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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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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. 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 THREE
The Fire Department
The Press of Stephenson County
Young Men's Library Association
German Insurance Company
Taylor's Driving Park
Part Three - 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.
The history of the city of Freeport is the history of most of the cities which today dot the landscape of the great Northwest. Though not entirely devoid of varied and romantic incidents, which stimulated or dismayed the pioneers in other portions of the country, the settlement of the city was made at a date when hair-breadth escapes from the Indians were facts which had passed into history and became as a tale that is told. The Black Hawk war closed, the treacherous savages had been transferred to distant reservations, and the fertile and beautiful region was one vast solitude, the songs of birds and the murmurs of the rippling streams alone breaking the silence. At rare intervals an Indian trader appeared upon the scene, a circuit rider traversed the territory, or a small band of Indians, who had evaded the watchfulness of the authorities, were attracted to the homes they had once prized so dearly, and yielded up only when conquered and banished.
But, while there were no desperate struggles for life or liberty with the savages, no days of unrequited toil in felling forests and wresting scant returns from the soil, the early settlers were endowed with that self-reliance, energy and character which have developed the country, builded the cities, created avenues of trade and won for Freeport the very pronounced prosperity she enjoys today.
The city of Freeport is handsomely situated on the Pecatonica River, about 30 miles from its mouth, 121 miles from Chicago, 118 miles from Milwaukee, 67 miles from Dubuque and 35 miles east of the Mississippi River. The Pecatonica forms the north and east boundaries of the city, with the surface of the ground on which it is built sloping gently in the direction of the river, and well laid out into streets and avenues, perfectly shaded, and lined with residences and business houses which attract the attention of visitors and residents, not more for their architectural finish than their substantial character.
A portion of the territory which now constitutes Lancaster Township was settled a short time prior to Freeport, by Benjamin Goddard, who made a claim to land that is at present known as the Furst farm, between Freeport and Cedarville. Mr. Goddard was accompanied by his family, also a brother, John Goddard (deceased), and John Jewell. Mrs. Goddard is known as the first white woman who ventured into Lancaster Township. This was early in the the month of December, 1835. He built a cabin and practically began the battle for existence before the new year dawned, dividing possession of this portion of the county with no one until the arrival of William Baker, who came soon after and laid the foundation of the present city by the erection of an Indian trading-post at the mouth of the creek.
Baker settled in La Fayette County, Wis., some years previous to the
date above mentioned, which proved, however, a pent-up Utica,
contracting the powers of his restless and untiring energies, and first
in 1827, while looking for a more extended field of effort, he came
to the banks of the Pecatonica. He readily appreciated the possibilities
of the situation; the broad prairies presented fields that required
but energy and industry to render fruitful; acres of timber that would
supply fuel, fencing, and material for the construction of temporary
houses, while Pecatonica River would furnish the motive power for both
grist and saw mills. Impressed with the opportunities afforded by the
surroundings, Mr. Baker determined to secure possession of this favorable
confident that settlers would be attracted to a spot promising so many advantages to those seeking their fortunes in the Far West. The patient watch and vigil long required to wrest a rich return of golden grain from Mother Earth, the enterprise and skill indispensable to make the rushing waters the slave of man's will, the brains to plan, and energy to successfully conduct, enterprises of moment which render a community prosperous belong to the type of men of which the early settlers of Stephenson County were a true index, and with the advent of one of whom the settlement at Freeport was begun.
Timbers for the Indian trading-post above mentioned were cut and prepared with surprising rapidity by Mr. Baker and his son, on the 24th of December, 1835, the frame was shaped, its raising accomplished, and rendered inhabitable before the close of the year. This unpretentious and primitive tenement contained but one room, and the most limited of modern conveniences, furnished a hospitable shelter to many of those who came afterward and identified themselves with the country. During the winter, which was cold and dreary, with little to encourage the settlers but hope in the future, Mr. Baker, assisted by Benjamin Goddard, prepared the materials for a home for his family, which remained in Wisconsin, pending his return thither. The house was built by Benjamin Goddard, a man named George Whiteman working with him in a subordinate capacity. Whiteman was a character who is well remembered by the early residents of those days. A man without principle, courage or industry, he led a jack-leg sort of a life, endured by the settlers until his felonies became too frequent and pronounced, culminating in the theft of horses from Hugh Mack, who resided at the mouth of the river, when he was run out of the country.
It should be observed that Mr. Baker had made claim to all the territory where Freeport now stands, in the possession of which he was associated with William Kirkpatrick and W. T. Galbraith, composing a company known under the title of Baker, Kirkpatrick, Galbraith & Co., organized for the purpose of developing the resources of the country, attracting emigration and building the city.
The rude cabin of logs, built by Mr. Baker on the banks of the Pecatonica, was the first house erected in the future city, and this was followed by that put up under the supervision of Benjamin Goddard. It was of hewn logs, raised into local prominence by Miller Preston, Joseph Van Scott, Fred Baker and others, completed for occupation in February, 1836, and for many years was the only public house in Freeport. Having thus provided the ways and means for protection to his family, Mr. Baker returned to Wisconsin, accompanied by Benjamin Goddard and a yoke of oxen and wagon, owned by the latter, for the purpose of removing his family to the new home. The trip was long and fatiguing, through a wilderness inhabited by savages and wild beasts, at a season of the year when the unsatisfactory manner of travel was augmented by inconvenience and the lack of comforts accessible even at that early day, and the result was that spring had yielded place to summer before the journey was completed, and the site of the city honored by the presence of a white woman, Mrs. Baker being the first white woman to settle there.
Early in this year the town was laid out in the north part of the southeast portion of Section 31, which was subsequently removed, however, for the following reason: When the Indians disposed of their title to the lands in this portion of the country, certain tracts were reserved to the half-breeds, to be selected in any part of the unoccupied territory they might choose. As soon as it became known that Baker, Kirkpatrick, Galbraith & Co. had laid out a town, Mary Myott located her claim on this section of land, which constrained the town builders to remove their stakes to a point further west, comprehended in that portion of the city now bounded by Winslow, Broadway, part of Locust, Oak and Chicago streets and the Illinois Central track. This section, after the removal was made, continued to lie idle and unimproved for many years, until John A. Clark and some other gentlemen obtained title to it, and laid out the Winneshiek Addition, by which it is now known, since when it has become one of the most desirable portions of the city for residence purposes.
When the time arrived for setting the stake for the county seat, those who had been instrumental in aiding the claimant to perfect her title to the land in this beautiful portion of the township, were refused a hearing when they sought to have the county seat established in the village first laid out, and subsequently, these officious intermeddlers were escorted to the borders of the county whence they were invited to depart, with the assurance that, if they returned, hospitable graves would welcome their coming.
The season of 1836 witnessed a limited number of arrivals with a view to settle permanently in the proposed city; the larger proportion of those who came, however, remained but a brief period at Freeport or, as it was then known, Winneshiek before departing to other portions of the county. The drift of immigration, as a rule, avoided the town, which then consisted of Baker's cabin and tavern. While this latter was building the only gimlet in the settlement was broken, and Frederick Baker walked to Craine's Grove, in Silver Creek Township, charged with the duty of supplying its absence by borrowing one of Mr. Craine. Not only was he successful in this respect, but he then, for the first time, met the young lady who subsequently became his wife.
One of the most important events of the year was the birth of Caroline Baker, which occurred in May, and was the first child born in the city or township. She still lives, as Mrs. Amos Doane, of Kansas.
Baker, Kirkpatrick, Galbraith & Co. put up two houses this year, one at the corner of Galena and Chicago streets, and one on what is now Stephenson street, opposite the monument. These two comprised the improvements made, except a small hut on the river bank, occupied in the fall by L. O. Crocker as a store, subsequently by O. H. Wright, and finally as a schoolhouse, where Nelson Martin inaugurated a system of education long since vacated for that now in force.
Among those who settled in Freeport in 1836, was O. H. Wright, L. O. Crocker, Joel Dodds, Hiram G. Eads, Jacob Goodheart, John Hinkle, James Burns, the first mason; William, Samuel and Robert Smith. Benjamin R. Wilmot, John Brown, etc. F. D. Bulkley went to Silver Creek; E. H. D. Sanborn came in and went to Harlem; so that when winter succeeded the ides of November, there was quite a sprinkling of inhabitants. That winter is remembered as one of exceeding severity, and none engaged in labor out of doors but what was indispensable to procure in-door comforts. There was no building in the future city; the saw-mill of Kirkpatrick at Mill Grove which supplied the lumber for houses put up that and succeeding years by the company of which he was a member was idle, and any material prepared for building purposes was hewn in the woods.
The spring of 1837 opened auspiciously, and the outlook for the season was regarded as promising. This year's arrivals included Isaac Stoneman, Daniel Eobrust, who was moved into the city by William Kirkpatrick; Richard Earl, John A. McDowell, Maj. John Howe, Michael Red, Luther and Charles Hall, Richard Howe, Chancellor Martin, Richard Hunt, Davis, Abraham Johnson. William Stewart, L. W. Guiteau and others.
Those who came to the city, but removed to other points in the county, were Thomas J. Turner, Julius Smith, Patrick Frame, Harvey P. Waters. William Barlow, etc. The company erected buildings on Galena street. Michael Red put up one at the corner of Galena and Van Buren streets; B. K. Wilmot and Levi J. Webb, erected residences on the former thoroughfare. During the summer, Thomas Hathaway and James and Matthew Brown made their first appearance and ''broke farms in the present city. They raised what was known as sod corn, and oats, but as there were no markets for their sale the crops were retained for home consumption. That summer also, the company continued to complete improvements, extending the same to Stephenson street.
O. H. Wright erected a frame store near the reservation, to which was added his residence. Mr. Wright had previously purchased lots near the original town, but business promised to flourish in the new town and he removed thither. Before fall of 1837 the county seat of Stephenson County had been established at Freeport, by which name the town was that year formally characterized. It had been previously known as Winneshiek, and consisted then of not to exceed a few houses. The tavern, in fact though not in name, was the residence of William Baker, on the river bank, at which newcomers were hospitably welcomed, often without price. Mrs. Baker finally began to tire of her husband's promiscuous hospitality, and one morning at breakfast re-christened the settlement Freeport, under which generous title, applied ironically in the instance cited, it has become familiar to the settler, merchant, drummer and speculating public.
There was considerable rivalry for the county seat, made principally by Cedarville, Freeport, and one other town which was backed by Thompson and Rezin Wilcoxon, but without success. The claims made for Cedarville were based upon her location near the center of the county, but the company organized to build up Freeport emphasized their arguments with a donation of $6,500 for the erection of the county buildings, and that decided all doubts in favor of Freeport.
Thereafter, the town began to fill up rapidly, and improvements kept pace with the new arrivals. In the summer, W. H. and H. W. Hollenbeck, Ambrose Tower, Charles and Isaac Truax, William Patterson, Allen Wiley, James Barr, Samuel Leonard, John Montgomery, John A. Clark and others came in.
About this time the Indians, who were in the vicinity in patches, robbed the Widow Brown of supplies, and fled to Rock Run Township. The madam promulgated the loss she had sustained, and William Baker, M. Brown, Jake Goodheart and Wild Gunner Murphey pursued the thieves, accompanied by Frederick Baker, who was to officiate as interpreter. The rascals were come up with, as stated, in Rock Run Township, and as soon as their camp was reached, one of the pursuers, becoming frightened at their warlike and bloodthirsty appearance, retired from further overtures for the return of the stolen articles, at a gait rivaling that reported of Tarn O'Shanter when pursued by the witches.
The red men who, by the way, are said to have been in a condition of decided inebriety, and proportionately fierce, interrogated Mr. Baker as to the cause of the paleface's sudden withdrawal, and were answered that he was hurrying to a force of one hundred men, en route to their camp, to announce the location of the enemy, and, if an immediate settlement was not concluded favorable to the widow, reprisals would be made of their scalps.
Thus admonished, the thieves exhausted their eloquence and available resources to reach a compromise, which was finally attained, the Indians returning what remained of the widow's property, and reimbursing her for what had been disposed of with a horse, giving Mr. Baker a horse to pilot them clear of Freeport and the volunteers, and paying Frederick Brown four coon skins for conducting the negotiations.
This year, it is said, Court convened in O. H. Wright's house, Judge Daniel Stone presiding.
Speaking of Indians, the following is related in that connection: On the afternoon of a very stormy winter's day, five Indians came to the door of a resident (F. D. Bulkley), and asked shelter, extending their hands with expressive gestures toward the naked frames of their deserted wigwams that stood in sight, and saying, Wigwams all gone; Indian got no wigwam. They were welcomed to the cabin, where they stripped off' their wet clothes and hung them to dry, and, as the only way in which they could testify their gratitude, sent a lad of their number to transfer whiskey with his mouth from a large jug to a small one, so as to offer him a drink.
One day Mr. Kent, the first settler at Rockford, had been to visit his brother, the Rev. Aratus Kent, who then resided at Galena. On his return he procured a canoe at some point on the Pecatonica, and, loading the same with potatoes, continued his journey to Rockford. Arriving at Winneshiek Lodge (Freeport), he tied up and went on shore. When he came back he found his boat surrounded by squaws and little Indians, naked and swimming about, all busy as squirrels carrying away his potatoes. Those that remained he carried home, planted them, raised a fine crop, and awoke one morning to find them all harvested and carried off by the Indians.
In the fall of that year (1836), Emma Eads, daughter of Hiram G. Eads, died in a two-story frame house at the foot of Stephenson street, then occupied as a tavern. She was buried in a lot of ground, afterward laid out as a cemetery, at the foot of Summit street, the coffin being made, it is thought, by Richard Earl, a carpenter, who settled in the city, as already stated, in the preceding spring. Hers was the first death in the city or township.
Improvements this fall were of a nominal character. Wilmot and the Hollenbecks put up cabins, and some motion was made toward pretentiousness in the town, of limited capacities, however, in their behalf. Religious meetings were occasionally held, when the circuit rider tarried at the fireside of a settler to define the Scriptures or engage in the duties incident to his profession. This year, it is believed, Father McKean preached the first sermon in the city. While the religious interests of the community were thus cared for, the cause of education was reserved for the future to develop, and the youth of the inhabitants ran wild in the woods, afar from pedagogue influence or restraint. Social amenities began to crop out, and dancing found admirers among the belles of the surrounding country, the Craine girls, Eliza and Sarah Hunt with Melinda Norris being the focal attractions toward which sighing swains were irresistibly drawn.
O. H. Wright maintained the store, Dr. Martin and Van Valzah, the latter residing at Cedarville, however, prescribed medicaments for the diseased, carpenters officiated as undertakers, and graves for the dead were prepared by friends and relatives of the family thus afflicted. There were neither holidays nor sports, Christmas came and went without the fixins peculiar to the modern celebration of that event, and Fourth of July, the day upon which the hearts of Americans are supposed to thrill with an exuberance of enthusiasm, was not celebrated until 1838 in the city.
The spring succeeding was equally uninteresting as the fall of 1837. Richard Hunt erected a frame building on Van Buren street, also one on the corner of that thoroughfare and Spring street. But building was not general. The country, however, enjoyed a happier experience; farms were opened, the area of cultivation was measurably increased, and the system employed brought forth more generous returns. Early in the summer, Michael Red added to the number of buildings, and on the 9th of April, Richard Earl was married to Catharine Brown, Squire Julius Smith consolidating the two hearts into one according to the forms prescribed by statute. This was the first matrimonial venture made in the settlement, and, without exaggeration, it may be concluded, was regarded as an auspicious circumstance in the history of the town.
In the spring of this year, H. G. Eads built a tavern at the present corner of Stephenson and Liberty streets. Julius Smith was the architect and carpenter employed, and, upon its completion, it was named the City Hotel. The court house, for which timbers had been gotten out during the winter previous, was begun the same spring, though its completion was delayed until 1840, due probably to the embarrassed financial condition of the county, county orders at this period commanding but thirty cents on the dollar.
The nation's birthday was first celebrated in Freeport July 4, 1838, with all the pomp and circumstance available at that period.
In the fall of 1838, the Mansion House was put up by Benjamin Goddard, and for many years thereafter occupied as a hotel under the control of Mr. G. It was of frame, two stories high, with nine rooms and accommodations for a limited number of guests. It still stands across the creek in the southern portion of the city on the very spot of its origin, and occupied for the manufacture of pop, root beer, cider and other compounds, which commend themselves to the patronage of teetotalers.
John Montgomery and A. Wiley built a frame house on the present site of the First National Bank, which was used as a store, and subsequently became a tavern. Elijah Barrett opened a similar depot the same year, and L. W. Guiteau an establishment for the sale of a general assortment of goods, at the corner of Galena and Liberty streets. In the winter, Nelson Martin opened the first school taught in the city, in the building formerly occupied by L. O. Crocker as a store. This year the ferry was removed to the foot of Stephenson street, where it was maintained by H. G. Eads and his successors until public necessity substituted a bridge. The ferry was first established on Pecatonica River, opposite the city, by William Baker, when Freeport was known as Winnesheik.
On the last day of the year (1839), George Purinton, still living, one of the oldest residents in the city, came to his future home with ten shillings in his pocket, and put up at the Mansion House. Among others who came in 1839 was Squire A. T. Green, who still lives in the city he made his home forty-one years ago. He has been identified with its progress, as he was with its infancy, by the erection of buildings, and other improvements, and in the enjoyment of a hale old age, bright memories blossom out of the shadowy past for him, beautifying its dimness and tinting the vanished years with colors of never-ending fascination.
The year had been one of greater prosperity than those preceding. Emigration had been general to the State and county, and many who had come in search of a permanent abiding-place found that desideratum at Freeport, and remained. The outlook was the reverse of gloomy; the panic of 1837, which paralyzed more prosperous communities, was not felt in Freeport, and the city, which, but five years before, was without a local habitation, had been surveyed, laid out and platted by F. D. Bulkley, the plat being drawn by Miss Cornelia Russell, one of the vocal celebrants of July 4, 1838.
The houses, though not numerous, were sufficiently so to demonstrate possibilities a few years hence to those who anticipated a day when their most sanguine expectations would be fully realized. None of them bore the marks of architectural finish, but presented an appearance which added a spice of cheerfulness to the surroundings. Business was, as a rule, transacted on a cash basis, thereby avoiding causes of complaint and bills of costs. Amusements were found in developing the country and providing ways and means to enrich the inhabitants. Balls, dances and socials comprised the limit of entertainments provided, and these were conducted with a dignity and propriety more genuine than is to be observed among the blue and gold social circles of today.
The moral show, circus, Ethiopian comedians and combinations were blessings yet unborn in the history of the town, and the residents were to be felicitated on their possession of a bliss born of an ignorance of the existence of these channels of useless expense. No one was rich; impoverishment, rather than independence, was the rule, and if extravagance had been added to these embargoes the history of Freeport might yet have been in a future, beyond the ken of man to descry.
The winter of 1838-39 was characterized by harder times than any previous season. There were no accessible markets for the sale of crops, comparatively little money, impassable roads and other features of a pioneer life that increase the general happiness in proportion as they diminish in importance.
Supplies were obtained at Galena, New Diggings, and occasionally brought from Chicago by teams and wagons, or prairie schooners, as they were sometimes termed, the piloting of which not only required the skill of a special pleader, but levied contributions from sources of original and fruitful profanity.
About 1837 or 1838, J. D. Winters operated a stage line from Chicago to Freeport, where Frink & Walker made connection for Galena. In 1839, however, this arrangement was abandoned, Frink & Walker monopolizing the entire trade, and finally compelling the Winters organization to abandon the field. The stages, drawn by four horses, reached Freeport three times a week from Chicago, and delivered passengers at the Mansion House, kept by Benjamin Goddard. It required two days and a night to make the trip to or from Chicago, and the fare is stated to have been $5.
In the spring of 1839. a well-known character by the name of Worden P. Fletcher, but more familiar to settlers under the euphonious pseudonym of "Pony Fletcher, was arrested for jumping a claim, and conducted to the office of Justice Richard Hunt, at the corner of Galena and Van Buren streets, to be arraigned and plead. It seemed that upon a submission of the evidence, His Honor decided the eccentric Pony guilty, and imposed some penalty which the latter conceived as entirely disproportioned to what he insisted was a nominal offense.
In harmony with this conclusion, the alleged claim jumper attempted to escape from the presence of justice without first having satisfied the demands of the blind goddess. But his movements in that direction were restrained by the audience, from which a posse emeritus was enlisted, and Fletcher's departure indefinitely postponed. When brought to bay, and all hope of escape prevented, the prisoner seized his gun, and, before any one was able to prevent him, discharged its contents at the Justice; happily, the only damage done was to the Squire's vest, which was ruined, and, before the impetuous gunner could again draw the bead, he was disarmed by the crowd, which included Frederick Baker, Isaac Stoneman, Allen Wiley and others, and tied in a hopelessly defenseless knot until the case could be adjudicated. He was held in bonds to appear on a future day, and obtaining bail, departed for Rock Run Township, where he opened a farm, married a daughter of the Widow Swanson and become a prominent citizen, identifying himself with the best interests of the people. The charge against him was never prosecuted.
During the same year, a man named John Barker was arrested for a similar offense against the laws, but failed to receive the generous leniency accorded Fletcher. The accused had settled on one of Benjamin Goddard's claims, since become a part of the city, and now identified as the block on Stephenson street, wherein Maynard's store is located, and refused to vacate. He was accordingly arrested, and submitted his defense before a committee, of which William Baker was chairman. After a careful consideration of the premises, the court decided that the claim must be vacated by Barker within a certain time, in default of which, thirty lashes should be administered to the recalcitrant settler.
He failed, however, to heed this admonition, and, on the day upon which the limit of indulgence expired, he was taken into custody, tied up by the thumbs and lashed into penitence and humility. Upon being released from custody, he was escorted to the county line and urged to consult neither time nor distance in accomplishing a permanent and unlimited space between himself and present surroundings. If he returned to the vicinity, he was told he would certainly be hanged. His presence was never again inflicted upon the citizens of Freeport.
As an illustration of the early administration of the civil law, the following is related: One Mike Walsh was arrested for assault and battery and brought before Justice Red. The jury was summoned, and the case heard, but, before the jury retired, the accused came in with a tin pail of whiskey and cup, saying, I expect you'll hang the little Irishman anyhow, but we'll have a drink together first. When their thirst was sufficiently slaked, the jury retired, and soon Red come demanding admittance to give some further instructions. This came near causing a fight with the Constable, but was at length disposed of, when the jury came forth with a decision of not guilty, and that the costs be divided between the parties. Accordingly, the money was handed over to the Justice, and by him paid to witnesses and others coming with demands until it was all gone, and, when the clouds were sufficiently dissipated to permit of a reckoning, he found himself about $4 out of pocket.
In 1839, the post office was established at Freeport, with Benjamin R. Wilmot as Postmaster, who held the office in his private residence on Galena, between Van Buren and Chicago streets. Two years previous, Thomas Craine, residing at Craine's Grove, where he kept a tavern, carried the mail from his house to Galena and Freeport, via the old State road, his pocket being the letter pouch, himself delivering its contents to the addresses to whom they were directed.
Among those who came to Freeport in 1839, were D. A. Knowlton, who opened a store at the corner of Galena and Van Buren streets, and became one of the most prosperous citizens of later days; A. T. Green, still residing in the city of his adoption; N. L. Rogers, James M. Bailey, Charles Pratt, John Rice and others. That winter, John A. McDowell and Isaac Stoneman passed in the woods, preparing timber for the hotel then projected at the corner of Galena and Exchange streets, which was completed a year later.
During 1840, the emigration to the city and county which had up to that date annually increased, came to a stand and gradually diminished until 1850. The growth of the town was in consequence slow, there being comparatively little to attract new-comers. The town was inland at some distance from market, and there was an abundance of good farming lands contiguous to Freeport; but the agricultural classes were not numerous enough to enrich merchants and develop a city by liberal patronage.
The city contained, at that date, about forty houses, as near as can be recalled by the residents of the period, two or three of which were hotels, three stores, viz., Wright's, Guiteau's, and Knowlton's; Abraham Johnson, James Rock and James Montgomery's saloons and gambling houses, etc., the remainder consisting of public buildings and private residences; neither banks nor drug stores being then erected. Money of farmers was deposited with merchants and by them forwarded to places of security in cities rejoicing; in the possession of a safe deposit.
There was little need of medicine either. When one of the citizens was attacked by the chills and fever, he usually found a solution for his woes, effective if unpalatable, in Rowan's Tonic Mixture, Indian Cholagogue and other specifics retailed as staple articles by the merchants. When, however, the diseases ministered to refused to yield to such harmless compounds and required a more thorough course of treatment to stay the progress of the man on the pale horse, Drs. Martin, Van Valzah and others, who professionally administered to frames diseased, were summoned.
If money was comparatively scarce, as noted, and necessaries proportionately expensive, luxuries, so called, were not held at figures beyond the reach of the seeker therefor. These latter included liquors which could be obtained at the several saloons in the town, as also at the hotels, except the Mansion House, which was a hotel conducted in accordance with the principles of temperance, which even in that early day and where society was measured by its excesses, found substantial expression in this growing city of Northern Illinois.
As a rule, say they who were then residents of the municipality, morality was not held in as high regard as it has since obtained. With a population to a large extent transient, with whiskey sixpence a drink, and limited facilities for the enforcement of the laws, any other conclusion would be naturally incorrect.
Gambling, too, was welcomed, not only as a diversion, but also a means of livelihood. The game of faro was publicly dealt without interference, and during 1840, James Rock introduced the game of keno to an admiring patronage, who in daylight and after dark gathered in a little room in the building then occupying the corner of Van Buren and Galena streets, the present site of Hoebel & Moogk's drug store, to tempt the fickle dame by the card and button route.
In the same year, the Rev. F. C. Winslow and John A. Clark, appreciating the existence of a field for the inauguration of reformatory measures, commenced meetings in the same building and organized a temperance society, which accomplished much good in time among the unfortunates who were confirmed worshipers at the shrine of Bacchus. Indeed, drinking is said to have been universal among nearly all classes, and crime scarcely less retiring.
Horse-stealing was a species of felony that afforded the guilty party nearly every means of escape and profitable investment. As a result, it was practiced by men unsuspected at the time, at the most inconvenient seasons, and when the victim of the theft was the least prepared either to prevent its commission or recover the property. This grade of crime became too frequent in time, and the capture of one of the thieves was almost invariably followed by a trial, the soul of which was its brevity, conviction and summary punishment.
Freeport was a resting-place for this class while evolving a plan of future operations to be executed elsewhere. Many miners going to and returning from the mines rendezvoused at Freeport, and, with the facilities for dissipation accessible, debauches and disorder were by no means exceptions in the daily lives of those classes of men who generally, without homes or restraining influences, are ready for any quality of excitement afforded at the moment. The block-house which then stood where the high school now is, it is said, was filled to repletion with horse thieves and rioters, who after a brief imprisonment, were either sent to Alton, mysteriously disappeared or shipped out of the country with the assurance that their lives would pay the penalty of their return.
In the summer of 1840, M. P. Sweet came into Freeport and established himself permanently as a practitioner at the bar. Thomas J. Turner came the next, and in their several capacities both gentlemen attained prominence and secured reputations that will survive while the practice of law is regarded in Freeport as among the most reputable and profitable of the professions.
Yet, amid the scenes of dissipation and disorder quoted, there were occasional gleams of sunshine through the clouds, promising a brighter future. Though the moral atmosphere of the city is represented as having been odorous with crime, there were ministers and religious services, and the cause of education was constantly agitated by the sincerest of advocates. The Rev. F. C. Winslow, Father McKean and other laborers in the cause of religion and morality, preached at intervals in private residences, the school and court houses, in addition to conducting prayer-meetings and Sabbath schools. The congregations were of course small, but they are said to have been sincere, and the fruit of their labors is to be seen in Freeport today in the numerous congregations, handsome church edifices and evidences of prosperity evident on all sides. They laid the foundation for that morality and Christian harmony which prevails not alone among the churches, but among those who are even remotely influenced by their teachings.
In the winter of 1840, the first dancing-school taught in the city was opened in the building still standing at the corner of Exchange and Galena streets, in the room fronting on the former thoroughfare. Professor Bailey instructed ambitious youths in the arts of Terpsichore and politeness, while Charley Pratt accompanied him with the fiddle. The class was made up of a dozen young people, representing the beauty and chivalry of Freeport, who met once a week and engaged in the dizzy maze with all that the term implies, until late at night. Many who participated in those hops still live, and unite in awarding the palm for grace and beauty to Miss Sarah Hunt, none of whom, however, were able to influence the young lady to remain in Freeport. She returned to New York whence she originally came while yet a young lady, where she was married, and lost fight of in the years that followed.
Among those who came during this period were Mathias Hettinger, Ashael Rice, etc. Calvin Waterbury, a Presbyterian missionary, came in 1842, as also did others.
In June of the latter year, the first circus to pitch its camp in Freeport unfolded its tents near the present site of the Tremont House, and the residents for miles around were edified by the feats of horsemanship and ground and lofty tumbling exhibited, as also by the witty bon mots of the clown. The show was under the management of Levi J. North, it is thought, and its success in Freeport not less pronounced than remunerative.
Henceforward, inconsistent as it may seem, the truth as related by those conversant with the facts, represents the growth of the city as comparatively slow. The same causes which operated so disadvantageously to the county in that respect were repeated in the advancement of the city. The great distance from market and meager facilities discouraged immigration and retarded the city's improvement. When the railroad system, however, was projected, it was perceived that Freeport would eventually become an important point of communication. This stimulated immigration long before any road was proposed, and was materially increased when the roads were completed.
In those times, as now, the business and residence portions of the city were not several, as today, but distributed about the city with a charmingly inconvenient irregularity. There were no stately mansions nor marble palaces, where elegance resided or fashion was exhibited. Travelers were not rolled into town in Pullman sleepers or parlor cars, but in Walker & Frink's stages, or upon a lumber wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen. Beauty and chivalry were not as pretentious as they are today, and the style sought to be established, the embodiment of usefulness; ornamentation was held at a distance, if not entirely tabooed.
As one of the old settlers observed when commenting upon the times referred to, There was no hicondirifics then, young man, I tell you. A man was taken for just what he was worth, and a woman too; and if either of them failed to come up to the standard of expectation, he or she was left in the race for leadership.
The days mentioned were well calculated, according to report, to develop whatever of character there was lying dormant in a man's composition, only waiting for circumstances to bring it out. A man able to maintain his position in any relation of life, either as a merchant, a mechanic, or professionally, was sure of success. It might not come with the dawn of the day after trials and labors, but come it would, and to remain. The success which has attended the labors of every man who has distinguished himself in Freeport illustrates the truth of this conclusion. So, too, a man without the ambition to succeed could certainly attain the nadir of hopelessness without the delay ordinarily experienced today through the intervention of so-called financial or other fortuitous influences.
Early in the forties, notwithstanding the absence of encouraging features, the class of improvements begun and completed, as also those proposed, were of a more substantial, not to say finished, type than those which had gone up during the earlier years. The business houses constructed after designs as original as they were adapted to the times when called into being, were becoming worn and disagreeable features to the gaze of the comparatively aesthetic residents who had become identified with the city from 1840 to 1845. And this was not to be wondered at, either. Freeport was possessed of many advantages by this time which were highly prized and gladly availed of. Transportation facilities had become more extended and convenient. Stages communicated with towns in the interior of the State, as also in Wisconsin and the Territory of Iowa. The subject of rendering the Pecatonica navigable was generally mooted, and, though nothing was accomplished in that direction, it was not for any lack of promise the completion of such an undertaking held out. The mail was daily; and the post office, held about this time in the residence of Thomas J. Turner, became the resort of all who were possessed or in search of news. The old building then occupied, it is said, long since gave way to a more extensive successor, meeting the fate of useless appendages in cities destruction.
About this time, the first brick building erected in the city went up, but there is a dispute as to its locality. Some assert that it still remains, occupying the corner of Galena and Cherry streets, where it was put as a residence for John Perkins, thirty-five years ago. Others claim that the first brick was built about this time at the corner of Bridge and Van Buren streets. That too, was a residence, being occupied by David Clay, and for many, very many years, was devoted to this purpose by various citizens. Within a few years, however, it was razed, and the elegant brick building, now used as a post office, occupies its site. There is a claim also made that the one-story brick building at the corner of Stephenson and Mechanic streets, was the first of the kind in Freeport.
