end to 
end of the earth. The electric wire transmits our messages of friendship 
or of business. The telephone annihilates distance, and through it we 
speak as face to face. 

All these wonderful aids widen our opportunities for helping those 
less fortunate. Human beings are remarkably responsive to sympathy. 
It seems not wise or right to give all our time or energies to the details 
of business or the pursuits of pleasure, but with so many advantages 
above our ancestors, emulate them in every virtue, arid see to it that, our 
progress in mind and heart keeps step with our advance in opportunities. 

Mus. M. D. OILMAN. 


e Pioneer Stories. 

I WISH to disclaim, at the outset, any idea of acting as the historian 
either of the township or of my parents. The former has been done in 

more ambitious volumes than ours, and I have only some stories of the 
pioneer days with which my father and mother were connected, that I 
felt might interest their friend?., and to pay some slight tribute to their 
acknowledged worth. Had the call for incidents and particulars in the 
lives of other pioneers in Nachusa township met with a full response, I 
would gladly have yielded these columns to a more able pen; as it is 1 
can only wish that more had done as 1 have, as well as time and circum- 
stances would permit and then our book would have been far more com- 
plete and satisfactory. 

1 also wish to offer a word of explanation for Mrs. Oilman who follows 
me, in the papers of this township. She, though a resident of Nachusa 
township, is quite near the extreme northern end and being something 
of an invalid was unable to extend her inquiries much beyond that limit; 
but as those whom she could reach were old friends and acquaintances, 
and at one time, at least, citizens of Lee county, v\e felt that her paper 
was a very pleasant addition to our collection. 

Jn behalf of both Mrs. Oilman and myself I might quote a remark of 
an old settler of Lee Center during a revival. He was urged to take 
more active part, but declined on the score of unworthiness, yet added 
in his own behalf that he "was as good as he could be out of the material 
he was made of." 

The force of its application to the Columbian Club sketches needs no 
comment to print it, and I will go on with my story. 

There has always seemed to me to be a similarity of spirit between 
the pioneers of the Rock river valley that I have known, and the Pilgrims 
and Puritans of Massachusetts. Like them, they were of good ancestry, 
they came from homes of comfort and abundance, many from those of 
luxury, to the rude cabins arid lonely prairies of the west. Like them, 
too, they came to found homes. Theirs was no"paper city" speculation: 


no squatting for a time and moving on, but the patient, steady settling 
of the country, and founding of homes for their children and children's 

They established schools and Sunday schools at once, built churches 
and school houses as soon as possible, improved the land, planted trees, 
and laid the foundations of society amid difficulties of which we have no 
conception, and all with more thought of us than of themselves. How 
often have I heiyd my Grandfather Fearse say, as he sighed over the toil 
and privation which my parents were enduring, "You may never reap 
the benefit, May, and Charles, but your children will." And does not 
the condition of our beautiful western country prove the truth of his 

My father came from a homestead still in the family by an Indian 
grant of the year 1(500. My mother from a colonial home <.n the shore of 
Narragansett Bay, a church where for over a hundred years there has been 
a Pearse in the choir and for over sixty in the warden's seat. Neither of 
them had any thought but of a home equally dear arid enduring for their 
children, and it was a source of inexpressible regret to father that we 
children did not share the feeling or care for the homestead after 
mother's death. 

Father had -suffered greatly from some mysterious trouble which 
baffled the skill of the best physicians of Boston and Providence and had 
been completely cured by old Dr. Thomson, the founder of the Thom- 
sonian now Physio-Medical school. This led him to spend nearly three 
years with that venerable man, studying his remedies arid methods, and 
when he left him with full credentials, to set up an "Infirmary" in the 
city of Newport, R. I., then the storm of indignation broke! His father 
poured upon his head the wrath of an irate sea captain, threatening to 
disown him (which he did not do), while my mother's father, a more 
gentle and godly man, said sadly, when asked for his daughter's hand: 
"1 don't suppose you v, ill starve in a Christian land, but I cannot feel 
that Charles has an honest calling.'' 

But I think my father felt, what his years of most successful practice 
proved, that he had an "honest calling," to the profession of a physician, 
rather than a mere money-making occupation; so he and mother were 
married and bravely began their life together, in 183T>. In spite of the 
fears of the two grandfathers, at the end of two years father had the 
largest city practice of any physician in Newport, and his infirmary of 
eighty beds was always full to overflowing. A year and a half more of 
the necessarily severe labor connected with such a field, told upon both 
9 > heavily that they felt they must make a change or fail in health. 


Westward Ho!" was the cry all over the land, and in 1838 father came 
to Illinois. He came first "prospecting," and I have often heard him 
say, "I could have bought Chicago and not spent all I had." 

The Rock River valley charmed him. and here he made his claim the 
farm which still hears his name, though owned hy another six miles 
each way from the groves at Lee Center, or Inlet, Palestine, Franklin 
and Dixon. On it stood the only frame house within that limit, and at 
its door the only tree, a scruhby thorn apple. 

There were three rooms and a "real stairs," so it was "quite a place in 
thosedays," mother used to say. It was sold about 1849 or '50 to "uncle 
Bill Hopkins," and moved off the place. I do not know its ultimate end. 
It stood vary near the gate to the door-yard of the present house, which 
is the third dwelling which has been built on the place, and is now owned 
by Mr. Burhenn. 

In February, 1839, father returned with his household goods, coming 
by sloop from Newport to New Orleans, up the Missippi and Illinois 
rivers to Peru, where he bought wagons to cross the country. We have 
still a few pieces of furniture which he brought at that time, which we 
cherish as treasures and heir-looms. Mother followed in June of the 
same year, coming across the states. She was three weeks on her way, 
bringing with her her little daughter, two and a half years old (my sister 
Mrs. Hawley) and a woman who was to be companion and maid fora 
year, in consideration of the payment of her fare in addition to her 
weekly stipend. She stayed just three weeks; she was ''homesick: and 
she left my poor young mother (only twenty-two years old, to face the 
foe, to the care of a large family, and much heavy work, to which she 
was totally unused, all alone, so far as feminine aid was concerned. And 
we complain if we have to "do our own work" with seamstress, laund- 
ress, butcher, baker and hotel at our service. 

Trials and discouragements thickened about them. They were in- 
volued in a financial scheme which the Rev. Mr. D. Wolf, husband of my 
mother's aunt, with more great-souled ambition than business foresight, 
had planned. This gentleman will always be better remembered in Lee 
county for his business failures, I fear, than for the really good qualities 
of heart and mind, which his visionary brain sadly overbalanced. But 
be that as it may, when father and mother had added the expense in 
which he had involved them, to their other necessary demands upon their 
means, they were left about as poor as any common emigrant who arrived 
in the country with an old wagon and a broken down team. 

They lost nine horses the first year, and mother sold her best dresses, 


shawls, watch, jewelry, everything she could spare, to buy stock and pay 
help ' - out doors and in." Row often I have heard her tell of the red and 
green delaine dress in which one of her maids wasMnarried. 'She had no 
counsellor; the resources for her table were meager, and many of them 
strange to her, but she was one of those rare good cooks who can always 
make something out of nothing, and will always give a welcome, and 
share a meal cordially, even though it be the very plainest. The family 
was necessarily large, and she entertained all sorts of people from Bishop 
Chase down to the roughest man shivering with auue who begged to stay 
till he was better. Never a "movers' wagon" haul ted by the gate that 
she did not have a kind word, a bit of food, or a nourishing drink for 
some homesick body in its cheerless shelter, and lean remember 
twenty of these wagons camped about our premises on a single night) 
(this was during thegold excitement) and many times during bad weather 
their stay extended to days or even weeks. Not infrequently both before 
and after rny recellection whole families were installed in the house while 
the father prospected, or the children had the measles, or the mother a 
bilious attack, to the great discomfort of us children, and, I doubt not, 
to the sore trial of mother's patience. 

To go back; all these losses and unfortunate plans might have result- 
ed in much greater privation than they did, had not my grandfathers 
kept informed and visited their children frequently; paying up the help, 
bringing stores of clothing, groceries, dried fruit, bacon and salt flsh, 
and such other things as could be shipped, (there were no canned goods 
then), but most of all, cheering and encouraging them by their very 
presence. It was on one of these visits when my two grandfathers came 
together, and with them an old family friend, that they were made the 
victims of a joke by the latter. They had the usual fortune of travelers 
of that day in crossing the country by stage; were mired or ''sloughed" 
seven times before they reached father's. Now in R. I. to get "sloughed" 
is the exact counterpart of our phrase "tight," or drunk, and it struck 
Mr. Monroe very funnily to hear this new use of the word. So he wrooe 
home, among other matters, that "it was very singular that one could 
never thoroughly know even old friends until he had seen them away 
from home influences and surroundings. Who would have supposed that 
men of the staunch temperance principles of Capt. Gardner and the 
Hon. Geo. Pearse would have so far forgotten themselves as to get 
sloughed, and that, too, seven times on the way to Dr. Gardner's; yet such 
was the lamentable fact." 

The consternation which that letter caused was a source of amuse- 


nit-ill and a jovial reminiscence lo the end of the days of the four uld 

Fatlier brought with him stores of nuts, seeds, callings, grafts and 
slips, wilh which he planted a large grove, still a beautiful addition to 
the prairie landscape. He also took great pains to secure a pleasing 
variety of fruit and ornamental trees about his house and along the 
street line uf the entire farm, and many of the trees about the farm 
houses for miles around are from his seeds and cuttings, not only freely 
given, but urged upon people that they might eujoy the shade and beauty 
in time to come. 

He did what the government has done in the farther West, by 
encouraging the planting of ''tree claims." and I feel that it is not idle 
boast to say that Lee county owes more to my father's precept and ex- 
ample in matter of shade and ornamental tree planting, than to any 
other man, unless it be to Mr. J. T. Little, who always understood 
and appreciated father's efforts more than most people. 

I will also add that in 1873 father built a large hay barn, the heavy 
timbers for which he cut from the grove which he had himself planted. 
Mother, too, always had her "flower beds" bright with old-fashioned 
annuals, and also adorned with many choicer shrubs, bulbs, and the like, 
of which she always gathered a full store on her visits to the east. In 
Is.Vi, when my sister was married, she had eighteen varieties of roses in 
bloom, ihe white ones which were the bride's special adorning, being 
from a root brought from my grandmother's, and that in turn from her 
mother's fifty years before. 

Some months after mother came, her aunt, Mrs. Hannah D'Wolf, 
followed, and purchased a home about a mile distant, on the place now 
owned by Mr. Miller. The second house which she built is still standing 
and in very good preservation. She was a singularly noble woman, a 
devoted Christian, and a heroic pioneer. What her counsel and compan- 
ionship was to my mother and the little circle of their acquaintance 
cannot be estimated, but it is an inspiration to those whose lives seem 
hedged in by circumstances to see, even in these pioneer stories, how 
simple, unaffected goodness wins its way and leaves its record by noting 
the mention in various papers of such persons as Mrs. D'Wolf, Mr. 'and 
Mrs. Hannum and others of whom nothing remarkable can be said, yet 
whose lives have made a lasting impression on the minds and hearts of 
those who knew them, and through them on riany more. 

Mother and she established the rlrst Sunday school on the prairie, in 
Aunt Hannah's --other room," and there was never a Christmas or an 

Easter when, in spite of privations and scant resources, they did not 
keep the feast, and try to teach their children something net only of the 
lessons of those holy seasons, but of the way dear friends were keeping 
them in beautiful churches with services of praise and prayer "at home." 

The first school in the township was kept in Aunt Hannah's house; 
the children had been sent to Mrs. Edson's house before, in what is now 
South Dixon. The first teacher was Miss Betsey D'Woif, a very lovely 
woman, who soon after married Mr. John Barnes, a brother of Asal and 
Nelson Barnes, well remembered in Dixon. Here, as elsewhere, it was 
the pioneer women who made U'e sacrifices necessary to found the 
schools. They did not wait for a school house, or until they could "spare' 
a room, but freely gave up their own comfort and convenience for the 
schools, or for religious services; and when the time came to put up 
buildings they were among the first to help. Indeed 1 am positive that 
if the records of every church building in the county could be searched, 
it would be found that the first contribution to their erection was from 
the efforts of some "sewing circle." or society of similar character, and 
that often the last payment for seats, carpet or furnishings was made by 
the same unwearied workers. 

The first death in the township was that of "old Michael'', a man who 
worked for Aunt Hannah, and she gave, at that time, probably about 
1840, the iittle burying ground still called by the D'Woif name. For 
many years the little railing around old Michael's grave in the northwest 
corner, was a marked feature in it: but it has fallen to decay and there 
is now nothing to tell where the old man lies. 

Here in 1841 or '42 the first school house was built and Miss Betsey 
D'Woif again taught, also a Miss Hunter. The school house was after- 
wards moved to the southwest corner of father's place, where it was 
known for many years as the "Locust street school house," from the 
numerous trees of that variety which father had planted along the road. 
But the locusts are dead, and the school house removed to the crossroad, 
where it bears the name of the family living near, "Hollister," a family 
of old settlers whose kindnesses to father and mother are not forgotten. 
^ I do not think this group of pioneer women entered inlo the "good 
times" of singing and spelling-schools and picnics and the like very large- 
ly, but I have heard mother say that they greatly enjoyed their visits to 
each other, the seconding each other's efforts to keep up religious ser- 
vices and Sunday schools, to have their children neatly dressed and care- 
fully taught, and the exchange of letters, books and papers which came 
from distant friends. In those days the sons of farmers were not so anx- 

=- 446 

ious t( get away from farm life, and if there were more than were needed 
at home there were not so many alluring commercial colleges, clerkships 
and the like to attract them, so they "worked out" for farmers who had 
fewer sons where they often made pleasant additions to the family cir- 
cle and were themselves beneflttcd. To these boys and herown children, 
as well as rnhny from the neighborhood, mother used to read aloud all 
the books and papers she could get. Her resources were better than 
most, for our relatives in the east supplied her generously and regularly, 
and her books and papers went from hand to hand till they were worn 
out. It is gratifying, too, to be able to say that among those who lis- 
tened to my mother's reading not a few took higher and better aims in 
life from the tasle which her reading cultivated. 

Nordic! my mother's kind offices in this or other regards end with 
pioneering days. To the end of her life her favorite text "It is more 
blessed to give than to receive,'' was constantly exemplified. The doors 
of her home and heart were open to all who needed shelter and comfort, 
and not a few will unite with me in bearing this witness to her strongest 
characteristic, and to the fact that father was no whit less kind of heart 
or sympathetic than she. 

Not far from father's little house o.i the opposite side of the road Mr. 
Thomas Brown had a little cabin, to which be brought his pretty bride 
within the first year after mother came west. They were old frends in 
Newport, and the trials of pioneer life bound them closer to each other. 
They did not live there very long but removed to Inlet after that to 
Franklin Grove but distance never lessoned the regard of the two fam- 
ilies, and as long as they lived the friendship and interest were mutual 
and unchanged. 

It is with keenest regret that 1 confess that the memory of my 
mother's friends of that time is exceedingly dim and uncertain. I can 
recall names, but when 1 try to remember particulars or incidents I am 
at a loss; so that where I would gladly pay a tribute of love and esteem 
1 can say almost nothing. Of Aunt Hannah I recall little except her 
wonderfully sweet voice which led the singing in "meeting?," and that 
she was very true to her promises, in proof of wnich I remember hearing 
that at one time, being in need of funds, she knit pretty baby's caps, very 
like those silk crocheted ones that little people wear now and, as she 
could not have a horse to drive on the day on which she had agreed to 
deliver them, she walked the five miles to Dixon after dinner, kept her 
word, received and spent her money and was at home in time to prepare 
supper. I have heard, too, that Mrs. Heaton, Mrs. O F. Ayres, Mrs. 

- 447 - 

Seaman and Mrs. Silas Noble purchased them at fifty cents each. Very 
pleasant but indefinite memories are woven about all those names, as 
also those of Mrs. C. F. Ingalls, Mrs. Ilannum and all the daughters of 
Mother Whitney," especially Mrs. Abram Brown, mother's dear and true 
friend to her dying day. Another was "Aunt Sarah Trowbridgf," a 
woman with strong mind and wonderful memory. Her home was on the 
farm adjoining father's but house, pleasant orchard, barn and every 
trace of habitation are gone, and the family, too, are all numbered with 
the silent dead. Aunt Sarah's long and useful iife closed in a most fitting 
manner one Sunday morning in "Love Feast." She had just spoken, as 
was her wont, most earnestly to the young people, then referred to her 
own life ;is having passed the bounds of youth and its trials, so that "now 
all was peace'' she softly repeated the word "peace," as she sunk into 
her seat, and with its sound her soul went forth to eternal peace. Her 
daughter Lucy, afterwards Mrs. Wiemer, was a very talented woman- 
many years in advance of her surroundings and associates as a literary 
woman, and in her views of the work and sphere of her sex. Had she 
lived the county might have counted her one of its brightest intellectual 

Mrs. Ozias Wheeler was another, a woman of firm convictions and 
most benevolent spirit. Her son, Montraville Flatt, still lives in Dixon. 
Mrs. Wm. Y. Johnson lived fora number of years in the house recently 
owned by Mr. Aaron Morris, and I remember her pleasant calls and the 
admiration with which I regarded her long green veil, which depended 
from the side of her bcnnet or shaded her kindly face. "Mother Rich- 
ards/' Mrs. Edson and Mrs. Judge Heatori were dear, dear friends of mv 
mother's, and I have learned in mature years to prize especially two who 
knew my mother in early days Mrs. J. T. Little, one of the loveliest 
women in all the land, and "Aunt Sally'' Herrick, whose comfort and 
counsel has endeared her to many beside myself. 

Mrs. Alonzo Mead, who lived near us on the farm where Henry Bothe 
now lives, was another kind friend. Her daughter. Mrs. Laura Reynolds, 
is still a pleasant visitor in Dixon at times. The other daughter was one 
of the victims of the bridge disasterMrs. Millie Hoffman. Her sons 
are still living in Dixon and are mentioned elsewhere. Time would fail 
to mention the "Temperance Hill" neighbors and friends the Leakes. 
Moseleys, and others or the Cartrights, Brandons and many more kind 
friends of my father and mother. One especially dear still patiently 
waits the summons to be gone, Mrs. Cephas Clapp, a woman of noble lov- 
able nature, whose friendship is a privilege and blessing to all within its 

- 448 - 

My sister tells me that it is to Aunt Polly Hale we owe the seeds of 
many plants which she considered "good in sickness and good in well- 
ness," and so brought with her from her Virginia home. She brought the 
dandelion for "greens," and burdock for "drafts," catnip for the baby, 
and tansy, wormwood, yellow dock and narrow dock for dosing grown 
people, sage, dill, caraway, and corfander for seasoning. The hardier 
plants took root in the prairie soil, spread rapidly and are hardly con- 
sidered either useful or ornamental in these days. 

She was a very mysterious person to my sistor, for, presumably from 
the folds of her great apron, there had appeared in the family circle on 
two occasions a wee red-faced stranger, and when, at one time, Aunt 
Patty was to be asked to tea with other ladies, she entered a most indig- 
nant protest, assuring mother that "Aunt Polly had better not come, for 
there were all the babies that could be cared for already." But as Aunt 
Polly came without her apron the poor child's fears were not realized. 
Her daughter, Elizabeth Hale, says my sister, "was to mother both 
Aaron and Hur" staying her weary hands when the battles with care, 
sickness, trouble, and hard work bore her to the earth; strong-hearted, 
cheerful in spirit, willing, capable, blessed with virtues enough for three 
ordinary women as we remember her, the most efficient, and the noblest 
helper mother-ever had, in those hard clays. 

I think none of those who have been told of the abundant crops which 
the prairie soil produced, and the very low prices they brought; have 
noted the fact that the lack of machinery made it necessary to employ a 
great many hands, and to make very long days so that the work of the 
farmer's wives was much heavier than at the present time. Threshers 
had to stay two or three weeks, lunches were sent to the field twice a day 
in haying and harvest, and for the men who took the grain to a distant 

All the meat was killed and cured on the farm, sometimes as many as 
thirty hogs at once. I remember the great tray, four feet square, in 
which the sausage meat was chopped with a whale-knife, (something 
like a spade but smaller and straighter.) One year mother prepared a 
barrel of sausage in skins, packed it in lard, and sent it to Chicago, as 
her "venture," with the grain, she got a calico dress that faded! At 
one time one of the children had no shoes, and mother had to put her in 
a high chair because it was so cold. Some "movers" stopped over night, 
and offered to sell a pair, which their child had outgrown, but mother 
had no money. Turning to a bag of pieces which hung near to find 
something to wrap about the little feet, she saw through her fast falling 


tears, some money tucked in the top of the bag, dud with it she bought 
the shoes. Probably some traveler they had entertained had taken this 
unobtrusive way tojrepay them, and it seemed like a special providence 
to find it just then. 

