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events have happened in Freeport and Stephenson County, Illinois,
and remarkable people have lived there. These are stories gathered
about people and events from 1835 through World War II.
by Robert Bike
The Bible mentions about 232 plants by name, or closely enough to figure out what plant is meant. Of these, 24 are aromatic plants; that is, parts of the plants can be pressed or distilled to get an essential oil. Essential oils are the lifeblood of plants and have tremendous healing capabilities.
healing power of plants is the basis for modern medicines.
Originally published in manuscript form in 1999, I completely revised the book and added illustrations.
Biblical Aromatherapy in paperback,
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The electronic version is only $2.99!
Carlile, columnist for the Freeport (Illinois) Journal Standard,
featured this website in her column on January 19, 2007.
Life Purpose is to inspire my friends
Robert Bike, LMT, LLC
Below is the 1880 History of Stephenson County, scanned, in six parts. There are scanning errors, spelling differences and other problems. This took me a very long time to complete. I removed long sections that had nothing to do with Stephenson County, but have included some of the background history of the region, state and area for showing what some of the thinking was behind the writing.
This era was highly racist. Native Americans were considered savages. The Mormons were despised. White citizens were highly praised, even when it is obvious they were of dubious character. For balance, look at the Autobiography of Black Hawk, a raw, emotional story from the vanquished warrior.
Also, a word about spelling. The English language and spelling has changed tremendously since 1880. The 1880 author apparently didn't care too much about spelling words and names. On many occasions one person's name was spelled two different ways in the same paragraph, and once three different ways. I have no idea what the correct spelling was, in most cases, and have tried to maintain consistency.
Biographical Sketches of Citizens, War Record of its Volunteers in the late Rebellion, General and Local Statistics, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, History of the Northwest, History of Illinois, Map of Stephenson County, Constitution of the United States, Miscellaneous Matters
WESTERN HISTORICAL COMPANY,
M. H. TILDEN
The following pages, assuming to relate a history of Stephenson County from its earliest settlement to the present day, owe their appearance to the enterprise of an historical company, supplemented by the demand of a generous public. In its preparation, sources of information have been sought and appropriations freely made from presumably authentic data. No claim is made to originality, and numerous mistakes will doubtless be discovered, especially by those disposed to be hypercritical. In a work of such magnitude, these are unavoidable.
The author cannot pretend to have acquitted himself to his own satisfaction, though he has labored diligently to furnish a reliable, if yet an imperfect, compilation of facts and events which are alleged to have occurred in Stephenson County since the days when Kellogg, Kirker, Robey, Timms and others rejoiced to get into the wilderness. Whatever of merit or demerit the book contains remains for the reader to discover, and his judgment may be unprejudiced if he finds no word of promise on the introductory page.
In conclusion, he desires to make his acknowledgments to the Pioneers who still survive, to the Press, the cloth, the public officers, County, State and Federal, and other mediums of communication, not alone for "history," but for many kind acts, and much else that may contribute to whatever of success shall greet the succeeding pages.
A preface is generally regarded as the substitute for an apology. The author indulges the hope that, in equaling reasonable expectations, the substitute will be adopted by his readers.
Chicago, September, 1880.
CULVER, PAGE, HOYNE & CO., PRINTERS
115 and 120 Monroe Street.
OF THE 1880 HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY, PART TWO
The Boardman Murder
Famine of 1848
The Hegira to California, 1849
Completion of the C. & G. U. R. R.
The Panic of 1857
Stephenson County Society of Physicians & Surgeons
Stephenson County Farmers' Co-Operative Association
Stephenson County Agricultural Society
Stephenson County Patrons of Husbandry
Old Settlers' Association
Stephenson County Soldiers' Monument
Statement of Agricultural Statistics, 1879
Part Two - Early Freeport
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Stories, Volume 1
events have happened in Freeport and Stephenson County, Illinois,
and remarkable people have lived there. These are stories gathered
about people and events from 1835 through World War II.
There were others who came into Stephenson County about this time besides Kellogg, including William Baker, one of the Prestons, and, possibly, a few more; but their stay was only temporary, after which they returned whence they came, reserving a permanent settlement until some years subsequent. In 1832 (during the fall), William Waddams, with his two sons, made his advent into Stephenson County, and, canvassing the country round about, formally staked out a claim at a point in West Point Township about three miles northwest of the present town of Lena. Here, in the summer of 1833, he erected a small log house, on the present site of Jo Daviess Waddams' house, and locating his family therein, carried off the honors to which the first permanent settler in Stephenson County can legally and equitably lay claim. This was the second house, it is alleged in the county, but, unlike its predecessor, "Kellogg's Mansion," it now stands on the Waddams place, opposite where it first stood, and is occupied by Mrs. Eunice Place, daughter of its architect and builder.
The " Cabin " is of the most limited dimensions, presenting none of the attractive features for which farmhouses are to-day noticeable, yet it is as comfortable and cozy as when first raised in the wilderness, and bears its age without any of the marks of weakness or "discouragement" peculiar to manufactures of that "beatific" period. The logs remain as sound as when first placed in position, and the window frames, fashioned by Mr. Waddams with his jack-knife, are untouched by decay; but the puncheon floor has yielded place to material more adapted to that purpose, and the huge fire-place which formerly occupied one end of the apartment has been vacated, its uses being appropriated by more modern inventions.
If the walls could but speak, what a tale of the pleasures and pains experienced in that old-fashioned, one-roomed house, they would unfold. What mournful cadences they would sigh of the troubled visions that have swept over the breast of breathing sorrow for those who went out from its portals, chilled in the embrace of death, to sleep beneath the daisies which caressed their graves as the breezes tossed them into rippling eddies. Or how joyfully they would detail the marriage fete, the social, quilting and what-not of pleasure that has passed within its confines. The old home is still treasured as a relic of heroic days, when men possessed less of the superficial and more of those characteristics which raise mortals to the skies, than is apparent to the casual observer of to-day. It possesses a charm for those who have survived the death of Mr. Waddams which can never be dissipated, and promises to be preserved for years to come, when Stephenson County shall have attained a prominence and influence, in comparison with which that enjoyed to-day is but nominal.
The close of the Black Hawk war, and dispersion of the soldiers who aided in subduing that fierce and seemingly unconquerable foe of the white race, called the attention of the country more generally to the natural advantages to be found in Northern Illinois, and particularly in the country bordering upon the Pecatonica and its tributaries. The volunteers regarded the homes of Winneshiek and his tribe found along the streams and creeks, and in the barrens and wilderness of Stephenson County, as veritable gardens of Babylon, and many of them, acting upon this conclusion, came in as settlers among the first who arrived, where they entered claims and have since remained. The majority, having reached the Biblical limits of human life, have departed in peace; but a few still remain residents of Stephenson County, where they have witnessed the fullest fruition of their predictions regarding the country and amassed a comfortable competence.
Among these are John Waddams, Robert Brightendall, Jacob Burbridge, George Trotter and, perhaps, one or two more. About the same time, as will be remembered, the Galena mines were the objective points for soldiers of fortune from every State, and those at Dubuque, the restraints to emigration thither having been removed, but imperfectly developing. As a consequent, thousands of prospectors, adventurers, speculators and the hoi polloi journeyed in those directions, intent on putting money in their individual purses, by mining, luck or agencies they hoped would favor their efforts without entailing too great a draft on their physical or financial resources. They were composed of men from Ohio, Missouri and elsewhere, with a sprinkling of lllinoisans.
The route to Galena in those days was by St. Louis or by some other point on the Mississippi; another route was to cross the river at Dixon, strike what is known as "Sucker Trail," entering Stephenson County in the southwestern part of Loran Township, and Jo Daviess County, from Kent Township, thence to Galena and Dubuque. This route was patronized quite freely by emigrants, on their trips to those points, to whom the fertility of the soil, salubrity of the climate and other advantages patent to all who passed through Stephenson County, became as familiar as they are to-day to the manor born. Many who visited the lead mines returned without testing the value of their claims many returned after encountering failure, and many returned only when they had attained the object for which they went in pursuit.
The inducements held out by the agricultural resources of the county, persuaded representatives of every class cited to enter claims hereabouts and in time become farmers. Those who did so, have, as a rule, succeeded, and laid up treasures upon earth, at least. Added to the volunteers and miners were the natives and residents of Eastern States, who, impatient at the limited extent of their hereditaments, and ambitious to identify themselves with enterprise in an enlarged field of action, where legitimate business, if conducted with the industry and integrity indispensable to a living at home, would be attended with better results, sought to test their judgment in the West. Illinois was then an almost undiscovered boon to many of them, and Stephenson County was an absolute wilderness. But the knowledge of these facts, instead of appalling, rather influenced their coming hither, and to-day, the history of the county is largely a record of what has been accomplished by those who came from the East, notably from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.
Such, then, were the influences employed to attract emigration, and such was the character of those who responded. As a matter of course, there were numberless worthless characters who came in with the "flood," but the same causes which admonished them to leave their native heaths exerted a similar influence here and urged them to seek elsewhere for what they were restrained from appropriating on the banks of the Pecatonica. This country, then awaiting the claims of the industrious and enterprising, but holding out the promise of prosperity to all, was scarcely a comfortable locality for the outlaw or one of felonious propensities. If they came "born again" they were accepted as valuable additions.
But if the new dispensations duplicated their acts committed elsewhere, they were no longer tolerated, but banished. The consequence was, and is, that crime has never been an important factor of the civilization established in Stephenson County. Indeed, the record of the criminal court in this county is comparatively free from the various crimes entailing capital punishment or prolonged imprisonment. This is due entirely to the sturdy character and unflinching integrity of the early settlers, whose virtues have been visited upon their descendants, and exempted the county from many calamities their neighbors elsewhere have been called upon to endure.
During the seasons of 1832-33, the settlement quoted above was the only one made in the county. William Waddams was the pioneer who paved the way for the coming of the army of occupation which speedily followed in his wake the sapper and miner who effected a successful advance into the enemy's territory, maintaining a line of communication with his base of supplies, and holding the fort until the forces in reserve had been brought forward to his support. Civilization with its germinal forces thereafter persistently pushed its way into the territory like the march of a conquering army, and to-day the casual observer of events that have passed into history, stands amazed at the foot-prints of development and progress it has left in its luminous trail. The remote sections have been united by railroads and canals; the modern institutions of learning, the methods of human industry, the churches and schools, the telegraph and telephone, and other indications of progress and perfection, have gradually developed from the rude and imperfect accommodations of those early days. The broad prairies are born anew with each succeeding decade in the westward march of empire, and populous cities and villages are becoming the centers and gateways of trade and commerce. Agriculture and scientific principles has drained and rejuvenated the lands, making them to blossom with annually increasing harvests, and the wealth born of their products, coupled with enterprise and architectural skill, has builded where once the forest disputed possession with the plain. These are the works of those who rest from their labors, and the beneficiaries for whom these trusts were created daily rise up to call them blessed.
The winter of 1833-34 passed without the happening of any event which has left its impress on the times to guide the historian in his search therefor. Mr. Waddams. with his family comfortably housed, dreamed the hours away in a solitude unbroken by aught that savored of civilization. Gathered about the winter log, himself and famiiy doubtless engaged in perfecting plans for future operations, when the dawn of spring announced the coming of more perfect days. The resident of Stephenson County of to-day would hardly reconcile the appearance of that county then with what greets his vision on all sides in 1880. The country now covered with highly cultivated farms, imposing residences and expensive improvements, was almost a trackless waste of prairie and timber. There was nothing to enthuse, little to encourage. Occasional bands of predatory Indians demurred to the title of the solitary settler, and not unfrequently levied upon his meager stores for supplies. But the long and inhospitable season dragged tediously to its close, and the flowers and shrubbery of the year before, which had yielded to the winter's blasts, warmed into new life and ran wild in the sunshine, hiding the trees and blooming foliage, with leaf and flower. Undismayed by the prospect, Mr. Waddams, as soon as the ground was fit to work, began the labor of preparing the soil about him for crops that would last him when autumn should have yielded place to the winters' winds, and with this beginning sowed the seeds for future prosperity.
It should here be observed that a claim is made, that Lyman Brewster, accompanied by one Joe Abeno, came into Stephenson County during 1833, and established a ferry near Winslow, which was the first in the county, and survived its owner many years. This, however, is disputed, as also is the coming of Simeon Davis into Oneco, and the conclusion seems irresistible that Mr. Brewster did not settle in the county until the spring of 1834. That year was noticeable not only for the number but the sterling character of the additions made to the population. Among them were George Payne, who halted at Brewster's ferry, George W. Lott, who built a shanty in the present limits of Winslow Village, Harry and Jerry Waters, and A. O. Ransom.
To this latter gentleman belongs the honor of laying out the first town in the county. It was located about one and a half miles below Brewster's ferry, on the Pecatonica River, and derived its name in part from that of its founder, being called " Ransomburg." It was regularly surveyed and platted, and on the map offered inducements of a character calculated to inspire the credulous with a desire to become identified with the town by investments, which proved to be permanent if not profitable. The map of the proposed city was illustrated in colors in the highest style of the lithographer's art. Streets and avenues intersected each other at measured distances; parks were laid out, and ornamented with shrubbery, fountains and statuary; wharves were built and extended into the river, upon which a floating palace, under full head of steam, was to be seen suppositiously approaching the landing.
Ransomburg, it was thought, would become the center of trade for the county, and the shipping-point for the surrounding country. It does not appear, however, that these considerations influenced purchasers, although the ubiquitous land-agent was doubtless abroad seeking whom he might devour, but his insatiable maw for profits probably remained unsatisfied, for the number of purchasers and the prices paid have remained in obscurity. Mr. Ransom established a store at the place, as did a Mr. Stewart, who disposed of his lot in the town for $500, during a visit to St. Louis when that city was in its infancy, and Miss Jane Goodhue opened a school there, the first in the county, which, with other improvements, promised to confirm the predictions made respecting its rapid growth. But none of these predictions were ever, even in part, realized.
The unappreciative public, for whose benefit the plans were projected, failed to avail themselves of the disinterested labors in their behalf, and the town lapsed, and finally became as a tale that is told. Mr. Ransom removed to Texas, where he afterward died, the improvements were left to decay, and a corn-field now occupies the site that once indicated the existence of Ransomburg.
The impetus given to emigration by the pioneers mentioned gathered strength, however, and manifested itself through that entire year. Though the number who came and remained in Stephenson County was limited, they were men of brains and brawn, fully alive to the demands of the times, and equal to every emergency they were called upon to encounter. Some of those who have left no trace of their coming went further west; or, dismayed by the difficulties which met them on every hand, returned whence they came to enjoy the rather questionable honors accorded a prophet in his own land. The fall of 1834 witnessed the advent of 3ome who are still here, having grown up with the country and witnessed its transformation from an almost inaccessible wilderness to its present prosperous and cultivated condition. Among these were Jacob Amos, William Robey and family, which consisted of his wife, Levi Robey and wife, John, William W., Thomas L., Francis L., Elizabeth and Mary Robey, children of William Robey. The latter reached Brewster's ferry on the 21st of November. Mr. Robey, some time later, became lessee of the ferry, which he conducted for a number of years, though at the time he made a claim on which he subsequently settled, near Cedarville, in Lancaster Township. At that time, the lands along the Pecatonica were heavily timbered, and filled with Indians. He came from Scioto County, Ohio, and journeyed via Dixon, Buffalo Grove, in Ogle County, thence to Brewster's Ferry, to the cabin of Simeon Davis, in Oneco, to Monroe, Wis., and back to Brewster's Ferry, from which vantage-ground Levi Robey was accustomed to start forth in search of an available point to make a claim and settle.
Finally, he found a place that would suit, and on St. Valentine's day, 1835, he removed to the present town of Waddams, locating at a point on the bank of the Pecatonica, half a mile northeast of his present residence. Here he built a house, with an ax and a jack-knife to shape the logs, which were cut in the woods and hauled over the ice to the site of his future home. He was chary at first, he relates, about trusting the ice to bear the burden of his ox team, and the load they hauled. In the country whence he came, "ice bridges" were unknown mediums of communication. When he first went on the ice, that brittle and deceptive substance cracked ominously, and he apprehended that himself with his yoke of steers and house frame would go to the bottom instead of the place appointed for their reception. But he and his portables were preserved from accident to find new difficulties staring him in the face when he considered the practicability of raising his frame into position. These were overcome, however, and himself and family were in a brief time ensconced in their new home, without neighbors, mail facilities, access to supplies, or any of the absolute necessities which are today obtained without the least exertion.
The claim is made that during this year occurred the first birth in the county, the new-comer being a son to George W. Lott, who was born in the cabin of his father, then located in the present Winslow Township, between the villages of Winslow and Oneco. The Waddams family, however, opine that the birth of Amanda Waddams, in February, 1836, at the Waddams farm, on the road from Nora to Bobtown, was the pioneer birth in the county, and the same claim is also made for Lucy, daughter of Dr. Bankson, who was brought forth early in the latter year.
From 1832 until 1835, the above constituted the settlements made in this immediate section. As already stated, there were a number who passed through the county en route to the lead mines, and tarried only long enough to rest and recuperate their energies sufficiently to continue their trip. But between the dates mentioned no settlements of a permanent character, other than those cited, were made. Indeed, it required an almost unlimited complement of courage and manhood to reconcile men to remove from the old homesteads, dissolve old associations, and, cutting loose from the humanizing influences with which they had been surrounded from youth, turn their faces toward new fields wherein the foot of man never trod. Yet those who opened the way for the advance of civilization in the West were possessed of these qualities in a remarkable degree. They were the modern crusaders who fought against barbarism and savage occupation, with all the courage, gallantry and steadfastness of purpose that characterized their prototypes in the age of religious enthusiasm and chivalry centuries ago.
They were the counterparts of a grenadier of the old regime, who never in any sudden storm or rally, desperate melee or sorrowful encounter, forgot to doff his plumed hat to an adversary and cry out through his gray mustache as he shortened his sword arm, en garde. They made the beginning of the present gratifying prosperity in the West, and dedicated themselves to promoting the happiness, gladdening the hearts and smoothing the pathway of those who came with them and after them to journey down the chequered aisles of Time. Thrice blessed are these brave men who never yielded up the chase even when afflictions and disappointment seemed to wail a requiem over their hopes and the dark clouds of adversity settled like a pall.
The lives they led were far from being luxurious. No crops of consequence were raised, and even those who had money experienced difficulty in procuring the necessaries of life. The condition of families in indigent circumstances, at a time when wheat cost $4 a bushel, and a journey of forty or fifty miles was required before it could be ground, can be readily imagined. The nearest base of supplies was on the Mississippi, at Savannah and Galena, and in those days the arrival of a steamboat at either place was regarded as an event of so vital importance that it became the talk of the neighborhood. Some of the settlers obtained food for their families by hunting, but this was a precarious recourse, as game, excepting deer, was by no means plentiful.
Often the hunter would go out in the morning to procure something for breakfast, but was compelled to pass the entire day without a mouthful to satisfy his hunger. It is related by one of the men who occupied a shanty, that himself and his companion were often glad, in days when meat was scarce, to procure pork sufficient to grease a griddle, and that upon one occasion his comrade and another young man made a hearty meal on rinds that had done service in this way, and were hard and green with mold. The same party stated that he has often worked hard for weeks together improving his land, on no better fare than Indian meal mixed with water. These were extreme cases, it is true, but those who for a moment imagine they led a life of ease and contentment are disposed to listen to the whisperings of fancy and not the truths of fact. Their lives were by no means enveloped in a halo of romance, but led in the midst of experiences the modern hero would shrink from.
Very few of the present inhabitants of Stephenson County can realize the hardships to which the early settlers were subjected. Their houses were built of rough, unhewed logs, the cracks filled with mud, the roof composed of clapboards split from the timber, and secured by poles laid on the top, nails being an unknown article of trade.
These rude habitations rarely contained windows or floors, or, if provided with the latter, they were composed of puncheons split from logs, and rendered comparatively smooth by hewing. If they left their cabins for any length of time, they might expect on their return to find that they had been visited during their absence by the Indians, who had relieved them of all the provisions they had in store. The farmer manufactured his own plows, fashioned his own drag, or utilized a young sapling in lieu thereof, and constructed his own wagon, and other farming implements, and, in nearly every case, without iron.
The fur of the raccoon, fox, or wolf, furnished them with caps, the deer's hide, tanned at home, with pants, coat and shirt. Tea and coffee were luxuries, to be had at rare intervals, and used only upon special occasions; as a substitute therefor the settlers provided peas, wheat and barley. When Mr. Waddams made his farm it contained but four acres, located in the timber, which he cleared, fenced and planted in corn and potatoes without the assistance of teams. When the iron plow was first introduced into the county it was regarded as a curiosity, condemned as an innovation upon established custom, and as worthless for the objects for which it was designed.
The grain was threshed with flails, or by horses, and, when Hiram Waddams thrashed his wheat for the first time, in 1839, with a traveling thrasher mounted upon wheels, the curiosity of his neighbors found expression in similar criticisms, that were in no degree abated when, in 1848, Pells Manny introduced a new era in harvesting by constructing the first harvester in this part of the country. It was termed a header, cutting the heads from off the grain eight inches below the hulls. This was an improvement upon the cradle where the grain stood up, but when down its success was not so gratifying. It was a cumbersome concern, and lasting but a short time, led the way to other experiments, until finally they brought forth the reaper which Mr. Manny subsequently invented and patented. Improvements, however, succeeded improvements in this invaluable farming implement, and the reapers of those days have long since become incidents of the past, and recurred to now only as illustrating the features of pioneer life with distinctness. It might be added in this connection that Mr. Manny still lives in the enjoyment of a hale old age, his home in the city of Freeport, surrounded by all that can smooth the decline of a life that has not been altogether uncheckered.
The spring of 1835 is represented as having been a season of unparalleled beauty and bright promise. The forests were early decked with foliage, the prairies shone with the colors of the rainbow in the flowers and shrubberies that grew upon the surface, and all nature seemed to combine to lend enchantment to a scene no artist's hand can trace. Nothing was lacking to complete this unrivaled landscape represented in the territory of subsequent Stephenson County, which a resident of that day asserts rivaled in its magnificence the fabled beauties of Araby the blest. Crops were put in by the measured number of agriculturists who then owned clearings, with confidence that the harvest would be plenteous; and improvements were made, which in a measure accommodated the influx of immigration that year witnessed.
An advance was also accomplished in other material interests, and wants were supplied which had previously been sorely experienced. With these blessings at the threshold, it is scarcely to be wondered at that settlers began to come in much more numerously than during previous years. The first who came were few, 'tis true, but before the year had gone, leaving behind it marks and pleasant memories, joys and shadows, the additions to the population had been increased by the arrival of representatives and families, who have been instrumental in building up and developing the latent wealth which lay hidden in the woods and plains of Northern Illinois.
Prominent among those who settled in Stephenson County that year were John and Benjamin Goddard, Henry and William Hollenbeck, George Trotter, Richard Parriott, Sr., and family, Levi Lucas, Robert Jones, Andrew St. John and others, who made claims in what has since been called Buckeye Township; Nelson Wait, Hubbard Graves and wife, Charles Gappen, Abijah Watson, John and Thomas Baker and William Willis established homes in Waddams; James and W. H. Eels, Alvah Denton, Lemuel W. Streator and Hector P. Kneeland became identified with Winslow Township, and aided in the progress anticipated for Ransomburg; Jefferson and Lewis Van Matre came to Oneco; John B. Kaufman to present Erin: Miller Preston to Harlem; James Timms, Jesse Willett, and Calvin and Jabez Giddings to Kent; Albert Alberson, Eli Frankeberger, and possibly Josiah Blackamore, to Rock Grove; Thomas Crain and family to Silver Creek; Conrad Van Brocklin and Mason Dimmick, also Otis Love and family, to Florence; Luman and Rodney Montague and William Tucker to West point, etc., etc. In addition to these, William Baker who, it will be remembered, came into the county first in 1832 returned to settle, after a temporary absence in Wisconsin, and laid the foundation for the present city of Freeport; Thompson Wilcoxon also came in and staid a short time in Harlem, wherein he finally settled during the following year; Harvey P. Waters and Lyman Bennett arrived at the mouth of Yellow Creek in the fall, where they remained until the spring of 1836, when they removed to Ridott and, with A. J. Niles, formed the nucleus of settlements subsequently made in that township.
James Timms, who came that year, as already stated, took possession of the Kellogg house, wherein he resided for many years, and raised a family, members of which are to-day living, prominently identified with the agricultural resources of the county. Benjamin Goddard stopped first with Mr. Robey, which was fifteen miles from any road traveled by wagon. The Montagues settled near Waddam's Grove, where they built a house of logs, the floors of which were made of bass-wood. And so on. Hubbard Graves settled near Levi Robey's, and the remainder of those mentioned found abiding places which, if they were attended with an absence of privileges and immunities from care, possessed comforts which were, in those times, of priceless value.
The settlers experienced the same difficulties, in a measure, while providing themselves with homes that those who came in the year previous had encountered.
The Winnebago Indians, in vagrant squads, yet remained in the county, and not unfrequently annoyed the settlers by petty thefts or trespasses upon their hospitality. Among other losses sustained through their felonious acts, was the loss of an entire drove of hogs, which they stole from William Waddams. Robert Jones and Levi Lucas maintained a bachelors' retreat about this time on their claim, near the present village of Cedarville, and during their absence upon one occasion the Indians effected an entrance into the cabin left tenantless, which they robbed of a number of articles, including razors, game, wild honey and tobacco. Upon the return of the owners, an Indian was observed stealing out of the cabin.
When they ascertained that their household goods had been levied upon, it was decided that the savage had participated in the robbery, and they concluded to follow him up, to, if possible, recover their valuables or ascertain where they could be obtained. Acting upon this conclusion, they started in pursuit of the fugitive, whom they overtook in the woods while he was in the act of shooting a wild turkey. Before he had time to comprehend the object of pursuit, Jones rushed up to him and, seizing his gun, threatened to inflict capital punishment in the case if he did not immediately restore what had been taken. After some demurring and pleas in confession and avoidance, he offered to restore the articles missed if Jones and Lucas would accompany him to his wigwam.
This they consented to do, and were conducted several miles through the woods, coming suddenly into an encampment of about thirty braves who, with their families, were quietly resting after the fatigues of the day. They comprehended the critical situation in which they had permitted themselves to be placed at a glance, and, though apprehensive of results, calmed their fears, and putting on a bold front, entered the circle of encamping savages and sat down. After a prolonged parley, devoid of anger, the Indian who had conducted them thither disappeared, and after a brief absence, returned with their tobacco, which was restored, but assured them that the razors and provisions were in posession of a branch of the tribe residing on Yellow Creek.
When these preliminaries had been concluded, the old Indian related his interview with Jones and Lucas in the forest, how his rifle had been taken from him, and he had thereby been prevented from bagging a wild turkey; embellished with exaggeration and emphasized with gesticulations that enforced conviction in the savage breast more persuasively than the charm of exquisite music possesses for the aesthetic admirer of the divine art. As a result, his eloquence did not fall upon barren ground, but was responded to by loud murmurs of dissatisfaction from the assembled council, and excited the Indians to a degree unprecedented, who expressed their opinions in language both loud and threatening. Upon beholding this unexpected storm, Jones sought to placate their anger by a show of generosity, and dividing his tobacco among the thievish gang, waited for their anger to subside.
A calm succeeded the fierce outburst which the settlers had witnessed, and Jones succeeded in effacing any remembrance of his accusation for the time being at least by tickling the Indian maidens, gathered there, under the chin and indulging in other harmless pleasantries with them, which cemented the reconciliation, though, as Mr. Jones related to the writer, his gallantry was never more severely taxed than when making love to the greasy beauties of the Winnebagoes to save his possessions and, possibly, preserve the capillary integuments which constituted his scalp. After "swinging on the gate " for a brief period with their hostesses, Jones and Lucas departed, and passed the night at Benjamin Goddard's cabin, south of Cedarville. The following morning they accompanied Mr. Goddard to William Baker's claim, to assist the latter in raising his cabin.
During that trying period, and while the cabin frame hung in the balance, so to speak, a party of the Yellow Creek branch of the tribe hove in sight, doubtless attracted thither in the hope that they would be invited to partake of the supply of metheglin, the attendant concomitant of similar undertakings in the times that more than tried men's souls, patience and temper. When they came on to the ground, Mr. Jones, reinforced by the reserve at his back, informed them that he was entirely familiar with their depredations on his property, and demanded the return of his stolen razors, in default of which they would receive the punishment of death, without benefit of clergy. Thus admonished, they agreed to the alternative, and pointing to the sky, indicated that when the sun reached the meridian they would restore his property, and, starting off, as if pursued by the Evil Spirit of Indian theology, for their camp, returned at the appointed hour with the razors.
After this time the Indians were no longer factors in the county. According to the statement contained in a publication of the times, " Tradition still points to a place near the foot of Stephenson street where Winnesheik after vainly resisting the power of the white people until hope had perished, and being hemmed in by hostile pursuers, leaped into the swollen Pecatonica and swimming to the opposite shore escaped from his enemies, never to return." In this instance tradition is not to be relied upon for the facts, for "Coming Thunder" did return, after many days, and beheld with astonishment the advances made by the white race in the domain over which himself and his race once exercised exclusive control. During one of his visits to Freeport, a daughter of Mrs. Oscar Taylor who had been named "Winnesheik," in compliment to the old chief, was presented to him. But he failed to appreciate the distinguished honor conferred, and expressed his disgust in words of unintelligible patois, accompanied by contemptuous shrugs of his shoulders.
Among those who are noted as having settled in Stephenson County during the year William Baker, Benjamin Goddard, Levi Robey and others are remembered with feelings of pleasure by those of their neighbors still living, as also by the thousand and one prominent citizens who have grown up with the county, or come into and become part of it since it was incorporated, and assumed a front place in the northern tier of Illinois counties. As already mentioned, Baker came into the county proper at a daylong since recorded among the events that have been, and remained only a sufficient length of time to establish his claim, when he returned to his family. In December, 1835, accompanied by his son Frederick, who still lives a citizen of Freeport, and others, he re-visited his claim and so directed his campaign in the wilderness that the present flourishing city of Freeport was the result.
They were men, it is said, of wonderful inventive genius, possessed of much of that nature which makes the whole world kin, persons of infinite wit and endless resource. They possessed the happy faculty of so adapting themselves to circumstance, as that they were not only always in a good humor themselves, but prevailed against afflictions in others, and resolved gloom into sunshine. They were men of unbounded hospitality, impulsive, of quick sensibilities and warm sympathies, and so constituted that without the presence of men of their kind, the world would be less humane, and new settlements less advanced with the departure of each season. Baker has left the city of Freeport. and the remainder of the county as monuments for posterity to learn of them, and their multitude of friends throughout the great West recall their lives with smiles of pleasure when reflecting upon the many cheerful hours they have passed in their company.
During the balance of the year 1835, there was nothing of interest occurring which can be ascertained, either effected a change in the situation as already described, or proposed a different outlook for the future. Those who had come in during the year, with others, doubtless, whose names have not been preserved, extended the settlements to various parts of the county, where claims were perfected by possession and occupation, and their improvement settled down to. There were no amusements in those days, as one of the old settlers remarked upon being interrogated on that subject. "Why, bless you man, we worked; and when we finished the chores at night," he continued, "we were ready to smoke and go to bed." Their amusements were such as aided them in preparing amusements for the future. Up with the dawn, whence they labored constantly, with a brief intermission at noon for lunch, until sunset; they indeed earned their bread in the sweat of their brows, and sank down to rest at nightfall with the consciousness that some headway had been made by them on the great highway of life, and that if fortune refused to smile upon their efforts, she would not embargo their advance.
As with amusements, so it was with schools and churches. The absence of the former was duplicated in the latter respect. There were none of either. The schoolmaster was not abroad in Stephenson County that year, and beyond the solitary circuit rider, who came at long intervals, if he came at all in the days of this period, there was no representative of the Church to be seen or heard of. And, if the truth be told, as conservators of morals, there was no call for their presence. The settlers had no spare time to listen to the charmings of Satan, and, if they had, they were so distant removed from the base of supplies that no mischief could have been provided for idle hands to do. From these alleged facts, it would seem that nothing remained for them but the development of the country and the providing of homes for days when age could not supply the deficiencies of youth, arid the promise of yesterday remained unfulfilled.
Such was the case without exaggeration; they knew no avoidance of duty, sought no means that would aid them in violating their obligations, but toiled on and persevered in the path of duty until the dawn of perfect days, and the triumph of mind over matter enabled them to rest from their labors and partake of that reward reserved for those who "drag up drowned honor from the locks."
The winter of 1835 was, according to general report, as inhospitable and cheerless as the spring previous had been ''childlike and bland." Breaking the prairie was continued until late in the fall, when the frost congealed earth's moisture so effectually as to forbid the husbandman from further labors in that behalf. Their efforts were then transferred to the timber, and through the eager and nipping air of December trees were felled and timber hewn for houses, stables, mills and other conveniences requiring time and material to provide. There were no mills in the county at the date mentioned, and, when meal or flour was required, a lengthy and fatiguing trip was necessary before either could be obtained. No supplies of this or a kindred character could be obtained nearer than Galena, Dixon, Peoria and other distant points. In the straits these circumstances placed the settlers, occasionally they improvised mills and inaugurated schemes that materially aided in relieving their immediate necessities. When they were at a loss for meal or flour, yet possessed the grain to grind, the settler would cut down a large oak tree, smooth off the stump and build a fire in the center to burn out the heart of the wood.
When the interior was sufficiently charred, the part thus rendered easy to chop was chopped out with an axe until a rude mortar, capable of containing a peck or more of corn, was provided. When these preparations were concluded, the self-constituted miller would rig up a sweep, similar, in some respects, if not in power and dimensions, to the old-fashioned well-sweep, in one end of which he drove an iron wedge, and, using this as a pestle, he pounded the corn. When it was reduced to the consistency of the coarsest quality of meal, he would toss the product up and winnow it with his breath, after which it was ready for use, and the corn-dodgers mixed therefrom and baked in the ashes are said to have been sweeter than the honey of Hymettus.
Although the acreage of timber was in some places nearly equal to the area of prairie, the former was, as a rule, employed only in the building of cabins wherein to reside. If the settler had a drove of cattle or hogs, and there were those who did boast such possessions, they were allowed to range at will without protection from the elements. In some instances, however, the farmer secured comfortables stables, built of sods, which were to be obtained in every furrow of the virgin prairie turned up. And these, it is said, formed better bricks than the Hebrews could have furnished Pharaoh before he denied them straw. Out of this prairie quarry the laborer was enabled to obtain sufficient sod to complete an outhouse large enough to accommodate his horse and cow, when the bleak winds of November chilled them to the marrow, and materially interfered with their usefulness and capacity to sustain burdens.
One peculiar feature of life here in those days was the entire absence of homesickness among the settlers. Inquiries in that direction failed to elicit any response tending to prove the existence of this much dreaded malady in the settlement. On the contrary, all were full of heart and hope, assured of becoming lords of the land and looking forward to a day when this assurance should be made doubly sure by possession. But the absence of the complaint suggested was doubtless due to the same causes which denied them amusements and other privileges mentioned. In addition to these, it might be stated that in temporal affairs the settlers were as innocent of that which distracted the brain of those nearer the centers of trade, as was Evangeline's father of the wiles of the world. Politics then caused them no concern; there were no office-holders or office-seekers, and the poetry and pleasure of their lives was undisturbed by promises from the former, or appeals from the latter, until long after civil government was established.
Yet, notwithstanding the many advantages and privileges vouchsafed them, there were no markets for the surplus harvests raised, if such there should be, and little to mitigate the severity of disease or secure its prevention or cure. A writer of the times details that they led happy lives, satisfied that they would live and die on their own estate. When the land should come into market, they would obtain title thereto and own it from the surface to the stars, and from their cabin floors all the way down to the center of the globe. These claims, which have been referred to so frequently, was the "unwritten law of the settlers themselves." It guaranteed possession to him who first picked out a spot as his own and "blazed" a tree around it, or marked it with a furrow in the sod through the prairie. To this he had an undoubted right, an indisputable "claim" against all comers, save the Government, whence he expected to buy when the lands were offered for sale in the market.
They were generally 640 acres, and occasionally included much more, while some speculators, assuming to be settlers, were disposed to claim the country around for the purpose of holding the same and disposing of it at advanced rates to those who came after them. But they did not always succeed in the ungenerous undertakings, and were almost invariably left in the vocatire. When the sales of land were made at Dixon, in 1848, the contest between purchasers thereat and those who held possession under this "unwritten law" were numerous and prolonged. Not unfrequently harsh measures were deemed necessary to quiet title, and the claim societies organized years before in anticipation of these difficulties, to express it in the language of one of their members, "had their hands full." But time at last, which sets all things even, dissipated the bickerings born of these events, and the legal claimants were, as a general rule, protected in their rights.
The year 1836 was characterized by a still larger immigration than that of either of the preceding years. According to the opinions of many who were on the ground and competent to judge, the history of the county properly commences with that annual Those who had become members of the body politic by residence and improvement, sent back to the homes whence they came glowing accounts of this beautiful land, with her broad, billowy prairies, replete with buds and blossoms, with her wooded fastnesses, in which the deer and smaller game roamed at pleasure; of the water-power that her streams would afford, and many other items of interest, which conspired to render the country not only fascinating to the traveler, but productive under the horny hand of toil. Why remain at the East, circumscribed in their possessions, when they could obtain domains of unlimited extent and fertility by joining fortunes with those already here, was asked of those at home who had been vouchsafed a "New Dispensation" in Illinois.