Appearances would indicate that this last is quite aged, but the claims made in its behalf are disputed in favor of the Clay and Perkins residences, with a tendency to settle the question in favor of the former. From that date, brick buildings gradually became the rule instead of the exception. A. T. Green put up one at the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, in 1846, the third in the city; this, too, was destroyed years ago, and a block erected in its stead was utilized to purposes as numerous as were the colors in Joseph's coat. These precedents established, others went up, each one more elaborately finished, and, during the ensuing decade, when O. H. Wright built a three-story brick store and warehouse on Stephenson street, and caused it to be finished in hard wood, it was regarded with a curiosity equal to that with which the ancients regarded the seven wonders. As first built, it occupied a slight elevation, and was reached by a flight of steps. In time, this came to be regarded as inconvenient and detracting from its general appearance, when a slight elevation was cut away and the building lowered to its present level. The task was accomplished by means employed for similar purposes in Chicago, and attended by a large expense.
In the fall of 1842, Freeport was the stage of an almost unprecedented excitement, consequent upon the mysterious disappearance of a lad named Tripp, under circumstances inducing an apprehension of foul play. He, in company with a number of boys, had visited the woods which line Yellow Creek, for the purpose of collecting a store of butternuts, and. becoming frightened at the outcries of his companions, one of whom appeared to him dressed in a buffalo robe representing a panther, had fled. When night came on, the remainder of the party returned to the village, accounting for his absence so unsatisfactorily as to excite the gravest suspicions concerning his fate.
The following day young Tripp failing to appear, strengthened these suspicions, and created the greatest anxiety. In the midst of the excitement prevalent, a meeting of citizens was convened, and, after deliberating upon the mysterious circumstances shrouding his disappearance, a committee of citizens was organized to ascertain his whereabouts or secure the remains, as it was thought he had been mercilessly slaughtered. The committee mounted on horses, ranged the woods for several days and nights without success, and, as they were about abandoning further pursuit, footsteps were discovered in the sand of the creek bottom, which, being followed up, led to his place of rest in the woods, about three miles from where he disappeared.
He was in a condition approximating starvation, but recovered his usual health in time, and the occurrence was soon forgotten. When the boys with whom he had gone to the woods frightened him, as related, he had left their company, and wandering aimlessly about for three days, finally succumbed to exhaustion, and was only saved from impending death by the fortunate discovery of his tracks, and the subsequent finding of himself.
The most important event probably of this decade was the establishment of a weekly newspaper in the town. This was accomplished through the instrumentality of the Hon. Thomas J. Turner, then a representative in Congress. Stephen D. Carpenter, who had previously been editor of the Girard (Penn.) Free Press, was elected to manage its affairs, and under his direction it was issued as the Prairie Democrat.
In the following year the Freeport Journal was promulgated by Messrs. Grattan & McFadden, in the interests of the Whig party, and met with a ready support. Both papers have survived the whips and scorns of time, and are today flourishing and authoritative mediums of information, as also sources of profit.
During this year, Horace Tarbox erected a large three-story stone building at the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, which was designed for and appropriated to hotel purposes. The premises were completed in December and thrown open to the public on January 1. 1849, as the Winnesheik House,'' remaining for many years a hospitable home for the immigrant and traveler, and supplying the absence theretofore experienced of a first-class house of entertainment. Upon the opening night, a ball was given in the house, which was attended by the elite for miles around, and is remembered today as an event of importance and pleasure. The building was torn down in 1874.
improvements made this decade, though not numerous or elaborate, were
substantial, and kept pace with the necessities of the people. They
included buildings erected by D. A. Knowlton, George Purinton, O. H.
C Rosenstiel, William Glover, Emmert & Strohm, I. C. Stoneman, and others, which, in addition to increasing the conveniences of the village, added materially to its appearance. A dam was also constructed across the Pecatonica as an inducement for the investment of capital. It was erected, under authority granted by the Legislature, by E. E. Hanchett, and was owned in part by O. H. Wright, Lerch, Powell & Goddard. Upon its completion, a capacious flouring-mill was built and other improvements made, consisting of a saw-mill, carding-machine, etc. An additional impetus was given to the village by these accessions of resources, and the subsequent growth and prosperity of Freeport properly began at this period.
In 1849, the population of the village is quoted at 1,020. There were five ministers, three school teachers, four doctors, two surgeons, one surveyor and nine lawyers. In addition to these, nine land-speculators were numbered among the population, twenty-nine mechanics and twenty stores. A division of the Sons of Temperance, a lodge of Odd Fellows and other less important auxiliaries to success are noted as originating during 1849. This year the first church edifice in the city was erected and occupied, being the Presbyterian Church, yet standing on the corner of Walnut and Stephenson streets, being occupied now as a machine shop, pretzel bakery and what not, entirely dissimilar to the uses for which it was originally consecrated.
Notwithstanding the California fever and departure for that auriferous region of many who had been up to that time identified with the social, commercial and other interests of Freeport, the village advanced rapidly in the scale of importance and wealth. Additions had been made to the original town plot by D. A. Knowlton and others, which were platted and sold without the difficulties attendant upon later-day transfers. About this time the miscellaneous class of people who always become part of new towns began to thin out and disappear, and the sporting characters, whose presence has been noted, having exhausted the supplies here, wended their way to other points. Some were afterward heard of in California, some in the lead mines, some on the Mississippi River, and some on the gallows; but thereafter they avoided Freeport as carefully as they had sought its attractions theretofore.
Church services and Sabbath schools were numerously attended; a Bible Society was organized; the temperance advocates became a power for good in the community, and the moral success of Freeport thenceforward was undeniable. Educationally, equally gratifying advancements were made. The "Old Red Schoolhouse had by this time become entirely too small to accommodate the demand, and other arrangements had to be made to furnish the public wants. Early in the year, a meeting was convened at the court house for the purpose of considering this question, which was largely attended.
Numerous plans were submitted for the consideration of those present, and the outgrowth of these suggestions was a decision by which lots were purchased in Knowlton's Addition as a location for the union school building afterward erected. This meeting, it may be added, was the origin of the school system since so admirably conducted from the period when Freeport was a comparatively unimportant village until today,when, as the most important city in Northern Illinois, the educational facilities are among the most highly prized of her improvements. The same year, a female seminary was established, to be in harmony with the spirit of the age, and, with the two weekly papers then in the first flush of success and popularity, the outlook was pictured to the residents as without clouds or unfavorable symptoms.
The residence portion of the town was then beginning to tend toward Upper Stephenson street, and cross streets intersecting that thoroughfare were by no means avoided. Some of the most available sites were promptly taken possession of and occupied temporarily or held for future improvement; but it was not until some years later that the street began to be built up. Today it is adorned with handsomely furnished private residences nestling in the midst of gardens and foliage, the homes of wealth, intelligence and liberality. In no city in the Northwest is there an avenue possessing so many attractions in this respect. The lower portion of the street is devoted to business; this extends to Walnut street, after crossing which the scene is metamorphosed. Costly church edifices, schools, lawns shaded by forest and ornamental trees, with other factors of beauty and excellence in the surroundings, complete a picture both harmonious and attractive.
At the time of which mention is made, there were neither residences nor the promise of them. The lower end of the street was but imperfectly occupied as a business center. Galena street monopolized the stores, saloons, warehouses, and, in most instances, private residences. There were houses at intervals in the vicinity of where Embury Church and the Union school are located. Beyond these points was almost a terra incognita. On the opposite side of the town, now limited by Galena avenue, the improvements were equally as distinct and distant, consisting of a cottage here and there, but scarcely anything more pretentious. The boom was coming, but had not reached Freeport.
To the west were farms and forests, to the east the Pecatonica and the cemetery. This latter was laid out when the death of a little daughter of Hiram G. Eads required a place of burial, and by this time gave evidence of the fact that precious dust, how precious none but broken hearts can tell, had been laid beneath the turf dust that once rounded into life, and warmed into love; dust once folded in the clasp of sheltering arms. Age reposed there even then, and youth a bride, perchance, whose cheek stained with the bright blush of the bridal, took on the pale seal of the Master of mortality. Father, mother, husband and wife slept there too, in the icy clutch of death, and, when the cholera visited the town a few years thereafter, the hillocks in that humble resting-place increased and multiplied. But the old church-yard long since was moved, the living must have room; and, where beauty once was laid, the tears of love mingled with the damps of death upon her brow, a railroad now winds its devious way. Cherished dust, crumbling coffins and disjointed skeletons, gave way to the tread of life and that the world might go by.
With the beginning of the decade indexed by 1850, the village had grown, slowly to be sure, into the importance of a town. At all events, that seemed to be the impression of the people, who procured its incorporation as such during the summer of that year, under the general law of the State, and at an election held in pursuance of the law, the following were selected as Trustees: Thomas J. Turner, Julius Smith, John K. Brewster, John Rice and Joseph B. Smith. By this year the importance of railroad communication between Freeport and distant points became apparent, and a meeting was called to ascertain what contributions were necessary to the end that the Galena road might be directed thither. The aid that was furnished, and the labor and pains employed, to promote the success of that undertaking, as also the subsequent proceedings, had in that and other railroad enterprises, has been detailed, and is only referred to here as an incident connected with the growth of the city.
The population increased nearly five hundred, as was evidenced when the census was taken under the supervision of Oscar Taylor, who returned the city 1,486, and the county 11,666, an increase in the latter of 8,797 in the past ten years, notwithstanding the difficulties of trade and inaccessibility to market that were encountered during that period. The cholera came to Freeport about this time and departed after a brief sojourn, but not before it had invaded the ranks of the citizens indiscriminately. The disease visited the city twice thereafter, in 1852 and 1854, since when it has remained at a distance both enchanting and safe.
The epidemic of 1852 will be long remembered, and is today referred to, by those who survived, with shudders and expressions of fear. The first case is said to have occurred on the Branch, and its advance in that portion of the city, at least, was not checked until it had run the gantlet of every residence in that quarter. Indeed, it was confined to this portion of the city, the cases of Dr. Lowman and Mrs. Wright being the only ones reported north of Stephenson street. During this terrible visitation (and that it was terrible is to be found in the fact that, upon one day in August, eighteen deaths occurred) the people apparently remained unappalled by the frightful spectacle, and combined to ameliorate the effects of this unprecedented calamity. The sick were nursed and the dead buried by people from every grade of society. The gambler, outlaw and outcast felt as keen sympathy, nursed as tenderly and died as bravely as those who in purple and fine linen, forgetful of station or danger, lent their presence and assistance to mitigate the horrors of the plague, bind up broken hearts and care for the widow and fatherless. There were but a few physicians during this trying period; Drs. L. A. Mease, Chancellor Martin, Robert H. Van Valzah and T. J. Hazlett being the more prominent; the nurses and grave-diggers were similarly limited, and taken from the various lines of life then cast in the vicinity.
As illustrating the presence here, of some who remained rather through hope of gain than from humanitarian promptings, it is said that thieving and rascality, after suppression during years immediately previous, broke out afresh here during the continuance of the epidemic, and with greater virulence than was ever before manifested. In support of which a citizen related the following as a fair criterion of the existent state of affairs in that connection.
A resident of St. Louis, proceeding to Buffalo, had taken passage in the stage at Galena for Chicago, en route to the Eastern markets. Upon reaching Freeport he was attacked with the disease, and, being quartered at the Winnesheik Hotel, was attended to as carefully as circumstances and the exigencies of the times permitted. He was known to have a large sum of money upon his person, and, when taken down, careful watch was maintained to prevent the attacks of marauders. He finally convalesced sufficiently to go down stairs, and ventured out during an afternoon to test his capacity to endure the fatigues of a trip East. That night he suffered from a relapse, and died before medical aid could effect a change. After death, $6,000 of the amount he had in his possession mysteriously disappeared, and, though thorough search was made therefor, but $1,400 was recovered. He was buried in the cemetery, on the river bank, and his place of interment was lost sight of among the many graves that season caused to be prepared. Several years ago, his family came to Freeport to reclaim the body, but the grave could not be identified, and no man knows where he was laid.
After the disease had spent its force, business revived, and in the fall of that year, as also the succeeding spring, the town transacted a larger amount of business than any other place of its size west of Chicago. Six stages arrived each day, and the hotels were fairly packed with travelers. In addition to the stages, there were hacks and other vehicles, bearing passengers, coming in hourly; indeed, as has been said, it was no uncommon circumstance to see twenty-five or thirty conveyances, laden with speculators, reach Freeport daily.
As a manufacturing center, Freeport was commencing to become prominent. This was doubtless one of the many advantages which came with the railroad that made its first advent into town in August, 1854, and began to run regularly during the following September. The impetus this gave to all the interests, active and quiescent, cannot be described, but is said to have been immense. Among the results was the establishing here of a steam flouring mill, foundries, and machine-shops, one with a capacity for turning out one thousand plows annually, steam saw-mills, planing-mills, the railroad shops and other mediums for the accretion of wealth and attracting additions to the population.
For months prior to the town becoming a city, the question of obtaining a charter therefor was generally agitated. Meetings were held, at which a full and fair discussion of the important subject was had, participated in by such men as D. A. Knowlton, Judge Farwell, C. S. Bogg, J. C. Kean. A. T. Gree, Judge Purinton and others, and the necessities of the town were fully canvassed. The people, as a rule, were largely in favor of the change, arguing that it would bring a more efficient government, in many respects, than was then enjoyed. The population and business had increased rapidly during the past years, and brought to the surface new interests, which required the care and protection of legislation; with growth and prosperity, it was claimed, the moral character had been in no very great degree elevated, and it was indispensable that the town be rid of the pestering vices which had thus far attached to the city's growth. To accomplish their destruction, enlarged powers, such as would be conferred by legislative enactment, were necessary.
Opponents of the proposed change urged that the Town Trustees possessed every power that would be vested by a city charter; that it was within the prerogative of the board to organize and provide for the support of a police force and fire department; to suppress tippling and gambling houses: to arrest disorderly characters, and generally to provide ways and means for the enforcement of right and justice.
These discussions were continued until the Legislature convened, when, in response to an application therefor, a charter, incorporating Freeport into a city, was passed, and an election held on the 2d of April, 1855, with the following result: Thomas J. Turner, Mayor; Treasurer, E. W. Salisbury; Clerk, H. N. Hibbard; Marshal, W. W. Smith; with John A. Clark, W. G. Waddell, Joseph B. Smith, John Barfoot, A. Cameron Hunt and John P. Byerly constituting the Board of Aldermen.
At this period, the commercial and other advantages of the new city may be regarded as fortunate and important. Situated at the junction of two railroads, the business men had direct connection with Chicago and the East, and St. Louis and Cairo on the south, while the coal fields of Illinois were but seventy-five miles distant. The tide of western travel from the Eastern States to Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, passed on one road, and the Southern travel on the other. The counties of Stephenson, Carroll and Green (the latter in Wisconsin) centered their business in Freeport, and over these counties were springing up farms, improvements and other features of long-settled countries. Mention has been made of the foundries, mills and machine-shops attracted to Freeport, and it only remains to observe that with these surroundings and resources the prediction was made that within a decade of years Freeport would be regarded as one of the first inland towns of the State.
The improvements completed and ready for occupation during this period, among others, numbered a building on the south side of the square erected by Judge Farwell, Martin & Karcher's building, on Stephenson street, Mitchell & Putnam's bank building, at the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, and E. H. Hyde's block. This latter was said to be the most complete of any up to that time erected in the city. The ground floor was occupied as a dry-goods store and banking office, the second story was fitted up for offices, while the third floor was occupied by a hall for meetings and concerts. It was 45x70x15, handsomely furnished, and would comfortably seat several hundred.
Aside from these features, the entire building was heated by steam and lighted by gas the first public building in the city thus appointed, it is believed. This building was known as Plymouth Hall.
In addition to this improvement, the city contained nine churches, and the large congregations attending each were an indication of the moral tendencies sought to be utilized by legislation. There were also three schools and an additional paper, the Deutsch Anzeiger, all of them doing, if not a land office, at least a remunerative, business. From these facts and statements, obtained from every accessible source of information, it will be seen that the predictions ventured, as above quoted, were not suggested by men of straw, nor yet enthusiastic visionaries, but by men who reason from correct premises and deduce conclusions irresistibly convincing.
One feature of perfection, however, was wanting to render the setting complete, and that was a first-class hotel. This want was keenly felt by citizens, and before the close of 1855 arrangements had been completed for a building five stories high and containing every convenience of comfort and luxury.
The Exchange Block, on Stephenson, between Chicago and Mechanic streets, was occupied this year. This extensive addition was made by Engle & Strohm and John Hoebel, and very materially improved the appearance of the city. The ground floor contained commodious and handsomely finished stores; the second story was fitted up for offices, and the third was occupied by a hall, well arranged with reference to comfort and convenience.
Early in the spring of 1856, the Brewster House was commenced, and arrangements were completed by the Freeport Manufacturing Company for the erection of a building 150x60 and four stories high, the same to be located on Spring street, near the gas works. Both buildings were completed in 1857, in spite of the panic, and taken possession of. The Brewster House is still in use.
but the handsome and thoroughly equipped brick put up for manufacturing purposes is unoccupied. Mr. Jere Pattison is the present owner of the latter premises. In 1856, the square containing the Exchange Block was further beautified by the erection of four buildings by J. B. Childs. The block was divided into stores, offices, and a public hall, and cost $10,000 when completed. A new three-story brick was put up by J. P. Spitler, on Chicago, between Galena and Stephenson streets, and many other improvements were perfected which still remain enduring monuments to the memory of the enterprising citizens who flourished about this time.
Ordinarily, the growth of a town resembles that of the human frame, where the process of assimilation is so gradual that no line of demarcation between the old and the new can be drawn. But in Freeport that line was so visibly plain that no man erred in regard to its location. In fact, there were three distinct planes of improvement in the city: One belonging to that period when Freeport was a promising village, with a good water-power and farming country as resources. This plane was illustrated in the old-fashioned court house, the one-story stores and the small tavern enveloped in porches and white paint. Another class of buildings was erected when the prospect of railroads was encouraging. Two-story brick stores were substituted for one-story frames, and the handiwork of early settlers who had by this time become independent in circumstances, was seen in the improved style of residences that were built under their direction. Lastly come edifices which belong to the era of railroad communication, palatial residences, stately churches, brick blocks, halls and establishments where gas-light revels amid wealth and taste.
The young city had lengthened her cords and strengthened her stakes with the increase of years, and everywhere were to be seen, as the decade closing with the dawn of 1860 winged its flight, indubitable evidences of prosperity and refined culture.
But this state of affairs was only secured after enduring privations, exhibiting enterprise and encouraging improvements, even during the dark days of 1857, when hard times were the most prominent perspectives visible in the picture of the future. The panic of that year has been referred to already, and is only suggested in connection with its effects, which became visible in the city between that date and during the years immediately subsequent.
When the panic came on, the business directory of the city showed a total of forty-eight dry goods and grocery stores, five drug stores, ten clothing stores, four furniture establishments, five saddle and harness shops, two book stores, three banks, two confectioneries, four hardware stores, five bakeries, two gun shops, four jewelry stores, four meat markets, one hat store, seven boot stores, three liquor, two cigar and tobacco, and two paint and oil stores, twelve hotels, six millinery establishments, five agricultural implement agencies, two daguerrean galleries, one brass foundry, nine forwarding merchants, one sash and blind factory, one soap and candle factory and three auction and commission rooms. Besides these, there was a full quota of attorneys, physicians and professional men, three weekly and one daily newspaper, and a list of manufactories, including the Manny Reaper, Williams Threshing, DeArmits Plow and Stiles & Griffiths Fanning Mill Factories. From this it will be seen that there were few idle hands to engage in mischief. When the financial revulsion reached Freeport, to express it in the language of one who was on the ground and witnessed its effects, the bottom fell out completely. Excessive bank issues, over-trading, and the rage for speculation in Western lands, brought with them the terrible train of evils, which spread over the country like the wings of an Angel of Death. It was several years before Freeport recovered its spirits, and a healthy growth was substituted for deterioration caused by "tight and dull times, the natural outgrowth of 1857, and the concomitants which attended that year.
The year 1860 opened with intensely cold weather. On New Year's Day the mercury marked 32° below zero, and this exaggerated visitation remained for several days. This year was noted for no particular circumstance of note until the nomination of Lincoln, his subsequent election and the proceedings that succeeded that event, which are treated of in another portion of this work.
During the summer a horse drover, from Pine Creek, Ind., was murdered near Lena, and for a time no trace could be obtained of his assassin. The body was found, it is stated, by one of Capt. W. R. Goddard's children, and its identity established by means of a memorandum found in one of the pockets of a coat worn by deceased. The mystery was finally solved by the arrest of his murderer at Elkhorn Grove, and his removal to Freeport in 1865. His name is stated to have been William Ridgley. He was retained in Freeport until it was generally understood that no prosecution would follow his detention, when he was released.
In 1861, the firing upon Sumter created an excitement corresponding to that witnessed throughout the North. Meetings were held to denounce the "treason, money subscribed to aid in the enlistment and equipment of troops. Liberty poles were elevated, and patriotism without limit invested the city and county. This was maintained up to the close of the war, and today, similar causes, direct or collateral, would inspire the people with similar sentiments find expression in similar manifestations.
Improvements were not in harmony with the war spirit of the times. Had this been the case, the streets of Freeport would have been lined with buildings and the highways with homes. The results of 1857 were not dissipated by the excitements growing out of the contest, and, when the first ebullition had exhausted itself, trade resumed its wonted quiet. The most important improvements completed between 1860 and 1865 were, among others, Taylor's Block, Fry's Block and Munn's Block, on Stephenson street; the organization of the First and Second National Banks, and the building and furnishing of the woolen-factory, on the east side of the Illinois Central track, north of Stephenson street.
This important interest was rendered practicable through the enterprise of C. H. Rosenstiel, W. S. Gray and L. F. Henderson, who expended $50,000 in putting it in order, and conducted it for several years. They were succeeded by Thompson & Blanchard in 1873, the latter remaining in charge until 1877, when the works suspended. They are still owned by C. H. Rosenstiel and J. I. Case, the latter of Racine, Wis., but are unoccupied.
After the war, the improvement of property and the decoration of grounds became more general, and the forest of trees in which the city is now located dates its growth from 1864. Up to that time there were, comparatively, no shade-trees in the city, and frequent complaints were made thereat. Today the shade and ornamental trees to be found within the city are said to be entirely too numerous for health.
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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.
One of the most violent storms that has visited this section in the last eighteen or twenty years, burst over the city about 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, June 19, 1869. For three hours the water fell in torrents, the wind blew a gale, the lightning darted across the heavens, and the elements held a high carnival. A second deluge for a time seemed imminent and by no means improbable. To estimate the amount of damage done by the storm, or to detail any or all of the attending incidents, is impossible. In town the greatest amount of damage was done along the banks of the little creek which runs through the city just south of Galena street. The water soon overflowed the banks of this, and began running over the bridges crossing them, and invading the cellars and houses within its reach. All communication between the business centers and the south part of town was cut off.
Those living on the hill and who happened to be caught down town assembled on the banks of the creek and contemplated the scene with dismay, their prospects for supper and a visit to their households growing gradually and beautifully less; while past them rushed a mass of floating debris sufficiently attesting the damage being done by the flood elsewhere. The mustard factory on Van Buren street, and several other buildings were nearly submerged, while the cellars of Keuhner's furniture store, the lower story of Fehley's turning-shop, Pattison's machine shop, and cellars of dwelling houses, not only along the banks of the stream, but all over town, were flooded to a greater or less extent. The culvert and bridge on Spring street, between Exchange and Jackson, was raised from its foundation and badly injured; the abutments of the Exchange street bridge were also partially washed away.
At Chicago street the sidewalk on both sides of the bridge was washed away for a considerable distance, the railing on the east side of the bridge and a portion of the sidewalks destroyed, the premises of John Hoebel, invaded and a large bee-house standing on the banks of the stream containing a number of hives washed away. More or less damage was done at Pattison's machine-shop, and at the gas works, but the greatest loss in town probably was that sustained by John B. Taylor, whose extensive tannery on Jackson street was seriously damaged, the dam being washed away, two of the vats washed out, and some eighty cords of bark and about forty sides of leather floated off. Mr. Taylor's loss was variously estimated at from $3,000 to $4,000.
The culvert under the track of the Illinois Central Railroad just below the tannery was badly injured, about one-half of it being washed away and caved in. All over town large trees were blown down or bereft of one-half of their branches.
A large brick house, 30x24, at the corner of Locust and Pleasant streets, which Mr. Waddle was building for D. A. Knowlton, was badly injured, the south and east walls being blown down, and together with joists, window frames and door casings, thrown in one incongruous mass in the cellar below. The brick-layers had just completed the walls a few hours before the storm came on, but not in time to allow the carpenters to put on the rafters which would probably have braced and saved the walls from falling.
Of course, the cellar of Plymouth Block and those of buildings in process of erection, was flooded. At the corner of Van Buren and Stephenson streets the water broke through the gutter and invaded the barber shop under Messrs. Pelton & Co.'s jewelry store. John Hoebel's saloon was also invaded, as was the cellar of Messrs. Middleditch, Potter & Co.'s wholesale liquor establishment, in Capt. Young's new block.
Near the gas works, a boy named Burns, twelve or fourteen years of age, attempted to reach in and secure one of the hives of honey that had floated down from Hoebel's apiary, and in so doing fell in the water and was carried along down stream under two bridges, the rapidity of the current being such that he did not sink. He finally caught hold of some bushes and saved himself just as he was about to be washed under the railroad culvert. He escaped with some slight bruises about the head and a good scare.
Taken all in all, the damage done to buildings and other property in this vicinity probably figured up not less than $50,000 or $60,000.
The year 1870 gave bright promise for the future, and the decade to which this was the introductory annual has not altogether failed of a fruition of this promise.
The new court house, the sugar factory, Germania Hall and other buildings have gone up since its advent, and still are prominent features of attraction in her midst. In all respects the city is prosperous and desirable both for business and residence purposes. The religious spirit predominating is evinced by the number of religious societies and places of worship existing in the city.
The system of public schools, as organized and graded, is not surpassed by any employed elsewhere in the State. They are divided into primary, grammar and high school departments, each department being subdivided into grades, and the whole a perfectly systematized course of instruction, running through all the departments of both common school and academic education.
The societies established in the city, including the Masonic, Odd Fellows, Temperance, Workingmen, etc.; the press, insurance and other interests are maintained successfully and in a prosperous degree.
Few towns are more fortunately situated in respect to ease of access and means of travel and transportation. The Illinois Central makes Freeport one of its main points on the line to Cairo; the Galena Branch of the North-Western advertises the city as its western terminus, and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul furnishes a direct line of communication with the Mississippi at Savannah and Lake Michigan at Milwaukee. In addition to these, the Freeport, Pecatonica Valley & Dodgeville Railroad, a narrow gauge hence to Dodgeville, is surveyed, partially graded, and only awaits the means to promote its completion.
In point of manufactures, Freeport is not inferior to other cities similarly situated. As a market for the purchase and shipment of produce, the city has scarcely a superior in the West. The mercantile business is rapidly increasing, and the wholesale trade approaching an importance beyond comparison.
In all respects, the city contains attractions that invite the attention of immigrants and capitalists; taxes are light, and other features combine to persuade many persons to become citizens and establish homes in a city where so many advantages can be obtained for so limited an outlay.
Previous to 1850, the village of Freeport was under a Board of County Supervisors. In the summer of 1850, the village was incorporated as a town, under the general law of the State. The corporate existence of the town of Freeport continued until the adoption of an act incorporating the city of Freeport, which took effect February 14, 1855.
Trustees. Thomas J. Turner, President; Julius Smith, John K. Brewster, John Rice and Joseph B. Smith, 1850-51. Edward S. Hanchett, President; Silas D. Clark, Thomas Egan, Isaiah G. Bedee and John II. Schlott, 1851-52. Silas D. Clark, President; John Black, Walter P. Hunt, J. G. Fuller and Asahel W. Rice, 1852-53. Peter B. Foster, President, resigned July 14, 1854, and was succeeded by Frederick Baker, who also resigned, when Henry Smith was appointed. Peter B. Foster, President; September 9, 1854, Isaac Stoneraan (vice F. Baker, resigned,) appointed, William D. Oyler, Jacob Mover, William W. Smith, resigned April 1, 1854, and Henry Smith, appointed to the vacancy. Asahel W. Rice, President; John K. Brewster, Warren C. Clark, Edward S. Hanchett and Isaac C. Stoneman.
Town Clerks. J. H. Sunderland, 1850-51; Richard Earle, 1852; Martin Krimbill, 1853; G. G. Norton, 1854.
Assessors. C. A. Sheetz, 1850; S. H. Fitzer, 1851; Levi A. Mease, 1852; no returns for 1853; Peter B. Foster, 1854.
Collectors. P. C. Shaffer, 1850; J. B. Snyder, 1851; John Barfoot, 1852-53; John Burrell, 1854.
Mayors. Thomas J. Turner, 1855; A. Cameron Hunt, 1856-57; John W. D. Heald, 1858; Denard Shockley, 1859; Hiram Bright, 1860; Francis W. Hance, 1861; Urban D. Meacham, 1862; Charles Butler, 1863; John F. Smith, 1864-66; David H. Sunderland, 1867-68; C. J. Fry, 1869-70; E. L. Cronkite, 1871-72: Jacob Krohn, 1873-74; A. P. Goddard, 1875-76; Jacob Krohn, 1877-78; E. L. Cronkite, 1879-80.
Aldermen. John A. Clark, W. G. Waddell, Joseph B. Smith, John Barfoot, A. Cameron Hunt and John P. Byerly, 1855. John H. Schlott, A. W. Rice and John W. D. Heald, 1856. J. H. Schlott resigned, and H. Putnam elected to the vacancy. John A. Clark, Samuel B. Harris and John Hoebel, 1857. John C. Kean, Irwin H. Sunderland and Warren C. Clark, 1858. W. C. Clark resigned, and J. M. Smith elected in his place. Warren C. Clark, Thomas Robinson and John Hoebel, 1859. Elias C. Depuy, Chancellor Martin and Moses R. Thompson, 1860. Isaac H. Miller, Nathan F. Prentice and Jacob Hime, 1861. Jacob B. Kenegy, John H. Beaumont and John O'Connell, 1862. John O'Connell resigned, and John Hoebel elected. Isaac H. Miller, E. McLaughlin and P. E. Fowler, 1863. W. G. Waddell, Jacob Rodearmel and Jacob Krohn, 1864. E. L. Cronkite, Charles L. Currier and J. S. Rogers, 1865. W. G. Waddell, J. H. Snyder and Jacob Krohn, 1866. August Bergman, Charles L. Currier and Fred Bartlett, 1867. A. P. Goddard, B Huenkemeyer and Henry Baier, 1868. B. T. Buckley, Jacob Rodearmel and A. J. McCoy, 1869. William O. Wright, H. H. Upp and Henry Lichtenberger, 1870. W. O. Wright resigned, and Elias Perkins elected his successor. J. W. Crane, T. C. Gatliff and A. J. McCoy, 1871. Elias Perkins, G. W. Oyler and Henry Lichtenberger, 1872. O. S. Ferris, M. Hettinger and A. J. McCoy, 1873. Charles F. Goodhue, G. W. Oyler and Henry Lichtenberger, 1874. August Bergman, I. S. Zartman and A. J. McCoy, 1875. Charles F. Goodhue, George W. Oyler and Charles G. Steffen, 1876. A. Bergman, I. S. Zartman and Peter Muldoon, 1877. J. H. Crane, D. Kuehner and H. J. Porter, 1878. A. T. Irvin, I. S. Zartman and John R. Wagner, 1879. A. T. Irvin, resigned, and H. Dorman, elected his successor. T. L. Waddell, J. Brown Taylor and H. J. Porter, 1880. City Clerks. R. N. Hibbard, 1855-57; J. Bright Smith, 1858-59; L. F. Burrell, 1860-62; Frank Corbin, 1863; J. E. Brown, 1864; Joseph B. Smith, 1865-66; U. M. Mayer, 1867; Joseph B. Smith, 1868; James Durst, 1869; F. B. Malburn, 1870-72; William Trembor, 1873-79; H. C. Hutchison, 1880.
Attorneys. John A. Jameson, 1855; H. N. Hibbard, 1856-57; J. Bright Smith, 1858-59; Henry C. Hyde, 1860; James S. Cochran, 1861; John C. Kean, 1862-64; F. W. S. Brawley, 1865; John Coates, 1866; H. M. Barnum, 1867; Thomas F. Goodhue, 1868-71; T. T. Abrams, 1872; John C. Kean, 1873; John C. Kean, 1874-76; O. C. Lathrop, 1877; John C. Kean, 1878-79; James R. Stearns, 1880.