At another time they had had no Hour for a long time, only corn meal. 
A neighbor sent word that he was going to mill the next day and would 
get flour if they wished. But they had no money and mother cried with 
disappointment. Just at night two men rode up and asked accommoda- 
tion for the night, and, contrary to the usual custom, paid for it, just the 
price of a sack of flour. A man was started on horseback at daybreak to 
catch the neighbor and send for the flour. 

At one of these times, too a, rough man to whom father was indebted 
(though the debt was not yet due) attempted to possess himself of moth- 
er's cherished silver spoons saying as he seized them from the table 
"They'll sell for something." Father took them from him, but mother 
did not dare use them again until the debt was paid by my good grand- 

My father came west with tha intention of becoming a farmer and 
giving up the medical work, which had been so severe a tax upon him 
and mother in Newport, but it was simply inhuman to refuse to give 
what aid he could to the sick and suffering in the new country. He was 
far too warm hearted to consider personal comfort when weighed against 
such odds. 

So it came about that in less than a year he was riding all about the 
country, over the trackless prairies, fording streams, or getting 
"sloughed," in a practice far more extended and difficult than that of 
the city had been. Sometimes in a sickly season he got scarcely any 
rest, except in his buggy, and his faithful horse learned to go from place 
to place with the reins lying loose on his back or to find his way home in 
storms with unerring fidelity, when, as father said, he could not "see his 
own hands, or tell whicn way they were going." 

He often had to be not only physician, but nurse, cook, surgeon, den- 
tist, lawyer, or even housemaid when he found families all sick and need- 
ing these varied services. The enduring regard of the friends of those 
days proves beyond question that he filled all the offices acceptably, 
though his rewards were very often of a very unsubstantial character. 

Mother often supplemented his work, going with him, sending pre- 
pared food, or taking his place in milder cases or on alternate days, but 
sometimes she had to sacrifice personal comfort or even more that he 
might minister to those in greater need. I remember one story which 

- 450 - 

well illustrates this. She was not well one day in early spring when 
father was sent for to go to Buffalo. He would be obliged to stay all 
night, for the roads were bad, so he placed things within her reach, left 
her with a wood flre, and two children in the bed with her, the month-old 
baby and one two years old, promising to stop at Aunt Hannah's and 
have her come down for the day and night. 

For some reason Aunt Hannah could not come till late afternoon, so 
she was alone all day, and a strange sickness came on her, probably due 
to the room growing cold. The ice was going out of the river at Dixon, so 
father could not cross and had to come home in the afternoon and 
reached there before Aunt Hannah. Mother was just conscious enough 
to hear him exclaim, as he opened the door, "My God! mother, are you 
dead?" and knew no more for many hours. Had he been able to cross the 
river she probably would have died before help reached her. 

But if I cannot recall stories of pioneer friends with their names, there 
are many which have no title that crowd upon me as I write, for they 
were household words, or bribes by which I was induced to sew patch- 
work and hem towels, and so familiar that a certain bedquilt will bring 
them to my mind as vividly as a photograph the original. 

There is one of the women who sat in her rocking chair in the back 
of the ox cart and knitted placidly all the way from Inlet to Dixon. Of 
the man who had only eleven eggs when he started to town, so put the 
old hen in the basket when he got there the dozen was complete. Of 
another who always said he "was as honest as the times would admit." 

Of the old Kentucky woman who was visiting an elderly lady and her 
daughter one day and heard the former say that her false teeth did not 
fit comfortably and she must have new ones soon. Before she left she 
asked the daughter to "ask maw if she'd let her have them air teeth 
when she got her new ones, false teeth's so stylish!" 

Of the peddler who offered his hand to one of the early schoolma'ams 
but was refused politely. He responded at once that she "needn't feel 
so bad about it, 'twouldn't put him back more'n two weeks, there was 
another girl he could court up in that time!" 

Of the first maid mother employed who had never seen a carpet and 
didn't dare step on it, "Thought it was bedspreads." 

Of the girl mother saw on her first Sunday out in Illinois who wore 
a bobbinet lace cape made with a darning needle and knitting cotton, 
and evidently felt herself the belle of the assembly. 

Of the old clock (I have it still) for which father paid one hundred 

- 451 - 


bushels of oats at ten cents a bushel, and Sister Mary's calico dress which 
cost forty dozen eggs. 

Of the only Indians I ever saw. It was one day in spring, when 
mother sent me to the postoffice (at which dignity we had but recently 
arrived). It was kept by Squire Wheat at the place now owned by Mr. 
John Allwood Mother told me to hurry home, and would give no reason 
when I asked for it. But I did not obey, I am ashamed to say. The old 
squire did not find any mail for us in the little cupboard, about the size 
of an old-fashioned mantel clock, which served as postoffice, and I stopped 
to play with "So'fy" Curtis (where Mrs. Matthew Schippert lives now). 
But conscience pricked too much for me to enjoy to the full the remarka- 
ble new editions of "Mother Hybbard" and "Dame Trot" which her ped- 
dler father had just brought her, and I started down the road toward 
home just in time to meet a great wagonload of Indians, who, in charge 
of an agent, had been to some point east for their stipend from the gov- 

My frightened face provoked one of them to point his bow unstrung 
and endwise toward me, and I was sure I felt an arrow in my heart. I 
screamed in a way that must have rivalled a warwhooo, and ran like a 
veritable Indian down the road. How they laugher! and yelled! lean 
hear it yet, and I never shall forget the surprise with which I found my- 
self really alive and unhurt when I came out of the faint in which I fell 
at my mother's feet. 

There is a favorite story of my father's which I had nearly forgotten 
until reminded of it by hearing it repeated by Mis. Geo. Morris, and as 
it is too good to keep, I transcribe it as nearly as possible in her words. 
It slightly transcends my township boundary, but the reader will forgive 
that when he hears the story. 

"When the financial crash of 1837 sent so many eastern people to 
the west, what would now be known as a syndicate, from Buffalo, took a 
large tract of land not far from the N. W. depot in Dixon. Among the 
men employed was a Gus Hawley, who had been a merchant in Buffalo. 
His collapse had been so sudden and so complete as to make a frontier 
wardrobe an impossible attainment, and as to oxen, I have an idea he 
hardly knew what they were. He was blessed, however, with a happy-go- 
lucky nature and the spirit which makes the best of everything, and he 
accordingly did so. His first day in the field was a memorable one, both 
to him and his friends. Arrayed in all the glory of fine broadcloth, ruf- 
fled shirt-front and patent leather boots, he appeared at the 'helm' of a 
breaking plow with four yoke of oxen. To avoid mistakes (and perhaps 


to help him to appear cairn, ) he had carefully noted the Dairies of the oxeti 
on a card, which he carried in one hand, while he flourished his ox-whip 
or goad in the other. This dazzling vision burst upon the delighted 
company which had assembled as much to gaze as to assist, like a me- 
teor, and his cheery voice calling, as he carefully consulted the card, at 
each name, "Gee Buck! and also Bright!" can better imagined than de- 

The older settlers will remember the way prairie grass cut feet and 
shoes and hardly need to be told that he did not go out in his patent 
leathers next day, I have never heard, though, that the hilarious spec- 
tators of his first attempt took up a collection to replace them by more 
serviceable foot gearj in part payment for their enjoyment, but it would 
have been a very proper thing to do. Some member of this ssuue party 
was left in charge of the log house and the cattle while the rest of the 
men were up the river after timber. The syndicate had left him nicely 
provisioned, but when the party returned they found he had become tired 
of bachelor's hall and gone to the hotel, exchanging their provisions for 
his board. 

Bachelor's hall was not made any more pleasant by this exchange, at 
least, for the others, and Thanksgiving Day found them out of all sup- 
plies but salt pork and corn meal. But early in the morning that great- 
hearted woman arid admirable cook, Mrs. Welty, appeared at their door 
with her husband, bent on giving them just cause for thankfulness. Their 
wagon was loaded with good things, even to the pies, ready for the table, 
and as Mrs. Morris says, 'My father (P. M. Alexander) solemnly affirms 
that he never tasted a better dinner in his life,' which is only another 
proof of the ability of the pioneer woman to meet any and every emerg- 
ency; and that Mrs. Welty could do so, all the old settlers and their child- 
ren will abundantly testify." 

Having overstepped the limit of my township, I think I will give a 

storv told me by Miss Elizabeth J. Shaw, which illustrates another phase 

of pioneer work, namely invention. 

She says that her father bought the tlrst McCormick reaper in Sanga- 
mon county, and McCormick himself, came out to oversee its workings. 
The first day's attempt was a failure. Hundreds of men had gathered to 
witness it, and the anxiety of the inventor must have been very great. 
But when the machine would not work he left it in the field, entered the 
house and threw himself in a chair. There he sat, speechless and mo- 
tionless, for many hours (if I remember correctly it was twenty-four), 
heeding nothing, touching neither food nor drink. Then he rose, went 


to the machine, and took a small part to a place for fepairing of some 
similar shop. He soon returned, and the machine on starting again 
worked admirably. Mr. Shaw started across the field with a fine young 
team of Norman colts. His man, a stalwart Kentuckian over six feet in 
height, stood on the "table" at the rear of the machine to "rake off," but 
the team, unaccustomed to such following, took fright and ran at the top 
of their speed the entire length of the large field, cutting the grain faster 
than McCormick expected, no doubt. Our Kentuckian kept his post, 
however, and never missed a bundle the whole distance, but when Mr. 
Shaw drew up the panting horses at the boundary fence, he mopped his 
prespiring face and called out: "Good Lord, Mr. Shaw! If you're goiu' to 
drive that way you'll have to git another hand! I can't stand it to rake 
so fast.'.' 

Quite a contrast to this story is the next one which comes to my mind 
of the time when mother and aunt Hannah were coming from Chicago 
in the stage, each with two children, and came to Blackberry Creek at 
nine o'clock in the evening in a pouring rain, and found it so swolleen 
that crossing was out of the question unless help came. Here my sister 
supplements my memory by telling how a man came from a farm house 
near,with a yoke of oxen and a wagon, to which they were all transferred. 
He told them "as long as the oxen walked they needn't be skeered, but 
when they begun to swim they must hold on to the seats hard!" 

At every flash of lightning they could see the swift,dark water rushing 
by them, and filling the wagon box, then the heads of the oxen, ana the 
man holding the yoke, as he walked or swam by their side. They were 
badly "skeered" but they "held on hard," and they came safely to land. 
Then the oxen went back and piloted the stage over, and they re-entered 
it. An hour later they found the road so rough that they could no longer 
endure it, and by alternate persuasion and threats of complaint to the au- 
thorities, they secured a halt, and the poor drenched driver sought shel- 
ter in the stage, with them. To soothe the frightened children and prob- 
ably to keep up their own sinking hearts, the two mothers sang hymn 
after hymn, until day break. They found that they had been driving in 
a circle over a field where rails had been laid preparatory to fencing. No 
wonder it was rough. But I imagine a more tired, wet and weary comp- 
any never entered good Mrs. Hannum's house than they were, nor a more 
thankful one. She rested and comforted them, as he did everyone, good 
soul, and the next morning they reached home. 

But I think the story that I liked the best of all, though I invariably 

454 - 

shed a few teafs over it, Was that of mother's first visit to her R. i. honie, 
in 1843, and with that I will close this rambling paper. 

This was five years after mother came west, and a baby girl and boy 
had been added to to the circle. This boy was the first grand-son in either 
family, and there were seven girls before him, so he was proudly named 
for the two grandfathers and my father said mother must "go east and 
show them what could be raised on prairie soil." 

After many contrivances they decided that the grain which would feed 
the family for a year could be sold for enough to pay her fare. Aunt 
Hannah was to go too, and she had a load of tobacco to sell for hers. 
They rode to Chicago in a lumber wagon in August and met the men 
just outside of the city (my sister says that until the last few years she 
has been able to recognize the spot). One man reported that "wheat was 
lower and he had used some of the money no use to come so far and not 
have any fun," and the other's account was very similar. Regrets or re- 
proofs were alike useless, so they drove to the wharf of the little steamer 
"Buffalo," not far from where South Water street now is. On the way 
they counted their precious funds and found them all too little to go as 
they had expected, and their hearts trembled with fear. But mother's 
courage rose and she said, "Aunt Hannah! I'm going home to see my 
mother if I crawl on my hands and knees! we'll take deck passage," and 
they did. 

The Captain very kindly explained to them the necessary provisions 
for such a place perhaps appreciating the fact that they were unused to 
it and gave them carriage robe 1 * to supplement their traveling shawls in 
the rough "bunks." He a^o gave orders to have tea and coffee made for 
them (for deck passengers "boarded themselves") and often took the older 
children my two sisters, Mary and Parthenia, and William and Mary 
Anna D r Wolf for a walk on the upper deck. The little girls in their 
calico sunbonnets, were soon on the best terms with both cabin and deck 
passengers, and had far more consideration, I imagine, than if they were 
to travel in like, guise today. 

Five days in the crowded steamer, six on the equally wearisome canal, 
then, on the seventh night at midnight they had to change boats. Wil- 
liam, though ten years old, cried like a whipped school-boy, the weary 
baby moaned sadly, the rain poured in torrents, bending the sunbonnets 
over the faces of the little girls, and to crown all mother lost her shoe in 
the mud of the tank. 

She spent all the time she dared looking, and had just given up, when 
a kind-hearted man came up with a lanten; and found it for her. As it 


Was the only pair she had (she had made them herself) it was very grate- 
fully replaced. At Albany they were again delayed, but here they found 
cars and reached Springfield that evening. The cars stopped at night 
then, just as stage coaches did, and that night they slept in a "real bed" 
for the first time, to the children's great delight. 

Counting their funds very carefully in the morning they found they 
could make the rest of the journey in a first-class car, and the delightful 
exchange was made. The little sunbounets had been consigned to moth- 
er's basket, the baby's sweet face was tear stained, the mother's dresses 
soiled and rumpled, their bonnets in ruins, their overtaxed nerves ready 
to give way but what mattered all this? They were in Now England! 
Already they could see the blue Narragansett, and when, oh the eigh- 
teenth day from Illinois, they were set down at the door of the old home, 
mother used to say, ' 'There was a feeling of rest and thankfulness in my 
heart such as I never expect to have again until 1 reach the home of my 
Father in Heaven." 

Mother went east many times after that, and under widely different 
circumstances, but no story of travel ever interested me as did that one, 
and my childish ears never tired of hearing it repeated. 

It reminds me again of the "sore trials" of the Puritan mothers to be 
obliged to add that the baby boy of whom my father was so proud died 
before mother came back to Illinois the next year, and that little Par- 
thenia was laid in the D'Wolf burying ground the year after 1845. In 
1851 dear Aunt Hannah slept beside her, and now father and mother rest 

there too. 


More: Pioneer 

WE have learned from Mr. Thomas Leake's paper that his father 
came here in 1840. He was accompanied by William Moody and 
Isaac Means, two very familiar names to the old settlers of the 
county. Mr. Leake bought a claim at Temperance Hill, the other men 
secured work, and life in the new country began. In 1843 his family 
came, and with them the families of his two cousins, also a sister, Mrs. 
Willars. The ways of distinguishing the three men (who had the same 
surname) were varied and worth recording. There was John Leake, Sr., 
who was also called from his occupation in England "Butcher John'! or 
known as the man who kept a great many dogs and liked to have their 
names "h'end with a h'l or a h'o so they could 'ear it well." 

John Leake, Jr., was a cousin of "Butcher John" and was called "Mil- 
ler John," or "John Leake on the 'ill top" and his neighbors referred 
with a smile to his plans to add a "h'ell to his 'ouse." Last there was 
Daniel Leake, a brother of "Miller John," who was at one time one of 
the wealthiest men in the township. His wife and "Butcher John's" 
were sisters, and cousins to their husbands. The three men are dead, 
and all the wives except Mrs. John Leake, Jr., who now resides in Dixon 
with her son William. Her other son, John H., and her daughter, Mrs. 
Wm. Chiverton, also live in Dixon. Her oldest daughter, Mrs. Clara 
Priestly, lives in Iowa, and her youngest, Mrg. Susanna Atkinson, in 
Polo. Their home claim was on Temperance Hill, adjoining the lot 
where the schoolhouse now stands, so they have true title to the "'ill 

The older children went to school at first at the schoolhouse in the 
little yard now known as the D'Wolf graveyard in the corner of the old 
D'Wolf farm, and to Sunday school (with other children from a circuit 
of many miles) in Mrs. D'Wolf's house, which she and Mrs. Gardner es- 

Mrs. Leake has given us some stories of pioneering days that are well 


worth a place here illustrating as they do not only the straits in which 
families were placed, but the ready ingenuity which helped them out. 

Her husband's first bargain was to exchange his overcoat for a pair of 
oxen, "Line and Brin," a fine dress cuat for a wagon (made by Mr. Gale, 
the Lee Center wagon maker), a plush vest for a stack of hay, and a pock- 
et-knife for a whip. 

During the next winter there was a long icy spell it was six miles to 
the nearest timber, and the firewood almost gone. The oxen were mt 
shod and so were powerless to bring the load of wood so much needed. 
(What boy of today would have thought that oxen needed shoeing as 
much as horses?) But the father of a family would not be overcome by 
any such circumstances. He could not get the oxen shod, so he shod 
himself by putting nails in his boot soles, harnessed himself to a hand- 
sled, and walked to Franklin Grove, returning at night with his load of 

An aunt of the family, living where Chapman Leake now does, was 
once alone on the place when a calf stumbled into the open well. 

She was greatly puzzled to know what to do, but finally succeeded in 
getting a rope over its head, whicn she fastened above to keep it from 
drowning while she ran to her sister's, Mrs. Willars'. She ran at the top 
of her speed across the prairie, and reached her sister's completely ex- 
hausted, and recollecting as she entered the house that she had made a 
"slip noose" in the rope, she breathlessly added to her hasty story, "You 
needn't 'urry, Susan, the calf will be 'anged before we can get there." 
But Susan was prompt and energetic and she "'urried" fast enough to get 
the calf out safe and sound. 

Daniel Leake lived on the Chicago road, in Nachusa township, and 
built there the handsome brick house, which was for so many years the 
largest and handsomest farmhouse on the road. His sons, Chapman, who 
lives on what was the "Mosley place" in an early day, not far from his 
father's homestead; Russell, now a resident of Dixon; Jarvis, living on 
the homestead; and Fred, a merchant in Amboy, comprise his family. 

They, too, tell a single story from their many pioneer experiences, for 
like so many others among the children of the early settlers, they do not 
recall with distinctness the stories they have heard their parents tell. 

Is this not a proof that such a record as this little book will be, is well 
worth preserving for the children of the future? 

One day in the early '40's Mrs. Leake and the children were alone on 
the place when they saw a great cloud of smoke rolling up from the south- 
west. There had been a long dry spell, and it needed but a glance to 


show them that the prairie Was oh tire, and that they were in the path 
of the destroyer. What could they do? 

We can little imagine their distress or their helplessness. But "Mill- 
er John" had seen the cloud also, and with his stout nephew, William, 
was soon hurrying to their rescue. 

The oxen were grazing near the house, the plows were close at hand, 
and they were hastily yoked and set at work. Back and forth they went 
about the buildings and grain stacks, until the oncoming flames scorched 
Mr. Leake's hair and beard and the hair of the faithful oxen. Mrs. Leake 
and the children carried water, and with mops and brooms fought the 
fire, and wet the grass and stacks inside the furrows, so they were saved, 
and then Mr. Leake and William hurried off to help someone else, who 
might be in the same strait. 

There is another story of a family in this neighborhood which is truly 

A mother had died in August, leaving a three-days' babe, and two 
other children, only a little older. They lived in a house with but a 
single room, where were cookstove, cupboard, table, bed and chests of 
clothing. In the August heat, the funeral must be held the next day; so 
a man was sent at once to Inlet for the coffin. There was a mistake in 
the measurement, which was not discovered until the next morning, 
when a second messenger was started, with the correct dimensions. 

A little girl then, who remembers the funeral, tells that the people of 
the neighborhood gathered for the services early in afternoon, and grew 
more and more anxious as the sun went down the western sky and there 
were no signs of man, team or coffin. But at last, as some were feeling 
that they must go home for the "chores," the team, hard driven, appeared 
over the hill, with something red in the wagon. The pitiful truth was 
that the cabinet maker dared not use the black paint usually put on the 
rude pine coffins of that day, lest it should not dry in time for the fun- 
eral. So he painted it with red lead, the only other color he had, which 
dries very quickly 

There was no time to think of the incongruity, no time to make any 
change, the poor youn^ mother was laid in her red coffin and borne to the 
grave-yard at Temperance Hill by her friends and neighbors. Yet had 
she died today she was one who would have been laid to rest in a beauti- 
ful casket, covered with the choicest flowers; they loved her none the 
less, the frail body was none the less tenderly handled, but the contrast in 
resources is a pathetic one. 