The descriptions sent thither, and the queries propounded, produced their natural results. They induced reflection and a comparison of advantages enjoyed at home with those that could be secured in other fields. These reflections begat a feeling of discontent and unhappiness in the breasts of the toilers by whom they were indulged, and this discontent and unhappiness culminated in their decision to "pull up stakes" and find in the West, if not the Fountain of Youth, the rock of endless resources, which needed only to be smote that abundant streams of revenue might gush forth. Adopting the language of one who has discoursed most eloquently on the subject, "The spring of 1836" witnessed an unprecedented flow of immigration from all quarters into the county.
Farms were opened, cabins built, blacksmith and other shops improvised; beside the stumps of trees men began to talk and plan for the future, women made calls and visits, and submitted to all the trials, privations and hardships of their frontier life with a heroism and faith that cheered the hearts and nerved the arms of the sterner sex in many a season of gloom and despondency.
Among those who settled in the county this year was a young man who, by the force of his real merit, indomitable energy and personal character, elevated himself to one of the most prominent and honorable positions within the power of the people to confer. Beginning life amid discouraging surroundings, restrained from choice in the adoption of a pursuit by the iron hand of penury, Thomas J. Turner found his way into Stephenson County in May, 1836, and having made a claim in the eastern part thereof, erected a mill near Farwell's ferry on the Pecatonica, at the mouth of Rock Run, where he began the battle of life with none of the auxiliaries that attend modern youth in their wrestles with fate. In company with Julius Smith and B. Thatcher, he built a cabin for his protection, and, when not occupied in discharging his duties at the mill, was storing his mind with knowledge that laid the foundation for future eminence on the hustings, at the bar, and in the councils of the nation. Provisions at the time spoken of were scarce, and for several days, as he subsequently stated, himself and his companions had nothing whatever but boiled corn to eat. Not relishing this unpalatable edible, however, as a steady diet, he started for Galena in order that he might supply the larder with corn that had been eaten up. About dark on the first day of his journeying, he reached a cabin on the opposite side of the Pecatonica, and announced his presence by repeated hallooings.
After a season a lad manned a canoe, and ferried him across the river, where he was introduced into the cabin of Mr. William Baker. The head of the house was absent, as he learned upon inquiry, having gone to Peoria for a stock of supplies, but he received a hospitable welcome from the lady of the house and her houseful of children. After an exchange of compliments, he asked for food and the good woman said he should have some, but all she had to offer were two small "corn dodgers" and the remains of a catfish. The visitor was nearly famished, he had even gone without his usual meal of boiled corn, but he refused to take the scanty supply in the house and declined her tender, after properly acknowledging its proffer. She insisted, and assured him that her husband would return in time to prevent them from starving, besides the boys had got the line out and would have another catfish before morning. He retired to sleep with an exalted opinion of frontier hospitality, and during the night his slumbers were disturbed by the barking of dogs and an unusual commotion out of doors.
Upon rising to investigate, he ascertained that the disturbance arose by reason of the return of Mr. Baker, accompanied by an abundant store of provisions, upon part of which he feasted in the morning, and continued his trip to Galena. Here he obtained work, and procuring a stock of supplies, he returned to his claim in the county, to meet and dispose of new embarassments, endure other hardships and privations, until he amassed sufficient means to enable him to live without the constant apprehension of want uppermost in his mind.
His was not a remote instance of the privations that were suffered by the early settlers of Stephenson County, to be recurred to in after years when the struggle, the strife, the pain, the turmoil of life were nearly over, as experiences that were gained in adversity to be handed down to their children when the tale is told, is finished and ended. As these facts are recited, there are many whose lives were duplicates of that led by Col. Turner, who survive him, and can attest their truth; there be many too upon whose lips the seal of death has been set. No' word can reach the ears of these dead sleepers, but departing they have left behind them the stories of lives that shall be told and oft repeated in the "evening tent," by the household hearth, and wherever the memory of the brave and true is venerated and revered.
This scarcity of provisions mentioned as existing as late as 1836, is in part accounted for by the fact that the area of cultivation was not measurably increased by that time. There were no roads, no bridges and few ferries, and the means of communicating with points at which supplies could be obtained were exceedingly meager. Three saw-mills had been commenced one at Winslow by Thomas Lott, the second on Yellow Creek by William Kirkpatrick, and Turner's Mill at the mouth of Rock Run, but none of them were completed until late in the season. There were no grist-mills north of the Illinois River; during the year William Kirkpatrick erected a corn cracking machine on Yellow Creek, which was also used as a grist-mill, but it was a poor substitute, and was employed to crack wheat as well as corn. The houses were nearly all built of logs, and as the settler was unable to build his cabin single-handed, "raisings" were cheerfully assisted at by neighbors for miles around.
In this year a "claim meeting" was organized, being among the first of the kind in the county. Its object was to defend each member in the possession of his respective claim. The officers consisted of a President, Secretary and Board of Directors. If the claim of any member was encroached upon the party suffering was to notify the officers, who were authorized to make an investigation; if it be found that the cause of complaint is just, the trespasser was to be warned to abandon the claim within five days. If he remained delinquent at the expiration of that period he was to be "carefully removed with his effects from the premises." These were the chief provisions of the constitution as adopted, supplemented by a general understanding that two sections, two miles square, should constitute the extreme limit that heads of families might "claim."
The previous year, William Baker had erected an "Indian trading post" at the mouth of the creek which now empties into Pecatonica River within the limits of Freeport, thus practically beginning the building of that city. In the following year, he built a house in the future city, of hewn logs, the first pretentious establishment in Stephenson County, as also the first hotel in the section. Soon after, the town was laid out, and a company formed for the sale of lots, composed of Mr. Baker, William Kirkpatrick and W. T. Galbraith. A limited emigration drifted hither during the year, including L. O. Crocker, O. H. Wright, Joel Dodds, Jacob Goodheart, Hiram G. Eads, John Hinkle, James Burns, Robert Smith, Benjamin R. Wilmot, John Brown and others. The improvements made elsewhere in the county were meager, though in Freeport a comparative number of houses went up under the direction of the company and those who came there as a result of their labors. Ransomburg was still in existence and, with Freeport, made up the sum total of settlements that bore the appearance of villages in the county.
The remainder of the vast territory was, when occupied, devoted to farming purposes, with all that the term implies, and though agriculture had just commenced to be a factor in the new country, it was attended with abundant returns. The exact number who settled in Stephenson County that year cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy. Their name was not legion, however, as they can almost be counted without an extended knowledge of mathematics. Harmony existed between them in all the departments of life that became the outgrowth of their coming. No bickerings disturbed the friendly relations which existed; a commendable absence of disorder was apparent, all combined their best efforts to bring order out of chaos and redeem the country from unproductiveness, or the production that benefited no man. And this was as it should be. The advance of civilization in the world, as illustrated in the origin and consolidation of empires, monarchies and republics, from the days of Romulus and Remus to the present, is measured by the limits of public tranquility, during which nations gain their highest elevation, weakening and lamentable antagonisms and international strifes causing them to sink below the level of obscurity.
In addition to those already cited as having settled in the vicinity of Freeport, the following persons, some of them with their families, came in and made claims at dhTerent points in the county: Pells Manny, Alfred and Sanford Giddings, Washington Perkey, " Widow " Swanson and family, Thomas Flynn, E. Mullarkey, Henry Hulse, M. Welsh. William and Leonard Lee, Nathan Blackamore, Aaron Baker, Jehu Pile, Ira Job, Daniel Holly, Lydia Wait and family, Thomas Hawkins, John Boyington, N. Phillips, John Lobdell, L. M. and Jeremiah Grigsby, Barney Stowell, a man named Velie, Nicholas Marcellus, John Dennison, W. P. Bankson, M. D., the first physician to settle in the county, Harmon Coggeshall, James Macomber, Alonzo Denio, Duke Chilton, William Kirkpatrick, Gilbert Osborn, A. J. Niles, Sanford Niles, Sawyer Forbes, Daniel Wooten, John Reed, E. H. D. Sanborn, the Ostranders, Garrett Lloyd, Asa Nichols, Lorenzo Lee, Madison Carnefex, Phillip Fowler, D. W. C. Mailory, Joseph Norris, Thomas Hathaway, with his mother-in-law, a Mrs. Brown, James Shinkle, and perhaps two or three others whose names not having been preserved are unintentionally omitted.
From this record it will be seen that the population of the county, owing to the attractions held out per se, as also to the favorable reports which had been carried back East by the videttes of the army of civilization which afterwards followed and took possession, was materially augmented.
The winter of 1836-37 was a repetition of that of 1834-35. The cold was intense, and its severity to-day is quoted as one among the wonderful mysteries of nature revealed at long intervals to the curious, if not entirely grateful human family. There was, as a result, very little done in the way of building, or improving the land. A happy-go-lucky sort of a life was led, as most of the settlers had become comparatively comfortable, and remaining generally in their cabins, took scarcely any thought of the morrow, content to wait until the icy fetters of winter were permanently severed before arranging for future campaigns. During the fall, lands to a large amount were entered in the State of Illinois, of which a reasonable proportion was located in Stephenson County.
From this, it was not unreasonable to conclude that an extraordinary tide of emigration would set in with the spring of 1837. This fired the ideas of farmers and business men with the hope of attaining fortunes suddenly, and caused almost unlimited investments; to prevent them from becoming a drug upon the hands of purchasers, as also to invite immigration to the State, a system of internal improvements was formulated, based on the faith and credit of the State. A bill providing for the construction of railroads, the building of canals and improvement of rivers was adopted by the Legislature, and great results were expected. But these expectations were never realized. The internal improvement system collapsed entirely almost before it had been tested, the suspension of banks became frequent and hard times obtained wherever two or three had gathered together in one place. The effect of this in the State was to retard immigration for a brief period, and although Stephenson County escaped its direct effects, there is no doubt but that its growth and development was temporarily checked. Merchandising during this period was made up of the retailing of a, few groceries and necessaries, and the money received, where the trade was not a barter, was sent abroad for the payment of goods, which drained the country of anything like a sufficient currency and added to the inconveniences experienced, as also aggravated the panic of that year. This calamity, however, was not felt to any appreciable extent in Stephenson County, say those who were here in those days, but reserved for their benefit twenty years later, when the East and West were threatened with financial ruin by the monetary difficulties which overran the country in 1857.
cursory review of the situation in the county, from the day when William
Waddams came into what was then a part of Jo Daviess County, to the
organization of the county by legislative enactment, not five years
after, reveals a condition of affairs as changed as they were singularly
wonderful and encouraging. During that period the number of inhabitants
had increased in a remarkable degree. Wild and untrodden prairies had
been resolved into farms under a comparatively high state of cultivation.
Houses had been built of a more imposing character than Mr. Waddams
believed would appear in the ensuing decade, forests had been felled,
roads surveyed and towns laid out; the water power applied to beneficial
uses and "internal improvements" contemplated, which should
appreciate the value of property, increase the attractions offered immigrants
and accomplish the greatest good for the greatest number. This was the
situation when spring opened in 1837, and active operations were
begun by the people.
The first marriage to occur in the county is a question involved in doubt. Some maintain that the ceremony took place in Ransomburg during the year 1836, while others assert it was postponed until a year later. The couple united at Ransomburg is said to have been a Mr. Gage and Melindy Eels. The fact, however, is claimed by old settlers about Winslow, that the marriage of Dr. W. G. Bankson to Phoebe Macomber took place in the fall of 1836, and if any wedding had preceded that in the county they are unfamiliar with the contracting parties. A colporteur or Squire Waddams officiated upon this latter occasion, but who attended in a similar capacity at the marriage of Mr. Gage and Miss Eels, is not susceptible of proof.
The first death is quoted as occurring the same year, also the first birth. The former was a son of Lemuel Streator, in the township of Winslow, and the latter, as already referred to, was Amanda Waddams, the date of her coming being during the month of February.
All of these events came to pass prior to the separation of the county from Jo Daviess, to which they properly belong, and are only mentioned in this connection as evidence of the fact that life, marriage and death visited the homes of settlers, and that grief and joy, pleasure and sorrow, were as freely distributed as in the days which have followed.
With the advance that had been made in the five years mentioned, the people were proud. Though few in number they thanked God for it; they thanked Him that their lives were cast in such pleasant places; they felt that their homes were established, whence they would not depart from until the summons came to join the innumerable throng marching to that mysterious realm in the dim land of dreams, and, with quiet, genial, loving promptings, united in a common cause, they contemplated the future, not as children contemplate the darkness of the night, but full of hope for the days that were yet hidden in its unfathomable depth.
Up to the spring of 1837 there was no civil organization among the settlers. the territory, as has been stated, being under the jurisdiction of Jo Daviess County, though, as one of the chroniclers details, but few of them knew it. The differences arising between them, when any occurred, proceeding from the disputes engendered regarding the boundaries of claims. How these were disposed of when arbitration failed of adjustment is known, sometimes summarily but without litigation. Industry, frugality and hospitality were the ruling maxims among them, and they lived together in peace. Though without many of the accessories of civilization, or the comforts of life, many live to-day who regret that those days of trial and adventure are past, and the rude cabin with the rifle hanging above the entrance, possess a charm for them unspeakable.
On the 4th of March, 1837, the Legislature, then in session at Vandalia, passed an act providing for the organization of the county, as follows:
Section 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois represented in the General Assembly, That all tract of that country within the following boundaries, to wit: commencing on the northern boundary of the State where the section line between sections three and four, in town twenty-nine north, range five, east of the fourth principal meridian strikes said line, and thence east on the northern boundary of the State, to the range line between ranges nine and ten east, thence south on said range line to the northern boundary of Ogle County, thence west on the northern boundary of Ogle County to and passing the northeast corner of the county, to the line between sections thirty-three and thirty-four, in township twenty-six north, range five east to the place of beginning, shall form a county to be called Stephenson, as a tribute of respect to the late Col. Benjamin Stephenson.
Sec. 2 An election shall be held at the house of William Baker, in said county, on the first Monday of May next, for one Sheriff, one Coroner, one Recorder, one County Surveyor, three County Commissioners, and one Clerk of the County Commissioner's Court, who shall hold their offices until the next succeeding general elections, and until their successors are elected and qualified; which said election shall be conducted in all respects agreeable to the provisions of the law regulating elections. Provided, That the qualified voters present may elect from their own number three qualified voters to act as judges of said election, who shall appoint two qualified voters to act as clerks.
By a further provision of this act, the counties of Stephenson and Boone contrived to form a part of the county of Jo Daviess until their organization, and they were also afterwards to be attached to Jo Daviess in all general elections, until otherwise provided for by law.
In pursuance of this act, an election was accordingly held at the house of William Baker on the first Monday of May, 1837, at which James W. Fowler, Thomas J. Turner and Orleans Daggett were selected as judges, with Benjamin Goddard and John C. Wickham as Clerks. The total number of votes cast was 121. William Kirkpatrick was elected Sheriff; Lorenzo Lee, Coroner; Oestes H. Wright, Commissioner's Clerk and Recorder; Lemuel W. Streator, Isaac S. Forbes and Julius Smith, Commissioners, and Frederick D. Bukley, County Surveyor. Of these, the first officers of Stephenson County, Fredrick D. Bukley alone survives, the remainder, it is believed, having crossed over the river, are resting beneath the trees that line its banks. On the 8th of May, the County Commissioners' Court convened according to law, at which the officers elected the week previous qualified, after which the Court proceeded to lay off the county into election precincts and dispose of other business demanding its attention. During the session of the Court, a drunken man who was noisy and pugnacious was arrested by Sheriff Kirkpatrick and locked up in William Baker's root house, where he was kept until the liquor had spent its force, when he was discharged. If to-day an inebriated warrior in pursuit of trouble and gore should collide with an officer of the law, he would be furnished with quarters in the calaboose, and when sober charged for his accommodations at rates that would astonish the economical tipstaff of 1837.
Among other orders entered on the Commissioners' book upon that memorable occasion, was one prohibiting inn-keepers from charging more than 37 cents for a meal, 12 cents for a night's lodging, 25 cents for a measure of oats, and the same price for a horse to hay over night. That order, it is believed, has never been repealed, but is never enforced and has become a dead letter. The electoral precincts, as then laid off, were as follows: Rock Grove Precinct began at the northeast corner of the county and ran south six miles, thence west nine miles, thence north to the State line, thence on the line to the place of beginning. Jonathan Cora, J. R. Blackamore and Eli Frankeberger were appointed Judges.
Silver Creek Precinct commenced at the southeast corner of Rock Grove Precinct and ran south to the south line of the county, thence seven miles west, thence north, striking the line of Rock Grove Precinct, thence east to the place of beginning. Horace Colburn, N. Salsbury and Philo Hammond, Judges.
Brewster Precinct commenced at the northwest corner of Rock Grove Precinct, running south six miles, west eleven miles, north to the State line and east to the place of beginning. L. R. Hull, John M. Curtiss and N. C. Ransom, Judges.
Central Precinct commenced at the northwest corner of Silver Creek Precinct, ran south five miles, west thirteen miles, north to the southwest corner of Brewster Precinct, thence east to the place of beginning. Ira Jones, Levi Lucas and Alpheus Goddard, Judges.
Waddams Precinct commenced at the northwest corner of Brewster Precinct, ran south to the south line of the county, thence west on the county line to the west line, north on the line to the north line of the county, and east to the place of beginning. John Garner, William Waddams and Othniel Preston were appointed Judges.
Freeport Precinct began at the southeast corner of Central Precinct, ran south to the south line of the county, west to the east line of Waddams Precinct, north to the south line of Central Precinct, and east to the place of beginning, with Seth Scott, A. M. Preston and L. 0. Crocker, Judges.
act creating the county also authorized Vance L. Davidson, Isaac Chambers
and Miner York to locate the county seat, appointing them Commissioners
for that purpose; and as soon as their appointment, together with the
object, was promulgated, the fun began in earnest as to where the court
house should be located. Propositions for the county seat were submitted
from all parts of the county where any approach to a settlement had
been made, and the advantages offered by the several claimants were
no doubt urged with a pertinacity that
equalled eloquence. The principal rivalry, however, existed between Cedarville, then in futuro, and Freeport, which by this time contained as many as half a dozen houses, a store, saloon, hotel and other adjuncts of progress. On behalf of the former place its locality was urged as one of the principal arguments. It would, when built up, occupy the center of the county, within easy reach of the most distant citizen. In addition to this, there were other features of excellence which were not presented by Freeport or any other mooted point. But the claims of the latter place carried the day, the argument advanced by William Baker being that the site for the court-house should be donated, supplemented by the assurance that each of the Commissioners should receive a lot. This inducement, the Rev. F. C. Winslow thought, influenced the judgment of the Commissioners, and biased their decision in making the award. At all events, they concluded upon Freeport as the most available site, and in June, 1837, issued the following proclamation as the result of their deliberations:
We, the Commissioners appointed by the Legislature of the State of Illinois, to locate the county seat of Stephenson County and State aforesaid, have located said Seat of Justice, on the northwest quarter of Section 31, in Township 27, north, Range 8, east of the Fourth Principal Meridian, now occupied and claimed by William Kirkpatrick & Co., William Baker and Smith Galbraith.
Whereunto we have set our hands and seals this 12th day of June, A. D. 1837. (Signed,) V. L. DAVIDSON. ISAAC CHAMBERS.
When the agony was over the people returned to their usual avocations, and though it was alleged that the Commissioners had acted inequitably in the premises, no one has been found, in the light of subsequent events, to condemn the policy adopted on that occasion.
The next most important event in the history of the times, was the first marriage solemnized according to law after the county was organized, and requiring the issue of a license to make it legally binding.
The parties to the contract were Eunice, daughter of William Waddams, and George Place. The happy couple selected the anniversary of American Independance, 1837, for the celebration of their nuptials, and enlisted the services of Levi Robey, Esq., then acting as a Justice of the Peace. He tied the knot presumably with neatness and despatch, and Mrs. Place yet lives to relate the fact. She says there were no jollifications had upon this memorable occasion; that she and her consort continued on the even tenor of their way, and never regretted the benediction which made them one. She now lives in the house her father built forty-eight years ago, on the road from Nora to McConnell's Grove, enjoying a ripe old age and all the comforts to which she was then a stranger. On the 24th of the same month James Blair was married to Kate Marsh at the residence of James Timms. William Ensign opened a school in Mr. Timms' residence the same summer probably the first school taught in the county after it was laid off. On May 24, of this year, Harvey M. Timms came to light in his father's cabin, and is generally distinguished as the first birth. The first deaths reported were those of Thomas Milburn and a man named Reed, who had but recently come into the county, and their tragic ending caused feelings of sympathy and gloom to prevail in the neighborhood where the accident by which they met their fate occurred.
It seems that they were employed in cultivating a corn patch a short distance west of the present village of Ridott, on the opposite side of the Pecatonica, which they were accustomed to cross when proceeding to work, by means of a " dug out." One morning, in the spring of 1837, the men, accompanied by a step-son of Thomas Crain, embarked in their treacherous ferry and shoved out into the stream. During the passage the unwieldy barque capsized, precipitating the unfortunate trio into the swollen waters. Reed and Milburn were unable to swim and sank to the bottom, while Wooten, the young man who started with them, reached the opposite shore, narrowly escaping the end which attended his companions.
The survivor hurried to arouse the settlers, who hastened to the scene of the accident, and, after dragging the river without results for several hours, finally recovered the bodies. The only hearse procurable was a large emigrant wagon, in which, drawn by a yoke of oxen, they were taken to the highest and dry est spot near by, a grave dug, and they laid reverently in. Hazel brush was placed on. the bodies, and the grave filled up. A few days after, one who had assisted at the burial, on going to the grave, found that prairie wolves had dug in so far as to bring up a portion of the fustian pants in which one of them was dressed. He procured a block of wood, which he drove into the opening, after which it remained undisturbed, and is remembered as a landmark, visible for a long distance, by travelers on the prairie.
On the 5th of December, 1837, a contract was concluded between the County Commissioners and Thomas J. Turner for the erection of a frame court house and a jail of hewn logs. The timbers were gotten out during the winter, under the direction of Julius Smith, and the premises in part completed the following summer. From 1838 to 1870 the old "justice shop " stood in the square on Stephenson street, and served the purpose for which it was erected, without decay. Twice it was struck by lightning, which splintered some of its timbers, but in each instance repairs restored its safety and left it without a scar. The old building passed through a world of experience in its day, but was finally removed to give place to the splendid structure which now ornaments its site.
An impetus was added to immigration this year, and all the material interests of the county prospered, notwithstanding the dark and troublesome times which were being experienced in more populated communities, where wealth and happiness had given place to actual want, and anticipations yielded place to discouraging realities. These were the effects of the panic.
Indeed, it may be safely said, that in spite of the numerous drawbacks which new corporations inevitably encounter, the year 1837, in many respects, yielded the first intimations received by settlers that good would come out of Stephenson County in a future not too distant to discourage. A prosperous period it was insisted upon was dawning. The farmers closed their year's labors with a consciousness that these labors had not been altogether vain, and determined to so improve the opportunities offered by the ensuing season that their profits should be liberal. To this portion of the community, at least, the prospect was cheering.
The location of the county seat but confirmed to their minds the predictions regarding the future they had ventured. The contracts let for public buildings would create a demand for labor, attract emigration, cause money to be disbursed, create a larger demand for their products and cheapen the price of necessaries. Nor was this all. The county, then devoid of roads, would in a short time be supplied, and farmers would be able to market their commodities with some assurance that they could go there and return home without exhausting the proceeds of their sales. Nor was this all. The value of lands appreciated, and the sales of claims effected, if so desired, at prices which seemed extravagant; mail facilities would be improved, and means of communication increased. The accomplishment of these desideratums would do much to dissipate the feeling of solitude and desire which come upon the most courageous for temporary change.
Freeport began to assume the appearance of a village, and New Pennsylvania, known as Bobtown, but of late years as McConnell's Grove, had been laid out by Dennison and Vanzant. At the former place a number of houses had been put up, and considerable trading carried on at the village store of O. H. Wright. Business there was generally concluded while it was light; when night spread its wings over the scene, merchant and customer, factor and planter, were usually at home, and the "city " was left to darkness and vacancy. Amusements were not indulged. The necessity for labor to provide the staff of life precluded pleasantries of any but a kind seemingly indigenous to new countries including raisings, quiltings and the like.
Schools, with sparse attendance and the most ordinary curriculum, had been established in some portions of the county, and services were held by traveling preachers whenever an opportunity was afforded. Their edifices were frequently " God's first temples," and the congregation made up of residents within a circuit of many miles from the point of occupation. The Rev. Father McKean, it is believed, preached in Freeport, this year, the first sermon by a regularly ordained minister, in the village, and some say that Judge Stone convened court in O. H. Wright's residence, which was in the rear of his store. When the court house was partly finished, it was devoted to religious as well as judicial purposes, its occupation being divided between the various sects then seeking converts, on the ground, and was so appropriated until the several denominations were domiciled in quarters of their own.
Among the large number who came into this section that year, there were some who have left the impress of their labors and characteristics so pronouncedly that they are distinctly remembered after the lapse of nearly half a century. Prominent among these was Dr. Thomas Van Valzah, who came from Pennsylvania, the pioneer of a class of people, the "Pennsylvania Dutch," who followed in his footsteps, and, purchasing large tracts of land in the county, have attained to wealth and importance by their indefatigable industry, keen foresight, economy and perseverance. As farmers, speculators making investments, heads of corporations, bank presidents, and citizens, they have everywhere commanded the public confidence and a decided success.
Dr. Van Valzah settled on a claim within the present site of the village of Cedarville, which he purchased of John Goddard, and at once began the erection of a saw and grist mill. These were completed in November, 1837, and were the first of the kind put up in the county. The latter was supplied with one run of stone and a " chopper." The mill was at first operated by hand power, but within a year of its completion water-power was substituted. The establishment has been conducted since, though the old mill building long since yielded precedence to a handsome structure, at present owned by Hon. John H. Addams.
During the summer, Nelson Martin opened a school in Freeport, and some of his pupils still remember the "deportment " he enforced, more particularly that attending their disobedience of an order issued by him prohibiting the scholars from testing the supporting qualities of the ice upon the Pecatonica when that stream was frozen over in the following winter.
In other portions of the county an imperfect system of education had been introduced, and was attended with beneficial results. In short, this year, as already remarked, was a year in which rapid strides were made in the direction of an independence that only required time to develop fully. In addition to Freeport and McConnell's Grove, there were other settlements which sought the felicity of villages. "Irish Grove," in Rock Run Township, and "Dublin," in the Township of Erin, were sprouting into significance as the Celtic residents of both places made improvements and cultivated the graces of peace, supplemented by a moderate degree of prosperity. Too much cannot be said of the Irish residents of Stephenson County. None are dependent, while many of them own and cultivate large farms, and all are industrious, law-abiding and reputable citizens. A temperance organization exists in Dublin, which enjoys a generous membership, and wherever this nationality predominates it exerts an influence for good. The sons and daughters are educated to fit them for the duties of life. As one of the early settlers of that race stated to the writer, he was determined that his children should not be deprived of the advantages that were denied him in his youth. Two of the oldest churches in the county were built and supported by them, and the religious influence exerted by the congregations is not surpassed by that of any other organization in the county.
The arrivals this year included, among others: Joseph Musser, Isaac Develey, Thomas and Samuel Chambers, William Wallace, a Mr. Moore, Joseph Osborn, Daniel Guyer, Pat Giblin, Miles O'Brien, a man named Corcoran, Hiram Hill, John Howe, I. Forbes, John Milburn and Reed, whose deaths by drowning in Pecatonica River are related above, Stewart Reynolds, Sanford Niles, John Tharp, Jackson Richart, Saferus Snyder, Joseph Green, Charles Macomber, the Rev. Philo Judson, Cornelius Judson, S. F. M. Fretville, Alfred Gaylord, the Rev. Asa Ballinger, Phillip and Warner Wells, Henry Johnson, Oliver and John R. Brewster, Isaac Kleckner, Ezra Gillett, Joab Morton, James Turnbull, " Father " Ballinger, Hector C. Haight, who became a Mormon, Jacob Gable, Valorus Thomas, George W. Babbitt, John Edwards, Levi Lewis, John Lewis, Rezin and Levi Wilcoxon, Caleb Tompkins, the Farwell Brothers, the Brace family, Garett Lloyd, Harvey and Jeremiah Webster, Sybil Ann Price, Samuel F. Dodds, Robert T. Perry, Robert and Wm. Lashell, James and Oliver Thompson, Jacob Burbridge, Samuel and Marshall Bailey, Martin Howard, John Harmon, a Mr. Graham, Alonzo Fowler, and some few others.
Marriages, births and deaths were more numerous, owing to this increase in the population, there being several of each recorded in the county that year. But there was much to mitigate the inconveniences experienced by those who had come two years before, whose comfort was augmented by those who came after, and compensated in a measure for the trials they had been called upon to previously endure.
The old year floated away into the past, leaving behind it pleasant memories of hopes realized by a people who had been more than prospered during its career. The new year bended above the prostrate form of 1837, cast dead flowers over what had passed to nothingness, and, gliding in through the open door scattering blossoms in its way, renewed unto the people the pledges which had already been recorded, but lay buried in the ashes of years.
Among those who came in 1837, Maj. John Howe should not be forgotten. He had been a member of the New York Legislature, and came West with the close of his official term. His influence in Stephenson County was wide-spread, and he was regarded as a man of the most brilliant attainments. After filling the offices of County Commissioner, County Judge, etc., he emigrated to Wisconsin, where he died. His daughter married L. W. Guiteau, long a prominent resident of Freeport, where he died during the month of July, 1880.
With the opening of spring in 1838 the tide of emigration again began to flow in slowly, tis true, but of a character, as the sequel proved, the reverse of transient; for those who came, settled, and contributed their efforts toward building up the country. Commercial interests increased in Freeport, which by this time bore evidences in its buildings and increase in population of possibilities in the future. The uncertainties born of the financial crisis of the preceding year had been dissipated, and were succeeded by a feeling of confidence which found expression in investments made not only in the future city but the surrounding country, while improvements were projected and completed at a number of points. These were the reverse of ornamental as a rule, architecturally speaking, yet they relieved the primitive surroundings of tiresome monotony and added the spice of variety to scenes otherwise characterized by too much sameness. No change was made in municipal or county affairs, and schools were sustained by private subscription to the absence of legal assessments for their support.
Religious services continued to be held, and the number of worshipers visibly increased. Good order was the rule, though in Freeport, which was made the rendezvous of that class of men who direct their steps to communities of recent date, the law officers were often compelled to enforce the statutes by arrest and confinement in jail. But the innumerable trials to which the pioneers were subjected were by this time lessened, and the cases of actual suffering more remote. The men were strengthened by the experience through which they had passed, and timid women became brave through combats with dangers that had been real. The constant struggle for the means to sustain life had brought with it some incidents of ease and luxury, and it was not until many years after, when the distance to market and the cost of transportation absorbed the proceeds of the crops, that settlers were reminded of the days that had once been dark.
Mills were accessible, and, instead of resorting to "gritters" or the improvised pestle and mortar for an unsatisfactory quality of meal, or obtaining a modicum thereof for home consumption at the expense of a fatiguing journey, meal such as is prized to-day for its purity and health-giving properties was easily secured at the Van Valzah, Kirkpatrick and other mills that had been completed meanwhile. In the olden time of the settlement of Stephenson County, heads of families were obliged to visit the mills at Galena, Peoria and elsewhere for their grinding. The slow mode of travel by ox teams was rendered still more prolonged by the utter absence of roads, bridges and ferries. In dry weather these embargoes were sufficiently discouraging, but when the rainy season was at its height, or during the breaking up of winter, these troubles became dangers.
To get mired in a slough was no uncommon occurrence, and often a swollen stream would blockade the way, when if the traveler was unable to cross, he was obliged to have recourse for his object at other points. In dry weather they got along better, but in winter progress was next to impossible. The utmost economy of time, too, was necessary, for often, when the goal was reached after a week or more of toilsome travel with many exposures and risks, and where the applicant was anxious to return to his family with the least possible delay, he was not unfrequently disheartened with the information that his turn might come in a week. When his "turn" came he must be on hand or miss his "turn," and, when the anxious soul was ready to endure the trials of a trip back, his heart was heavy with the thoughts of how affairs had been at home.
It is interesting to trace the relation between the present condition of the county and the first acts of its first settlers. The beauty of the landscape today, proceeding from the industry of a later generation, has its seminal principle in the events of the first years of the county's settlement. The ambition that their children should be educated, for which they permitted themselves to be assessed, was a fit prelude to the zeal for the adoption of a system that has since obtained. The persistence of Father McKean, the Revs. Winslow, Bollinger and others, in maintaining religious services under difficulties, was the germ from which have sprung the churches, and promoted public morals and order. To these agencies, more than all others combined, is due, not only the production of material wealth, but the thrift and refinement for which Stephenson County and her inhabitants are characterized.
The difficulties referred to were in a degree banished with the approach of 1838; their benediction was pronounced with the close of 1837. The country was no longer a frontier. Business was an established fact. Farms were in a high state of cultivation, and all that would aid in hastening the advent of days of prosperity was combined to that end. What a metamorphosis ten years had wrought! What a contrast between 1827, when Kellogg came timorously into the country, and 1838, when that country, freed from Indian occupation, was comparatively thickly settled.
This year elections were held, and the first Assessor, L. O. Crocker, inducted into office. He was a most excellent man, who came into Freeport among the first to locate there, and engaged in merchandising. Well fitted to discharge the duties of life in whatever position he might be assigned, he was intrusted with many important duties and generous enterprises, and found faithful in all. He died many years ago, but not until he had witnessed the growth and advancement of the city from infancy and penury to age and wealth.
During the early administrations of the Assessor, every species of taxable personal property was listed. The cradle and the winding-sheet and the coffiin were doubtless excepted, but nearly every other necessity, not to say luxury, from a prairie-breaking team to a $12 watch, was made to pay tribute, and that, too, as high as the law permitted. The man who carried a timepiece of measured value, was compelled to pay 60 cents for the privilege, and three of the richest men in the county contributed $2 each to the support of the county on the watches they owned. Hubbard Graves was Collector, and the total amount paid him in his official capacity footed up $96 and some cents, the rate being about 45 cents on each $100 assessed value, which would give the assessed value of personal property in the county in 1838, about $21,333.
At the election this year the voters were more numerous than had participated in that held when the county was organized. For example, in Ridott Township, the election was held at Daniel Wooton's house, with the host. John Hoag and William Everts, Judges; Horatio Hunt and Harvey Waters, Clerks; who, with D. W. C. Mallory, Philo Hammond, Giles Pierce, Zebulon Dimmick, William Barlow, Pat Frame and S. Forbes, constituted the number who were entitled to exercise the privileges of the elective franchise. The day there, as elsewhere, was made one of rejoicing. At Wooton's house a barrel of whisky was provided, and frequent resorts to its contents had a tendency to elevate, if not inebriate the company.
All maintained a commendable condition of sobriety, however, save one, whose capacity to resist the effects was disproportioned to his appetite for the beverage. As a consequence, when night came, the gentleman was oblivious to passing events, and scarcely able to maintain his equilibrium. During the day an inseparable incident of all elections the rain fell in torrents, and, when it came time to disperse, the route home was over shallows and full of difficulties, aggravated by the semi-incapacity of some to travel, and particularly the merry little gentleman under consideration. He crossed the river in safety, where a hill, the sides of which had attained the consistency of thin mortar by the action of the rain, opposed his advance. Like as a war-horse, while cavorting in peaceful solitudes hears the strains of marshal music, pricks up his ears and snorts and paws and kindles at the sound, so did the intoxicated citizen joy in the knowledge of his powers to overcome the difficulty. But he counted without carrying the fractions, for a trial was concluded with the subject on his back in the mud, the object of merriment to those who witnessed his fall. But he was a man of heroic mold, and, like Antseus, renewing his ambition with defeat, he raised up, a most laughable spectacle, and tried it again. The second attempt was attended with similar results, as was the third, until some of his neighbors crossed over to where he was and assisted him home, where he was tucked into bed and left to sleep off the effects of his too frequent absorbings.
It was in 1838 that the first house was built in the present village of Rock Grove; a schoolhouse was put up in Freeport, and Hiram Eads built a hotel in the same town, and, on the Fourth of July of that year, invited the entire country for miles around to take dinner therein.
The celebration here indulged in 1838 was the first of the series since celebrated in the county. Preparations were made for a proper observance of the occasion weeks prior to its arrival. The Rev. F. C. Winslow was quite active in perfecting arrangements, as, also, were Benjamin Goddard, Isaac Stoneman, 0. H. Wright, Allen Wiley, William Baker, the Truax boys, Abe Johnson, and, in fact, the patriotic citizens generally. For days before the Fourth, the Rev. Mr. Winslow had a class in training to sing ballads of Revolutionary memory and a national ode, believed to have been specially composed in honor of the event. This class was composed of Miss Cornelia Russell, now Mrs. T. J. Hazlett. and residing^in Freeport, Eliza Hunt, Marion Snow, Mrs. Amelia Webb, who subsequently married Hollis Jewell, and others, and it would be no exaggerated statement of the case to inform modern choristers that their efforts, including the Ode to Columbia, were received with pronounced manifestations of pleasure. Benjamin Goddard's barn was selected as the forum, where the Declaration was read with proper emphasis upon each syllabic reference to liberty. O. H. Wright, it is believed, delivered an oration, after which, dinner, dancing and the pursuit of happiness as each particular celebrant individually inclined.