City Treasurers. E. W. Salisbury, 1855; Oscar Taylor, 1856-57; Silas D. Clark, 1858; Frederick Bartlett, 1859; B. F. Black, 1860; W. W. Smith, 1861; M. D. Chamberlin, 1862; C. L. Currier, 1863; Thomas Webster, 1864; John Hoebel, 1865; George Lichtenberger, 1866; C. W. Rosebrough, 1867; Philip Arno, 1868; C. W. Rosebrough, 1869-70; W. H. Wagner, 1871; C. Trepus, 1872-73; D. B. Schulte, 1874; Horace Meigs, 1875-76; Jacob Molter, 1877-78; Henry Ratz, 1879; D. B. Breed, 1880.
Marshals. William W. Smith, 1855-57; John R. Edick, 1858; Henry Settley, 1859: David C. Laird, 1860; John H. Mease. 1861; Isaiah G. Beede, 1862; Jacob C. Gilbert, 1863-64; Charles Baumgarten, 1865; F. R. McLaughlin, 1866-67; Charles Rohkar, 1868; J. B. Shirk, 1869-70; George J. Lamm, 1871; E. W. R. Dreyer, 1872-78; E. S. Chamberlain, 1879-80.
Surveyors. Lodowick Stanton, 1857; Marcus Carter, 1858-59; W. O. Saxton, 1860-61; Marcus Carter, 1862; Charles Baumgarten, 1863-64; Marcus Carter, 1865-66; Lodowick Stanton, 1867; Marcus Carter, 1868; Charles Baumgarten, 1869; C. T. Dunham, 1870; Charles Baumgarten, 1871-74; F. E. Josel, 1875-76; L. Stanton, 1877; F. E. Josel, 1880.
The fact that the business houses of Freeport, as also the manufactories and a large proportion of the private residences, are composed of material used in their construction not easily ignited, explains in a measure the freedom of the city from disastrous conflagrations. This, in conjunction with an efficient, thoroughly organized and disciplined department, would render the city almost fire-proof, if not an actual salamander. Underwriters would never, or scarcely ever, be called upon to regulate the rates of insurance, and adjusters or middlemen between individuals and corporations, carrying policies, would be rare.
Before Freeport assumed the dignities and prerogatives of municipal authority, fires were visitations at such long intervals that the most primitive means only were employed for their extinguishment. As the settlement became a town, gradually approximating in business and appearance toward a village, both pretentious and ambitious, the necessity for conservators of the public peace and public safety found frequent expression, and they were in turn supplied. The judiciary and constabulary sought to preserve the one, while the other was maintained by militia and social organizations, supplemented by the bucket brigade, which was composed of every able-bodied male resident of Freeport, who responded to the by no means numerous alarms which were sounded from the belfries of the village meeting-houses. This condition of affairs continued for years, rather because there was no occasion for change than because of the absence of that quality of public spirit and enterprise seemingly indigenous to growing societies.
On the evening of January, 13, 1854, a meeting of citizens was held at the court house to discuss the propriety of organizing Freeport into a city, and in little more than a year from that date occurred one of the most destructive fires that has ever visited the city incorporated in harmony with the demands made at the meeting convened in January.
About 2 o'clock on the morning of February 20, 1855, the square bounded by Stephenson, Mechanic and Chicago streets, in the center of business and the heart of the city, was the scene of a conflagration which destroyed thousands of dollars' worth of property, and, though entailing great damage, was compensated for in the creation of a fire department which has since flourished, and is today one of the valuable institutions of Freeport. The fire of February 20, 1855, broke out in a building occupying the present site of No. 79 Stephenson street, then used as a bakery carried on by Spratler & Hoebel, and destroyed the stores of Engle & Strohm, hardware merchants, John Hoebel, grocer, also buildings belonging to G. M. Clayton, before its advance was checked. The citizens formed several lines from the fire to a creek located a square's distance from the scene of operations and sought to extinguish the flames by means of bucketfuls of water passed from the fountain-head to the burning buildings. But this was found to be impossible, and, as a last resort, gunpowder was employed to stay the fire's advance, which accomplished its object, but not before a loss had been sustained which it required years of care and labor to restore.
Further delay in the organization of a force and procuration of means to repulse future attacks of the enemy was not indulged; meetings were held for the purposes mentioned, and the City Council decided to appropriate a sum sufficient to enable the city to purchase the engines and equipments desired.
Action was had on the question without delay, a loan of $4,000 was negotiated, leave having been obtained therefor at an election holden December 22, 1855, and in September, 1856, two fire engines, the Black Hawk and Winnesheik, were set down in Freeport, objects of interest and admiration to the inhabitants for miles around. Two companies were at once formed to man the engines and guard the city against a repetition of the horrors endured in the spring of 1855. These companies were composed of the brawn and intelligence of the city, officered by competent men and marshaled by Holden Putnam, who entered the army at the breaking-out of the war, and fell at Mission Ridge.
Upon the opening of hostilities, a large representation from the department enlisted for the war, and did as excellent service in the contest for national supremacy as they had done in contests with the elements. This had the effect of weakening the force to some extent, and for several months their absence was felt. In July, 1862. however, an increase of the department was agitated, and a movement set on foot to purchase a new engine for the German company.
A subscription paper was circulated to raise money for this purpose, and a committee appointed, consisting of D. B. Schulte and John Hoebel, authorized to expend the fund thus created. These gentlemen accordingly visited Chicago and purchased the Torrent, of the department of that city paying therefor and equipments the sum of $1,200. It was brought to Freeport during the month of August, 1862, christened and established in a warehouse, the Black Hawk and Winnesheik being stationed in the engine house corner of Stephenson and Walnut streets. From this event the history of the Freeport Fire Department practically dates its beginning. It should be stated that the Winnesheik company surrendered its engine to the city previous to the purchase of the Torrent, and a new company was organized to be known as the Union.
The Torrent still exists and is handled as effectively today as when first introduced to admirers at Janesville, Wis., in September, 1865, when she carried off the first prize, a silver trumpet, still in possession of the company. In the same year (1863), the Union and Black Hawk companies surrendered their engines to the city, and, retiring from active service, left the field clear to the Torrent for the space of four years. During this period the city was visited by fires which at times threatened to culminate in disastrous conflagrations. All these fires were successively controlled and extinguished by the engine and its company, and to their efforts is due the absence of serious loss attending the burning of Steffen's brewery, Boyer's store, the Exchange Block and other buildings.
On September 18, 1866, an election was held to pass upon a proposition to borrow the amount necessary for the purchase of a steam fire engine. The proposition was rejected, but, in May of the following year, the City Council decided to purchase a steam engine, and on the 30th of August of that year the engine arrived in the city, where on the day following it was tested. A company was at once organized, known as Steamer No. 1, which still continues in active operation and contributes materially to the safety of the city from the devouring element. This steamer, in conjunction with the Torrent and a hook and ladder company, composed the fire department of Freeport for nearly seven years.
The Black Hawk and Union engines had been disposed of to outside parties; their usefulness in the city, at least, having long since vanished. The resources of the boys, although limited, proved to be ample, and no demand was ever made which failed of a full and effective response. Yet the increase in population, number of buildings and value of interests generally, necessitated a corresponding increase in the facilities for controlling and extinguishing fires. With a view to this end, Steamer No. 2, of the Silsby pattern, was purchased in 1874, and is handled by a force eminently capable of acquitting itself in a manner that will commend its efforts.
present department is composed of two steamers, one hand engine, one
hook and ladder and three hose companies, officered as follows: D. B.
Steck, Chief Fire Marshal; Andrus Rogers, First Assistant; Joseph Seifert,
Freeport Steamer, No. 1. Foreman, William Weinhold; E. Chamberlin and Joseph Kaley, Assistants; Secretary, Leonard S. Stoskopf; Treasurer, Charles G. Sanborn; Engineer, James Edwards.
Freeport Steamer Hose. No. 1. Foreman, C. H. Heard; Assistant, William Musser; Secretary, L. Karcher.
Col. Stephenson Steamer, No. 2. Foreman, August F. Voight; Assistant, John Moritz; Secretary, Albert H. Wagner; Treasurer, James Stack; Engineer, John Rodemeyer.
Col. Stephenson Hose, No. 2. Foreman, Frank Lohr; Assistant, Richard Weik; Secretary, Jacob Waldecker; Treasurer, Otto Wagner.
Torrent Engine, No. 1. Foreman, Philip Arno; Jacob Maurerand John Kerch, Assistants; Secretary, Oscar Zeigler; Treasurer, Philip Burkhart.
Torrent Hose, No. 1. Foreman, Louis Brun; Assistant, H. W. Rotz; Secretary, J. W. Koch; Treasurer, H. Knauf.
Rescue Hook cf Ladder, No. 1. Foreman, Luther Herbeg; Assistant, Frank Hettinger; Secretary, Frederick Kruse; Treasurer, F. J. Koehler.
The present system, organized some years ago, has served its purpose effectively and maintains order. The force is composed of six patrolmen under the control of the City Marshal. The department is uniformed and governed by rules and regulations similar to those adopted for metropolitan organizations.
The country schools throughout the West fifty years ago, whether considering the buildings, teachers or regulations, were generally of a character that would be denominated exceedingly limited. The buildings were usually sorry apologies for a modern tenement, or a room 12x14 in some incomplete residence. The seats were slabs or puncheons elevated at a distance from the floor, suggestive of dangerous possibilities to small scholars, who were required to sit thereon, however painful the experience. The teacher was ordinarily a man of fact, who regarded all else but his duties as fictions unworthy his condescension.
He always occupied an old-fashioned arm-chair about the center of the room, adjoining a small round table, which supported, in addition to the text-books comprising his limited course, a birch rod of tried strength, length, breadth and thickness, as the pupils had oftentimes had sensible evidence.
With these surroundings, that would, in this day of superior educational facilities, be regarded as discomforts not to be endured, scholars were taught the alphabet, their abcs, reading sentences containing words of two syllables only, and many other incidents peculiar to school life, which, in that age, inspired the intellectual, but today provoke the mirthful and cause mental inquiries if such things could be. But recurrence to these days often engages the reflections of pioneers, who see no compensation in the labor-saving apparatus employed to aid ambitious youth in his ascent of the hill of knowledge.
Gibbon relates that, during a cruel persecution at Ephesus, seven noble youths concealed themselves in a cave, when they fell into a sleep which was miraculously prolonged for a hundred years. On awakening they found everything so changed, to conform to the advanced age, that they burst into tears and prayed God that they might be permitted to return to their slumbers again. Such are the feelings of many who were scholars half a century ago, regarding with feelings of indignation the neglected facilities of the present, when fond memory brings the light of other days about them.
The pedagogues of fifty years ago were earnest in their efforts, and the advanced state of education during these the final decades of the nineteenth century are, in a great measure, the result of their labors. The pupil of those times, too, was a character of the day beyond comparison or caricature. He usually appeared at school prompt to the minute, barefoot in summer, his trousers of home manufacture kept in place by a couple of pieces of ticking, to which he appropriated the term of galluses, and his head protected from the penetrating rays of the summer's sun by a chip hat, or cap deftly fashioned by a mother's or a sister's hands. Thus embellished, the young man of promise came early, and from his advent upon the scene to his exit therefrom joined constant issue with the teacher with such requests as Lemme speak to sis, Lemme go out, Lemme ha' a drink, etc., etc., until the expiration of the day's term, when he is permitted to go home, where, after the chores are done, he slips off his trousers, hangs them to the bed-post by the galluses, and, soon reveling in the dim land of dreams, becomes forgetful of the trials that will be born again with the morrow.
Among the early settlers of Illinois there were many men of unusual ability; not men of extensive education, but men who made their marks upon the times, and, had they received the advantages of early training, would have proved themselves giants in intellectual and moral forces. Many names will come to the readers from the fountains of the past, of men who have left the impress of their characters upon the sands of time, and pleasant memories to those who survive them. The men of thirty and forty years since have nearly all passed away, yet a few remain, connecting links of the eventful past and buoyant present. In the natural order of things, these, too, must soon be gathered home, for Death's sickle, which harvests all flesh, is in constant motion.
Both those who have gone, as also those who will follow, have left enduring monuments to commemorate their achievements, and hand down to posterity an unprejudiced record of lives spent in providing for the prosperity, morality and happiness of generations yet unborn. The growth of those who come after them, in knowledge, in mental culture and training for society, the management of national affairs, to speed the cause of truth, religion and progress in the right direction, were subjects in which the pioneers of Stephenson County, not less than the State of Illinois, took a personal interest. A good school in settlements was regarded as important in those days as the providing of necessaries for one's family, and what the schools are today they have been made as a result of the efforts employed in that behalf when Freeport slumbered in the future.
In the procuration of facts and data out of which to formulate, at best, an imperfect history of the early schools of Freeport, the historian has encountered infinite difficulties. The uncertainties of date, location, teachers, pupils, studies pursued and other incidents connected therewith, have not been disputed by facts, simply because facts were inaccessible to research or inquiry.
With regard to the exact year in which the pioneer school of Freeport was born, authorities differ widely, some asserting it was brought forth in the fall of 1837, other in 1838, and still others insisting that its coming was delayed until 1839, when a few .children gathered from day to day in an unfinished room on Galena street, as pupils of a pedagogue whose name is not of record. The general opinion, however, seems to be that the first school taught in Freeport was opened by Nelson Martin, in the winter of 1837-38. His base of operations was an unpretentious log house, erected by O. H. Wright or L. A. Crocker, near the bank of the Pecatonica River, at present described as between the branch and the Illinois Central track, not far from the foot of Galena street.
In this modest and comfortless temple of learning, about twenty scholars, composed of the sons and daughters of settlers in the vicinity, congregated and received their first introduction to the primitive manner of impressing knowledge on the susceptible mind employed fifty years ago. Among these were Frederick, John, Elmus and Thomas Baker; John, Ellen and Elizabeth Thatcher; Chloe, Ann, Rebecca, Jane, Elizabeth, Orange P. and W. W. Smith; A. C, Eliza, Sara and Hamilton Hunt; Polly Strockey; Enos and Salome Fowler; Michael Reed, and Levi, William and Olive Davis. The latter became Mrs. Isaac C. Stonemenin after years, and died in Freeport May 26, 1880, one of the oldest lady settler in the vicinity at the time of her death.
Martin opened school under reasonably favorable auspices, and began
the education of the pioneer youth with a reasonable promise of realizing
his object. Learning in those times, especially among the young and
unmarried, of both sexes, was an unknown quantity of bliss all yearned
to experience. The opportunity presented was flattering, and the effort
was made to aid those who were ambitious to avail themselves of this
opportunity. According to sources of information, presumably authoritative,
there were no sessions of school during the presence of the summer solstice,
their initial opening being postponed until that month when, to express
The russet year inhaled the dreamy air,
Like some tanned reaper in his hour of ease,
When all the fields are lying brown and bare.
The new dispensation in the wilderness progressed without the happening of any notable event to disturb the serenity of its daily existence from frost, until winter, with its aged locks, appearing upon the scene, completed the ruin of the foliage and gathered the swift-flowing Pecatonica in its icy embrace, when an incident occurred which is said to have put a period to school-keeping, and temporarily embargoed the cause of education in the vicinage. It seems that Mr. Martin had admonished his pupils to restrain their impetuous desire to test the strength of the ice on the river, accompanying his admonition with the promise that those who failed to be governed accordingly would receive the butt end of the law. John Thatcher, however, with confidence in the substantial quality of the forbidden ground, disregarded the injunction, and was called upon to plead, answer or demur to its violation. His inability to submit an acceptable defense was followed by the imposition of the penalty, which was administered with such fidelity that the school excepting the Davis and Hunt children becoming appalled at a sense of their insignificant capacity for resistance should they be similarly tempted and punished, withdrew their patronage, and after a few weeks of uncertainty the school was closed.
Another summer was passed without any effort on the part of teacher or pupil to reach an understanding, but in the fall a Mr. Everett made his appearance, and in the winter of 1838-39 wielded the birch in the same school edifice, the attendance including Rivers Fowler, the Wilmot children, W. H. and H. W. Hollenback, A. P. Goddard and a few others, in addition to those who the previous year, Gamaliel like, had sat at the feet of Mr. Martin. The glory of this institution departed with the advent of spring. F. D. Bulkley also is said to have taught this season.
During the summer, the little building 14x10, seven feet high to the eaves, and with but one window after serving the purpose of a grocery, with all that the term implies, was hitched to a breaking team and moved up town near to where the opera house now stands, where it was set up for a schoolhouse and church. School was taught in it that winter by Frederick Buckley, and on Sabbath days there was preaching, at which Gen. John A. Clark and Col. T. J. Turner, with a lady singer, made up the choir. A few years after, the building was removed once more, and became a cow-stable, serving in that capacity until it was burned down.
About 1840, Miss Wright, who subsequently married L. O. Crocker, taught school in a frame house at the corner of Galena and Chicago streets, erected in the fall of 1836 by William Kirkpatrick. The premises remained intact until quite recently, when they were torn down to give place to the present handsome brick structure, occupied by Hoebels & Moogk's drug store. Rothilda Buck also taught here, as did Lucinda and Marilla Williams; the latter subsequently became Mrs. Beaushaine, of Webster City, Iowa. After these, Judge William Buckley administered the internal affairs of a schoolhouse erected by Mr. Knowlton for the purposes of aiding in the cause of education, and the building of Knowltontown, then in its infancy.
Early in the forties, the growing population requiring increased school facilities, arrangements were made for building what is remembered today as the old red schoolhouse, although it long since met the ultimate fate of frame buildings. It was built by subscriptions collected from householders and bachelors, which latter, it might be observed, were by no means scarce in the community, and completed, some say, in 1843. The building was a one-story frame, 18x30, stood on the present site of Wertman's wagon-shop, and was painted red, from which remarkable feature its name was derived. The cost of the building is stated to have been about $300. In this house, D. H. Sunderland opened school during the winter of 1845-46, remaining through the term at a monthly compensation of $20 and found; in other words, boarding round. His average attendance was about fifty pupils daily, including all nationalities and colors, and to Mr. Sunderland belongs the honor of preparing Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield for the military distinction that official has since acquired, for he was a scholar in the red schoolhouse and sat among the boys.
Here, too, came Black Abe, a senegambian household colporteur, employed in the family of Father Brewster, but anxious to be a scholar and with the scholars stand; notwithstanding which some of these declined to amend the existing prejudice toward emigrants from Africa's burning sands, considerable trouble was occasioned. Abe was placed at the same desk ( the only one happening to be vacant at the time) occupied by a student named Silas. Silas rebelled at this intrusion, and, upon returning home at the close of the day, related his grievance. The next morning Mrs. visited the school in a condition of mind the opposite of cheerful, and defined her position with an absence of ambiguity that was convincing. Mr. Sunderland was young and modest in those days, and accepted the situation without demurrer; but after the calm which succeeds the storm, made its appearance, Mr. S., by an eloquence persuasively irresistible, acquitted himself of blame, and obtained pardon for Abe, who remained a scholar and toiled up the hill of science to the famous rule of three.
Other teachers succeeded Mr. Sunderland, but in time the building was changed into a livery stable, and, one night, went up in smoke.
The following is said to be a list of teachers who figured in the early days of Freeport, but, departing, neglected to leave behind them either metaphorical foot-prints in the sands of time, or tangible evidences of their existence to guide the historian in his laborious research after facts: Nelson Martin, 1837-38; F. D. Bulkley, 1839 to 1842; Mr. Everett, 1839-40; Frederick Buckley, Miss Wright. 1841-42; Rothilda Buck, Miss Cornelia Russell, the present Mrs. Hazlett, Mr. Bently, D. H. Sunderland, Judge William Buckley, the Rev. Messrs. Coon and Dickey, George Scovill, A. B. Campbell, George W. Lutz, Louise Burchard and others.
The public schools of Freeport were placed under the control and management of the Board of Education of Freeport School District, and the system of graded schools has been in operation now since about 1851.
The old red schoolhouse was used as such until 1850, by which time the attendance became so numerous as to necessitate the procuration of enlarged quarters, notwithstanding the existence of private schools in the growing village. During the early days of school-teaching in Freeport and vicinity the means employed to liquidate bills incurred therefor were obtained from patrons. This lasted until the act appropriating certain lands in each county to school purposes was adopted, when the proceeds derived from the sale of lands thus set apart were obtained and distributed until the passage of the special act cited, which of course contained provision for the support of the schools by the levy of a tax on the personal property held in the county.
When the contracted dimensions of the red schoolhouse compelled other provisions for the accommodation of the ambitious young idea, it was decided to build another schoolhouse that would supply every absence of convenience and room complained of. Accordingly, a tax was voted for the purpose, lots were procured on Exchange street, now Galena avenue, and what was for many years known as the Union School was commenced. This building was completed in 1852, at a cost of, say, $3,000, and immediately taken possession of for a high, middle, and grammar school, the primaries then being taught in the basements of the Presbyterian, Evangelical and Methodist Churches.
In 1856, additions were made to the Union School building at a cost of several thousand dollars, and today, in complete repair, it gives promise of many years of service in the cause of education.
During the latter half of this decade, Henry Freeman officiated as Principal of the High School, discharging the duties of Educator and Superintendent until 1859, with such fidelity and success that the good results which followed his administration were apparent long after he dissolved his connection with the educational interests of Freeport and became identified with those of Rockford.
On the 1st of September, 1859, an election was held in Freeport for the purpose of determining whether a site for the erection of a schoolhouse should be purchased and the amount of tax necessary to be levied for defraying the expenses of erecting a schoolhouse, etc., at which it was determined to purchase Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4, in Clark's Addition, and to erect thereon a school building at a cost not to exceed $6,000. These lots were accordingly purchased, a plan of the building drawn by G. P. Randall, of Chicago, was accepted by the Board of Directors, and the erection of the River, now the Douglas, School, in the First Ward, commenced under the superintendence of H. H. Upp, and completed during the summer of 1860, or in time for the fall term of school of that year.
The high school was maintained at the union school building; also a branch of the grammar school. The new schoolhouse was devoted to the uses of a grammar, intermediate, and two primary departments, the remaining primaries being taught in the basement of the First Presbyterian and Evangelical Churches. That year school began on the 24th of September, and was continued through the winter and until summer vacation, under the care of the Messrs. Heald, Buckley & Smith, Board of Directors, with George L. Montague as Principal of the High School, remaining in that capacity until the fall of 1862, when he was succeeded by M. W. Tewksbury, who continued two years, and gave way to H. M. Barnum. who in turn yielded place to W. H. V. Raymond, and he to David Parsons. Nothing of particular import occurred from 1861 to 1865 worthy of mention in the history of the schools.
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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.
On the 7th of August, 1865, a special election was held in the city of Freeport, at which it was determined to purchase lots in Wright & Purinton's Addition to Freeport, on which to erect additional school accommodations, and a special tax was levied upon the taxable property of the district, wherein the school was designed to be located, to defray the cost of the property and erection of the edifice. This latter was completed in 1866, and cost a total of $17,000. It is of brick, three stories high, located in the Third Ward, at the corner of Liberty and Williams streets, and has capacity for the convenient and comfortable accommodation of five hundred pupils. Its building was necessitated by the rapid increase in the number of primary scholars, and upon its completion, the primary departments of the school system were transferred from the church basements, occupied almost time out of mind by these necessary incidents to advancing civilization, to the Third Ward, but now known as the Wright School.
The directory for the year 1867 was composed of C. J. Fry, H. M. Barnum, F. W. S Brawley and G. G. Alvord, and at a meeting thereof convened September 2 of that year, the office of Superintendent was formally created. Previously, the Principal of the High School was informally charged with a general supervision of the schools; but with years the duties of Principal became more onerous and exacting with the result quoted, and Mr. Alvord was appointed to the trust.
At the meeting of the board held on January 1, 1868, the President was authorized to purchase Lots 12, 13 and 14, in Block 2, of Knowlton's Second Addition to Freeport, for school purposes. Acting upon this suggestion, the lots were bought for the sum of $1,200, and the erection of the Lincoln Avenue School, in the Second Ward, was ordered, according to plans submitted by Alexander Smith, to whom was awarded the contract for building.
The same causes which compelled the erection of the Third Ward School prevailed in connection with the Lincoln Avenue School. Most of the schools below the grammar school had been crowded with pupils during a greater part of the year, and became an evil, so pronounced in its effects, that, unless it was remedied, many of the pupils would be denied the privileges of an education. Hence, the purchase of the lots mentioned, and efforts made to supply the absence complained of.
During 1868, the School Board was composed of C. J. Fry, H. M. Barnum and F. W. S. Brawley, Ezrom Mayer, Treasurer, and L. W. Guiteau, Alternate. The total receipts amounted to $20,244.60, and the expenditures to 117,610.03.
The new school was completed and occupied within a few days of the commencement of the fall term of 1868, at a total cost of $12,465.77, and thereafter the primary departments found an abiding-place in that and the Third Ward, or Wright School. The former is now known under the name of the Lincoln School. During 1869, L. W. Guiteau, F. W. S. Brawley and H. M. Barnum made up the Board, G. G. Alvord continuing as Superintendent and remaining in that capacity until the advent of C. C. Snyder, the present incumbent, in 1872.
During 1870, the board consisted of L. W. Guiteau, O. E. Stearns and C. H. Knapp, the latter being succeeded by C. J. Fry in 1871, and Mr. Guiteau by O. B. Bidwell in 1872. Twenty schools were in operation in that year; also in 1873; in the latter year, German was included in the curriculum, but the board remained unchanged.
The school year closing July 13, 1874, had been attended with gratifying results. Twenty-one schools were conducted during a greater portion of the year, employing twenty-six teachers and a Superintendent, at an expenditure of over $18,000, and furnishing the means of education to 1,406 scholars. The board remained as noted, but, in 1875, J. M. Bailey succeeded O. B. Bidwell, which was the only change recorded during that year.
In 1876, the number of schools was increased by the addition of one department in the Third Ward School, necessitating a corresponding increase in the number of teachers and amount expended therefor. This condition of affairs was maintained during the year 1877, under the board composed of J. M. Bailey, Jacob Krohn and Frederic Bartlett. At a meeting of these gentlemen, convened July 7, 1877, it was resolved to select and purchase a suitable site for a schoolhouse, which should be erected for the accommodation of high school purposes, and on the 30th of the same month it was decided to raise the sum of $4,000 by special tax on all the taxable property of the district to defray the expenses incident to the undertaking. These preliminaries having been disposed of, Frederic Bartlett, on behalf of the board, purchased Lots 1 and 2 in Block 6Q, of the original town, from Henry Burrell for the sum of $2,000.
Plans submitted by S. M. Randolph, of Chicago, were accepted, and the contract for the erection of the present high school, corner of Bridge and Cherry streets, was concluded with William G. Waddell, the consideration therefor being expressed at $12,000, for which bonds of $1,000 each were issued, bearing interest at the rate of 8 per cent per annum, and due in three, four and five years from date. Work on the edifice was commenced during the summer, and so expeditiously were the efforts toward its completion directed that the building was accepted and occupied at the opening of the spring term, 1878, at a total cost of upward of $14,000.
Jacob Krohn, Frederick Bartlett and W. O. Wright constituted the Board of Education during 1878; in 1879, Mr. Krohn was succeeded by W. G. Barnes, and Mr. Bartlett by Henry J. Porter in 1880.
Mr. C. C. Snyder, whose election as Superintendent in 1872 has been mentioned, has remained in charge up to i the present date. Within this period, facilities for the efficient management and conduct of the schools have been greatly multiplied, the grade re-arranged, the course of study revised upon a substantial and thorough common-school basis, and such improvements in the mode of instruction, classification and gradation in all of the departments introduced as have placed the schools of the city among the foremost in the State.
To keep pace with the increase of attendance, new departments have been opened, the corps of teachers has been augmented, and other improvements perfected, so that, with an attendance of sixteen hundred and seventy pupils for the year just closing (1880), twenty-eight teachers are employed by the board.
Formerly, instruction in the German language was confined to the high school and grammar school departments, but within a year the experiment of having German taught in the lower grades has been ventured. The experiment gave such satisfaction to the patrons and citizens that the plan of giving German instruction to all the children of certain grades who desired it has come to be a permanent feature of the city school system.
The aim of the authorities is to provide for the children of the city, not a classical nor academic education, but a thorough, practical knowledge of such of the common English branches as shall best fit them for good citizenship and the duties of a business life. That this aim is accomplished, is a fact as undeniable as it is gratifying.
The following comparative statement shows the amount of the running expenses of the Freeport Public Schools during each of the twelve years since the passage of the act incorporating the board, also the number of schools maintained each year:
of Schools. Expenses.
Year ending July, 1868 14 $12,794 46
Year ending July, 1869 17 13,699 55
Year ending July, 1870 19 17,177 43
Year ending July, 1871 19 18,535 32
Year ending July, 1872 20 16,866 31
Year ending July, 1873 20 17,999 60
Year ending July, 1874 21 17,770 14
Year ending July, 1875 21 17.230 21
Year ending July, 1876 22 18,231 08
Year ending July, 1877 22 18,770 81
Year ending July, 1878 23 19,908 44
Year ending July, 1879 24 22,403 96
The schools are supported by tax on the equalized valuation of property in the several districts in the county; the value of property so equalized and assessed is stated at $1,348,609, and the rate $1.30 on the hundred.
PRESS OF STEPHENSON COUNTY.
The press is a happy figure of speech for the newspapers of a city, country or the world. The printing press is the foundation of journalism; it is the mechanical device which makes the profession of journalism a possibility. The invention of printing made possible the production of books, but the invention of the press made possible the production of the newspaper. The art of printing, considered merely with reference to the manufacture and use of movable types, has not accomplished a great degree of progress since the days of Gutenberg, yet its efficiency has been wonderfully enlarged by collateral mechanical inventions. The type of today differs but little from the type of the fifteenth century, while the press of to day would be scarcely recognized by the press-gang of twenty years ago; yet it is to the wonderful mechanical advancement made in the printing press during the last twenty-five years that is due the merit of carrying the art of printing ten times as far as it progressed alone in three centuries before, until it has finally become the real foundation that underlies the splendid superstructure of modern journalism.
Thus much for the process; the result is the newspaper. Coster or Gutenberg invented types; Adams and Stanhope created the modern hand-press upon the model of three centuries, while Hoe, Bullock, Walter and Applegarth carried mechanical skill, daring and ingenuity to the wonderful point which enables the modern journalist to have the readiest, easiest and quickest mode of communication with his readers. The profession of journalism is a small part of the labor and thought expended in order that the paper may be laid before its readers; yet his function is that toward which the function of the printer, the inventor and the mechanician concentrate. His work is the crown and flower of theirs.
Many contend that journalism is the objective point toward which men bankrupt in all other professions, tend their inclinations. The fact that they have failed in securing reputation or wealth through the mediums of theology, law or physic, argues them to the irresistible conclusion that the divinity which shaped their careers disastrously in other departments of life, did so with a special view to convincing the subject that his mission through this vale of tears was the editorial management of a metropolitan journal.
Wealthy parents, distinguished public men they are, insist that the royal road to journalistic eminence is through the expenditure of resources in that connection for sons who have returned from the academic groves of their alma mater, eager to relieve their pent-up Uticas through the columns of a daily paper. He is more wordy if anything than were those who flourished when Shakespear wrote and Hamlet moralized. Assuming literary magic, he conjures with words in the production of miraculous sentences and by their employment colors his airy nothings with rainbow tints. And, though a trifler and pretender, his wealth often procures the stamp of wit for pertness, and profundity for the empiricisms he lucubrates. But he reaches his level in time, and falls, another evidence of the fate of vaulting ambition. Still, the business of journalism will continue to be an inviting field for the experiment of those having large amounts of money and egotism.
The true journalist, however, is born, not made, and survives the manufactured article as truth rises above falsehood. And his life is by no means that cheerful photograph the imagination of amateurs ambitious of preference pictures to his mind's eye. The popularity of a writer who daily seeks to mold public opinion is of a negative character and yet contemporary popularity is not less enduring than contemporary condemnation. Bunyan was regarded as a crazy dreamer, and Byron was ridiculed by the critics until he lashed them into admiration with the whip of scorpions. No argument is needed to prove the important role enacted by the press in the drama of social and commercial intercourse. To the commerce of thought and in all the walks of life, it furnishes the only available currency. Whether expressing the verdict of public censure upon affairs of state, or singing the praises of a plow-boy till these praises soar from the daisies beneath his feet to the celestial fields of a sensuous paradise, the press always proves itself an innate force holding in contempt the trammels of the schools and defiant of circumstances.