THE town of Nelson, comprising about two-thirds of a six-mile-square 
township, has not yet become so populous nor so abounding in 
wealth as to occupy an exalted position among the sisterhood of 
the family in the household of Lee county, and yet it yields to none in 
its claims for merit and respectability. Beautiful Rock River forms its 
northern boundary, and the Chicago & Nortnweslern railroad runs 
through from east to west, crossing the river at the western line of town. 
Nearly midway between Dixon and Sterling lies the unpretentious little 
village of Nelson, a quiet burg, most of whose male inhabitants earn an 
honest livelihood in the employment of the railroad company. The large 
and commodious school house at the station is used for occasional reli- 
gious service as well as other meetings, and the school is kept in a flour- 
ishing condition by tho. employment of first-class teachers. Most of the 
farming land in the town is of excellent quality, and the prosperity of its 
farmers is shown by elegant dwelling houses and by large, fine looking 
barns. Indeed, few towns in Lee county can boast of as beautiful farm 
buildings as are found in Nelson. 

The first settlers, few in number but resolute and energetic, located 
in the town during the thirties and forties when Nelson as a corporate 
town had no existence further than being an adjunct of Dixon. In 1859, 
two years after the opening of Nelson station, the town became an in- 
dividual entity. 

Among the pioneer settlers who had roughed it in the township dur- 
ing the period of its infancy were Chas. F. Hubbard, Lewis Brauer, Na- 
than Morehouse, Luther Stone, Abner Coggswell and the father of Col. 
Noble I cannot recall his Christian name now. Tneonly one at present 
living of those honored pioneers is Chas. F. Hubbard, who still occupies 
the farm on which he first located and whose dwelling house is still 
nestled in the primeval forest. 


Although the situation of Nelson station is such as does not invite 
business enterprise at present, yet it may eventually grow and become a 
sharer in the prosperity of its two ambitious and progressive neighbors, 
Dixon and Sterling. The Hennepin canal will traverse the whole 
width of the town along the southern side of Kock Kiver. What effect 
that is destined to have on tbe growth of the village remains to be seen. 
The rolling surface, with ample natural drainage, makes the most desii- 
able kind of building lots and the convenience of getting the best and 
purest water at a depth of not more than twenty feet is an advantage de- 
serving the first consideration in selecting a place for founding a home. 
"Large streams from little fountains flow, "and who shall say that Nelson 
may not yet merge from obscurity to take its rank among the proud cities 
of the west? 

The first settler at Nelson gives the following account of his 
experience as a pioneer: "I came to this place from the state of New 
York in the fall of 1857. The railroad had been built west from Dixon 
two years previously, and the company was then doing grading and put- 
ting in switches and sidetracks for the station. There were then few 
improved farms in the township, though a number of emigrating farmers 
from Somerset county, Pennsylvania, were settling in the eastern part, 
with the aid and under the guidance of a robust, energetic and enter- 
prising leader, Kev. Wm. Uhl. My first project was the purchase of a 
small school house three miles distant and moving it to the station to be 
used as a grocery. I stocked this improvised store with an assortment 
of such articles as farmers most needed, and by dealing also in lumber and 
coal I was tolerably successful in getting a fair run of trade. At that 
time many were having fever and ague, and the sale of quinine was one 
of my sources of income. Mercantile buiness was something in which I 
had never had experience, and my lack of knowledge of local idioms was 
sometimes embarrassing. Once I remember a little Irish girl astonished 
me by coming to my grocery and saying she was sent to get Queen Ann. 
'What is it you want?' I asked. 'Queen Ann, sir!' 'What do you want to do 
with Queen Ann?' I inquired. 'My mother has got the fever'n'ager, an' 
she 'onts some to take, sne does!' 'Oh! Oh! yes,' said I, beginning to com- 
prehend, 'You want quinine, do you?' 'Yes, sir, Queen Ann,' replied she. 
The little lass knew no other name than Queen Ann for the popular an- 
tidote to intermittent fever," 

At that time prairie wolves were seen in Nelson as often as dogs are 
seen now. There were then few fences, no graded roads, no covered 
buggies, no tuneful organs, no luxuries of any kind, and yet, with all their 


hardships and privations, those hardy early settlers seemed happy and 
contented, cheered by the hope of realizing after a few years' roughing 
not only competence, but wealth, from the products of the fertile prairie 



f 'J& 





AN old Latin writer has said that "Many great men lived before 
Agamemnon, but that all memorial of them had perished for want 
of a chronicler." As one of the few survivivors of pioneer days in 
the town of Palmyra. I have been asked to preserve the memory of them 
by writing rny recollections of those days and of those who took part in 
them. I have done this in the form of a personal narrative, as better 
suited to give my impressien of that time than any other form; and I 
preface it with a slight account of the early history of the state of Illi- 
nois, of which, in the opinion of the inhabitants, Palmyra forms no in- 
considerable portion. 

By the treaty of Paris, 109 years ago, Great Britain made over to the 
United States all the north-west territory, comprising the state of Illi- 
nois and all the upper Mississippi valley. A splendid domain which 
twenty years earlier the colonies had assisted the mother country to 
snatch from France, after tough, bloody wars, in which the colonies 
gained such knowledge of the military art as served them in good stead 
when the struggle with Great Britain came. How little trace of France 
is left in the state which they were the first to colonize. Some few towns 
and streams still bear the names of those bold explorers and pious mis- 
sionaries who dared all in the service of God. LaSalle in 1682 planted the 
first colonies at Cahokia and Kaskaskia. With him was associated Hen- 
nepin, who gave his> name to another Illinois town, and to our hoped for 
canal. Joliet, a civil engineer and explorer, is remembered by a flourish- 
ing city and one of the largest state prisons in the United States. The 
Jesuit father, Marquette, who accompanied Joliet in his voyage of dis- 
covery down the Mississippi in 1673, founded the mission at Sault Ste. 
Marie in 1668. His memory is still cherished by all. * Muhi fortes ante 
Aymemwmen vexere do who cherish brave deeds and pious lives. 

Less than seventy-eight years ago Chicago was unheard of Fort 
Dearborn and a few trader's cabins were all that were to show forth the 


great city, second now only to New York in the United States. Terri- 
torial lines between Illinois and Wisconsin had been settled, and the lat- 
ter state claimed a large part of what is now Cook county thus cutting 
off our state from the shores of Lake Michigan. To Judge Nathaniel 
Pope, father of the late Major Gen. Pope, U. S. A., we in a great measure 
owe the possession of this great porton tnelake which has given a greater 
impetus to the prosperity of the state than any other cause. He was one 
of the commissioners to settle the bound rry line and insisted on having a 
lake port, giving the very sufficient reason that otherwise Illinois would 
became to all intents and purposes a slave state, the sympathies of her 
early settlers and her trade being already entirely with the South. Judge 
Pope became the first Secretary of State when Illinois was admitted to 
the Union in 1818, as a free state. In 1823 an effort was made to alter the 
constitution of the state to admit slavery. The contest was a very bitter 
one and the free soilers carried the day by a very small majority, electing 
as governor, Edward Coles, a strong anti-slavery man, though a Virgin- 
ian and a slave owner, who had brought his slaves to this state and freed 
them. The English colony in Edwards county threw all their influence 
and many votes on the side of free soil which contributed greatly to the 
victory. This was a flourishing colony of English people planted by Mor- 
ris Birckbeck and George Flower. The latter wrote a very interesting 
account of it lately published by the Chicago Historical Society. The 
truth is at that time and for many years after, numbers of negroes were 
held virtually as slaves in the southern part of the state where they were 
employed in the salt works, raising cotton, etc. 

Prior to 1834 there was very little attempt at white settlement in this 
northwestern part of the state; up to 1832 it remained the happy hunt- 
ing ground of various Indian tribes. Sauks and Foxes, Pottawatomies 
and Winnebagoes. In that year Black Hawic, one of the chiefs of the 
Sauks and Foxes, who had never agreed to the treaty by which his tribe 
had ceded their land on the banks of Rock River to the United States 
government, against the opposition of the head chief, Keokuk, who was 
always friendly to the whites, brought his band back across the Missis- 
sippi to hunt about their old homes. His band was fired on by some 
white settlers and this brought on the Black Hawk war in which some 
lives and much money were expended. It has been computed that every 
Indian killed in battle cost the government $10,000, in this war; from the 
number of men employed and the few Indians killed it was fully up to 
the mark. The war was also memorable from the number of big bugs, 
*See Ford's History of Illinois . 


if I may be allowed the expression, still in the chrysilis state who were 
atone time assembled at Dixon's Ferry while taking part in the war, 
Volunteer Captain Abraham Lincoln, Captain Zack Taylor, U. S. A., 
Lieutenant Jeff Davis and Lieutenant Anderson of Sumpter fame. Even 
the Commander in Chief, General Scott, was sent to the seat of war, 
which was ended at the battle of the Bad Axe, near the Wisconsin river 
and Black Hawk and The Prophet, who was the real soul of the war gave 
themselves up and afterward visited the eastern cities where they were 
exhibited as a farce show. 

By 1834 most of the Indians had been removed 'to the west of the 
MissJssipyi river and white settlers began to occupy their former homes. 
All this northwest part of the state was then Joe Daviess coi'nty, then 
up to 1840 we were in Ogle county, with the county seat at Oregon. In 
that year Lee county was set off, with the county seat at Dixon, and the 
present court house was built, S. W. Bowman, of Dixon, being the con- 
tractoi. The county was not then under township organization, there 
were three county cemmissioners, Nathan Whitney, of Franklin; Jas. P. 
Dixon, of Dixon; and F. Ingalls, of Inlet Grove; Judge Stone, of Galena, 
Circuit Judge; Isaac Board.uan, Count> Clerk: George W. Chase, Circuit 
Clerk; Michael Fellows, of Gap Grove, Recorder; John Morse, of Gap 
Grove, Treasurer; A. Wakelee, Sheriff; Joseph Crawford, County Survey- 
or. The only survivor of these, the first county officials, is Michael Fel- 
lows. In the fall of the same year, 1840, the land office was removed 
from Galena with Colonel Dement and Major Hackelton, receiver and 
registerer. The titles of these gentlemen were gained in the Black Hawk 
war, in which they were favorably mentioned. The government lands in 
this country had not at that time been fully surveyed and were not open 
lor entry till 1842. They were supposed to contain valuable mineral, the 
Galena lead ore, and had been reserved on that account. 

As I have said, in 1845 settlers began to flock into Gap Grove, those 
from the southwest by way of Peoria, those from the northeast through 
Chicago, crossing at Dixon, where in 1828 a half breed named Ogee had 
started a ferry, bought out in 1830 by John Dixon, who had formerly 
kept a clothing store in Chatham street, New York City. In connection 
with this account I have written out a list of the settlers in Palmyra up 
to 1840 inclusive, which embraces almost all of them, tho' some may have 
escaped me. 

Most of these early settlers were hard working men of the farmer class ? 
with small means,who were glad to exchange the worn-out farms of New 
England for the fertile prairies of the west. Thus, again, there were 


some who, impelled by thespirit of adventure and unrest which keep so 
many Americans frontiersmen all their lives, came, tarried with us for a 
while and moved on to pastures new. 

But there was a colony of a different class which settled along Rock 
River between Palmyra and Grand Detour. These came from the city 
of New York and were led to seek a western home in the following man- 
ner: Two young men, Messrs. William Graham and Chas. Hubbard, left 
New York in the spring of 1837 on a hunting expedition, and stopped 
for a time near Dixon; having been joined on the way by Mr. John Carr, 
formerly of the British navy. Carr subsequently went to Hong Kong, 
China, founded a flourishing newspaper, "The Houq Kong Oazette and 
Friend of China." made a fortune and returned to his native Scotland 
to spend it the only instance of any of these early New York colonists 
attaining to prosperity. Mr. Graham was so charmed with this beauti- 
ful country that he induced his father, Captain Graham, to bring his 
family out here. Their corning induced others of their friends, so that 
quite a numerous settlement was formed, all having considerable means 
for a new country, which they were not long in getting rid of in a wilder- 
ness when all the comforts and conveniences of life which seemed indis- 
pensable to them could only be procured at a very greatly enhanced price, 
if at all. They came looking for an Arcadia, the Blest, in these flower- 
bedecked prairies, and found privation, poverty, sorrow, sickness and 
death. Their illusions were short lived, shorter and more tragic than 
those of the Boston literati who tried to establish Arcadian simplicity 
at Brook Farm. Shakespeare says, "All the world is a stage, the men 
and women merely players." To the young it was a comedy of errors 
which they rather enjoyed playing, raising and cooking their own food, 
spinning, weaving, knitting their own raiment, and even the very priva- 
tions they endured but enhanced the pleasures of a wild, free life, rid- 
ing, fishing, boating, dancing, plenty of society, books and music. But to 
the older members of the community it was a most serious tragedy from 
which they saw no escape save by leaving the place as soon as possible. 
All who could get away did so, leaving the remainder to settle down to 
the new order of things as best they could. 

Of this colony my father's family formed a part. It consisted of 
father, mother and seven children. Three servants, a carpenter, a far- 
mer and his family, J. C. Lingham, a former partner in business, and 
Alex Campbell, a nephew, were also of the party. 

My cousin Alex Campbell and myself were the pioneers of the party. 
We reached Dixon's ferry, as It was then called, on the 9th of August, 

1839, and our first object was to find my father's partner, who had ar- 
rived a little in advance of us and was to see to the purchase of land and 
the removal of the family to the west. We found him the guest of Capt. 
Hugh Graham, a retired ship master of New York and who had come to 
the country the preceding year and bought a squatter's title to some 
seven hundred acres of land from John Dixon. He had a large family of 
highly educated daughters and sons, and with the boundless hospitality 
of the day we also became his guests, but it required all the elasticity of 
a frontier house to contain his family of ten, with five servants and six 

As the most important member of the New York colony a short 
notice of Captain Graham will not be amiss. A native of Belfast, Ireland, 
he was at one time an officer in the British navy, but left that service for 
that of the American merchant marine and for many years commanded 
the finest vessel of the Black Ball line of American packets. Many were 
the adventures by flood and field which he had gone through. In 1798, 
being then mate of an East Indiaman, he was shipwrecked near the 
island of Ascension, at that time the loneliest spot on the globe. A raft 
was formed and provisioned for most of the passengers and part of the 
crew, which was never heard of again; the long boat with fourteen and 
the captain and his gig with four succeeded, after being buffeted two 
days and a night, in reaching this uninhabited island. The captain of 
the ship had refused to leave it and with his son, who would not leave 
his father, went down with her. On the island were a Newfoundland 
dog and some goats which had probably escaped from some wreck. These 
were too wild to be approached, but there were great quantities of sea 
birds so tame they could be readily killed with a stick. On these, with oc- 
casionally fish, turtles arid their eggs, the party subsisted. After a time 
they made an attempt to leave the island; the ship carpenter broke up 
the gig and with this material and some driftwood made outriggers to 
the long boat, which they thought would thus float the whole company, 
with suflicient water and provisions, for which they laid in a stock of 
salted birds: but on coming to the beach to embark they found the boat 
gone and four of their number mi-sing. They must have reached the 
mainland safely, for Captain Graham met one of the party many years 
afterwards and did not kill him as he had promised himself the pleasure 
of doing. The others thus deserted lived a year longer on the island, till 
they were taken off by Sir Thomas Williams in the Endymion frigate of 
the British navy, who had stopped there to catch turtles. In after years 


a cave on the island served as a post/office fur vessels which put in there 
to get or leave letters and take in a supply of turtles. 

Soon after our arrival a squatter's title to a claim of some five hun- 
dred acres was bought from C. B. Bush for fifteen dollars an acre. Part 
of this land had been staked out in town lots, a ferry and a log store had 
been in operation. The boat was gone and the store empty. We made 
a stable of it. There were, besides, three large log houses connecting 
with each other. Into these I moved with my cousin, a brother who had 
joined us, and a carpenter, well known afterwards as Tommy Scallan, 
whom we ha'l brought from the east to build a house for us. We bought 
besides from Bush all his crop of wheat in the stack at two dollars per 
estimated bushel, oats ditto at fifty cents in the field, corn in the field 
fifty cents, three acres of potatoes in the ground, two cows and about 
sixty head of swine, large and small; from another party horses, wagon 
and harness, three hundred dollars. Behold us equipped as western 

The commercial crisis of the east had not as yet affected Illinois, 
and the state was undertaking vast and extravagant internal improve- 
ments. Besides the issue of floods of state bank notes, based on these 
undertakings, numbers of so-called wild cat banks, with scarce a local 
habitation or a name, were putting in circulation reams of their worth- 
less paper. Immigrants were flocking in, native immigrants, and the de- 
mand for provisions for them and their teams made produce of all kind 
very high. It was also a year of scarcity in the eastern states, flour was 
twelve dollars a barrel in New York and beefsteak twenty-five cents 
per pound. We were importing ship loads of wheat and other agricul- 
tural products flax seed, hemp, hides, etc., from the Mediterranean and 
Russian provinces. The first-comers had claimed large tracts of land 
embracing most of the wooded portions and in the absence of lumber and 
coal the prairies were uninhabitable. They held these claims higher than 
deeded land was worth at any subsequent time till 1852, when the rail- 
ways were approaching us. The next year, 1840, the whole thing col- 
lapsed like a card house. The state bank failed, of course all the wild 
cat banks, all internal improvements stopped and immigration with 
them. Wheat fell from two dollars and fifty cents to twenty-flve cents, 
beef from fifteen cents to one and a half cents per pound; corn, oats and 
potatoes were unsalable. No kind of produce would bring money; all 
was barter except the small pittance occasionally procured by hauling a 
load of wheat to Chicago, or provisions to the mines at Galena; but as 
the farmers were already beginning to hoard every cent for the land sale, 


even this was withdrawn from circulation. Taxes then were nominal, 
there being no tax on land for flve years after entry. But for a person 
with much correspondence letters were a heavy drain on the purse; as 
postage was twenty-five cents a sheet the biggest sheets were used, let- 
ters were crossed and recrossed and. every chance of sending by private 
hand eagerly taken. I believe a namesake of mine never quite forgave 
me for opening a letter of his by mistake in which were two bank notes 
when he was charged twenty-five cents extra on each note. 

In recurring to those days with a merchant here, now comparatively 
rich, he said "1 remember on one occasion my mother had written a 
letter to me. I was a boy a thousand miles away from home had had 
no letter for a long time. 1 had no money, how to raise the necessary 
twenty-five cents? I went to the postofflce and turned the letter over 
and over again, then returned to the store where I was employed, and 
\\as sitting there in a kind of a despairing way when a customer came 
and asked for woolen socks. There were none in the store and the man 
was going out, when I suddenly thought of a new pair of mother's knit- 
ting l had just put on. Pulling off my boot I held up my foot and asked 
him what he would give. Three shillings thirty-seven and one-half 
cents I got for those socks, enough to pay for my letter and buy a little 
tobacco, for which I was starving." He concluded by saying "that was 
the most satisfactory sale I ever made." 

But it was astonishing how well we got along without money. We 
had but to "tickle the soil with a straw and it laughed us a harvest," 
there were very few weeds, no rats till a few years later when a little 
steamer came up the river after a freshet and left a few in Dixon; no 
diseases among stock or poultry, we lived on the fat of the land, and 
for clothing each put on what seemed best in his own eyes. How 
often have I laughed at the appearance presented by a Kentucky neigh- 
bor to whom I had given a very flowery dressing gown, frayed with much 
usage, to see him starting out on a hunt in this garb, supplemented by a 
coon skin cap with the long, barred tail hanging between his shoulders, 
a spotted fawn skin pouch, a long rille and bis bare feet, he could have 
given odds to Robinson Crusoe. 

Another whose costume was very peculiar was a man named Dock- 
hart, "who had got into a fussdown thar in Kaintucky" and shot a man 
and had then taken refuge in this cave of Adullam, where he was safe 
from pursuit. He was a simple, good-natured fellow, who recognized but 
one law, lex tnlionis of the Jews, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." 
He shunned the face of womankind, lived in a little cabin by himself, 


carried on all his farming work unaided and was clothed in the skins of 
the animals he shot. 