The year 1838 is remembered by the settlers of that day in connection with the tragedy which occurred in what is now Oneco Township, resulting in the suicide of one of the Lott family while laboring under a fit of temporary insanity. The cause of this diseased mind could not be ascertained, nor could any but the most meager particulars be obtained from presumably reliable sources. At all events, according to the drift of these statements, it appears that Lott, while invested with one of the constantly-recurring paroxysms manifested, left his home unbeknown to any of the family, who were cognizant that he had inherited the malady, and maintained a watch upon his movements, and, proceeding in the direction of Jonas Strohm's farm, in Section 27, disappeared from view. He had not been gone long before his absence was noted, and a general search made for his whereabouts by members of the household, assisted by Alonzo Denio and others of the neighbors, who happened to be in the vicinity.
After some delay, he was overtaken, but not until he had hanged himself to a tree, and was almost dead when found. He was cut down, it is said, by Alonzo Denio, and every effort made to resuscitate him, but without accomplishing the desired object. The spark of life was too feeble to be restored by the means improvised or the remedies employed. The scene of his immolation is almost in sight of the present home of Duke Chilton, half a mile distant from the village of Oneco, and was regarded with curiosity not unmingled with superstition for many years after. His tragic taking-off caused a feeling of gloom to pervade the vicinity, from the effects of which recovery was not immediate.
first marriage ceremony by a minister of the gospel was celebrated early
in February of this year, the happy pair submitting their affections
for community purposes being Thomas Chambers and Rebecca Moore. The
Rev. James McKean, better known as "Father McKean," officiated,
and pronounced them man and wife at John Moore's cabin, in Rock Grove,
on property now owned by Levi Kiester. The cabin was but twenty feet
square, yet in these contracted limits not less than forty guests were
gathered as witnesses. The event was considered as of distinguished
importance, and was attended by residents in the county whose homes
were some of them at a distance of eighteen miles from the scene of
festivities. At the close of the services, cake, wine and music were
dispensed with, and the couple settled down to the realities of life
without any of the memories that chaperone brides of to-day when they
launch their barques on the tempestuous waves of matrimony, hoping to
float with the
tide and escape all hidden obstructions.
These are some of the incidents of the times, but, while they were occurring, labor was not suspended by the architects who were engaged in those days laying the foundation for that magnificent superstructure which was to rise therefrom. The sublime promise ventured by its prophetic infancy was being gloriously realized unto Stephenson County, as day succeeded day, and months cycled into years. The hours of travail and despondency in which that infancy was passed were gone glimmering phantoms, school-boy dreams to yield place to days of rejoicings, when hope's most generous fruitions were fully realized to the confidences that had been reposed.
But improvements were not entirely confined to Freeport, as would be naturally imagined, though that municipality was particularly favored in this respect. The court house was in progress of completion there, the company of Kirkpatrick, Galbraith & Co., had been nearly constantly occupied in putting up buildings or providing for future operations. Benjamin Goddard was occupying the position of Boniface at the Mansion House, erected by himself.
There were three stores in the town, to which an addition was made in the fall of 1838 by L. W. Guiteau, etc., etc. The country tributary was proportionately fortunate, and as proportionately benefited. The area of cultivation was increased and its quality improved by the introduction of valuable aids. While the labor of preparing and laying by the crop was thereby diminished, plans were incubating that should revolutionize the machinery employed at harvest, and found expression a year later, when a four-horse threshing machine was first used in the county.
Hamlets came into being, and towns, which had been heretofore laid out were platted and divided up into lots. Ransomburg, the first of the list which became flourishing cities in imagination, but finally sank into oblivion, was approaching that period of decay when its lease of life could be extended no further. A half-dozen residences, Way's school, Stewart's and Ransom's stores, and probably a blacksmith shop, made up the aggregate of improvements, and less than half a score of inhabitants were enumerated in the bills of mortality.
But its decay and final dismemberment, and the ultimate reduction of its site to agricultural purposes, produced no effect upon the army of enterprising men who had settled in the county, and were ambitious of distinction as the founders of towns. If anything, hope was stimulated and lived upon the almost certain results of the future.
Robert McConnell, who drove a herd of cattle into the county about this time, purchased the title of Dennison & Vanzant to the town laid out by them in Waddams, which he named "McConnell's Grove," erected a store for trading purposes, and as a means of attracting settlers, which he stocked with goods purchased at Galena and hauled them to their final destination, over hills and sloughs, and remained in charge until the hopes he had nursed for days to come had become resolved into disappointments.
Immigration in 1838 was, as it should be, greater than ever before. The flattering inducements held out for honest toil were not passed by unavailed of. The men who composed the incomers were, as those who came in before them, bred to the business of farming in the quiet old homes of New England, and the precedent established by Dr. Van Valzah encouraged a liberal quota of citizens of Pennsylvania to come hither. In addition, the number of foreigners was visibly increased, and what is claimed as the first Catholic Church in the county was that year erected in Irish Grove, though this is disputed by the communicants of the Catholic Church in Dublin. But those were days of romance in church affairs, and a decision of the truth in the premises is remitted to the disputants.
The political views of the people then were not as pronounced or generally expressed as in later years. Indeed, politics and political manipulations did not concern them to any but a very limited extent. Among the pioneers of any new country, there will always be found a class of political adventurers who seek in new fields the life of ease and accumulation of property they were unable to secure in commonwealths established and indebted to the efforts of others for their independence, and there were no great political questions which, up to this time, divided the people. Politics was consequently more personal, and suffrage was bestowed more as a favor than to promote the public weal.
The candidates represented the Whig and Locofoco parties, and, though the people almost to a man voted, it was not until 1837, when the murder of Elijah P. Lovejoy, at Alton, created the first impressions of the antagonism that were felt. This feeling grew apace with advancing time, and, though the democracy were often triumphant, and the party contained some of its ablest representatives from Stephenson County, an expression of the general opinion was delayed until the repeal of the Wilmot Proviso and the dissolution of the Whig party gave birth to the Republican party, which has obtained in Illinois for nearly a quarter of a century. But at the time we speak, politics was a most insignificant factor in the daily walks of life, and in 1838, at least, bore no appearance to what it is to-day.
The arrivals that year included Robert Sisson, H. G. Davis, John Walsh, John and Thomas Warren. Isaac Scott, Samuel Liebshitz, Christian Strockey, with two sons, Chauncey Stebbins. F. Rosenstiel, P. L. Wright, William Preston, Louis Preston, Matthew Bredendall (Thomas Carter, Isaac Rand, Samuel Bogenruff, L. L. Pitcher, a man named Lathrop and some others settled about this time in Kent), Lewis Gitchell, David Gitchell, Philo Hammond, Ezekiel and Jacob Forsythe, John Lloyd, Putnam Perley, Ezekiel Brown, John Brazee, Christian Clay, J. D. Fowler, James McGhu, Adrian Lucas, Newcomb Kinney, Charles A. Gore, Hiram Gaylord, Cornelius and Jonathan Cowan, Alexander Allen, John Bradford, Thomas Loring, Columbus and Ichabod Thompson, Elias and Edward Hunt, and some others, doubtless, but lack of memory prevented the securing of their names.
Taken for its all in all, the year 1838, was one of success for Stephenson County, paving the way for the important events which followed in the years that succeeded.
The season of 1839 was, in very many respects, regarding settlements and improvements, a duplicate of 1838. The machinery of government moved noiselessly and effectively, and among the improvements put up was a building on Luman Montague's farm, in West Point Township, to be devoted exclusively to school purposes, the first of the kind appropriated to that object in the county. The building was long since torn down, but the site is there, visible to the passer-by from Nora to Bobtown, on the farm now owned by H. C. Montague. The court house had been made ready for use, and the log jail, when necessary, was guarded by citizens, the same not having been sufficiently completed at this time to safely house prisoners.
At one time this calaboose was filled with prisoners, received the addition of a man arrested for horse-stealing in Winnebago, and bringing his stolen property to Freeport. He was arraigned and called upon to plead, when his counsel moved to quash the indictment and discharge his client. The motion was demurred to, but without avail, as the document was defective, and no other course was left to the Judge but direct the issue of an order providing for the prisoner's release. At this critical juncture his Honor adjourned court without taking action in the case, and a young man hastened to Rockford for the purpose of procuring a warrant for his return thither. Arriving at Rockford about midnight, he forded the river for the purpose of finding a Justice of the Peace, but just as he came out of the water he was met by a vigilance committee on the look out for horse-thieves, and narrowly escaped the punishment usually administered to one of that gentry. He was able to convince them of his identity in time to avoid the impending penalty, and, hurrying to the residence of a Justice, procured the document he was after. With this he returned to Freeport, in time for the opening of court in the morning, when the defective indictment was quashed and the prisoner discharged, but at once re-arrested and taken to Rockford, where he was tried, with the usual results.
It might be here observed that horse-thieves and rattlesnakes were among the most dangerous foes settlers had to contend with. The former were cunning in attack; the latter fatal. Horse-thieves might be prevented from operating, but the bite of the rattlesnake was instant death in comparison. Every effort was made to kill off both, but without much satisfaction until the country became more generally settled, and the land-owners were, by associations and mutual-aid organizations, enabled to control one of these classes of cormorants.
The horse- thieves infested every part of the country that promised returns, and counties bordering on the northern line of the State were particularly annoyed. The gang carried on their felonies so deftly that it was difficult to catch them in the act, and by the time discovery was made they were too far in the lead to induce pursuit. If, however, they were pursued, it was rare to overtake them, or, if captured, it was after they had disposed of the booty to an accomplice, who pushed across the Mississippi and sold him to a purchaser in the mines or one about to visit the interior.
A pair of these scoundrels visited the farm of Conrad Van Brocklin, in the town of Florence, upon one occasion, and came remarkably near getting away with a pair of fine blooded horses Mr. V. B. greatly prized. It was during the afternoon, and the horses were quietly feeding in the pasture. Suddenly Mr. V. B.'s attention was attracted to the efforts of the thieves, and, comprehending the situation, he started to prevent them from executing their designs. But they succeeded in eluding his pursuit for the time being, and, procuring the assistance of Mason Dimmick, Van Brocklin started in their wake. The villains, however, had gotten considerably in advance, and but for one circumstance would easily have escaped.
One of the horses had a peculiar dread of crossing a stream of water, and could not be made to enter a stream. The thieves had no bridles for the horses, and this rendered their escape the more difficult. At the first stream, the stolen steeds came to a dead halt, and no amount of persuasion or severity could influence them to budge. When Van Brocklin and Dimmick came in sight, both horses were abandoned, and the scoundrels sought security in the fastnesses of the swamp. In the mean time it began to grow dark, and both escaped.
Samuel Smith, of Lancaster, was depredated upon in this manner, and never recovered his stock, as they were transported to the Mississippi and were never more heard of. These are individual cases, and fairly illustrate the actual state of affairs existing at the time.
The moccasin and American rattlesnake were found in every part of the county in the fields, the woods, barns, etc., even taking refuge in sheaves of grain. Their bite was fatal, though remedies abounded, which, if taken in time, occasionally postponed the coming of the Man on the Pale Horse; but if they were neglected a brief time, the victim was condemned. One day a settler in Rock Run started off fishing, accompanied by a neighbor and members of his family. While perambulating the banks of the Pecatonica, one of the lads, as he thought, stubbed his toe, and uttering cries of pain, his father hurried to examine the extent of his injuries. He saw, at a glance, that the boy had been stung by a "racer," and, returning home as rapidly as possible, summoned a physician in the vain hope that immediate treatment would counteract the effects of the poison before his system became impregnated with it. But efforts were useless; the life of the lad set with the sun.
On another occasion, an Irishman was plowing in a field near Rock City, and while so occupied was bitten in the calf of his leg. At a distance from medical supplies, and realizing the danger encountered by delay, he whipped out his knife, and, cutting a piece out of that portion of his limb affected, continued his labors, and lived many years after without experiencing any serious effects from his collision with the reptile.
These instances will index some of the many dangers that crossed the pathway of early settlers, and left their several marks. Today, snakes and horse thieves have become dead issues. At times they indicate their presence, but are speedily suppressed without loss or injury.
In the spring of this year, a Norwegian colony came from across the sea and, landing in America, pursued their journey to Illinois, settling in Rock Run Township, of Stephenson County, the first representatives of that nationality who came to the United States to remain. Some months before, an agent of these people visited the States and making a general canvass of the advantages offered in the South and West, returned, after deciding upon the section subsequently occupied. A portion were husbandmen, and at once took up claims; a few were mechanics, and worked at their respective trades. All were industrious, thrifty, economical, and soon conquered a competency, which descended to their children, who, in professional, mechanical and agricultural lines of life, have not only done well, but deserved confidence.
The character of the men who became identified with the county in 1839, was in keeping with that of the best who seek the extended field of operations afforded by a new country, where they can, by the exercise of diligence, industry and careful management, control their own destiny more acceptably than in regions which are already established, and revere the memory of men who are afterward regarded as the marks and models of the times in which they lived.
Such a man was D. A. Knowlton, Sr., who settled in Freeport at this period. From small beginnings he amassed wealth and became an influential man, not alone in the county and State, but in the Northwest. The following story, indexing the quality of customers he occasionally had to deal with while engaged in merchandising, he related himself at the Old Settlers' meeting, which convened at Cedarville, in August, 1875:
"You know, " he began, "that I was always called a sharp collector. One day, a man by the name of Charley Hall came into my store with an order for goods, but he wanted more goods than the order called for. I said, ' Charley, I cannot trust you; and "no" is a word I can always say in business matters.' 'But,' pleaded Hall, 'let me have them, Mr. Knowlton, and I will pay you next week.' I then made the following bargain with him: 'If you do not pay me the balance as per agreement, I shall have the privilege of kicking you every time I see you until the debt is paid.' For several weeks the countenance of Hall did not grace my store; but after a while he appeared, and, walking into my store, I said: 'Charles, I would like to see you a moment outside,' and when out I gave him a very violent kick. Hall turned around and said. 'Knowlton, what's that for?' 'According to agreement,' says I. The sequel to the case was that Charley a few days afterward brought a load of corn to me in payment of the debt, which I received and placed to his credit. I afterward learned that he was trusted for the corn by the farmer, in order to avoid any further indorsements of my contract. It is unnecessary to add that the farmer was never paid for the corn. He endeavored to wash two hands with one, and washed the farmer's."
Mr. Knowlton, during the latter years of his life, was the head of a banking house in Freeport, which, since his death, has been conducted by his sons.
On the 29th of August, 1839. affairs had become settled, and the machinery of government in the county to operate without friction or jar. Among other evidences of civilization and the desire to emulate the example set by older places, was the convening of the Circuit Court for the disposition of routine and litigious business. But this latter, beyond actions instituted on behalf of the people, was confined to making orders relating to appeals from subordinate courts.
On the date above indicated, the first session of the Circuit Court of Stephenson County was commenced, the Hon. Daniel Stone, Justice of the Sixth Judicial District, presiding; Hubbard Graves, Sheriff; John A. Clark, Clerk. The bar was occupied with attorneys from distant points, there being none of the profession at that time resident in the county, and none came until the Hon. George Purinton arrived, on the last day of the old year 1839. The lawyers in attendance were mostly from Galena, and included Mr. Hoag, Thompson Campbell, probably E. B. Washburne, with one or two others, who traveled the circuit, making but a precarious livelihood, but establishing a practice which, in after years, was more than remunerative.
At the same term of court, John C. Robey and William H. Hollenbeck appeared in open court to be qualified, and their appointment as deputies were duly entered upon the Court Records. Previous to this a Grand Jury was impaneled, consisting of John Howe, Luther F. Hall, Samuel F. Dodds, Levi Wilcoxon, Joseph Lobdell, Pells Manny, A. B. Watson, Mason Dimmick, Levi R. Hull, Robert Barber, Newcomb Kinney, Jonathan Corey, Phillip Fowler, Thomas Crain, Loring Snow, Eldridge Farwell, Giles Pierce, D. W. C. Mallory, Job S. Watson, J. K. Blackamore, Thompson Wilcoxon, Edward Marsh, and Alpheus Goddard.
The petit jury was composed of Frederick D. Bulkley, John Goddard, John Vanepps, Rodney Montague, Mason Dimmick, J. H. Barber, James Hart, Bartholomew Fletcher, Samuel Nelson, James Canfil, Thomas Early, and Joseph Green.
The first case submitted for adjudication was that of Asa B. Ames vs. Jacob Stroder, on appeal; but as the appeal had been taken before Stephenson County was judicially organized, an order dismissing the same was entered, and plaintiff mulcted in costs.
On the 27th of August, John O'Connor and Jackson Bushkirk were indicted for the crime yet prevalent, horse stealing, and, being unable to fee counsel, Thompson Campbell, assisted by John C. Kimball, was appointed by the court to conduct their defense. But a change of venue was taken by the accused to Jo Daviess County, and the readers are denied the privilege of information as to what measure of punishment was awarded them.
Other cases were called at this session, and more satisfactorily disposed of, among which was the case of the State vs Robert Compton et al., for riot; also against Hiram Walker, for horse stealing. The defendants in both cases were convicted, and Walker was sentenced to the penitentiary for four years. He was escorted to Alton and served out his term.
The court adjourned on the same day it was convened, until the next court in course. On April 7 and September 7, 1840, it sat again in Freeport with the same Judge and officers, remaining in session two days during April and three days in September, after which the court was abolished.
It might here be observed, speaking retrospectively, that settlements made in the county as late as 1839 were exclusively confined to timber belts, the settlers using prairies, which were beautiful beyond description, for pastures and ranges for cattle. They were almost universally of the opinion that these broad plains would never be cultivated, but be used almost exclusively for the purposes to which at this time they were devoted. When a change came over the spirit of their dreams, and compelled the conclusion that the prairie was a natural garden, which only required "breaking" and harrowing to "blossom like the rose," farmers had recourse to them for cultivation, and a repetition of hardships, though of a different character from those described in an earlier portion of this narrative was remarked.
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Stories, Volume 1
events have happened in Freeport and Stephenson County, Illinois,
and remarkable people have lived there. These are stories gathered
about people and events from 1835 through World War II.
The sod of the prairie was exceedingly tenacious and hard to break up the first time, testing the capacity of the cattle employed for that purpose not more than the patience and endurance of the farmer. The usual method was with a breaking plow, provided with a wheel in front and a lever to gauge the depth of the furrow, so that the cumbersome contrivance needed no guiding hand to control its direction. To this five or six yoke of oxen were hooked, and, urged on by the gad, completed considerable work during the day. The plow generally cut a furrow from twenty to twenty-two inches in width by from three to five inches in depth through the wiry roots of grass, and turned it over like a long black ribbon, without a break for rods, unless the "shear" was thrown out by striking a root. This rarely happened, for the blade of the plow-shear was kept sharp by grinding and re-filing at the end of nearly every row. When the "breaking" up was concluded, the soil was harrowed until it became mellow, when it was ready for cultivation and planting. These fields have grown into unfailing springs of wealth, owing to the close observance of their needs by the farmers, their constant application of systems of cultivation, and the employment of other means essential to their development and liberal yield.
The year 1839 concluded the decade in which the settlement of Stephenson County was accomplished, and its woods and broad prairies transformed into acres of productive land. The wigwam of the Indian had been exchanged for the rude cabin of the settler, and that, in the brief space of time recorded, for the more comfortable and commodious farmhouse. Acres had been put to seed, forests cut down, roads laid out, and towns built supplied with every auxiliary that in the times whereof mention is made, could aid to render life endurable. From arbitration and the decision of disputed points by agencies, recognized as extra-judicial, courts had been established to which appeal was had. Schools had succeeded the primitive methods adopted for an equally primitive education, and in the minor affairs of the day a change had been wrought as wonderful as it was complete.
The settlers who came in during the year 1839, were: Joseph R. Berry, W. P. Cox, A. A. Mallory, Lewis Gibler, William Van Matre, Joseph Van Matre, Jr., Henry Corwith, Allen Curry, Sylvester Langdon, Thompson Cockerell, Charles H. Babcock, George H. Watson, William B. Hawkins, Ross and Anson Babcock, John Karcher, Lewis Woodruff, Solomon and Jacob Fisher, a man from the lead mines by the name of Drummond, Peter D., George and John Fisher, Calvin Preston, J. S. Patten, John Kleckner, Conrad Epley, Edward Pratt, M. Flower, M. Smith, Uriah Boy den, Thomas Bree, Martin Muller, Patrick Flynn, Patrick Flynn second, Michael Flynn, Thomas Hawley, William Marlowe, probably Benson McElheney, Henry and Jacob Bordner, John Brown, Robin McGee, James McKee, Samuel Templeton, John Price, Peter Fair, Daniel Zimmerman, Robert Price, Jacob Hoebel, A. Gund, Valentine Stoskopf, Jacob Shoup, Jacob Bardell, D. E. Pattee, "Jock" Pattee, M. L. Howard, a man named Judkins, who settled in Silver Creek, O. Stabeck, Ole Anderson, Canute Canutson, Covert Oleson, Ole Covertson, and a noble army of enterprising martyrs, whose names and records have been forgotten in the whirl of events.
In 1840, the population of Stephenson County was quoted at 2,800, of which 49, resided within the corporate limits of Freeport. The county contained ten schools, with an aggregate number of 170 scholars; five grist and nine sawmills; five professional residents and other agencies of progress, religious, educational and material, though there was no church and it was not until nine years later that a house especially devoted to the service of God was erected in the city.
In all the departments of life, however, with but one exception, a healthy feeling was to be observed. The county was measurably improved by the opening and cultivation of farms, and Freeport was to enter upon a prosperous period, during which it would become a formidable rival of similar organizations in the State. Permanent buildings of architectural excellence were to grace the streets. Schools, churches, academies and other aids to the development and accretion of wealth were to lend their presence, and flattering prospects attend the efforts improvised in these connections. The stream of population would continue to flow in a resistless tide into this favored land, and business, to use a Westernism, would be " booming " before the decade had run its course.
There were some who might have thought that it would be difficult to carry out these schemes, and were inclined to assert they were Utopian to express astonishment that men, presumably so wise in worldly matters, should have attempted to combine so many projects. But they were not heeded when they gave expression to the reflections of their prophetic souls, and uttered prophecies of Cassandra import. The men who had undertaken the execution of these designs possessed unceasing, restless activity, unbounded curiosity, a craving for new knowledge, ever incubating plans that should develop into startling and original results from their stores of experience and observation, with patience, industry and power of endless labor were the marks of that beauty of the mind which many inherited, and to which the name of genius is given. These were the indexes, when judged by the standard of modern times, which marked daring reformers, as they were. They were victorious over hardships, yet the victories won were only means to an end, the perfect conservation of all forces so completely that the highest order of progress would be brought forth, gather strength and mold the character of the people. The travels of Herodotus, the expedition of Xenophon through Asia Minor, the conquests of Alexander, and the discoveries of Columbus opened up Asia, Egypt and America not more freely than did the master minds and muscular brawn of the early settlers open up the wealth and resources of the Northwest.
Morally, the towns and surrounding country were in a reasonably satisfactory condition. The lawlessness and violence peculiar to other sections were nowhere visible, or, if at any time previous pronounced, had been softened through the benign influences that had been exerted in later days. Courts in 1839, irregular and "new to the business," became regular in their sittings and dignified and expeditious in the dispatch of business. The laws were more rigidly enforced, and penalties more unflinchingly imposed. Outlaws and bandits, however, occasionally indicated their presence at intervals, and sought to disturb the law and order which prevailed, by the assumption of prerogatives in harmony with their inclinations and characters. This class was, as a rule composed of adventurers and gamblers, who, with horse-thieves and vagrants generally, had been run out of the lead mines, and, halting long enough at a safe distance from the scene of banishment, endeavored to defy opposition to their practices, but failed ignominiously, and received the extreme penalty of the law as a testimony against them.
From 1840 until 1846, indeed up to the building of railroads, the growth of the county, as compared with earlier years, was slow. Other portions of the West were sought by settlers, particularly the lead mines, and received accessions more rapidly. One cause of this was the absence of markets. The population was engaged almost exclusively in agriculture, and after farms were opened there was but a moderate sale of their products for this reason.
Settlers have been known to take a load of pork to Mineral Point, where it was disposed of with difficulty at $1.25 per hundred weight, and occasional shipments of grain were made down the Mississippi from Savannah, which practice continued up to the very period, when railroads were operated in the country. These flatboats were laden with produce and floated down the river to New Orleans, unless a market was found en route, and disposed of. The cargo being disposed of, the flat was sold for the lumber it contained, when the merchant who had shipped the venture, together with his supercargo or clerk and laborers, began his wearisome journey homeward.
A partial market was found in the lead region, but as productions increased that market became overstocked, and prices decreased so that the transportation of commodities thither could not be made to pay. The same can be said of the Chicago market, though for a different reason the distance. Chicago was at that early day beginning to be an important factor in the building up of the West. It was the point at which settlers procured their final outfits, and the market to which farmers transported their grain for sale. The means of conveyance was a lumber wagon drawn by four or five yoke of oxen, the driver pasturing his cattle at night by the wayside, himself camping out and cooking his meals. If he succeeded in progressing over horrible roads, or surviving the crossing of seemingly impassable sloughs and reaching his long journey's end, he was extremely fortunate. Not more so, however, if he was able to find a customer to whom a sale of the grain could be effected at 50 cents per bushel.
Whenever he was able to control their patronage, he returned with a load of merchandise for the merchants of Freeport, for which he received a nominal consideration of store goods.
Occasionally he found a family of emigrants, who, having reached Chicago by way of the lake, were waiting for the means of conveyance to continue their trip. In such cases the household goods of this 'lucky find," together with the emigrant and his wife and little ones, were laden on the wagon for the return trip. Such a cargo was a bonanza to the teamster, for passage was invariably cash.
With such difficulties to encounter, and the low prices paid for commodities, together with the extravagant charge made for many of the necessaries of life, it is not surprising that wealth was not rapidly amassed.
As a compensation for these disadvantages, land was cheap. The broad prairies, which proved to be the finest farming land in the State, were held at a price within reach of the most impecunious. The suggestion is frequently made to some who came at an early day and are yet comparatively the reverse of independent, as to the reason why they failed to invest and wait for a rise; why it was that they were not possessed of the colossal fortune which might now have been theirs had they but invested their moderate resources in land.
The answer to both these interrogatives invariably has been that they came here in search of moderate resources and didn't bring it with them.
Among those who came subsequent to 1839, not including those who settled in Freeport, there were: John, Reuben, Levi, Adam and Michael Bolander, George and Jacob Maurer, VV. P. Naramore, Joseph Barber, Andrew Hinds, D. A. Baldwin, Captain Knese, Thomas and Adam Wilson, Christian Bennett, John Flynn, the Babb family, Mathias Ditzler, George House, John Lamb, Warren and Anson Andrews, Horace Post, Truman Lovdell, William Barkalow, Thomas Foster, Joseph Rush, Samuel Shiveley, Henry Loyer, Reuben Tower, William Schermerhorne, Frederick Gossmann, John Hammond, Nathan Ferry, Charles W. and Robert Barber, Frank Maginnis, Benjamin Illingworth, J. B. Clingman, George and Philip Reitzell, Henry Wohlford, John Frybarger, Richard Parriott, Jr., Franklin Scott, George Ilgen, Eddy, Cyrus Woodman, Isaac Miller, Lyman, William and Nelson Hulburt, John Clarke, Joseph Norris, Seth Schockley, Henry Rybolt, with numberless others.
In the spring of this year the Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints, a religious sect with which the world has since become familiar, made their advent for the first time into the State of Illinois. The representatives of the doctrines taught by Joseph and Hyrum Smith had been guilty of crimes in Missouri of a characer different from that included in the polygamous tenets expounded from their pulpits, in consequence of which the indignation of the warlike Missourians had been excited to a degree that compelled their leaders to flee to Illinois, where they took refuge in Hancock County and commenced the building of Nauvoo. The accounts furnished by the saints of the cruel treatment they received at the hands of their enemies excited feelings of sympathy for what was then thought to be a Christian body of men and women, suffering in the cause of religion. This sympathy found expression in various ways; among others, by the passage of a bill providing for the incorporation of the city of Nauvoo and conferring extraordinary powers upon its municipal officers, including the military and constabulary.
Thus protected, the Mormons began in Illinois a career of missionary work which has attracted thousands to their fold at the sacrifice of every sentiment of self-respect and the regard of all mankind. The emissaries of the sect were distributed throughout Illinois and States contiguous thereto, with results that were made apparent by the annual increase of population in Nauvoo. The proselytes were by no means the ignorant classes represented as the converted of late years, but educated, reasoning men, with their families. The meetings, it is said, held in Stephenson County, were quite respectable, but conversion was accomplished by means entirely dissimilar to those adopted by other denominations. There was little public speaking, the missionaries having recourse to private interviews and personal solicitation to accomplish their miracles. The result of their labors was not, if report in that behalf is predicated upon fact, proportioned to the means used or the diligence and energy exercised. The saints were thick as lice in Egypt, according to report, but were unable to perform miracles as was Moses, and departed from Stephenson County, wise in their experience, but impoverished as to results.
True, there were some who accompanied them, notably Hector C. Haight, of Jefferson Township, and a settler named Shumway, residing in the northern part of the county. Both Haight and his wife became charmed with the teachings of Joe Smith's agents, if the sermons of this religion can possess any charm for a man above mediocrity, as Haight is represented to have been, and disposing of his possessions in Jefferson, he with his family crossed the Mississippi and made one of the number of martyrs, who, a few years after, suffered all the pangs of the inquisition in their weary pilgrimage across the plains to Salt Lake. For years nothing was heard of him, and the pioneer settler in Jefferson Township was forgotten in the hurry of life at home. But after a season, reports came of his success, which, upon being investigated, were found to be far more than the baseless fabric of a vision. He had prospered in temporal affairs, and spiritually he was above the vainglory of this world. He was one of Young's trusted advisers by the "Salt Lake's sad waves," and his wife had become a leading spirit in the revivals and meetings held in Zion. Both had increased the number of "sealings" to be found in Brigham's domain, but not without money or price. A short time back they re-visited the locality of their early residence in Stephenson County, upon which occasion they expressed an unalterable and abiding faith in the religion they embraced, and, though it is said they pictured the lives led by the elect of Salt Lake citizens in glowing colors, none were influenced thereby or persuaded to return with them.
In the history of Haight's apostasy to the cause of morality and good government, the writer had forgotten Shumway and his less prominent companions. Well, so much the better. He was never heard of, however, after being "led astray" by Latter-Day Saints.
In this year the town of Oneco, in Oneco Township, was laid out under the direction of John K. Brewster, and Orangeville, within sight of Oneco, was also surveyed about this period by John M. Curtis, though its platting and building up were delayed until 1846, when John Bowers came in and established the place.
But it was to Oneco that the sanguine hopes of Mr. Brewster, Mr. Corwith and others, were turned in lively anticipation of what that town would become. These hopes, as is known by the world and the flesh resident in Stephenson County, were doomed to disappointment. The eligible site was never improved to its utmost capacity, and the water privileges that it was thought would become unexhaustible and invaluable, were never availed of. A church, schoolhouse, post office, one or two stores, and other indications of life, survive the flight of time, and the proud man's contumely, to illustrate to a later generation the beginnings of what might have been.
Before the year 1840 had run the race set before it, the county was commencing to show good results of the years of labor that had been expended upon its improvement, and it promised, upon its advent into the fourth year of its existence, to do more than had been done during the years that had rolled into the past. "Let there be light," was the first word of the Creative Power, and "Let there be light" must remain the motto of every future development. The year was remarkable for many improvements, and an increase in the number of farms that were occupied and cultivated. Very little can be said concerning the emigration hither, for, beyond the fact that some come in, its measure was not in any ratio with what it should have been. This was due to the causes cited, more than the absence of large numbers who were only waiting for the sign that was to move them to change their several camps. The population was increased very slightly, as will be inferred, and did not, during the entire year, receive accessions of more than two hundred to the number already there.
The post office, which was established at Freeport a year before, was not an unfruitful source of comfort and convenience to citizens throughout the county, as they were by its means enabled to communicate with their friends more frequently than when Thomas Craine was accustomed to carry the mail once or twice a month to Freeport. A stage line had been in operation for some time at this period, and the inspirations of delight that were felt when the bugle was sounded, need but to be referred to to be recalled. The notes brought back a consciousness that its auditors were not altogether beyond the pale of civilization; that a trip of two days and two nights, and the expenditure of a round sum of money, would carry one to the heart of the city, where he might be brought directly in communication with scenes and incidents to which he had been theretofore a stranger. And no doubt there will be many who read these lines to echo their truth and be carried back to days when they made their first trip to Chicago, arriving in the city and stopping at the old frame tavern on Lake street, near the river, as the day was declining into evening.
The fact that there was no material increase in the population during 1840 would argue the conclusion that there were, comparatively, no improvements. This was generally the case outside of towns, but not altogether so in Freeport, and other less pretentious but more ambitious bailiwicks. Freeport then had about sixty houses, divided into stores, saloons and residences, the major part being, of course, devoted to the latter purpose, with a population, within the present city limits, of about fifty families. With this measured showing, the town aped the manners of a city. Saloons were maintained, and gambling was indulged without limit. John Barleycorn reigned in those days more generally in proportion to the number of the inhabitants, than he does now, while the Tiger of Pharaoh was a beast that roamed abroad freely, and, though no one was ever known to fear him, there were many who retired wounded after encounters with his strength and skill.
Secret societies and granges had not at this time become objects either of curiosity or interest to the people, and the square and level were as yet in the unborn future. Temperance societies, were in existence, though, and had been for two years. Not that there was a vital necessity for their existence, for the early settlers were not topers. But they came into being as the settlers came into the county, doubtless, for the enjoyment of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, in which trinity of objects they were aided by patrons and admirers.
Along in 1838, L. W. Guiteau made a pilgrimage to the present town of Cedarville, where he was to deliver a temperance address, at the invitation of A. Goddard and others. At the time appointed, a snow storm was prevailing, and, though Mr. Guiteau disliked to go there, he went, and was confronted by an audience of fifteen or twenty, to whom he spoke with reference to the advantages to be derived from a practical application of the doctrine of total abstinence. This was the first speech ever delivered in the county on the subject, but the work of reform begun upon that night, amid the storm and surrounded by many, very many, discouraging circumstances, has grown in strength, and, stretching out its sympathetic arms, has since gathered into its folds many of the loved and lost of Stephenson County.
Two years later, the Rev. F. C. Winslow and John A. Clark headed a temperance movement in Freeport, holding sessions of an order of Crusaders in a little room over a saloon, at the corner of Galena and Chicago streets. From these insignificant commencements, the cause of temperance has increased each year, until today it is a power for good in the county, including among the members of its organizations some of the most capable, intelligent and educated influences in this portion of the State.
The amusements of the people, for by this time amusements had become more general, were naturally, by reason of the limited resources in their behalf, confined to a class of entertainments requiring preparations and expenditures by no means elaborate or extravagant. With some, dancing was a species of pleasure, indulged upon appropriate occasions, and there are a number of ladies residing in the county to-day, married years ago, who well remember the sharp, frosty nights, upon which they mounted a horse and galloped off through the brisk air to attend a dance in some distant log cabin to the inspiriting notes of a fiddle manipulated by Daniel Wooton, "Professor" Clark, or musicians of equal skill and repute. Sleigh-riding became a favorite amusement in time, as did skating, while the elegant accomplishments were made up of the household duties with which the girl of the period, to whom gilt is gold, and curbstone wit philosophy, is entirely unfamiliar.
To those who regarded dancing as an evil to be avoided, quiltings and sociables were substituted, and no doubt contributed a fund of humor to the company attracted. The circus was never known in the county until along about 1842, and it was years after that, before the lecturer or facial contortionist came along and paved a way for the building of a theater to accommodate tragedians very much crushed, limp disciples of Comus, the ballet, the minstrels or Little Buttercup and Pinafore.
The public health was never quoted in those days, and sanitary commissioners, harmless as doves, but without the wisdom of serpents, were reserved for the future to delineate. Physicians were somewhat of a rarity, too, and, when sickness prostrated settler after settler, these indispensable adjuncts to comfort and consequent happiness were without leisure. The complaints suffered from in those days were generally of a kind indigenous to a new country, being made up of chills, ague, intermittent and other fevers that most always yielded temporarily to remedies. Senna, salts, quinine and calomel were staple commodities kept by storekeepers, and it was a rare occurrence when they were without all of these articles. The patient was most generally charged with compounds of which the constituent parts were as above indicated. While his system remained thus impregnated he was free from ailment, but let him suspend a dose and the last stage of his disease was worse than the first. This liability to attack remained until the lands were drained and cultivated, the forests cut down, and pure air substituted for the miasmatic vapors that proceeded from rank vegetation and the swamps. When these improvements were gradually completed, they brought health to the frames that were palsied by sickness and bloom to cheeks from which the color had long since fled. The waste places were built up and the lands were made to bud and blossom again.