As in poetry and the arts, so in religion, the laws and sciences, the press is the stern, uncompromising agency through which their excellences and deficiencies are commended or condemned. The capacity to thus protect the weak, to mold public opinion, to create ways and means for the universal good, and originate enterprises whose blessings increase with years, must be born it cannot be acquired. Culture may soften and polish a superficial capacity, but it cannot originate; it may fashion a giant's garb, but cannot fill it. The stripping David, armed with his sling, and his strong, untrammeled faith, treads the pathway of sublimity as he goes forth to meet Goliath, but had he attempted to magnify his proportions by masquerading in a giant's uniform, he would have made himself ridiculous.
In all the departments of life, the press should seek to strengthen the right, crush the wrong; and its teachings; like the sunshine of familiar faces, should be welcomed at the poor man's cottage and the rich man's home.
The Bulletin, daily and weekly, enjoys a deservedly large circulation, proportioned to the careful and able management by which it is conducted.
The early history of this paper is the story of every undertaking that has attained success; it was filled with disappointments, trials and efforts that often proved vain. But it has survived all these, and, gathering strength with its increase of age, has become resolved into a remunerative investment, directing Democratic public opinion in Northern Illinois, and conserving the material welfare of the city and county wherein it has abided for upward of thirty-three years.
In 1847, the village of Freeport was rapidly blossoming into a thickly populated town. The residents were dependent upon more Eastern frontier communications, not only for stores but also for news of the outside world. How this dependence was endured, and sought to be rendered less burdensome, and how it finally disappeared, under the influences invoked to that end, has already been detailed. During these times, the absence of no agency that would conduce to the success of the people and the prosperity of the town, was more a source of regret than that of a weekly paper a medium where the daily happenings occurring in the State, county and town, might be recorded for the benefit of mankind; a record containing a transcript of current events, accessible to all, That all who ran might read. No doubt the enterprise and ambition of the settlers had prompted their efforts to supply this absence, but nothing came of their endeavors until 1847, when the birth of the infant, since grown to manhood, journalistically speaking, and now known as the Bulletin, was announced to an interested and gratified public.
At that time, the Hon. Thomas J. Turner represented this district in Congress, and was solicitous, doubtless, that his position upon various questions then agitating the body politic, should be fairly represented to his constituency. With a view to that end, he projected the Prairie Democrat, and procured the services of S. D. Carpenter to conduct the same. Under such auspices, and with a limited patronage, the first paper to commence its career in Stephenson County was ushered into existence during November, 1847.
Mr. Carpenter, in the first number, explains the reasons which prompted him to come West and embark in the comparatively hazardous business of publishing a paper: We came to the Western country for the purpose of securing a permanent location. Various were the means of information, both by personal news and friendly communications, to learn the many advantages that many towns north of the Illinois River presented. But none gave us the satisfaction desired save Freeport. We were attracted thither by the peculiar location and advantageous situation of the town, being a fair business distance from Galena and Chicago, with plenty of water-power for all practical purposes, a soil and climate unsurpassed by the most fertile plains and salubrious portions of Italy, teeming with an intelligent population who, without boasting, may safely challenge the world for a greater degree of public spirit and enterprise, the beauty of the surrounding country, its undulating prairies and groves of valuable timber, through which the Pecatonica winds its serpentine course to join the Father of waters, the unequaled facilities for railroad communications and many other considerations induced us to 'pitch our tents here,' and claim Freeport as our future home. From this, it would seem that Carpenter, if a forcible, was at the same time a humorous, writer.
The history of the paper, from its initial number until about the time the present proprietor assumed charge, is partially clouded. The earlier files have not been preserved, and those succeeding until 1870, neither consecutive nor complete. As a result, the facts as submitted are derived from the memories of the proverbial elder inhabitants, but believed to be correct.
When the Democrat was decided upon, the scarcity of buildings affording conveniences for the publication of a paper was marked, and difficulty was experienced in obtaining accommodations. Finally, a room was procured in the court house, and work begun. The stay of the paper here, however, was brief, and, as soon as arrangements could be concluded in that behalf, a removal was effected to the second floor of a frame building located at the corner of Galena and Chicago streets, where it remained, as is believed, during Mr. Carpenter's administration of its affairs.
According to the most authentic sources of information, the paper flourished, attended only by such drawbacks as invariably seek to accompany genuine merit. Its publishers made no hesitation in declaring their party preferences, advocating Democratic principles as they were distinctly defined by exponents of that party, yet guided by no prospective or partisan policy in the treatment of political opponents. All were treated candidly and courteously, without resorting to obsequious sycophancy or hypercritical condemnations. The local department is said to have faithfully related the passing events of the day, the literary selections were choice, the miscellany varied and interesting, and the agricultural department made up of excerpts from standard authorities.
Mr. Carpenter continued to go it alone in his dual capacity of editor and manager until about 1850, according to the record, when he became wearied of this professional game of solitaire and retired from the position he had so continuously and acceptably occupied. He was succeeded by J. O. P. Burnside, and his induction into possession constituted the limit of the changes made, there being no departure in the political or general character of its contents.
Locally, and as the disseminator of general news, the paper had materially improved; politically, it remained Democratic of the most direct character; as a success, that desideratum had been secured. This was to be expected, however, for pains and means had been contributed to that end; and, during the years of its struggles and vicissitudes, there always lingered in the breasts of its originators the reflection of a journalistic goal, toward which they bent their aims and aspirations as readily as the willow to the storm.
Mr. Burnside remained at the helm for two years, having his office, it is stated, near the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, and attracting patronage, notwithstanding the existence of a rival enterprise which had appeared during Mr. Carpenter's control of affairs, and by this time had secured a foothold. At the expiration of that period, he disposed of his interest to George P. Ordway, who removed the office to the corner of Galena and Exchange streets. One year's experience created a desire for change, and Mr. Ordway re-sold to Mr. Burnside. That gentleman renewed his title to the premises (in 1853) at a time, when, it is believed, the original materials of the office, having served the purposes to which they had been designed faithfully and effectively, were become decrepit with age, and no longer available; hence a change in these respects, being imperative, was made.
The old type, rules, reglets, quoins, chases, cases, imposing stones and other paraphernalia of the office were disposed of and replaced with new. Many other improvements were concluded, and in July, 1853, the Freeport Bulletin, successor to the Prairie Democrat, was launched forth, made its most profound salaam to Democratic and general readers, and began a weekly existence which has gathered strength with each succeeding issue.
Mr. Burnside was, in time, followed by Bagg & Brawley, it is asserted; they by Giles & Scroggs in 1861, by J. R. Scroggs in 1864, and by W. T. Giles in 1869. The latter gentleman conducted the Bulletin with signal ability during a career of nearly seven years, making it a medium of information for all, and, as the index of true Jeffersonian Democracy, as fearless as it was unsurpassed by any paper of similar political predilections in the State.
During the seventeen years Mr. Giles was directly and indirectly connected with the paper, its course had come to be regarded as, in a great measure, the formulator of public opinion in this portion of the State. Its sentiments were unflinchingly Democratic, and its editorials sufficiently plain to indicate to their readers that the authors were not journalistic trimmers, nor advocates of and practitioners in that school of newspaper education which has given birth to pretentious sheets, but sheets devoid of merit Independent journalism.
At the close of the war, the Bulletin defined its position to be that of recognizing the results following the contest, but insisting upon a strict observance of the law as defined by the constitution for future government of the administration. It opposed the election of Grant, in the first instance, but, when Greeley was nominated, extended a most ardent support to this ancient enemy of the Democracy. In commenting upon the result, the editor considers that the election should be gratifying to any Grant-ite. It was of the kind that authorized corruption in every department of the government. If a man held office and did not steal, it would be simply because he possessed honesty. If the American people preferred dishonesty to virtue, let them have it. If the bayonet was to rule the land, let Grant remain in power. Though Greeley was defeated, the fight made by the Bulletin was so sincere, so bold and so effective, that the friends who gathered around it then are among its ardent supporters of today.
On the morning of January 2, 1873, Mr. Giles bade farewell to the patrons and friends of the Bulletin, after an acquaintance of seventeen years. Messrs. Taylor & Aspinwall would in future have charge of the Bulletin, and, as both were well known, their introduction would be superfluous. This announcement, however, proved to be premature. The advertised vendees never gained possession of their purchase, owing to a misunderstanding which occurred subsequent to the sale but prior to the delivery. In the issue of January 9 following, such publication was made, supplemented by a second appearance of Mr. Giles before the curtain in the roll of an editor upon his farewell tour, etc. That day, the paper had been transferred to C. C. Shuler, a well-known citizen of Freeport, and J. W. Potter, equally well known as the editor and proprietor of the Bolivar (Mo.) Herald. These gentlemen assumed the responsible and onerous duties of publishing the paper with the issue of January 16, 1873, and promised to make it all that it had been theretofore.
In the future as in the past, the Bulletin would faithfully battle in the cause of Democracy; the foe of rings formed in the interest of the few to the detriment of the welfare of the many; while being a fearless, outspoken and independent advocate of liberal democratic principles, it would be just and candid to its adversaries and true to its friends. It would be made the true exponent of the city's business interests, and a faithful and reliable friend to every enterprise organized in the interest of the neighborhood.
Mr. Potter was detained in Missouri for a brief period, but soon established himself in his new residence and took active charge of his purchase, directing the molding and formation of its editorials, and generally assuming care of the internal affairs of the office, with H. Clay Bray assisting as local editor. The columns of the paper under the new management were found to deserve the congratulations extended, presenting a persuasive appearance that was irresistible, and enlarging the circle of its readers beyond what the most sanguine of its friends had anticipated. After five months' experience, the encouragement extended became so substantial and the supplies of news so generous that it was found necessary to enlarge the sheet to dimensions commensurate with the increasing demands for space. Accordingly, this was done, the Bulletin appearing in its new dress on Thursday, June 19, 1873, and presenting a gratifyingly neat and attractive appearance.
The paper by this improvement was lengthened two inches; a column was added to the page, making a total of eight columns, which, with the typographical and other new features, strengthened its claims to consideration, and rendered a liberal patronage the more secure. Under such advantageous auspices, the Bulletin began its tenth year as such, and continued to shed an influence around its extended circle of admirers, as the influence of a spring day is felt when the blue skies shine like blessings, and the sunlight flicker streams through a veil of fleecy clouds in slanting golden lances.
In the issue of October 29, 1874, the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Shuler, after many months of uninterrupted intercourse with his readers, laid down the pen and grasped them by the hand to say good-bye. Mr. Potter thus succeeded to the entire charge of the paper, and, though disclaiming to be a man of brilliant promises, he should keep the Bulletin up to its standing, making it acceptable to the family circle and commending it to all for its unrivaled excellences. Mr. Shuler removed to Iowa, where he engaged in banking, and still remains.
The paper thenceforward and to the present writing has been under the exclusive managerial control of Mr. J. M. Potter, assisted at intervals by competent journalists. And, though the experiment of conducting a paper successfully single-handed has been heretofore considered almost an impossibility, Mr. P. has confirmed an exception to the rule, and promoted the measures of reform in State and county affairs, which have since crystallized and been recognized as indispensable.
Politically, the Bulletin has continued to maintain an attitude consistent with its earlier convictions and proclamations. It has been unfaltering in its support of all measures recognized as constitutional and expedient, and relentless in its attacks upon rings, corporations and monopolies.
During the campaign of 1876, the paper advocated a reform from the "villainies which had characterized the Grant administrations, no matter what means it might be found necessary to employ, so the same were in harmony with the law. The nomination of Hayes was necessitated by the position into which Grant had placed his party; the people could only be deceived by throwing the whole crew overboard, and asking unknown, unhonored and unsung Republicans to accept the chance of defeat. The nominees of the Republican party were merely figureheads for Morton and Blaine, and the reform promised and proposed was a mockery, a delusion and a snare. In these opinions the Bulletin indexed the conclusions of its subscribers.
During the pendency of a decision, the paper, as may be supposed, earnestly labored for the election of Mr. Tilden, under whom there would be no San Domingo infamy, safe burglary, whiskey ring, Babcock, Belknap, Robeson, Delano, Williams, or Black Friday, and the White House would neither become a retreat for thieves, nor a haven for felons, as the Cabinet would not become an asylum for imbeciles.
The result of the election was regarded by the paper as a victory for the Democratic candidates, and it insisted that they should be inaugurated. When the Commission was proposed it denied the constitutionality of the measure, and insisted that it should not be substituted for the law on the subject as it stood; in short, that to violate the Constitution was the destruction of the Government.
When the Commission was agreed upon, the Bulletin accepted its innovation as the will of the majority, and gave the measure its cordial support. When it became apparent what the decision of the Commission would be by the shadows preceding that event, the paper, in commenting on the special pleading indulged, stated that by a strictly party vote, the Commission appointed to inquire into the Presidential question, decided not to go behind the returns in the Florida case. They will, however, inquire into the eligibility of electors. By this decision the most gigantic frauds may go unquestioned. The people would now have an opportunity of testing the non-partisan character of the Supreme Court Judges by their decision in the Oregon case, when it will be necessary to go behind the Governor's certificate in order to elect Hayes.
When the question was practically decided in favor of Hayes by the refusal of the Commission to go behind the returns, the Bulletin accepted the ultimatum, but, in an editorial dignified and forcible, submitted its apprehensions as to the situation, from which the following is taken:
"As predicted by the Bulletin last week, by the usual strict party vote of eight to seven, the Electoral Commission of last Friday decided: First, that no evidence whatever should be received in the Louisiana case; and secondly, that the vote of the State should be counted for Hayes.
The Democratic counsel offered to prove that the Returning Board of Louisiana was a body not recognized by the State Constitution; that it was not organized in accordance with the law creating it; that even if it was constitutional and legally organized, it had no jurisdiction over the returns for Presidential Electors; that the method of its procedure violated the law in every particular; that its findings were the exactly contrary of the truth; that its decisions were influenced by corrupt motives; and that two of the Republican electoral claimants were ineligible under the Constitution of the United States; in a word, that the so-called Hayes electors were not elected, and the Tilden electors were. Evidence to establish the several points was separately offered, and in each instance ruled out by the eight Republicans of the tribunal.
The only point the Republican counsel contested was the constitutionality of the Returning Board. They did not deny that Louisiana had elected the Tilden electors by majorities ranging from 6,000 to 10,000. They did not deny that the four unhanged scoundrels of the board disfranchised 13,000 American citizens. They did not deny that these villains had for weeks been attempting to peddle the electoral vote of the State to whoever would buy. They denied nothing. They merely fell back on the partisan majority on the Commission, and reiterated again and again that the American people had no recourse but to submit to the inauguration of a man they had never elected.
The act creating the Commission provides that it shall have such powers (that is, as respects the certificates submitted to it) as now possessed by the two Houses of Congress acting separately or together, and since Congress, as we have just shown, does possess the power of going behind the returns, and has always exercised that power, it is plain that both the Constitution and the electoral act authorize the commission to take evidence as regards the merits of the case, and the refusal of the majority to do so can be accounted for upon no other hypothesis than that the eight genteel compounders of felony have willfully, knowingly, coolly, set themselves to the task of counting Hayes in, irrespective of the frauds, wrongs, violations of law, usurpations, and perjuries with which his path to the White House is strewn.
The inauguration of Hayes was treated in a similar spirit, and the act regarded as the crowning chapter of a history of illegalities and constitutional violations from which the Republic would never recover.
As the years came and went and the wants of the community and the progress of the times demanded something more than a weekly paper, Mr. Potter determined to meet the requirements of the public by issuing a daily. In accordance with this view, the Daily Bulletin was issued on the 18th of September, 1877, and in every respect equaled public expectations. No apology was vouchsafed for its appearance, as in all well-regulated families none is expected for recent arrivals. The bub was attired in its parent's garments, and, after a brief experiment, was set up in business for itself. When this consummation was reached and the infant had waxed strong, and his business began to increase in a gratifying degree. He then put on a new dress, including a hat, and was known on the street, where he offered money to loan, property for sale, houses to rent, etc.; solicited correspondence with a view to matrimony, and, as the agent for schemes, news, accidents and incidents, became an invaluable accessory to men, women and children.
The daily is now in the fourth year of its existence, and enjoys a patronage both widespread and remunerative.
Both enterprises are owned and edited by J. W. Potter, assisted by O. Potter and F. C. Donohue, under whose manipulation the daily has become an indispensable acquisition to every household.
The combined circulation of the daily and weekly aggregates 5,500 weekly, requiring the services of eight men, in addition to the editorial force, to procure its issue. The investment represents a valuation of $12,000.
The Freeport Journal, a weekly publication, issued by A. V. Richards & Co., is one of the oldest papers in the State, and enjoys a patronage and support commensurate with its undeniable merits.
The first number was put forth on the 22d day of November, 1848, and thirty-two years' experience in the checkered ways of the world has confirmed the predictions ventured by its founders when they launched their journalistic barque on the tide of Time. The merit of the undertaking is due to H. G. Grattan and A. McFaddan. The former gentleman came to Freeport, in 1848, from Janesville, Wis., where he had previously started the Gazette, and, realizing the advantages to be derived from repeating his experiment in the county seat of Stephenson County, decided to court Fortune's smiles through the columns of a weekly publication. The first paper was issued, as stated, on the 22d of November, 1848, and represented the Whig element in politics. It was a folio with six columns to the page, and typographically presented an appearance by no means calculated to excite hypercritical comments.
The advertising department promulgated the existence of Turner & Turner, Purinton & Betts, John A. Clark, T. F. Goodhue and Sweet & Brawley, as attorneys; Martin & Van Valzah, physicians; L. W. Guiteau, D. A. Knowlton, O. H. Wright, S. D. Knight & Co. and Jackson & Brothers, grocers; Emmert & Strohm, druggists; A. W. Rice, cabinet-maker, etc.
The first page was devoted to literary selections, the second page to telegraphic and editorial news, the third page to local and poetic fulminations, and the fourth page to brief paragraphs and advertising. Taken as a whole, the make-up was attractive, evidencing to the reader a disposition on the part of the management to consult the public appetite and interest public expectation. The terms at which the journal would be furnished were $2 per annum if paid within six months, 50 cents additional if payments was delayed, and $3 if not paid at the expiration of the year. Advertisements not exceeding one square would be inserted three times for $1.50.
Such were the inducements offered the reading and advertising public in exchange for their support. The prospects of success were by no means rose-colored, yet the venturesome editors indulged a confiding hope that their efforts to civilize and enlighten might not be entirely unappreciated. They had assumed the enterprise of publishing a newspaper in Freeport, believing that the capabilities of the county were fully equal to its necessary support. The population of the county was then not far from 10,000; the fertility of the soil, salubrity of the climate, and the agricultural and manufacturing resources, as also the enterprise and general intelligence of the population, unsurpassed.
Yet the population was by no means homogeneous; coherency and unity were wanted, and the agency most effective in promoting this unity was the press. In the light of these conclusions, the Journal was offered with the conscious assurance that its future would equal the present, and, with the efforts that would be made to secure deserved success, excel the former period.
The firm established an office in the upper story of a brick building a few rods northeasterly of the then residence of Judge Ormsbee, and began practical business. The building, after serving the purposes of a printing office, drug store and other depots for the support of life, the pursuit of happiness, etc., was torn down and is now known as the corner of Broadway and Beaver streets, and occupied by a handsome frame residence.
The headquarters of the Journal were retained in the dilapidated brick building during its infancy, where it grew in strength and excellence for nearly a year. On the 31st of October, 1849, the partnership of Grattan & McFaddan was dissolved, the former gentleman purchasing the latter's interest, and thereafter exercising sole control of the sheet. The office was at once removed to the second story of a small wooden building on Galena, between Exchange and Walnut streets, at that time occupied by A. W. Rice as a cabinet-shop. The old frame still stands, affording shelter to a paint shop, and promises to survive the wreck of matter for many years to come. The paper missed one issue in consequence of the "bother incident to removal, but came to the front again on November 14, bristling with news which included the intelligence that, at the election occurring in New York the week previous, the empire State had nobly maintained herself against the combined forces of Hunkerism and uncertain Free-Soilers.
The political utterances of the paper indicated irresistibly the tendencies of the people in Stephenson County to be in the direction of principles which subsequently found expression in the platform accepted by Fremont and Dayton. About that time, the Constitutional Convention held in California pronounced against the introduction of slavery into that State, and the Journal, taking this for its cue, predicted the coming of a day when slavery would become a relic of departing barbarism in the history of the republic. Subsequent events have fully confirmed this proposition.
As a medium for the dissemination of local intelligence, the Journal, while answering that purpose, or, to use an aged but expressive conclusion, supplying a want long felt, was scarcely up to the more modern standard, as illustrated in the more pretentious sheets of today. That which now constitutes palatable news, was rarely recorded, because of its absence in part, and also of an indisposition to sensational journalism which so readily obtained in after years. There were no murders to excite the reportorial imagination, and scandals which today are displayed in colors, with head-lines of glaring prominence, were items of news, which, in those days, came under the ban.
The selections were culled from the works of standard authors, comprehending poetry and fiction, and the columns justified with scientific or historical excerpts.
That portion of the paper assigned to advertising was visibly enlarged during the paper's first year, though rates were not increased, it requiring a total of thirteen columns to furnish sufficient space for the demands of patrons. Taken as a whole, the Journal competed successfully with its contemporaries in fulfilling its mission in point of news, appearance and make-up, becoming a source of revenue to the publisher, of information to the readers and pride to the community.
On December 27, 1850, was commenced the third volume of the paper. Promises were not renewed, nor was a new line of policy marked out. It would be continued as a firm, conservative Whig paper, under the influence of no clique, but free to pursue an independent course. It would be the object of the publisher to make it particularly valuable as a newspaper, a medium of intelligence, both of a local and national character. The editor was cheered by the success which had previously met his efforts, and re-assured of the correctness of the principles it had been his effort to promulgate. He bade farewell to a past, which, like the aged and forsaken of men, drop into the grave of forgetfulness, and greeted the future like a hopeful boy, who bounds forward with a shout of gladness to run the race set before him.
Early during this year, the office was removed to a small wooden building on the north side of the court house square. The Journal divided the occupation of these premises with others, and remained domesticated therein until 1855. The building itself continued in existence for a number of years, until the weight of age and servitude necessitated its retirement from the active scenes of life. The site thereof is today, in part, occupied by the establishment of Bergman & Dorman.
Mr. Grattan remained sole owner of the enterprise until April 25, 1851, when Hiram M. Sheetz became a partner, and the business was conducted under the firm name of Grattan & Sheetz until the following August. On the 15th of that month, Mr. Grattan retired, and A. McFadden, one of the originators of the undertaking, accepted the position vacated by his whilom partner. This was the only change Mr. Grattan's retirement produced. The paper's politics remained unchanged under the new dispensation, the support of the Whig party being adhered to, and the policy of that party discussed calmly, earnestly, but temperately. In measures, legislative and administrative, the Whig creed was advocated; in local politics, it sought to follow, rather than lead public opinion. In all its features, the Journal was so conducted that the cause of morals and religion, these fundamental interests of man and society, were advanced, and its columns were always open to the advocacy of whatever would promote these interests. Its editor also urged the adoption of a system of internal improvements, having for their object the development of the latent resources of the State and county, etc., including the building of railroads, turnpikes and manufacturing establishments, the employment of skilled labor, the formation of corporations whereby the good of the public might be conserved, and other features which have since been practically adopted with profit.
With the issue of September 24, 1852, the Journal was enlarged by the addition of one column to each page, new type was substituted for the fonts which had begun to exhibit the ravages of time and constant use, and the job department of the establishment was prepared for printing in colors as varied as those of Joseph's coat. The constantly increasing prospects of the town and the paper, and the manifest demand of the citizens for a superior family paper, induced these improvements and assured a reasonable degree of success for the venture.
The enlargement was attended by other calls for additional help and consequent expense, and the efforts employed to fill its columns with information in the shape of general news, in agriculture, manufactures, commerce, religion, politics, with a sprinkling of mirth, were received with encouragement worthy the undertaking. During this year, the paper supported Scott and Graham for the offices of President and Vice President of the Republic with vigor, and insisted upon the defeat of all candidates who were not in favor of confining the institution of slavery to the limits of the territory wherein it existed. When the great struggle was over and the triumph of the Democracy became a part of history, Mr. Sheetz, who, by the way, directed the editorial department of the paper, admitted defeat, but refrained from speculating upon the causes which operated to produce such results, contenting himself with admonitions designed to prevent a repetition of the calamity in the future.
On the 7th of January, 1853, the fourth volume of the Journal was introduced to the public. Five years previous, the first Whig paper in Stephenson County was commenced. At that time, the town was an insignificant village, and such was the sparsity of population in the county that the enterprise was deemed almost a hazardous experiment. During the interval, the paper was established, enlarged and materially improved, and was, at the date mentioned, on the highway to a permanent success.
On the 15th of April, 1853, Mr. McFadden disposed of his interest in the Journal to Mr. Sheetz, who remained sole owner and director for the space of three years, during which period its general character was not materially changed, except so far as experience and circumstances suggested improvements that rendered the weekly editions more acceptable to their readers.
In politics, it continued to advocate Whig principles, in the belief that they were best adapted to the interests of the country; as a newspaper, the Journal was not surpassed by any paper with equal facilities for obtaining news. Editorially, the endeavor was made to keep a correct record of the growth of the town and county, and to speak boldly and independently on all questions of reform. It selections were made with reference to the tastes and interests of the readers, and every means were employed to render the Journal not only acceptable to all classes, but a welcome visitor to the family circle, the counting room, the work-bench and the farmhouse.
In the summer of 1855, increasing business necessitated the procuration of more extended quarters, and the Journal office was removed to the third story of Martin's Block, on Stephenson, between Van Buren and Chicago streets, where it was housed for nine years. The old building still stands and bears the marks of age, while the paper it sheltered for nearly a decade has grown in strength and influence with the progress of time.
Mr. Sheetz maintained editorial control of the paper until April 24, 1856, when he disposed of his interest to C. K. Judson and C. W. McCluer, who acquired title to the property by purchase, and issued the subsequent editions for years under the firm name of Judson & McCluer. From this transfer, the paper's present series takes its date.
On taking charge, the new management expended liberally in effecting improvements and completing reforms. The paper was enlarged one column to the page, and the suits and trappings which had become familiar to the people were exchanged for a new dress one which survived the wear and tear of time, change of administration, the proud man's contumely and other incidents peculiar to the experience of country papers, for nearly ten years before it was laid aside. They also ventured the publication of a daily record of current events in addition to the weekly. This appeared almost simultaneously with their assuming the management of the latter. It was a folio, 12x18, with five columns to the page, printed in brevier and nonpareil, and attained a liberal circulation. It was continued until November 9, 1857, when the prevailing stringency in money matters and (he difficulty experienced in making cash collections induced the proprietors to withdraw the daily from the field of competition. The promise was made to resume at any moment when the financial world gave signs that all was well. But, in default of any favorable indication in that direction, the suspension became permanent.
As will be remembered, the Republican party, as a party, took shape in 1856, and presented Fremont and Dayton as candidates for the people's suffrages. The Journal accepted these offerings, which were regarded as eminently proper, and tending to unite in one solid phalanx all men actuated by the common desire to stop the onward march of African slavery, and retain it within its limits at that time. During the canvass which preceded the election, the Journal was constant and unwavering in the support it offered, and, when the result was announced, consoled itself with the reflection that, defeat was caused by the perpetration of unparalleled frauds, and a combination of the slavery propaganda, under the guise of Democracy and Americanism.
On the 6th of May, 1858, William T. Tinsley, recently theretofore foreman and assistant editor of the Lyons (N. Y.) Republican, purchased an interest in the Journal, and became associated in its management with Judson k McCluer, remaining until St. Patrick's Day, 1859, when he sold out to his partners and returned to Lyons.
From the year 1856 up to the present time, the Journal openly espoused the cause of human freedom. From that date, it battled manfully and consistently for the principles which became triumphant in the election of Abraham Lincoln. When the question as to the intentions of the Republican party toward the slave-holding States was being discussed, the Journal defined its position to be, that Congress had the right to exclude slavery in the Territories, and it was the duty of Congress to exercise that right. It was the freedom of the Territories as such, that was demanded.
When the surrender of Fort Sumter was telegraphed, the Journal insisted that the issue was joined, the case made up, and that but one course was left open to the nation. There was but one allegiance, one government, one system of law in all our borders. It was a great calamity that the law had been resisted, but greater calamities would attend the general anarchy which the secession mania would ultimately bring on the people, if not checked, than could possibly follow from a vigorous enforcement of the laws as they existed. From the commencement of hostilities until peace was promulgated, following the surrendered at Appomattox Court House, the Journal was untiring in its support of the Government, and earnest in its advocacy of such measures as were conceived to be right.
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Stories, Volume 1
Judson & McCluer held the fort until the dawning of the new year, 1866, when the proprietorship of the Journal became vested in J. M. Bailey, at present one of the Justices of the Appellate Court, and R. V. Ankeny, both well-known citizens, under the firm name of Bailey & Ankeny, the former gentleman wielding the editorial quill, and promising to represent in the columns of the paper the great material, social and educational interests of the Northwest; to also advocate that course of legislation which would most rapidly develop these interests, protect those of capital and labor, and increase the wealth, morality and intelligence of the people. On April 9, 1864, the folio was increased to a quarto, and was published by the new firm until May 9, 1866. On that date the interests of the Journal and North-West were consolidated, the latter undertaking being merged into the former, Gen. Ankeny retiring from the Journal, and Gen. S. D. Atkins from the North-West. The new journalistic venture was thereafter controlled by J. S. McCall, J. M. Bailey and M. B. Mills, who remained at the helm until November 1 of the same year, when Mr. McCall became sole owner.
During his administration, a second effort to popularize the institution of a daily edition was made. The first issue appeared January 2, 1867, being a folio six columns to the page, printed in minion, nonpareil and brevier, and bidding for readers and advertisers, through the agency of the Associated Press dispatches, a franchise still held by the Journal. In all features both the daily and weekly equaled expectations. As a party organ, they bore allegiance to the Republican party, to which the most cordial and earnest support was tendered. As mediums for the promulgation of current events, the news, condensed or elaborate, as the occasion demanded, was to be found in their columns. But the daily failed to receive the support it was deserving of, and after an experience of nearly two years yielded up the ghost.
After running the gamut of supplying editorialand reportorial pabulum to the citizens of Stephenson County and vicinity for two years, Mr. McCall ceased to be a practical representative of the fourth estate, and was succeeded by Gen. Smith D. Atkins, at present Postmaster of Freeport.
The varied proprietary experience to which the paper had been subjected since it first appeared an infant, so to speak, mewling and puking in its nurse's arms, was borne out in the frequent change of base effected by its owners. In August, 1864, another move was made to the building corner of Chicago and Bridge streets, erected by Jacob Kline for the purpose, and fitted up with due regard to the convenience of the occupants. Improvements were also extended to the establishment itself, including one of Roper's caloric engines, and other appurtenances peculiar to a printing office, rendering it complete in its outfit and capacity to supply every demand.
When Gen. Atkins took charge the paper was an established fact, and during his control of its destiny the hold previously gained on public patronage and support was confirmed and extended. The paper was published under his direction and name until June 11, 1873, when his editorial connection ceased. On that day, he disposed of the concern to William B. Thomas, Dwight B. Breed and Charles R. Haws, who assumed entire control, Gen. Atkins retaining an interest, however, but devoting his attention more particularly to the practice of the law and literary pursuits. Messrs. Thomas, Breed & Haws remained as editors and managers until May 26, 1875, when Haws sold out his interest to Gen. Atkins, and the old firm was succeeded by that of S. D. Atkins & Co.
On the 2d of September following, Capt. A. V. Richards purchased three-fourths interest in the paper, being the interest controlled by Atkins, and the firm became A. V. Richards & Co., under which it still remains. The sale of the paper and charge assumed by the purchaser is thus noted in the editorial columns of September 8, 1875: On last Thursday, September 2, I disposed of my interest in the Freeport Journal newspaper, steam printing office and book bindery, to Capt. A. V. Richards, late of Galena, Illinois, and my connection with the publication of this paper on that day terminated. Capt. Richards is a thoroughly educated gentleman, an experienced and polished writer, was a patriot and soldier in the hour of the nation's danger, and has been a Republican ever since he was old enough to vote. My late partners, Dwight B. Breed and William B. Thomas, will be associated with Mr. Richards in the publication of the Freeport Journal, under the firm name of A. V. Richards & Co. From long and intimate acquaintance, and close business association with Mr. Breed and Mr. Thomas, I can speak of them in the highest terms. They are both accomplished workmen, perfect masters of the art preservative of arts, both Republicans, both experienced publishers, both fine writers. I can cordially commend the Freeport Journal to its old patrons and friends, believing that under the new management of A. V. Richards & Co. it will be a more welcome visitor into the family circle, an abler champion of the Republican party, a more effective advocate of the advancement of the material interests of Freeport and the surrounding country, and I most earnestly hope that the extensive patronage and wide circulation the paper now enjoys, will be largely increased. The subscriptions now due upon the Freeport Journal will be paid to A. V. Richards & Co., who will furnish the paper to those who have paid for it in advance. For the kindness I have always received from the patrons of the Freeport Journal, I beg to return my sincere thanks. Smith D. Atkins.