It was fortunate that after the prairie soil was once broken the 'and 
was so free from weeds and easy of cultivation, for the implements were 
of the simplest and rudest description, the plow a small light bar with 
wooden teeth, the furks, rakes and scythes were rather better, but the 
crowning iniquity was the grain cradle, a heavy clumsy affair with a 
blade about five feet long and hickory fingers made by native workmen 
reapers, mowers, threshing machines were still in the future, the grass 
was cut with a scythe, raked by hand and stacked in the open air, barns 
being unknown. To thresh the grain the bundles were laid on the ground 
and trodden out by horses then winnowed with a sieve, tho' some had a 
fanning mill which went the rounds, borrowed from farm to farm. The 
strong fibrous roots of the original prairie grass were very hard to plow 
through and the breaking was generally done by professional prairie broak- 
ers who turned the soil over with from four to six yoke of oxen, charging 
$8.00 per acre. 

When broken from June to September the soil rotted very fast and 
"made the richest seed bed for all kinds of plants. Thirty acres was con- 
sidered a fair allowance for each able bodied man to work, twenty in corn 
and ten in small grain, the corn plowed three times in the row with a 
common bar plow; those from the south used the Kentucky "bull 
tongue," a clumsy single shovel. 

One blacksmith did all the work of the settlement, mending plows, 
setting tires, sighting rifles and shoeing horses; but on the approach of 
winter, when alone the horses were shod, he was a busy man and it was 
well to be in his good graces, for we had to taketurns in coming to his 
shop, each furnished with iron for his own shoeing; for as he was only 
paid in trade he had no money to buy iron and he made his own charcoal. 
Jem Carley was the smith of that time, a most excellent and ingenious 
workman, turning all sorts of iron scraps into any desired shape; but a 
hard drinking, hard swearing, reckless fellow. He was assisted in his 
work by a poor, broken down creature by the name of Beach, who was 
the son of respectable parents in New York. He had received a fail- 
education and the accounts which he kept for Carley were very neat and 
correct. His bloated face and shock of uncombed hair, covered by an 
old stove pipe hat through the crown of which some old newspapers gen- 
erally protruded, was a familiar sight to all the old settlers. When Car- 
ley got drunk alone, which was rarely the case, he generally beat his 
wife and children, when he and Beach got drunk together they mauled 


each other. On one occasion a young man named West was riding past 
Carley's house after dark and heard someone crying bitterly. Checking 
his horse he called out, "Who is that?" "It's me." "What's the matter?" 
'Pa's been beating me." "Come out here till I speak to you.'! It was 
Carley's daughter, a rustic belle among the young fellows wno in a coun- 
try like this were ready to see Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt. The 
result of the conversation was that she jumped up on horseback behind 
him and he took her to Levi Gaston's place where he left her for the 
night, passing her off in the darkness for a fugitive slave whom he wished 
to send on to Canada by the underground railroad. This was the more 
readily done, as light was scarce in those days, when a saucer of lard with 
a bit of cotton flannel for a wick was the general illuminator. The next 
morning West took her to Dixon, got the squire to make them one, and 
set up housekeeping in a canvas tent on the prairie, where he made a liv- 
ing by putting up hay. 

Gaston was one of the original abolitionists at a time when to be one 
was anything but a title to public favor: ate no cane sugar made by the 
blood and sweat of negro slaves. A most kind hearted, upright man, to 
whom his neighbors of all parties and shades of belief gave a farewell 
banquet a few years ago when he was leaving us to make his home on the 
Pacific coast a testimony of good will which I never rememberany other 
Palmyran to have received. 

We had a German shoemaker in the town, an excellent, industrious 
man who afterwards became a prosperous farmer. He was as hard put 
to it in his business as the smith. He has told me of working up old 
saddle skirts into half soles for shoes, of walking to Sterling to exchange 
a basket of eggs for a ball of shoe-thread. Some idea of what men 
went through with in those days may be gathered from the fact that he 
William Mueller, told me he had fenced his claim of forty acres with 
rails all wheeled out on a wheelbarrow. 

There was a meeting house at Gap Grove, but no regular religious 
services were held. The Rev. M. Thummel came occasionally from the 
southern part of the state and preached, principally to the Germans, and 
there were circuit riders who sometimes got up a revival. A number of 
us from the river attended one of these meetings from curiosity. The 
conductor of the ceremony was hidden in a deep pulpit, while those who 
had experienced religion were seated on a long bench in front. As each 
in turn would relate their experience he would pop up from the pulpit 
like a Jack-in-a-box and call "Now another!" It came to the turn of an 
elderly man who hesitated for some time and the preacher had to call 


on him by name more than once, "Brother Bidwell will give his exper- 
ience." At last slowly rising and scratching his head brother Bidwell 
said, "I'm kind of in a notch," and sat down. It was pathetic, however, 
to listen to the earnest simplicity with which some told of their strug- 
gles. But to our great surprise we saw on the anxious bench one of our 
own boon companions, Captain Whiting. He had been on a prolonged 
spree, in the course of which he had upset his wife and child from the 
sleigh he was driving the child was killed and the mother injured. 
This had sobered him and in his remorse he had joined the church. 
On seeing us there he bawled out as if he was hailing the mast head, 
and shaking his ttst at us, "come forrard here you chaps, don't be grin- 
ning there, and join us," which we declined. Poor fellow! he was a first- 
rate sailor and a man of considerable literary ability, wrote pretty good 
poetry and for some time edited a newspaper, but the demon of drink 
took possession of him as it did of very many others in that early day, 
when they were loosed from the restraints of society. He afterwards 
commanded "The Star of the West," when she was sent to the relief 
of Fort Sumter, and gained so much credit on that occasion that he 
was appointed consul to one of the South American republics, but at 
last he drifted into the Sailors' Snug Harbor, a refuge for destitue sea- 
men on Staten Island, and there cut his throat in despair at his wasted 

The Episcopal Bishop Chase, who founded Kenyon College in Ohio and 
a Jubilee College in this state, sometimes came up from his home at "Rob- 
in's Nest," and paid us a visit. Once in crossing the ferry at Dixon he 
expostulated with John Neimeyer, the well known ferryman, for charg- 
ing a bishop for crossing the river. John's reply was "Isdotso, den show 
me your bapers." 

Bishop Chase's foible was a horror of Rome. Visiting at the house of 
a friend of mine he said. "Mr. B., I would like to talk to your servants" 
and he went into the kitchen where were an old colored man named 
Brown and his daughter. Brown, said the bishop, I would like to hear 
you repeat a prayer. The old darkey, who had been born in slavery days 
in New Jersey, and been buffeted about afloat and ashore in many parts 
of the world, began to rattle off with tolerable fluency a singular travesty 
of the Pater Noster which some priest had tried to teach him. "Ah, 
Brown! Brown!" said the Bishop, "I fear you are in worse than Egyptian 
bondage." "Don't know nuffin bout Gipsun bondage, sah, but if him 
worse nor Jersey bondage, must be bad, sure nuff." 

Most of the early settlers, particularly those from eastern states, took 

- 478 

up claims along the road leading from Dixon to Sterling, and about the 
Gap, bnt the two men who took the largest part in public affairs of the 
town were both Southerners, Squire Morgan, of Kentucky, and Squire 
Bethea of Tennessee. They both held all the different town offices from 
time to time Harvey Morgan was s.till Squire after he moved to Dixon, 
where he died not many years ago. Squire Bethea was a man of little 
education and less pretention, but the people had perfect confidence in 
him; he had most of the qualities that make for the Kingdom of Heaven, 
and compromised more disputes than he ever tried casps. When the first 
school house was built about half way through Sugar Grove he was the 
first teacher in it. 

Squire Tilton was also in the commission of peace for many years and 
showed considerable enterprise and public spirit. His wife was one of 
the earliest teachers in the Grove, but I believe Mrs. Michael Fellows 
was the first of all. It is said that on one occasion she was giving a les- 
son in geography and telling her class about the wonderful bell of Mos- 
cow, the number of tons it weighed. "By Jacks," said Martin Fender, 
one of her scholars, it must have took a powerful critter to tote such a 
bell as that!" 

It is astonishing, I may say gratifying, to see how women's abilities 
and their rights to use them are being recognized in the present day; the 
highest seats of learning and the profession are being thrown open to 
them. Miss Philippa Fawcett, a daughter of the late Postmaster Gen- 
eral of England, lately took a double first at the Oxford examination, 
surpassing all her male competitors; and as ageneral thing, in the college 
examinations of both countries, the honors seem pretty evenly divided. 
If they do not enjoy equal political rights with men they may console 
themselves with the knowledge that their influence at home has more 
weight in deciding an election than if they voted. 

John Morse, was another old land mark of the town, honest and true. 
He was the first county treasurer, and afterward sheriff. One Christ- 
mas eve he joined a party of us who were celebrating the occasion, and 
fearing he would be rather a wet blanket, we tried various devices to get 
rid of him: untied his horse and then ran in to tell him it was loose, but 
he said it knew the way to the corn crib; asked if his wife wouldn't be 
uneasy, he was an old bachelor living alone in a little cabin; at last 
told him he would have to sing a song, tell a story or drink a glass of 
salt and water. He decided on telling a story, though he stuttered so as 
to be almost unintelligible "Down in York State," he said, "when father 
was a deacon in the church, I took a fancy one time to sing in the choir 


where all the girls sang; I tried it two or three meetings and thought I 
was doing first rate, when one Sunday before meeting, the minister came 
to our house and said, "deacon Morse you will have to keep John out of 
the choir for the girls say he trays so load that it puts them all out and 
they'll leave if he don't." He was a man who regarded no man's attire, 
still less his own, and came to see me once in the New York custom house 
where I was temporarily employed, wearing the same old leather breeches 
by which he was known on the river. To|be quite fair, I took him through 
crowded Wall street to see my brother in the bank of New York. He 
was on his way to California, where I believe he made a fortune in fruit 

Joseph Wilson, an old Brandywine miller, was the first to make flour 
for the settlement. The whole town turned out to assist him in putting 
up a log mill on Elkhorn creek, where he made excellent flour when there 
was water enough to turn the wheel, but many times the creek ran near- 
ly dry, and then we had to take our grist often as far as Aurora on the 
Fox river, some forty miles. 

A Swiss, named Obrist, had a small saw mill on Sugar creek, where 
after a heavy rain some sawing could be done, but generally all parts of a 
log house, and there were few others, were got out by hand. When a new 
settler came he would cut and haul together a sufficient number of logs 
for the size of the bouse he intended to build. He would then call his 
neighbors together, and every one within ten miles was a neighbor, to 
assist in putting up his house; four of the best axemen were stationed one 
at each corner to receive the logs as they were rolled up on skids, notch 
and saddle them so that they would rest firmly without rocking. When 
the logs were all up some one was chosen to break a bottle of whiskey 
over one corner and give the house a name. Generally Deacon Moore or 
Reuben Eastwood were asked to officiate, as they had the loudest voices 
and could be heard farther than any of the others. Free splitting timber 
was then rived into shakes for the roof and puncheons for the floor and 
door; the puncheons were sometimes dreseed down with an adze, weight 
poles laid on the roof to keep the shakes in place. A chimney built, the 
fire place of logs notched together, and stone, the upper part of finely 
split sticks well daubed with clay the crevices between the logs of the 
house chinked with pieces of wood and then daubed with clay and the 
house was complete, warm in winter, cool in summer, comfortable to 
live in. 

Martin Richardson was generally the favorite axeman on these occas- 
ions, his corner was always the first up and his logs fitted snugger than 


any others. He was a man about five feet five inches in height with a 
chest deep and broad as a giant's, his hair, the color of tow, stood out 
from his head like an immense mop. No brick redder than his face, no 
ivory whiter than his teeth. Born in Massachusetts, he had been taken 
as a child to Kentucky, and with the energy of the Yankee, he had the 
improvident liberality of the Southerners. He could Jo more work and 
raise better crops than any man in the country, his signature was a sim- 
ple one. a cross. His early life had been passed as a Mat-boat man down 
the Mississippi river to New Orleans. At a husking frolic his pile of 
corn was the biggest and his chorus in the negro song the loudest. 
There was a mighty old goose sailing on the ocean 

oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! 
I sent for my neighbors and ask 'em how to cook him, 

oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! 
Tell him to bi'o him aad toss him in do oben 

oh its 

Nine weeks a biling and six weeks a roastin 
oh its 

Knife wouldn't cut him, fork wouldn't enter arid so on. But he dear- 
ly loved a free fight where any one could take a hand in without ani- 
mosity, but considered pistols arid knives cowardly weapons. Did you 
never carry a pistol? I asked. "Never but once when Bush was postmas- 
ter and old man Kellogg, up to Buffalo, was his deputy; he was going to 
settle with him and was afraid he'd cut up rough, so nothing would do 
but I must go along with him and take a pistol. I never was so ashamed 
in ;ny born days, the plaguy thing would keep a poking out of my 
pocket; I thought all the folks would see it but I had no occasion for it. 
Kellogg, he settled up peaceably." He had a little difficulty with a neigh- 
bor down in Kentucky which he thus described: "He and old man Bouch- 
er, father to Jack, had a falling out 'bout an ash kittle, and one day at a 
log roiling he jumped on to me with a knife. I just took him by the 
wrists and shook him till he dropped it and then 1 rolled him over. The 
boys all hollered to me to stomp him, but he was getting old so I jest got 
on Chat and rode down to Yallerbanks and sued him afore the squire." 
"And how did you come out?" I asked. "Oh! the lawyer he got the kit- 
tle." So, "The lawyer gets the kettle," passed into a proverb with us. 

One of our money losing undertakings was the starting of a ferry at 
my place by subscription. Richardson was made ferryman. On one oc- 
casion when he was poling the boat and was at some little distance from 
shore, a young man named Heickus, thinking himself safe, began to 
abuse him. He jumped overboard and wading ashore ran Heickus down 

and gave him several hearty cuffs. Cited before the squire he was fined 
$3, which he paid in court, "This," said the young fellow with a grin, 
as he put the money in his pocket, "will buy ray wife a new dross." 
"Yes," said Martin, "and by ginger, the next time I catch you I'll clothe 
your whole family." 

As I have already said, we bought a farm from C. B. Bush and in 
September, 1839, my brother, cousin and 1 took possession of the log 
house and began housekeeping. Having bought all of Bush's crops, 
stock, etc., we had the necessaries of life in superabundance: but it was 
all raw material, and how to convert it into food was the problem. Com- 
ing rresh from an artificial city life, we had none of the fertility of re- 
source which is characteristic of most settlers in a new country. Like 
old man Sales, of Oates Spring, who ground his corn by attaching a heavy 
stone to a sort of well pole and pounding it against another partially 
hollowed stone; or the man Gov. Ford tells of in his history of Illi- 
nois, who one day when plowing corn had the misfortune to lose his 
horse's collar by the animal running away. After catching his horse 
again he pulled off his breeches and stuffing the legs with grass, hung it 
over the horse's neck for a collar and coolly went on with his plowing. 
Threshing wheat we gave up at once as out of the range of possibility 
with corn and potatoes it was simple enough, but the pork! How to 
butcher a hog? However, we shot a hog in the corn field, only wound- 
ing it; it ran to the house, we in pursuit, and finally succeeded in dis- 
patching it with sticks and knives. We then tried to shave off the hair 
with a razor, which only ruined the razor, then we tried to burn it off 
and at last skinned it, when it presented the appearance of fine fat mui- 
ton. I became in time a sufficiently good butcher, l>ut father and 
brother up to the time of their leaving the country never made a success 
and in their last attempt father was to hold the pig, and my brother to 
stick it: the former knelt on the pig and held it with one hand, shading 
his eyes from the bloody deed by holding up his hat in the other hand; 
my brother then approaching cautiously and turning his head aside 
made a desperate thrust with the knife, calling out, "let go!'' With 
a fearful squeal the pig ran off and neither pig nor knife were ever seen 

For bread we mixed together meal, salt and water, and toasted it be- 
fore the fire on a shingle or shovel. There was no lack of potatoes, for 
having allowed those we bought from Bush to freeze in the ground, a 
sharp fellow came along one day and proposed I should buy his. "How 
many have you 9 I asked. "Oh, about three hundred bushels." "Will 

- 482- 

those be enough for the large family I am expecting to come out?" "Yes, 
I guess so." I shall never forget the time it took to dig a hole big 
enough to contain those potatoes, nor the laughter of my better posted 
friends when I told them of the transaction. And this was only one in- 
stance among very many where our total ignorance of our new life was 
taken advantage of, and not only we, but all those who came here ignor- 
ant of farm "life, spent all they had in gaining experience. But in spite 
of some privations of this kind, which young people make little account 
of, we were delighted with the life. In the summer the broad prairies 
were gay with beautiful flowers, wild fruit was abundant, plums, black- 
berries, and strawberries, wild crab apples and grapes made very good 
preserves, and there was no end to the game birds, prairie hens (pinnat- 
ed grouse), pheasants (ruffled grouse), ducks of every kind, geese, brant, 
swans, pigeons, plover, curlews, woodcocks and snipe. Then there were 
numbers of deer, raccoons, rabbits, badgers, skunks and prairie wolves. 
The river abounded with tlsh and it was a favorite sport with us to spear 
them by torchlight, or sometimes through the ice. A hole was cut in 
the ice and darkened by hanging a blanket over it; under that the spear 
man would watch while others would beat on the ice above to set the 
fish in motion, which were struck as they came swimming sluggishly by. 
We shared in these sports with the Indians who came here to hunt in 
winter for two or three seasons after our arrival. They came in large 
bands with their squaws, pappooses and ponies. There was one Indian, 
Winnebago Jim we called him, who for many years came every summer 
to my place to hunt and beg. He brought his squaw and wretched little 
pappoose which his wife carried about wrapped in a blanket on her back, 
and while she made mats and baskets of rushes, Jim would paddle over 
to the island, hang bis breeches in a tree and have a fine untrammeled 
time while hunting. 

We often took fish in quantities with a seine black bass, white perch, 
red horse, buffalo, pike, and sometimes that survivor of the Silurian sea, 
the worthless gar-flsh. Sturgeons there were too, sometimes five feet in 
length and catfish of fifty pounds weight: these latter corned and smoked 
were very good, but the best were inferior to sea flsh. Quantities of mus- 
sels afforded food to*flsh and muskrats. The red-horse, a species of 
sucker, feeds largely on them and at midsummer, when the river is low, 
a stranger would be puzzled to account for the constant thumping sound 
proceeding from it. This is caused by the red-horse beating on the 
shells to open them. Pearls are often found in these mussels, but of ir- 
jegular shape and of little value. 


But to take fish without hook or spear, net or poison, how? When 
the river rises with the June rain;; the fish, mostly pike or bass, run in 
close to the shore to feed at night; then a boat is paddled along as noise- 
lessly as possible close to the banks; as it approaches, theflsh alarmed 
rush for the deep water, but meeting the impediment of the boat try to 
jump over it, in which they seldom succeed, but falling in are captured. 
We had turtles too in the river the soft shell, about the size of a din- 
ner plate and very good eating, though troublesome to prepare, and the 
snapper. Both of them are very destructive to young ducks, swimming 
under them and pulling them noiselessly down. It is curious to see the 
mother duck when she begins to miss the young. Knowing but too well 
the cause, she rushes furiously back and forth beating the water with 
her wings and quacking loudly in dire distress, then hurriedly brings her 
brood ashore. 

A new bird to us was the sand-hill-crane, sometimes called the 
the prairie turkey, but a very dry and tasteless one. It stands about 
three feet high, is of a pale straw color with a red stripe on the head. 
The bird has a curious habit of assembling in large flocks on moonlight 
nights on some knoll on the prairie, where they will dance around in a 
circle, like Macbeth's witches over their cauldron, uttering a curious 
grating cry. They are easily tamed. Scallan, the carpenter, had a tame 
one which he taught to dance with him. He would say "Come Sandy," 
and waving a cornstalk in time they would prance around together. His 
tenant, McGraw, fearing Sandy's assault on his little boy's eye's, cut his 
head off. The prairie wolves were very numerous, cunning and extremely 
bold. They would sometimes come right up to the house in broad 
daylight and kill poultry, young pigs, lambs, etc., not only to eat but 
from a love of slaughter. I once counted thirteen ducks killed at regu- 
lar distances between the house and cornfield just as the wolf had over- 
taken them. On another occasion thirty-two well grown turkeys were 
killed in a night one bite across the neck finished them. Woe betide 
the cow which calved out, she was sure to lose her young. T^e wolves 
generally hunted in pairs; one would corne close to the house at night, 
give a few yelps, when the mongrel, pnppv, cur or hound would be out 
and after him in full cry; then his mate would steal up and carry off a 
pig or lamb. One morning early, looking over the river, I saw a wolf, 
evidently on picket duty, trotting along the high bank, while lower 
down was another driving a good sized shoat before him. When the pig 
stopped or tried to turn the wolf would run in and give him a Hip, when 
piggy would squeal and go on lamenting. So they drove him over the 


i e to an island, when we ran over, and Riving an unsuccessful shot at 
the thieves, saved the pig. 