Society, it might be here observed, was such as is peculiar to a new country, and, while there were many marriages, there were also many bachelors, living by themselves, and, with fewer women to reverence than in older settled constituencies, there may have been a lack of reverence for women. But there was an absence of scandal, either of a private nature or of the weakness of public characters, which cannot be otherwise regarded than as a compensation. For the absence of agencies, which, while they may conduce to enjoyment yet promote infelicities, is to be desired and commended. This condition of affairs is not only natural but inevitable, in new countries where the first fight is for life, and the masculine quality predominates. But with the progress made, and the civilizing influences that come with Time, the feminine nature increased. It crept in everywhere, in men and women alike, in intellectual culture, in art and social intercourse, refining and hallowing the atmosphere of every-day life. In affairs of public morals, of education and religion, it created a healthy progress. The New England element was largely represented, their Puritan habits softened by association with the free life of a young settlement and its cosmopolitan inhabitants, though preserving the best qualities of decency, order, justice and constant progress upward in morality and virtue. As the ratio of production increased, the ratio of comfort and prosperity grew, and as productive enterprises were ventured, the country was benefited by an increase in the amount of capital seeking investment. Countries, like individuals, are great only as they are teachers, and the history of early settlements in the Northwest shows that they are great because they have taught that there are mines of treasure to be gained by industry and perseverance, and that rich gems of blessing will be laid bare to the toiler.
With the progress made, as cited, the history of Stephenson County enters upon another year of its existence. This year would contain many new features, it was thought, and be an improvement upon the one that had closed. The people had met discouragements in years gone by, in opposition from sections possessing greater inducements for settlers, but were never overcome by them. They had encountered difficulties which are always strewn in the walks of life. In place of being vanquished, these awoke their sleeping energies and set them to working with increased determination. Their resources were tested, and the metal of their composition tried in the fire. They realized that the earth was not a Paradise, but put forth thorns at every season. They also realized that labor and perseverance conquer every opposition, surmount every difficulty and overcome misfortune. They were taught these lessons in the schools of experience, and guided in the future by the admonitions they impressed.
During 1841, there was absolutely nothing to discourage the people or make them to rejoice with exceeding joy. No event of importance, it is believed, occurred to startle the nation or paralyze the public. If human agencies were lacking of contributions toward perfection, Dame Nature continued to act in her blandest, most beneficial mood, lavishing her gifts to promote the welfare of all, the productive soil yielding abundantly of every farm staple intrusted to its keeping, and the forests giving up their choicest growth for building, fencing and other purposes. The falling-off in the number of emigrants, begun the previous year, was continued, and improvements were, as a rule, confined to the villages. The professions began to be more freely represented this year, and some who have since left the impress of their characters upon the years that followed, identified themselves with the county from 1889 to 1842. But few remain to recount the difficulties that met them at every turn, or how dangerous a thing to them the "little learning" they possessed often proved to be; but they survived opposition, and became powerful advocates and accomplished scientists in after days.
One of these gentlemen, who has since occupied distinguished positions on the bench and at the bar, related to the writer a scrap of his experience when first landing in Freeport. It was almost at the close of the year, and the wintry sky hung lowering and repellant. With ten shillings in his purse, a few books, and a still less generous wardrobe, he dismounted from the "jumper" at Mr. Goddard's Mansion House, and contemplated the immediate future, as may be imagined, with no very cheerful conclusions. As a matter of course, he began to climb the hill, and it was many days before he halted for the rest and encouragement occupation begets. But the day came when forensic eloquence was demanded, when, to express it in the spirit of the day, the present Judge was in town, where he has since remained, honored and enriched by the practice which he obtained. He long since attained the summit of professional prosperity, but in his days of retirement he often recurs to his entry into Freeport as among the most eventful, if not the happiest, of a life that has been passed amid scenes as varied with sunshine and shadow as a day in June.
During the early period of 1842 there were no changes, either in the temporal or spiritual surroundings of the situation in Stephenson County to report. But, as the days came and went, they were characterized by events out of the ordinary channel in which the lives of settlers and citizens had previously drifted. The payment of interest on the public debt had been abandoned, and the financial embarrassments of the State began to be felt. To add to the distress of the people, State banks were beginning to grow "shaky," and finally to collapse. There was no trade, and business stagnation was complete. Values declined, and the agricultural portion of the community were unable to dispose of their crops, except at prices that entailed a loss on the cost of production.
In this crisis, the farmers of Stephenson County, and merchants of towns located within her boundaries, though not entirely unscathed, suffered less than points more thickly settled, and from other causes susceptible to its influences. But there is no doubt that emigration hither was lessened, though some of the choicest spirits ever associated with the county's history came in during this period.
During the summer of this year, an old settler named William Wallace, who had settled in the county five years before, suicided by hanging at the edge of Rock Grove, and died before he was discovered. His neighbors regarded him as insane from infelicities, with the exact import of which no one could be found who was familiar, and, while thus oppressed, he had sought in the unknown world that peace of mind denied him here. He was discovered, it is said, by some lads traveling in pursuit of cows, who advertised the fact to the few settlers in the vicinity, by whom he was cut down and buried almost in sight of the tree under which his troubles were dissipated with his life.
Notwithstanding the tight times made mention of, the county was regarded as a terminal point of great excellence by residents of the Eastern States and elsewhere, and agents from communities contemplating emigration to the West were to be found here prospecting and making examinations of the resources, with a view to submit reports that should be acted upon by those who had commissioned them. This was not confined to the Eastern States alone, but extended to foreign parts. It will be remembered that the Norwegians, who settled in Rock Run about 1839, adopted this policy before determining upon settlement, and their judgment obtained in other countries of Europe for example, in England.
In the spring of 1842, the inhabitants of farming shires there empowered an agent to visit America and select a location where they could secure land at reasonable rates, that, by the employment of the same means which at home gave them only a tolerable income, they might be enabled to amass a competency. Acting upon these instructions, he visited Illinois, and was so impressed with the inducements offered in present Ridott Township, that he advised the colony to settle there as possessing every advantage that could be had at home, in addition to many inaccessible in England, even to those in easy circumstances. The communication containing this ultimatum was received, and, after some delay devoted to deliberation, its adoption was decided upon, and preparations were inaugurated for the journey. These completed, sail was set, and a colony, consisting of about twenty-two, landed at their future home in Ridott Township, on the 28th of August, 1842, and established themselves in the timber near the present village. They were composed of the sturdy class of English yeomanry, under whose watchful care and taste Devonshire, Sussex and other vicinages have prospered, today abounding in scenes of exquisite beauty, with groves, gardens and residences that charm the beholder, inspiring him with emotions of the sublime and beautiful, and educating the heart to reverence the gifts of Nature and Nature's God. The settlement made here was inhabited by this character of people, who have aided most liberally in the improvements of that portion of the county, some of whom reside there still. In many cases, they are the proprietors of vast estates, which are highly cultivated, and stocked with the choicest specimens of improved breeds. Their houses are commodious, substantially built, provided with libraries and centers of comfort. Industrious, with much of that geniality and bonhomie recognized as characteristics of cultivators of the soil, they have done a great deal to develop the section in which they settled, by the appropriation of improved systems of agriculture, the large crops they have laid by, and the air of independent comfort made manifest in their surroundings.
The original settlement remained intact for about one year, when the community of interest which prevailed was interrupted and never afterward resumed. Death visited the home of one and left his mark upon its posts. A wife who came to the new world sickened and died before she scarcely realized the change, but, amid strangers and scenes unlike those she had come from, closed her eyes in death. May it not be, however, that in her cabin in the wilderness, where she may have lingered through the night unconscious of friends around her, she heard a strain of the mysterious harmony from afar, in the midst of dreams of England, the long path across the ocean and friends and home?
This event, with others of a similar character that followed in its wake, bred a feeling of discontent and loneliness that comes when frail mortality has run its race and the golden ripple comes back no more, which precipitated a dissolution of the band and distributed its members over the West. The separation came gradually, however, and it was not until two years after their coming that the surviving members left the rendezvous rendered sacred by associations and mournful memories. Many remained in Stephenson County with results already quoted, whose worth and standing are as pronounced as they are the fulfillment of a promise always pledged to industry and enterprise.
The English colony was the largest addition to the inhabitants at any point in the county this year, it is believed, Freeport included. Settlers visited other portions of Stephenson, it is true, and some remained, but the large proportion that it was a few years before expected would make the county an abiding place, failed to materialize either in numbers or frequency of arrivals. The reasons for this were doubtless due to hard times and bad roads, though, as before remarked, the hard times did not produce that distress in this as in other counties and States. This was owing to the fact that the people, as also the county, having been accustomed to pay as they went, were comparatively free from debt. The failure of fresh arrivals, however, disturbed no one; the farmers continued to labor for the development of this "beautiful land." Schools, to cultivate the intellect of the growing generation to educate its uses, and religion to inculcate a respect for morals not less than for self. The merchants increased somewhat in number, as did their business, and they looked forward to a time, in the near future, when their days of probation would be over.
Mechanical industries, though, had by this year, begun to assume a prominence in keeping with the times. Wagon and carriage shops were accessible, and that class of work obtained without resorting to lengthy trips and submitting to scores of inconveniences. Blacksmith shops had been established where once they were unknown, and agricultural implements were substituted where a few years before their use had been ridiculed.
The season of 1843 was, in point of material prosperity, an improvement over the previous year. Additions were made to the population, farms became more productive, though markets were as far beyond reach as they had been, farmers being still compelled to draw their wheat to Chicago and receive a price per bushel totally disproportionate to the cost of raising, thrashing and transportation. Yet the opportunities to obtain loads on the return trip were more favorable and paid better, for building in Freeport and at other localities was becoming more general, and not unfrequently the material was procured at Chicago. The lead mines were still visited occasionally, when the settler was in a hurry to dispose of his crops, but as markets they ceased to bear so important a relation to the county as had existed in earlier years.
The spring was passed amid bustle and some disorders incident to the resumption of business and farming, and summer came and went without any apparent diminution in these particulars not disorders involving violations of law, for this was not permitted by the orderly residents, but the hurry and carelessness evidenced where business is paramount to all other considerations. The composition of the emigrants who came in this year was remarked as gratifying. They were as a rule substantial men, untainted by association with adventurers, who seek to conquer adversity without reference to the means employed in that behalf. In the fall, when the crops had been gathered and stacked, and an account was taken of the season's profits, if a very small balance remained to the credit of the producer, it was gratifyingly exceptional and encouraging.
This year witnessed the first murder reported in the annals of Stephenson County, that is, after the county was incorporated as such. The scene of the tragedy was a farm in Rock Grove Township, at that time owned by Daniel Noble. It seems, according to report, that Noble employed a man to assist him about the farm, by the name of Boardman. The relations existing between them were of a character that, when the latter mysteriously disappeared, Noble's statements were received without dispute. One day in the fall of the year, Noble and Boardman took their guns and started off on a hunt, remaining absent for a day or so without exciting distrust.
One afternoon Noble turned up without his companion, and, upon being interrogated as to his absence, stated that, having tired of the point at which he resided, he had made up his mind to seek a location elsewhere. He had departed in the direction of, and asserted that he was going to, Wisconsin. Previous to separating, the missing man handed a watch to Noble and requested that he would deliver it to Mrs. Boardman, with the assurance that when he was established he would send for her. The gun, it was said, he had carried off. The winter passed without hearing from the absent one, and, though anxiety was expressed among the settlers as to the cause, no suspicion was directed toward Noble. The spring came and went without aught happening or being done to solve the mystery of Boardman's continued and prolonged silence. As summer appeared, with the dawn of June, a query was addressed to many in this connection, calculated to assail the innocence of Noble, and put him upon the defensive.
One afternoon, Mr. Marsh, a neighbor, was engaged in the discharge of his farm duties, when his sense of smell was assailed by the stench of corruption, and he hastened to ascertain the cause. After a brief search, his efforts were rewarded by the finding of a human skeleton in the brush, so decayed that it was beyond recognition, yet bearing marks indicating that he had met death by violence. Mr. Marsh detached the skull from its connection with the body, and, proceeding to Noble's premises, exhibited his "find" to the latter, who was engaged in threshing in his barn. His appearance upon being confronted with the spectacle was calculated to confirm previous suspicions, and after consultation it was decided to arrest him on the following day, or as soon thereafter as a warrant could be obtained therefor from Justice Frankeberger. In the mean time, Noble directed his wife to get ready, and that night he quietly disappeared. Mrs. Noble he left at her fathers, in Ogle County, while he proceeded to Dixon, where he left his team, thence to parts unknown. He was never arrested, and the death of Boardman, in all probability a victim to the unsettled condition of affairs at that day, or the turbulent passions of man, has always been involved in mystery.
A correspondent of the Madison (Wis.) Express, traveling through this country about that time, gives his impressions of portions of the county through which he passed, as follows: "Since I have been here I have been about the county considerably, and have become well convinced that it is well deserving of the high reputation it has attained, of being one of the very best counties in the State. From Rockford to this place (Freeport), the road passes through one continuous prairie, with the exception of a grove about one mile in length. The prairie is quite rolling, in many places amounting to hills, with an uncommonly rich and fertile soil. There is in this county less waste land on account of sloughs or marshy places than in most prairie countries with which I am acquainted. Yet the land is admirably well watered, there being a clear creek nearly every mile, wending its way through the prairie to the Pecatonica. These, I am told, originate in springs, the water being always clear and pure, and the streams never dry. The banks of the creeks are usually high, and the land, on either side of the water's edge, is perfectly dry. A heavy body of timber is to be found on the north side of the Pecatonica River, the best growth I have ever found in the State. It is mainly oak, but in many places we find a great variety of heavy timber."
The population of the county was then supposed to be somewhere between five and ten thousand, and was "rapidly increasing." The amount of wheat raised in the county, that year, was upward of fifty thousand bushels, which talked well for a county that had been settled a little less than ten years. It was but ten years since Mr. Waddams erected the first cabin, and what vast changes time had wrought! Since that day, though, the progress of the county has been far more rapid far beyond the wildest expectations of the most hopeful enthusiast. The five thousand inhabitants have increased to nearly ten times that number. The prairies, with scarcely a cabin to vary the monotony of the landscape, now present unbroken chains of the finest farms in the country, ornamented with mansions and buildings. The dirt roads and corduroy tracks, with their lumber wagons and "prairie schooners," have given place to the railways and palace cars.
The following year, 1844, was characterized by the arrival of a class of settlers who were possessed of some means, and desirous of investing a portion of what they brought with them in lands, to hold the same until it appreciated in value, when sales could be effected with profit. At that time, F. D. Bulkley was Recorder of the county, and, in the discharge of his official duties appertaining to the position, he was sometimes assisted by his daughter and niece. These young ladies, though almost constantly occupied, were ever ready to assist the pursuit of knowledge by strangers who were endeavoring to trace a chain of title, and generally had little time to devote to anything else. These visitors were quite numerous, and many of those who came in at that time and became real-estate speculators have remained, and are now large land-owners.
About this period, the troubles arising between purchasers and claimants first found open expression, and sometimes reached a state of affairs that could only be likened to a combat between the cats of Kilkenny, or worse. As will be remembered, these troubles grew out of the land sales at Dixon, and were pursued until one of the contesting parties had reached the end of his worsted.
In these sales, the doctrine caveat emptor should have obtained, but did not apply. The purchaser of a claim by no means secured possession of his property by the payment of the purchase money. If its location impinged upon the claim of an old campaigner, or rather one who had come in at an early day and borne the heat of the battle, he was decided in his refusal to yield the coin of vantage to one who came on to the field when the victory was won. In many of the townships the fight between claimants and purchasers was prolonged and bitter. If the purchaser insisted upon maintaining his title to the property, he was met by opposition which endangered his remaining, and in all cases realizing this fact, he generally abandoned the field of occupation to his foe, and departed for other scenes. There is no recorded case of homicide growing out of these disturbances, but these may have been avoided by the surrender of him whose alleged right was disputed.
An instance of this is to be found in the case of a resident of Rock Run, who innocently became a trespasser, though he claimed title to lands purchased at Dixon. His neighbors, including the Seeleys, Carnefex, Webb, Davis and others, so interfered with his occupation that he was compelled finally to abandon the land and go elsewhere. These troubles, however, were finally compromised, and long since ceased to exist; but, while they were active, nothing short of civil war, say those familiar with its ramifications, could equal the land contests for bitterness and refusal to yield.
There were many other annoyances to which these same people were subjected, long after the introduction of civil process, and the establishment of courts; but they have not occurred during late years, and need only be referred to as among the incidents of life in the West at an early day.
Among those who came in 1844, was the Hon. John H. Addams, President of the Second National Bank, and as prominently identified with landed as monetary affairs. He settled in Cedarville, where he purchased the mill built, in 1837, by Dr. Van Valzah. He has represented the district, in which Stephenson County is included, in the State Senate, is the father of railroad enterprise in Stephenson County, and of the extension of lines to points that were thereby benefited. In all the departments of life he has sustained a character above criticism, and is esteemed not more for his unimpeachable integrity than his enterprise and public spirit.
The year 1845 was not different from 1844, in any of its salient features. The prospects were no more discouraging than had been those of that year, and the improvements had kept pace with the times, though the rush of emigration and the influx of money was not by any means proportioned to the wishes of the people.
Farmers were yet obliged to market their products in Chicago, and put up with treatment that enforced a belief that their lives were not nearly so independent as they were considered by men who contemplated them from a distance. Little had been done even at this late day, to render the roads passable, and, when teamsters en route to Chicago or other distant points found them to be in a condition that forbade their attempting to proceed, they unloaded, and, returning to Freeport, waited until the weather and improvement of the highways permitted them to renew the attempt. This entailed a second loss in the depreciated value of the quality, which, with that estimated by the purchaser in Chicago, had a tendency to diminish the area of cultivation, and turn attention to other sources of revenue which would not be so severely assessed.
The coming of railroads, however, a few years later, rather equalized the necessities of both planter and factor, and removed this embargo to progress and wealth.
Before the close of 1845, the dispute with Mexico, consequent upon the admission of Texas, became so open and apparently beyond the powers of diplomatic agents to adjust, that war between that nation and the United States was only a question of time. This was what came, as all remember, after robberies and outrages had been perpetrated under the cloak of official sanction, involving the loss of millions of dollars' worth of property to Americans resident in Mexico and upon the border.
When hostilities were begun, a call was made for volunteers, apportioned mostly to the Western and Southern States, and the requisition from Illinois embraced three regiments. When this proclamation was promulgated, and reached Stephenson County, it created an excitement and enthusiasm only equaled by that precipitated by the firing upon Sumter. Age forgot its crutch and labor its task; and youth, rank and genius rushed into the lists, anxious to be of the number who should follow the eagles of another Cortes and camp in the halls of the Montezumas. Nor was this spirit of ardent patriotism confined to the men. It was manifested by ladies, who formed sewing societies and aided in the fashioning of uniforms for the soldiers, and flags for the regiments. Public meetings were convened and the situation discussed by men who hurled oratorical thunderbolts against the pugnacious foe. Volunteers were enlisted without bounty or effort, and, after imperfect preparation, hurried to the field of battle, thirsting for reputation and gore.
In Freeport, a public meeting was called, which convened at the court house, during the continuance of this excitement, and was largely attended by representatives from all portions of the county. Maj. John Howe officiated as Chairman; addresses of patriotic import were made by Thomas J. Turner. S. B. Farwell and others, and some enlistments were secured that evening. What is true in this connection regarding the feeling at Freeport, applies to other portions of the county. Wherever a settlement existed, the utmost enthusiasm was manifested, and volunteers were greatly in excess of the demand. About twenty-five recruits were obtained in Stephenson County, including William Goddard, of West Point, who was promoted to a Captaincy, and survived the contest to fall at Shiloh; the Pattee boys, George and Jason, from Lancaster and Silver Creek; Foster Hart, from Florence, with others representing the remaining townships.
They were apportioned to the company commanded by Captain McKinney, of Dixon, it is said, and formed part of the Second Regiment of Illinois troops, of which J. L. D. Morrison, of St. Clair County, but latterly a resident of St. Louis, was appointed Colonel. The regiment was mustered in July 2, 1846, and, after a brief sojourn in camp, crossed the Rio Grande and entered the city of Santa Rosa, thence proceeding to the base of the Sierra Gorda. This regiment participated in the battle of Buena Vista, and other engagements, being finally disbanded at Camargo, whence they returned home, arriving in Springfield, June 4, 1847, thence to their several places of enlistment.
The soldiers on their reaching home were received with marks of affection, and tendered, as they deserved, the enthusiastic welcomes of the people. Dinners, addresses, toasts and speeches greeted their arrival; newspapers in the vicinity lauded their patriotism, while, as candidates for office, civilians were obliged to yield precedence to the victorious warrior. Those who had fallen on the battlefield, or died in the hospital, were held in sacred remembrance, while the wounded who bore the marks of strife, were regarded with an awe and veneration passing comparative comprehension.
In April, 1847, the Government issued another call for troops, that was responded to with equal readiness, and the lists of volunteers, it is believed, were made up in part of residents of Stephenson County, mustered into the Sixth Regiment. However, the fall of the City of Mexico virtually ended the war, and, beyond investing Vera Cruz, and the engagement at Tampico, the duties of the two battalions into which this regiment was divided, were confined to garrisons, returning home when peace was declared, to again take part in the duties which had been temporarily abandoned to engage in the pursuit of arms.
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Stories, Volume 1
events have happened in Freeport and Stephenson County, Illinois,
and remarkable people have lived there. These are stories gathered
about people and events from 1835 through World War II.
In the fall of 1846, according to the record, the people began to appreciate the necessity of an outlet and a market for their crops, and a strong feeling in favor of railroads began to manifest itself. This was the beginning of an era in the progress of the State, county and city. The farmers had long before realized how utterly hopeless any approach to independence could be made under the existing condition of affairs. The labor employed in cultivating the soil and laying by the crops, together with the expense of conveying them to market, left but a small margin when high prices were paid for their products.
But the rates received by them, per bushel for their grain, and other expenses incurred in its delivery, left them no margin for present necessities or future operations. They must either obtain more remunerative prices, less expensive means of transportation, or engage in occupations that would not only afford a living, but a surplus upon which to live when age incapacitated them from the active duties of life. With these sentiments, the project of securing a railway, accessible to farmers in the county, was canvassed, and met with a hearty response from those interested. Scheming brains, with an eye to the future, endeavored to formulate a plan by which this inestimable desideratum might be attained, and its powerful aid secured to develop the country, as also to educate, civilize, and Christianize the people. People talked about the influences it would exert, and it became a topic of general conversation on the streets, or in the hotels, in the commercial marts, and by the fireside. However, nothing came of the efforts made in that connection during the year 1846 but plans which did not crystallize into acts, and it was not until the following year that practical work commenced.
On January 7, 1847, quoting from the recollections of John H. Addams, who was prominently instrumental in agitating the subject until it was regarded feasible, the first railroad convention ever held in the Western country was convened at Rockford. The attendance was very large, and included representatives from all portions of the country. Among those who attended from Stephenson County, the residents of which, by the way, were instrumental in calling the meeting, were John H. Addams, Luman Montague, Jackson Richart, D. A. Knowlton, Martin P. Sweet and Adrian Lucas. W. B. Ogden, Walter Newberry and I. N. Arnold were present from Chicago, and, after the disposition of preliminary business, the questions at issue were very generally discussed. The Chicago party proposed to commence the building of a road under a charter previously obtained, and this led to the organization of a company under which the Galena & Chicago road was constructed.
Though there was scarcely any money in the country, and it was indispensable to the success of the corporation that $20,000 of stock be taken in the county, the people subscribed as liberally as their limited means would permit, and succeeded in raising this amount. Railroad meetings were not frequent in those days, the settlers residing so far apart that they could not assemble at a moment's notice, and those interested in placing the stock were obliged to travel the county to secure its taking. Wherever they went the residents were found willing to co-operate, the ladies vieing with the sterner sex in their readiness to render assistance. They appreciated how necessary it was to have the road built, and were prepared to make any personal sacrifice to further the undertaking. Many of them helped pay for the stock subscribed for at their solicitation from the profits derived by the sales of butter, cheese and other household productions, even depriving themselves of the means necessary to educate their children that a railroad might be built for the good of that and future generations. The stock sales were but incidents connected with an enterprise the establishment of which is always attended with difficulties.
The road was finally completed to Belvidere, when the management was called upon to encounter greater vexations than any it had been able to dispose of up to that time. At this point an effort was made to divert the road from its original route to Savannah, which would leave Stephenson County without the benefits her people had so industriously labored for and liberally contributed to obtaining. Those who had urged the taking of stock were discouraged at the apparent failure of the scheme, while those who had subscribed were bitter in their expressions of disappointment.
Finally, a committee of gentlemen from Freeport, composed of J. H. Addams, D. A. Knowlton, 0. H. Wright and John A. Clark, visited Rockford to endeavor to procure the execution of the original contract, and secured the indorsement of the people that so far as they could influence a decision it should be done. The trip was continued to Chicago, and after labors that were effectual as were the laborers deserving of the public thanks, the project of diverting the road was abandoned. Labor was continued on the route, and in August, 1853, the iron horse entered Freeport amid the rejoicings that such an occasion would bring forth. After many days, the trials of the people had become resolved into a triumph both pronounced and valuable. Those days have long since glided into the past, and the pioneer, who then acted his part in the struggle for improvement, realizes in the present days, always bright and clear with the glad sunshine and the song of birds, that "God will remember the world."
The building of the Illinois Central was begun almost with the building of the Galena & Chicago, and its entry into Freeport was made almost at the same time. The grand scheme of connecting Lake Michigan with the Mississippi had long been a desideratum with the people of Illinois, and when, in 1850, an act was passed by Congress granting 3,000,000 acres to the State to aid in its construction, the completion of the road was regarded almost as a foregone conclusion.
The act granted a right of way for the railroad through the public lands the width of two hundred feet from the southern terminus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal to a point at or near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and for branches to Chicago and Galena. The construction of the road was to be commenced at its northern and southern termini simultaneously, and when completed, the branches were to be built.
With the passage of this bill, it became the duty of the Legislature of Illinois to make a disposition of this grant, which should be not only prudent and wise, but satisfactory. After no inconsiderable delay, caused by the efforts necessary to defeat peculation and the appropriation of the franchise by other parties, a bill was passed by the Legislature, and became a law February 10, 1851, providing for its survey, construction and equipment.
When the bill passed, or rather prior thereto, an understanding existed between the agent of the English capitalists, who were to furnish the money to build the road, and the Galena & Chicago management, that the former would proceed to Galena and the Mississippi River via Freeport. In consideration of this, the Galena road was to terminate at Freeport, and assign the right of way thence to Galena to the Illinois Central. This was the outgrowth of the efforts made during the construction of that road to divert its route in the direction of Savannah. When that question was under consideration, as will be remembered, a committee representing Stephenson County visited Rockford and Chicago, and labored for the prevention of so great a violation of the contract under which stock was subscribed to its building. The labors of this committee produced a restraining effect, as would appear in the light of subsequent events, upon the influences exerted, and brought the road, as was promised it should come, direct to Freeport.
Surveys were at once commenced, and by the spring of 1852, had made such progress that grading and track-laying were succeeding each other with gratifying rapidity, and the road completed to Freeport in 1853, with but little interruption. While the work was progressing in Silver Creek Township, near Crain's Grove, an emeute was caused among the laborers by the dissatisfaction expressed by strikers for higher wages. At first no attention was paid to the demands or complaints by the contractors. Emboldened by the admissions this silence was construed into conceding, the "gang" suddenly abandoned work, with the significant assurance that it would not be resumed until they had a surfeit of leisure. Soon after their pugnacity became excited with drafts of liquor, which was on tap in the camp, and for a brief period it seemed as if a reign of terror would be substituted for peace and order, so difficult to maintain. At this juncture, the railroad authorities appealed to the law for protection, whereupon Capt. J. W. Crane marshaled his militiamen and, marching to the scene of disorder, distributed the whiskey among the woods and creeks, dispersed the rebels, suppressed the disorder and came marching home with a consciousness of duty well performed.
The road was completed to Dubuque, Iowa, in May 1855, and on July 18, of that year, was formally opened with a celebration, attended by many who had been instrumental in procuring its construction and equipment. Stephenson County sent her prominent men to the city of Julien Dubuque, to grace with their presence an occasion so felicitous with the results of labors in which they had been "wheel-horses." Stephen A. Douglas orated, and the predictions he ventured regarding the future of Illinois, many have lived to see realized.
The Illinois Central enters the county in the southern portion of Silver Creek Township, passing through Silver Creek, Harlem, Erin and West Point, a distance of about fifteen miles. The Northwestern or Galena and Chicago, passes through Ridott and Silver Creek, to Freeport, its western terminus.
The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul line, entering the county near Davis, in Rock Run Township, was formerly operated under the name of the "Racine & Mississippi Railroad." It passes through Rock Run, Dakota, Lancaster, Silver Creek and Florence Townships, and does a large way business. The company was chartered in 1852, to build a road from Racine to Beloit, and was organized the same year. The city of Racine and the towns of Racine, Elkhorn, Delavan and Beloit subscribed an aggregate of $490,000 for that amount of stock, while farmers along the line of the road took considerable of the same, for the payment of which they mortgaged their farms. The road was completed to Beloit in 1856, but, failing to pay interest on its bonds and maturing indebtedness, a new company took possession of the property and refused to recognize the rights of the farmers who had hypothecated their realty for stock. Almost endless litigation followed the transfer of the corporation, but, the holders being innocent purchasers, the courts recognized their equities, and the mortgagors were compelled to pay them.
Along in 1858-59, the extension of the road to Freeport was commenced and prosecuted with vigor. The labors thereon were continuous and uninterrupted, save by an experience similar to that encountered by the Illinois Central in Silver Creek Township, i. e., a strike instigated by a number of unruly laborers who attempted to compete successfully with capital, but failed of achieving results. The affair occurred at "Deep Cut," and was participated in by a majority of those employed; but Capt. Crane's company, with their arms at a "right-shoulder shift," hurried to the scene and suppressed the mutiny without loss.
The road was completed to Freeport in 1859, and afterward extended to the Mississippi River at Savannah, thence to Rock Island.
These enterprises stimulated industry and improvements, attracted increased emigration, appreciated the price of lands and increased the prospects of markets so instantly, that landholders became feverish with expectations of suddenly acquired wealth and were happy in contemplating the cheerful outlook.
Nothing could have happened since the coming of the first settlers to add so pronounced an impetus to the agencies of civilization, which had been for years, it might be said, falling behind, as these undertakings. Towns were surveyed and laid off along the routes of these roads; manufacturing, educational, religious and other interests were cultivated, lots sold for city prices, buildings were erected, the area of cultivation increased, and when the roads were completed a bound was experienced in prices that repaid the toilers for all the sufferings and privations they had previously undergone. Since then, with these arteries of wealth and commerce coursing the territory in nearly every direction, Stephenson County has enjoyed unrivaled facilities for its complete development and thrift and prosperity, barring the panics of 1857, and that precipitated by " Black Friday," continuous and unfailing.
Freeport was not less benefited than the surrounding country. Thence onward the history of the city is not marked by any of the great trials, troubles or vexations of spirit which have been the lot of other corporations.
The jealousies which had previously been indulged by rivals in the county, yielded to the logic of events and were dissipated. Strange contrast with the closing month of 1835, when William Baker erected his ''Indian Trading Post" and Ransomburg was coming to the front in its race for prominence. But the inhabitants who came into the future city, disregarding opposition, struggled manfully in the contest with results which not only attested their wisdom and pluck, but fully confirmed the truth of the premise, that excellence in any undertaking invariably follows in the wake of patience, perseverance and industry.
The tide of emigration which tended in the direction of Stephenson County, at or about this period, left many who had come with it, residents of the town. Commercial interests increased, Freeport began to be regarded as by no means the least promising municipality west of Chicago, and farming was prosecuted constantly and successfully. The uncertainties that succeeded the panic of 1837 were settled, and in their stead a feeling of confidence was substituted, which found expression in permanent and remunerative investments. Some improvements were projected, and a limited number completed. The water power of the Pecatonica River had been utilized, and mills and factories were completed or contemplated. In short, the aggregate of business in city and county would be far in excess of previous years. These predictions were surely realized. The business portion of the town was limited to Galena and Stephenson streets, and, though carried on in establishments by no means epitomes of architectural skill or elegance, answered the purposes for which they had been erected.
The residence part of the town was not a prominent feature, either. Some of the merchants not only "traded," but lived, moved and had their being in their stores. The court house was the most elaborate structure, and continued to do duty for a variety of purposes, as of yore. The log schoolhouse on the bank of the river had been abandoned for school purposes, and the "old red schoolhouse" had become its successor. Religious classes were formed, and congregations organized, though it was not until two years later that the Presbyterians erected the first church edifice in the town.
Politics had by this time assumed some degree of prominence, if not regarded as a staple commodity, and leaders were found, representing opposing sentiments, who attracted a generous following and support. The Whigs contended for superiority, and the Democrats felicitated themselves in the belief that they were the sole possessors of an air-line route to future success.
The towns tributary to Freeport were equally fortunate, though to a more limited extent. Those who, for reasons satisfactory to themselves, preferred to identify themselves with those of similar ambition without its growth, "skipped" the county seat, and wended their several ways to Winslow, Orangeville and other points advertising advantages of location and promise of future eminence. Both these places were building up, having been laid out, as already mentioned, in anticipation of that dawn of prosperity which came gradually but surely.
The New England Land Company, through agents in one and private enterprise in the other, had employed capital and labor in behalf of each with happy results. The history of neither of these points has ever been fruitful of events that would either immortalize the names of their founders or startle the nation; but both offer the inducements of quiet, social, educational and refining influences to the professional and mechanical representative, for homes afar from the busy haunts of trade, where the sunshine of days unborn may be reflected, beautifying the present and lighting up the future with rays of purity.
Such was the outlook, as it appeared to citizens and settlers in the fall of 1847, and was prorogued into 1848. These encouraging signs gave birth to a new condition of things, and elicited the most enthusiastic expressions among men who reason correctly. The spring of 1848 opened with a revival of business, and some settlers came with its dawn. Trade and commerce, which had so short a time before only survived, were large, and agriculturists, who had previously been dependent upon purchasers at other points for the sales of their products and stores of supplies, found accessible markets at home.
This year, it will be remembered, the great famine prevailed in Ireland, and America responded to the calls of their famishing brethren over the sea. Stephenson County then contained a large number of Irishmen, who contributed of their abundance to the relief necessitated by the afflictions at home. And this was not confined to that nationality, either. Though there does not seem to have been any concert of action throughout the county, or the convening of meetings for the purpose of inaugurating united action, the sympathies of the people were not backward of expressing themselves, in liberal donations to the needy and afflicted in Ireland. Charity, generosity and sympathy, a trinity of virtues that grace the composition of true manhood, were not then, nor have they ever been, found wanting among settlers in new countries, and those who created Stephenson County proved no exception to the rule.
From 1837, the year during which Stephenson County was set apart from Jo Daviess, and civil government inaugurated, until the adoption of township organization, the county government was composed of three Commissioners, the first of which were Lemuel G. Streator, Isaac G. Forbes, and Julius Smith. This form of municipal government was maintained until 1850.
The Constitution of Illinois, adopted March 6, 1848, and in force from and after April 1 of that year, declared that "the General Assembly shall provide, by a general law, for a township organization, under which any county may organize whenever a majority of the voters of such county, at any general election, shall so determine."
At the session of the Legislature of 1849, the following act, providing for the proper organization of a township, by way of supplement to that quoted, was adopted:
"Art. 1. Section 1. That at the next general election to be held in the several counties in this State, the qualified voters of each county may vote, for or against 'township organization' in their respective counties," etc.
Acting in obedience to these enactments, the constituted authorities issued a proclamation directing the holding of an election in Stephenson County, on the 5th day of November, 1849, for the purpose of indicating their adoption of the organization, provided for by the act cited. The opposition to this change in the form of government was neither numerous nor intense. There were some few, however, who were antagonistic to the proposed new order of affairs, but their votes of discord were drowned in the general acclamations which greeted its introduction, and at the election holden according to law, township organization was accepted by a vote of 973 to 99. At the same election, George Purinton was elected County Judge, with George W. Andrews and Lewis Gibler, Associates; William Preston, County Clerk, and J. B. Smith, School Commissioner.
These preliminaries having been disposed of, the county entered at once upon its changed plan of government, and little delay was experienced in adapting the same to immediate and successful practice.
The officers elected under the law qualified, and the County Court was convened in December, the Hon. George Purinton presiding. At its first session, Levi Robey, Robert Foster and Erastus Torrey were appointed Commissioners to lay off and subdivide the county into townships, pursuant to the statute in such case made and provided, and proceeded to organize and discharge the duties imposed without the exercise of unnecessary delay.
After some time employed in laying off the township boundaries, adjusting disputes and completing their work, the Commissioners appointed by the court submitted a report, detailing the result of their labors to have been the subdivision of the county as provided by law, into the following townships: Rock Grove, Oneco, Winslow, West Point, Waddams, Buckeye, Rock Run, Freeport, Lancaster, Harlem, Erin, Loran, Florence, Silver Creek and Ridott. The township of Harlem was subsequently changed to Wayne by Commissioner Torrey, but the change, having been made after the submission of the report, and being without authority, was never confirmed.
This report was accepted, and on the 5th of November, 1850, the following-named persons were elected Supervisors for their respective towns: Jonathan Reitzell, Lancaster; C. G. Epley, Rock Run; James J. Rogers, Rock Grove; George Cadwell, Oneco; Cornelius Judson, Winslow; Michael Lawver, Waddams; John Montelius, Buckeye; Daniel Wilson, West Point; William M. Buckley, Harlem; John I. F. Harman, Erin; Conrad Van Brocklin, Florence; Gustavus A. Farwell, Ridott; Samuel McAfee, Silver Creek; Hiram Hart, Loran, and E. S. Hanchett, Freeport.