In assuming editorial control of the Journal, we feel that we are taking upon ourself a weighty responsibility. Such a paper, properly managed, can be made a power for good, and improperly managed, equally powerful for evil. We hope and trust our voice will never be raised in advocacy of other than the right. In the continual combat of right against wrong, we believe in war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt. We hope ever to be found upon the side of all real and genuine reforms. We are a believer in reform when it is reform in deed as well as in name. We are opposed to so-called reforms that make use of the term merely as a cloak to conceal their real character. Politically, the Journal, under our administration, will continue to be Republican. We are not of those who are willing to admit that the mission of the Republican party is completed, but believe that it has much yet to perform. That it is the purest, best and noblest party that ever existed, and that it has not yet reached the zenith of its glory. It is emphatically the party of progress, the party of improvement, the party of morality, and the party which is destined by the people to govern the people, and prove to its enemies the world over, that our system of government is no longer an experiment, but a confirmed success. We shall be both conservative and radical conservative of the radical truths and primary principles upon which our government was founded, and radically opposed to all persons or parties who seek to destroy or contaminate them. Having lived for many years in the adjoining county of Jo Daviess, we feel quite well acquainted with Freeport, though personally a stranger to most of its citizens. We have ever admired its location, and believe that its future will be a brilliant one, and shall ever be ready to aid and assist, in all honorable ways, in the advancement of its interests. We have come here to stay, and shall give our entire time and attention to the management of the Journal. We feel, however, that we occupy a very difficult position as the successor of Gen. Atkins, who is so well and favorably known, and who so well deserves his popularity. We do not expect to fill his place, but shall spare no pains to try to make an acceptable newspaper. Gen. Atkins retires entirely from the Journal and resumes the practice of law, and we bespeak for him a large and increasing practice. His record for the last fifteen years is sufficient guaranty for his future. He has re-opened his old office in Fry's Block, where he may be found during business hours. The former partners of Gen. Atkins, Mr. Breed and Mr. Thomas, retain their interest in the Journal, and the patrons of this paper will receive the benefit of their experience and well-known ability. A. V. Richards.
The paper received a new dress, a new engine and boiler of the most approved design was put in, and much new material was added to the several departments. Capt. Richards became managing editor, Mr. Breed local and Mr. Thomas foreman. The promises contained in the salutatory were fulfilled to the letter; not alone in the political dispensations vouchsafed weekly, but also in the local, literary and general intelligence the columns were the agents in disseminating. The job work was equal to any in the county, and the firm was enabled to successfully compete with Chicago establishments in that line of the art.
During the campaign of 1876, the Journal experienced the first serious trouble since its establishment, and for a brief period its very existence was threatened.
For eight years previous, the paper had been the exponent and principal champion of Republicanism and Republican candidates in the Fifth Congressional District. Mr. Richards being a new-comer and comparative stranger to the manor born, insisted upon exercising his discretion, arguing that the true province of a political or party paper, was to occupy a neutral position as between the several candidates for nomination. For Congress the candidates were numerous, and the Journal, without giving expression to its preference, published a hope that the best man might win. The nominee of the convention was earnestly advocated by the paper,- and his election made the subject of congratulation. After the smoke had cleared away, war was declared against the Journal; it is claimed, because its editor asserted his independence and refused to urge the nomination of any special candidate. A mortgage existed for deferred payments on the interest owned by Richards. Some of the holders of the paper thus issued, sought to compel the sale of the paper under foreclosure proceedings, and thereby obtain control of its columns. The Journal firm had become somewhat embarrassed in consequence of the stringency of the times coupled with the expense incurred in the outlay of large sums employed in perfecting improvements when the office was purchased, and some of these accounts had been put in judgment on which executions issued. These were placed in the Sheriff's hands with orders to levy on the office, which he did, retaining possession twenty-four hours, when it was transferred to the mortgagees, and Mr. Richards placed in charge. After an advertisement of ten days, the property was sold at public vendue to James I. Neff, representing the mortgagees, who re-sold to S. K. Miner, by whom Mr. Richards was restored to the proprietorship.
From this on, the success of the Journal under the new management was assured, and it immediately became one of the leading Republican papers in the Fifth Congressional District. Soon after, Mr. Thomas sold his interest to Richards and Breed, who now own the paper.
The Journal was started when the city and county were yet in their infancy. An actual enumeration of the population of the then village of Freeport, and the county of Stephenson showed it as not exceeding one-fifth of the present number. The paper's early history did not differ much from that of other local papers, but its success has been pronounced, and it now stands in the front rank of local journals, honored with the confidence and patronage of the people, and a source of increasing revenue to its management.
The office continued at the corner of Chicago and Bridge streets until the 1st of December, 1879, when it was removed to the very convenient apartments, especially fitted up for the paper, corner of Van Buren and Chicago streets. Capt. Richards is the editor-in-chief, with Mr. Breed as local.
The weekly circulation is stated at 1,800, and the value of the enterprise is represented at $25,000.
Freeport Budget. Politically of Republican antecedents, gradually
becoming a stalwart of the straightest sect, locally furnishing
a fair amount of news, and personally popular with its friends, the
Budget, though a recent
acquisition to the roll of newspapers in Freeport, has attained a moderate success and generous circulation.
The rapid growth of Stephenson County in the years immediately preceding the panic of 1873, increased not alone her resources, but the demands of her citizens for such agencies as would develop those resources, or educate the people. Included in these demands, was that, in response to which the Budget came forth fully armed for the profession, like Pallas from the brow of Jove making its most graceful bow to an expectant public, on the 10th of May, 1873, under the censorship of K. T. Stabeck, M. D., at the town of Davis, twelve miles east of Freeport. Christened by the name it continues in part to bear, today familiar throughout the country, the weakling appeared as a seven-column folio, and met with a genial greeting from the thousand and one distinguished subscribers who had guaranteed it support.
The first edition numbered but one hundred and fifty copies, and the outlook, especially to a beginner, was not calculated to encourage a belief in the support promised. The editor, however, though he stood ready to extend a most hospitable welcome to success, was prepared to encounter disappointment and court the favors of fortune from a distance. To do this effectually, he abandoned physic and the scalpel to engage in the education, rather than the decimation, of the public. This required not alone labor and study, but the capacity to minister to the appetites of a varied and exacting, if not classic or critical, patronage. An opposition paper, though it may espouse the same political creed as its competitor, pursues no ways of pleasantness nor paths of peace. On the contrary, its life is made up of features which contribute to precipitate failure, if that end should ultimately be its portion, and a success that is more than passing, is only attained by the employment of the greatest diligence, the possession of very pronounced journalistic talent and unusual capacity for attracting substantial support. While it may be contested that the presence of these requisites does not invariably promote success, no one will insist that success can be conquered in their absence.
At the expiration of one year's experience, the Budget, of Davis and Freeport, had gained a circulation of three hundred, and its editor, assured of success in his venture, put forth renewed efforts to the end that disappointment should not prevail against him. At this period in its life, the suckling of a year previous, had become hardened, as it were, against attack, and began to assume the airs that come with years and education. Its proportions were increased by the addition of two columns to the page, which with the rest were provided with a new dress, cut and fitted after the most approved styles, and presenting an appearance in harmony with its age, as also with the fashions of the day. That no element should be wanting to render the Budget comparatively irresistible, its number of coaches was increased by the addition of Samuel J. Davis and the Rev. J. N. Phillips to the editorial force; one to localize, and the other to eliminate facts from the warp and woof of the ideal, to be set in double-leaded brevier and scattered broadcast, that those who ran might read, and thus be educated up to a proper apprehension of what constituted apples of gold in pictures of silver metaphorically speaking, to smite the rock of reportorial and editorial resources, that abundant streams of news and ideas might gush forth. The wisdom of this move soon found expression in the increased circulation and popularity of the Budget. As a medium of news, it was full in abundance and detail; as a Republican appetizer, it was palatable to the most exaggerated stalwart, manifesting in its make-up and general tone the presence of a manipulator whose battle-cry of freedom would rise above the din of battle between opposing political factions.
Up to this date, the printing necessary to the expression of opinions and news through the columns of the Budget had been executed elsewhere than at their place of birth. The lucubrations, scintillations, bon-mots, and witticisms that were wont to set the table in a roar were hatched in Davis, but set up, corrected, justified, printed and scattered broadcast from Freeport. With the success which, what has been written would indicate existed, it was determined to effect a reform in this particular; to be self-sustained in fact, as also in name.
Acting upon this suggestion, Dr. Stabeck, in the fall of 1874, purchased complete outfits of type and presses, which he removed to Davis and set up, whence he dates his first experience in the practical field of journalism. When these innovations and additions became of record, Dr. Stabeck's next move was to render the paper attractive in its proportions, as it had become in contents, by increasing it to a six-column quarto, as roomy in point of dimensions as any paper published in Stephenson County. Here his ambition came to a. full stop, so to speak, remaining unmoved by the rush of matter or the wreck of forms until 1875. In the spring of that year, K. C. Stabeck, a brother of the Budget's original sponsor, yearning to become a journalist, purchased a half-interest in the paper, and occasioned a change in the firm name from Stabeck sole to Stabeck Brothers, the new dispensation being welcomed with a generous hospitality by those who were to be benefited or improved.
Thus relieved from the onerous duties incident to editorial life, Dr. Stabeck sailed for Europe, whence he traveled extensively, taking advantage of the opportunities afforded him professionally, or dreaming the happy hours away in the kursaals or cafes of the continent, weaving his observations there into delightful communications to his paper, and returning after a season of nine months to resume familiarity with the actual of life, nowhere more free from fancy and idealities than in the editorial rooms of a prosperous weekly.
At this date, the Budget had assumed the dignities, emoluments, prerogatives and influence of a successful paper. Its circulation had reached 700, with a prospective increase in the near future, and happy were the days of its editors and backers at the cheerful promise held out by fame and fortune, the hand-maids of industry and enterprise. The succeeding two years, during which the Budget flourished, were comparatively free from events in the journal's life calculated to paralyze its energies or abate its influence; patronage and prosperity combined to render the paper a fact both significant and undeniable, and, in 1877, the influence of this fact was further extended by its removal to Freeport, where it entered upon a more extended field of weekly observations and duties. Prior to that event, Mr. Stabeck purchased the Monitor, an independent production published in the city of F., and merged it into the Budget, with all that the term implies. In this enterprise, A. Keeler was associated with the proprietors, aiding in conducting the paper at its new location, while the Davis Budget was still maintained, K. C. Stabeck piloting its editorial and financial course.
In the spring of 1878, Mr. Keeler bade adieu to his readers and retired from one of the editorial chairs, when Charles R. Haws succeeded to the vacancy, remaining until the following fall, at which date K. T. Stabeck assumed sole control and responsibility. The Davis Budget was then discontinued, and K. C. Stabeck deserted the field of journalism for the purpose of embracing the profession of the law.
K. T. Stabeck, M. D., remained in charge until the spring of 1880, making the paper a successful competitor with its rivals for support and influence, and arming and equipping the journalistic venture with mechanical and intellectual aids for supremacy in the contest between political parties then impending.
In February of that year, the Doctor decided to resume the practice of his profession, and, acting upon this suggestion, sold out to Gen. Smith D. Atkins, who once more became identified with the fourth estate, as the head and front of the Budget, being assisted in the undertaking by Thurston Stabeck, of Winnebago County, Dr. K. T. Stabeck exercising control over the local columns, which triumvirate yet maintains control, and directs the policy of one of the leading Republican papers in Northern Illinois.
The circulation of the paper is reported at eleven hundred, the investment being rated at $2,500.
The Daily Herald. The oldest daily paper, not only in Freeport, but Stephenson County, first came to the surface on the 30th day of April, 1877, under the direction of Ernest Seitz, and the mentorship of A. H. S. Perkins. Mr. Perkins' lease of life as editor of the paper was, however, cut short after a few weeks of management, and the vacancy thereby created was supplied by F. C. Donohue, present local editor of the Bulletin. Mr. Donohue remained in charge for nearly two years, during which period he succeeded in making the paper an invaluable record of current local events, market statistics and other features indispensable to journalism, when he severed his connection with the Herald, and associated himself in a similar capacity on the Bulletin. He was followed in turn by Mr. William F. Gore, a Chicago journalist of ability, and a gentleman of extended and varied culture.
Mr. Gore, however, pined after the flesh-pots of Chicago, and, at the solicitation of friends in that city, returned thither to accept a position on the Telegraph, when the Herald was again left without a pilot to guide its course on the troublesome sea of newspaper life. The hiatus, though, was not prolonged, the vacancy being quickly filled by the arrival of Mr. Charles Vickenstaff Hine, also a graduate of the Chicago college of journalism, a scholar and a genial gentleman. Shortly after he took charge, Mr Hine and James C. McGrath, connected with the paper since its organization, became co-partners in the venture, and the firm was thereafter known as Hine, Seitz & McGrath, with Mr. Hine in charge of the editorial, Seitz mechanical, and McGrath of the counting room.
Up to a period immediately anterior to the meeting of the Chicago Convention, the Herald was conducted strictly as an independent paper, politics being carefully eschewed. With the opening of the campaign of 1880, the paper espoused the cause of Republicanism, and earnestly advocated the nomination of Grant. When the nominations were promulgated they were supported by the Herald.
As a local paper, the Herald has consistently and vigorously worked for public improvements, both in the city and county; and by its aid and encouragement forwarded every undertaking that could add to the prosperity of Freeport, and the country tributary thereto. Always a diligent searcher after news, the paper has promptly and in acceptable form placed the results of its labors in this regard before its readers. Its value has in this respect been eloquently acknowledged by the large advertising patronage which it receives from all of the solid business men of Freeport. Complete and accurate in its news columns, plain and outspoken in its editorial utterances, it has won general respect by its candor, and commended itself to the respect of the public.
Like other daily papers published in towns of measured resources for news, similar to Freeport, at its inception the Herald, a portion of its columns, was filled with stereotyped selections, but this was abandoned in time, and the space thus occupied filled with readable news. The paper was enlarged to a five-column sheet during the summer of 1880, and the twenty columns submitted to the readers of the Herald are filled with interesting and profitable reading matter.
Though of comparatively recent date, the paper has attained a wide-spread circulation, and represents a valuation estimated at $5,000.
The North-West. On Thursday, August 17, 1865, the reading residents of Stephenson County were treated to that spice in life to be found in the issue of a paper of a purely literary character. A publication, the columns of which, comparatively free from politics, entirely free from personalities, scandals, disgusting, obscene and immoral advertisements, would offer inducements to writers of merit for contributions that could be read in the family circle by parents and children. With this object the North-West was projected and put forth, its initial number appearing on the date above mentioned, by W. O. Wright and T. Ormsby, composing the firm of Wright & Co. The paper was a quarto, containing forty columns, printed in brevier, and presenting an appearance typographically beyond criticism. Its selections were of the choicest literary qualities, and its contributions were made from the more accomplished and scholarly writers and essayists who flourished during that period.
The administration of Wright & Co. ceased, however, after six months, and Messrs. Atkins & McCall took their position on the editorial tripod. Other affairs requiring the personal supervision of W. & Co., compelled them to abdicate in favor of A. & McC, who, upon taking charge, made their personal bows, accompanied by assurances, particularly to the ladies, to make the paper all that its most exacting patrons could desire. The office and job rooms of the undertaking were established at 104, 106 and 108 Stephenson street, where the business was conducted by Atkins & McCall, solus, until April 5, 1866, when M. B. Mills was associated with the firm, and made the responsible head of the jobbing and news departments.
This arrangement lasted somewhat longer than one month, when the printing and job office of the North-West was consolidated with the Journal, and the business of both offices was conducted from that of the latter, under the firm name of McCall, Bailey & Mdls. The former paper was somewhat changed in appearance, and issued as A Weekly Journal of Western Literature, the first issue being number forty of volume one. This volume was closed on August 16, 1866, with bright promises of success for the ensuing years. It had become a permanent institution, occupying a proud position among the literary periodicals of the day, and possessing a firm hold upon the affections and sympathies of the literary men and women of the West. The second age of the paper was begun amid the most favorable auspices, containing many improvements on the one just closed and recommended to favor by features of excellence theretofore unknown to the vicinity. The issue of August 23 was materially enlarged, the title page handsomely decorated, and the character of its contents improved, if anything, with its renewed hold on life and popularity.
On December 13, it was treated to a new dress throughout, and in January, 1867, began a serial story, descriptive of soldier life during the war. But this was its last active sigh, as it were. The effort to procure support for a weekly of an exclusively literary character, began to fail from this date, and finally made its quietus during the year. Notwithstanding the merit of the undertaking, the superior quality of the publications and the character of those who contributed, among whom were John Esten Cooke, Wirt Sykes, Mrs. Rayne, Olive Logan and others of literary reputation, the scheme was not encouraged, and, as stated, retired from the field, after an apprenticeship of scarcely two years. The job office was combined with the job department of the Journal office, and naught but an incomplete set of imperfect files remain to tell the story, not only of what the North-West was, but what it might have become, had the lines of its life been cast in pleasanter places.
The Monitor. A weekly record of current events, local, State and national, was established about January, 1874, by W. T. Giles, one of the oldest editors and publishers in the Northwest. It was a quarto, sparkling with bright ideas and pungent paragraphs, and, though independent, with Democratic tendencies, was never neutral upon subjects demanding decisive action. It weekly blossomed forth from its official cradle,' first rocked in the Hettinger Block, on Stephenson street, and finally in the Grange building, at the corner of Adams and Stephenson streets, and was received by a community which appreciated true reform, integrity in the performance of duties, and the fearless advocacy of the rights of the people against the oppressions of wealthy monopolies.
Along in 1878, the Monitor was purchased by the Stabeck brothers, editors of the Freeport and Davis Budget, for $1,000, was consolidated with that organ, and is today known among the enterprises which appeared on the newspaper horizon of Freeport, and after a season of brilliant scintillatings dissolved from view.
The Deutscher Anzeiger, a German quarto of pronounced Democratic sentiments, first appeared during 1853, under the management of William Wagner, Sr. Its earlier publications were folios, with five columns to the page, the editorial, local and scissors departments being conducted solely by Mr. Wagner. Its existence was continued in spite of the obstacles which invariably present themselves to enterprise, but are overcome by industry and the happy faculty possessed by the originator of adapting himself to the situation. Its subscription list was limited, and the patronage measured. But able management has conquered success, and the sheet, which at first was weak, has continually grown in favor among the German population of Stephenson and adjoining counties, until it has become the leading German paper in the northwestern portion of Illinois, having a circulation of 1,300 copies, to which additions are made weekly. Mr. Wagner continued in charge for a period of ten years. In 1863, the son of Mr. Wagner became a partner in the enterprise, and has since aided materially in accomplishing the substantial results achieved.
In January, 1868, the paper was changed to a quarto, and, in January, 1876, an additional column was added to each page. Varying fortunes attended the undertaking, yet, at the close of each succeeding year, renewed encouragement was afforded the proprietors. In December, 1877, Mr. Wagner, Sr., deceased, but the firm name under which it was known to the readers, W. Wagner & Co., remained unchanged, although the several duties of the profession were discharged by the surviving partner, who assumed public control in 1879, and still remains in charge.
In 1874, a handsome and spacious building was erected by the publishers on Chicago, between Stephenson and Galena streets, at a cost of $3,000, and equipped with all the paraphernalia peculiar to the craft, a job department added, and the machinery, presses, etc., worked by steam since early in 1879.
The Anzeiger is now published as a six-column quarto, furnishing its readers on an average thirty columns of well-selected reading matter weekly, and offering to advertisers a desirable medium of communication with the public. Another item worthy of mention is the fact that the . Anzeiger is the only weekly in Stephenson County edited, set up and printed entirely at home, the other weeklies including in their make-up either what is known to the business as patent insides, or stereotyped matter.
Politically, as already stated, the paper is Democratic, locally a valuable source of domestic intelligence, and, in other respects, an enterprise deserving of the liberal support extended.
The value of the property is stated at $5,000.
The Freeport Banner, the latest acquisition to the fold of German weeklies in Freeport, made its first appearance in July, 1879, chaperoned by H. W. Frick, an enterprising Teuton, who appreciates the value of independence in conducting a paper. The Banner assumes to represent the rights and interests of the people in the contest between labor and capital, and holds itself out as an organ for the Germans of Stephenson County to publicly define their several positions with reference to matters which interest them individually, nationally, or in relation to affairs of state. It is a seven-column folio, printed in clear type, and rapidly gaining a circulation extending all over the county. Its office is at the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, over the Stephenson County Bank, supplied with a job department, wherein printing in German and English can be contracted for, and has a circulation of 500 copies. The establishment is valued at $1,000, and the paper is edited by its owner, Mr. Frick.
Nord Westliche Post. The seemingly apparent need of a German organ of independent proclivities, influenced F. Krumme to venture a trial of the experiment in 1875. A brief experience, however, convinced him of the fact that but little support could be obtained in Freeport, whence he removed to Lake City, and finally to La Crosse, where he was greeted with encouragement equally as cheerful as that which had attended his efforts in Illinois, and abandoned the undertaking finally at the latter city.
The Freie Presse was established some time in the year 1868, by leading representatives of the Republican party, for the purpose of educating the Germans into a complete understanding of the facts and figures of the then existing situation. The facile pen was wielded by Christian Mueller and William Casper Schultz for nearly a year, when the enterprise was abandoned and the pursuit of converts concluded.
Freeport Tribun. In the middle of March, 1859, William Massenberg began the publication of a German weekly called the Tribun, which sought to obtain a share of Republican patronage in Stephenson County. But, failing after a year's trial to command his expectations in that connection, the Tribun editor retired from the field of journalism.
In addition to the above, there was a number of miscellaneous papers which long since went out in failure, leaving no record of their contents or causes of demise.
One the most valuable and inexhaustible adjuncts to the development of wealth in the city and county, and an auxiliary which, though not fully utilized, has become valuable as a source of revenue, not only to the owners of the riparian rights, but to those leasing the privilege, is the water-power. The early settlers about Pecatonica River appreciated the value of the power that could be diverted therefrom more sensibly than those who came at a later day, when steam had been applied to move the vast amounts of machinery, which in pioneer times, though limited, were dependent upon the turbine, or over shot wheel to propel them, than a succeeding generation, and adapted the same to their uses almost before the prairie soil was broken.
Late in 1845, or early in 1846, O. H. Wright and E. S. Hanchett applied to the Legislature for an act of incorporation, chartering the Hydraulic and Manufacturing Company of Stephenson County. The capital stock was to consist of 200 shares, equally divided between Wright and Hanchett, and the prayer of petitioners to organize also sought legal authority to erect a dam on Pecatonica River at such point in Stephenson County as might, by petitioners, be thereafter selected.
Petitioners' prayers were granted, and, after some delay, the race was begun in 1847, under the supervision of John Lerch, a man named Jacob Zimmerman doing the work, however, and completing his job during the same year. The race then, as today, commenced at a point opposite the foot of Adams street, and runs eastwardly a distance of 900 feet, where the waters re-enter the river. The race is thus 900 feet long, about fifty feet wide and six feet deep, furnishing an inexhaustible supply of power, though at present being appropriated by but four patrons.
In 1848, Hanchett transferred one-fourth his interest in the venture to John Lerch, reserving 500 cubic inches of water for his own use, and one-quarter remaining to Charles Powell.
Prior to the completion of the race, Hanchett had erected a saw-mill on the present site of the Goddard flour mills. This was used as soon as water-power could be availed of to saw lumber for local use and transportation into adjoining counties, and so continued until the flour-mills were substituted in its stead, Mr. Hanchett being the operator until 1848, when he assigned the mill property, with his reserved title in the water-power, to D. A. Knowlton, who in turn sold the property thus acquired to Benjamin Goddard. In 1851, Mr. Goddard purchased the interest of Charles Powell, and now owns the franchise in conjunction with Webster & Rhodes in the proportion of five-eighths to three-eighths held by the latter.
The power is at present applied to the operating of Goddard's mill, Webster & Rhodes' mill, Emmert's manufactory and Stiles & Ca.'s machine shop, and is valued at $50,000.
Previous to 1855, the city was without gas facilities, and their absence, it is said, provoked no inconsiderable amount of complaint, which, to express it mildly, was emphatic, if not tinctured with a profane vernacular peculiar to disappointments and inconveniences. Freeport had, at that date, enjoyed municipal dignities for a period of five years, and the fact that the city was still dependent upon the primitive means of illumination employed when it was a village was the subject of critical comment.
During the latter part of 1854, the feasibility of establishing gas works in the city was generally discussed, and almost with the dawn of the new year these discussions took shape, culminating in obtaining a charter from the Legislature for the incorporation of a company, bearing date February 15, 1855. Further steps were taken in the premises, and on October 16 of the same year the organization was perfected by the election of T. J. Turner, President, E. H. Hyde, Treasurer, and Homer N. Hibbard, Secretary, with a capital stock of about $50,000.
During the same year, grounds for the buildings and other appurtenances were procured at the corner of Jackson and Liberty streets, and contracts for their erection concluded. These were completed early in 1856, and still stand on the very spot of their origin. The premises are 120 feet square, and contain the gasometer, forty feet in diameter, also the furnace house, supplied with nine retorts with a total capacity of 35,000 feet per diem, and cost, when delivered to the incorporators, an aggregate of $56,000.
The expenses incident to building were in part liquidated by the issue of bonds, to the amount of $20,000, on the 5th of February, 1856, maturing on January 1, 1861. Failure to pay the same at the date of maturity involved the corporation in litigation, which was concluded by the sale of the works, the bond-holders becoming the purchasers for a consideration of $13,000. After operating them for some years, the vendees finally disposed of their several interests in the venture to Thompson Dean, a capitalist of Cincinnati, who, in turn, sold to S. S. Ashcraft and Thomas Butterworth, about September 1, 1863. These gentlemen continued in charge until May 14, 1867, when the works were purchased by L. K. Scofield and C. S. Hill, of Freeport, paying therefor $23,626. On the 26th of July, 1871, Mr. Hill sold his interest to L. L. Munn, who operated the works, in conjunction with Mr. Scofield, until February 26, 1879. At that date, the latter gentleman transferred his title to L. Z. Farwell, who today owns the enterprise jointly with Mr. Munn.
The works are in constant operation, requiring the services of four hands, consuming 500 tons of coal annually, and are valued at $50,000. The manufacturers own six miles of mains, laid through the principal streets, can light forty street lamps, which are all as yet located, supply about 300 consumers, and charge from $3 to $3.50 per thousand feet.
The works are complete in all details, and are represented as a profitable investment.
All sales go to help support this website.
Stories, Volume 1
MEN'S LIBRARY ASSOCIATION.
The origin of this association is said to be due to a religious revival held in the city of Freeport during the winter of 1874-75. At one of the revival meetings, complaint was made that there was no place in town open to young men in the evenings, and a discussion resulted as to the means that would enable its absence to be supplied. After some preliminary canvass of the subject, it was decided to establish a library. A number of young men combined for that purpose, subscribed $10 each and rented and furnished a room for the purpose. When the scheme had gotten well under way, the Rev. Robert Collyer delivered his lecture on Clear Grit to further the undertaking. With the proceeds of Mr. C.'s contribution and $75 subscribed by citizens of Freeport, books were purchased, a room fitted up for their reception and the library formally opened on New Year's Day, 1875. During that year, the Hon. W. B. Fairfield (since deceased) and the Rev. E. E. Hall gave readings for the benefit of the venture, upon which $40 were realized, and Mr. Pells Manny donated $500. These sums are to day represented by the substantially bound copies of standard works, including Irving, Hawthorne, Thackeray, Scott, Dickens, George Eliot, DeQuincey, Goethe, Schiller and others, forming a library unto themselves.
The first year's experience was not so filled with encouragement as to cause the management to clap its individual hands with joy. It was not as generously patronized as its merits deserved; many of the young men who had given their efforts to the support of the enterprise removed from Freeport; the current expenses were in excess of the income; subscriptions were falling off, and a variety of causes combined against the library with such effect as to nearly accomplish its permanent retirement from active service. At this juncture, a number of gentlemen came to the relief of the managers, and, increasing the associate membership, postponed its demise, and, by their continued efforts in that behalf, prevented the occurrence of this calamity in the future.
During 1879, the library was permitted a local habitation in the office of Oscar Taylor, rent free, and a high degree of success attended the efforts made to secure subscribers. In 1880, a move was made to the third floor of McNamara's building, on Stephenson street, adjoining the opera house, where apartments were furnished particularly adapted to a library and reading room. The occupation of these premises is still maintained, and the Freeport Library, which began in the most limited and unpretentious manner possible to be imagined, has grown in prominence, resources and influence.
The present officers, are: S. D. Atkins, President; J. B. Taylor, Treasurer; Charles D. Knowlton, Secretary, and W. L. Taylor, Librarian.
The catalogue contains a total of 850 volumes, exclusive of the magazines, exchanges and periodicals, to which access can be obtained for a nominal consideration, and the value of the property held by the association cannot be far from $2,000.
The First National Bank Was duly organized February 24, 1864, with a capital stock of,$50,000, and the following officers: George F. De Forest, President, and E. Mayer, Cashier; W. P. Malburn, L. L. Munn, O. B. Bidwell, C. J. Fry, E. Mayer, George F. De Forest and L. F. Burrell, Board of Directors. On the 10th of March, 1865, the capital was increased to $100,000, which it is today, with a surplus of $25,000.
The bank is located in Munn's building, where it is engaged in the disposition of a large business, annually, with the following officers: O. B. Bidwell, President, and George F. De Forest, Cashier; O. B. Bidwell, W. O. Wright, G. F. De Forest, John Burrell, O. B. Sanford, H. D. Cook and L. Z. Farwell, Board of Directors.
Second National Bank Was organized in May, 1864, under the National Banking Laws, with a paid-up capital of $50,000, which was increased to $100,000 on January 1, 1866, and has today a capital and surplus of $155,000. The charter officers were: John H. Addams, President; A. H. Stone, Cashier; H. C. Burchard, J. Clingman, R. H. Getteray, J. W. Shaffer, A. H. Stone, W. P. Naramore, John H. Addams, W. P. Hunt and T. Wilcoxon, Board of Directors.
Under these favorable auspices the bank opened for business immediately upon its organization, in the Plymouth Block, corner of Stephenson and Van Buren streets, where it remained until the block was razed to give place to the opera house building, into which it was returned with the completion of that edifice, where it has since remained, in* the enjoyment of a constantly increasing business, and generous confidence, illustrated by the fact, that the deposits, which at first were but slightly in excess of $100,000, have since increased to $250,000. The present officers are: John H. Addams, President; Jacob Krohn, Acting Cashier; A. H. Wise, Jacob Krohn, M. Lawver, John Kenegy, A. Reifsnider, D. Neidigh and Thompson Wilcoxon, Directors.
Stephenson County Bank A private corporation, upward of a quarter of a century old, located at the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, was established by James Mitchell in 1852, who, in conjunction with Holden Putnam, R. Richardson, of Boston, and A. Page, of Rutland, Vt., and conducted a prosperous business for many years, under the firm name of James Mitchell & Co. When the call for volunteers was published, Holden Putnam entered the service, and was killed at the battle of Lookout Mountain. This event caused a dissolution of the firm, Mr. Mitchell remaining sole owner until January 1, 1874, when J. W. Neff became a partner, and still remains in that capacity. Mr. Mitchell died in August, 1874, and the business was carried on by his heirs until September, 1876, at which date W. H. Mitchell, son of the deceased, took charge of the family interest in the bank and became a partner with Mr. Neff, which co-partnership still remains in existence, though business is done under the firm name of James Mitchell & Co.
Hettinger. Collmann Brothers £ Co. Private bankers, located on Chicago, between Stephenson and Galena streets, is one of the most substantial building establishments in the State, Messrs. M. Hettinger, C. D. Collmann, A. Collmann, D. B. Schulte and F. Gund composing the firm, being men of responsibility and wealth.