The first winter when we moved into our log house our nearest neigh- 
bors were a family of Kent.uckians in which were five brothers. They 
soon came to pay us a visit, walking along in Indian (lie, the eldest with 
a long rifle over his shoulder. They stalked in, formed a semi-circle 
around the fire and stared at me, and everything in the room. I in turn 
stared at them. Had they been beings from another planet I could not 
have been more at loss what to say to them. They marched out as 
silently as they came in. As time went on I was constantly thrown in 
with the young men and always found them most obliging, regardless of 
gain. They could neither read nor write, "swore like our army in 
Flanders," yet were always particular in avoiding foul, indecent lan- 
guage. There was an innate delicacy in many respects about them which 
was truly remarkable and at the table they watched with close attention ' 
lest they should make any mistake. The eldest on one occasion seeing a 
man dip his bread in the dish said, "Uncle Ed, if you want some of that 
gravy I'll help you with a spoon." "Why, Kernel," he replied, "I didn't 
know you minded, down in York state I paid two bits extra for the privi- 
lege." The York Staters from the Erie canal were dreadful. 

The "Kernel," as he was called, had an intense craving for education 
and at last succeeded in learning to read and write and he was ap- 
pointed a school director. His notice to the people of the district I kept 
for many years as a model of composition and orthography. He was 
"full of wise saws and modern instances" as Sancho Panza, and when 
told that "a rolling stone gathered no moss" retorted with "a setting 
goose don't git no new feathers." On hearing of Columbus making the 
egg stand on its end, took all point out of the anecdote by saying, "Why 
that's no trick at all," and to the surprise of those present proceeded to 
stand an egg on its end without, like Columbus, having recourse to crack- 
ing it. 

These traits of character I have been attempting to describe. I met 
with very frequently among "the poor white trash" of the South, arising 
1 think from the consciousness of belonging to a superior race to the ne- 
groes by whom they were surrounded. They have now all disappeared, 
there was no room for them here when the great rush for immigration 
set in with the railroads, bringing a horde of toiling, saving, grasping 
foreigners, better calculated perhaps to develope the resources of the 
country but very far from as pleasant to live among. With them have 


come the rats, the weeds, the overproduction, the low prices and the sur- 
vival of the fittest. 

Elkanah B. Bush, from whom we bought our claim, was also a Ken- 
tuckian, higher in the social scale than those I have been describing, 
but equally improvident; in fact, prudence and economy seem to be a 
matter of climate and soil, those from a mild climate and fruitful soil 
being generally careless and improvident, while those from a cold climate 
and thin soil are prudent and saving. The sum Bush received from his 
claim, crops, etc., seemed an immense one to him and he was perplexed 
how to dispose of it, so he bought some medical works and began to 
study for a doctor. When he thought he was pretty well posted he went 
down to Peoria, and laying in a big supply of drugs, began to practice 
his new profession in Elkhorn Grove, but after one patient had died and 
he had nearly poisoned two or three others he got scared, and giving up 
medicine, put what was left of his money in an oil and saw mill. He 
offered us one dollar a bushel for castor beans and the same for flax 
seed. This seemed immense and many of us went into it. He, too, 
rented ground and planted largely. The flax grew finely, when ripe we 
cradled and bound it and then proceeded to thresn it as we did wheat 
or oats by laying it on the ground and then tramping it with horses; but 
so it was that when the horses had made a few rounds they tramped the 
bundles into ropes which became entangled with their legs and moved 
the whole mass. We couldn't fork nor handle it in any way, and so gave 
it up. The castor beans .grew equally well but they were in all stages 
from the blossom to the ripe bean, which kept popping and flying about 
in all directions. The beans being tempting in taste and appearance 
were eaten by children, who required no further dosing that summer: 
but this was the only use made of them, for we could not dispose of the 
few that were saved as Bush's money gaveout and noone else wanted them. 
For his saw mill speculation he had taken "the Kernal" as a partner, 
whose contribution to the partnership consisted of his skill as an axe- 
man, for those were days when il a man was famous according as he lifted 
up the axe on-the thick trees," and a colt valued at thirty dollars. To 
celebrate this great era in their lives and the promotion of their brother 
all the Kentucks combined to buy a jug of molasses, drank molasses 
and water and fired their rifles all day. When the inevitable collapse 
came the Kernel, never having studied commercial law, only saw that 
he had lost his horse and his time, so he sued Bush for wages. In those 
days lawyers were at a discount as too expensive luxuries for common 
folk, and suits were generally left to three umpires, who almost Invari- 


ably divided the thing between the parties, which is perhaps the fairest 
way after all. In this case "the three men," as they were called, gave 
the plaintiff half wages. Poor "Kernel," be went to Fulton, where he 
was made a constable, wore store clothes and a gold watch, had a little 
brief prosperity, but died in the poorhouse. 

We had may transient visitors who would stay for a time and go on. 
Among these was a young man named Budd, the son of Lieut. Budd, who 
was killed with Captain Lawrence in the Chesapeake at the time of the 
celebrated engagement of the Chesapeake and Shannon. Budd stayed 
with me for some time. I learned that after being married little more 
than a year he had lost his wife arid child. In his melancholy musings 
he would wander about the country at night, and finally went down 
the river in a small boat. Not long after I got a letter from him, dated 
at Rock Island, saying he had been arrested there for the murder of 
Major Davenport, and wishing me to do something for him. It appeared 
that this Davenport, an old Indian trader, lived on an island, called by 
his name at the mouth of Rock River. He was reputed to be wealthy. 
On the morning of the 4th of July, 1845, his family had left him alone in 
the housn while they went over to the main land to take part in the cele- 
bration of the day, and on their return at night had found thedead body 
of the Major, and the house robbed. 

Budd had often been seen wandering about the island at night and 
had been in the habit of buying provisions in the town and taking them 
t > his camp up the river, where he was supposed to have accomplices. 
When the people heard of the murder the whole town was in commotion. 
Budd was at once suspected, and learning that he had been seen leaving 
the town that morning, armed bodies went in pursuit of him and he 
would certainly have been lynched had he not returned unperceived, 
given himself up to the sheriff and was put in jail.* All my efforts in his 
behalf were of no use to him; public opinion was so strong against him. 
He lay for some months in jail and might have been executed had not a 
detective caught a man on a lake steamer with the Major's watch in his 
possession, which led to the capture of the gang and Budd's acquittal. It 
was not safe in those days to be melancholy or mysterious. 

In that early day we had only a weekly mail from the east, which 
came in on Saturday by Winter's, and afterward by Foinck & Walker's 
stages. All who expected letters went to Dixon that day for the mail: 
first to the postoffice and then to the hole-in-the-wall, a log saloon, after- 
ward used by Lorenzo Wood to store his woolen goods and later pulled 
down by Bovey for his lumber yard. Here we met all of our acquaintan- 

- 487 

tances. Every one Was called on to drink; a bargain was always sealed by 
a drink, an introduction to a stranger followed by a drink: on a journey 
or in the harvest field, it war the same thing. Any excuse was sufficient 
to^call for a drink and to refuse was to give mortal offense, there were 
very few scruples to a drarn in that day A very singular custom it 
seemed to us who had never been accustomed to wines or liquors except 
at the dinner table, never before eating, while here it was considered a 
sufficient excuse sometimes to say "thank you, but I've just eat." The 
drink was pure corn juice distilled by Fred Butcher, too cheap to be adul- 
terated, for a bushel of corn, value ten cents, would buy a gallon of whis- 
key and little else. 

Here, then, we met everyone from all parts of the country, except our 
farming friends from the Sugar Grove road, and a curious assortment it 
was. There was one, Lem Paul, known to be a regular highwayman, and 
that he laid in wait to rob John Dixon on his way up from Peoria with 
funds to pay the workmen employed on the canal at the Sterling rapids. 
Mr. Dixon got a hint of it and came another way. Paul lived on un- 
molesed in Dixon till he severely wounded Crowell with an axe, when he 
was driven out of the town and took up his abode in Copper Harbor. 
There he was shot in the arm in a fight and his arm broken, he advised 
the man who fired at him to shoot and kill him or he would certainly kill 
him as soon as his arm was well. This the other declined to do, but Paul 
was as good as his word, and lying in wait for him at the spring, shot him 
as he came for a pail of water and then took refuge in the Indian nation, 
that Alsatia of outlaws. 

Another noted character throughout the country was Billy Rogers, a 
tall, good looking man, always well dressed. It was said he had belonged 
to a noted band of outlaws on the Mississippi and he was known to have 
been the only gambler who escaped from the people of Natchez when 
they made their great raid on the gambling houses "under the hill.'' 
Billy cut his way through the crowd with his bowie knife, and swimming 
the Mississippi, escaped. He was a gambler by profession, and "as wild 
a mannered man as ever cut a throat," still his jovial temper and gener- 
ous disposition made him a general favorite. On one occasion, as he was 
just starting on a contract to remove the Indians west of the Mississippi, 
the stage was surrounded by the sheriff with a posse to take Billy on some 
debt. Drawing a pistol he said to the sheriff, "Morse, I know there are 
enough of you to take me, but you know I'm good for you first: now if you 
will make no fuss but let me go and carry out my contract I'll pay when 
I come back." The sheriff knowing Billy's word to be good both ways let 

488 ' 

him go. Some years after this 1 was on the grand jury when billy 
indicted for gambling, keeping a quino table. Hearing of what was 
going on he came into the jury room and in answer to questions from 
different members of the jury, gave a full account of his mode of life, how 
much he made yearly by gambling, and wound up by inviting all the 
members of the jury to his saloon where he would teach them how to 
play quino, and treat them besides, free. When the California fever 
broke out he went to that state, was elected sheriff of Eldorada county; 
and in the Piute war was ex-officer in command of the armed force of that 
county; tho' he could neither read or write he made a very efficient 

In this Indian war a Dixon man, Major Hutchinson McKinney, was 
killed in a singular manner. He was on horseback running an Indian 
down, and catching at his scalp lock when the Indian, who had lost his 
bow, turned suddenly and stabbed him to the heart with an arrow, he 
held in his hand. The major had life enough left to knock him down 
with his pistol and other soldiers coming up, finished him. 

William Graham, the pioneer of our colony in Palmyra, held a com- 
mission as a major in this war. He died at the mines at Philipsburg, 
Montana, in 1878. Billy Rogers, too, "Life's fitful fever past," died peace- 
ably in his bed not many years ago. 

Another constant visitor to the Hole-in-the-Wall was Henry Truett, 
who had killed a Doctor Early, the editor of a paper down the river while 
he sat writing at his desk with his back to him. Mr. Craig, an old Irish 
gentlepien who had accompanied Capt. Graham to the west, was intro- 
duced to Truett in the saloon, but didn't catch the name. "Who was 
that you introduced me to, Billy?" he asked. "Oh! that is Truett, Truett 
the murderer." "A murderer! God bless me! Bring me some water," 
and he kept on vociferating for water and exclaiming "God bless me!" 
till a basin was brought, when he carefully washed the murderous taint 
from his hands in presence of an admiring crowd. Truett's brother, 
Myers Truett, was in after years one ef the most prominent members of 
the vigilance committee in San Francisco and is often mentioned by 
General Sherman in his account of early days in California. 

Our whole family reached Rock River in the spring of 1840, and were 
at first delighted with the country when they only experienced the minor 
discomforts common to all new countries, nor did they suffer from three 
plagues which made life for a time a burthen to most of the newcomers- 
fleas, prairie itch and boils. In June the country is always lovely, there 
was no savagery in the flower studded prairie or the rich green of the 


groves, but a deadly enemy lurked beneath all this beauty, "latet angitis 
iti herba." The snake in the grass was the intermittent fever which that 
year generally assumed a congestive type. Many died of it and in most 
cases while the fever was on the patient was delirious. There were 
scarcely enough of those who escaped the fever to give a glass of water to 
the sick. One of the children died here, another soon after in New York, 
whither my mother had fled as soon as she could get away, taking all the 
younger children. The golden hopes which had lured us here had all died 
out. The state had become bankrupt, produce was unsalable, and the 
future looked very dark. We had put in large crops which had grown as 
they only do in a new country, but with the harvest carne the fever. We 
had a large tent raised in the fleld with a table spread with Culd meat, 
rum, whiskey, iced waters, etc., which was undoubtedly appreciated by 
the few harvesters we succeeded in hiring, for they spent a good part of 
the time in it; but they too got sick and the cradled grain lay unbound 
in the harvest Hold until cool weather, when, owing to a very dry fall, we 
succeeded in saving some of it, tramping it out with horses. 

In the course of a few years I was the oiily member of the family who 
remained here and there were very few representatives left of the many 
others of the New York colony. By degrees I drifted into a farmer's life, 
in which if there was little profit there was little care. Our principal 
crop was. wheat, on which we depended for some indispensable cash. Up 
to 1846 or '47 it was almost entirely winter wheat of the finest quality, 
after that time it became uncertain on the prairie soil and spring wheat 
was substituted. We reared no cattle except for our own use. A little 
dressed pork was sometimes sold through the winter in Chicago or to the 
miners in Galena an occasional load of oats to the stage company in 
Dixon or the towns on the Illinois river. Corn remained unsalable. 
Through August and September there would be a long string of teams 
going in to Chicago with wheat, through clouds of blinding, choking 
dust; the wheat generally sold at 50 and 60 cents. On these long drives, 
requiring a week or ten days to accomplish, the load was seldom more 
than twenty-five bushels, as there were no bridges over sloughs or rivers. 
With the wheat was taken food for man and beast, a scythe to cut grass 
by the way, an axe and auger for repairs if needed. 

On looking back to those days it is a matter of great surprise to me 
that those who were "to the manor born" farmers from their youth up 
did not make any use of the great advantages the country afforded for 
the cheap production of wool, beef and pork. There was a boundless 
range of the finest grass in the world, unlimited for grazing or making 


hay, corn at 10 cents per bushel, bran was thrown into the race to get it 
out of the way. 

From Chicago to New York by the lakes and Erie canal freight was 
only one dollar per hundred pounds. Yet the only attempt made in this 
direction was that of Mr. John Shillaber, an old China merchant who 
came here in 1844, secured a large track of fine land at a nominal price, 
stocked it with Paular Merinos, the best sheep of that day, got Scotch 
shepherds, collie dogs and all things necessary, and in about five years 
failed utterly and entirely and the lawyers were picking his bones. His 
mistakes most likely were: .An investment of the whole of his capital in 
the venture, the immediate instead of a gradual stocking with high 
priced sheep, some side issues of several acres in grapes, apples, etc., too 
much hired help. To the inexperienced putting money in a farm is like 
putting manure on a gravelly soil it leaches through and leaves no 
trace. Had he been a horny-handed son of the soil, with experience as 
well as money, he would most likely have made a splendid success, but 
Mr. Shillaber had to buy experience at the cost of a'l he possessed. 

About one of the toughest labors of Hercules was his combat with the 
giant, Anteus, a son of the soil, who so often as he was thrown gained 
fresh vigor to continue the struggle by contact with his mother earth; 
and it was only by holding him aloft and strangling him that Hercules 
overcame him. Sons of the soil have not changed since the days of Her- 
cules; taken on their native heath they are hard to beat. All of which 
goes to prove the truth of the old proverb, "Ne siUor untra crepidam." 
"Shoemaker stick to your last." 

In 1848 we got our first reaper; in that year, too, a small trade com- 
menced in steers, which, with choice cows, sold from $12.00 to $45.00. 
These steers were driven into Ohio, wintered and fattened there, and 
then driven to the seaboard markets. 

Settlers came in slowly, nor was there much improvement in the 
price of land or produce until 1854, when the railway was completed from 
Chicago to Dixon and crowds of immigrants rushed jn. Land went up in 
leaps and bounds, three, four, five hundred per cent. The treeless prair- 
ies, which we thought uninhabitable, were quickly seized and settled; 
plenty of coal and lumber coming in on the railroad. To feed this multi- 
tude produce of all kinds went up to high prices, corn to 65 cents per 
bushel, and at this price many of those who came first paid for their land 
with a single crop. But this was only a tidal wave, and receded with 
the railways as they went west, bringing in produce from newer and 
cheaper land. All prices continued to decline except that of land. 


The name Palmyra by which our town is called, though suggestive of 
waving palms and "spicy gales from Araby the blest," was given to it I 
think after the township organization was adopted by one of our early 
settlers, Fred Coe I believe, after a town of the same name in the state 
of New York. It contains the village of Prairieville, where is a fine 
church, built I believe mainly by Lutherans. There is also a very good 
graded school and on the grounds a monument, to those Palmyra volun- 
teers who died in the Union cause. 


An EartV Sefioot. 

IN response to an invitation Mrs. L. A. Kamsay, of Whiteside County, 
111., who taught a select school for girls in Dixon in 1842 sends the 


"My first summer in the far West, fifty years ago, was spent in Dixon 
then called Dixon's Ferry. It was a little village on the south bank of 
Rock River and straggling out a little way among the sand hills. An 
unpainted schoolhouse, the Court House and Land Office were its public 
buildings; three hotels, one called "Stage House," which accommodated 
travelers "Westward Ho!" three stores of general merchandise, a few me- 
chanics' shops, some comfortable houses and a fair showing of good and 
agreeable people comprised the rudiments of what is now styled the city 
of Dixon. A Methodist Church was already established the congrega- 
tion meeting in the Court House on the Sabbath day. The minister was 
Rev. Philo Judson. The teacher of the public school was Miss Curtis. 
A select school for girls (Miss Church, teacher) was conducted in a small 
room of a dwelling-house a little west of the road leading to the ferry. 
The pupils were Mabel Nash, Ophelia Loveland, Ann Whitney, Libbie 
Ayers, Susanna Clute, Libbie Hawlev, Harriet Whitmore, Helen Judson, 
Libbie Dixon, Jane Ann Herrick, Elizabeth Judson, Marianna Hogan, 
Harriet Edson, Abbie Murray, Susan Murray, Sybil Van Arnam, Frankie 
Noble, Jane Richards, Libbie McKenney, Henrietta Dixon, Mary Pratt 
and Adeline Gray, and a few others whose names I cannot now recall. 
All were interesting girls wish I knew the subsequent history of each. 
"While thinking and writing of the past many glimpses of the long 
ago are presented among them I recall one picture in Dixon cemetery 
which I have never seen duplicated 'Tis only a baby's grave, covered as 
with a blanket of tri-colored violets, sometimes called forget-me-nots. 
'Tis nearly square and scarcely raised above the level of surrounding 
sand prepared by the father for his motherless boy. No piles of marble 
or granite ever impressed me half so much, though I never saw either of 
them and knew nothing about them but the name." 


The old dwelling referred to stood where the express office is now lo- 
cated. It was then occupied by Mr. Wynkuop's family. The teacher 
remembers, as do some of her pupils, a certain sleighride in which her 
fine new winter bonnet fared badly; they were overturned in a hufce drift 
and it was found at the bottom of the pile. But, though, like truth, it 
was "crushed to earth," it "rose again," but never to its former glory. 
Upon another occasion she remembered of going to a party at Gov. Char- 
ter's with a merry crowd in an ox-wagon, with E. B. Stiles for driver. 



PALMYRA was originally settled by an adventurous race of pioneers, 
the great majority being of New York or New England descent. 
They made long and toilsome journeys from their "storm and rock 
bound coasts," or the inhospitable soil of tbeir pine-clad hills, to follow 
the course of empire, that they and their posterity might enjoj a grand 
heritage which had been denied them in the land of tlieir nativity. We, 
their descendants, who are enjoying the fruits of the-ir sacrifices, gladly 
avail ourselves of the privilege of paying a tribute to their virtues. Not 
many of this heroic band remain, a few veterans still linger on the stage, 
but alas! most of them lie beneath "the low, green tent, .whose curtain 
never outward swings." 