The first meeting of the board was convened on November 11, 1850, and its organization perfected by the election of John I. F. Harman as Chairman. The members of the board were all present except Hanchett, of Freeport, who was absent, and failing to qualify, John K. Brewster was appointed in his stead, and took his seat as Supervisor from Freeport.
The number of townships in the county was afterward increased by the formation of new townships out of those created as follows, and the representation augmented: On the 17th of March, 1856, the township of Kent was formed out of a part of Erin; at the September meeting of the board for the same year, the township of Loran was subdivided, the western portion being organized into Jefferson, and, in 1860, the township of Dakota was formed by the appropriation of the eastern portion of Buckeye to its name and possession.
From this on the organization has been preserved, and found to answer every expectation ventured in its behalf.
HEGIRA TO CALIFORNIA, 1849.
During this year, as will be inferred by reference to the tally lists kept at the election held in November, the population had become "numerous" throughout the county. The towns had grown, as every one who watched the progress of events admitted. Mills had become fixtures, and supplied the markets with lumber, flour and meal. Farmers disposed of their crops, and merchants and speculators made investments that the rust of age would not corrupt, and held them for the " boom " that came in after years.
About this time the California gold fever, which had been of an "intermittent" character since 1847, attacked Stephenson County residents with a violence that brooked no mitigation, and there were quite a number who procured outfits and proceeded across the plains to the Sutter discoveries. The excitement was not confined to any particular portion, but distributed itself quite generally; wherever a settler had established his claim the "fever" put in an appearance, and, unless immediately checked, most generally added to the number of its victims. The list who wandered into that comparatively undiscovered land, numbered nearly a hundred this year, among whom were many young men who could be ill spared from the fields, or the commercial and professional walks in which they had become familiar to the public. Many of those who went thither returned with a surfeit of experience and poverty. A number remained in the West and rose to prominence, occupying positions of executive, as also legislative and judicial honor, in the Territories. Several that were well known in the town of Freeport, where, for the times, they were prosperously engaged, dropped the certainty of future preferment for the uncertainties of success in this new field, and became residents of that city beside the blue waves of the bay which rolls outward through the Golden Gate to the Pacific.
Here they seemed to fail of realizing their too sanguine hopes, and fled to the interior, where they might be able to acquire in the mines that denied them in the city by arduous toil. Finally, they disappeared from these scenes, and, emigrating to Mexico, as some have it, or to Nicaragua, as others insist, joined the filibusters and went down with Walker, the "gray-eyed man of destiny," in his hopeless campaigns.
Among the rest, there went from Stephenson County, John Mease, Elmus Baker, B. T. Buckley, Charles Willet, John Kirkpatrick, William Vore, Onesimus Weaver, Shutz, William Patterson, Alfred Cadwell, J. W. Shaffer, P. C. Shaffer, Joseph Carey, S. B. Farwell, Charles Bogar, Joseph Quest, William Young, Robert Hammond, Charles O'Neil, Horatio Hunt (about this time), Cameron Hunt, who became Governor of Colorado, and many others whose names cannot be recalled, and whose fate is not of record.
The crusaders in pursuit of gold usually went in parties, but rendezvoused at Freeport to lay in their stock of supplies, reserving organization until they had departed from the last habitable location previous to entering the Indian country. When they had secured what their necessities called for, pending departure, they left homes and friends, and, " striking out " over the prairie, crossed Iowa and encamped at Omaha, where final arrangements were concluded, and the long, weary trip to this promising El Dorado entered upon. For a few years next succeeding, reports of their success and condition came at intervals, and in some cases were the opposite of rose-colored. Sometimes the friends of those who had gone were shocked at the news received, sometimes they were hopeful; at no time were they enthusiastic. Gradually, and in shreds and patches, the story of their lives, and, in some instances, the death that had befallen them, their trials and their triumphs, were detailed and combined to weave a story from the warp and woof of real life as pathetic as it had been disastrous, as discouraging as it was pitiful, with bright chapters of success and happiness interspersed among its somber pages like a glint of sunshine on a day in December.
There were citizens of Stephenson County also who went to California through another that is, they invested in outfits for others' benefits, and provided the ways and means to enable them to reach the land of promise, with a specific understanding that they should participate in the profits; but in nearly every instance this confidence was found to be misplaced, and the investment made by the too confiding capitalist became permanent, with all that the term implies.
The effects of this emigration, while not discouraging to those who remained behind willing to labor and to wait, were not specially calculated to promote an extravagant enthusiasm. Large sums, comparatively, had been expended by the adventurers in the purchase of outfits, which created an increased volume of trade; but this diminished with the departure of the purchasers, and a seeming paralysis affected the commercial and agricultural branches. Indeed, business was carelessly prosecuted, and there was an absence of spirit that was not previously visible. The area of cultivation was measurably reduced in consequence of this exodus to California; trade dragged, values were lowered, money became inconveniently scarce, and other evils followed in their wake. In fact, the effects that would naturally be produced on any settlement of substantially recent date by the withdrawal from its territory of fully one or two hundred residents, all young and able-bodied, was duplicated in Stephenson County.
The fall gave place to winter, and that most inhospitable season of the year remained undisturbed by the happening of any accident or incident out of the sluggish current of events. Settlers drifted in during its course, and united with those already there in expressing confidence that the temporary dull times would give way to prosperous days with the return of spring, and the doubts and uncertainties, in the midst of which they then suffered, would be dissipated by the "logic of events." Buoyed up by such hopes, this dreary, inactive winter passed, and, as predicted, the county and its municipalities were granted a new lease of life. When spring blossoms came once more forth, the California fever had spent its force, and the county was rapidly convalescing' from the violence of its attacks. Emigration was resumed, the new arrivals hailing from Pennsylvania and the Eastern States, and bringing with them, to supply the absence of material resources, the thrift, industry, and other characteristics of a people reared in a sterile section, where man's daily bread is indeed obtained in the sweat of his brow.
In 1850, when the United States census was taken, the population of the county was quoted at 11,658, an increase of over 9,000 in ten years. Fifty private schools, with an average daily attendance of 2,000 scholars, had succeeded to ten schools and 170 scholars in 1840. The improved lands in the county were estimated at 76,343 acres; lands unimproved aggregated upward of 280,000 acres. Farms in the county represented a valuation of $1,689,550, and farming implements, $108,000. There were four church edifices in the county, the most prominent being the brick Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Walnut and Stephenson streets, Freeport, and other improvements which might be included under the head of "public." This year there were 764,814 bushels of grain of all kinds raised in the county, and the cultivation of fruit had assumed a reasonably gratifying prominence.
During this decade, experiences similar to those which had previously greeted the county and its inhabitants, as also those of other sections, were endured and enjoyed. In 1850, a colony of Germans settled in Ridott Township, and others who came at the same time, of the same race, became residents of townships immediately contiguous to and distant from the "tenting places" of their friends and countrymen, on the old State road, in the southeastern-most township of the county.
The construction of the Galena & Chicago Railroad was progressing slowly, and that of the Illinois Central only awaited legislation before commencing.
During the earlier years of the decade, beginning with 1850, pilgrims to California had, in some cases, given up their pursuit of gold, and returned home; others, on whom the fickle goddess had smiled benignly, evidenced the fruit of their labors by remittances to families and friends. In truth, there was a small percentage of liabilities incurred, and long since charged to P. and L., liquidated with the profits accruing from labor in the mines.
In the city and county new faces were seen daily, and new arrivals for business noted in the weekly record of current events, which was then published by S. D. Carpenter, and known as the Prairie Democrat. Property, again, was regarded as increasing in value, new buildings were put up, both of brick and frame, commodious, substantial and appropriate to the purposes for which they were designed, was it either residence or business. In addition to these evidences of reviving prosperity, societies, both religious and secular, were organized; associations, financial, commercial and social, were improvised and perfected. Thirteen years only had been required to accomplish what in days more remote had required, one might say, ages. In that period a wilderness had been converted into a garden. The iron age, in which man had been heated in the flames of adversity, and molded into form to combat opposition, had been converted into a golden age, when farms and factories resounded with the songs of rejoicing, when merchants were successful, and the cry of penury was silent in the land; when schoolhouses were filled with ambitious youth, and churches with consistent worshipers. Law, science, ethics, politics and eloquence had their exponents among the inhabitants, and refinement and Christian humanity were possessions to which they held an indisputable title.
There was nothing of moment worthy of perpetuation during this year; business remained flourishing, and enterprises born of the encouraging season were ushered into being, with some confidence in the results. Migration began to resume somewhat of its former importance, and improved facilities for marketing products more than roused business men from the apathy of a former day.
As is intimated, this decade dawned upon the county rich in fruition and promise. They were accepted and utilized, and that at a time when the inhabitants were on the eve of a calamity, in comparison with which war and
famine can scarcely be mentioned.
The Asiatic cholera made its first visitation to Stephenson County in 1850, again in 1852, and once more two years later. The first "epidemic" was limited to a few sporadic cases, and disappeared late in the season, without creating more than passing alarm. But it left its mark in the families from which members had laid down the burden of life and slept beneath the sod.
When it repeated its calls in 1852, the people, immersed in business and agricultural pursuits, without taking thought of the morrow, not having been admonished by the hints dropped two years previous, were ill prepared for its advent. The health of the county was regarded as perfect, there being an exceptional freedom from the miasmatic maladies that had in early times prevailed, as singular as it was gratifying. Nature smiled upon the landscape, and all the elements combined to cultivate hope in the breasts of the people, who had for years toiled as the children of Israel, without reward or prospects. As the summer came, bringing with it the climatic excesses peculiar to the season, the disease began to manifest its presence in localities ordinarily healthful, as also subject to disease. The cases received prompt attention, but in the majority of instances terminated fatally.
Remedies regarded as specifics for the malady produced no effect, the attack generally proving so violent that the system would become exhausted under its influence before the medicine could operate and induce reaction. Its origin could not be traced to any authentic cause, and its dissipation defied the efforts of physicians. Freeport was greatly afflicted, the deaths there reaching as high as eighteen in one day. Ridott Township, in the vicinity of Nevada, suffered grievously under the calls of the scourge, as did Kirkpatrick's Mills, and other points accessible to its approach. One gentleman, who was here in those days of tribulation, stated that there was scarcely a family on the old State road in which there was not one of its members down with the disease, dying or buried. Indeed, he represents the state of affairs as deplorable in the last degree. It may be imagined that during the existence of the plague, the inhabitants, terror-stricken at its approach and subsequent presence, with one accord fled from the wrath to come or when it rapped at his neighbor's door. This was not the case. Physicians and nurses for the sick were procurable at nearly all hours, and men and women attended to the calls of the dying and buried the dead with a tenderness and heroism which fully attested their Christian charity and spirit of self-sacrifice.
Along in the fall, having run its course, the disease abated, and nothing of its visitation remained but the vacancies it had made in the home and by the fireside, and the fresh-turned graves to be seen in the village churchyard. It looked in upon the people again in 1854, but left without repeating its observations of 1852, and has since remained at an enchanting distance from this vicinity.
During the prevalence of the epidemic, business came to a standstill both in towns and the county. The streets of the former evidenced the blight that had fallen upon the surroundings, and the highways of the latter bore confirmation thereof. As a result, some who had come into the county with bright hopes and brighter prospects, died or fled before its approach; others en route or contemplating coming, turned back or abandoned the trip and remained at home. The population thus practically diminished, and an apprehension of the return of the disease with many dismayed the coming of those who would have been here the following spring.
OF THE C. & G. U. R. R.
The building of the railroads was continued, however, notwithstanding these afflictions, and rapid progress was made on the lines having Freeport for their objective point. Early in the following year (1853) the Galena & Chicago Union had made such headway that contractors began laying the rails, and the people anticipated the whistle of the locomotive as an event of the near future.
On the 23d of August a construction train crossed the Pecatonica and arrived in Freeport. This was the signal for enthusiastic rejoicings among merchants, farmers, and all, for all were interested in its success. These manifestations of rejoicings but prefaced those evinced by the people when, on September 1 following, passenger and freight trains were placed on the road, and the public were afforded means of communication they had longed for, prayed for, and extorted from soulless corporations and municipalities.
The fight had been fought, the victory won, but not without the employment of every available means and every accessible aid that could be invoked. The people saw everything that was made; and behold, it was good. Those who had been instrumental in its procuration and completion, saw that it was good, and rejoiced also. A new era in the history of the county was born indeed. Thenceforward her career was upward and onward, without one interposing obstacle or one element that would prevail to prevent its advance.
The benefits which accrued by the completion of this improvement were not altogether gradual nor insubstantial, but rather instant and permanent. The road was made the channel for an influx of emigration, in comparison with which the number who had come previously were as visitors. Lands increased in value beyond all precedent, and no one could escape the conclusion that Stephenson County, both from its geographical position and physical resources, would become one of the most populous and wealthy counties in the State. It is an interesting fact, and one beyond dispute, that no inland county in the State increased in population in a larger ratio during the ten years previous to the census taken in 1850. This was due to the causes cited; i. e., the superior qualities of the soil for agricultural purposes, the abundance of timber, beautiful rolling prairies, excellent water, abundant water-power for manufacturing purposes, and, general good health; and, when the county and its towns became intimately connected with the rest of mankind, it was an event of no ordinary importance.
For many years the citizens had been subjected to all the inconveniences of an imperfect business connection with the East, and had borne them patiently. The merchants had been compelled to transport their purchases made from farmers a distance of 120 miles over imperfect roads, and often met with loss in the sales effected. The farmers submitted to the same trials, intensified in some cases by the poverty of the victim. This state of things was now over, and the merchant and farmer were placed on an equal footing with contemporaries at the East.
With increased facilities for business, men of capital visited the county, who invested and expended money in opening to the world and utilizing the almost inexhaustible resources that had remained undeveloped. This great agent of civilization and reform bound together distant portions of the country, made neighbors of those who would otherwise have remained strangers, harmonizing and mutualizing conflicting interests, and blending into one universal and harmonious effort, the desire and action of countries and communities for the realization of their highest and noblest hopes and aspirations.
The Illinois Central was completed to Freeport early in September, and extended three miles beyond within a month. This was an additional incentive for rejoicing, and the people made much of it. As the county was benefited, so were the towns, and particularly the county seat. Freeport had been keeping pace with the time, growing with its growth, and strengthening with its strength. With no false excitement, calculated to throw her prosperity into the hands of speculators, the town had kept steadily on from a half a dozen houses, a few business men and a "gang of loafers," until her population at this period had increased from 1,036, in 1849, and 1,500, in 1850, to 3,000. This growth was not confined to an increase of inhabitants, but affected business and business accommodations. Instead of small store-rooms, with a peddler's pack of notions for stock, the town contained between thirty and forty large stores, some of them doing a business of between $30,000 and $40,000 per annum.
In addition, there were churches and schools, not to mention saloons and kindred resorts, which, if they failed to testify to the quality of civilization encouraged, at least indicated its existence.
Since the scream of the iron horse was first heard in the land, treasures of wealth and industry have been poured into the county, pointing out a present of usefulness and a future of greatness and prosperity.
The year 1855 marked the turning point in the history of common-school education in the State. The first school established in the county had been commenced nearly twenty years previous, when a very small class assembled at Ransomburg, and Miss Jane Goodhue sought the instruction of its members in a knowledge of the alphabet and words of two syllables. During the intervening period, labors in the cause of education had been constant and profitable. From this solitary class as a beginning, schools had been established all over the county, and were doing the work allotted them, as civilizers, effectively.
The influence created by their existence and efforts had been of the most beneficent and extended character, and was enlisted without regard to minor details. But this was not brought about save by the indefatigable labors of zealous men. The schools in Stephenson County were at first supported by private subscription, and so continued for many years, or until the expenses incident thereto were provided for by legislative enactment.
The Legislature of 1844 made some imperfect provision for maintaining the schools, which were supplemented by amendments in 1847, again in 1849, once more in 1851, and finally in 1855, when a law embracing all the essential principles of previous enactments was adopted. Among these was the sovereign right of the State to levy and collect a sufficient tax from the real and personal property within its jurisdiction, to be expended in furnishing its youth a common-school education. The tax, however, proved oppressive to some counties, and this portion of the law was sought to be repealed, without results, for it remains the vital principle of that law today. As a consequence of this course, there is not a township in the county but what is supplied with one or more schools, in which scholars between the ages of six and twenty-one years can avail themselves of the privileges therein proffered.
There were many causes, at first, to retard the progress of the present system, which, however, proceeding, as a rule, from a class of persons who are never found in the van of reform and are always opposed to experiment, because experiment involves change, was neither pronounced nor prolonged. An unfriendly disposition was manifested by some, who apprehended that the system was prematurely inaugurated, and the ability of the people too limited to provide for its support. The fear of an annual assessment operated to restrain others from its enthusiastic support the tax would be onerous and oppressive; other opposition, it is said, existed, proceeding from caste; and the rebellion added materially to attracting from the system which, nevertheless, has obtained in Stephenson County not more satisfactorily than elsewhere. It has not accomplished everything that could be desired, yet, in view of the hindrances with which it has been beset, it has accomplished much, and as a public agency for the dissemination of knowledge, intelligence and virtue, it has commended its merit to opponents and supporters indiscriminately.
The support of the schools, according to the act of 1855, and subsequent amendments, is derived, first, from the State fund created and maintained by the levy of certain assessments for educational purposes, upon the real and personal property listed in the State, which is paid out to schools pro rata, according to the number of children in each district less than twenty-one years old; second, by a distribution of the interest of a township fund, derived from the sale of the sixteenth section in the township, the proceeds of which have been invested for this purpose. The amount necessary to the support of the schools, over and above that provided as above set forth, is made up by the Directors of the school district to be benefited, by whom it is certified to the Township Treasurer, thence to the County Clerk, by whom the amount certified is levied upon the real and personal property of the district.
following statistical summary, for the year 1879, shows the result of
common-school efforts in the county for that year:
CENSUS OF MINORS.
Number of males under twenty-one years of age 8,033
Number of females under twenty-one years of age 8,021
Whole number under twenty-one years of age 16,054
Number of males between six and twenty-one 5,547
Number of females between six and twenty-one 5,606
Whole number of school districts 148
Average number of months school sustained 6.88
Number male pupils enrolled 4,363
Number female pupils enrolled 4,329
Total number enrolled 8,692
Total number male teachers 125
Total number female teachers 166
Total of teachers 291
AND HIGH SCHOOLS.
Number of graded schools 11
Number of high schools 3
Number of ungraded schools 141
Number of private schools 5
Total schools 160
Number of stone schoolhouses 24
Number of brick schoolhouses 31
Number of frame schoolhouses 98
Total number of schoolhouses 153
Whole number between the ages of twelve and twenty-one unable to read and write 10
Balance on hand October 1, 1878 $21,237.45
Amount of State and county funds received $13,460.54
Amount of interest on township fund $2,797.64
Amount of special district taxes $33,476.44
Amount from sale of school property $77.75
Amount from sale of district bonds $101.00
Amount of railroad and other taxes $1,688.47
Amount for tuition $183.71
Amount from all other sources $200.00
Amount paid male teachers $18,976.07
Amount paid female teachers $11,348.79
Amount paid for new schoolhouses $966.27
Amount paid for school sites and grounds $77.00
Amount paid for furniture $352.32
Amount paid for apparatus $62.45
Amount paid for fuel and incidentals $4,599.10
Amount paid Township Treasurers $1,214.76
Amount paid interest on notes $97.33
Amount paid principal of notes $655.66
Amount paid for repairs and improvements $2,729.14
Amount paid for other expenses $4,299.04
monthly wages paid male teacher $160.00
Highest monthly wages paid female teacher $60.00
Lowest monthly wages paid male teacher $18.00
Lowest monthly wages paid female teacher $8.00
Average monthly wages paid male teachers $39.65
Average monthly wages paid female teachers $23.47
number of examinations for certificates held during the year 15
Male applicants for first grade 15
Male applicants for second grade 141
Female applicants for first grade 7
Female applicants for second grade 209
First-grade certificates issued 14
Second-grade certificates issued 199
Number of schools visited by Superintendent 141
Grand total number of days attendance of pupils 750,295
No course of study for the schools has been adopted, but much attention has been given to proper classification. While the schools are by no means graded, yet there is a tendency on the part of teachers to systematize their work. There is almost a uniformity in text-books used in the different schools, which does much toward taking the place of a course of study.
Instruction in most of the schools is confined to the common-school branches. Teachers are becoming more skilled in the use of text-books, and have abandoned that slavish system which consists in memorizing the text-books only. The aim in all work done is to make the pupil master of the elements of an education that will benefit him the most, and prepare him for the duties of after life. In these efforts the teacher is yearly becoming more successful.
During the past twenty years, county institutes have been held in various parts of the country. These have been faithfully conducted, and are among the most useful means employed for the teachers' improvement. They have ordinarily continued one week, and the ablest talent to be found in the State has been usually called in to assist, and, though the attendance of teachers has never been made compulsory, the number present has varied from 100 to 160 at each session.
This system was not deemed sufficient, and, in 1879, a Normal Institute was established, holding one term of four weeks, from July 14 of each year. The enrollment reached 128, and was attended with the most satisfactory results to all concerned. Township institutes have been conducted in a number of places in the county, all tending toward one great object better teachers, and with them better schools.
PANIC OF 1857.
Such was the condition of affairs when the spring of 1857 aroused the inhabitants of the county from their season of hibernation to renewed labor, and a faith in the future intensified by experience. As spring graduated into summer and the heated term was drawing to its close, appearances failed to indicate the coming of the storm that threatened to involve the entire country in ruin.
During the latter part of August, the suspension of the Life Insurance and Trust Company at Cincinnati, with liabilities quoted at five millions, came with unexpected suddenness, and created a havoc in financial ranks from which recovery has only been accomplished after years of industry, pluck and unmeasured confidence. This crash was succeeded by others, as is well known, with similar depressing and ruinous results. These warnings preceded the advance of the foe into the West, and caused people to reflect on what might be in store for them.
There were many, doubtless, admonished by their prophetic souls of what was coming; but, a majority, flattering their peace of mind with the thought that the city and county would escape unscathed, declined to outline their connections regarding impending troubles until too late to provide any remedy to mitigate their severity. There were some, however, who saw the horizon dark and portentous with the coming storm, and put their house in order to resist its violence. When it came, as a consequence, if not protected entirely, they were sufficiently so as to escape permanent paralysis.
Its immediate presence was first manifested by the falling-off in trade, the absence of new arrivals, the depreciation in property values, and other insignias of coming calamities which, though strange to the West and her people, carried with them a dread of what was to follow in their wake. Soon after, more pronounced symptoms were to be observed. Lots and lands were without markets, and none but the choicest of either was worth the cost of assessment. Visionaries, who had dwelt in castles constructed by fancy, fled from the scene of their creations, appalled at the storm which they had aided in provoking. Substantial merchants, who heard the muttering, hastily, and in every instance when it was too late, sought to take their latitude and ascertain how far they could be driven from their true course and yet survive. Nearer and nearer approached the crisis, closer and closer came the advance of that intangible agency, which was to wreck so many hopes, strand so many enterprises and commit the fruits of years of labor to an adversity both remediless and hopeless.
The crash succeeded these premonitions of its coming, and carried all before it. Hundreds were irretrievably ruined in an hour, and men who felicitated themselves upon the possession of resources, ascertained, when beyond salvation, that these resources were unavailable. Some survived, but the majority went down in the storm, and were heard of no more.
The events which followed this crisis are familiar to many who are alive today. Gloom and discouragement usurped the places of hope and prosperity. Farm lands were cultivated only that the necessaries of life might be harvested. In some remote instances they lay idle. There was no money in the country, and this absence of a circulating medium prevented the sale of the crops. Merchants, for similar reasons, were unable to buy or sell commodities, and the most terrible distresses followed, threatening almost permanent poverty, if not complete annihilation. In 1861, when the war broke out, there was a brief revival of business and exchange for a season, which gave a temporary impetus to trade, but in a brief time business resumed its sluggish channel. Thus were cast the lines of life in Stephenson County not in pleasant places, truly.
Inquiry was instituted to discover, if possible, the cause of these unfortunate effects, and the endeavor made to ascertain if their recurrence could be prevented. In all former revulsions, it was reasoned, the blame might be fairly attributed to a variety of co-operating causes, but not in the case under consideration. There were no patent reasons for the failures, of which that of the trust company was the beginning, a failure unequaled in its extent and disastrous results since the collapse of the United States Bank. Reasonings induced the conclusion that the ruin which at one time hung over the country and the people, was due almost entirely to the system of paper currency and bank credits, exciting wild speculations and gambling in stocks. So long as the amount of the paper currency, bank loans and discounts of the country should be left to the discretion of irresponsible banking institutions, which, from the very law of their nature, consult the interests of the stockholders rather than the public, a repetition of these experiences would come at intervals.
This had been the financial history of the country for years. It had been a history of extravagant expansions followed by ruinous contractions. At successive intervals the most enterprising men had been tempted to their ruin by bank loans of mere paper credit, exciting them to speculations and ruinous and demoralizing stock operations. In a vain endeavor to redeem their liabilities in specie, they were compelled to contract their loans and their issues, and when their assistance was most needed, they and their debtors sank into insolvency.
Deplorable, however, as were the prospects, the people indulged in bright hopes for the future. No other nation ever existed which could have endured such violent expansions and contractions of the currency, and live. But the buoyancy of youth, the energies of the people, and the spirit which never quails before difficulties, enabled the country to recover from this financial embarrassment. Its coming was long delayed, but it came at last and dissipated the troubles existent, without permitting the people to forget the lesson these troubles inculcated.
The wheat crop of 1861 was sold for gold and silver, and, though the price paid was comparatively less than was expected, it was the beginning of the end of the crisis. As the war continued, and fresh levies were made upon the State and county, the demand for supplies increased proportionately, and necessitated their production. The demand augmented almost with every month, until in 1863 it had become so generous that it seemed as if the denials and privations of the people were about to yield precedence to days of plenty. The crops were constantly on the move, money became easier, and merchants experienced difficulty in keeping pace with the wants of their customers. Lands increased in value, and the area upon which cultivation had been wholly or in part abandoned, was replanted and harvested with profit. The towns also revived under these benign influences, and that better days had come indeed, was a conclusion both cheerful and universal.
The experiences through which this people passed in these years of woe, were not, however, without results to the county and city, which have proved advantageous and beneficial. Speculators, adventurers, soldiers of fortune and visionaries were weeded out. The dross was separated from the pure gold; the country was shorn of its superficial inhabitants, and men only remained, consoling compensations for the ruin that had been wrought, who are motive powers by which communities are sustained and characters for manhood and integrity created.
The decade in which were included occurrences of which mention has been made, consisted of a series of years, characterized by events, as has been seen, which tended to the civilization of the age, the education of the world by example, and the discipline of humanity by experience. Commencing at a period in the history of Stephenson County, when the days of trial were yielding place to more auspicious seasons, running the gauntlet of an experience both varied and checkered, and closing amid surroundings calculated both to encourage and approve, illustrates how nations, peoples and communities, like individuals, are subject to causes and motions, to results and promises, as unexpected as they are gratifying, and as incomprehensible as they are irresistible.
The ensuing ten years were passed in war and rumors of war by the nation, in which the county, through its volunteers, enacted the role assigned them in this drama for real life, with a fidelity that has commanded perpetual applause. When the war began its initial struggles with peace, not a few of those who subsequently became identified with the contest, hoped for a peaceable solution of the difficulties that threatened to result in separation, and discouraged the expectation of war. The maintenance of the Union and enforcement of the laws was urged without dissent, but many believed that these objects could be better accomplished by the employment of influences other than those sought to be invoked.
During these inaugural struggles a temporal prosperity was shadowed in the near future, and, notwithstanding the signs of depression apparent in every department of local progress, this promise was not without a prospect of realization at an early day. Business to some extent was restored, but it was up-hill work, and enterprises hesitated before development, with more of apprehension than had ever before been felt. Emigration had come in with the railroads years previous, and the county was generally settled; yet increased facilities for trade and an extended territory only partially roused business men from their coma condition of despondency, and but partially revived corporations that had become lifeless through inactivity and embarrassments. What a contrast to ten years before! "'Twas Greece, but living Greece no more." The contrast struck a chill into many a saddened heart, and not a few, still revolving the changed condition of affairs, turned themselves adrift, "the wide world before them where to choose."
When the surrender of Sumter cut off all hope of compromising the existing differences and compelled a decision as to what side should command their support, the people of Stephenson County, like the rushing of a mighty wind, became united in their tender of support to the Federal authorities. There was no half-way sympathy and love manifested for the Union; it was united and complete. Treason was made odious; its toleration not permitted. The war brought with it, at home and in the field, the same features witnessed elsewhere. The lives of the citizens were cast in patriotic grooves; pronounced in the support of the cause, in procuring the enlistment of troops; and all that loyal impulse prompted or could accomplish was done to remind the volunteers that those who remained behind were waiting and watching on their return. The soldiers who left their lives on the field of battle, in the hospitals or prisons, in putting off the corruptible and assuming the immortal, are not forgotten, but remembered as their forms seem to fade away through the gloaming when the sunlight filters through green leaves and hazy clouds.
'Tis now a score of years since a war for the perpetuation of a nation "conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free and equal," was commenced and fought to the end. The lessons taught have been as varied as the races which mingled in the contest. They are not confined in their benefits to States, districts or counties; but every locality inhabited by Americans is vested with the admonitions they embody. The people and the army, in which Illinois, Stephenson County and the towns within her borders, were prominent integers, are truly celebrated, less so for the suppression of war equally disastrous as the invasion of foreign levies, than for exterminating in America the causes which precipitated its advent and continuance.
The effects of the war were to increase the volume of business in this vicinity, creating demands for future consignments, and supplying resources for the revival and conducting of business. There was no immigration into the county worthy of mention immediately after the close of the last act in the bloody drama at Appomattox Court House, where the Confederate Government became a thing of the past, and for years the places of soldiers who came not back were left unfilled. Emigrants and speculators passed by on the roads which pass through the county, but, instead of halting, pushed onward to the gold fields of Colorado, deeming the uncertainties of a life amid the surroundings of wealth, the procurement of which was a "lottery," with associations which are measured by their excesses rather than their absence, far preferable to comfort, contentment, and a moderate income on the borders of civilization.
When peace resumed dominion over the entire country, many of the evils that follow in the wake of war were far from dissipated, and if not mitigated by the influences its coming exerted, were at least tempered. There were towns in the county which had sprung into existence with the railroads; in these, the breaking out of the war caused the suspension of operations. If none of these retrograded, none improved to any appreciable extent; and, if none amassed wealth, none contracted liabilities which involved them in bankruptcy. After the war, building was resumed and trade increased. Elevators were erected, banks established, operators from abroad came in, and these, with other combinations, laid the foundation for shipments of cereals and live-stock, that have grown into a magnitude and importance that can scarcely be approximated.
Freeport, more benefited by the war in limine, experienced more sensibly the effects of the reaction when the "flush" of trade was over. The drain upon its resources, as a result of the panic, had not been fully balanced, and the "spurt" in business the war excited, though temporary, was sufficient to, in a measure, compensate for the long season of dullness and inactivity, then at its height. From thence on trade gradually revived, until it boomed in 1865 when soldiers returned with money. Considerable was put in circulation by them, and a suspicion that hard times had gone away to return no more was generally indulged.
Improvements were made all over the county between 1860 and 1870, and of a superior order in every particular. The houses are patterns of comfort, being composed of brick and frame, and the beauty and finish of the surroundings are only surpassed by the domestic felicities found within doors.
The system of agriculture had undergone great changes since the days when the farmer cultivated four acres of ground and harvested his crop for home consumption, and these changes are not completed in this day, either. Mechanical skill and genius had conspired to place the farmer in as independent an attitude with regard to the cost of labor and, consequently, productions, as the manufacturer. He ploughed, sowed, cultivated, reaped, bound, stacked and thrashed with machinery. Money that was paid to hands for performing these various duties ten years before, was then appropriated to the cultivation of the farm and supplying it with superior strains of blood for the improvement of stock, for the erection and furnishing of commodious homes, the education of the young idea, and the many other purposes which for years had been denied the people by reason of their inability to pay therefor.
Throughout the county, while private enterprise had not been delayed, public improvements became equally as numerous and valuable. Roads were opened, graded and made available, streams "dammed" or drained as the necessities of trade or health demanded, railroad enterprises inaugurated and carried to a finality, and other advances made along the line of progress.
The system of education adopted in 1855, was working with benefits to all who came within the circle of its influence, and the cause of religion was ably sustained, both in the city and county.
Politically, the county became more pronouncedly Republican with each succeeding year. In early days, as has been noted, the Whig and Democratic parties were the rival organizations, under whose direction the political affairs of the county were manipulated. This continued without change until 1856, when the birth of the Republican party absorbed a majority of the Whig element, together with a limited number of anti-slavery Democrats. These successors to the organizations of the old regime flourished up to the breaking out of the war with varying success. During the continuance of that struggle the Republican party gained a very decided ascendancy, notwithstanding the Democrats maintained strict party lines. Some opposition was manifested by the latter while the contest lasted, but it never-became organized, and obtained no decided prominence in the community. Since the war the Republicans have remained in the ascendant, and today control the offices, influence and patronage in the county, by a majority estimated at 500.
The inhabitants of the county are composed of the best classes of all nationalities. The farmers are intelligent, scientific workers, as a rule independent, with many of them wealthy, cultivating from 160 to 700 acres of land, and raising crops which command ready sale and at the best market rates. The merchants are enterprising, substantial, responsible and honorable men, who add to the character of the population not less than to the wealth of the communities in which they reside. The professions are represented by men of dignity, capacity and intelligence, many of whom have won distinction on the bench, where their opinions have shed a luster upon the pages of jurisprudence in Illinois, and at the bar, where their reasoning power and superior judgment have commanded admiration; as physicians, whose advice and opinions have been accepted as authority on the subject-matter to which they relate; as ministers of the gospel, whose charity illustrates the greatest of virtues; as editors, the conservators of public opinion and public morality; and in the less prominent walks of life, her citizens have evinced the possession of those characteristics which constitute the composition of men who make a State.
During the past ten years the new court house has been completed and occupied, and improvements of great value and utility supplied the place of imperfect machinery. Railroads and highways afford easy access to the East, West, North and South, and all things have combined to render the happiness and prosperity of the people universal.
One can hardly realize the changes that have been wrought in this section of Northern Illinois in less than a half-century. A brief interval has elapsed since the county was a wilderness inhabited by the Indians; where the county seat now stands was located the village of Winneshiek and his tribe. A remarkable, indeed miraculous, change has come since then, due in part to the careful and laborious thrift of the people, as also to the broad-gauge principle upon which business is conducted. The golden-clad fields, laden at this season of the year with plenteous harvests, indicate the fertility of the soil, and how Nature has endowed these broad prairies. Nor has she been sparing in her contributions of beautiful scenery; a more exquisite panorama than is to be seen from eligible points in Stephenson County, the eye never rested upon. From elevations in West Point Township a more delightful landscape can scarcely be imagined; stretching away to the south and west are a range of mounds, crossing Apple River to Galena; in the extreme west Sinsiniwa Mound lifts its head, crowned with age; to the northwest a range of hills, in which the glistening ore of commerce is said to lie imbedded; away to the north a line of mounds greets the gaze, while off toward Mineral Point lies a belt of woodland, defining the course of the Pecatonica.
With railroad facilities for communication with the East and North and South, the county is placed in direct connection with markets and places of resort, as also in a position with reference to the future that admits of no misunderstanding. Banks and commercial establishments flourish where once the Indian met in council, and farms are cultivated where once he pursued the fleeing game.
So, too, in moral, intellectual and educational improvements, the people have kept pace with the times. Churches, schools, libraries and other avenues of improvement are open to the admission of all who may seek their portals, accessible to whomsoever may apply for permission to avail himself of the privileges.
The old settlers of today are scarcely able to realize the changes that have been made and the improvements completed since they first came into this new country, when they were younger than they are now. The past rises up before them in characters of life-like fidelity, reminding them of days long since moldering with the dead, and of friends years ago entombed in Mother Earth. Again they are at their place of birth, the home of their nativity, sanctified by a mother's presence and a mother's love. They are carried back to the day, when, cutting loose from that home and its sacred associations, they took up the burden of life and began their weary pilgrimage across its sands and drifts.
They recall the day when, weary and footsore, but exuberant with youth and hope and determination, they came upon the scene, and, gazing out upon the landscape, rejoiced at the spectacle which greeted their vision. The scene itself is pictured to them as they saw it then, in all the exquisite beauty of its rural simplicity; immense forests, wherein the foot of man ne'er left its impress; boundless prairies, flowing in the colors of variegated blossoms. No genial spirit welcomed them to the hospitalities of a home, no cheerful notes of gladness were sounded at their approach. The stillness of solitude, and solitude itself, alone awaited their acceptance and guarded them against the advance of human foes.
But the wand of progress touches the wilderness, and it falls never to hop e more. It touches the rolling prairies, and they are changed into fruitful fields; it touches the solitudes and peoples them with a race whose career has been marked with success at every mile-stone on the route. What a change, what a wonderful change, has been worked by the ingenuity and industry of man! The forest has yielded precedence, and the wilderness become sources of wealth. The rolling prairie has been converted into productive fields, and the harvest song is heard where once the war-cries of the savages resounded.