The bank was organized May 20, 1876, with a nominal capital of $20,000, same to be increased as business required. During the years in which the institution has been operated, a very pronounced success has attended the labors of the firm, and the surplus profits have been added to the capital, which is now largely in excess of that originally invested.
The annual deposits are stated at $150,000, and the business, which is largely done with farmers and shippers, is equally as extensive.
Knowlton Brothers. Also private bankers, located at the corner of Exchange and Stephenson streets, was established in the fall of 1869, by the late D. A. Knowlton, one of the early settlers and wealthy men of Stephenson County, who associated his sons, D. A. Knowlton, Jr., and C. D. Knowlton, with him, and conducted the business successfully to the day of his death, in the month of March, 1876. Thereafter, and up to the present time, decedent's sons and heirs have been carrying on the enterprise, under the firm name of Knowlton Brothers, employing a large capital and doing a correspondingly large business.
At a day in the history of Freeport, at present within the memory of those not included among the names of the proverbial oldest inhabitants, the city was known as the Hartford of the West, from the presence of insurance companies born in the immediate vicinity, and apparently leading a prosperous existence. They were thick as lice in Egypt, to express it graphically, but many have met the fate allotted that pestiferous insect, which in ancient times infested men and beasts, when Pharaoh's heart was hardened. They have run the race set before them, and their corporate life has long since been rolled up like a scroll. This was due in some instances to bad management, in some instances to the preponderance in amount of liabilities over assets, in some instances also to the adoption by the Legislature of what is known as the law of 1869, the exacting provisions of which had a tendency to eliminate unsubstantial corporations, from among those rated as solvent, and to confine the business to a class of operators whose means were available at all times, and liable for the corporate obligation accepted in consideration of premiums paid for the benefit of the assured.
These companies began to be chartered as early as 1853, when the Stephenson County corporation was chartered. In 1857, the Farraers' was incorporated, with D. H. Sunderland, A. P. Long, John Burrell and J. S. Emmert at its head. This company is still in existence, but quiescent, as it were. The Putnam County Mutual, subsequently American, was removed to Chicago, in 1869, where it still lives. The Columbia, of Freeport, chartered February 20, 1861, survived its birth two years, and then departed from the scenes of active life. The Fire and Tornado, changed to the Continental, re-insured its risks in Chicago, and closed up. The State, chartered June 10, 1863; Citizens' Life, Citizens' Health, National, Relief, and Western World were all chartered in February, 1865, but declined business. The United States, chartered at the same time, succumbed, when the law of 1869 went into force; the Union two years previously, and the Mokena declined the privileges accorded it by the terms of its charter.
Probably the most celebrated among these were the Winnesheik and the Protection Life. The former was chartered February 18, 1861, and included among its stockholders B. F. Butler, Simon Cameron, J. Russell Jones, Perkins Bass, U. S. Grant, W. H. Bradley, N. Corwith, J. B. Brush and John A. Logan. From the date of its incorporation, it made rapid progress, and during its existence issued not less than 50,000 policies. At first, its business was mainly transacted on what is known as the mutual plan; this lasted until January 1, 1867, when it was changed to the stock plan, and so continued until the law of 1869 stepped in and claimed the company as its own, which claim was conceded without resistance or demurrer.
The Protection Life operated in Freeport until March 7, 1867, when its base of supplies and distribution was removed to Chicago. After two years of apparently fruitful labors, the Protection Life, as will be remembered by most every resident of Stephenson County, was described as hanging upon the verge of ruin. This cheerful picture was at first disputed by friends of the corporation, but claimants insisted such was the case, and clamorously demanded an investigation. These demands were finally ordered, and the examination made resulted in the discovery of facts which were not thought to have existed before. The institution was reported as not only on the verge of ruin, but so hopelessly in that condition as that its recovery was a question of chance rather than possibility. The law was appealed to to unravel the skein of circumstances, and ascertain what had become of the premiums presumably to the credit of the assured, but thus far without results. A Receiver was appointed, and other things done that seemed proper and right, but thus far nothing has been born of the proceedings but trials, troubles and vexations of spirit.
The German was incorporated February 16, 1865, under the name and title of the Freeport Insurance Company, by A. H. Stone, E. W. Coleman, W. J. McKim, A. M. Lawver and George P. Kingsley. On June 23, 1866, Louis Ahsendorff, Richard Meyer, William Massenberg and D. Keuhner purchased the charter and franchise of the Freeport company from A. P. Long, and the following board of officers was elected: L. Ahsendorff, President; William Massenberg, Vice President; R. Meyer, Secretary, and D. Keuhner, Treasurer.
On the 13th of July of the same year, Mathias Hettinger was elected President in place of Mr. Ahsendorff, who resigned, and in the month of October following the first policy of insurance was issued. During the year ending October 31, 1867, 411 policies were issued. In the month of December of that year, Richard Meyer resigned the secretaryship, and F. Gund was elected in his stead, since when he has served continuously in that capacity.
The company does business in the following States: Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Dakota Territory, has over six hundred agencies, and its premium receipts at present run over $1,000 per day. During the twelve years of its existence the company has issued 94,309 policies, upon which premiums aggregating $1,332,521.63 have been received; and paid losses amounting to $429,975.31. The capital stock is $200,000, divided into shares of $100 each, and, with a continuance of its present success, it will not be long before it will take rank among the wealthiest corporations in the country. today the interest receipts alone suffice to pay the regular annual dividends in addition to a large proportion of the expense incurred in its management.
The success of the company is due to the prudent and conservative manner in which the business has been conducted. The interests of the policyholder have been carefully guarded, and, in addition to being the heaviest taxpayer in Stephenson County, the German has contributed largely to the prosperity of Freeport.
The assets of the company exceed $600,000, and the present officers are: M. Hettinger, President; J. Hoebel, Vice President; C. O. Collmann, Treasurer, and F. Gund, Secretary. ET. JBaier, C. Baumgarten, M. Bangasser, C. O. Collmann, A. Collmann, J. Erfert. J. Forcha, D. Franz, M. Hettinger, E. Heller, J. Hoebel, B. Huenkmeyer, D. Kunz, D. B. Schulte and A. Voelkers, Board of Directors. The company's office is at the corner of Exchange and Bridge streets.
FREEPORT TELEPHONE EXCHANGE was organized on the 1st day of April, 1880, by E. T. Keim, of Dubuque, acting on behalf of the National Telephone Company, with a capital of $10,000, and the following officers: L. Z. Farwell, President; W. G. Barnes, Vice President; F. Gund, Treasurer; C. H. Little, Secretary. O. B. Sanford, J. I. Neff, L. Z. Farwell, E. B. Winger, F. Gund and C. H. Little, Board of Directors.
On the 10th of June following, work was commenced, poles erected, lines placed, etc., which were completed and ready for operation about the 1st of July. The instruments used are of the Bell pattern with the Blake transmitter, and with the magnets, bells and material, was furnished by the Electrical Manufacturing Company of Chicago.
The company began operations with about twenty-five miles of lines, and fifty subscribers, and the promise of an increased list when the undertaking is finally established. The instruments are placed in stores, manufactories, etc., and kept in order for $4 per month, and in private residences for a less sum, say $36 per annum. The main office is at No. 107 Stephenson street, where an operator, line-man and a force necessary to conduct the business is employed.
The early settlers of Stephenson County were denied the privileges and mail facilities to which their descendants are accustomed, and which are now regard as indispensable to their happiness.
The first mail delivered in the county was during the spring of 1836, when Thomas Craine was made the recipient of letters and papers addressed to those residing in Freeport and vicinity, from the Frink stages, which he carried to the addressed, making his way on foot, and collecting the tariff for services thus rendered. This was continued until a post office was established in Freeport, and an official appointed to discharge the duties incident thereto.
Along in 1837, the demand for increased postal conveniences, induced the Department to rent a small room on Galena street to supply this want, and B. R. Wilmot was appointed to take charge. His duties were far from exacting or onerous, as may be imagined, but the location of the premises afforded a "central point for the inhabitants to congregate at, and to promulgate such news as was then available for distribution. Mr. Wilmot was maintained in his position until about 1842, when L. W. Guiteau became the object of executive confidence, and removed the office to the corner of Galena and Exchange (now Galena avenue) streets, where the mail was daily received.
He was followed by the Hon. Thomas J. Turner, who established the post office in his private residence, on Galena, between Van Buren and Chicago streets, where he attended to his charge until December, 1843, when John Tyler appointed A. T. Green to succeed Mr. Turner. His base of operations was first at the corner of Van Buren and Galena streets, whence he removed to the corner of Chicago and Stephenson streets, remaining in charge until 1849.
During the month of May of that year. President Fillmore nominated George Reitzell to succeed Mr. Green. The latter transferred the office immediately upon the confirmation of his successor, and retired to the lines of unofficial life. The office was again removed, this time to the corner of Van Buren and Stephenson streets, where it was retained during the incumbency of Mr. Reitzell.
In 1853, F. W. S. Brawley was made Postmaster by Franklin Pierce, and established the headquarters of the office at the corner of Exchange (now Galena avenue) and Bridge streets. Charles S. Bagg succeeded Mr. Brawley in 1858, and remained in office until 1861, when he was relieved by the appointment of C. K. Judson. During Mr. Bagg's term of office the postal department was located at the corner of Bridge and Chicago streets. Under the administration of Mr. Judson, as also a portion of that of Gen. S. D. Atkins, who was appointed in 1865, the office was located on Chicago, between Stephenson and Galena streets, where it remained until its removal to the present site, corner of Van Buren and Bridge streets.
This last removal was accomplished after a contest by the owners of rival locations, who submitted proposals to the Department for its occupation by the offer of premises owned by themselves. Capt. J. E. Stuart, Superintendent of Mails at Chicago, was sent here to decide upon a location, and examined the inducements offered by Mrs. Helena Beck, who proposed to lease premises at the corner of Chicago and Galena streets for $600 per annum; by Horace Tarbox, for a lease of a portion of the Tarbox building, for $800; and those offered by Thompson Wilcoxon, for rooms back of the opera house, at an annual rental of $1,200; but, being unable to decide in the premises, the matter was referred to the Postmaster General, who, after some negotiation, decided to accept a subsequent offer made by Thompson Wilcoxon. That gentleman thereupon proceeded to erect the brick building at the corner of Galena and Bridge streets, which was completed in 1879, and taken possession of by the office in which it is now maintained and will remain during the continuance of the lease, which was made for a period of four years from the date of possession, without consideration.
During 1879, from a partial statement made in that connection, the business of the Freeport office was as follows: Received for stamps, envelopes, postal cards, etc., $11,388.93; Received for box rent 1,510.30; Registered letters sent $ 839.00; Registered letters delivered 2,878.00; Domestic orders (money) issued $3,559 00 Foreign orders (money) issued 83 00 Amount paid for domestic orders $77,950 64 Amount paid for German orders 402 80 Amount paid for British orders 63 20 Amount paid for Canadian orders 160 07 Total $78,576 71 The expenses of the office are quoted at $1,400 per annum.
The present officers are: Smith D. Atkins, Postmaster; T. S. Gemmill, Assistant; A. S. Wurts, Money Order Clerk; O. P. McCool, Mail Clerk, and Otto L. Schulte, Delivery Clerk.
To the west of Freeport and yet upon its confines, at the further end of Lincoln avenue, lies the city cemetery. The drive to its location is through pleasant shaded avenues, and the cemetery itself, with its improvements and ornaments, touches the landscape, presenting an appearance of beauty and symmetry exquisite beyond comparison.
The first cemetery established was that located along in 1838-39, at the foot of what subsequently was laid out as Summit street, between the foot of Adams street and the Cedarville bridge. This remained as a resting-place for the dead until the fall of 1852, when, the two acres comprehended in the territory allotted to burial purposes becoming too small in consequence of the unprecedented mortality caused by the cholera that year, another location was determined upon. The selection then made embraced a piece of 10 acres, purchased of Temperance Foley, for $700, still used, and fronting on Lincoln avenue. After a time, this, too, required enlargement, and on April 13, 1878, fifteen additional acres were purchased in the same plat of land for a consideration of $2,250, which has since been surveyed and laid out into eighty blocks of fourteen lots each, which command ready sale at from $10 to $25 apiece.
The grounds are gently rolling, constituting a fine natural site, without inequalities of surface, the lawns planted with forest and ornamental trees, flowers, etc., calculated to gratify the eye, kindle the imagination and fill the heart of all with pleasant thoughts.
The grounds are in the care of a sexton, who is employed by the City Council, which administers the trust, makes title to lots conveyed, and is responsible for keeping the grounds in order and repair.
The city contains two parks of measured dimensions and limited attractions. One is located on Williams street, fronting 200 feet on that thoroughfare, extending thence 300 feet to Mary street. This property was donated by O. H. Wright and Judge Prurinton, but beyond fencing the same, erecting a music stand and the distribution of benches, the city has done little to establish its title. The other park consists of about one acre of ground on Locust, between Pleasant and Broadway streets, donated by D. A. Knowlton. Both parks might be made delightful resorts, and, no doubt, will in time be measurably improved by the city authorities.
When Plymouth Block, at the corner of Van Buren and Stephenson streets, was first erected, early in the fifties, the citizens of Freeport felicitated themselves and their city on the possession of this at that time remarkable result of the architects' and mechanics' combinations. Plymouth Block served the purposes for which it was erected, having in the mean time come into the possession of Thompson Wilcoxon, until the winter of 1868, when it was torn down, its site yielding place to the handsome edifice known today as the Wilcoxon Opera House. In the spring of 1869, the foundations were laid and the building completed entire during the following fall. The premises are built of brick and stone, having a frontage of sixty-six feet on Stephenson street by seventy-seven feet on Van Buren street, and are in all respects complete and desirable.
were built from plans furnished by Kinney & Adler, architects of
Chicago, and nothing was left undone that would contribute either to
the elegance or substantiality of the work. The basement is occupied
as the composing and editorial rooms of the Herald, the first floor
by the First National Bank and commodious stores, the second floor by
offices, while the third and fourth stories are devoted to the occupation
of the Opera House auditorium. This is 60x50, supplied with a stage,
furnished with appropriate machinery, equipments, etc., and is the base
of operations for the musical and dramatic artists visiting Freeport.
The interior of the auditorium is handsomely frescoed and otherwise
adorned, and, with the gallery, will comfortably seat an audience of
800. In appearance, the building is one of the most attractive on the
main street, occupying an elevated site and attracting many expressions
of admiration from citizens and strangers. The property is valued at
Munn's Building. One of the prominent and handsomely finished buildings of Freeport stands at the corner of Stephenson and Van Buren streets, on the site of the old Pennsylvania House, a hotel identified with the earlier history of the city, now located two squares west on Stephenson street. Munn's building was commenced in 1862, and completed during the fall of that year, after plans furnished by the same architect who designed the Opera House and First Presbyterian Church. It is built of brick, with a marble front on Stephenson street, three stories high, 417x90, and was finished ready for use at an outlay of $25,000. The first floor is rented by the First National Bank, the second story being devoted to offices, and the third floor entire is occupied by the Odd Fellows.
While the building was in progress of construction, the Masonic Order, which at that time occupied inconvenient quarters elsewhere, secured a lease of the third floor for society purposes, and the same was completed by Mr. Munn for their special accommodation. The Masons accordingly took possession, which they held for a term of ten years, but, when the order of the Scottish Rite was instituted, the hall was found to be too contracted, and removed to Fry's Opera House, where it has since remained. Mr. Munn's building and lot are worth a total of $30,000.
Fry's building. One of the most prominent and imposing improvements in the city is located at the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, where it was erected, in 1865, by C. J. Fry, at a cost of $44,000.
During the spring of 1864, Mr. Fry determined, to erect the building, for which ground was broken on the 5th of July of that year, and the foundations laid during that month. When these were completed, the superstructure went up, the same being built according to plans furnished by O. B. Wheelock, a Chicago architect, and the entire fall occupied in its erection. It was under roof by winter, and opened to public uses in January, 1865. The main building is 631x90, three stories high, with an addition two stories in height, 30x40, both constructed of brick, and a decided ornament to the city. The first floor is used for stores, the second for offices, and the third story is appropriated to Masonic occupation.
Originally, the upper story was devoted to hall purposes, and was one of the finest in this portion of the State. But, in January, 1871, the Masons secured a lease of the premises, and where once audiences were edified with Shakespearean revivals, the festive goat and attendant concomitants of Masonic mystery are maintained.
This hotel, located on the corner of Stephenson and Mechanic streets, was erected in the years 1856-57. The enterprise was first decided upon in March of the former year, during which the foundations were laid and the undertaking practically commenced by J. K. Brewster, an old resident of Stephenson County. On the 4th of December following, the building was inclosed, and when completed, was rented for a term of years to Sinclair & Baker. On Tuesday, August 27, the hotel was formally opened, and twenty-nine names entered upon the register of arrivals. The opening festival occurred on September 2, when the house was crowded with guests; the Great Western Band furnished the music; the Hon. M. P. Sweet, the Rev. Dr. Sunderland and others, delivered addresses, and a general rejoicing was indulged.
In time, Mr. Lyon succeeded to Mr. Sinclair's interest, and the firm changed to Lyon & Baker, so continuing one year, when Clark & Ferris took possession and remained in charge two years. In 1861, J. W. Humphrey took charge, and was followed by Corbin Brothers in 1864, and then S. Speer in 1865. In less than a year the latter disposed of his interest, and the house remained vacant until the spring of 1866. At that date a Mr. Howard, from Portland, Me., assumed the management, changed the name to the Howard House, and remained for several years. J. F. Belcher acted in the capacity of Boniface until about 1870, when the house was closed for one year. At the expiration of that period, J. S. Gates and C. C. Burton assumed charge, their partnership continuing a year, when J. S. Gates became sole owner, and still continues.
The building is four stories high, sixty feet front on Stephenson by 155 on Mechanic street, constructed of brick with iron window-caps and sills, and balcony in front. The main entrance is on Stephenson street, opening into the office. On the second floor is located the parlors, dining-room and sample-rooms, while the third and fourth floors are devoted to the accommodation of guests, 250 of whom can be comfortably disposed of.
The original cost of the building was $75,000, but since its completion the edifice has been altered and improved at a large expense and, while it is today in perfect order, the investment is quoted at about $40,000.
TAYLOR'S DRIVING PARK, comprehending an area of eighty acres to the east of the city, and is owned by John B. Taylor. Along in 1873, Mr. Taylor, appreciating the needs of horsemen in the vicinity, and the valuable adjunct it would prove to Freeport, purchased the land, since occupied as a driving park, for that purpose. He at once began to improve the track, and expended large sums for that purpose, annually, from 1873 to 1877. These include fencings, accommodations for stock, clubhouses, stands, etc., and what is pronounced, by those competent to judge, the fastest and most elastic track in the country. It was surveyed, constructed and laid out under the direction of L. Stanton, is 100 feet wide, and 5,280 feet to an inch, or a full mile in length, supplied with every convenience and security for fast time, and has, until recently, been patronized by the most prominent trackmen in America.
The track proper, with stables for stock, was completed in 1874, and during that year a season of races was given under the auspices of the Freeport Driving Park Association, with premiums to be contested for aggregating $10,000. The occasion attracted an immense field of horses, including such famous racers as Bodine, Pilot Temple, Amy B., Young Wilkes, Observer, Whalebone, Wolford Z., etc., as also a large attendance who witnessed the winner in free-for-all cross the score in 2: 24 at that time remarkable speed.
The success of the meeting was so gratifying that a series was decided upon for the following year, which were held in June, August and October, at which premiums amounting to $15,000 were distributed. The success of these were not so liberal as that of 1874, yet the association ventured one more series, the same taking place in May and August, 1876. The meeting held in August is known as the Centennial meeting, and was attended with circumstances so remarkable, that they are frequently quoted by horsemen today. At that gathering there were 147 horses entered, the largest number entered for races in the annals of the turf. On the second day of the meeting, in the race for horses with no record below 2: 33, there were twenty-two entries, of which twelve started, and eight horses made a record. It required ten heats to decide the contest, which was finally awarded to Monarch Rule, with Sophie Temple second, Billy O'Neil third, and Ed Wilder fourth. The time made was 2:31, 2: 29, 2:32, 2:29, 2:36, 2:34, 2:38 and 2:33, with one dead heat.
In 1877-78, the State Fair was held on these grounds, and in 1878 the last race meeting was held, the patronage not being sufficiently generous, it is claimed, to justify the expense incurred at the meetings. The property is valued at $75,000, and owned solely by Mr. Taylor.
The First Presbyterian Church of Freeport is claimed as not only the first church fully organized and officered for labor in the city, but also in Stephenson County. The Methodist brethren, it was admitted, had formed a class, but nothing like a distinct church was established until 1842, when the First Presbyterian was formed and started out on its mission of love. A meeting was held on the 24th of November of that year, at which the Rev. Calvin Waterbury presided as Moderator, Samuel Spencer officiating as Clerk, and a resolution adopted setting forth the confession of faith in the form and government of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of those present, which included Philip Reitzell, Mrs. Mary Reitzell, Orestes H. Wright, Mrs. Emmaretta Henderson, Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Lucas, Mrs. Elizabeth Lucas, Mrs. Sarah Young, Ashael W. Rice, Mrs. Nancy Rice, Orrin B. Munn, Mrs. Jane L. Wright, Samuel Spencer and Mrs. Elizabeth Spencer.
The Rev. Calvin Waterbury was installed as minister, at an annual salary of $400, and with a congregation of fourteen members, rich in faith and confessions. During his ministry, worship was held in the court house, but the growing wants of the church demanded a regular place of meeting, and two lots were secured at the southeast corner of Walnut and Stephenson streets one donated by Kirkpatrick & Baker, and the other purchased for $40. A subscription for a church edifice of brick and stone, 40x65, to cost $460, was undertaken and secured.
The stone for the foundation and basement was quarried across the river and drawn to the spot by an ox team driven by L. L. Munn, the wood timbers were procured in the neighborhood, and work commenced; but, notwithstanding the labor and self-denial exercised, work was suspended long before the edifice was completed, leaving a debt of $200 unprovided for. The minister resigned, and fifteen members of the congregation retired. This was the darkest hour of the church's history, which, however, survived the impending calamities, and grew strong amid the adversities with which it seemed to be surrounded. The Rev. J. C. Downer was called to take charge, the church was completed during the year 1851, and accessions were annually made to the number of members.
The old church was thereafter occupied continuously, and a gratifying success attended the labors of the congregation. In 1866, it was decided to erect a new church on the opposite corner of Walnut and Stephenson streets, and on September 7 of that year the corner-stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies. This edifice, which is of stone, contains, beside the main audience-room, a beautiful Sunday-school room, parlor, kitchen and library rooms, is an ornament to the city and a credit to the sect. It was completed and dedicated October 31, 1867, Prof. F. W. Fiske, of Chicago, preaching the sermon, the Rev. J. W. Cunningham offering the dedicatory prayer. In the evening of the same day, the Rev. Isaac E. Carey was installed as Pastor, the sermon being preached by the Rev. C. A.Williams, of Rockford, the charge to the Pastor being given by the Rev. A. Kent, of Galena, and that to the people by the Rev. C. Marsh, of Mount Carroll. The church cost complete $50,000, and on the day when dedicated $17,000 was raised by subscription to cover the debt incurred in its building.
The church has enjoyed several seasons of revival. The first, a powerful work of God in the winter of 1850-51, added greatly to its numerical and spiritual strength, bringing into its fold some who have been among its most efficient and valuable members, and some who have gone forth from it to shine as lights of the world. The second occurred in the spring of 1857, and was confined mainly to the Sunday school, resulting in the conversion of ten or twelve of the older pupils, all of whom have continued steadfast and immovable, and one of whom has since been prepared for the ministry. The third occurred at the beginning of 1864, at which thirty were added to the church; the fourth in 1867, and others at stated periods since. There have been connected with the church from the beginning between 500 and 1,000 persons, many of whom have been received on examination.
The first Sunday school in connection with the church was organized in 1844, with John Rice as Superintendent and teacher, and consisted of eleven pupils. It is now large and prosperous. The following ministers have officiated since the church was organized: The Revs. C. Waterbury, J. C. Downer, Isaac E. Carey, B. Van Zandt, and H. D. Jenkins, the present incumbent. The church property is valued at $50,000.
Second Presbyterian. About the year 1847, a petition to the Presbytery of Rock River, Old School, was prepared in Stephenson County, praying for the organization of a Second Presbyterian Church and signed by fifty-three persons. A public meeting, largely attended, was held in the old court house, and a commissioner appointed to carry the petition to the Presbytery, which met in September of that year, at Princeton.
This Presbytery at that time embraced the whole of Northern Illinois, and had a membership of 304. They received the commissioner and appointed the Revs. Ithamer Pillsbury, Samuel Cleland, and Elder C. A. Spring as a committee to visit Freeport and organize the church. They reached Freeport October 30, 1847, where they found fifteen members who had withdrawn from the First Church and twelve others who held certificates from Eastern churches, ready to enter into a new organization. These were formally constituted as the Second Presbyterian Church of Freeport, by the election, ordination and installation of three Elders, viz., A. H. Kerr, Samuel Dickey and James W. Barber, and the following members: Mrs. Samuel Dickey, Mrs. James W. Barber, James T . Smith and wife, Joseph F. McKibben and wife, John Van Dyke and wife, Robert Badger and wife, William Lamb and wife, Samuel Lamb and wife, Samuel Milliken and wife, Mrs. Jane McKibben, Mrs. Jane D. Lamb, Misses Phoebe and Martha Dickey, James Brown and wife, and William Johnson.
From the date of the organization no services were had until the spring of 1848, and then only for a few Sabbaths, during which eight persons were received into the communion of the church. In July of the same year, the Rev. John Ustick accepted a call and preached as stated supply for twenty-two months. On January 5, 1850, the interests of the congregation imperatively demanded the erection of a house of worship, and David Nesbit, John Barfoot, with James W. Barber, were appointed a building committee. Late in the fall of that year, the present church, corner of Exchange and Pleasant streets, was commenced, and during the following summer completed. The lecture-room was first used for worship the first Sabbath in September, 1851, the audience room not being formally occupied and dedicated until 1854. The entire cost of the building, which is of brick, neatly furnished and supplied with an organ, was about $6,000, which, with the exception of $900 received from abroad, was subscribed by the congregation.
This church will have been organized thirty-three years on the 30th of October, 1880, during which time ten ministers have occupied the pulpit, and upward of seven hundred members have been included on the roster. It has enjoyed, during its existence, five revival seasons, and several churches have been organized in the surrounding country, being in a great measure the result and outgrowth of the labors, and largely supplied with members, from the Second Church.
A Sabbath school was organized in 1850, and has always kept pace with the church in progress and growth, a right hand to her in the work of saving souls.
The influence of the church upon the community at large has always been of a pronounced religious character, and of a high order. Both ministers and people have ever maintained a high standard of reverence for the purity and sanctity of the Sabbath, for worship, morals, temperance, law, justice and order. The blessings of God have descended on pulpit and pew, sustaining each others hands, encouraging each other's hearts, and pointing the way to the heavenly Jerusalem, where abide peace and joy.
The following is the roster of ministers who have filled the pulpit since the church was established: The Revs. John Ustick, James Carroll, A. H. Lackey, P. B. Marr, D. M. Barber, Robert Proctor, W. J. Johnstone, B. Roberts, George Elliott, and John Giffen, at present in the service.
Third Presbyterian Church Is composed of Germans, and was organized in 1867, with a congregation of fifteen members, under the charge of the Rev. John Vanderlass. The old court house, which had served so many religious bodies before the several denominations had secured edifices of their own, protected the German Presbyterians for one year, during which the number attending gradually increased.
In 1868, the present church edifice, at the corner of Exchange and Prospect streets, was completed and taken possession of. It is of frame, 56x34, with a seating capacity of 250, and cost, with the parsonage adjoining, a total of $4,500.
The Rev. Mr. Vanderlass remained in charge for a period of three years, when he was succeeded by the Rev. E. A. Elfeld, who remained until September, 1879, when he retired. From that date until July 1, 1880, the church was without a Pastor, but, on that date, the Rev. C. Buettle accepted charge, and still remains the incumbent.
The congregation numbers sixty-two worshipers, and the church property is valued at $5,000.
First Methodist Church. The first Methodist minister who ever preached in Stephenson County was the Rev. James McKean, who came here as a traveling minister in 1834, when he was riding a circuit of 500 miles. Gathering the representatives of two families residing in the western part of the county, he held services and delivered an address, the only one delivered that year.
In 1836, the Rev. Thomas W. Pope was sent to Stephenson County as a missionary, but held no services. The following year, Mr. McKean returned, and remained two years. During his stay classes were organized at Waddams Grove, Lena, Silver Creek and Freeport. He was a man possessed of much energy and perseverance, and the results of his labors are visible today.
He was succeeded by the Rev. Samuel Pillsbury, who came in 1839, and, with the assistance of E. P. Wood and Rollin Brown, traveled an extended circuit. During 1841, the interests of the Methodist denomination were cared for by the Revs. Richard A. Blanchard and Alfred M. Early, who were sent hither for that purpose. Their work extended from Rockton to Apple River, and from Savannah to beyond the Wisconsin line. The next year, Mr. McKean returned once more, remaining until 1843, when the Rev. C. G. Worthington, assisted by W. B. Cooley,jwas assigned to the charge, and remained until the Revs. S. Whipple and Bishop succeeded. These latter continued two years, and from that time until 1850 the Revs. Robert Beatty, John Sharp and C. W. Batchelder presided.
The circuit traveled by these pioneer laborers in the vineyard varied somewhat from year to year, but included the county of Stephenson, with portions of Carroll and Jo Daviess.
The present generation can never realize the privations to which the ministers of those days were subjected, traveling day and night to meet their engagements and enduring hardships no pen can describe. But these trials, with others, rather increased their zeal in the cause wherein they labored. There were no stately edifices with wealthy and fashionable congregations in the days hereof spoken; the worshipers assembled in private houses, or in sparsely-furnished schoolrooms, and listened to the Gospel as it was there and then proclaimed. Though they worshiped under unfavorable auspices, their zeal and fervor were such as would put to shame the lethargy visible among Christians of today.
In 1850, Freeport was organized into a separate charge, with a total membership of seven, under the pastorate of the Rev. John F. Devore. Nothing had been done up to this time toward building a house of worship. Services were held in the little red schoolhouse not far from the court house, at private houses and at rare intervals in the court house. Mr. Devore was an enthusiastic worker, and soon after his settlement in Freeport, inaugurated a series of revival meetings, which were attended with an abundant success, and impressed the necessity of building a church. Accordingly, the lot now occupied by the church was purchased and preparations at once made for the erection of a permanent house of worship.
This was built by subscription, the members in Freeport contributing to their utmost, and farmers throughout the county, irrespective of denomination, donating both money and materials. Mr. Devore, so earnest was that gentleman in his desire for the completion of the work, assisted in hauling the materials, borrowing from a farmer an ox team and wagon for the purpose. In the summer of 1851, the church was inclosed and the basement completed, the absence of pews being supplied by the contributions of individuals. The cost of the structure thus far had been about $2,000, all being paid in labor and materials, save $500 in money. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Presiding Elder Richard Haney, it is said, though others maintain that the Rev. D. W. Pinckney officiated.
The labors of Mr. Devore were concluded in 1852, when the Rev. C. C. Best was assigned to succeed him. During his stay, worship was had in the basement of the church, the completion of the edifice being postponed until 1853, when the Rev. H. Whipple became the incumbent. In that year, labors on the edifice were resumed, and its dedication celebrated in 1855, the Rev. Silas Boales preaching the sermon in place of Dr. Hinman, who had accepted an invitation for that purpose, but died before the day appointed for the services to be held. Mr. Whipple was followed by the Revs. C. M. Woodruff in 1855; Miles L. Reed in 1856; Thomas North in 1857; J. C. Stoughton, David Teed, W. F. Stewart and J. L. Olmstead, during whose several administrations the cause flourished and revival meetings and other efforts secured large additions to the congregation.
In 1863, Joseph Wardell was sent to Freeport as a missionary, where his labors were attended with marked success. These labors were suspended during 1864, but in 1865 Robert McCutcheon renewed the missionary work and organized the Embury Church, taking with him a membership of sixty from the First Methodist. A church was subsequently built by the new charge, costing $24,000, of which $13,700 were subscribed on the day of dedication, upon which occasion the Rev. R. M. Hatfield preached.