The first settlement was begun in the spring of 1834, by old Mr. Mor- 
gan and his sons, Harvey and John, and Benjamin Stewart, who settled 
in the south side of the grove, known as the Gap. They were followed in 
the autumn by John H. Page and wife, and Stephen Fellows, with a large 

The following spring. 183"), new accessions were made. W. W. Bethea, 
Absalom Fender, with a large family, Capt. Oliver Hubbard.a numerous 
family of Gastons, Smith Gilbraith, William T. and and Elkanah Bush, 
Daniel Beardsley, old Mr. Thomas and sons, Enoch and Noah, Daniel 
O'Brist, Nathan Morehouse. Jeff Harris, Anson Thurnmel, brother of 
Rev. C. B. Tburnmel, James Power and sons, Thomas and Jeptha. From 
1836 to 1845 large additions were made to the infant settlement, most of 
the following being well known families: John C. Oliver, Noah Beede, 
Abijah Powers, Frederic and Henry Coe, Walter Rogers, Reuben East- 
wood, William Myers, (afterward known as the "Prophet"), Hiram Parks, 
W. W. Tilton, Timothy Butler, Hugh Graham, John T. Lawrence, John 
Lawrence, Abner Moon, John Lord and son, John L., Jarves N., and 
David Holly, Win. Martin and nephews. James, Jacob and Tyler Martin, 
Cypt. Jonas M. Johnson and sons, William Y, and Morris, with families, 
and son-in-law, Eben II. Johnson and wife, Joshua Seavey and sons, Jesse 


and Winthrop, Jcshua Marden and =on, William, Albert and John Jen- 
ness, Harvey E. Johnson, Charles and Dana Columbia, Levi Briggs and 
father, Thomas Monk, Win. and John Benjamin, Truxton and Lemuel 
Sweeney, John and Joseph Thompson, John Norris, Wm. and Lock wood 
Harris, Wm. Burger, Wru. Stackpole, Rev. Wm. Gates, James Gates, 
Wm. Ayers, Thos. Ayers, L. Deyo, E. Deyo, Col. Leman Mason and sons, 
Sterne, Volney and Rodney, Moses Warner and sons, Henry Moses and 
George, Major Sterling, Henry and Gustavus Sartorius, Nehemiah, Wm., 
Fletcher and Morris Button, Abram O'brist, Martin Blair, Wesley At- 
kinson, Thomas and Moses Scallion, John Carley, Hardin, Beach, 

Tomlin, Martin Richardson, Benjamin Gates, MathiasSchick, Anton 

Harms, Charles A. Becker, Henry Miller, Becker Miller, Mr. Curtis, Mar- 
tin and Wm. Brauer, Wm. Miller, John Morse. Nearly all of the earlier 
arrivals settled in the groves until they could secure claims -from the 
government and build thereon. They were thus saved many hardships, 
fuel being close at hand and free to all and shelter afforded from the 
blasts of winter. 

Plenty of wild game abounded, furnishing a supply for the larder. 
Wild fruit was also in abundance, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, 
grapes, plums, crab-apples, etc. Some families made sugar and syrup by 
boiling the sap from the fine maple trees for which Sugar Grove is noted. 
We learn that this custom was in vogue among the Indians when settlers 
arrived in 1834. Fine springs of water existed in various places, one of the 
best known being upon Frederic Coe's farm, near Sugar Creek. This 
was a general resort for many years. A peculiar contrivance, shaped like 
a harrow, with boards nailed across, wide enough to hold two barrels, 
and to which a horse was attached, furnished the motive power for the 
household supply. This was called in local phrase, a "lizard." At a later 
day, one well is said to have been used by fifteen families, some of them 
living two miles away. 

In those primitive days nearly everybody went to church, and from 
other motives than display of dress or fine equipage, it is to be presumed. 
People rode in lumber wagons for a long time before anything better 
could be afforded. Many of the older people had chairs put in for their ac- 
commodation. A few came in vehicles drawn by oxen, which were chained 
to trees in the grove nearby, during service. A member of one quite 
prominent family conveyed his household to hear the gospel in a wagon, 
the wheels of which were sawed out of solid blocks of wood. It is said 
the creaking and groaning of that vehicle \v;i^ something unearthly and 
could be heard a mile or more away. It is safe to assume that one fam- 
ily, at least, was always on time. 


A good deal of sickness prevailed until the country was well settled, 
fevers and ague being the principal complaints. It was supposed to have 
been caused by the poisonous vapors arising from the freshly turned 
prairie sod. All distinction was leveled in those days; the common 
"brotherhood of man" found its noblest expression during that trying 
period. Men proved the most devoted of nurses and many a friendship 
was cemented thereby which endured throughout a life time. 

It is hard for us to realize how the country appearel in those early 
days, when the road from Dixon's Ferry to Gap Grove was a mere trail 
winding in and out where it was most convenient'. A double log house 
stood in front of John Lord's residence, where the road now runs. One 
side was occupied by Smith Gilbraith's family. One of the earliest 
pioneer women, now deceased, remembered seeing a large Indian en- 
campment, covering the hill where now stands the house upon Miss J. 
A. Johnson's farm. The red men selected the site on account of a fine 
spring of water which was a great resort for thirsty travelers for many 

One day a party of them called at her father's when starting out on a 
hunting expedition. They first peered in at a window, as was their in- 
variable custom, and upon entering took an original method to beg for 
food their commissary-general producing a roasted cat from an old 
leathern bag strapped to his waist, over which they had spared them- 
selves the trouble of dressing. A broad grin was on everjf face as he 
went through the pantomime of pointing to the unfortunate feline and 
trom thence to his mouth. 

The first public burial ground was upon Capt. Fellows' place, now 
owned by Miss J. A. Johnson. It was situated on the south side of the 
road on the hill east of the barn. Some of the early interments were 
Dan Beardsly in 1839, 'Squire Bethea's wife and three children, Capt. S. 
Fellows' two daughters (Margaret and Mrs. Allen, who died in 1836), and 
a Mr. Gee, for whom "Gee's Grove," northeast of Woosung, was named. 
It was not very much used after the cemetery at Gap Grove was estab- 
lished. Most of the remains were re-interred at that place, though 
quite a number found a final rest in the Sugar Grove burying ground less 
than twenty years ago. 

Previous to this, burials were upon private grounds. There were two 
graves upon the Power's place at Gap Grove. One was upon the hillside 
east of the barn, of whose tenant even the very memory has perished. 
The other was that of a stranger who came up from Kentucky on horse- 
back and died of what was supposed to be Asiatic cholera, the night of 

499 - 

his arrival. His friends never knew his fate. He was buried in the or- 
chard near the road. The picket fence surrounding his grave was a fa- 
miliar landmark for many years. 

The cemetery at Gap Grove was located in 1840, the new church being 
completed that spring. The first interment was that of Capt. Fellows 
Feb. 8, 1840. It was once a beautiful spot, but now sadly gone to decay, 
it was partially restored about twenty years since, a new fence being 
built and undergrowth removed. It is situated midway between two 
fine groves, commanding a good view of Rock River and grand scenery 
beyond. A son of one of the pioneers from an eastern state, who visited 
his parents' graves at an early day at that place, upon his return home 
wrote an elegy, from which we make the following selection: 

Crowning that loveliest prairie swell 

With wide old woods on either hand, 
Are humble graves, where slumber well 
The earHer Fathers of the land; 
The bold, adventurous pioneers 
Who here cast down their weight of years. 

Men of stout hearts and willing hands. 

Who years ago "Ho! Westward!" passed, 
Fortunes to win in rich, broad lands, 
These narrow claims laid sure at last 
And spite of codes, or settlers' law, 
Their titles hold, without a flaw. 

Speak low tread softly; here repose 

Heroes, whose praise should never cease. 
Not leaders of invading foes, 

But of the mightier hosts of peace, 

They came; and noblest conquests made 
With furrowing plow and trenching spade. 

Stay haste not hence, but look abroad. 

And this vast landscape grasp and scan, 
This loveliest of the works of God, 
The Paradise restored to mau 

None fairer shall the eye explore, 
Though thrice our orb be circled o'er, 

Look southward, where Rock River flows 

With shining current fresh and free; 
Through rolling prairies, whose green rows 
Rise, like long swells upon the sea; 
And far beyond, this expanse o'er, 
Wave groves upon the outer shore. 


1'urn northward now, and here behold 

Where Plenty, ceaseless, pours her horn 
More bounteous than the dream of old, 
Palmyra's matchless fields of corn; 

Stretching away, with scarce a bound, 
Their tall pikes hem the view around. 

And right and left, the green old grove 

Of stalwart trees, where cool streams run. 
And herds from unfenced pastures rove, 
And shelter seek from storm and sun; 
To these the heart all fondly clings 
As pilgrims to the desert springs. 

And meet it is. these men of toil 

The goal of their long journey won 
Should slumber in the generous soil. 
Their tasks of life all ncbly done; 

And in the spot they loved the best, 
Be gathered to their final rest. 

For Earth, kind mother, loves that band 

Who dress her fields, and fence and plow, 
And sow and gather from her land. 

And eat her bread with moistened brow 
The faithful to that first behest, 
She folds more kindly to her breast. 

And none more faithful toiled than him 

Whose unstained memory I would fain 
Wrest from oblivion, cold and dim, 
With numbers of a worthier stsain; 
But ah, this harp but lethe brings 
For grief bears heavy on its strings. 

Like all true Americans our ancestors soon established schools. Mrs. 
Hubbard, afterwards the wife of W. W. Tilton, taught young children in 
her own house at an early day. A private school was also conducted at 
the Fender place (now owned by James Sneed) by Wni. Y. Johnson. 

A private school was also taught at Prairieville in an upper room of a 
house by Levi Gaston. A rough building, never finished, which stood 
halfway between Gap Grove and the old Fender homestead, was used at 
least two winters for school purposes, W. W. Hethea being the pedagogue. 
But the true historic building was the old log school house, standing on 
the southwest corner of John II. Page's field (now owned by Mr. Selig.) 
It was near the forks of the road and surrounded by a locust grove. There 
the children of the pioneers learned the alphabet and "the three R's," at 


ledst, before better accommodations were afforded. Many of those pupils' 
have since become distinguished in various walks of life, as ministers of 
the gospel, educators, physicians, legislators, newspaper writers and man- 
agers of large business enterprises. 

We learn from an old letter, written by a pioneer lady in January, 
1845, that the school numbered nearly fifty pupils. Some of the early 
teachers were the following: Wm. Y. Johnson (afterward an Episcopal 
clergymen), John Norris, Emeline Dodd (afterward his wife), Abigail 
Norris (a sister who married Noah Thomas), Sarah Badger (a sister of the 
Amboy Badgers), and Calista Mason, daughter of Col. Leman Mason and 
subsequently the wife of Morris Johnson. This lady is now living in 
Colorado and recalls the circumstance of teaching the future president 
of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Condensing Co., Geo. H. Page, his a-b-c's. 

As the country increased in wealth and population frame buildings 
for school purposes were erected in several districts. The one at Gap 
Grove stood across the road from Mrs. Mutton's house. The one at Sugar 
Grove was probably built in 1847. It was located near the site of the 
present church and school edifice. It was severely plain, unpainted, un- 
fenced and destitute of shade. Simplicity also reigned within. The 
high-backed benches, with their ungainly desks, separated by aiseles, 
were elevated from one to two feet or more above the tloor, sloping down 
an inclined plane, and were marvels of ugliness. Not a map adorned the 
walls nor was any apparatus furnished, with the exception of a black- 
board. There was not even a bell to summon the pupils from their play, 
the teacher having to rap on a window with a book or ferule. In the year 
1857-8 a brick church with basement for school purposes was built near 
the old site. 

A phonetic school was taught at Gap Grove in earlv days by Rev. A. 
B. Pikard, a Methodist minister from Mt. Morris. His son taught the 
system at the same time in the little log school house standing near 
John Lord's residence. The former is living at an advanced age at Canon 
City, Colorado, and still advocates his hobby. His son is a wealthy capi- 
talist of Denver. 

A famous school which "rose, flourished and fell" was taught by the 
Judd brothers in the old "Hall" at Gap Grove. It was for advanced stu- 
dents and was attended by large numbers, many from a distance coining 
on horseback. The old building is still standing and is one of the land- 
marks deserving notice, having served in the somewhat varied capacities 
of a steam saw mill, dwelling, schoolroom, church and ballroom, in addi- 
tion to all other purposes for which a town hall is generally used. Could 


the old walls speak they would tell of many scenes of revelry in which 
two generations participated in the days when their motto was "Let joy 
be unconflned." 

A Campbellite minister once carried on a successful revival there dur- 
ing the Judd regime. Their converts were quite often taken down to the 
river at midnight and baptized. 

There was much travel during early times, consequently taverns were 
quite numerous. One was kept by Capt. Fellows at the Peck place and 
another by John C. Oliver near by at the Hughes farm. Travelers were 
rarely refused lodgings at that period, hospitality being accounted one of 
the cardinal virtues in the pioneer's creed. To use a homely phrase, "the 
latchstring was always out" to all who stood in need. 

The times have sadly degenerated since that era. Prosperity some- 
times tries people more than adversity. Blacksmith shops were plenty, 
there being no less than four. James Carley was the pioneer in the busi- 
nesshis shop standing a little west of Mrs. John Lawrence's residence. 
He was assisted in his labors by a man named Beach, a slave to strong 
drink, who belonged to a family of high standing in an eastern city. He 
was an expert penman, keeping the accounts in a neat manner. John 
Lord's shop was started in 1841 his son, John L. Lord, acquiring the 
property twelve years later. Matthias Selrick's establishment dated 
from 1843 at Prairieville. Another accommodated the people on the 
north side of the grove, being operated by Charles Columbia in a log 
house just across the road from Reuben Eastwood's dwelling (now owned 
by Theodore Wilson. This was subsequently removed across Sugar Creek 
to the Columbia farm (the McLary place) and the business carried on by 
a brother, Dana Columbia, for many years. There were four shoemak- 
ers, at least, three of whom plied their vocation during the winter 
months. Flax was raised, prepared and spun for shoe thread and other 
uses upon the little wheels which are such a curiosity to the rising gen- 
eration. A grist mill was built upon the Elkhorn and run many years by 
a Quaker. "Uncle Josey Wilson," as he was generally called. His flour, 
made from winter wheat, it is said, could not be excelled. Sawmills 
were established both on the Elkhorn and Sugar creeks. 

Usually fanners made three or four trips to Chicago during the year, 
carrying wheat, pork, etc. Provisions were usually taken along, also 
horse-feed. "Tripp's Tavern'' at Malugin's Grove was a favorite stopping 
place, being about midway on the journey. Corduroy roads often had to 
lie made over swampv ground by laying down fence-rails. Frequently 
the sacks of grain had to be conveyed on the backs of the owners across 


the dangerous places. Evidently our forefathers never for once imagined 
they were having a holiday excursion upon those occasions. The stay in 
the city was as brief as business would admit; sometimes a load of lum- 
ber, shingles and other building material would be purchased and brought 
back or a large supply of groceries laid in, neighbors co-operating for the 
purpose. If there was room passengers with their trunks would be 
brought to Dixon It was always a joyful time for the children when 
they discovered the long-watched-for wagon returning and were later per- 
mitted to sample the contents of certain packages. Probably no apples 
they ever tasted afterward had near so fine a flavor as those which came 
to them from the great city by the lake. 

Pioneer days were not all filled with the dull routine of care; singing 
schools, revival meetings, spelling contests, etc., varied the monotony. 
Occasionally, ruanv of the "F. F's" would "thread the giddy mazes of the 
dance" or indulge in the amusement of a charivari. Concerning the 
latter tradition has handed down the following: A- large proportion of 
the staid citizens of the little community at Sugar Grove met one even- 
ing at the house of a prominent resident where a newly married couple 
was supposed to be staying. The usual "concourse of sweet sounds" was 
evoked and various pranks played one leading spitit, wno afterward 
balanced the scales of even-handed justice for many years, being reputed 
to have climbed the roof and executed a song and dance movement 
thereon, beginning with "my old daddy had a gun," etc. After two 
hours of the din the proprietor of the beseiged castle, a brother of the 
bride, by the way, appeared upon the scene and quietly informed the 
merry-makers that they had been "barking up the wrong tree." as the 
bridal party was at least ten miles away, as it afterward proved. 

Singing schools were held, both at the Gap and Sugar Grove by a 
famous teacher, one Durgen. They were numerously attended for sev- 
eral winters. Spelling schools were quite popular also, more attention 
being paid to orthography than at present. Sides would be chosen and a 
"spelling-down" contest would ensue until only one combatant was mas- 
ter of the field. The sole method of illumination of those "dark ages" 
was by candle power. Families were expected to furnish their quota ot 
"tallow dips" upon such occasions. They were arranged in sockets at 
intervals upon the walls and quite often in their last stages v.ould drop 
unctuous favors upon the unlucky being underneath. School papers 
would sometimes be read, always enlivened with items of a decidedly 
personal nature. Illuminating oil in lamps for school use at Sugar Grove 
was employed about 1857. The fluid first in use was camphene. 


Kotices for evening meetings would be given out, sometimes from the 
pulpit, to convene "at early candle light," meaning at an early hour. 

Sunday schools were quite well attended during pleasant weather, 
though the system in vogue of requiring children to commit verses to 
memory arid the lack of attractive literature was not well calculated to 
draw pupils. Bible classes for elderly people were then unknown. Prizes 
were frequently offered to the two scholars who would commit the most 
verses to memory bibles and testaments being the usual awards. After 
the teacher had listened complacently to the recital of a chapter or two 
by rival competitors and prompted several others through their weekly 
"stint" there was usually no great surplus of time left for comments on 
the lesson. One thing we always had in great sufficiency tracts! Like 
the cruse of oil and barrel of meal, the stock never diminised. They 
supplied in some measure (or were supposed to) the lack of good libra- 
ries. Some were written in narrative form, others consisted of direct 
appeals to the sinner to flee from the wrath to come. The two most in 
demand, or supply rather, was "The Shepherd of Salisbury Plains" and 
"The Dairyman's Daughter" wherein some of the good people were 
thankful for the small favor of salt to eat upon their potatoes, and the 
worthy shepherd was always pleased with the weather, for whatever 
pleased the Lord pleased him also. 

We had Sunday school celebrations every summer, usually on the 4th 
of July. They were generally held at the Gap, though once we went in 
a long procession to Buffalo Grove. The children would meet at some 
point and march in couples to the grove, where seats were provided. 
Singing and speech-making usually took up the time till dinner was 
served. Tables were always provided and bountiful meals served, basket 
picnics being then unknown. Upon one occasion some people from the 
old country were present and brought strange looking victuals among 
others, custard pies pleasantly flavored with ripe currants! But the 
crowning joy of all the festivities came just before breaking up, when 
certain mysterious boxes, kept in the background, were opened and the 
delicious contents passed to eager claimants. Children were not in much 
danger of being cloyed by sweetmeats at that era, most of their confec- 
tionery being of the home made variety. Consequently a few sticks of 
"store candy'' and two or three bunches of raisins in their possession 
caused them to feel that the summit of earthly bliss was attained. 

The first church in Palmyra was at Gap Grove, on the site of the 
school house now there. It was built jointly by the Coogregationalists 
and Methodists and occupied alternate Sundays by those two denomina- 


tions. The dimensions were 24x36. It was painted white outside and 
within, with the exception of the pulpit. Long benches, with backs to 
them, seated the congregation. Only one stove was used for heating the 
building. The windows were destitute of blinds or curtains. Tin sock- 
ets for candles were arranged upon the walls, with reflectors at the back. 
Congregational singing was in vogue at that era. John H. Page, assisted 
by a tuning fork, was always depended on to "pitch the tune" for a long 
period. At evening meetings, when candles proved refractory upon the 
pulpit, some officious brother would dextrously trim the offending wick 
while those in the background were either entirely neglected or attended 
by volunteers who generally employed Nature's snuffers. Only a few 
names of the early ministers can be recalled Rev. Copeliri (Congrega- 
tional) being one of the best remembered. Barton Cartrightcame occas- 
ionally, but it was never on his circuit. Previous to this period services 
were held at Capt. Fellows' (Rev. James McKaig being one of the minis- 
ters], and at< a little log schoolhouse which stood near Horace Gilbert's 
residence at Gap Grove. 

Mrs. Martha Parks, now in her 85th year, remembers attending church 
there the first year she and her husband lived at the old homestead, in 
1839. Rev. Arrion Gaston was the officiating clergyman upon that occas- 
ion. Mrs. Parks is also the only survivor of those who organized the 
Dixon Baptist church in 1838. "Mother Dixori" being a very active and 
devoted member. 

It is worthy of mention, also, that Mrs. Parks' daughter, Mrs. Thomas 
Ayres was named by Mrs. Dixon, for herself, "Rebecca Dixon," and gave 
her a town lot as a name present. She urged Mr. Parks to accept the 
deed, and have it recorded, but, he "thought it wouM never amount to 
an> thing," and did not do so. The fact that the lot is now occupied by 
Alexander & Howell's store makes comment unnecessary. 

The early records of Palmyra are rather meager; E. B.Bush was the 
first postmaster; and the first justice of the peace, after townshiporgani- 
zation in 1839, were Levi GasLon and VV. W. Belhea. who were succeeded 
by Mathias Schick and Henry A. Coe, J. Morris Jonnson and W. W. Til- 
ton, constables, from 1839. were Eben H. Johnson, David B. Cqntrell, 
Martin Fender, W. W. Tiltori, Morris Johnson, Charles Columbia, Vol- 
ney Mason, Charles Martin and Dana Columbia. 