The past ten years have been years of profit to the county and its inhabitants. Buildings have gone up, improvements concluded and much been accomplished. The county has had little to discourage its advance during the past ten years less to prevent a full and complete fruition in the future. The county is completely out of debt, with resources almost unlimited, and of an excellence beyond comparison. The prosperity that came with time was accompanied by refining influences also; and the county, having passed that period in the history of great endeavors when failure is to be apprehended, is drawing nearer and nearer unto a perfect day.
Court House. On the 6th of December, 1837, Hon. Thomas J. Turner, since deceased, at that time a carpenter and joiner, concluded a contract with Lemuel W. Streeter, Isaac G. Forbesand Julius Smith, County Commissioners, to build a court house and jail on the site of the present edifice, in the square bounded by Stephenson street, Galena avenue, Bridge and Van Buren streets.
During the winter of 1837-38, the timbers for the old court house were hewn in the woods, under the immediate supervision of Julius Smith. These completed, the same were "framed" and erected, standing from 1838 to 1870, and, with the exception of the sill beneath the front door, which had long been exposed tothe weather, not a timber decayed. That plain old temple of justice, when built, surpassed in size and elegance all other buildings west of Detroit and north of St. Louis, but long since the county outgrew it, and, like some of the old settlers, it was obliged to take up the line of march to humbler quarters. Within its bar, in early times, gathered men whose names have become historical, including Thomas Drummond. Joseph L. Hoge, Thompson Campbell, Joseph Knox, James L. Loop, Jason Marsh, Martin P. Sweet, Sefch B. Farwell, Benjamin R. Sheldon and others, the latter presiding therein as Circuit Judge for the space of twenty years.
This old building served its purpose well until advancing civilization, increased prosperity and population demanded that the abode of justice should be somewhat in harmony with the surroundings, when steps were inaugurated which were concluded with the erection of the present edifice.
On the 27th of April, 1869, the first practicable movement was made toward the object in hand. The Board of Supervisors at that time was made up of Ralph Sabin, A. A. Babcock, Charles H. Rosenstiel, John M. Williams, George Osterhout, J. A. Grimes, John Burrell, C. F. Mayer, H. H. Becker, Francis Boeke, James McFatrick, S. K. Fisher, Peter Marlin, James A. Templeton, H. O. Frankeberger, Andrew Hinds and Samuel Wilber, and, on motion, the committee appointed to receive plans and specifications was continued, with instructions to procure the same for a new court house at an expense not to exceed $80,000.
At the next session of the board, the plans and specifications of E. E. Myers were adopted, and on February 22, 1870, the committee reported that it had closed a contract to erect the new court house with A. Walbaum & Co. which was also adopted, and the chairman authorized to execute the contract on behalf of the people. On the 23d of April following, S. K. Fisher, Ralph Sabin, George Osterhout, A. P. Goddard, Peter Marlin and Andrew Hinds were appointed the Building Committee, and arrangements were completed for the laying of the corner-stone, which occurred during the summer of the same year. From that event no delay in the building was experienced, the same being labored upon uninterruptedly until its dedication on the 22d of February, 1873, after which the undertaking was delivered into the hands of the county authorities complete in every particular, and costing a total for building and furnishing, of $130,413.56.
The design was furnished by E. E. Myers, of Springfield, Ill. The style of architecture should properly be called American, and the artist has displayed an exquisite taste in blending the different styles to combine the useful and ornamental, and to give the whole the appearance of grandeur both simple and bold. The building is of stone, from the crystalline marble quarries, 99x80, four stories high, including basement, which is six feet above grade line, the upper story being known as the Mansard or French style.
The entrance fronting on Stephenson street, is reached by a flight of marble steps, and opens into a lobby, thence to corridors, leading to the Clerk's, Recorder's, Sheriff's and Treasurer's offices, County Court room and Board of Supervisors. A broad, open flight of stairs leads to the next floors above, on which are located the State's Attorney's, Surveyor's and other offices, together with the Circuit Court room. The style adopted in the interior finish of the building is Corinthian, the wood finish being walnut with white ash inlaid. The Circuit Court room is 56x76 and 28 feet high, frescoed in oil, and finished in the highest style of the art. From this floor two flights of stairs lead to the upper story, which comprehends six rooms, designed for consultation and jury rooms, and from this floor the dome is reached, containing the clock, and affording to visitors an unsurpassed view of the surrounding country.
The clock was placed in the tower by A. W. Ford immediately upon its completion, and is conveniently accessible to those who desire to see it in motion. It weighs 2,000 pounds, with a pendulum eight and a half feet long, and weights necessary to running the clock aggregating 950 pounds. It was built by Seth Thomas & Sons, of Connecticut, and is famous not only for its beauty and finish, but also for its regularity and accurate time. The bell was also furnished by A. W. Ford, from the foundry of E. A. & G. R. Meneley, of Troy, N. Y.; weighs 1850 pounds, and is of superior tone.
The old court house still remains intact, occupying the northwest corner of Clay and Adams streets, where it is used as a tobacco warehouse. The new court house is a source of admiration to strangers as well as citizens, and is in truth and in deed a temple of justice, where the rights of the widow and orphan are guarded, and the heritage left them by the dead is saved from the avarice of the living. No bonds were ever issued, and no debt hangs over the county for the cost of its erection. No law-suits or entanglements have grown out of the work, and none can or will, as everything was fully settled and adjusted on the day when its formal dedication took place.
County Jail. The first jail erected in the county was that, doubtless, built under the supervision of Thomas J. Turner, under his contract made with the County Commissioners in 1839. The building was commenced during the same year, but remained incomplete and so uninhabitable for some time that the citizens were often obliged to shoulder their guns and stand guard, to prevent the escape of prisoners. It was built of logs, after the most primitive, not to say original, style of architecture, and occupied the present site of the high school, where it remained until the actual necessities of the case compelled the authorities to seek more commodious and secure quarters.
In early days, counterfeiters, horse-thieves and the felonious scum, it might be said, indigenous to a new settlement, were here in force, and, as a consequence, the little log jail was almost constantly filled to repletion with these classes of citizens, awaiting trial or transportation. The jail was the reverse of secure, and its occupants the opposite of obtuse, and upon every occasion they made it apparent to the freeholders about Freeport that, unless extraordinary diligence was practiced, the building could not be held responsible for the retention of those incarcerated. This knowledge led to the organization of a "night watch," it is said, who paced their beats about the jail at an hour when graveyards yawn, as a security against being revisited and depredated upon by those who were temporarily immured in its Chillon-like dungeons.
In time, this was relieved of that spice of variety it added to frontier life, and the decision was made to remove into a stone jail, to the rear of the present structure, corner of Bridge street and Galena avenue. Possession was taken thereof as soon as the premises could be adapted to the occupation of criminals, and, as it was deemed impossible to escape from, no thought was taken of the possible repetition of experiences suffered in the log jail.
For some years this flattering unction was enjoyed, when a lapse in the habits of the officers, or inability of the premises to longer retain the prisoner panting for liberty, caused a ripple of excitement, and induced a conclusion in the minds of citizens that in the jail construction things were not entirely as they seemed. Some fault existed which demanded immediate correction. Whatever this may have been, it was, presumably, corrected, for no more complaints proceeding from similar causes arose, until recent years, when drafts upon the confidence of people in the stability and reliability of the "little stone jug" became so numerous and heavy that they were finally dishonored, in 1875. During the fall of that year, an exodus from the jail prompted the Supervisors to act decisively, at a meeting of that body convened on November 4, of that year, when a resolution for the building of a new jail, to cost a sum not exceeding $35,000, was adopted nem con.
This being passed, a committee, consisting of Andrew Hinds, F. A. Darling, John Erfert and J. H. Pierce, were appointed to procure specifications, and authorized to visit Rockford, Joliet, Dixon and a superior structure at Monroe, Wis., and, from their observations at these points, formulate plans to be employed in the construction of a jail that should be absolutely proof against the attempts of inmates. The visits were extended and the observations made, but the committee's report was without recommendation.
Thereupon a contract was made with W. H. Myers, of Fort Wayne, Ind., for the building of the jail, which was undertaken, completed and occupied during 1876. The building is erected from plans furnished by T. J. Tolan & Son, architects, also of Fort Wayne, and is certainly as handsome, architecturally, as it is represented as being substantial. It is built of brick and stone, contains the Sheriff's home and County Jail, and is an ornament to the city, as also an honor to the taste and skill of the builders. The jail proper is completed in stone, containing accommodations for fourteen prisoners, and is every way comfortable and secure. The premises cost, completed, $40,553, and a glance at their arrangements will preclude a suspicion as to their strength, durability and security.
The County Poor- House. One of the first matters disposed of after the county of Stephenson had been set apart and organized, was provision for the poor and afflicted. At an early day a home was established for mendicants, in what now is Silver Creek Township, about two miles south of the city, which was occupied by paupers and the insane until February, 1859.
On the night of Friday, February 28, of that year, the poor house was burned to the ground, and Lavina Kohn, one of the inmates, met a horrible death, while Elizabeth Smiley, also a pauper, was badly burned. The fire, it seems, originated in the room occupied by Lavina Kohn, who, on account of the impossibility of restraining, was placed in an apartment by herself, under lock and key. The evening of the fire, Mrs. Wilson, the Matron, made her rounds of the building, previous to retiring, and found everything secure. Some time after, the alarm was sounded, and being without effective means for subduing the flames, the building was destroyed, entailing a loss of $3,523.95, upon which there was no insurance.
The Board of Supervisors convened on March 1, and adopted a resolution providing for the issue of $4,000 in bonds, to be appropriated to the rebuilding of the premises. The same were begun at once, completed in time, and are still used. The almshouse proper is a large two-story stone structure, containing seven rooms and a dining-hall on the first floor, with ten apartments on the floor above. To the rear of this is the insane department, being constructed of brick, 30x45, one story high, and containing ten cells. In 1872 the board caused the erection of a commodious dwelling house, to the north of the main building, which is used for residence purposes by the Superintendent. The whole are located on a farm of 160 acres, forty of which are cultivated for the benefit of the corporation, the balance being rented out, the rental being one-third of that produced thereon.
The charity is supported by the townships, which are charged the actual cost of support of those sent them by the Supervisor thereof. The expenses incident to maintaining the poor house, including a salary of $750 paid Jacob S. Reisinger, Superintedent, are estimated at $3,500 per annum.
STEPHENSON COUNTY SOCIETY OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS was organized on the 10th day of July, 1878, the lineal descendant of the Stephenson County Medical Society. The latter was established in 1865, and for some few years its affairs were conducted regularly. In time, the attendance became small, duties were neglected, and the society, being unable to rally sufficient members to constitute a quorum, lapsed into forgetfulness.
In June, 1878, the question of reviving the old society or creating a new organization from its wreck, was generally canvassed among the profession throughout the county, which ended in the convening of meetings to take measures looking to the latter object. At the date above mentioned, a meeting was held in the Supervisor's office, court house building, Dr. C. M. Hillebrand presiding, Louis Stoskopf officiating as Secretary, when a constitution and by-laws were adopted after debate, and the following officers elected and members signed the roster of membership: F. W. Hance, M. D., President; L. A. Mease, M. D., Vice President; Louis Stoskopf, M. D., Secretary and Treasurer; Drs. Claries Brundage, Buena Vista; L. A. Mease, F. W. Hance, and Louis Stoskopf, Freeport; I. P. Fishburn and S. K. Martin, Dakota; E. A. Carpenter, Baileyville; C. B. Wright Florence, and T. L. Carey, Lena.
The present officers are: Louis Stoskopf, M. D., President; L. G. Voigt, M. D., Vice President and B. H. Bradshaw, M. D., Secretary and Treasurer. The membership is now stated at fifteen, and meetings are held quarterly, at such place as the President shall designate.
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Stories, Volume 1
STEPHENSON COUNTY FARMERS' CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION was organized at a meeting of agriculturists, held at the court house on August 3, 1875, and incorporated soon after under an act of the Legislature providing therefor. The objects of the association are stated to be those of buying, manufacturing and selling such articles and implements as are used or needed by the farmer; also to sell, ship or exchange their products in the markets of the world. The capital stock was placed at $6,000, represented by six hundred shares, and the duration of the corporate existence was limited to ninety-nine years.
At the first election of officers, Ira Crippen was chosen President, H. S. Blakeway, Treasurer, and J. M. Chambers, Secretary, with Ira Crippen, H. S. Blakeway, W. P. Miller, J. F. Strunk, and Hiram Snyder as the Board of Directors, and at a meeting convened October 6, 1875, the business of the county Grange, similar in character, was purchased by the Farmers' Association. The latter 's officers took possession of the Grange warehouse, at the southwest corner of Adams and Stephenson streets, obtained a complete supply of agricultural implements, and opened business with a flattering promise of success.
So abundantly was this promise realized, that the capital stock was increased to $16,000, and other steps taken to accommodate the increase of business. About this time, the owners of the premises occupied insisted on an advance in the rent. The association declined to accede to this demand, and decided to erect a building adapted to the uses of its trade. Accordingly, a lot on the southeast corner of Adams and Stephenson streets was purchased of J. H. Haines for $5,000, and the erection of the present edifice commenced early in the spring of 1877. Before its completion, however, their lease expired, and the business of the society was transferred to the "curb," where it continued until May, when possession of the new quarters was taken, and where the farmers, cooperatively inclined, have sold and purchased from that date to the present time.
The building is a substantial three-story brick, 60x110, finished in a neat but inexpensive manner, and cost an aggregate of $11,000. The ground floor is occupied as an office and warehouse, the upper floors by an agricultural implement exhibition hall, 40x50, also a society hall of the same dimensions, equipped and furnished, and a commercial school.
The present officers are: Ira Crippen, President; Daniel Musser, Vice President; J. M. Chambers, Secretary; William Bear, Treasurer, and John Hart, Agent. Annual meetings are held in January, when the election of officers is had, also meetings of the Board of Directors, which are convened quarterly.
The corporation own property worth $20,000, carry stock valued at $25,000, and hold stock of the organization representing a valuation of $30,000.
STEPHENSON COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY, an association which, up to very recent date, has been prominent in the county, was organized as a private corporation, in 1852, by a number of agriculturists and horticulturists, who believed in the encouragement of their several arts. Immediately preparations were concluded for the holding of a county fair, which was held and attended with so gratifying a success that the experiment was repeated annually until 1861. That year, and in 1862, its grounds were occupied for the quartering of troops, which monopoly prevented exhibitions being given, and the society remained quiescent. These were resumed, however, in 1863, and have been continued with varying success until the present season.
In 1871, the society became incorporated under the State laws, changed its title to the "Stephenson County Agricultural Board," and received subscriptions of stock to the amount of $8,000. The grounds were enlarged and improved, the buildings thereon located being reconstructed and redecorated, and every effort made to conquer a success of the undertaking. Regular exhibits were given until 1877, when the grounds were appropriated to the uses of the State Fair Expositions, and again in 1878.
In 1879, a fair was held on the Taylor Driving Park, and, though begun under the most favorable auspices, was so seriously interfered with by rain that the society was unable to liquidate the demands of exhibitors entitled to premiums. In addition to this, an indebtedness had been created by improvements made in 1875, and, being without funds, the grounds, consisting of about thirty acres, located in the southwestern portion of the city, were disposed of by sale, Jere Pattison and Capt. William Young becoming the purchasers.
The society today, is without a home of its own, but, as soon as the circumstances will warrant their doing so, the stockholders design effecting a re-organization.
The present officers are William Young, President; Godfrey Vought, Vice-President; Jacob Krohn, Treasurer, and William Trembor, Secretary.
COUNTY PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY.
This association of agriculturists, for mutual protection and improvement, was formally organized about the 20th of February, 1874, though granges now tributary, had been in active operation previous to that date. The charter officers were Daniel Musser, President; W. P. Miller, Treasurer, and J. M. Chambers, Secretary.
At present the grange consists of thirteen working lodges, with a total membership of 260, and the following officers: Daniel Musser, President; F. B. Walker, Treasurer, and A. A. Stamm, Secretary. The initiation fee is $3 for males, and 50 cents for females, with annual fees of $1.20. The headquarters of the grange are at Freeport. The subordinate lodges meet monthly, the County Grange quarterly and annually.
On Thursday, December 16, 1869, a meeting of old settlers was held at the court house in Freeport, to take measures for the organization of a society of old settlers residing in Stephenson County, and to provide ways and means for a social re-union of those who became citizens of Stephenson County prior to 1850.
D. A. Knowlton was called to preside, and L. W. Guiteau officiated as Secretary. After a general interchange of views, a committee, consisting of the following gentlemen, was appointed to make arrangements for the re-union, as also to further the object for which the meeting had been convened, after which, an adjournment until Saturday evening following, was carried: James Turnbull and Samuel Gunsaul, Winslow; Levi Robey and Samuel K. Fisher, Waddams; Luman Montague and Thomas French, West Point; Williard P. Naramore and Jacob Gable, Kent; Andrew Hinds and Bissell P. Belknap, Oneco; John H. Addams and James M. Smith, Buckeye; Robert Bell and William B. Mitchell, Lancaster; Calvin Preston and Samuel Chambers, Rock Grove; S. E. M. Carnefex and Stephen Seeley, Rock Run; John Brown and Harrison Diemer, Dakota; A. J. Niles and D. W. C. Mallory, Ridott; Charles H. Rosenstiel and Fred Baker, Silver Creek; Conrad Van Brocklin and Anson A. Babcock, Florence; Ralph Sabin and John Lamb, Loran; Samuel Hayes, Jefferson; Pascal L. Wright and Perez A. Tisdel, Harlem; Thomas Kaufman and Alanson Bacon, Erin; E. Ordway, William Smith, W. G. Waddell, Thomas C. Gatliff, Benjamin Goddard, O. W. Brewster, Jere Pattison, George Purinton and Isaac C. Stoneman, Freeport.
At the meeting on Saturday evening thereafter, a committee, consisting of George Purinton, L. W. Guiteau, M. Hettinger, D. A. Knowlton and W. S. Gray, was appointed to make permanent the organization, draft a constitution and by-laws, and arrange for future meetings.
Finally, the society was organized on the 1st of January, 1870, at a meeting held on that day, and the following officers elected: Levi Robev, President; W. H. Eels, B. P. Belknap, Charles T. Kleckner, John Brown, William B. Mitchell, A. W. Lucas, H. P. Waters, F. Baker, Benjamin Goddard, Pascal Wright, C. Van Brocklin, Luman Montague, Hubbard Graves, Jacob Gable, Samuel Hayes and Alanson Bacon, Vice-Presidents; George Purinton and D. H. Sunderland, Secretaries, and L. W. Guiteau, Treasurer.
Since that date the society has been in active existence, meeting annually on the last Wednesday in August, and numbering upon its roster of members all who have been identified with the early settlement and subsequent building up of Stephenson County.
The officers elected at the meeting convened in 1879, were: Levi Robey, President; S. Chambers, Rock Grove; M. Gift, Oneco; H. Eels, Winslow; R. Baysinger, West Point; W. Dively, Waddams; John H. Addams, Buckeye; George Walker, Dakota; Elijah Clark, Rock Run; Thomas Bell, Lancaster; Aaron Kostenbader, Harlem; J. W. Pickard, Erin; L. W. Mogle, Kent; S. Hayes, Jefferson; Reuben Babb, Loran; John Aspinwall, Florence; Fred Baker, Silver Creek; W. G. Woodruff, Ridott, and J. B. Smith, Freeport, Vice-Presidents; W. Wright, Treasurer, and Jackson Richart, Secretary.
The Crossen Murder. A horrible murder was committed on Sunday March 23, 1856, at Craine's Grove, by an Irishman, named John Crossen, the victim being his helpless wife. It seems that Crossen had been celebrating the holiday (Easter Sunday), and became intoxicated. Immediately upon the departure of a companion who had indulged a similar weakness and left the premises, Crossen began a brutal attack upon his wife, beating her most unmercifully with a poker, and inflicting wounds from the effects of which she died before assistance could reach the scene of the tragedy. When the officers who were summoned reached the spot, they found the poor woman dead, her back and limbs beaten to a jelly, and her arm horribly fractured by the blows she had endeavored to prevent reaching her head. Crossen was at once arrested and confined in jail in Freeport, utterly indifferent to his fate; he admitted he beat his wife, but denied that his intention was to kill her, having frequently beaten her much more severely without serious results. The records are silent as to the disposition of the case.
The Lauber Murder. About three o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, June 7, 1859, a German named William Lauber was stabbed by a man named Lauth, of Elkhorn Grove, and died almost instantly. The affair happened near where the "Branch" crosses the railroad track, just below the machine shop. The deceased, commonly known as " Butcher Bill," claimed that Lauth owed him, and for some time previous had been persistently dunning him. During the forenoon of the day upon which the homicide occurred, Lauth had made threats and exhibited a butcher-knife which he carried, as was inferred from his remarks, to aid in his attack upon deceased. When first noticed, the latter was demanding his pay from Lauth, to which reply was made "Keep away, and leave me alone." The dispute waxed warm, until finally Lauth drew a knife and plunged it into the heart of his antagonist. Lauber died instantly, and Lauth was arrested and held on a charge of murder. The accused pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the September term, 1859, of the Circuit Court, and was sentenced to the penitentiary for eight years.
The Arnd Tragedy. During the summer of 1859, a German named Peter Arnd, accompanied by his family, consisting of a wife and four children, settled in this county on a place belonging to George Boardman, five miles above Cedarville. He was employed by Boardman as a field-hand, and generally regarded as a capable, responsible man. No attention was paid to his domestic affairs, nor was it believed that any difficulty existed in that quarter, his wife being an industrious woman, and his children, though all of tender age, requiring but little care.
On Tuesday morning, July 26, 1859, he proceeded to work, but returned about ten o'clock on account of a sore hand, and sent his wife to do the work assigned him. She worked until noon, when she returned to the house to care for the children and provide dinner, remaining but a short time ere she resumed work in the field. When night came on she ceased from her labors, and once more returned in the direction of her home, another woman accompanying her thither. As they reached the house and were passing an open window a most horrible sight met their gaze, transfixing them with terror, and for the time incapacitating either of them from sounding an alarm. Her four children lay upon the floor weltering in their blood, and manifesting no sign of life. The father stood by, an ax in his hand, with which he had done the deed, gazing in a senseless manner upon the upturned faces of his dying sons and daughters, but making no efforts to escape. By this time the witnesses of this dread result made an outcry and caused the murderer's apprehension. He was committed to jail, after an inquest had been held, at which a verdict in accordance with the facts was rendered, and held for trial.
During his confinement he exhibited signs of mental weakness, and within two weeks from the date of his incarceration died from softening of the brain, super-induced by sunstroke, and confirming the belief that he was not responsible for his acts when he committed the deed. Three children were killed outright; the fourth survived his injuries several days.
The Shooting of Mrs. George Whitney. About 11 o'clock on the morning of Saturday, August 8, 1866. Dakalb Walton, a soldier in the three-months service attached to Capt. Crane's company, shot and instantly killed Mrs. George Whitney, wife of a soldier in the Fifteenth Regiment. The affair occurred directly opposite the Stephenson House, and Walton, after he had inflicted the fatal wound upon his victim, attempted suicide by shooting himself.
According to the evidence elicited at the coroner's inquest, deceased and her would-be assassin had been living together at Oneco for some time prior to the tragedy, or since her husband, who was Sergeant of Company A, Fifteenth Regiment, had enlisted. On the Saturday of the killing, Walton and Mrs. Whitney had visited the brewery and drank beer, after which the former disclaimed his ignorance of what had passed until he realized consciousness in jail. The jury directed his imprisonment on a charge of murder, to await the action of the Grand Jury. The defendant was tried at the April term, of 1864, of the Circuit Court, and acquitted on the ground of insanity.
The Schmidtz Mystery. About the 30th of April, 1869, the body of a man named Henry Schmidtz, a former resident of Freeport, was found lying by the side of a slough in the town of Lancaster, in an advanced state of decomposition, and bearing marks indicating that he had met his death by violence. The body was recovered by Thomas S. Leach and William Peters, and taken to Freeport, where an inquest was held and evidence elicited tending to show that he had received $300 a short time previous to the discovery of the body, and when last seen was in the company of a man by the name of Casper Stoffels, whom he had employed to assist him in his business, being that of peddling. A verdict of murder at the hands of persons unknown to the jury, was returned.
The Wood Murder. Between the hours of 1 and 2 o'clock, on the morning of June 7, 1872, a shooting affray took place at the Kraft House, opposite the Western Union Depot, resulting in the death of Frank Wood, at the hands of John L. Thompson. Both had been together since the Thursday previous and up to the time of the affray, consorting with a pair of disreputable women named Rosa Bell and Flora Kennedy, and all drinking to excess. The quarrel began about these women, both of whom accompanied Thompson to the hotel a short time prior to the tragedy, followed by Wood. An altercation succeeded Wood's arrival at the house, during which the latter struck Thompson in the face, at the same time accompanying his blow with threats and insulting epithets. Thereupon Thompson drew a revolver and fired at his assailant, inflicting wounds from which death resulted immediately. Thompson was arrested. He was placed on trial, at the December term, 1872, of the Circuit Court, convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to the penitentiary for one year.
The Thompson Defalcation. During the month of May, 1874, rumors were rife throughout Stephenson County that George Thompson, ex-County Clerk, had, while in office, falsified the records, forged numerous county orders, and re-issued others that had already been redeemed by the County Treasurer.
The facts which led to the discovery of these frauds first came to the surface on Saturday, May 7, 1874, when Thompson called upon Aaron Wolfe and offered for sale an order dated September 14, 1871, payable to himself, for $1,220.05. The order bore an indorsement by the County Treasurer that the same had been "presented for payment and registered by me, this May 2, 1874 O. P. McCool, County Treasurer," misleading Wolfe, who purchased the security. Subsequent reflection induced the holder to investigate the facts, tending to trace the paper into the possession of Thompson. After an examination, it was ascertained that an order of a similar tenor and date had been paid in 1872, and so reported to the County Clerk for cancellation by the Finance Committee. As the investigation progressed, the fraud and deception practiced by Thompson became more apparent, and his victim impressed with the position in which he had been placed.
In the mean time, Thompson left the city and proceeded to Chicago, whence he returned to Freeport, however, and redeemed the order purchased by Mr. Wolfe. After the discovery of his frauds, others, who had become the holders of similar property as collaterals, repaired to the records and found that spurious orders, representing a face valuation of about $4,000, had been disposed of as collaterals and by transfer of ownership, to Knowlton & Sons, the Second National Bank, Joseph Emmert, First National Bank, James Mitchell & Co., and others.
The public were naturally exercised at these discoveries, and considerable excitement prevailed throughout the county. Thompson had enjoyed universal confidence in the political, social, financial and Christian circles, had been a leading spirit in Sabbath-schools and church organizations, and was generally regarded as one whose daily life had commended him to general respect. The Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors made an investigation into the charges alleged against Thompson, and found that, imposing on the credulity of the public, he had been able to swindle that too confiding unknown quantity out of about $5,000.
A warrant was at once issued for his arrest, but before he could be apprehended the accused absconded and its service was prevented. He fled to Canada, thence to California, where he established a ranch, meantime paying off the liabilities he had left unsettled in Freeport, and remaining absent until the fall of 1878, at which time he returned to the scene of his crime, pleaded guilty to one of the number of indictments that had been returned against him, and was sentenced to the penitentiary. He remained in Joliet two years and was pardoned, returning to California, where he now is.
Hall's Haul. The defalcation of A. W. Hall should not be forgotten, either. He was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court, and was inducted into office the first in the county under the provision of the constitution abolishing fees and substituting therefor a salary.
Hall refused to recognize the equity of this change, insisting upon it that he was entitled to the fees accruing, and declining to pay them over according to law. The Supervisors instituted suit against him to test the points held by both parties, and obtained judgment. An appeal was taken by Hall, but the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment, and by this time, his term of office having expired, Hall disappeared, defaulter to the extent of $3,184, and has never been heard of since. He was indicted, and his bondsmen liquidated $2,000 of his liability, leaving $1,184 with interest unpaid, which was lost by the county.
The Goodhue Defalcation. Charles. F. Goodhue, Treasurer of Stephenson County, was indicted at the December 1878 term of the Circuit Court for embezzlement, as County Treasurer, of the sum of $5,000 of moneys in his possession by virtue of his official position. A change of venue was taken by Goodhue to the Circuit Court of Rockford, Winnebago County, and at the January 1879 term, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to four years in the penitentiary. His attorney, J. A. Crain, appealed the case, by writ of error, to the Supreme Court, and at the September term, 1879, of that tribunal, the judgment was reversed, and the case remanded for a new trial. At the January term, 1880, just one year from the first trial, Goodhue, after laying thirteen months behind the bars of Winnebago County Jail, was again tried, and, under the rulings of the Supreme Court, as applied to his case, acquitted.
At the December term 1879, of the Stephenson County Court, two additional indictments were found against him, one for the embezzlement and another for larceny of jail orders, amounting to $22.12; these, with two other indictments which had been found, one for the embezzlement of $100, and the other for falsifying a public record, came up for hearing in the Stephenson County Circuit Court at the April term, 1880, and Goodhue's attorney took a change of venue on all four of the cases to DeKalb County. At this stage of the proceedings, the Board of Supervisors of Stephenson County met and passed a resolution, instructing the Finance Committee to employ the ablest legal assistance, in their judgment, in the State of Illinois, to assist J. S. Cochran in the prosecution of the case. Clothed with this authority, Mr. H. Lichtenberger, Chairman of the Finance Committee, retained Charles H. Reed, of Chicago, who had been for twelve years the State's Attorney of Cook County, to assist in the prosecution.
The case came to trial on Friday, June 25, the indictment on which the test was based being the embezzlement of the jail orders. The defense proved by Mr. Lichtenberger. one of the witnesses against Goodhue, that he (Lichtenberger) had ordered Goodhue to draw the money on the orders, which he did, and placed $600 in each of three Banks of Freeport, and the balance, $412, in the safe of the Treasurer's office. They also proved by Miss Kate Goodhue, who was acting in the capacity of clerk in the Treasurer's office at that time, that Goodhue had paid out every dollar of this money to liquidate authorized claims against the county, thus showing there was no ca6e against Goodhue from a legal standpoint, and on the 1st day of July, 1880, after a week's protraction, the trial ended, and the jury rendered a verdict fully acquitting him, and, the other indictments having been abandoned, Charles F. Goodhue once more breathed the pure air of freedom.
A traveler sailing up the Bay of Athens sees, while yet afar off, the shining splendors of the "Eye of Greece, Mother of Arts and Eloquence." "There are marble palaces and columns, rising white against the vineries and olive groves which deck the mountain landscape with a foliage of endless green. The hum of early traffic mingles with the shoutings of the crews of Alexandrian corn ships hoisting the anchors. Sheer and rugged in the foreground rises the Acropolis. On its summit the citadel, and crowning that the colossal statue of Minerva, her golden shield catching the morning light and flashing it back in brightness that dazzles while still enchanting the eye."
In a like manner, as one approaches the theme The Union, and the contest for its preservation, does he find himself encompassed with glories born of the most perfect civilization. Art, science and literature were in the enjoyment of a golden age, and the roll-call of names of those who excelled in each was surrounded by the glories of America, as were the names of Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Euclid, Praxiteles, Demosthenes and others, around whom the glories of Athens have gathered for thousands of years.
Twenty eventful annuals have become merged into the sounding past since the coming of the days which are now consecrated to the memories of the sad, triumphant period in the nation's history, with which the world is familiar. Those were perfect days. It seemed as if science, art, the laws, the people and God aided at their birth and development. Peace and happiness went hand in hand; the laws were observed, and their violation was visited with the severest penalties. Each section contributed to the wealth of the opposite portion of the Union; in fact, nothing was wanted to complete the picture of universal prosperity then exhibited to the world by the United States. Such, imperfectly, was the condition of affairs as they existed upon the dawn of 1861 in both sections of the country, which rivaled in all that tended to complete a make-up of brilliancy and wealth, emeralds and rubies set in burnished gold. But the notes of the impending storm were heard before the advancing winter was ushered in with the New Year, and the people had begun to conclude that the summer of the nation, with all its glories, had gone to belaid in the great storehouse of the past.
Finally, the rebellion reached a stage when the crisis was at hand a crisis which compelled every man to side either with law and order or with mob rule and sectional despotism. No rights of the South were endangered by the Union, or could be enforced by rebellion. The assumption that the ascendency of the party in power threatened danger to the rights and peace of the South was regarded as entirely without force by the people of the North, and as importing anarchy against law and order. Upon such a question, which vitally concerned every man's safety in business as it concerned the existence of the Government, decisive expressions of opinion were heard all over the North.
There was little disposition to talk, but a determined purpose to act developed; a purpose equal to the emergency. There was but one Government and one system of laws, to which every man should be compelled to feel there was allegiance. Acting upon this conclusion, a demand was made for respect for the laws by men who had no thought of flinching, and who expressed the matured judgment of a majority. That the law was resisted was a calamity, but greater calamities would attend the general anarchy which must follow if a rigorous execution of the laws was prevented or restrained.
Such were the views of the citizens of Stephenson County, when the surrender of Fort Sumter and the call for troops were promulgated. On the evening of Thursday, April 18, 1861, Plymouth Hall was crowded by an eager, anxious multitude, assembled in response to a call issued at noon of that day, appealing to the lovers of the stars and stripes to rally and; rally they did, in numbers overwhelming, made up of Republicans and Democrats, for all were Americans.
The Hon. F. W. S. Brawley presided, with J. R. Scroggs and C. K. Judson acting as Secretaries, and, on motion of J. W. Shaffer, T. Wilcoxon, J. M. Smith, W. P. Malburn, H. H. Taylor, Capt. Crane and Dr. Martin were appointed Vice Presidents.
During the absence of the Committee on Resolutions, composed of J. W. Shaffer, James Mitchell, C. K. Judson, J. R. Scroggs and A. H. Stone, speeches were made by S. D. Atkins, C. Betts, C. S. Bagg and Mr. Wagner, editor of the Anzeiger, the latter in German. Resolutions were adopted declaratory of the love for the Union felt by citizens of Freeport, and their determination to aid, so far as lay within their power, the General Government in its enforcement of the laws. The meeting was then adjourned, but the spirit manifested became intensified as time progressed. The following day recruiting was begun, and on Saturday, April 20, 1861, the first company enlisted in the county was filled and the oath administered.
The company left Freeport for Springfield on Wednesday morning. May 1, 1861, escorted to the depot by Capt. M. B. Mills' company and the Union Cornet Band, and cheered by the presence of not less than 3,000 people, who were there to bid them good-bye, and implore God's blessing upon the efforts inaugurated in behalf of their country. Upon arriving in camp, the "boys" were assigned to the Eleventh Regiment, making up the roster of Company A.
Soon after the departure of the volunteers under the command of Capt. Atkins, W. J. McKim enlisted a second company.
From this, beginning the work went bravely on. Lena furnished a company which was attached to the Fifteenth Regiment, and rendezvoused at Camp Scott, a camp established on the grounds of the Stephenson County Agricultural Association, near Freeport, and recruits were drawn from every township to swell the contributions of the county to the suppression of treason. Those who were unable to proceed to the front remained at home to aid the efforts inaugurated there for the preservation of the Union and the enforcement of the laws. Relief and aid societies were formed, sanitary associations organized, and every agency that could aid in promoting the comfort of the soldiers was successfully invoked in that behalf.
On the morning of June 19, 1861, the Fifteenth Regiment, commanded by Col. T. J. Turner, one of the oldest and most prominent residents of Stephenson County, left Camp Scott and proceeded to Alton. The day was one of the most exciting and memorable in the history of the present city. When the huge train moved out it bore with it the earnest prayers of assembled thousands, that those who were passengers, may-hap for the opposite shore, might be returned to their homes in safety.
As all are familiar with, the three-months service of volunteers concluded with the battle of Manassas. The defeat sustained in that engagement in no manner disheartened the men of the North. The sad intelligence spread a general gloom over the country, and carried sorrow and mourning into many a household, whence some loved member had gone forth to return no more. Yet the people faltered not in this dark hour of trial, but were spurred on to renewed efforts in behalf of the Government. The public mind was roused to a keener appreciation of the dangers that threatened and the difficulties that surrounded the country, and this call upon the people's patriotism was responded to by thousands, who pledged themselves to the defense of the old flag. Capt. Atkins' company was re-organized and re-enlisted for the war. Recruits were also furnished from Stephenson County to the formation of Company " B," of the Twenty-sixth Regiment, and Companies A, B, C, D, G, and K, of the Forty-sixth Regiment, these latter coming from Buckeye, Oneco, Rock Grove, Lancaster and Florence Townships, being organized for service on the 28th of December, 1861. Truly, the spirit was not yet dead. Patriotism and patriotic impulse found as earnest expression in Stephenson County with the dawn of 1862, as was witnessed when the first call to arms was sounded. Like strains of martial music will the story of their patriotism roll down through listless ages, till time shall pause in his career and the race of man is run. The patriotic spirit burned in every breast, flashed from every eye, thrilled every nerve and quivered in every muscle, and the arm of him who fought for home proved mightier far than the mad ambition of him who fought for treason. Though 1861 had gone, leaving its mark upon each brow, and shadow in each heart, the nation pursued the object of its contest, and waited trustfully, but with hushed hearts and tear-filled eyes, for the shining of the bow of promise.