In 1864, the Rev. W. C. Willing began his three years labors in Freeport. During the first winter of his pastorate, the congregation was measurably increased through an extended revival, and it became necessary to enlarge the church. This was completed in 1865, at a cost of $13,000, and its re-dedication celebrated during the fall of the same year; while these repairs were in progress, the congregation worshiped in Plymouth Hall.
In 1867, the Rev. F. P. Cleveland accepted charge, and during his administration the present parsonage was purchased for $3,500. In 1870, $800 were expended in repairing and re-frescoing the church, and the Rev. W. A. Smith occupied the pulpit, remaining until 1873, when the Rev. Mr. Cleveland returned, who continued in his labors three years, followed by the Revs. S. A. W. Jewett and C. E. Mandeville, the latter being at present in charge. At present the congregation numbers 250, and the property of the church is valued at $15,000.
Embury Methodist Church Named for the first Methodist minister in America, is located on Exchange street, south of Williams; was organized in the fall of 1864, by members of the sect residing in the southern part of the city, who had previously acknowledged allegiance to the First Church. These consisted of the Rev. F. C. Winslow, the Rev. Mr. McCutcheon and wife, Hollis Jewell and wife, John Barnes and wife, Joseph Carey and wife, the Rev. Joseph Best and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Abraham German, William Sells, Mrs. Secrist, Mrs. J. H. Staver, Mrs. Naylor, Cornelius Furst and George Swentzell.
Ten of the congregation subscribed $1,000 each for the purchase of a lot and building the church, and, on Thursday, June 30, 1866, the corner-stone of the present edifice was laid, at the northwest angle of the main tower, in the presence of a considerable attendance, and with the following exercises: An appropriate hymn was sung by the congregation, after which prayer was offered by the Rev. R. A. Blanchard, who also read the Ritual; the Scripture lesson was read by the Rev. W. C. Willing, followed by the Rev. J. F. Yates, of Galena, in an address, when the usual mementos were placed, including a copy of the Bible, Methodist Hymn-Book, Discipline of the M. E. Church, Minutes of the Rock River Conference, statement of the organization and history of the church, list of builders of the edifice, Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and several States, copies of the local and State newspapers, specimens of national coin, etc., after which the stone was placed in position, and the audience dismissed with the benediction.
The building, which was pushed to completion rapidly, is 64x100, built of brick, with stone facings, the interior handsomely decorated, surmounted with two towers, and presenting an appearance both attractive and substantial.
It was dedicated in September of the same year, the Revs. J. H. Yates and S. A. W. Jewett officiating, and cost $24,000, the balance of which amount unprovided for was subscribed on the day of its dedication.
The church is free to all who see fit to avail themselves of the privilege of attending, the labors of its ministry and congregation being chiefly among the poor and needy, with whom it stands very high.
The following is a list of the ministers who have filled the pulpit to the present date: The Revs. J. Reeves, Mr. McCutcheon, F. A. Read, F. A. Harden, Hooper Crews, Isaac Springer, G. S. Young and Sanford Washburn.
The congregation numbers 175 communicants, and the church property represents a valuation of $20,000.
First Free Methodist Church Has been in existence in Freeport for many years, though quiescent from 1865 to 1877, when the congregation was re-organized, and consisted of the following members: Ferry Crowden and wife, Jacob Mease and wife, and David Moon. The Rev. J. Buss accepted the charge, and, aided by this limited assistance, revived the church. Services were held at first in convenient halls and elsewhere, until the latter part of 1877, when the church edifice on Exchange street, now in use, was completed, at a cost of $1,000, dedicated and taken possession of.
In 1878 a revival was experienced in the circuit in which the congregation is included, conducted by the Revs. W. F. Manly and A. F. Ferris, through whose labors ninety-one were converted and additions made to the congregation, which now numbers forty members.
The church edifice is of frame, 28x40, capable of accommodating 250, and the organization is considered as prosperous, with the promise of a greater success in the future.
German M. E. Church. To the Rev. H. Vosholl is due the credit of establishing this church. During the early days of Freeport there resided in the future city and throughout the county a large number of Germans who had embraced the religion of John Wesley, and labored for the advancement of the cause, as defined by his statutes. The absence of a minister was found to be a serious inconvenience to the cause, and to supply this absence the Rev. Mr. Vosholl was appointed a missionary and assigned to Freeport, where he arrived on the 3d of October, 1854. Soon after he reached the then village, he collected a congregation and worshiped in the basement of the First Methodist Church, while there raising funds and completing arrangements for the erection of the present church edifice, corner of Chicago and Spring streets. This was in time completed at a cost of $1,500, and taken possession of by the congregation, since when it has prospered though not strong in numbers, in consequence of the continual drafts made thereon by reason of removals, and to aid in the formation of other congregations, six distributed in the county, having sprung from the Freeport mission.
The congregation now numbers about fifty worshipers; the church property is valued at $1,800, and the following Pastors have served since the church was established: The Revs. H. Vosholl, H. Richter, R. Tillmann, C. Holl, Charles Scheuler, Jr., George Haas, E. R. Irmsher, B. Becker, E. J. Funk, F. Schmidt, A. Brenner and G. E. Hiller.
The Baptist Church. The First Baptist Church of Freeport, Ill., was organized in December, 1845, in the kitchen, or the one living room of the family of Rev. James Schofield, who was acting under the commission of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society. Twenty-six persons united in this organization. Their names are as follows: Rev. James Schofield and his wife Caroline, his son, John M. Schofield, and his daughter Caroline (now Mrs. H. H. Wise), Robert Schofield and his wife Mary; Mrs. Catharine Jones and her daughter, Elizabeth Jones; Thomas Stacks and wife, son and daughter; J. R. Stout and wife; John Stout and wife; Timothy Stout and wife; James Craft and wife; William Perkins and wife; Andrew Platner and wife; Dexter A. Knowlton and Royal Durfee.
Rev. James Schofield was chosen Pastor of the little church. The following year a lot was secured where the German Catholic Church now stands, and steps were taken to build a house of worship. Money being scarce at that time in the country, subscriptions were taken for labor, and the various materials needed in its construction. The Pastor made great sacrifices, and labored with his hands in preparing the timber for the frame of the building and in its erection. After great exertions, he succeeded in raising money sufficient to buy boards and shingles in Chicago. These were marked by the Pastor, every board and plank and bunch of shingles bearing the inscription, For the Baptist Church of Freeport. As the railroad only extended eighteen miles, it was necessary that they should be hauled on wagons by those who carried their grain to Chicago. As many would overload their teams, they found it necessary, when they came to bad roads, to partially unload. In this way the lumber was found all the way from Freeport to the railroad terminus. But, on account of the care of the good Elder in marking his lumber, and the honesty of the people along the route, at last every board and bunch of shingles reached its destination. The church having been completed, was dedicated December 25, 1850. The first Board of Trustees was elected March 4, 1848, and consisted of James Schofield, Alfred Dan, Joshua Springer, Job Arnold and John Montelius.
Elder Schofield labored faithfully as Pastor till the close of the year 1851, when he resigned on account of ill health, and was succeeded by Rev. T. L. Breckenbridge. The church had increased under its first Pastor, so that it numbered about one hundred members at the close of his ministry with them. While their house was being built the church met for a time for services in the court house, taking their turn with the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. Afterward they met for worship in the brick schoolhouse in Knowlton's Addition. Some sixty persons united with the church under the pastorate of Mr. Breckenbridge, who continued one year. Rev. Thomas Reese was his successor, who served the church two years. Between one and two years the church had no Pastor and no regular services, no prayer-meeting, nor Sunday school.
October 1, 1855, Rev. O. D. Taylor assumed the pastorate and gathered the scattered members. By the addition of Baptists who had moved into the town, the church felt able again to sustain public worship. After a useful pastorate of two years, he closed his labors with the church. Rev. A. G. Thomas was chosen Pastor, and entered upon his work in February, 1858. He had graduated the July previous, from the Rochester Theological Seminary, and was ordained in April following. After a short pastorate of fifteen months he resigned, and was succeeded by Rev. N. F. Ravlin, whose pastorate continued between two and three years; he resigned July 8, 1861. In the following November, Rev. William Crowell, D. D., was called to the pastorate, and continued in that relation until July 1, 1865.
In 1862, the old church building was sold and a lot purchased of Robert McConnell, on Stephenson street, on which a chapel was built and dedicated, in February, 1863. Rev. A. W. Lancey was chosen Pastor, October 1, 1866. Mr. Lancey was an attractive preacher, and succeeded in gathering a good congregation; about seventy persons united with the church the first year of his ministry. He was compelled to resign by his failing health, and was succeeded by Rev. C. W. Palmer, who served only one year. After the close of his pastorate, nearly two years elapsed before another Pastor was settled, the church being served occasionally by supplies.
The Sunday school and covenant meeting were sustained during this interregnum. Rev. S. 15. Gilbert accepted the unanimous call of the church given him October 1, 1871, and served the church until May 1, 1874, leaving the church in an efficient condition, but with a membership of only about 100. During the summer of that year, the chapel was enlarged, painted and frescoed, at an expense of $1,200, and was opened again for worship, September 1, at which time Rev. W. H. Dorward commenced his pastoral work. The church was greatly prospered for one year, receiving about fifty members by baptism and letter, with bright anticipations for the future. But these bright prospects were darkened by the partial destruction of their chapel by fire, Sunday morning, December 26, 1875.
Almost paralyzed by this calamity, by seeing their beautiful house in flames, they soon recovered from their despondency, and at a meeting held that same evening, at the house of J. M. Bailey, it was resolved to build a suitable church edifice. A committee was appointed to secure plans and to solicit subscriptions. The work of erection began in the following June. The house was so far completed that in the following November the basement was ready for occupancy. While the church was engaged in building, the congregation worshiped in the lecture room of the First Presbyterian Church, which was generously offered for that purpose. Mr. Dorward closed his pastorate July 1, 1878. He was succeeded, November 15, of the same year, by Rev. D. H. Cooley, D. D. Soon after his settlement, the work of completing the main audience room was begun under the efficient leadership of Robert Schofield, one of the constituent members of the church, and brother of its first Pastor.
Mr. Schofield had removed his membership many years before, and was largely instrumental in organizing and sustaining the Harlem and Florence Baptist Church, which at one time numbered seventy members. That church having disbanded and many of its members having united with the church at Freeport, after his removal to this city the importance of finishing the house of worship and removing its indebtedness, led him to offer a large personal subscription and his services in raising the amount required. The church and friends, inspired by his example and spirit, were willing to make great sacrifices to accomplish these desirable objects. The church edifice was dedicated June 29, 1879. Sermons were preached by Rev. G. Anderson, D. D., President of the University of Chicago, and Rev. G. W. Northrup, D. D., President of the Union Theological Seminary at Morgan Park. Pastors of neighboring churches were present, and assisted in the services. The church property is valued at $18,000, and free from debt. The present membership is about 200. An efficient Sunday school is maintained, with over 260 on the roll-call and an average attendance of 150. Rev. D. H. Cooley, D. D., is Pastor, and the church is prospering under his ministry. Trustees, Thomas French, J. M. Bailey, A. H. Wise, E. B. Winger and A. W. Ford. Robert C. Schofield, Treasurer. J. H. Stearns, Assistant Treasurer.
Zion Episcopal Church Located at the corner of Cherry and Stephenson streets, was erected in 1852, and consecrated on the 16th of February, 1853, by Bishop Whitehouse, assisted by the Revs. Messrs. McKeown, of Elgin, Benedict, of Galena, and Bentley, the Pastor.
From general rumor, it is believed that the church edifice was blown down and totally destroyed in a perfect tornado, which occurred on the 18th of July, 1861, entailing serious loss, and necessitating the procuration of an audience-room for worship until the damage inflicted could be repaired. The church was rebuilt in time, and has since been occupied as a sanctuary, where the Episcopal congregation of Freeport and vicinity worship weekly.
The present congregation numbers seventy-three communicants, under the pastorate of the Rev. R. F. Sweet, B. D. The value of church property, as also other data in connection with the association, could not be obtained. The early records of this congregation being missing, and the Pastor being unable to furnish any information regarding its growth and labors, the same are not submitted.
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. The Rev. John Cavanagh was Pastor of the Catholic Church at New Dublin in 1848. In that year his brother-in-law, Thomas Eagan, and his brother, Edward Cavanagh, with their families, settled in Freeport. Other Catholics soon gathered around them; and Father Cavanagh visited them occasionally.
Mr. Eagan purchased for $125 the lot upon which the Hon. E. L. Cronkrite's store now stands, and built on it a two-story brick dwelling. In that house mass was celebrated for the first time in Freeport. Mrs. Eagan felt very happy in being able to accommodate her worthy Rev. brother when making zealous efforts to promote the spiritual welfare of the few Catholics then in Freeport. A room on the second floor of her house was set apart as a chapel, wherein he gathered around him, at reasonable intervals, for more than two years, the growing elements of the congregation soon afterward known as St. Mary's. After the rising congregation had become too numerous to assemble with comfort, or even with safety, in the chapel so cheerfully and so generously kept open for their benefit, the use of a public hall was procured to serve as a church. The name of J. K. Brewster is favorably and gratefully mentioned in this connection; for, although not a Catholic, yet, as the proprietor of a hall, he proved himself liberal and benevolent to the little Catholic community of those days.
Father Cavanagh was a man of great natural talents, which he had well developed in acquiring deep and thorough learning pertaining to his profession. The many calls which he had to answer, from the various parts of his extensive mission, did not prevent him from paying due attention to the promising little congregation at Freeport. In his zeal for its advancement he lost no opportunity afforded him for promoting its welfare. While using the Brewster hall as a church, he purchased as a site for a future church the lot upon which St. Mary's now stands, and proceeded, without unnecessary delay, to erect on it a frame building to serve as a temporary church. Among the Catholics who then zealously and liberally seconded his persevering efforts in the good cause, were, besides his brother and brother-in-law, William and Thomas Barron, Robert Bellew, Lawrence Frain, John Tophy and brother, and Thomas and John O'Connell.
Among the non-Catholics then in Freeport, Robert and Thomas McGee distinguished themselves by donating the sills for the new church. Others contributed shingles, nails, glass, putty, etc. Thus they not only aided materially in the erection of the building, but set forth an example of liberality and generosity which has been since frequently and extensively imitated by large numbers of the worthy heirs and successors of those very benevolent men.
Father Cavanagh, in 1852, with the approbation of his Bishop, changed his residence from New Dublin to Freeport. At that time, St. Mary's congregation had become considerable. Several families of German Catholics had arrived and become attached to it. Freeport mission then included Savannah, Warren, what is now called Durand, a large portion, if not the whole, of Ogle County, and all the intervening country. His time was very much occupied in traveling throughout the mission, filling his regular appointments and satisfying the numerous sick calls made on him from its various parts. The labors of his successors in our days seem very light when compared with those which he was obliged to perform. Some may undertake to describe what he had to endure, but only those who have experienced the like can realize its wear and tear on the human system. He continued in the discharge of his laborious duties at Freeport until the summer of 1854, when, at the command of his legitimate superiors, he took charge of St. George's Church at Joliet, Ill. Four years later, he was found at his post in the city of New Orleans, where he died a martyr to charity in the discharge of his ministerial duties among the yellow-fever patients of that unfortunate city. Soon after his death, Mrs. Eagan, who still enjoys vigorous health in Freeport, received from a pastor and from the Archbishop of that city kind and sympathetic letters, in which Father Cavanagh's great zeal and devotion to duty in the midst of the plague, and his edifying death, were vividly described.
When Father Cavanagh was called to Joliet, the Bishop considered it proper to give Freeport a pastor who could speak the German language. Accordingly, Rev. Ferdinand Kalvelage, now pastor of the Church of St. Francis of Assisium, Chicago, was appointed pastor of St. Mary's. During his administration, the present brick church was erected. The new edifice was a decided improvement on the original frame, but its low roof and dark wooden gables greatly detracted from what its external appearance ought to be. The stonework supporting the brick and the floor was built too high for a mere foundation, but left at least four feet too low to admit of a serviceable basement. The pastor and the German portion of the congregation had indisputable control in planning and erecting the building, but the Irish portion willingly contributed at least their proportionate share of the whole cost.
A school was kept in connection with the church, but it was intended chiefly for the German portion of the congregation. The two nationalities seldom go on smoothly together in church affairs for any considerable time. In Freeport they proved no exception to the general rule. But whatever misunderstandings occurred from time to time had not the effect of dividing the congregation under Father Kalvelage, for he understood and guided one nationality, and the other, seldom aggressive in church affairs, duly respected him as the pastor of St. Mary's. In the summer of 1859, he was called away to another field of labor, and was succeeded at Freeport by Rev. Thomas O'Gara.
The new pastor took early and effective steps to have the old frame church converted into a pastoral residence. He enlarged it, raised it a second story, and soon occupied it as a dwelling. It stood by the north side of the church, fronting on Union street. He continued to occupy it during his stay in Freeport. He earnestly exerted himself in collecting funds to secure to the congregation the piece of land since known as St. Mary's Cemetery. He was always zealous, prompt and diligent in the discharge of his ministerial duties. Although he could not speak German, yet those of his congregation who understood only that language were not neglected. He had to assist him from time to time German priests, either appointed by the Bishop or specially invited by himself. Among those may be named the Rev. B. Herderer, Rev. John Mehlman, Rev. John G. Uhlana, Rev. Peter Fischer and Rev. John Westkamp. The German portion of the congregation were dissatisfied. Some of them gave him considerable trouble. They desired to have things their own way. They sometimes made complaints to the Bishop. They would not be satisfied without a German pastor. They wished to be separated from the Irish portion of the congregation. After due consideration, the proper authorities permitted and even recommended the desired separation.
After due deliberation, it was agreed that the Irish portion should own the church, subject to all its indebtedness, but that they should deliver the church organ to the Germans, and pay them a certain specified amount in cash. In virtue of that contract, Father O'Gara was relieved of the care of the Germans, who were soon afterward placed in charge of a Pastor of their own nationality.
Father O'Gara had to fill the void made by the removal of the church organ. It is stated he procured the fine pipe organ which has since rendered very satisfactory service in St. Mary's. He was very successful in collecting means to pay the entire indebtedness of the church, as well as to defray the expenses necessary for keeping it in a respectable condition. He was witty and very amiable. He was kind and considerate with his people, who still remember him with sentiments of very high esteem. No priest had a larger number of friends among the clergy than he. To know him was to esteem him. He was transferred to Bloomington, Ill., in April, 1866, where he soon erected a magnificent church, which a cyclone demolished almost as soon as the roof was completed.
Rev. Thomas Kennedy was the next Pastor of St. Mary's. He never liked the position. His wish to leave Freeport was gratified by his removal in November of the same year, when Rev. George Rigby succeeded him. Like his predecessor, Father Rigby remained only a few months. He left the following spring.
Rev. Michael J. Hanly became the Pastor of St. Mary's in 1867. He was a man of great energy and perseverance. He condemned the old frame residence. It was sold and taken off the premises. The lot in rear of the church, but fronting on Madison street, was purchased for the site of a new pastoral residence, and upon it was speedily erected a good two-story building to serve the end in view. Substantial fences were built, trees were planted, and other important improvements made on the property. The zealous Pastor was ambitious of having everything done in a respectable and creditable manner. He deviated from his settled practice in that respect, only when his own comfort was in question, and thus proved that his disinterestedness was stronger than his very laudable ambition. When planning and building the pastoral residence, he deliberately excluded a kitchen and other necessary apartments, that the rest might be properly accomplished and his people not too heavily taxed. Such Pastors are sometimes unaccountably misunderstood; their zeal is often regarded as selfishness. Their only consolation comes from above. It has happened, on the other hand, that Pastors with little zeal for the true welfare of their flocks, but with very large quotas of self-love, obtained, for a time, the confidence, the plaudits and most generous gifts of the people, and thus received their rewards. Father Hanly accomplished much in a short time. What he omitted when building the pastoral residence has not been supplied by any of his successors.
Rev. P. L. Henderiek became pastor of St. Mary's in September, 1869, in February, 1870, he was succeeded by Rev. F. J. Murtaugh.
The new Pastor was very zealous and active in the discharge of his duties. He was very desirous of having a parish school attached to St. Mary's, and he was willing to make any reasonable sacrifice in order to establish and sustain one. A fine two-story brick school house, capable of accommodating two hundred pupils, stood on a lot almost in front of the pastoral residence, and it was advertised for sale. Father Murtaugh set his heart on purchasing it for St. Mary's. The lot on which it stood was small, but he knew that lots adjoining it were for sale. His zealous efforts proved successful. The property was purchased and secured for St. Mary's. He had the exterior of the church painted. He continued to prove his devotedness to duty, in various ways, until June. 1871, when Rev. Maurice Stack succeeded him.
Father Stack soon realized the state of things at St. Mary's. After having duly attended to several other particulars, he set himself to work in behalf of the school. The building needed repairs and furniture. With great zeal and devotion he submitted the case to the consideration of his people, and appealed to them for means to enable him to make proper use of the school building. Their response proved satisfactory. The school was repaired and duly furnished. He applied to the Dominican Sisters at Sinsinawa Mound, Wis., for teachers to conduct the school. Their very high reputation for learning and for success in conducting parish schools, was then well known in several cities of the neighboring States, to say nothing of Chicago and some other cities within the diocese. His application proved successful.
The sisters arrived in August, 1873, and in a few days afterward opened St. Mary's School. But the zealous pastor had made a sacrifice. He had vacated his own furnished residence to accommodate the sisters, nor did he again occupy it until he had built and duly furnished for the sisters, in behalf of the school, a better house than the pastoral residence. In the mean time he lodged in one house and took his meals in another. He purchased two lots adjoining the school property; the convent now stands upon one of them; the other is included in the school yard. In view of the fewness of his people and of the limited means at their command, his success was remarkable. But, in justice and in gratitude to the non-Catholics of Freeport and vicinity, it must be stated that they very generously patronized the fairs and festivals held for the benefit of the church.
The late Charles McCoy was known to be exceedingly generous in his donations to the church, as well as animated with a true and disinterested zeal for its best interests. He was a man of considerable influence; and his very edifying example was a constant though unobtrusive exhortation to others to be faithful in the discharge of their duties as Catholics. Father Stack regarded him as a benefactor to be distinguished among a thousand, and he deplored his death accordingly. The sentiments of the Pastor in that connection were to a great extent those of the whole congregation. Even non-Catholics largely participated in them. In March, 1877, Father Stack was transferred to St. Mary's Church, Aurora, Ill. He was succeeded at Freeport by Rev. Thomas F. Mangan, the present Pastor.
The demands on Father Stack, in connection with the new building, prevented him from duly attending to the others. The new Pastor soon realized the fact that they required immediate and very costly repairs, not only to keep them fit for use, but even to save some of them from imminent danger of ruin. The very foundations, no less than the roofs and intermediate parts, had to be attended to. The church roof had to be shingled anew. Before doing so the roof itself, which was one of quarter-pitch, was changed into almost a new one of half-pitch. The dark wooden gables were removed, and well-lighted brick ones in keeping with the church and new roof were erected in their stead. It took large sums of money to repair damaged parts and to remedy defects, where, at first sight, a small amount would seem amply sufficient. The condition of the grounds also required the expenditure of considerable sums. A piece of land containing about two acres has been purchased and added to the cemetery, which is now in a very respectable condition.
Under the present Pastor, more money has been expended for necessary repairs and improvements than would be required to erect a new building equal, if not superior, to the pastoral residence or the convent, and considerable sums are still needed for meeting pressing demands in the same direction. The condition of the property, however, as well as its appearance, is better now than it was at any previous time, and there is good reason for hoping that both will continue to advance.
The good sisters in charge of the school have been zealous and indefatigable in the discharge of their trying and arduous duties. Sister Augustine, the Superioress, is entitled to grateful acknowledgments from the Pastor and from the people of St. Mary's, for the very efficient and satisfactory manner in which she has conducted the school. Sister Helena has merited equal praise by her able and thorough co-operation in that very meritorious work. Their abilities, which are of a very high order, together with their tact in employing them, reflect much credit on their order and produce wonderful effects in the minds of the pupils in regular attendance at their school. To have their admirable services permanent and duly appreciated at St. Mary's could not fail to produce there very happy results. The pupils enrolled during the current school year number fifty-eight boys and sixty-eight girls. The average daily attendance is forty-eight boys and sixty girls.
following table shows the average annual number of baptisms performed
by every Pastor of St. Mary's whose term of service exceeded one year
since the days of Rev. John Cavanagh:
Rev. Ferdinand Kalvelage 158
Rev. Thomas O'Gara 106
Rev. Michael J. Hanly 75
Rev. F. G. Murtaugh 35
Rev. Maurice Stack 31
Rev. Thomas F. Mangan 29
The present congregation comprehends 100 families, and the church property is valued at $40,000.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Previous to 1862, the Catholics of Freeport worshiped at St. Mary's Church. The congregation was composed of all nationalities, including a large proportion of Germans on the roster of membership. As the diocese increased with each succeeding year, the duties of pastor and people became more numerous, and doubtless imposed those hardships a faithful attention to duty involves. This condition of affairs suggested the creation of another parish in the city, and the building of a new house of worship for the accommodation of members. This suggestion finally found expression among the members of St. Mary's Church, and led to the organization of St. Joseph's Church. When these preliminaries had been concluded, about one hundred and twenty-five families, composed of the German communicants of St. Mary's Church, purchased the church of the Baptist denomination on the site of St. Joseph's Church, for $2,000, and worshiped therein for ten years.
In 1872, the congregation had increased largely, and it was decided to erect a new church edifice. During the winter, subscriptions were obtained for the building, and in the spring the corner-stone was laid with impressive ceremonies, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Foley, Bishop of Illinois, officiating. Work thereon progressed rapidly, and by fall it was so far completed as to be ready for occupation. Possession was taken early in the winter, and the dedication ceremonies took place on the fourth Sunday in Advent, 1872, Bishop Foley again presiding, and delivering the dedicatory sermon. The edifice is 150x50, built of brick, in the Gothic style of architecture, and, though still incomplete, is one of the most ornate and complete houses of worship in Freeport.
The auditorium is capable of comfortably accommodating a congregation of not less than one thousand, lighted by five windows on each side, and seven in the sanctuary, ornamented with donative offerings from members, with fourteen station pictures and four pieces of statuary, the latter of Munich composition, illustrating sacred subjects, and possesses acoustic qualities of a superior order. The church cost, with furniture and equipments, about $30,000. The congregation numbers 240 families.
Connected with the church is a parochial school, under the tutorship of the Sisters of St. Francis, of Joliet, employing two teachers, who afford instruction in the ordinary branches of education to an average daily attendance of 150 pupils. The following pastors have served since the congregation was organized: the Rev. Fathers John Westkamp, Ignatius Ballauf and Cleoaent Kalvelage, the latter at present in charge. The church property, including a cemetery consisting of four acres located one and one-half miles south of the city, represents a valuation of $45,000.
Salem Church. This society, belonging to the Church of the Evangelical Association, was organized on April 27, 1869. The Rev. D. B. Byers, Presiding Elder of the Freeport District, presided at the meeting; the Rev. H. Messner, pastor, was present, and P. W. Rockey officiated as Secretary. Articles of incorporation were adopted, and a Board of Trustees, consisting of the Rev. D. VV. Grissinger, John Woodside, P. W. Rockey, John Barshinger and Simon Anstine, elected. Upon a complete organization, the following names were found upon the record: John and Mrs. Woodside, John and Mrs. Barshinger, John and Mrs. Miller, John and Mrs. Wolfinger, John and Mrs. Dickover, Simon and Mrs. Anstine, H. W. and Mrs. Pease, T. J. and Mrs. Fiss, Elias and Mrs. Bamberger, Benjamin and Mrs. Clark, W. H. and Mrs. Spelter, J. and Mrs. Fox, John and Mrs. Howard, Amos and Mrs. Heine, Rev. D. W. and Mrs. Grissinger, Samuel Clair, J. and Mrs. Baymiller, Miss Susan Baymiller, Aaron H. Barshinger, Mrs. H. Dengler, Miss E. Dengler, John and Mrs. Fritz, Miss C. Fritz, Elias and Mrs. Koonz, Mrs. Carrie Klock, Mrs. Mary Kaufman, Mrs. Sarah Kyle, Peter and Mrs. Pennicoff, Mrs. E. Neuman, P. W. and Mrs. Rockey, Miss P. H. Reinhuber, Miss Rebecca Rohland, Samuel and Mrs. Shaffer, Mrs. Anna Stibgen, Aaron and Thomas H. Woodside, Miss Sarah Woodside, Misses Mary and Lizzie Woodside, the Revs. D. B. Byers and Henry Messner, Mesdames Byers and Messner, and Elias J. and Mrs. Duth.
After the organization had been effected, the society secured the use of Commercial Hall, on Stephenson street, where a Sabbath school was opened, and the system of church work inaugurated. A committee was appointed to procure a suitable site for a church edifice, to secure funds for which a subscription paper was circulated. A lot was purchased of David Sunderland, on Pleasant, between Exchange and Scott streets, with a dwelling-house thereon, for the sum of $2,500, and a church commenced on the west side of the same. The plan adopted was a Gothic frame, 40x60, and two stories high, and the edifice was erected by members of the congregation, the pastor acting as foreman, and so effectively was work prosecuted, that the lecture-room was finished and occupied in November of the same year. During the month the audience-room was completed, and in March it was dedicated to the service of God, at a total cost of $7,236.31.
The society is free from debt, maintaining a Sabbath school, three weekly prayer meetings, has regular quarterly communion, and is in a fair condition of prosperity generally. The following pastors have officiated: the Revs. H. Messner, 1869 to 1871; E.E. Condo, 1871 to 1872; D. B. Byers, 1873 to 1876; C. Smucker, 1876 to 1879; W. H. Bucks, 1879 to 1880; and D. B. Byers, who has just entered upon his second term. Of the original members, the following have died: the Rev. D. W. Grissinger, July 17, 1873; Mrs. Barbary, wife of Elias Bamberger, August 4, 1875; and Mrs. Mary A., wife of John Miller, December 25, 1878.
The Rev. E. E. Condo fell a victim to the fearful cyclone which passed over Marshfield, Mo., April 18, 1880, where he was serving as pastor, dying in two hours from the injuries received. The church property is valued at $10,000.
Emanuel Church, of the Evangelical Association, is one of Freeport's substantial German churches. It was first organized as a mission in 1851. The following persons, and those only whose names can be fully identified, comprising the principal membership: John Krimbill, Frederick Asche, Joseph Miess, John Marter, Jacob Heim, H. Thomas, George Thomas, G. Mainzer, A. Brenner, L. Metzger, M. Metzger, John Mayer, Christian Mainzer, B. Mainzer, Mr. Lemberger, Catharine Stoskopf, William Ellebrecht, J. Wolf, H. Fahringer and J. Frey.
A stirring revival during this and the next succeeding year, greatly added to the number of members, and Mr. Miess having donated eighty acres of land, which was sold for $450, a church edifice of brick, 40x50, was soon in process of building, under the supervision of a building committee, composed of the following gentlemen: the Rev. H. Rohland, Joseph Miess, J. Krimbill, J. Marter and William Ellebrecht. At that time it was situated in the center of present Oak street, where it remained until 1868, when it was removed to the site of the edifice now occupied.
The latter is located on Oak street, between Exchange and Broadway. It is of brick, ornamented with a steeple, and affording a seating capacity for 350 worshipers. The edifice was completed in 1874, under the pastorship of the Rev. A. Fuessle; F. Mayer, E. Vieregge, F. Heim and F. Asche, constituting the building committee; Elias Bamberger being the architect.
The ministry of the Evangelical Association is itinerant, and years ago the term of service was usually but one year at a place, which fact will explain the number of pastors who have officiated at Emanuel Church to date, as follows: H. Rohland, C. Augenstein, J. G. Escher, L. H. Eiterman, J. Riegel, Christian Kopp, E. Musselman, D. B. Byers, D. Kraemer, J. Schneider, H. Messner, A. Stahley, W. J. Walker, M. Stamm, A. Fuessle, William Schrims and A. Huelster, two of whom have served a term of three years in succession and five a term of two years.
A number of revivals of extraordinary power have been enjoyed since the organization of the church resulting in large accessions to the congregation, but the present membership is not as large as this fact would indicate. Besides the natural decrease by death, many well-to-do Christians are now living in various States of the Union, who were at some time members of Emanuel Society.
In 1868, the quarterly conference of the society petitioned for the privilege of preaching in English once in two weeks. This was denied, when a division occurred, those members preferring English preaching, being organized into Salem Mission.