Two letters have lately come into the oosession of the family of the 
late Eben H. Johnson and wife, which will be read with much interest, 
owing to the fact that they were written half a century or more ago, con- 
taining much interesting information about the country, and were the 


joint productions of "Uncle Eben" and "Aunt Sarah," as they were famil- 
iarly called. This was before the days of envelopes or postage stamps: 
the letters were written upon large sheets of paper, folded to resemble an 
envelope, and sealed with small red wafers. They are marked 2f><'ts. for 
postage, in the upper right hand corner. The one bearing date Feb. 7lh, 
1845, shows that the Dixon post office had attained to the dignity of pus- 
session of a stamp. The handwriting uf each is remarkably legible, being 
easily read, though the paper is brittle and very yellow with age. The 
oldest, dated Sugar Grove, Ogle county, Nov. 18, 1838 (54 years ago) was 
addressed to Mr. Johnson's mother, in her far-off home in York state, 
one page apiece, in the handwriting of each being devoted to that pur- 
pose. We make selections which will be of general interest: "Wear- 
rived in Illinois. Oct. 9th, after a prosperous journey of five weeks, one of 
which was spent with relatives in Ohio. We first went to Monrnouth, 
where our friends had preceded us and we first thought of settling, but 
after viewing the country over, they all concluded to settle here, 110 
miles north of that place. We are in a very handsome country, live miles 
from Dixon's Ferry, and have been three weeks in our new situation. 

We find the county mostly settled by eastern people which makes it 
very pleasant. The majority are from New York and New Hampshire, 
with quite a number from Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, .Ohio, 
Indiana and Kentucky. Father and mother will remain at Monmouth 
with a brother till spring, whe.i they will rejoin us here. (Mrs. John- 
son's father was Capt. Jonas M.- Johnson, a veteran in his 7(>th year, who 
greatly enjoyed the new country during the remaining four years of his 
pilgrimage.) Mr. Johnson gives a slight hint of homesickness in the fol- 
lowing: "I like the country full as well as I ever expected to, but if I 
owned a decent farm in York state I -would never sell it to come here, 
though once here a man could do better. The crops here are all very 
good it is nothing uncommon for a man to raise 2,000 bushels of corn, 
and watermelons by boatloads. Wheat is $1.25 and corn 50cts. per 

The next letter, bearing date six years later, was to relatives in the 
east, who sought information on various points, with a view of removal 
here. "We have enjoyed almost uninterrupted^ health ever since we 
came to the country, with the except ion of the attack of bilious-fever, 
which was rather severe." (It is worthy of note that this was the only 
family in the country which escaped the ravages of ague: it was, perhaps, 
owing to the elevatied situation of the house, as many thought.) ' ; 1 havr 
a farm which I could probably sell for $1,000, but which 1 would not ex- 


change for the whole town ot t$ai abridge for farming, (homesickness aj) 
pear? to be gone.) I raised 1,000 bushels of corn, wheat and oats, the 
past year without any hired help. Our markets are Chicago and St. 
Louis, by way of Rock and Mississippi rivers, and sometimes the lead 
mines at Galena. Wheat is from Tacts, to $1.00, corn25cts. SOatGaleffa, 
oats 20 to 25cts., butter 12 to 18cts., cheese 6 to 8cts. t pork, dressed, three 
to four dollars, horses, $100 to $150 a span, cows, $8 to $12, sheep, $1 50 to 
$2.00, wool, 31cts., good timber is from ten to twelve dollars per acre. 
Prairie, now unsold, one mile and further from timber, can be had at 
government price, 10 shillings per acre. Wooden axle wagons are from 
$60 to $70, wrought, $70 to $90. As to dairying, there is no better country 
in the world; cows feeding on our prairie grass yield as much milk and 
better in quality than in your state. (Orange county, hide your dimin- 
ished head!) and wool nearly doubles in quantity. Society good; one 
church within a mile and a half and a log school house one mile away 
with nearly tifty pupils this winter, among them our eldest, a boy of five, 
named Thomas II., who attends every day. Our place resembles an old 
settled country; good buildings and good fences, money plenty for pro- 
duce of all kinds this season. Oui soil is of the best arid has been proved 
to bear good ci ops from eight to ten years without manurmg. Timber 
good; oak, sugar maple, black walnut, butternut, basswood, etc. Water 
good, but in some places have to go through rock by blasting, although 
there are some of the finest springs in the world. Our winters are much 
milder than with you and this winter milder than ever, nosleighing. All 
I have written is no misrepresentation, however few in your country can 
credit it. Come and see. If you conclude to come, the way by the lakes 
is much the shortest and cheapest. Give me due notice and I will try and 
meet you at Chicago." 

Rev. Stephen N. Fellows, of Iowa, a son of one of the earliest 
pioneers, kindly contributes the following sketch of "the good old 

My father came with his family to Sugar Grove in November, 1834, 
went into a cabin just west of the Myers place, down in the Grove. The 
cabin was 14 by 14 feet, and fourteen of us moved into it. In the spring 
of 1835 he built a log house on our old place, (the Peck farm.) In 1836 he 
built an addition to it of two stories, with a room between. The upper 
story was used for a school room and church purposes. From 1836.or 7 to 
1840 this was the only place for meetings, it wasa regular preaching place 
on the circuit. Sometimes quarterly meetings were held there. In 1839 
fathei, Win. Martin and Ambrose Hubbard united, with such help as 


they could get, to build the old church at Gap Grove. It was 24x36 and 
stood on the present site of the school house there. It was enclosed in 
the fall of 1839. Father died Feb. 8, 1840, and was the first to be carried 
into that church for burial. In the spring of 1840 it was finished and 
occupied as a church. When we came to Palmyra, the Indians were very 
plentiful sometimes a hundred or more would pass our house and camp 
near by. Mother lias told me that I used to play with the Indian child- 
ren. They were very peaceable, never molested or stole anything from 
us. Sometimes in winter they came to beg food and mother always gave 
to them. We suffered hardship, the first winter in the little cabin. We 
had no butter or potatoes, our flour gave out, then our corn meal, and for 
some weeks corn was cut from the cob with a jack-plane. For meat we 
had some "hog meat," mother would not call it pork. This hog meat and 
hominy, made from the planed corn, was our food. But we were well 
and hearty and came through all right. I don't know as these incidents 
are of any value, but they are given as I remember them. Eegarding 
schools, I think my sister Margaret and brother Samuel were the first to 
teach in that township Samuel taught school at Buffalo Grove during 
the winterof 1834 and '35, the first winter we were there. I think the 
next winter, 1836, he taught in our house. The first building for school 
purposes was built at the Gap. The first Sunday school was held there, 
and Wm. Martin was superintendent and only teacher. I was one of the 
first scholars. I remember that one Sunday morning I committed fifty 
verses of the Bible to memory and walked two miles by 9 a. m. and re- 
cited them all." 

"Lord John Shillaber," as he was generally called, was quite a noted 
character, well remembered by all the early settlers, who owned a large 
tract of land near our northern boundary. He came there from Massa- 
chusetts and bought a section of land for the purpose of founding a col- 
ony; the scheme failed, leaving him an unwilling landed proprietor. lie 
was a brother of H. P. Shillaber. the genial humorist, best known as the 
author of Mrs. Partingtou's sayings. At one time lie had nearly the 
whole of his doma'n in wheat, which was nil cut with the old "turkey- 
wins" cradles and bound by hand. Great difficulty was experienced in 
procuring sufficient help in time to save ihp grain. The farm was after- 
ward stocked with sheep, to the number of 700,; shepherd dogs were em- 
ployed to look after them. Hunting dogs were also kept for the benefit 
of sportsmen. He was a widower, but l<ept up a birge establishment 
with the aid of colored servants, often entertaining in grand style. 
Among other pets w<ire parrots and monkeys, one of the latter often 


accompanying his master in the fine carriage, sitting beside him, with a 
colored coachman in front. He was a very intelligent, well informed 
man, who had traveled in foreign countries, spending some years in 
the West Indies, where his son had a large indigo plantation. Many old 
settlers remembered with gratitude his favors to them, in lending them 
books from his fine library, magazines, London illustrated papers, etc. 
It wa? always a joyful occasion for the children when he came, as his 
pockets were always stocked with nuts or candies for their benefit. The 
writer of this sketch has a hazy remembrance of these favors and of being 
presented with a bird also by the great personage we regarded as a second 
Santa Claus. 

His health failed and he returned to his native land, where he died a 
few years later. The great estate was divided arid sold. Many years 
later the old homestead became the property of the late Wayne II. Parks, 
where he resided many years. 

Almost every community has some odd characters people who differ 
greatly from their fellows. Palmyra has had a fair share of such most 
of whom have passed away. We will select as a good type Milton Curtis, 
who is yet living and with us occasionally. His name is familiar as a 
household word throughout the whole county, on account of his constant 
pedestrian excursions over it for nearly thirty years past. He came west 
from New Hampshire with his father and an older brother while quite 
young, and grew up with the country. His "local habitation" was at 
Prairieville for many years, but he long since renounced allegiance there, 
consoling himself with the old proverb that "a prophet has no honor in 
his own country and house." Milton is a would-be poet, yearning for 
recognition, which never comes, and consequently is embittered against 
his unappreciative fellow-citizens. This veritable "Wandering Jew" has 
a regular circuit extending through this county and all our boundaries, 
from which he sometimes makes little detours to take in neighboring 
states once straying as far off as Kansas. He will remain a few weeks 
in one place, doing some job of work, when the state of his wardrobe 
compels him to the act. His purchases in that line always seem to be- 
long to the misfit variety. Milton's Muse leac"s him over a wide field, the 
subjects of his "poems" embracing most of the leading questions of the 
day. Not having a copy at hand we are unable to give a critical review. 
In early editions (paper covers) he was not very gallant toward the ladies, 
being strongly opposed to their voting: his sole argument was "they can't 
hitch up" to go to the polls. Among other peculiarities, he is a great ad- 
vocate of fresh air insisting on open doors arid windows, even in zero 


weather. For this and other reasons ho is not a very popular guest with 
the ladies. We learn that Milton did the country good service during 
1 lie late civil war. He enlisted in a New York regiment and served 
faithfully for three years. All through his sojourn in Dixie he was in 
the habit of writing to old cronies quite frequently giving a record of 
his adventures all in rhyme. He recently secured a pension and has pur- 
chased property in Marshall town, Iowa. 

Milton had a half-brother named Jonathan, who was also eccentric. 
He was much older and possessed considerable property. He was quite a 
gifted artist, painting many portraits in oil, which were said to be excel- 
lent likenesses. Some of them are still in good preservation. He, also, 
was of a roving disposition, but his career was cut short by being 
drowned in Rock River at Como while on one of his tramps. He once 
returned to his native heath in New Hampshire, where he became cele- 
brated for quite an exploit; iie found his denominational brethren quar- 
relling over church matters (as they occasionally do), Jonathan said but 
little but meditated a good deal finally evolving a brilliant scheme from 
his troubled brain, which he proceeded to put into execution. One even- 
intr he quietly strolled over to the church and applied the torch, only in- 
tending to "burn out /its share," he explained. When people arrived on 
the scene he was coolly reading the bible by the cheerful blaze. 

Mrs. Locada (Seavey) Donaldson, one of the early residents, living 
near Polo, 111., writes to an old friend as follows: "There were eight of 
us who came to Palmyra in thi; fall, arriving at John Page's Oct. 2, 1840. 
The only building used for a schoolhouse at that time was an old cooper 
shop at Gap Grove, near the widow Martin's, and owned by Grandfather 
Hill. It was a log building, destitute of a floor 

The school was taught by Alrneda Wells in the summer of 1841 and in 
winter at Widow Hubbard's house. The next summer (1842) the old log 
schoolhouse on the Page farm was built. The flrst teacher employed was 
Calista Mason. It was abandoned for school use I think in 1846, and was 
shortly afterward used as a dwelling by the family of Wm Benjamin. I 
remember of one family at least, the Masons, who kept silkworms. They 
were fed on the large leaves of a tender variety of mulberry the multi- 
caulis. They made quile a quantity of thread, a part of which was sold 
in Chicago. This was in 1S43-4-5. The first house of worship was the 
frame church at the Gap (completed just before our arrival). All the 
winter wear for men and women was of home manufacture. The occu- 
pations of spinning ami weaving took up the greater part of women's 


Mrs. Mary (Monk) James, of Sterling, 111., gives in her "experience" as 
follows: "There were five of us in our family when we left Malone, 
Franklin County, N. Y., in the spring of 1848 to seek our fortunes in the 
far west. Two men with teams were hired to convey us and our house- 
hold goods to a point on the St. Lawrence river, where we embarked in 
a steamboat, continuing on our way through the various lakes until we 
reached Chicago then a city of considerable importance. Our former 
townsmen. Hiram Parks and Abner Moon (the latter a brother-in-law), 
had agreed to meet us there with teams, but not finding them after wait- 
ing several hours new men were employed to convey us and our goods to 
our destination. The roads were bad in many places, and upon arriving 
at the little town of Naperville the horses gave out completely, leaving 
us in despair. Just at this interesting stage of affairs,, while we were 
eating our dinners at the the tavern, our belated escorts appeared on the 
scene, stopping to feed their teams and get their dinner at the same place. 
Mr. Moon declared that as soon as he caught sight of "the old blue chest' 
in the wagon he knew he need go no farther. (This was an ancient fam- 
ily relic, brought over the sea from old England.) This was in April and 
the roads were in bad condition a good part of the way. A good many 
times the horses had to be taken off from one wagon to help the other 
out of the ruts. Corduroy roads were built whenever material was found 
for the purpose. 

It took us four days to reach Dixon, from whence we journeyed on to 
Prairieville, where we stayed with Mr. Moon's family several days. We 
then moved on Ben Gates' farm, where we stayed a year. Our next move 
was to Sugar Grove, where we lived in a log house on the border of the 
woods, near the big spring on Frederic Coe's farm, a portion of which my 
father and brother rented. We afterward moved near Woosung, secur- 
ing eighty acres of government laud. 

My first husband, John Benjamin, came west in 1844. Some years 
later he rented the Fellows place in partnership with his brother, William 
Benjamin; while there, under contract, he set out the beautiful row of 
hard maples, extending from the hou^e along the road westward. They 
are now over forty years old."- 

Mr. John C. Oliver and wife, familiarly known as "Uncle John" and 
"Aunt Lydia," the only old couple now living of the early settlers of Pal- 
myra, reside in Sterling. 111., Mr. Oliver being in his 89th year and 
his wife in her 76th. They have shared life's joys and sorrows together 
for fifty-eight years, and are still blessed with a reasonable degree of 


health. The golden wedding O f this venerable couple was celebrated 
about eight years since, in a very appropriate manner. 

Mr. Qliver was born in Erie county, Penn., in 1804, coming of Revo- 
lutionary stock. He left there in 1832, coming to Michigan and settling 
at White Pigeon. He soon enlisted in the Black Hawk war, serving un- 
til the close. Returning to his home he met his future wife at that 
place in the fall of 1834, and in September, the following year, they were 
married, going to a relative's at Michigan City, Ind., for that purpose. 
In 1837 they moved to North grove, five miles north of Mt. Morris, 111., 
where Mr. Oliver built a saw mill which he operated two years, when he 
sold out and removed to Palmyra, in October, 1839. He there bought a 
claim of his brother-in-law, Simon Fellows, for which he received the 
title and deeds when the land came into market. He had saved $800 or 
more for that purpose for quite a period. This was all in silver half- 
dollars. Wishing to leave home for a few days to attend conference at 
Mt. Morris, after much deliberation, they selected a corner of thechicken- 
house for their stronghold in which to secrete their money. A deep hole 
was dug, in which the treasure, secured in a stout cloth, was buried and 
a nest of eggs, with a setting-hen placed on guard over the spot. Then 
they went on their way rejoicing. So biddy sat on in dreamy content, 
all unconscious that she was doing police duty over a bank of deposit. 
(A near neighbor secreted his earnings in his cellar, under the pork 
barrel. This was before the era of banks, when the banditti flourished 
in all their glory. Mrs. Oliver was a famous weaver, manufacturing 
many yards of "Kentucky Jeans." for men's wear and flannel for women's 
drecses, spinning all the warp and filling and doing the coloring herself. 
Some of the latter was quite handsome in design. She was also a land- 
lady for a year or more, when they kept tavern. On one occasion they 
kept sixteen men, with their teams over night; they were from Milledge- 
vilie and had sixteen loads of dressed hogs. She remembers attending 
a wedding, going in an ox-wagon, along with neighbors. The oxen 
trotted at a good pace half the distance, over the trackless prairie. The 
cabin had no floor; the bride was dressed in a gorgeous challie; liquor was 
passed around freely among the men, as was the custom in those good old 
days. A six-quart milk pan full of custard was provided for dessert at 
supper. A justice of the peace performed the ceremony. Mr. Oliver 
soon had a fine lot of sugar maples growing in his door yard and a thrifty 
young orchard of seedling apple trees set out: the latter were procured 
from a brother-in-law's stock near by. To Noah Beede and wife belongs 
the credit of establishing the flrst nursery, probably in the couDty. 


They brought a large quantity of apple seeds with them, saved in their 
former home in far off New Hampshire. Mr. Oliver assisted in building 
the church at Cap Grove, doing carpenter work, contributing the door, 
which was made of black walnut. In those days it was considered the 
finest church west of Chicago. 

We feel that these sketches of the early days would be incomplete did 
we not pause to pay a just tribute to the pioneer women yet living and 
to the memory of those gone before. They stood bravely by their hus- 
bands, willingly sharing the toil and burdens incident to frontier life and 
making the waste places blossom as the rose. Most of them had large 
families of children to be reared, clothed and ^educated. Often would 
they be left to guard over their little flock and perform many tasks be- 
longing to the husband, while he was necessarily absent on business, for 
a week or more at a time. On such occasions, many sleepless nights 
would be passed, keeping lonely vigil by the bedside of ailing children or 
listening in shuddering dread to the howling of wolves. The amount of 
labor they performed, with the primitive methods then in use, seems 
incredible to theyouth of today. Labor saving inventions in the house- 
hold and every department of farm labor have wrought out woman's 
freedom to a wondrous degree. Sewing was all done by hand, as a matter- 
of course, as it had not yet entered into thejbrain of the wildest enthusi- 
ast to conceive of the modern sewing machine. The useful accomplish- 
ment of knitting was handed down from n>other to daughters; stockings 
of all kinds, mittens, both double arid single thread, and even gloves grew 
(slowly, it must be confessed, in most cases) to completion under their 
skillful fingers. It is to be regreted that this feminine industry bids 
fair to become one of. the "lost arts," or to be taken upas a fad by the 
coming young lady of the period ; 

The old dash churn, which numbered an innumerable procession of 
martyrs, was about the only kind known, while a zinc or wooden wash- 
board was the only invention devised to lessen the labors of ''blue Mon- 
day." Cheese making, in a small way, was carried on in a majority of 
homes during hot weather, when butter making was impracticable, they 
were made in a hooj), on the old fashioned hand presses, with their in-' 
tolerable creaking and groaning. Of those old relics there is probably 
not a vestage in existence. The quality of the article manufactured by 
this method was usually very good, quite equal to the modern creamery 
product in the opinion of good judges. We hear of flax being raised, 
hatchelled and otherwise prepared for spinning, upon the little wheels, 
in sufficient quantities to supply shoemakers with thread, and probably 

- 5U - 

for household uses, also. The silkworm industry flourished in a small 
way. We hear of three families, at least, (Heecle, Mason and Fellows) 
who were supplied with thread by the little spinners. 

In those days nearly every farmer kept more or less sheep; after shear- 
ing time, as soon as convenient, the fleeces would be taken in hand, 
washed and dried by the thrifty housewife, next came a picking over 
process, during which a moderate quantity of grease applied to the pro- 
duct was considered indispensable. This disagreeable task was gener- 
ally assigned to the girls, who breathed a sigh of relief when it was over 
and the wool packed off to the carding mill. Before these were built, 
rolls were made upon the little hand cards, (now rarely seen) a laborious 
process. Wool batts for comforters were also prepared upon them. A 
carding mill was in service many years at Empire. Whiteside county, 
being finally destroyer! by tire. After woolen mills were established in 
Aurora, many farmers took their wool there, exchanging for stocking 
yarn, flannel blankets and fine grades of woolen cloth, for men's clothing. 
After the snowy rolls came home, the old spinning wheel, brought from 
the far away eastern home, would make merry music by night and day, 
until the yearly supply of stocking and mitten yarn was" spun, doubled 
and twisted and reeled off into'skeins ready for dyeing. Indigo-blue and 
madder-red were the leading colors; some resorted to the woods for 
variety, gathering sumach-bobs, various barks and shucks from several 
kinds of nuts. Hand-looms were possessed in many homes, upon which 
were woven a great deal of flannel for sheeting, "Kentucky Jeans" and 
other kinds for men's wear, and linsey-woolsej for women's dresses. 
Some of the patterns of the latter were quite handsome. In some kinds 
the warp and filling would all be spun upon the old wheels and colored 
with home-made dyes. Instances were known where the men of the 
household were clothed throughout, even to overcoats, from the product 
of the looms, woven by the busy housewife and afterwards shaped into 
garments by her skilled fingers. Often would the hour of midnight find 
faithful mothers wearily plying the needle, by the dim light of a candle, 
that their families might be comfortably clad, 

If crowns for brows are granted in that "land that is fairer than day," 
surely those of our pioneer mothers must shine with the brightest of 

King Solomon's apostrophe to the good wife applies with equal force 
to their attributes: "She secketh wool and flax and worketh diligently 
with her hands. She riseth also while it is yet night and giveth meat to 
her household." 