The year 1862, as all know, opened discouragingly, and it was not until the capture of Fort Donelson, in February of that year, that the gleam of promise, set by God among the clouds, first began to flicker in the horizon of the future. The regiments, in which volunteers from Stephenson County were enrolled, participating in that engagement, were the Eleventh, Forty-fifth, "Forty-sixth" and perhaps more. Many there were, from these organizations, who yielded up their lives, a holocaust at their country's call, and, though history may never record their humble names or chronicle their deeds, yet they belong to the nobility of earth, and in that kingdom which comes after earth, each one is crowned with more than Olympic laurels.
In September, 1862, the Ninety-second Regiment was enlisted, organized and mustered into service. The thought indulged, with the first call for troops, that three months only would be required to conquer the South, had by this time been thoroughly dissipated. The people were ignorant of war, and it was not until the return of the sick, the wounded and the dead, the latter in rough pine boxes, with their soldiers' coats about them, that the "folks at home" began to realize that war was abroad. The frequent calls for men, the repeated repulses, not to say defeats, intensified this reality; and when it became necessary to have recourse to the draft to restore the shattered regiments; to somewhat of a resemblance to their former appearance, then was the conviction forced without demurrer. The Ninety-second contained soldiers enlisted in Lancaster, Buckeye, Erin, Kent and Jefferson Townships, of Stephenson County, and the fidelity they exhibited to the cause in which they embarked is found in the killed, wounded and missing that depleted its ranks.
During the same year, about June, a company of three-months troops was partially made up of volunteers from Stephenson County, and entered the service at Camp Douglas. It was commanded by James W. Crane, with Stephen Allen and Lorenzo Willard as Lieutenants; John Stine, James R. Bake, Charles A. Dodge, John D. Lamb and Harrison W. Sigworth, Sergeants; C. D. Bently, Theodore A. Cronk, Oliver T. Steinmetz, Ambrose Martin, Sidney Robins, H. S. Ritz, W. H. Heyt and W. H. Battle, Corporals. The Ninety-second was raised for three years or the war, in response to a requisition made by the Government for nine regiments from the State of Illinois, to fill up the ranks depleted in the five-days fight about Richmond, but the three-months troops were appropriated mostly to provost duty.
Notwithstanding the liberality with which the county responded, it was feared that a draft would become necessary to supply Governmental demands, and during the same year the Ninety-second was mustered into service (1862), an enrollment of the county was made, and 3,000 residents reported as liable to duty under the provisions of an act amending Chapter 70, Revised Statutes. About this time, war meetings were convened at various points, notably at Freeport, Lena, Cedarville and elsewhere, which were addressed by E. B. Washburne, T. J. Turner, Adjutant General Fuller and others. These meetings had the effect of increasing enlistments, which were assigned to companies in the Eleventh, Twenty-sixth and other regiments, and of postponing the draft, which was delayed for two years. In October following, Capt. Irvin enlisted a company about Freeport, which was assigned to the Seventy-fourth Regiment, and included upon the roster of that organization as Company I. The year 1862 passed without much more being done than is cited.
The defeat at Fredericksburg increased the surrounding gloom, and the campaign in the valley, early in 1863, rather aggravated than lessened the gravity of the situation. With each call for troops succeeding calamities gave birth to, Stephenson County responded cheerfully, though available material had been comparatively exhausted by the drafts made on her resources. The season of 1863 was a repetition of those which had preceded its advent. Meetings were convened to further enlistments, and provide for the soldiers. Money was subscribed for the support of families whose heads were at the front, and the payment of bounties. Fairs were held, and other mediums employed that would remotely aid in the gigantic undertaking. But little occurred to encourage the people, or bind up the broken hearts that pulsated with grief for the loss of those who perished in Virginia and the Southwest.
Among the most prominent killed during this year was Holden Putnam, Colonel of the Ninety-third Regiment, which had been in existence about one year. But many of those who went out from Stephenson County with high hopes and creditable ambitions, passed away before 1863 was included among the years that have gone. Grievous, sore and terrible were the blows that fell upon the North that year, and many a lonely wife and fatherless little one looked to God for fresh hope and courage, and to help them to remember that this life is but the vestibule to a glorious hereafter. The principal events, notably the capture of Vicksburg, the issue of the emancipation proclamation, battle of Gettysburg, etc., served to temporarily dispel the clouds which surrounded the cause, and inspire new plans for the closing year of the war.
Early in January, 1864, the Forty- sixth regiment re-enlisted, and returned to Freeport, where they met with a hearty welcome. But these were days when the finality of that contest which had been raging for nearly four years was drawing nigh; when the surrender of the rebel forces had resolved itself into a question of certainty, the time of that event being in the near future. Day was breaking to the watchers in the tower of American liberty, and the coming dawn announced its presence through the mist and clouds, sublime with the glories of the breaking morn, when error should decay, truth be, strengthened and right rule supreme o'er vanquished wrong; when jealousies and hate should give way to joy and peace and brotherhood. And, although the advent of the smiling stranger was prolonged another year, it came at last. Peace shed its gentle rays over the scenes of war and desolation, and a rosy radiance, gleaming from afar, melted in the dawning of the perfect day. "Well done, watchers on the lonely tower." Broad daylight finally broke upon the plain, and today soars unfettered, as its God designed.
With the peace at Appomattox, the soldiers for the Union returned to their homes in Stephenson County, where they were welcomed as the defenders of faith in that form of government which must not perish from off the face of the earth.
In addition to the enlistments quoted, Stephenson County had representatives in every branch of the service, and her citizens remember the names of those who fought the good fight unto the end, and returned to receive the reward of faithful stewards.
But there were many who did not return, and many still who were returned in the arms of Death. Some sleep the sleep of the just in the village churchyard, where their little white headstones dispute for prominence with the daisies and white-topped clovers. Their lives and death are shrined in the Pantheon of patriotic hearts to an immortal memory. Some sleep in the land of the jasmine and orange blossom. Neither are forgotten. Both are remembered as they slumber, "each in his windowless cell," the slumbers of sanctified rest.
During the war, Stephenson County furnished a total of 3,168 soldiers, and bounties, subscriptions and supplies aggregating upward of half a million of dollars. The draft was enforced but once.
The regiment was called into service under proclamation of the President, April 16, 1861; organized at Springfield, and mustered into service April 30, 1861, by Capt. Pope, for three months.
During this term of service, the regiment was stationed at Villa Ridge, Ill., to June 20th, then removed to Bird's Point, Mo., where it remained, performing garrison and field duty, until July 80th, when the regiment was mustered out, and re-enlisted for three-years serviee. During the three-months term, the lowest aggregate was 882, and the highest 933, and at the muster-out was 916.
Upon the re-muster, July 13th, the aggregate was 288. During the months of August, September, October and November, the regiment was recruited to an aggregate of 801. In the mean time were doing garrison and field duty, participating in the following expeditions: September 9th to 11th, expedition toward New Madrid; October 6th to 11th, to Charleston, Mo.; November 3d to 12th, to Bloomfield, Mo., via Commerce, returning via Cape Girardeau; January 7th and 8th, expedition to Charleston, Mo., skirmished with a portion of the command of Jeff Thompson; January 13th to 20th, reconnoissance of Columbus, Ky., under Gen. Grant; January 25th to 28th, to Sikestown, Mo.; February 2d, embarked on transports to Fort Henry, participating in campaign against that place; February 11th, moved toward Fort Donelson; February 12th, 13th and 14th, occupied in investing that place, 12th heavily engaged with the enemy about five hours, losing 329 killed, wounded and missing, out of about 500 engaged, of whom 72 were killed and 182 wounded; March 4th and 5th. en route to Fort Henry; 5th to 13th, en route to Savannah, Xenn., in transports; 23d to 25th, en route from Savannah to Pittsburg Landing; April 6th and 7th, engaged in battle of Shiloh, losing 27 killed and wounded, out of 150 engaged; April 24th to June 4th, participated in siege of Corinth, thence marched to Jackson, Tenn., making headquarters there to August 2d; participated in two engagements. July 1st and 2d, toward Trenton, Tenn.; July 23d to 28th, to Lexington, Tenn.; August 2d, moved to Cairo, Ill., for purpose of recruiting; remained at that point until August 23; thence to Paducah, Ky., remaining there until November 20th; in the mean time engaged in two expeditions August 24th to September 16th, to Clarksville, Tenn,, via Forts Henry and Donelson October 31st to November 13th, expedition to Hopkinsville, Ky.; November 20th to 14th, en route to La Grange, Tenn., where the regiment reported and was assigned to Brig. Gen. McArthur's Division, Left Wing, 13th Army Corps.
From this time to Jan. 12, 1863, participated in campaign in Northern Mississippi, marching via Tallahatchie (where the regiment was engaged in a sharp skirmish); from thence to Abbeville; thence seven miles below Oxford; thence to Holly Springs, Moscow and Memphis, Tenn. Remained in Memphis until the 17th, when it embarked on transport and en route to Young's Point until 24th, remaining there until February 11th; then moved to Lake Providence, and assigned to the Seventeenth Army Corps, making headquarters there until April 20th, participating in expedition to American Bend, from March 17th to 28th. April 23, 1863, the One Hundred and Ninth Illinois Infantry was transferred to the Eleventh, 589 being the aggregate gained by the transfer. April 26th, regiment moved with column to rear of Vicksburg, via Richmond, Perkins' Landing, Grand Gulf, Raymond and Black River, arriving before the works May 18th; May 19th and 22d, engaged in assaults on the enemy's works; then in the advance siege works to July 4th, at time of surrender; the regiment losing in the siege and assault one field officer (Col. Garrett Nevins) killed: three line officers wounded, and forty men killed and wounded.
July 17th, moved with expedition to Natchez, Miss., participating in expedition to Woodville, Miss. October 12th, returned to Vickshurg, Miss., making headquarters there to July 29, 1864; in the mean time engaged in the following expeditions: February 1st to March 8th, up Yazoo River to Greenwood, Miss., having a skirmish at Liverpool Heights, February 5th, losing four killed and nine wounded; action at Yazoo City, March 5th, losing one line officer killed, eight men killed, twenty-four wounded and twelve missing; April 6th to 28th, at Black River Bridge: May 4th to 21st, expedition to Yazoo City, Benton, and Vaughn's Station, Miss., taking a prominent part in three important skirmishes; July 1st to 7th, with an expedition to Jackson. Miss., under Maj Gen. Slocum, engaged with the enemy three times; July 29th, moved to Morganza, and was assigned to Nineteenth Army Corps, Maying there to September 3d; in the mean time participating in an expedition to Clinton, La., August 24th to 29th; September 3d, moved to mouth of White River, Ark.; October 8th, moved to Memphis, Tenn., returning to White River October 27th; November 6th and 7th, expedition to Gaines' Landing; November 8th, moved to Duvall's Bluff, Ark.; November 30th to December 4th, en route to Memphis, Tenn.; December 20th to 31st, expedition to Moscow, Tenu.; January 1st to 5th, en route to Kenner, La.; February 4th to 7th, en route to Dauphine Island, via Lake Pontchartrain; March 17th to April 12th, engaged in operations against Mobile, Ala., marching from Fort Morgan, participating in the investment and siege, and final capture of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, and in the assault on the latter; April 12th, marched into and took possession of the city of Mobile, staying there until the 27th of May, when embarked in transport and moved via Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans; from thence to Alexandria, La., remaining there until June 22d; thence to Baton Rouge, La., to be mustered oat of service; mustered out July 14, 1865, and left for Springfield, Ill., for payment and final discharge.
in the field and died of wounds, 149
Aggregate three-months service 933
Aggregate three-years service 1879
Field and staff, three years' service... 53
The Fifteenth Regiment Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, was organized at Freeport, Ill., and mustered into the United States service May 24, 1861 being the first regiment organized from the State for the three-years service. It then proceeded to Alton, Ill., remaining there six weeks for instruction. Left Alton for St. Charles, Mo.; thence by rail to Mexico, Mo. Marched to Hannibal, Mo.; thence by steamboat to Jefferson Barracks; then by rail to Rolla, Mo. Arrived in time to cover Gen. Siegel's retreat from Wilson's Creek; thence to Tipton, Mo., and thence joined Gen. Fremont's army. Marched from there to Springfield, Mo.; thence back to Tipton; then to Sedalia, with Gen. Pope, and assisted in the capture of 1,300 of the enemy a few miles from the latter place; then marched to Otterville, Mo., where it went into winter quarters December 26, 1861. Remained there until Februarv 1, 1862. Then marched to Jefferson City: thence to St. Louis by rail; embarked on transports for Fort Donelson, arriving there the day of the surrender.
The regiment was then assigned to the Fourth Division, Gen. Hurlbut commanding, and marched to Fort Henry. Then embarked on transports for Pittsburg Landing. Participated in the battles of the 6th and 7th of April, losing 252 men killed and wounded. Among the former were Lieut. Col. E. T. W. Ellis. Maj. Goddard, Capts. Brownell and Wayne, and Lieut. John W. Luterbaugh. Capt. Adam Nase, wounded and taken prisoner. The regiment then marched to Corinth, participating in various skirmishes and the siege of that place, losing a number of men killed and wounded.
After the evacuation of Corinth, the regiment marched to Grand Junction; thence to Holly Springs; back to Grand Junction; thence to La Grange; thence to Memphis, arriving there July 21, 1862, and remained there until September 6. Then marched to Bolivar; thence to the Hatchie River, and participated in the battle of the Hatchie. Lost fifty killed and wounded in that engagement. Then returned to Bolivar; frora thence to La Grange; thence, with Gen. Grant, down through Mississippi to Coffeeville. returning to La Grange and Memphis; thence to Vicksburg, taking an active part in the siege of that place. After the surrender of Vicksburg, marched with Sherman to Jackson, Miss.; then returned to Vicksburg and embarked for Natchez.
Marched thence to Kingston; returned to Natchez; then to Harrisonburg, La., capturing Fort Beauregard, on the Washita River. Returned to Natchez, remained there until November 10, 1863. Proceeded to Vicksburg and went into winter quarters. Here the regiment re-enlisted as veterans, remaining until February 1, 1864, when it moved with Gen. Sherman through Mississippi. On Champion Hills had a severe engagement with rebel Carney. Marched to Meridian; thence south to Enterprise; thence back to Vicksburg. Was then ordered to Illinois on veteran furlough. On expiration of furlough joined Seventeenth Army Corps, and proceeded up the Tennessee River to Clifton; thence to Huntsville, Ala.; thence to Decatur and Rome, Ga.; thence to Kingston, and joined Gen. Sherman's Army, marching on Atlanta.
At Allatoona Pass, the Fifteenth and the Fourteenth Infantry were consolidated, and the organization was known as the Veteran Battalion Fourteenth and Fifteenth Illinois Infantry Volunteers, and numbering 625 men. From Allatoona Pass it proceeded to Ackworth, and was then assigned to duty, guarding the Chattanooga & Atlanta Railroad. While engaged in this duty, the regiment being scattered along the line of road, the rebel Gen. Hood, marching north, struck the road at Big Shanty and Ackworth, and captured about 300 of the command. The remainder retreated to Marietta, were mounted, and acted as scouts for Gen. Vandever. They were afterward transferred to Gen. F. P. Blair, and marched with Gen. Sherman through Georgia.
After the capture of Savannah, the regiment proceeded to Beaufort, S. C; thence to Salkahatchie River, participating in the various skirmishes in that vicinity Columbia, S. C., Fayetteville, N. C; battle of Bentonville losing a number wounded; thence to Goldsboro and Raleigh. At Raleigh, recruits sufficient to fill up both regiments were received, and the organization of the Veteran Battalion discontinued, and the Fifteenth re-organized. The campaign of Gen. Sherman ended by the surrender of Gen. Johnston. The regiment then marched with the army to Washington, D. C, via Richmond and Fredericksburg, and participated in the grand review at Washington, May 24, 1865; remain 2, there two weeks. Proceeded, by rail and steamboat, to Louisville, Ky.; remained at Louisville two weeks. The regiment was then detached from the Fourth Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, and proceeded by steamer to St. Louis; from thence to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., arriving there July 1, 1865.
Joined the army serving on the plains. Arrived at Fort Kearney August 14; then ordered to return to Fort Leavenworth Septem1, 1865, where the regiment was mustered out of the service and placed en route for Springfield, Ill., for final payment and discharge having served four years and four months.
of miles marched 4,290
Number of miles by rail 2,403
Number of miles by steamer 4,310
Total miles traveled 11,012
Number of men joined from organization 1,963
Number of men at date of muster-out 640
The Twenty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry was mustered into the United States service, with seven companies, at Camp Butler, Illinois, August 31, 1861, and were ordered to Quincy, Ill., for the protection of that place. Not having been armed, the regiment did guard duty with hickory clubs. During the autumn, the regiment did guard duty on the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, and were armed with old English Tower muskets Col. John Mason Loomis commanding post at Hannibal. Prior to January 1, }862, three more companies were raised, completing the organization. February 19, 1862, they left Hannibal, Mo., for the South, stopping at Commerce, where the regiment was assigned to Brig. Gen. J. B. Plummer's Brigade, Brig. Gen. Schuyler Hamilton's Division, Maj. Gen. John Pope's Corps. They arrived at New Madrid March 3, and were engaged in action there; marched to Point Pleasant, and, arriving on the 6th, engaged rebel gunboats with sharp-shooters and prevented the landing of the enemy; marched to intercept the fleeing enemy from Island Number 10, and assisted in capturing many prisoners. After remaining some time at New Madrid, joined an expedition against Fort Pillow; returning, proceeded up the Ohio and Tennessee Puvers. to Hamburg Landing; took part in the siege of Corinth; May 8 and 9, were engaged at Farmington, the regiment losing five killed and thirty wounded, Lieut. Col. Charles J. Tinkham was among the wounded; Col. Loomis commanded the brigade, and Gen. Stanley the division. May 28, engaged the enemy one mile from Corinth, the regiment losing four killed and twenty-five wounded; Maj. Gilmore was wounded. Company G, of the Twenty-sixth, was the first to enter Corinth on evacuation by the enemy; engaged in the pursuit to Booneville, and returned to Clear Creek, four miles from Corinth. June 23, ordered to Danville, Miss., where we remained till August 18, 1862, at which time we joined the brigade commanded by Col. R. C. Murphy, Eighth Wisconsin, and marched for Tuscumbia; arrived 21st; September 8, with Forty-seventh and Twenty-sixth, Lieut. Col. Tinkham commanding, marched to Clear Creek; September 18, marched for Iuka; 19th, were engaged with the enemy, in a brigade commanded by Lieut. Col. J. A. Mower, of the Eleventh Missouri; the enemy evacuating in the night, we joined in the pursuit, arriving at Corinth October 3, and participating in the battle of Corinth; after the battle, followed the retreating enemy as far as Ripley.
Ten days afterward, arrived again at Corinth, where we stayed until November 2. Marched, via Holly Junction, Holly Springs and Lumpkin's Mill toward Tallahatchie River, the enemy being fortified on the south side of the river. The regiment was here detailed to guard a commissary train to Hudsonviile, during the trip, losing two men killed and two wounded by guerrillas; ordered to Holly Springs for guard duty; thence to Oxford, Miss., where we remained until December 20; ordered to Holly Springs, to prevent the capture of that place: on the 21st, reached that place, the enemy having fled; remained here during the year, Col. Loomis commanding the post, and Lieut. Col. Gilmore as chief of outposts.
In the beginning of the year 1863, the post at Holly Springs was broken up and the army fell back to La Grange, Tenn., where the regiment was assigned to duty as provost guard, Col. Loomis commanding the post. Here it remained until March 8.
March 3, the regiment was brigaded with the Ninetieth Illinois, Twelfth and One Hundredth Indiana, Col. Loomis commanding. March 8, the brigade marched from La Grange to Collierville, Teun., where they remained three months, engaged in fortifying the place and defending the railroad against guerrillas and bushwhackers. June 7, left Collierville for Memphis. The following day they embarked for Haines' Bluff. The regiment subsequently went into camp at Oak Ridge, where it remained until after the fall of Vicksburg. On the afternoon of July 4, started in pursuit of the retreating forces of Gen. Johnson. The siege of Jackson was marked by severe skirmishing, in one of which Capt. James A. Dugger, of Company C, was instantly killed by a round shot through the breast, and a number of men were killed and wounded. About the 22d of July, began the march back to Vicksburg, and when the troops crossed Black River they went into camp for the summer.
September 28, the encampment was broken up and the regiment marched into Vicksburg, and there embarked for Memphis, where it arrived on the 7th of October. Here a few days were given for the purpose of outfitting the men, preparatory for the long march across the country from Memphis to Chattanooga, to relieve the besieged Army of the Cumberland. The march began at 8 A. M.. October 11; arrived at Bridgeport November 15, and. on the 24th and 25th, took an active part in the battle of Mission Ridge, losing, in killed and wounded, one hundred and one officers and men. Among the officers severely wounded were Lieut. Col. Gilmore, Capt. James P. Davis, Company B, Adjutant Edward A. Tucker and Lieut. William Polk, Company B. The next morning, started before daylight, in pursuit of the defeated and flying enemy; followed them to Ringgold, Ga.; burnt the bridges and destroyed the railroad; then turned to make the march of two hundred miles, without supplies, cooking utensils, camp equipage, or change of clothing, to the relief of Gen. Burnside, at Knoxville; returned to Bridgeport in the latter part of December; were reclothed, paid off, and marched to Scottsboro, Ala., and went into winter quarters.
January 1, 1864, there were five hundred and fifteen men present for duty, of whom four hundred and sixty-three re-enlisted as veterans. Of sixty-one men present in Company K, sixty re-enlisted.
January 12, started home on veteran furlough. At the expiration of furlough, returned to the field with ranks well filled with recruits. Arrived at old camp at Scottsboro, March 3, and remained there until May 1, when it started on the great Atlanta campaign. The regiment was actively engaged in all the marches, skirmishes and battles which finally resulted in the capture of Atlanta. On the 3d of August, a detail of nine hundred men was made from the division, to charge the enemy's skirmish line. The charge was to be made over an old field, covered with high grass, a distance of about four hundred yards. When the signal was given, the men started on a keen run for the rebel works.
Private John S. Wilson, of Company D, Twenty-sixth Illinois, a stout, active fellow, outran the rest, and suddenly found himself alone in front of a rebel pit, which had been concealed by the tall grass, filled with seventeen men and a commissioned officer. He drew up his musket and told them to " fight or run, and that quick." All surrendered except the officer, who started to run, and he shot him. It was laughable to see "Buck," as he was called, marching back with his seventeen prisoners. By order of Gen. Logan, he retained the officer's sword and a fine Whitney rifle, found in the pit, and now has them at home, as mementos of his gallantry.
After the fall of Atlanta, most of the old officers were mustered out of the expiration of their term of service. Only two of the original officers remained, one at whom, Capt. Ira J. Bloomfield, Company K, was made Colonel of the regiment. About the same time, the Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, was broken up, and the regiment was transferred to the First Division of the same corps, with which it remained until the close of the war.
The regiment did some hard marching, following Hood up toward Chattanooga, and off into Northern Alabama; then returned to Atlanta; were paid and reclothed, preparatory to "marching through Georgia.''
The Twenty-sixth was engaged in the action of Griswoldville, siege of Savannah, and capture of Fort McAlister. A short time after the fall of Savannah, the regiment was ordered to Beaufort, S. C, and remained on duty there and at Port Royal Ferry until the commencement of the northward march through the Carolinas; were among the first regiments into Columbia, and were hotly engaged in the battle of Bentonville. Here the regiment was ordered to carry the bridge across Mill Creek, which was strongly guarded by the enemy. The regiment charged and carried it, but lost a number of good men. Sergt. Smith, of Company K, color bearer, was charging at the head of the column, across the bridge, and was shot, the colors falling into the stream. The enemy rushed forward to secure them, but Lieut. Webster, with Company E, charged, drove them back, and saved the colors. Col. Bloomfield had his horse shot under him, and narrowly escaped himself.
Remained at Goldsboro, N. C, a few days, and, April 10, began the march against Raleigh. Left Raleigh May 1, for Washington, via Richmond; participated in the grand review at Washington; transported by rail to Parkersburg, Va.; thence by boat to Louisville, Ky., where it remained in camp until July 20, 1865, when it was mustered out of service and started for Springfield, Ill., for final payment and discharge. July 28, the regiment was paid off and disbanded.
The regiment had marched, during its four years of service, six thousand nine hundred and thirty-one miles, fought twenty-eight hard battles, beside innumerable skirmishes. They were permitted, by the orders of the commanding General, to place upon their banners "New Madrid," "Island No. 10," "Farmington," Siege of Corinth,: "Iuka," "Corinth, 3d and 4th October, 1862," "Holly Springs," "Vicksburg," "Jackson, Miss.," "Mission Ridge," "Resaca," "Kenesaw," "Ezra Church," "Atlanta," "Jonesboro," "Griswoldville," "McAllister," "Savannah," "Columbia," "Bentonville.'"
The Washburne Lead Mine Regiment was organized at Chicago, Ill., December 25, 1861, by Col. John E. Smith, and mustered into the United States service as the Forty-fifth Infantry Illinois Volunteers. January 15, 1862, moved to Cairo, Ill. February 1, assigned to brigade of Col. W. H. L. Wallace, division of Brig. Gen. McClernand. February 4, landed below Fort Henry, on the Tennessee, and on the 6th marched into the fort, it having been surrendered to the gun-boats. February 11, moved toward Fort Donelson, and during the succeeding days bore its part of the suffering and of the battle. The flag of the Forty-fifth was the first planted on the enemy's works. Loss 2 killed and 26 wounded. March 4, moved to the Tennessee River, and 11th, arrived at Savannah. Was engaged in the expedition to Pin Hook. March 25 moved to Pittsburg Landing, and encamped near Shiloh Church.
The Forty-fifth took a conspicuous and honorable part in the two days' battle of Shiloh, losing 26 killed and 199 wounded and missing nearly one-half of the regiment. April 12, Col. John E. Smith, of the Forty-fifth, took command of the brigade. During the siege of Corinth, the regiment was in the First Brigade, Third Division, Reserve Army of the Tennessee, and bore its full share of the labors and dangers of the campaign. June 4, the regiment was assigned to Third Brigade, and moved toward Purdy, fifteen miles. On the 5th, marched to Bethel; 7th, to Montezuma, and on the 8th, to Jackson, Tenn., the enemy flying on its approach.
During the months of June and July, engaged in garrison and guard duty. August 11, assigned to guarding railroad, near Toon's Station. On the 31st, after much desperate fighting, Companies C and D were captured. The remainder of the regiment, concentrating at Toon's Station, were able to resist the attack of largely outnumbering forces. Loss 3 killed, 13 wounded, and 43 taken prisoners. September 17, moved to Jackson; November 2, to Bolivar, and was assigned to First Brigade, Third Division, Right Wing, Thirteenth Army Corps. November 3, 1862, marched from Bolivar to Van Buren; 4th, to La Grange, and was assigned to Provost duty; 28th, marched to Holly Springs; December 3, to Waterford; 4th, Abbeville; 5th, to Oxford, to Yocono River, near Spring Dale.
Communications with the north having been cut off, foraged on the country for supplies. December 17; notice received of the promotion of Col. John E. Smith to Brigadier General, ranking from November 29; December 22, returned to Oxford; 24th, moved to a camp three miles north of Abbeville, on the Tallahatchie River, where the regiment remained during the month. Mustered out July 12, 1865, at Louisville, Ky., and arrived at Chicago July 15, 1865, for final payment, and discharged.
The Forty-sixth Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, December 28, 1861, by Col. John A. Davis. Ordered to Cairo, Ill., February 11, 1862; from there, proceeded, via the Cumberland River, to Fort Donelson, Tenn., arriving on the 14th, and was assigned to the command of Gen. Lew Wallace; on the 15th, lost one man killed and two wounded; 16th, moved through the works and to Dover; 19th, moved to Fort Henry.
March 6, embarked for Pittsburg Landing, where it arrived on the 18th. The regiment was now in Second Brigade, Fourth Division, with Fourteenth. Fifteenth and Forty-sixth Illinois, and Twenty-fifth Indiana, Col. James C. Veatch, Twenty-fifth Indiana, commanding brigade, and Brig. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut, of Illinois, commanding division. In the battle of Shiloh, the Forty-sixth took a most conspicuous and honorable part, losing over half of its officers and men in killed and wounded, and receiving the thanks of the commanding Generals. Among the wounded were Col. John A. Davis, Maj. Dornblasser, Capts. Musser, Stephens, Marble and McCracken; Lieuts. Hood, Barr, Arnold, Ingraham and Howell.
In this action, the "Fighting Fourth Division" of Gen. Hurlbut achieved a reputation for bravery, to which it added on every field in which it was engaged until the close of the war. Was engaged in the siege of Corinth, in the month of May. June 2, camped six miles west of Corinth; on the 10th, marched to the Hatchie River; 10th, passed through Grand Junction, and camped three miles from town; 24th, moved to Collarbone Hill, near La Grange; on the 30th, moved to Old Lamar Church. July 1, marched to Cold Water, and returned on the 6th; on the 17th, moved toward Memphis, marching via Moscow, Lafayette, Germantown and White's Station, and camping two miles south of Memphis, on the 21st of July. August 27, engaged in the scout to Pigeon Roost. September 6, moved from Memphis toward Brownsville; 7th, marched through Raleigh and Union Stations; 9th, marched to Big Muddy River; 11th, via Hampton Station, to Danville; 12th, via Whiteville, to Pleasant Creek; 14th, via Bolivar, to Hatchie River. September 27, all the troops on the river, at this place, were reviewed by Gen. McPherson.
October 4, moved toward Corinth; 5th, met the enemy at Metamora. The Forty-sixth was in position on the right of Second Brigade, supporting Bolton's Battery. After an hour of shelling by the batteries, the infantry were ordered forward, and at a double quick, advanced, driving the enemy across the river. The First Brigade coming up, " Hurlbut's Fighting Fourth Division" advanced and drove the enemy from the field, compelling their flight. Col. John A. Davis, of the Fortysixth, was mortally wounded in this action, and Lieut. M. R. Thompson also, both dying on the 10th. After the battle, returned to Bolivar. November 3, marched to La Grange; 28th, moved to Holly Springs; 30th, toward Tallahatchie Paver, and camped near Waterford, Miss., where splendid winter quarters, with mud chimneys and bale ovens complete, were fitted up in time to move away from them.
December 11, to Hurricane Creek, and 12th, to Yocona Station, where it remained until December 22, when it marched to Taylor's Station. Van Dorn, having captured Holly Springs, marched on the 23d, .via Oxford, to Hurricane Creek; 24th, the Forty-sixth Illinois and Thirty. third Wisconsin moved, as train guard, to north side of Tallahatchie River; 26th, moved camp four miles nearer Holly Springs, between Waterford and Wyatt Stations.
January 6, 1863, moved to Holly Springs; 10th, Fifteenth and Forty-sixth Illinois were escort to ammunition train to La Grange; 13th, marched to Moscow, where it remained until February 5, when it moved to Lafayette. The garrison of Moscow was First Brigade, Fourth Division, the Forty-sixth and Seventy-sixth Illinois of the Second Brigade, and two batteries: and the garrison of Lafayette the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Illinois and one battery, Col. Cyrus Hall commanding. After rejoining brigade at Lafayette, marched on the 9th of March, via Collierville and Germantown, to Memphis. April 21, 1863, engaged in the expedition to Hernando, and returned on the 24th. May 13, embarked for Vicksburg, and on the 15th, landed at Young's Point; 18th, marched to Bower's Landing; 19th, moved to Sherman's Landing; 20th. moved by steamer up Yazoo to Chickasaw Bayou; disembarked, and moved across the swamp to the bluff. May 21, proceeded to the right of Gen. Grant's Army, and were then ordered to Snyder's Bluff; 24th, marched in the direction of Vicksburg; 25th, marched to the extreme left of the line.
The regiment was detailed on picket duty, and during the night the outpost, consisting of five companies of the regiment, were captured by the enemy; 101 men and 7 officers were captured, 70 escaping. The remainder of the regiment took an active part in the siege of Vicksburg; July 5, moved to Clear Creek; 6th, to Bolton Station; 8th, to Clinton; 9th, to Dickens' Plantation, where it remained guarding train: 12th, moved into position on the extreme right of the line near Pearl River; engaged in the siege until the 16th, when the enemy evacuated Jackson, after which the regiment returned to Vicksburg.
The division was now transferred to the Seventeenth Corps, and Brig. Gen. M. M. Crocker assigned to command. August 12, moved to Natchez. September 1, went on an expedition into Louisiana, returning on the 8th. September 16, moved to Vicksburg. November 28, moved to Camp Cowan, on Clear Creek. January 4, 1863, the Forty-sixth was mustered as a veteran regiment; 12th, started north for veteran furlough; 23d, arrived at Freeport. Ill., and on the 27th, the regiment was furloughed.
Organized at Rockford and mustered into the United States service September 6, 1862. Companies G and I were from Ogle and Stephenson Counties; all the rest were from Winnebago County. Left Rockford September 27 for Jeffersonville, Ind. Arrived there October 1, and moved to Louisville, Ky., immediately.
Assigned to Army of the Cumberland, First Brigade, Second Division, under Gen. Buell. Moved from Louisville October 7, and was in the battle of Chaplain Hills, Ky., October 13; from there to Crab Orchard, Ky., pursuing Bragg, participating in many skirmishes. Returned from Lebanon, Ky., October 25; from there it went to Nashville, Tenn., where a re-organization was effected, under Gen. Rosecrans. December 25, received marching orders, with three days' rations. Participated in the battle of Stone River, December 30, 31, 1862, and January 1, 1863, the regiment losing sixteen men killed and wounded.
Went into winter quarters at Camp Little, south of Murfreesboro,and were engaged in numerous raids in the surrounding country. Moved from winter quarters July 15; was in battle of Liberty Gap, July 20; one man killed; was engaged at Tullahoma, Tenn.; from here it was ordered to Winchester, Tenn., where it encamped. Moved August 20, to Stevenson, Ala. Engaged at Chickamauga, September 18, 19 and 20; lost five men. The regiment on the latter date was in charge of hospital and supply trains, arriving at Chattanooga, Tenn., September 22. While here it had very short allowances until November 22, when they participated in the fight of Mission Ridge, November 25, their colors being the first to pass over the rebel lines, capturing a battery of four pieces at Bragg's headquarters; loss to regiment, six privates. Col. Jason Marsh wounded, Lieut. Col. Kerr wounded in the arm.
Returned to Chattanooga on the 26th, and marched to Knoxville, Tenn., to relieve Gen. Burnside, and then went into winter quarters about December 13. May 2, 1864, it joined the main army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga, where it arrived on the 3d; on the 5th, marched under orders, and was in the battle of Rocky Face, or Buzzard Roost, Ga.; was at Resaca, Ga., May 14 and 15; Calhoun, May 17; Adairsville, Ga., May 18; Dallas, Ga., May 25 to June 5; Lost Mountain, Ga., June 16; was in the battle at Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., June 20 and June 27; lost fifty-two men and six commissioned officers, Lieut. Col. J. B. Kerr being among the number. Battle of Smyrna; Camp Ground, Ga., July 4, lost sixteen men; was also at Peach Tree Creek, July 20; Atlanta. July 22, and was continually engaged until the battle of Jonesboro, Ga., Sept. 1,1864, and Lovejoy Station, Sept. 2; then returned to Chattanooga, Tenn., where it was assigned to the Army of the Tennessee.
Engaged the enemy, November 28, at Columbia, Tenn.; Spring Hill, November 29; Franklin, Tenn., November 30; Nashville, Tenn, December 15 and 16, following Hood to Huntsville, Ala., fighting him all the time until he crossed the Little Tennessee and then went into winter quarters. March 26, 1865, marched to Bull's Gap, Tenn., to intercept Lee, leaving there April 17, for Nashville, Tenn., where the regiment was mustered out June 20, 1865. Returned to Rockford with 157 enlisted men and thirteen officers. Col. Jason Marsh was at the head of the regiment until about Jan. 1, 1865, when Lieut. Col. Thomas J. Bryan took command.
The Ninetieth Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, was organized at Chicago, Ill., in August, September and October, 1862, by Col. Timothy O'Meara. Moved to Cairo November 27, and to Columbus, Ky., on the 30th. From thence,
proceeded to La Grange. Tenn., where the regiment arrived December 2. On the 4th, ordered to Cold Water, Miss., where it relieved the Twenty-ninth Wisconsin Infantry. On the morning of December 20, a detachment of Second Illinois Cavalry arrived at Cold Water, having cut their way through Van Dorn's forces, out of Holly Springs. Soon after, four companies of the One Hundred and First Illinois came in. and were followed by the enemy to our lines. The demonstrations made by the Ninetieth deterred the enemy from making any severe attack, although he was 4,000 or 5,000 strong, and after some skirmishing, he withdrew. The regiment was mustered out of service June 6, 1865, at Washington, D. C, and arrived at Chicago. June 12, 1865, where it received final pay and discharge.
The Ninety-second Regiment Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized at Rockford, Ill., and mustered into the United States service September 4, 1862. It was composed of five companies from Ogle County, three from Stephenson County, and two from Carroll County. The regiment left Rockford, October 11, 1862, with orders to report to Gen. Wright, at Cincinnati. where it was assigned to Gen. Baird's Division, Army of Kentucky. It marched immediately into the interior of the State, and during the latter part of October was stationed at Mt. Sterling, to guard that place against rebel raids, and afterward at Danville, Ky. On the 26th of January, 1863, the regiment, with Gen. Baird's Division, was ordered to the Army of the Cumberland. Arriving at Nashville, the command moved to Franklin, Tenn., and was engaged in the pursuit of the rebel Gen. Van Dorn.
Advanced to Murfreesboro, and occupied Shelbyville, June 27. On July 5, the regiment was engaged in rebuilding a wagon-bridge over Duck River; July 6, was ordered by Gen. Rosecrans to be mounted and armed with the Spencer rifle, and attached to Col. Wilder' s Brigade of Gen. Thomas' Corps, where it remained while Gen. Rosecrans had command. The regiment crossed the mountains at Dechard, Tenn., and took part in the movements opposite and above Chattanooga, when it recrossed the mountains and joined Gen. Thomas at Trenton, Ala. On the morning of the 9th of September, it was in the advance to Chattanooga, and participated in driving the rebels from Point Lookout, and entered the rebel stronghold, unfolding the Union banner on the Crutchfield House, and kept in pursuit of the rebels.
At Ringgold, Ga., was attacked by a brigade of cavalry, under command of Gen. Forrest, and drove them from the town, killing and wounding a large number. During the Chickamauga battle, the regiment took part in Gen. Reynolds' Division of Gen. Thomas' Corps. In April, 1864, it was again at Ringgold, Ga., doing picket duty. April 23, Capt. Scovil, with twenty-one men, was captured at Nickajack Gap, nine miles from Ringgold, and one man killed. Of the men thus taken prisoners, twelve were shot down, and six died of wounds, after being taken prisoners. The remainder were taken to Andersonville; and very few ever left that place, having died from the cruel treatment received there.
From Ringgold, May 7, 1864, the regiment entered upon the Atlanta campaign, and was assigned to Gen. Kilpatrick's command, and participated in the battles of Resaca, raid around Atlanta. Bethesda, Fleet River Bridge, and Jouesboro. The regiment lost, at Jonesboro, one-fifth of the men engaged. From Mount Gilead Church, west of Atlanta, October 1, the regiment moved, and took an active part in the operations against Hood's army. At Powder Springs it had a severe engagement, losing a large number of men, killed and wounded. The regiment then returned to Marietta, and participated in the various engagements and skirmishes in Sherman's march to the sea. At Swift Creek, N. C, Capt. Hawk, of Co. C, was severely wounded, losing a leg. The regiment, during its term of service, was in some forty battles and skirmishes. It was mustered out at Concord, N. C, and paid and discharged from the service, at Chicago, Ill., July 10. 1865.
The Ninety-third Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, was organized at Chicago, Ill., in September, 1862, by Col. Holden Putnam, and mustered in October 13, 998 strong. Was ordered to Memphis, Tenn., November 9, and, arriving on the 14th, moved with Gen. Grant's army, in the Northern Mississippi campaign, to Yocona Creek, and thence, via Lumpkin's Mills, to Memphis, arriving December 30.
Marched again, immediately, to La Fayette, Tenn., and returned to Ridgeway, where the regiment remained during January and February, 1863. Embarked for Lake Providence, March 3, and from there moved to Helena on the 10th. From there, moved down the river on the Yazoo Pass expedition. Entered Moon Lake on the 22d, and landed near Greenwood. After reconnoitering the enemy's position, reembarked and returned to Helena. April 13, moved to Milliken's Bend, and on the 25th, commenced the Vicksburg campaign. Marched, via Bruinsburg, Port Gibson, Raymond and Clinton, and arrived at Jackson, May 14. The Ninety-third was first under fire here. Participated in the advance, losing three killed and four wounded. Remained at Jackson until the 15th, and then moved toward Vicksburg.
On the 16th, was engaged in the battle of Champion Hills. The Ninety-third was in the Third Brigade, Seventh Division, Seventeenth Army Corps. At 2 P. M., Brig. Gen. Hovey's Division being severely pressed, the brigade was ordered forward and placed on the extreme left. After twenty minutes fighting, it was flanked on the left, and, retiring steadily, changed front to the left. Being again flanked, it again retired, and in this position held its ground against a most furious attack, after which the enemy retreated to Black River Bridge. The loss of the regiment was one officer and thirty-seven men killed, six officers and one hundred and seven men wounded, and one officer and ten men missing. On the 17th, again moved toward Vicksburg. At noon of the 19th, came on the enemy's line, about three miles from the city. May 22, was engaged in the assault on the enemy's works, on the left of Fort Fisher, losing ten or twelve men killed and wounded.
In the afternoon, was ordered to re-enforce Gen. McClernand's command, near the railroad. At 4 o'clock P. M., charged the enemy. Loss in this charge, five enlisted men killed, and one officer and forty-nine enlisted men wounded. June 22, moved to the rear, and on July 4, was stationed at McCall's plantation. July 13, 1863, started for Jackson.
Arrived on the 15th. and immediately moved to Vicksburg arriving on the 25th. September 12, moved to Helena, Ark., and on the 30th, to Memphis. Moved to Glendale, October 3. Marched to Burnsville, Miss.. October 8. On the 19th, marched toward Chattanooga, via Iuka, Florence, Ala., Winchester, Tenn., and Bridgeport, Ala., arriving November 19. November 24, the regiment crossed the Tennessee River, and threw up a tete de pont, occupying the works until the pontoon bridge was built. November 25, was heavily engaged at Mission Ridge, losing Col. Holden Putnam and nineteen men killed one officer and forty-four enlisted men wounded, and two officers and twenty-five men missing. Pursued the enemy, November 26 and 27, to Grayson, and returned to Chattanooga. Moved toward Bridgeport, Ala., December 3. On the 22d, moved to Larkinsville, Ala., and January 17th, 1864, to Huntsville.
February 12, participated in the reconnaissance to Dalton. On the 24th and 25th, lay in line of battle all day, near Dalton. Returned to Huntsville, March 6. Moved by rail to Decatur, Ala., and, June 14, marched, via Huntsville and Larkinsville, to Stephenson, Ala., arriving on the 25th. On the 27th, moved by rail to Chattanooga, and 28th, to Kingston. One mile north of Dalton, the train collided with an uptrain, and one officer and thirty men were wounded. July 2, moved to Etowah to guard crossings until the 11th, when the regiment returned to Kingston. August 2 and 3, marched to Allatoona. On the evening of the 15th, moved by rail to Resaca, and on the 17th, marched to Spring Place; but, Wheeler's cavalry having retreated, the command returned to Resaca and to Allatoona. On September 3, ten men were captured while out foraging. On October 5, the Ninety-third was a part of the force, 2,100 strong, which so signally defeated Gen. French's rebel division of 7,000 men. At 1 o'clock A. M., the picket firing commenced. At 7 A. M., the artillery on both sides opened, and at 9 A. M., the enemy made his first charge, and after desperate fighting succeeded in pressing the Union forces back, from the outer line of works, into the forts.
Until 3 P. M., the battle raged with intense fury, when the enemy hastily withdrew in the direction of Dallas. The Ninety-third lost twenty-one killed, three officers and forty-nine men wounded, and ten missing. November 12, 1864, the regiment started on "the march to the sea," and marched, via Atlanta, McDonough, Jackson, Planter's Factory, Hillsboro, Clinton, Gordon, Irwinton, Summerville and Eden, reaching the enemy's lines around Savannah, December 10. On the 11th, skirmished with the enemy at Ogeechee Canal, losing one killed and two wounded. On the 12th, moved to "Station 1" on the Gulf Railroad, and remained till the 21st, when it marched into the city, and there remained until January 19, 1865.
Commenced the campaign of the Carolinas on January 19. Marched across the Savannah River, and two miles into the swamp. On the 20th, returned to Savannah, and on the 23d, embarked for Beaufort. S. C. Landed on the 24th, and on the 29th, marched northward, via McHendersonville, Hickory Hill, Owens' Cross Roads. Baneburg, Graham (destroying one and a half miles of railroad), Binnaker's Bridge, Orangeburg, Bates' Ferry, on the Congaree (where skirmished with the enemy, February 15), and to Columbia, arriving on the 17th. While here, one man was mortally wounded by the accidental explosion of shells.
From Columbia, marched, via Muddy Springs, Peay's Ferry on the Wateree, Liberty Hill, West's Corner (here had one man wounded by enemy's cavalry), to Cheraw, S. C; thence, via Laurel Hill. Big Raft Swamp, Fayetteville, Jackson's Cross Roads, Cox's Bridge and Bentonville, arriving at Goldsboro, March 24. April 10, moved to Raleigh, arriving on the 14th. After the surrender of Johnston's army, marched, via Petersburg and Richmond, Va., to Washington City. Participated in the grand review May 24, and on the 31st, moved to Louisville, Ky.
June 23, 1865, was mustered out of service, and on the 25th, arrived at Chicago, Ill. Received final payment and discharge, July 7, 1865. During two years and seven months' service, the casualties in battle of the Ninety-third were 446, and one officer and thirty-one men accidentally wounded. The regiment has marched 2,554 miles, traveled by water 2,296 miles, and by railroad 1,237 miles. Total, 6,087 miles. Col. Holden Putnam, com. Oct. 13, 1862, kid. Nov. 25, 1863. Adjt. Henry G. Hicks, com. Nov. 15, 1862, hon. disd. Feb. 26, 1864.
ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-SECOND INFANTRY.
(One Hundred Days).
The One Hundred and Forty-second Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized at Freeport, Ill., by Col. Rollin V. Ankeney, as a battalion of eight companies, and ordered to Camp Butler, Illinois, where two companies were added and the regiment mustered, June 18, 1864, for one hundred days.
On June 21, the regiment moved for Memphis, via Cairo and the Mississippi River, and arrived on the 24th. On the 26th, moved to White's Station, eleven miles from Memphis, on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, where it was assigned to guarding railroad. Mustered out of the United States service October 27, 1864, at Chicago.
ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIXTH INFANTRY.
The One Hundred and Forty-sixth Illinois Volunteers was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, September 18, 1864, for one year, and Henry H. Dean appointed Colonel. Companies C and B were ordered to Brighton, Ill.; Companies D and H to Quincy, Ill , and Company F to Jacksonville, Ill., and were assigned to duty guarding drafted men and substitutes. The remaining companies were assigned to similar duty at Camp Butler, Illinois. On the 5th of July, 1865, the regiment was mustered out of service at Camp Butler, Illinois.
HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEV-ENTH INFANTRY.
The One Hundred and Forty-seventh Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, was organized at Camp Fry, Illinois, by Col. Hiram F. Sickles, and mustered in for one year, on the 18th and 19th of February, 1865. On the 21st of February, moved, via Louisville, Ky., to Nashville, Tenn., arriving on the 25th. On the 28th, moved to Chattanooga, and thence to Dalton, Ga., Col. Sickles commanding post. On March 13, went on an expedition to Mill Creek, on Cleveland road, and broke up a nest of guerrillas. On the 20th, under command of Maj. Bush, went on an expedition to Spring Place. March 15, the regiment was assigned to First Brigade, Second Division, Army of the Cumberland, Brig. Gen. II. M. Judah commanding. On March 28, went on an expedition to Ringgold.
April 23, moved to Pullen's Ferry, on Coosawatchie River, and had several
skirmishes with the enemy, killing Maj. Edmeston, their commander, and
several officers and men. On May 2, the regiment moved to Resaca, Ga.,
and were engaged in repairing the railroad. On May 12, Wofford, commanding rebel forces in Northern Georgia, surrendered his forces to Gen. Judah. May. 14, Col. Sickles took command of the brigade. Marched to Calhoun, June 26, and July 27, moved to Marietta. From there, ordered to Macon, Ga., and to Albany, Ga., arriving July 31. October 16, brigade organization dissolved. October 28, ordered to Hawkinsville, Ga. November 25, the regiment was ordered to Savannah, Ga., via Macon, Atlanta and Augusta, where it remained December 31, 1865. Mustered out January 20, 1866, at Savannah, Ga., and ordered to Springfield, Ill., where it received final pay and discharge.
COUNTY SOLDIERS' MONUMENT.
Immediately after the close of the great war for the Union, there was considerable discussion among the leading citizens of Stephenson County, without regard to party affiliations, as to the propriety of erecting a suitable monument to commemorate the heroism of the noble sons of Stephenson County who had voluntarily laid down their lives upon the altar of their country, and the opinion was universal that the living owed such a lasting memento to the memory of their gallant dead. No practical steps were taken, however, until the winter of 1868, when a mass meeting was called on Saturday, February 19, 1868, at the hall of the Grand Army of the Republic, in Freeport. The meeting was well attended. Gen. Smith D. Atkins was elected Chairman, and C. C. Shuler, Esq., Secretary. A constitution for forming the Stephenson County Soldiers' Monument Association was reported, and unanimously adopted, of which Articles I and II read as follows:
ARTICLE I. NAME.
Section 1. This Association shall be known as "The Stephenson County Soldiers' Monument Association."
ARTICLE II. OBJECT.
Section 1. The object of this Association shall be the erection of a suitable monument, or memorial, to the memory of the gallant dead of Stephenson County, who have laid down their lives while serving in the armies of the United States during the rebellion, in order to rescue their names from forgetfulness. and suitably honor their heroic devotion to country and liberty, when country and liberty were in peril.
Articles III. and IV. provided for the proper officers of the association, and minutely defined their duties; which were those usual to such associations, and we omit them here.
On motion, the following officers were elected as provided for by the constitution: President, Hon. John. H. Addams, of Cedarville; Vice Presidents, Gen. J. Wilson Shaffer, of Freeport; Ross Babcock, of Ridott; Major J. W. McKim, of Freeport, and Capt. J. P. Reel, of Buckeye; Recording Secretary, Gen. Smith D. Atkins, of Freeport; Corresponding Secretary, James S. McCall, of Freeport; Treasurer, Capt. William Young, of Silver Creek. Executive Committee, C. C. Shuler, Freeport; Capt. William Cox, Winslow; B. P. Belknap, Oneco; Daniel Bellman, Rock Grove; Capt. J. M. Schermerhorn, West Point; Levi Robey, Waddams; Capt. William Stewart, Buckeye; Capt. Robert T. Cooper, Rock Run; Capt. George S. Kleckner, Kent; Capt. F. A. Darling, Erin; Perez A. Tisdell, Harlem; Capt. W. J. Reitzell. Lancaster; Hon. James S. Taggart, Ridott; Frederic Baker, Silver Creek; Conrad Van Brocklin, Florence; Maj. H. M. Timms, Loran; John R. Hayes, Jefferson, and Harrison Diemer, Dakota.
Immediately thereafter, a meeting of the Executive Committee was called in the parlors of the Second National Bank in Freeport, which was fully attended, and an address was prepared and published to the citizens of the county inviting them to subscribe to the fund for building the monument. It was decided to have a membership certificate engraved, with correct likenesses of Col. Holden Putnam, Ninety-third Illinois Volunteers, Col. John A. Davis, Forty-sixth Illinois Volunteers, and Maj. William R. Goddard, Fifteenth Illinois Volunteers, engraved thereon, they being the only field officers from Stephenson County who had given their lives in the war; such membership certificate to be issued to each subscriber of $1 or more. A meeting was appointed for each township in the county to urge the citizens to take hold of the work, all of which meetings were addressed by the Secretary of the Association, Gen. S. D. Atkins, and at many of the meetings he was accompanied by Hon. J. M. Bailey and Maj. I. C. Lawver. In the newspaper report of one of these meetings held at Ridott, we find the following pleasant reference: " At Ridott, a small audience subscribed a little upward of $100. The meeting was addressed by Gen. Atkins and Maj. Lawver. The Major referred to the fact that before the war, he was a Democrat in sentiment, while Gen. Atkins was a Republican. They went to the war in the same regiment, and fought side by side; neither has changed his political sentiments, and now they are side by side in honoring their dead comrades. So it should be with Democrats and Republicans. The soldiers lost their lives for their country, and all parties should join in erecting a monument to their heroism." The meetings held in the townships resulted in a very thorough organization in all parts of the county, but, after pretty thorough canvassing, only $3,500 had been pledged on the various township subscriptions. The officers of the association therefore resolved to ask the Board of Supervisors to make an appropriation to be added to the voluntary subscriptions that altogether would be sufficient for the completion of a suitable soldiers' monument in commemoration of the heroic dead of the entire county.
On Tuesday, June 29, 1869, the Board of Supervisors being in special session. Hon. John H. Addams, the President of the Association, Capt. William Young. Treasurer, and Gen. S. D. Atkins, Secretary, as a committee on the part of the Soldiers' Monument Association, waited upon the Board of Supervisors and requested from them permission to erect the monument on the Court House Square in the city of Freeport, and, also, a suitable donation to aid in its erection. Permission was granted by the board to erect the monument on the public square as requested, and the sum of $6,000 voted to aid in the erection of the monument by an almost unanimous vote, only one dissenting, and from that hour the completion of the Stephenson County Soldiers' Monument was assured. The following members of the Board of Supervisors were added to the Executive Committee of the Monument Association: S. K. Fisher, of Waddams; James McFatrich, of West Point, and James A. Grimes, of Lancaster.
The funds for erecting the monument having been provided, the Secretary was instructed to advertise in the New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Chicago papers for designs and plans for a monument, to be submitted at a meeting of the association on July 28, 1869, at which time there were artists present with plans from all the cities named. Gen. Atkins also submitted a plan designed by himself, for a monument of Joliet marble. 12x12 at base, eighty-three feet high, to be surmounted on the top with a statue of "Victory," in bronze, thirteen feet high, making the monument ninety-six feet from the base to the top of the statue of "Victory," with life-size soldiers on the four corners of the lower base of the monument, in bronze, representing the four arms of the service Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Navy. After full discussion of the various plans submitted, on motion of Daniel Bellman, of Rock Grove, thdesign prepared and submitted by Gen. S. D. Atkins was adopted. H. H. Upp was appointed superintendent of the building of the monument, with authority to make all contracts. Hon. John H. Addams, James A. Grimes, Samuel K. Fisher, Dr. W. J. McKim, Capt. William Young and Gen. Smith D. Atkins were appointed a Sub-building Committee, to approve all contracts before they should be in force.
The contracts were immediately let and the erection of the monument proceeded with. Under the superintendence of Mr. H. H. Upp, Mr. Adolph Beodiker prepared the foundation; Elias Perkins contracted to lay up the Joliet stone, and the Chicago Terra Cotta Company contracted to furnish the statue of '"Victory," and the four soldiers, which were especially prepared by the celebrated artist Sig. Giovanni Meli. The Terra Cotta Company contracted to furnish the statuary in bronze, but, hoping to do better, covered them with copper by an electric bath, and failed to make the deposit of copper sufficiently heavy, so that the copper cracked and scaled off, and the statuary was afterward painted by Mr. Daniel Adamson in imitation of Joliet marble, the material out of which the monument was constructed. The colossal statue of "Victory" surmounting the monument, designed by the celebrated artist Sig. Giovanni Meli, is an original conception of the artist, and is a work of very great artistic merit.
The Chicago Republican of Friday, December 17, 1869, thus refers to it: "But the last great work of this artist is the colossal statue of 'Victory,' which he has made from an original design, and which it is intended to render in terra cotta for the soldiers' monument at Freeport. The 'Victory' is the largest sculptural work ever composed in America, being thirteen feet high. It is, even to the minutest detail, finished as perfectly as the finest marble statue. While the imposing dignity and majestic pose of the figure at once impress the beholder, yet the proportions are so nicely observed and such is the careful and artistic handling of the drapery, which sweeps in broad, massive folds to the feet of the figure, that its colossal height and great size do not at once appear.
The figure stands in a strong and confident, though not bold, posture, with its right foot slightly advanced, and a portion of the weight of the body thrown upon the right hand, which rests on the staff of a large flag. The flag is gathered up in large folds by the sweep of the right arm, while, as if caught by some passing breeze, the fluttering ends swell out behind in broad waves of graceful drapery, so light and silken that they seem almost to ripple in the air. The left hand hangs by the side with an easy grace and holds the symbolic olive. The head ah! there is the secret of the imposing dignity which, like an atmosphere, is rather felt than seen in the figure.
Set on a neck which suggests rather than expresses power, is the grand head which crowns the statue, and which in its benignant dignity blends the imperial justice of the conqueror with the melting mercy of an injured though pardoning ruler. The head is thrown back as if a glorious sense of triumph thrilled it through with joy; and, though the eyes are raised as if a gleam of the battle fire still lit them with a glorious passion, yet the lips are parted with a smile of calm and satisfied peace that softens the sternness of the upper face. There is a curious interblending of the ancient and modern in the face, which, though at first sight incongruous, has been made by the artist to secure an effect that could not otherwise have been produced.
The eyes and forehead are purely Grecian, and have an imperious, almost a hard, boldness of expression while the cheek, chin and mouth are rounded with a sweet and tender grace that relieves the face from that otherwise strong and stern look, and gives to it a modern type or cast of countenance seldom before introduced in sculpture. Thus while the full face view gives to the beholder the impression of an imperious and proud Queen, calm in her self-poised dignity, and strong in her self-reliant nature, the profile contrary to all precedent seems melted with the sunshine of a happy spirit, which suffuses the whole face with a smile.
Usually the character is shown by the profile, which is more pronounce than the open face, but. the artist says that the subject demanded the blending of Grecian features with American, and the happy effect produced by this combination has united dignity with grace, and sweetness with strength.
On Tuesday, October 19, 1869, the corner-stone was laid with great ceremony, under the auspices of the Masonic bodies of Freeport, participated in by the Odd Fellows, Turnvereins, Fire Department and citizens. Dr. W. J. McKim was Grand Marshal. After the Masonic ceremonies were concluded, the Freeport Journal says: "The Senior Grand Warden introduced Sir Knight Gen. Smith D. Atkins, who, owing to the absence of Sir Knight Col. Thomas J. Turner, orator of the day, was invited, and delivered an effective and eloquent address of some twenty minutes' duration." The lower base of the monument is 12x12 feet and twelve feet high. On each of the four sides are two niches, in which a panel of white marble in inserted, on which are cut the names of those soldiers of Stephenson County who are known to have given their lives for their country.
The second, or upper base, is 9x9 feet and nine feet high, and on each side is a niche in which is inserted a massive slab of white marble. On the south side, facing Stephenson street, in engraved the following, in large raised letters:
On each of the three remaining slabs in the upper base, are engraved in raised letters some of the battles in which it is known that some of the soldiers of Stephenson County laid down their lives, as follows: Fort Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, Siege of Corinth, Jackson, Siege of Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Altoona Pass, Resaca, Pea Ridge, Nashville, Kenesaw Mountain, Stone River, Waynesboro, Cattlet's Gap, Iuka, Aiken, Franklin, Nickajack Gap, Siege of Knoxville, Champion Hills, Farmington, Bentonville, Hatchie, Mobile.
The shaft, 7x7 feet at base, rises 62 feet gracefully from the second base, tapering to three feet at the top, surmounted by a molded cap-stone, four feet six inches by four feet six inches, on which is poised the statue of "Victory" above described, thirteen feet high, making the top of the statue ninety-six feet from the ground.
Early in June, 1871, the last finishing touches were given, and the Stephenson County Soldiers' Monument, beautiful in its proportions, and as enduring as the solid marble of which it is constructed, stood forth completed, an enduring evidence of the patriotism of the entire population of Stephenson County, by whom it was erected. It was resolved to dedicate the monument on July 4, 1871, and great preparations were made for the event. Gen. John M. Palmer, Governor of Illinois, agreed to deliver the dedicatory address, but, at the last hour, he sent a telegram that he could not come, and Gen. Smith D. Atkins, of Freeport, reluctantly consented to supply his place.
Gen. Atkins spoke as follows: Fellow-Citizens: I have been admonished by friends, and the conflicting emotions of my heart, to which I cannot give utterance, admonish me now, that it is no easy task, under the peculiar circumstances which have induced me to appear before you, to address such an assemblage on such an occasion. But I have come, not because I had any hope of doing justice to my subject, but because I know that you will do more than justice to me you will be generous. Kneeling this day around the altar of American liberty, your hearts will throb responsive to the lightest touch.
We do well to come here today on this anniversary of our national independence, remembering the fathers who have "gone before." We are indebted for all the liberties that we enjoy to those who have long since entered the "dark valley and shadow of death;" those who shall come after us, in the sure flight of years, will be indebted to us for the civil and religious liberties which they will enjoy.
If we were to seek the fountain whence our liberties flow, we should be compelled to go far back of 1776; the Declaration of American Independence was the result of a prior moving cause; on the Mayflower came the germ of liberty; not alone to the Continental Congress, but to the Pilgrim Fathers are we indebted for the glories of the day we celebrate. Ideas are the moving causes of revolutions; the clash of arms, the sullen roar of artillery, are but the means employed to an end; deeper than that, below all that, like disembodied spirits, lie the ideas for which revolutions are fought. The idea, the great underlying thought upon which the American Revolutionary war was fought was embodied in the Declaration of American Independence, in these words: " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
No grander enunciation of the rights of man had ever been put forth by any people, and around it crystallized the hopes of the three millions and a half of people composing the thirteen American Colonies. I wish it was in my power to draw a picture of the American Continental Congress, convened in the plain little red-brick building in Philadelphia, called at that time the State House, on the morning of July 4, 1776, when Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston, the Committee on the Declaration of Independence, brought in their report. With what breathless attention did the members of the Continental Congress listen to the reading of it. With what emotion must that Congress have swayed, every one of them knowing, that, if they failed in their unequal struggle with England, the most powerful nation on the globe, then that declaration would prove the death-warrant of every one* of them upon the scaffold. But they faltered not. John Hancock wrote his name "Dashing and bold, as if the writer meant, A double daring in his mind's intent."
Stephen Hopkins, with a palsied hand, but with a fearless and patriotic heart, wrote his name plain enough for the minions of King George to read it; and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Franklin, and Adams, and Gerry, and Rutledge, and Jefferson, and Sherman, and Morris, and Witherspoon "there were giants in those days" and, relying upon the intrinsic justice of their cause, and the self-evident truths of the rights of human nature that they were declaring, to their maintenance they mutually pledged "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor." Well might the old bellman who sat anxiously in the steeple of the old State House, waiting for the word joyfully ring out the glad tidings when the Declaration of Independence passed, on the old bell cast many years before in England, and bearing, as if by inspiration, this inscription, in solid metal letters: Proclaim Liberty to all the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Aye, Liberty! That old bell is ringing yet, and millions hear it.
The last of all those who were there have long since been "gathered to their fathers," but their work lives after them and yet shall live. Time shall not dim it. The glories of the Cross of Calvary shall pale away and fade from the remembrance of men as soon as the moral grandeur and sublimity of that declaration shall be dimmed. While the memories of Washington and Warren survive, while there is one man to honor the memories of John Hampden and Algernon Sydney, while there is one human heart groaning beneath oppression, and throbbing with the love of freedom, the Declaration of American Independence will stand a beacon light to beckon on to liberty.
In February, 1861, Abraham Lincoln, after his election by the people as President of the Republic, stood upon the steps of the old State House in Philadelphia, on the very spot where Liberty was proclaimed by our Revolutionary Fathers in 1776, and uttered these memorable words: "I have often inquired of myself what idea or principle it was that kept the Confederacy so long together. It was something in the Declaration of Independence giving liberty, not only to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise, that, in due time, the weight should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon this basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say, I would rather be assassinated upon the spot than to surrender it."
They are memorable words. Great, noble Lincoln, how tenaciously he clung to the idea of liberty which inspired the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower; to which our fathers clung throughout all their colonial history; the one idea and single thought of the Continental Congress of 1776; the heart, the soul, the life, of the Declaration of American Independence, looking forward to the future, the clouds of civil war gathering in the South, as if inspired with a foresight to see the bloody ending of his self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of liberty, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed himself the willing sacrifice! But could the nation have seen the bitter dregs of the cup that he was destined to quaff, with what agony would every face have been turned heavenward, and millions of supplications gone to the great throne on high: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass." But and thank God before the idol of the nation was called upon to drink that bitter cup, before the foreshadowed prophesy was fulfilled, the idea of liberty had triumphed over slavery, and the blood of the martyred Lincoln sealed the deed of freedom forever. Toll, solemn bells; weep, ye worshipers around Liberty's altar; the disciple, the prophet, Abraham Lincoln, of the people and by the people best beloved, amid the nation's tears, even on the top wave of the nation's victory, has gone from earth, called by the Great Jehovah to "come up higher."
In that terrible struggle, foreshadowed by Abraham Lincoln as he stood upon the steps of the old State House in Philadelphia, have gone down into the "dark valley and shadow of death" the immortal heroes in whose honor the grateful patriotism of the people of Stephenson County has erected that marble column. Honoring, as we ought and do, the Revolutionary heroes, never can we forget those brave men who, in the late war, have died that their country might live. At the story of their heroism, our hearts swell with pride, and, at the story of their sufferings, our hearts melt into tears. Sometimes I wonder if the American people will ever forget what they felt when the news was flashed over the wires that the South Carolinians had fired upon Fort Sumter. I wonder if all the people of the good old Northland will forget that great uprising, party ties broken, party sunk in patriotism, when President Lincoln called for troops, and the voice of the mighty Douglas rang through the land, declaring that he who was not for his country in such an hour was against his country, and all the people resolved that the stars and stripes should again float over Sumter aye, should "greet the morning sunlight and kiss the last rays of the setting sun," not alone above the brick and mortar of that old fort, but everywhere throughout all this broad land, should unfold its bright stripes and gleaming stars the symbol of liberty, and the shield and protection of American citizenship.
the citizens of Freeport forgotten the Sabbath-day meeting for enlisting
soldiers, held here on our public square? Have you forgotten the meetings
held in all your schoolhouses, when the prairies were all alive with
patriotic ardor, and the fife and drum were beating up recruits ? Have
you forgotten how a free people, living in a government "of the
people, and by the people, and for the people," with a common impulse,
rallied to the defense of their imperiled country? How grand it was
something to be remembered always, and to be proud of always.
How like a mighty dream it all appears to us now, as we look back upon
the past. And afterward, when the three-years troops were called for,
how the heroes of the Republic came pouring into the camps the
farmer from his plow, the mechanic from his shop, the merchant from
his store, the lawyer from his office by ones, by dozens, by
fifties and by hundreds, until companies, and regiments, and brigades,
and divisions, and corps, with banners flying, and bugles blaring, and
drums beating, were marching to the front, singing as they went,
" We are springing to the call of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle-cry of Freedom;
And we'll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle-cry of Freedom."
and glorious as was the great uprising of the North in the early summer
of 1861, grander still was the swelling and growing volume of the nation's
patriotism, as it swelled and rose higher and higher with the nation's
need. Our good President called for three hundred thousand soldiers,
and the people answered his call; then he called for three hundred thousand
more, and the patriotic people answered back to the President,
"We are coming, Father Abraham,
Six hundred thousand strong."
It is an accepted doctrine of the Christian Church that "God gives strength according to its need," and in His wise providence battalion after battalion poured into the camps, until the maxim of Napoleon, "God is on the side of the heaviest battalions," did not seem so irreverent as it is usually regarded; and the apothegm of the ancients, " Whom God would destroy he first makes mad," appeared to be exemplified in the mad-cap South. I believe that it is ever true that "God is on the side of the right," and, while we give those soldiers who have died for their country more praise than tongue of mine can tell, we ought still to raise our hearts in thankfulness and praise to the "God of battles," without whose blessing no cause can long prosper, and who can hold an army in the hollow of His hand.
I cannot dwell upon the history of the late war; time will not permit me to pronounce the fitting words of praise due our dead heroes for their heroic deeds upon all the battle-fields for the Union; the people of Stephenson County and of the Northwest need not be told of them they know of them already, and they cherish the memories of them in their hearts.
When will the American people forget Washington and the Revolutionary heroes, who upheld the starry banner of the Republic that was born in revolution and baptized in blood? When will we forget those whose names are graven on yonder tablets, the "boys in blue;" who, in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864 and 1865, enlisted in our army to bear that standard sheet on high? Side by side with the heroes of the Revolution will their names go down in history, never more to be forgotten.
whom do we owe it that we have a country today? to whom but to those
who. with heart and brain and stalwart arm, upheld the flag? To the
loyal men and women of America, to those who went to the front and to
those who remained at home, are we this day indebted for the security
and peacefulness of our firesides and for the liberty we enjoy; but
most of all to those gallant heroes, in memory of whom that marble monument
has been erected; who, standing "between their loved homes and
war's desolations," have died for their country. Do all that we
may or can, we never shall be able to repay more than a trifling moiety
of the great debt of gratitude and love we owe to those heroes who have
gone to that
From whose bourne no traveler returns."
them monuments of marble, surmounted with statues of "Victory;"
cut their names in enduring tablets of stone; tell of their heroic deeds
in story, and sing of them in song; keep their memories green in our
hearts forevermore, .and yet we will not pay one half of the great debt
of gratitude and love we owe. The liberties secured to their country
by the sacrifice of their lives, they themselves cannot enjoy; for you
and for me, and for those who will come after us, they have died. Long
after that massive marble monument has moldered into dust, their memories
will live; the generations to follow us will honor them even more than
we honor them now. Think you that while there remains one human heart
that loves liberty their memories will perish ? No. Hundreds of years
ago, Leonid is and his band of Spartan soldiers went down in the defense
of the Pass of Thermopylas, but forevermore, among every people in whose
language there can be found a word to express liberty, those dead heroes
will be remembered. Those whose memories we seek to perpetuate by that
marble pile were the defenders of our Thermopylae, not like Leonidas
and his Spartan soldiers, doomed to defeat in honorable death, but victory,
overwhelming and complete, has crowned their heroism. Fitly do we place
the statue of "Victory" on the monument the grateful patriotism
of all the people of Stephenson County has erected to their memory.
Never on earth can they answer roll-call again.
"On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead."
deeply on those marble tablets are the names of nearly seven hundred
of the gallant heroes of Stephenson County, who went out to the defense
of their country, and came not back again. And yet they were but a handful
in the great sacrificial offering that liberty demanded and received.
Four hundred thousand men,
The brave, the good, the true,
On battle plain, in prison pen,
Have died for me and you.
hundred thousand of the brave,
Have made our loyal soil their grave,
For me and you;
Kind friend, for me and you."
Dedicating this day that colossal marble monument to the memories of the gallant dead of Stephenson County, let us thank God for the glowing patriotism that gave to the nation its heroic defenders, and reverently ask His blessing upon the work which they have accomplished.
The following are buried in the cemeteries about Freeport: Gen. J. W. Shaffer; Cols. H. Putnam, T. J. Turner, C. T. Dunham and John A. Davis; Capts. S. W. Field, James R. Shaffer and James W. Crane; Majs. William McKim and Elisha Schofield; Lieuts. M. R. Thompson, H. A. Sheets, T. M. Hood and Emil Neese, Elias Diffenbaugh, Joseph Degon, Samuel Ailey, R. C. Swain, M. D., H. Broadie, Mortimer Snow, Joseph Cavanagh, Eli M. Ketchum, James Daniels, Max Lambrecht, Lawrence Fisher, Anton Bauer, James Jordan, L. Bentlj, J. W. Sinlinger, David McCormick, James C. McCarthy, William Haggart, Sidney Haggart, William Eddy, John Bortsfield, Charles Gramp, Joseph Maxwell, Jacob Backers, Van Reason, Fred Shilling, Aaron S. Best, Milton S. Weaver, Thomas Mullarkey, Lary Paten and Andrew Bartlett.
of summer, Oh! whisper low,
Over the graves where the daisies grow.
Blossoming flowers and songs of bees,
Sweet ferns tossed in the summer's breeze
Floating shadows and golden lights,
Dewy mornings and radiant nights
All the bright and beautiful things
That gracious and bountiful summer brings,
Fairest and sweetest that earth can bestow
Brighten the graves where the daisies grow."
STATEMENT OF AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS, 1879
Hungarian & millet
Turnip & other root crops
Other fruits & berries
Other crops not named above
City/town real estate
of sheep killed by dogs 265
Total value sheep killed by dogs $926
Number pounds shorn 62,956
Number fat sheep sold 2,430
Total gross weight fat sheep sold 240,265
cows kept 2,972
Pounds butter sold 804,971
Pounds cheese soM 3,711
Gallons cream sold 4,173
Gallons milk sold 69,685
colts foaled .- 944
Number horses died, any age 405
fat cattle sold ." 3,880
Total gross weight fat cattle sold 4,209,978
fat hogs sold 43,153
Total gross weight fat hogs sold 10,764,977
Number hogs and pigs died of cholera 25,652
Total gross weight of swine died of cholera 1,811,748
bushels timothy seed 1,269
Number bushels clover seed 12,607
Number bushels Hungarian and millet seed 209
Number bushels flax seed 14,781
Number pounds grapes 5,348
[Webmaster: omitted a two-page table titled: A Tabular Statement Showing the Totals of the Assessment Books - 1879, Prepared by I. F. Kleckner, County Clerk. The table didn't scan well, and is rather large to reproduce here.]
Population of the County by Township for the Census Year 1880
Oneco (including villages)
Rock Run, 1st District
Rock Run, 2nd District
Freeport, 1st Ward
Freeport, 2nd Ward
Freeport, 3rd Ward
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Stories, Volume 1
Part Two - Early Freeport
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