515 - 

"She layeth her hands to the spindle and her hands holdeth the dis- 

"She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the 
bread of idleness," and verily, do her children "rise up and call her 

Mr. Charles Martin, an old resident of Gap Grove, now living in Fre- 
mont, Nebraska, sends the following recollections: "The first building 
used for a public school was erected in 1836-37, about where the oak trees 
in my old orchard stood. Mary Hill was the first teacher, she afterward 
became the wife of Michael Fellows. The second building was put up in 
1838 or 39, this was never completed. It stood a little north of Mrs-. 
Lennox' home. W. W. Bethea taught there two winters and Mary Hill 
in the summer. The third structure was also a log structure upon the 
Page farm built in 1840 or '41. I think Samuel Fellows was the first 
teacher. A log house built for a dwelling upon Harvey Morgan's place 
(Dudley Hubbard's) was vacated in a year and used for a school. The 
frame schoolhouse near the Power's place was built in 1946 or '47. There 
were also quite a number of private schools before districts were organ- 
ized. The first teachers at the Gap were Mrs. Mary (Hill) Fellows? in the 
winter of 1836-'37, Mrs. W . W. (Hubbard) Tilton summer of 1839: Miss 
Artemesia Hultz, summer 1838: Mrs. Bennett (daughter of Col, Johnson 
of Dixon), summer '39. I remember that my mother kept silkworms, as 
did Mrs. Noah Beede also. My father (Wm. Martin) organized the first 
Sunday school in the town. George and Stephen Fellows and myself are 
the only ones living who were members of it. 


WILLIAM Y. JOHNSON was born in Blanford, Mass., September 
21st, 1810. When he was eight years old his father moved with 
his family to liroome County, New York, where he lived until 
he migrated to the west. In September, 1834, he was married to Louisa 
Mason of the same county. 

Deciding to make a new home for themselves in the west, they left 
Harpersville for Illinois the last week in August, 1837, intending to make 
the greater portion of the journey in their own wagon. 

The previous summer Mrs. Johnson's father, Col. Leman Mason, had 
come west with his son Sterne and had bought a farm in Knox County, 
Illinois, on which there were two log cabins. The following spring he 
sent his son back for the family. There were two wagons in the com- 
pany. In one were Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their baby, who was but 
nine weeks old, and Mrs. Johnson's sister; in the other were six of the 
Mason family. They sold all their household property and brought with 
them only one bedstead and table aside from their bedding and personal 
effects. The wagons were the common spring seat lumber wagons with 
board tops supported by standards, with curtains on the sides and end. 

When they reached Buffalo they took passage on a boat for Cleveland 
with all their belongings. On this boat they occupied a cabin in company 
with many other families, most of whom were bound for the west. It 
was a lar^e cabin with bunks all along the sides. They, however, pre- 
ferred their own beds, which they spread on their chests aud hung sheets 
around them to shield them from the view of the other passengers. They 
also prepared their own meals, not only on the boat, but throughout the 
entire journey, stipulating for that privilege wherever they stopped for 
the night; at noon they usually partook of a lunch while the horses 
were resting and feeding. They met with a little adventure on the boat 
where a man was detected in an attempt to break into one of their 

When they arrived at Cleveland they put their horses in a stable 
while they were getting out the wagons and loading on the goods. What 
was their consternation upon going for their team, when all was in read- 
iness, to find that one of the horses had received a clean deep cut the en- 
tire width of its shoulders, a cut that could only have been made with a 
sharp knife. While speculating how it could have possibly occurred and 
what motive could have prompted such a cruel deed, and mourning that 
they would be delayed on their journey, a man came up and seeing the 
condition of the horse, recommended an ointment which would take all 
soreness from the wound, and even went to a store where he knew it was 
to be had and got some for them, afterward helping them to dress the 
leg. This timely assistance enabled them to continue their journey the 
same day, and that evening they reached Medina, O., where a sister of 
Mrs. Mason was living, and remained over the Sabbath with her, which 
allowed both themselves and their horses a most welcome rest. Little of 
moment occurred during the remainder of their trip, except once when 
the wagon upset in going over a low wet place where logs had been thrown 
across the road to prevent teams from becoming mired. At that time 
Mrs. Johnson's sister had her shoulder dislocated and suffered great pain 
until they could reach a village many miles farther on, where she could 
receive the attention of a physician and have it set. When they reached 
their destination the second week in October, after six long weeks on the 
way. they found that Col. Mason had sold his farm. Fearing that he 
would not be able to obtain a clear title to the land being located on the 
military tract and having been offered a good price for it, he thought 
best to dispose of it. Fortunately there was not far distant a cabin they 
were able to rent. It was small and had only an earthen floor, but by 
going quite a distance they got some lumber and in the course of a couple 
of weeks a floor was laid. In this cabin the entire family, Johnsons and 
Masons, lived through the ensuing winter. 

Very sorry were they that they had parted with all their household 
furniture, for vvith the exception of the bed and table above mentioned 
they had none. "Mother wit," however, supplied them with the former, 
which were all arranged in the back part of the cabin, there being just 
room enough to allow two beds placed lengthwise and one crosswise, in 
between the others, with curtains of sheets to seperate them. When 
nearing the terminus of their journey, in passing through one or two vil- 
lages, they tried in vain to purchase some chairs, so they were forced for 
a time to use three-legged stools of their own construction. It was not 
very long before they were enabled to get a supply of the much-needed 

articles from a man who manufactured the splint-bottomed chairs. In 
the spring they moved to Monmouth, where they remained a year. The 
following autumn Mr. Johnson's parents, a brother and his wife, a sister 
(then a bride) and her husband. Eben II. Johnson, joined them. Leaving 
the women there all the men started off to look up some land in the Rock 
river country, of which they had heard much praise. Arriving in Pal- 
myra they found a squatter';:, claim belonging to the father of William 
My res (more familiarly known as Prophet) which could be bought fora 
thousand dollars. As it was near the timber they considered it a desira- 
ble place to settle, so purchased it. afterward paying the government 
price of one dollar and a quarter per acre. 

It is erroneously stated in the Lee County History of 1881 that Eben 
Johnson bought this claim, whes: in reality it was a joint investment of 
the party of live (two Masons and three Johnsons), each taking twenty 

The spring of 1839 the remainder of the family ieft Monmouth in 
their wagons for Palmyra. With the exception of the very perilous 
fording of Green river, in which they narrowly escaped being capsized, 
they encountered nothing worthy of comment upon their trip. There 
were two log cabins on T,he Myres place, in which they all lived together 
for a time, then William Johnson with his family took possession of 
what was known as the "jumped claim," living there a year and a half. 
Later he bought or traded for some land .near where the church now 
stands. It was on this place my husband's eyes were first opened to the 
light of day. 

Thev had bought some cattle while at Monmouth, and Mrs. Johnson 
supplied several customers with butter, which at that time was very 
scarce and brought a high price, as there were but few cattle in the 
country. They had been obliged to leave their business at Monmouth in 
an unsettled condition, and when Mr. Johnson returned to collect some 
accounts due him, he had to take in part payment a yoke of oxen, a large 
wooden rocking-chair, and a standard gridiron. In those days they were 
often forced to take whatever they could get. in payment of a debt when 
the money was not forthcoming The rocking-chair, however, was a very 
welcome addition to their store. These articles of furniture were highly 
pri/.od on account of their scarcity, an: 1 were considered so great a luxury 
that less fortunate neighbors, in times of illness, came to ask the loan of 
them. How strange that appears to us in thes*.; days of ease and plenty. 
Mr. Johnson taught school the winters of 1841 and 1844. Asthishas^ 
been alluded to in another paper 1 will give it only this brief mention. 


The latter part of the year 1842 death reaped a rich harvest in the family, 
four of its members being called to their rest between August and De- 
cember. The fall of 1846 Mr. Johnson bought the farm in China town- 
ship afterward owned by Mr. Morris. Here they lived seven years. Mrs. 
Johnson tells me they lived a somewhat monotonous existance, the days 
being passed in sewing, spinning, knitting and the performance of mani- 
fold household duties, the evenings mainly devoted to reading. 

Mr. Johnson was for several years an agent of the American Tract 
Society, and in 1853 moved with his family to Chicago to take the posi- 
tion of general agent for the northwest for that society. He was or- 
dained a minister of the Episcopal church in 1858, and continued in this 
good work until the time of his death in 1873. His wife is still living and 
at the age of eighty-two is a remarkably active woman, both in body and 



fl. Beeper. 

IF we could have foreseen that the incidents in the lives of the pioneer 
families of Palmyra would be of special interest, more pains would 
have,been taken to preserve letters and papers relating to their early 
life in this vicinity. My account will necessarily be rather meager and 
unsatisfactory, as the time to gather material is so limited. 

My father, Charles A. Becker, was born in Nordhausen, Prussia, Ger- 
many, Jan. 7th, 1810 the fortifled city to which Martin Luther once fled 
to escape his enemies. My father was educated there and learned the 
watchmaking and jewelry business under his father, John Becker, jew- 
eler. On attaining his majority he came to America and located in 
Reading, Penn. While there he became acquainted with my mother, 
Miss Mary Kessler. They were married in 1833, Two years after they 
moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where business was very flourishing until the 
panic of '37, when banks failed, merchants broke up, and business being 
in a very depressed condition my parents resolved to seek their fortune 
farther west; my father was a heavy loser by the Mormons, Here I must 
digress a little in order to tell how they happened to make this part of 
the west their destination. Father had become acquainted with a num- 
ber of Polish exiles who had been officers in the Polish army, were taken 
prisoners and given the choice of being exiled to Siberia or America. 
Naturally they chose the latter: when they landed in America the U. S. 
government gave each of them a home of eighty acres near Rockford, 
111. Through them and others (Bishop Chase among them) my parents 
heard glowing accounts of this "paradise of the west." I would like to 
give in detail some of the interesting events which happened on their 
six weeks' journey in a covered wagon to Chicago, but fear it will take 
too much space, however, one or two little incidents may not come amiss. 
At Fort Defiance, Ind., they had the opportunity of seeing several hun- 
dred Indians assembled there. At that time the Indian still had some 
claim to the title of "noble rod man," among them some magnificent 

specimens of Indian manhood, their limbs showing to good advantage as 
they stalked majestically around in almost an entire state of nature. 
Then as our travelers journeyed through the Maumee swamps, lost their 
way, stopped to hunt deer, of which they saw a number and only suc- 
ceeded in shooting one, after a long but in the main enjoyable journey, 
with various mishaps, they reached Chicago, then a town of about seven 
thousand inhabitants Some prominent business men tried to induce 
my father to locate there, as there was a very good opening for a watch- 
maker, and offered him several lots for two hundred dollars a lot oh 
GJark street, one of the main thoroughfares in Chicago. Seeing that he 
was determined to push on they advised him to go to Dixon instead of 
Eockford, as he had intended, as at the former place there was no watch- 
maker and the land much more desirable, which he accordinglydid, as it 
was his idea to take up some land as well as follow his business. The 
morning following his arrival in Dixon having moved into the store just 
vacated by Mr. Bowman on Water street, the business street of Dixon at 
that time he had hardly put up his sign before people began to flock in, 
when he did a brisk business in repairing and selling clocks, watches and 
jewelry. He had brought a large supply of goods along and had no 
trouble in disposing of it. People came from thirty and forty miles 
to get work done, and friendships formed at that time have lasted to the 
present day; at that time all within a radius of twelve and fifteen miles 
were considered neighbors. 

My parents had pictured to themselves just the kind of place they 
would like to settle on and make their home: after having looked around 
for some time in vain they by accident heard of the place on which my 
mother still lives, six miles west of Dixon. On her first glimpse of the 
place she said, "This shall be my home," arid has never had reason to be 
dissatisfied with her choice, albeit at that time it had only its beautiful 
situation overlooking the river and fertile ground to recommend it, with 
the exception of a small log house with a solitary cat for an occupant, 
there were no improvements on the place if one can call a most lone- 
some cat an improvement and yet in a manner it was, as it gave them a 
very warm welcome and at once made the place seem like home. My 
father bought the claim of Mr. Lunt, a nephew of Mrs. Sigourney the 
poetess. They moved out as soon as the necesary arrangements were 
made, but for two years my father still kept his business in Dixon. At 
the end of that time when he spoke of removing entirely to his farm 
Father Dixon made him a very generous offer: he wanted to make my 
father a present of a lot if he would only build on it and stay there. He 

did not avail himself of the kind offer, however, as he thought his health 
was better on the farm. My parents enjoyed their homo very much after 
being unsettled for so long, never tiring of rambling along the shores of 
the ever beautiful Rock river especially so then, as its waters were so 
crystal clear and the scenery along its batiks so varied and charming. 
From the house one could command an extensive view of the beautiful 
stream, dotted here and there with well wooded islands. On the rise 
whereon stood the house were many very large and noble oak trees, which 
much to my regret were mostly cut down in those early years, being so 
convenient for firewood. They did not stop to think that such magnifi- 
cent oaks could not be replaced in their lifetime. But to proceed. They 
put up a log addition and were soon settled in their very comfortable 
though unpretending abode Had it not been for my father's business it 
would have been a much more serious affair, making ends meet; as it 
was, they were in very straightened circumstances, there being almost no 
money to be had. My parents understanding very little of farming did 
not immediately make it a success, although the soil needed very little 
encouragement to produce the most astonishing results; immense crops 
were raised with very little labor. It was in truth a genuine paradise in 
almost every respect. The greatest drawback was the distance to market 
and the lack of schools which latter as the years rolled by troubled my 
parents not a little. 

One can imagine there were very few luxuries in those times, but they 
never (as do the people in the far west now) had to suffer for food they 
had that in abundance, game of all kinds was plenty. I have often heard 
my mother tell as an instance of the ease with which game was secured 
how my father went out to a small grove just east of the house in the 
morning before starting for town and shot eighteen prairie chickens, the 
ignorant birds merely flying from tree to tree to escape him. The poor 
things, alas! have since learned greater caution, and it would take more 
than one morning's work to secure much less than half that number. A 
beautiful and now impossible sight was seeing the most graceful of all 
wild creatures, the deer, come bouading down across the prairie to drink 
at the river, and the ease with which they cleared the high rail fences 
used in those days. Even as late as '53 and later deer still inhabited' the 
woods a mile from their place. My mother has told us how amused she 
was one day at her son Charlie, then a boy of about sixteen years, and a 
young German by the name of Boehma. who was staying here at the 
time. Mr. Boehma went out hunting one morning and came back after 
a few hours proudly displaying a deer as the result of his good marks- 


manship. Brother Charlie said very unconcernedly^ "I am going to get 
one also,'' and started out. He had been gone but a short time when he 
returned triumphantly carrying the deer he had shot. Of course no one 
hart thought he would get one. 

Within my recollection small bands of Indians still roamed through 
the country and I well remember how frightened we children were one 
time when a do/en or so Indians, men, women and children came up from 
the river to our home on a begging expedition. The young Indians of 
about ten years of age carried bows and arrows; they asked if they might 
shoot a chicken or two. On being given permission they soon knocked 
over several, being very expert with their primitive weapons. These 
bands of Indians were harmless excepting for their thieving propensi- 
ties. We still find many perfect specimens of their handicraft, one of 
my nephews finding a very tine sharp stone hatchet such as I have never 
seen in any collection of Indian relics. 

In those first years the lack of certain things was sadly felt. One time 
when my parents felt the need of coffee particularly and had for some 
time been without, they received a most acceptable present of a large 
package of coffee from one of their nearest neighbors, one of the mem- 
bers of whose family had been to New Orleans and brought back a fifty- 
pound sack of the precious stimulant, which they very generously shared 
with their neighbors. Such open handed generosity was proverbial 
among the early settlers, each and all sharing in a most liberal manner. 
Some Kentuckians who were living here when my parents came, brought 
venison and other things a number of times, and would have felt insulted 
had they been offered pay. Although Dixon and vicinity had rather a 
hard name at that time, on account of horse thieves and other desperate 
characters, there was no petty thieving done, doors were left unlocked 
and clothes hanging out over night with perfect safety, the floating pop- 
ulation being intent on larger game, and would have scorned to steal 
trifles. The people who came to take up land and settle were all of the 
most respectable class and a great many of them cultivated and refined. 

In 185.'] my father, whose health began to fail, made a visit home to 
Germany. He remained a short time in New York before taking passage 
for his journey across the ocean, witli relatives of my mother, John Roeb- 
ling, the engineer that built the suspension bridge across the Niagara 
river and afterward the famous Brooklyn suspension bridge. The Roeb- 
ling family and other relatives showed my father every attention and 
made his visit with them very enjoyable. After being away five months 
he returned home and commenced the erection of a stone home just west 

524 - 

uf the log house. I have forgotten to mention that he spent three 
winters previous to this time in Chicago, working at his business of 
watchmaking. Chicago had grown so rapidly and he was offered such 
inducements to go into business there, that he embraced the opportunity 
of making more money than he could in this vicinity, and which he 
greatly needed, as he had a growing family to support, and the farm did 
not bring in a very large income, there being very little sale for farm 
produce: butter and eggs were a drug on the market, one egg in the 
winter of '93 in Dixon bringing more than a dozen in those days, as my 
mother frequently sold eggs for two cents a dozen, or at that rate, as she 
took thread in payment. My mother and aunt had some experiences 
that will never have their counterpart again, it is to be hoped. My father 
at one time having quite a siege with the fevei and ague, which was 
very prevalent at that time; the supply of wheat ran out, consequently 
bread was an absent quality, and at last my mother and her sister becom- 
ing desperate attempted to thresh some unbeknown to my father. The 
threshing in those primitive times was done by means of horses treading 
it out. They worked hard all day and succeeded in getting seven bush- 
els, which on the following day they took to Wilson's mill, fourteen miles 
distant, on Buffalo creek. My father was much distressed when lie 
learned how they had worked, but was powerless to remedy it, and they 
all enjoyed the bread that was very literally "earned by the sweat of the 
brow. They moved into the new house in the fall of '54. My father 
went out of the business of watch making then and devoted the time 
when he felt well enough to gardening, which . he greatly enjoyed and 
was very successful with, the market begun to improve and pears sold 
readily for two dollars a bushel and currants at four dollars a bushel, the 
size and amount of fruit would be unbelievable in these days, bushels of 
immense and luscious peaches went to waste, strange as it may appear, 
they not selling as well as did currants and apples, probably because more 
people raised them. As time went on my father's health failed rapidly, 
he having injured his knee, bone consumption set in. He suffered great 
agony at times. Having heard of a renowned physician in Chicago Vol- 
cnta by name a Hungarian, he went to that city and stayed several 
months, but the doctor gave him no hope. They formed a warm friend- 
ship, and Dr. Volenta came to Dixon to see my father, more as a friend 
than physician, and it did him much good to see him. The neighbors 
always kind and during my father's illness doubly so came in many 
times to help wile away the time; and especially were they inebted to 
one, William Graham, for making many an otherwise weary hour pass 

- 525 - 

pleasantly, he had such a store of amusing anecdotes to relate and bad 
traveled quite extensively, so it wes a never failing pleasure to see him. 
And Dr. Everett, dear to all the hearts in the community, came to cheer 
my parents in their trouble, his very presence brought healing to mind as 
well as body. In '59 my father was relieved from his suffering, and my 
mother was left to care for a large family. She has told us many times of 
the unfailing kindness of neighbors and friends in helping her. The dif- 
ferent merchants in Dixon also, never hurried her for payments that she 
found hard to meet, they favored her in many ways and were unfailingly 
kind and considerate in their dealings with her. Time has dealt very 
gently with her and she has lived to a good old age and takes much 
pleasure in recalling old times. .She never became wealthy, but has a 
good, comfortable home, free from encuruberance, and her children and 
friends hope to have her with them many years yet. 'Thus ends my, at 
best, very incomp