Emanuel Church has accomplished a great amount of good among the Germans of Freeport, and is still endeavoring to fulfill its high mission. Though the outlook for future prosperity is not as bright as it might be, the church, nevertheless, is in good working order, and may reasonably count on a healthy development for many years to come.
The German Evangelical Lutheran Emanuel Church was founded in 1877, by the Rev. T. J. Grosse, connected at that time with the Lutheran Seminary at Addison, in Du Page County, Ill., but removing to Freeport on the 23d of February, 1877. During that year, the congregation increased to thirty-seven members, and prosperity attended the efforts inaugurated to build up and sustain the association. A lot was purchased at the corner of Union and Pleasant streets the same year, whereon a small but comfortable church was erected, and a parochial school established, over which Prof. F. Gase presides, and wherein fifty pupils are educated in German and English branches.
In October, 1877, a call was extended the Rev. F. Behrens to take charge of the church, which he accepted, and is the present incumbent. The congregation numbers fifty-five worshipers, and the church property is valued at about $1,000.
The First German Reformed Church, at the corner of Williams and Union streets, was first organized about the year 1862, by Henry Schulte, Henry H. Frank, Conrad Rodeke, Peter Belger, H. Billiker, Mr. Ode and others, who were the charter members, and worshiped in a hall above the drug store of F. Weise, at the corner of Galena and Exchange streets. The Rev. Mr. Seaman discharged the duties of Pastor for a brief period, when he retired, and the congregation became distributed among the various city churches.
Some time after, the Rev. O. Accola assumed pastoral relations to the divided church, re-organized the same, and secured means for the building of a modest frame edifice on the site of the present church. He labored effectively while he remained, but resigning his office, the church was again left without a head, and once more became demoralized, the members abandoning worship in the house which had been erected for that purpose. This continued until 1869, when the Rev. A. Schrader accepted the pastorate, and, by the efficient means employed for the space of five years, succeeded in placing the organization on a firm foundation, and in building up and prospering the cause in a most gratifying degree. He retired in 1874, to give place to the Rev. John Wernly, the present incumbent, under whose administration a new church has been erected. This was commenced in May, 1879, completed and dedicated September 27, following. It is 36x50, with a spire 100 feet high, and an organ, costing a total of $3,000.
The congregation numbers 100 members, and the church property, which includes a parsonage erected in 1873, is valued at $5,000. Attached to the church is a parochial school, held in the old frame church, at which twenty-five pupils are taught the rudiments, as also the more advanced branches of German education.
St. Johns German Evangelical Church. In the year 1847, the following-named persons began the organization of the present church society: H. Kochsmeier, P. Tewes, A. Mengedohd, A. Boedeker, B. Boedeker, B. Hunkemeier, F. Hanke, W. Mundhenke, C. Riesenberger, C. Lesemann, C. Beine, C. Altenberg, F. Bodmann, H. Burkhard, and E. Beine, Elder.
In 1848 E. Beine, local preacher, began the holding of regular meetings, which were continued for several years in a schoolhouse in the western part of the city. During the same year the church was duly organized according to the laws of the Evangelical Verein of the West, and in 1850 a lot at the corner of State (now Exchange) and Union streets was purchased, and a church edifice 33x40 commenced. This was completed in 1852, under the following Trustees: Adolph Boedeker, William Mundhenke, Henry Burkhard, and August Mengedhd. A year later the Rev. J. Zimmerman became pastor of the congregation, and in 1854 the congregation united with the German Synod of the West.
In 1856 a parsonage and schoolhouse was erected on the church lot, and a teacher employed to instruct the youth of members in German and other branches. The year previous, Mr. Zimmerman was succeeded in the pastorate by the Rev. W. Kampmeier, who remained ten years. During his term of office the present church building, being of stone, 44x75, with a spire 100 feet high, and the auditorium capable of seating 600 worshipers, was completed at a cost of $5,000, contributed by members of the congregation.
In 1866 the Rev. P. H. Hoefer accepted charge of the parish, discharging the duties incident thereto until 1870, when he was succeeded by the Rev. D. M. Fotch, who remained six years, when he gave way to the Rev. C. Hoffmeister, the present incumbent. The Trustees are A. Karsten, A. Bergman, P. Tewes, Christian Held, H. Witte, W. Brockhausen, and A. Tempel. The congregation numbers upward of one hundred families, and the church property is valued at $10,000.
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Stories, Volume 1
Second to no other organization of the present age stands the Odd Fellows. An institution manifesting influence, performing good, preventing evil, and increasing annually in membership and power, not only attracts public attention, but excites a laudable desire to know something of its origin, progress, aims and resources.
The origin of the order is hidden in obscurity. History relates that the order was introduced into the Spanish dominions in the fifth century, into Portugal about the sixth century, and into France in the twelfth century, whence it was extended into England. In that country the order numbers over six hundred thousand members, and from this branch originated the American organization as it exists today, by the name of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the United States.
Fifty-one years ago there met in the upper room of the Seven Stars, an obscure hotel in the city of Baltimore, five men who had been brought together by a call in the public press, for the purpose of considering the organization of a lodge of Odd Fellows, the result of which was the institution of Washington Lodge No. 1. The chief promoter of this lodge was Thomas Wildey, who is the father of American Odd Fellowship.
The progress of the order was gradual until 1835, when by judicious legislation of its Grand Lodge the craft at once became prominent, drawing within its circle the educated, enterprising and refined. Odd Fellowship, as has been truly said, has met with no reverses; its lodges are scattered all over the vast countries of Europe, and every State in the Union has its Grand Lodge, to which are attached subordinate lodges, all of which are working an honorable career.
The qualifications for admission are a belief in the Supreme Creator, sound health, good character, and an honorable trade. The teachings of the order are to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, care for the widow, and educate the orphan. This system of benefits and timely assistance in the hour of need is a feature which attracts the serious attention of every one. There are two branches of the order, the Subordinate and '' Encampment. At a session of the Grand Lodge of the United States held in 1851, an honorary degree, Rebekah, was adopted. It is designed to unite the wives and widows more intimately in the workings of Odd Fellowship.
The first lodge of Odd Fellows organized in Illinois was located at Alton, in which city the same was consecrated on the 11th of August, 1836, and designated as Western Star No. 1. Since this date the order has increased in membership and influence, and attained the rank of a first-class power in the world of morals and benevolence, possessing a vast influence throughout the entire country.
Winnesheik Lodge, No. 30, I. O. O. F. On the loth day of July, 1847, at a time when the present city was little more than a village, the Grand Lodge of Illinois granted a charter for the organization of a lodge in Freeport, the same to be known as Winnesheik Lodge, No. 30, with the following members: Thomas J. Goodhue, E. A. Aiggins, C. G. Strohecker, A. W. Shuler, William T. McCool, H. G. Moore, S. D. Carpenter, Charles Powell and S. B. Farwell. The lodge thus organized has always prospered, including upon its roster of membership some of the most prominent citizens of the county.
The garret of an old brick building, in a portion of the city then known as Knowlton Town, was its first place of meeting, and, though unpleasant and inconvenient, the members continued in their labor of love. In time, and as the order became prosperous, its place of meeting was improved and removed, until, finally, it took quarters in the Odd Fellows' Hall, where it has since remained.
Of its charter-members not one remains in the city; some have removed to other scenes, and some have been removed to the Grand Lodge beyond the river. During the war its force was somewhat weakened, some of the members joining the army for the maintenance of the law and supremacy of the constituted authorities. Of these, but few returned. One of the members of this lodge served repeatedly as representative to the Grand Lodge of Illinois, and was finally chosen by the fraternity as Grand Master, but, before the expiration of his term of office, death stepped in and put a period to his service. In addition to this, other members of the lodge have served with honor in high stations.
At the present date, Winnesheik Lodge is in a highly prosperous condition, with one hundred members, property valued at $2,500, and the following officers: W. W. Krape, D. D. G. M.; C. Knoor, N. G.; E. L. Kauffman, V. G.; George Lewis, Secretary, and E. L. Cronkrite, Treasurer. W. W. Krape, representative to the Grand Lodge.
Freeport Lodge, No. 239, I. O. O. F. During the year 1857, a portion of the members of Winnesheik Lodge decided to withdraw from the parent Chapter and petitioned for a charter for the opening of a new lodge. The petition was granted, and Freeport Lodge, No. 239, was duly organized as a lodge, working in the German language, with the following members: D. B. Schulte, John Hoebel, Jacob Krohn, Henry Deuermeyer and William Stine.
Starting with a limited membership, its progress has been successful beyond the most sanguine anticipations; its membership has increased from year to year, until today it ranks among the first lodges in this portion of the State, while its charities have been, and are, a source of pride to the fraternity and benefit to the recipients. The meetings first held were convened over the Stephenson County Bank, in comparatively uncomfortable quarters, which have since been exchanged for the commodious and handsomely furnished lodge-rooms now occupied by the fraternity in Munn's building, fitted up expressly for the accommodation of Masons and Odd Fellows, and where meetings of the Freeport Lodge are held every Monday evening.
The present officers are Rudolph Hefte, N. G.; C. Schmidt, V. G.; H. Kirchefer, Secretary, and J. Maurer, Treasurer. John Erfert, representative to the Grand Lodge of the State. The membership is quoted at eighty-one brothers.
Western Star Encampment of Patriarchs, No. 25. The highest branch of the order, open to all worthy brothers who have attained the Scarlet Degree in subordinate lodges, was chartered on the 14th day of October, 1857, at Belvidere, Boone County, but subsequently removed to Freeport, with the subjoined charter members: Justus B. Jones, J. K. Murphy, A. E. Jenner, Albert L. Pearsail, William Haywood, Timothy S. Clark and John Terwilliger.
Its removal being accomplished, the encampment attained a high degree of prosperity, owing to the efforts of the members, as also the intrinsic worth of the organization. On its roll of membership is found some of Freeport's most worthy citizens, who have the principles and interest of the order at heart, and stand ready at all times to demonstrate the virtues suppositiously a prime factor in the composition of the fraternity.
The present officers are George Lowis, C. P.; W. W. Krape, H. P.; S. D. Atkins, Scribe; F. L. Jones, Treasurer; E. L. Cronkrite, S. W., and C. Knorr, J. W.
The membership numbers thirty-five, and meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.
Stephen A. Douglas Encampment, No. 100, I. O. O. F., was chartered October 12, 1869, Jacob Krohn, John Hoebel, William Wagner, Sr., Henry Rohker, Gabriel Lampert and Mathias Hettinger being the charter members, and is consequently the youngest organization of Odd Fellows in the city. Notwithstanding this, the lodge has prospered in a gratifying manner, having fifty-one members, and a healthy balance to its credit in the hands of the Treasurer.
The present officers are R. Hefti, C. P.; C. Schmidt, H. P.; H. Kirchefer, Scribe, and Jacob Molter, Treasurer. Meetings are convened on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.
A visitor to the halls of the Masonic fraternity in Freeport, while gazing upon the beautiful works of art peculiar to the craft which line its interior, would scarcely credit the fact that but a few years previous there was no city, nothing to break the silence of the illimitable wilds that extended in every direction around the solitary cabin which, in the year 1835, stood where Freeport now stands. Lightly had Time, with sunny smiles, whispered adieu to these primitive days, before successors appeared ripe with improvement, a more perfect civilization and all the attributes thereof, upon scenes that but a few years before were the homes of savages and savage sports.
The history of Masonry in Freeport is as the history of individuals. Her most prominent citizens have been identified with the craft, and the craft has selected her prominent officers throughout the State from the inhabitants of the city. Among these were the Hon. Thomas J. Turner, Grand Master of Illinois; N. F. Prentice, M. D., Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of the State; L. L. Munn, Grand High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons; Jacob Krohn, District Deputy Grand Master; M. D. Chamberlin, Official Instructor of Illinois, and others, whose eloquent voices are hushed in death, but whose eloquent lives speak still, and are heard throughout all the land. They tell of the power of the human soul when armed in right, and speak of the force of principle when it becomes the weapon of determined manhood.
To the examples thus furnished is due, in a great measure, the success which has attended the fraternity since it obtained a local prominence in the village of Freeport thirty years ago. Previous to that date, the members of the order were few in number and without sufficient enterprise to organize a lodge; but in 1850 a lodge was established, and from that day to the present the fraternity has increased in numbers, influence and wealth.
At first, meetings were convened in Fisher's building, at the corner of Galena and Exchange streets, where they remained for some time, and then removed to buildings over the Stephenson County Bank, thence to rooms over Cronkrite's store, adjoining the bank, thence to Munn's building, and finally to Fry's building, where they still remain, in the occupation of quarters the most complete, elegant and attractive in the State outside of Chicago. The craft has come up to the present from a former generation, bringing with it the experience of years and the lessons taught in the schools of hardship and affliction; but today perfect prosperity is its attendant concomitant, and the peace of mind which cometh from this knowledge is least prominent among the rewards reserved for its acceptance.
Excelsior Lodge, No. 97, was the first lodge organized in Freeport. Its first meeting was held on February 22, 1850, by authority of a dispensation granted for that purpose by the Grand Master of the State at that time Erastus Torry, Julius Smith, Thomas J. Turner, Gershom Rice and Oscar Taylor, of Freeport, were in attendance, together with S. B. Farwell, John Jackson and S. H. Fitger, visiting brethren. The lodge continued to work under dispensation until Nov. 6, 1851, when a charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of the State, and at the first installation of officers, on January 8, 1852, the following were selected: Julius Smith, W. M.; T. J. Turner, S. W.; Oscar Taylor, J. W.; J. A. W. Donahoo, Treasurer; A. W. Rawson, Secretary; William Scott, S. D.; Reuben Ruble, J. D; James Wright, Steward, and Giles Taylor, Tiler.
Immediately upon the organization of the lodge, Masonry made rapid strides in the neighborhood, which necessarily produced its effect upon the organization and formation of the society in this community. To the success achieved by the Excelsior may be attributed, the organization of the two other lodges in the city, Evergreen and Moses R. Thompson, both of which are strong and prosperous at the present time.
The present membership of Excelsior Lodge, is stated at 100, This lodge occupy rooms in the Masonic Hall, Fry's block, which were fitted up by the order when taking possession, at a cost of about $7,000; the several lodges, chapters, etc., contributing a pro rata therefor, and entitled to the use of the same.
Moses R. Thompson Lodge, No. 381. The first meeting of this lodge under dispensation was convened at Masonic Hall, December 31, 1862, with the following charter members and officers, appointed by the Grand Master of the State: Nathan Fay Prentice, Charles L. Currier, L. L. Munn. H. H. Taylor, G. W. Tandy, Robert Little, E. Moffatt, J. G. Knapp, W. D. V. Johnson, B. F. Burnside, S. Lumbard, Elijah Northy and W. B. Chatfield, N. F. Prentice, W. M.; L. L. Munn,'S. W. and C. L. Currier, J. W.
The lodge continued work under this dispensation until October, 1863, when a charter was granted, and the lodge constituted thereunder in due and ancient form, by Thomas J. Turner, under the name and style it still bears.
The lodge is at present in a nourishing condition, with a roster of membership including seventy names, and meets for work semi-monthly, on the first and third Fridays.
The present officers are: L. L. Munn, W. M.; J. C. Burbank, S. W.; H. W. Dexter, J. W.; C. E. Scott, Treasurer, and D. B. Breed, Secretary.
Freeport Chapter, No. 23, of the R. A. M. was chartered on September, 29, 1854, to a limited number of members, with A. W. Rawson, High Priest; Erastus Torry, King, and Julius Smith, Scribe. Since that date, notwithstanding the chapter has run the gauntlet of experience apportioned to nearly every undertaking in a race against the field, members have been added to its roster yearly, and today it is financially one of the most prosperous chapters in Northern Illinois.
The present officers are Jacob Krohn, High Priest; John Arthur, King, and Jackson S. Rogers, Scribe.
The total membership numbers about one hundred, and meetings are held semi-monthly, on the first and third Tuesdays, in Masonic Hall.
The Freeport Consistory, or lodge, belonging to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, was originally established at DeKalb, whence it was removed to Freeport, May 14, 1869, where it still continues. The consistory is composed of the following: Grand Lodge of Perfection, consisting of one hundred members, officered by James A. Grimes, T. P. G. M.; C. C. Snyder, H. T.; M. D. Chamberlin, V. S. G. W.; E. L. Cronkrite, V. J. G. W.; Thomas Butterworth, G. O.; S. A. Clark, G. T.; J. W. Childs, G. S., and Levi Martin, G. Tiler. Convocations are convened on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.
Freeport Council Princes of Jerusalem also meet on the second and fourth Wednesdavs of each month. Have one hundred members, with the following officers: S". D. Atkins, M. E. S. P. G.; Jacob Krohn, G. H. P. Deputy Grand Master; E. L. Cronkrite, M. E. M. S. G. W.; M. V. Brown, M. E. S. J. G. W.; John Erfert, V. G. Treasurer; J. W. Childs, V. G. Secretary and Keeper of the Seals; J. H. Snyder, V. G. M. of C.; John Arthur, V. G. M. of E., and Levi Martin, Tiler.
Freeport Chapter Pose Croix. One hundred members, convene on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month. The officers are: H. C. Hutchison, M. W. & P. M.; W. S. Best, M. E. &. P. Kt. S. W.; L. L. Munn, M. E. & P. Kt. J. W.; M. Stoskopf, M. E. &. P. Kt. G. O.; E. Northey, R. & P. Kt. Treasurer; J. W. Childs, R. & P. Kt. Secretary; Levi Martin, Tiler.
Freeport Consistory. Convocations semi-monthly, on Wednesdays; one hundred members and the following officers: E. C. Warner, 32°, Commander in Chief; James A. Grimes, 32°, First Lieut. Commander; W. D. Rowell, 33°, Second Lieut. Commander; I. S. Montgomery, 32°, Grand Orator; G. A. Smith, 32°, Grand Chancellor; J. W. Childs, 32°, Grand Secretary; M. D. Chamberlin, 32°, Grand Secretary, pro tern; Jacob Krohn, 32°, Grand Treasurer; W. O. Wright, 32°, Architect and Engineer; L. L. Munn, 33°, GrandM. C; J. S. Gates, 32°, Grand S. B., and Levi Martin, 32°,Grand Sentinel Freeport Commandery, No. 7, K. T., was organized under dispensation from Grand Encampment of the United States, August 19, 1857, A. O. 739; chartered by the Grand Encampment of the United States at its Triennial Conclave held in Chicago September 3, A. D. 1859, A. O. 741. This charter, however, was surrendered to the Grand Commandery of the State of Illinois October 26, A. D. 1859, A. O. 741, which granted a perpetual charter on the same date, with the following members: Sirs Moses R. Thompson, Homer N. Hibbard, Loyal L. Munn, Henry H. Taylor, N. F. Prentice, Galon G. Norton, James F. Kingsley, H. Richardson and John M. Way.
Sir Moses R. Thompson was appointed the first Commander, and followed by Nathan F. Prentice, who was elected in 1859, continuing in that capacity for four consecutive years. He has since been succeeded by Henry H. Tavlor, in 1863; L. L. Munn, 1864-65; M. D. Chamberlin, 1866 to 1871. In the latter year, E. L. Cronkrite was honored with an election to the command of the lodge, followed by W. J. McKim, in 1872; George Thompson, in 1873-74: James S. McCall, in 1875; Edwin C. Warner, in 1876; Leonard T. Lemon, in 1877; Henry Cyrus Hutchison, 1878, E. L. Cronkrite, 1879, and is the present Commander.
The Freeport Commandery has enjoyed an excellent reputation from its organization, and ever been regarded as one of the strongest in the State; it has furnished Sir Nathan F. Prentice as Grand Commander of the State in 1864, and Sir Loyal L. Munn, who is at present Grand Generalissimo of that body, to the State in leading capacities.
The present membership is 110. Stated conclaves are assembled on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.
Evergreen Lodge, No. 170, A., F. $ A. M., was organized in April, 1855, under a dispensation granted by the Most Worthy Grand Master of the State of Illinois to the following brethren: A. T. Green, H. R. Wheeler, Charles Butler. Erastus Torry, James F. Kingsley, William Swanzey, J. F. Ankeney, E. W. Schumway and G. G. Norton.
The first meeting of the Lodge was convened in the Masonic Hall, at the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, on Monday evening, August 16, A. L. 5855, A. D. 1855, since when regular communications have been held on the first and third Mondays of each month.
The charter officers were J. A. W. Donahoo, W. M.; A. T. Green, S. W.; J. F. Kingsley, J. W.; H. R. Wheeler, Treasurer; Charles Butler, Secretary; J. Crow, S. D.; J. Thomas, J. D.; and J. C. Walton, Tiler. The present officers are: Edwin C. Warner, W. M.; James A. Grimes, S. W.; Martin V. Brown, J. W.; Nathan Yount, S. D.; John H. Porter, J. D.; W. H. Cronkrite, Secretary; Daniel Adamson, Treasurer; William Swanzey, Chaplain, and Levi Martin, Tiler. The present membership is ninety-five, and the value of lodge property is rated at $6,000.
This company was organized during the summer of 1877, when militia companies were generally organized throughout the State, on account of the labor strikes, as will be remembered, then prevailing. At that time, the State was without a military code, but the Legislature of 1876-77 adopted a law providing for the formation of a limited number of regiments, under which Company C was recruited by Capt. A. V. Richards, being empowered thereto by a commission dated July 7, 1877, with Henry Burrell and Orin Williams as Lieutenants.
The upper story of a building on Bridge street, now occupied by Robinson's carriage factory, was secured for an armory, where the company met every Friday evening for drill, the non-commissioned officers meeting for the same purpose on Tuesday evenings. The company was at first uniformed at the expense of members, and equipped with Springfield breech-loading rifled muskets and their accouterments. By practice and drill, the company attained a considerable degree of proficiency in the manual of arms, movements, marching, etc., and impressed all who witnessed their efforts so favorably as to cause their assignment as the color company of the regiment.
Pressing business affairs impelled Capt. Richards to tender his resignation during the fall of 1877, but, being disapproved by the Colonel of the regiment, was refused by the Governor. In the month of December the tender was repeated, accompanied by a personal request that it be accepted. This secured the desired release to Capt. Richards, and, in January, 1878, S. D. Atkins was elected his successor. Hettinger's Hall was secured shortly after, and the company was uniformed with funds raised by public subscription.
Soon after the company was organized, Dr. Charles H. Stocking, of Freeport, was, upon the recommendation of Capt. Richards and his subordinates, appointed Regimental Surgeon, with the rank of Major, and is still in the service. The company now numbers fifty-five muskets, commanded by Capt. S. D. Atkins, with Henry Burrell and Orin Williams Lieutenants, and meets for weekly drill on Tuesday evenings.
I. O. Cr. Templars. One of the leading temperance societies in the city was organized on the 3d of March, 1876, at the hall on Stephenson street, with the following members: G. L. Piersol, F. B. and Miss E. L. Piersol, D. Thompson, W. T. Giles, T. M. Bradshaw, G. W. Blaisdell, R. W. Jones, J. P. Jones, A. R. Brown, C. C. Wolf, Kate V. Wolf, Sadie E. Wolf, Mrs. M. M. Meseck, Mary Oyler, John H. Wilson, Mattie H. Wilson, E. N. Race, Mrs. M. M. Hutchison, Minnie Peters, Ellen Guiteau, Alice Robey, Lucretia Bell, Minnie Hardin, A. Chamberlain, G. W. Hartman, Emma Baker, R. J. Hazlett, Jennie Massenberg, S. E. Clark, Benjamin Rhodes, Alice Hale, L. N. Welsh, T. E. Murphy and F. N. Endsley.
The officers were J. T. Jones, W. C. T.; Mrs. M. M. Hutchinson, W. V. T.; John H. Wilson, W. C.; Alpheus R. Brown, Secretary. About one year ago the rooms of the Templars were established in Temperance Hall, Tarbox block, corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, weekly, where the 200 members comprising the lodge discharge their official duties. The present officers are R. T. Hazlett, W. C. T.; Emma Edwards, W. V. T.; and C. C. Wolf, Secretary. The value of lodge property is estimated at $300.
Sons of Temperance Was organized on the 18th of February, 1878, by W. T. Giles, George M. Fugate, L. B. Sanborn, Sarah E. Sanborn, John Hart. J. H. Wilson, the Rev. G. D. Young, T. D. Hirst, the Rev. J. Giffen, Mrs. E. Hirst, and others, who elected as officers, N. F. Taylor, W. P.; G. M. Fugate, R. S.; John Hart, Treasurer, and the Rev. A. Giffen, Chaplain.
The Sons have prospered since their first appearance before the public as advocates of the cold-water creed, and today include full forty names upon their roster of membership, with financial resources that enable them to promote the cause they assume to labor in behalf of.
The present officers are John R. Rosebrough, W. P.; Mrs. Charles Menzie, W. A.; T. D. Hirst, R. S.; Miss Clara Hunter, A. S.; Miss Powell, F. S.; Mrs. J. R. Rosebrough, Treasurer.
Meetings are held weekly on Monday evenings, and society property is valued at several hundred dollars.
The Freeport Reform Club. Organized in 1875, and working in conjunction with other societies engaged in extending the influence of the temperance cause, the Reform Club numbered at one time upward of 1,600 members. Latterly, however, this number has materially diminished, though the work sought to be accomplished is of the most extensive character.
The present officers are John Hart, President; William Swanzey, Vice President; R. J. Hazlett, Secretary; R. J. Hazlett, J. A. Sheetz, W. Swanzey, Charles Menzie, Mrs. W. A. Stevens, Mrs. F. O. Miller, and John Hart, Board of Trustees. Meetings are held at the call of the President, and club property is of nominal value.
Women's Christian Temperance Union. On the 10th of April, 1874, a meeting of the ladies of Freeport enlisted in the cause of temperance was held at the First Methodist Church with a view to ascertain what means could be best employed in the undertaking upon which they were engaged. Mrs. E. Marsh presided, Mrs. J. R. Lemon officiated as Secretary, and there were present Mesdames I. F. Kleckner, E. Hemmenway, F. O. Miller, J. S. Best, L. Fisher, A. W. Ford, S. B. Gilbert, Miss A. Jenkins, and others. The present association was the outgrowth of this meeting, since when the founders and members have labored sincerely and earnestly, with results that have been gratifyingly successful. A constitution and by-laws were adopted at this meeting, and the following officers were elected: Mrs. J. R. Lemon, President; Mrs. I. F. Kleckner, Secretary, and Miss A. Jenkins, Treasurer, the Vice Presidents being composed of one from each congregation in the city.
The meetings were held semi-weekly at first, until the association was gotten fully under way, when they convened but once a week, remaining at the First Church until March, 1876, when the place of meeting was changed to Temperance Hall, corner of Bridge and Chicago streets.
Upon the formation of the State Association, the Freeport Society adopted the constitution and by-laws of the State Union, and has since been an auxiliary thereto. At present the Freeport Division is composed of fifty active members, who are constantly engaged in the labors of temperance, meeting weekly, and aiding by every means at their disposal in promoting its encouragement and growth, not only in their immediate section, but whithersoever their services can be utilized.
The present officers are Mrs. F. O. Miller, President; Mrs. E. V. Kever and Mrs. L. A. Warner, Secretaries; Mrs. L. Sanborn, Treasurer.
Independent Order of Mutual Aid. An association claiming to promote benevolence, charity and mutual protection; to establish upon the mutual-aid plan a fund for the widows and orphans of deceased members, to foster a spirit of mutual co-operation, equalizing the benefits of the young and old. The order guarantees to each member in good standing the payment of $2,000, after death, to such person or persons as, while living, he may indicate; this sum being derived from initiation fees, dues and assessments.
The lodge was organized in Freeport, June 30, 1879, with twenty-two members and the following officers: O. B. Sanford, P. P.; M. D. Chamberlin, President; W. W. Moore, Vice President; J. F. Beaumont, Secretary; W. H. Blosser, Financial Secretary; G. W. Whiteside, Treasurer.
At present there are thirty-nine members, meetings are convened weekly, on Tuesday evenings, and the officers are J. H. Wilson, President; I. N. Roland, Vice President; W. H. Blosser, Secretary, and G. W. Whiteside, Treasurer.
J. H. Addams Lodge, No. 23, A. O. U. W. The lodge of this ancient and honorable order for the uniting of all workingmen in the defense and protection of their own interests, etc., was instituted in Freeport on the 26th of December, 1876, with a total of twenty-two charter members. Meetings were held by those who subsequently became identified with the craft during the month of December, at Temperance and Odd Fellows' Halls, but organization was delayed until the date above designated, when the same was completed and Grange Hall procured for the meetings thereafter held.
When in working order, the officers elected were: G. W. Blaisdell, P. M. W.; David Burrell, M. W.; S. E. Clark, Foreman; A. J. Runner, Overseer; John Wilson, Guide; C. Wolfe, Recorder; John J. Andre, Financier; C. O. Wilson, Receiver; M. H. Eshelman, I. W.; H. H. Upp, O. W. M. Herold, H. Barton and D. Burrell, Trustees; H. Barton, C. O. Wilson and S. De Frain, Business Committee.
On the 4th of October, 1877, a move of the lodge furniture was made to Odd Fellows' Hall, and again on the 1st of January, 1878, to Krohn's Hall, at No. 105 Main street, where meetings are held on the evenings of the second and fourth Wednesdays in each month.
In point of numbers the lodge has not increased since its institution, but in the amount of good accomplished and influence exerted, the Freeport chapter is to be highly commended.
The present officers are A. J. Runner, P. M. W.; L. M. Devore, M. W.; B. B. Dreher, Foreman; M. Herold, Overseer; J. R. Perkins, Recorder; T. M. Brewbaker, Receiver; I. Cohn, Financier; J. W. Kiliion, Guide; F. Rauch, I. W.; J. McKee, O. W.; W. W. Hamilton, Trustee.
Racine Division No. 27, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. This organization of the railroad fraternity was established on the Western Union road at Racine, Wis., on the 10th of June, 1864, under the name and title of Brotherhood of the Footboard. The association prospered at Racine, and attracted to its support the greater proportion of railroad engineers in the West. About October 1, 1871, a lodge was established at Freeport with fourteen members and the following officers: O. C. Hill, Chief Engineer; A. Cadwell, First Assistant; W. O. Stone, Second Assistant, and Jesse Parker, Chaplain.
Meetings were held in Young's Block, on Stephenson, between Adams and Mechanic streets, which were attended, and productive of much profit to members. The objects of the society, as is well known, are for the benefit and protection of the fraternity and the care of their widows and orphans.
The lodge was retained in Young's Block until 1873, when it was removed to the corner of Stephenson and Chicago streets, over the Stephenson County Bank, where it still remains. During the first ten years, a gratifying success has rewarded the efforts of members, and the lodge is now one of the most flourishing of the order. It contains thirty-one members, with the following officers: W. A. West, Chief Engineer; George Dana, First Engineer; D. O'Halleren, Second Engineer; L. W. Bullock, Charles Otis and William Dickinson, Assistants; D. Cole, Guide, and Thomas Yates, Chaplain.
Freeport Division No. 28, Pioneer Relief Association of America. An order of comparatively recent origin, with the home office at Galesburg, was imported into Freeport August 10, 1878, when fourteen members were initiated into the mysteries, and made partakers of the benefits of the association. These latter consist principally of the payment of $20, weekly, to sick or disabled members for a specified period. The money thus paid is obtained from initiation fees, and the further payment by members of quarterly installments, same not to exceed $12 annually.
The charter officers still preside, and the number of members remains the same, five having died and five having been received during the past eighteen months. The officers are: C. G. Sanborn, President; A. V. Richards, Vice President; J. R. Perkins, Secretary. The Executive Committee consists of J. M. Race, Chairman; J. H. Wilson, W. Reinhuber and W. W. Moore, with W. T. Wilcoxon Secretary; J. C. Burbank is the Examining Physician, and a total of $400 has been paid out to members since the organization.
German Benevolent Society. An association of Germans, having for their object the care of the sick, burial of the dead, and protection of the widows and orphans of members. It was organized in the first instance during 1872, with the following constituent members: Joseph Reineke, Charles Pfeiffer, Edward Kraft, Charles Otto, Jacob Kehrer, Jacob Demmel, Christian Pfeiffer, Anton Trapp, A. Schwarze, Ernest Kuenneth, Jacob Becher and Frank Bangasser.
On February 5, 1874, the society was duly incorporated under the laws of the State, and has since attained a gratifying degree of prosperity, both in point of numbers and financial resources. To become a member requires that the applicant should be between the ages of 18 and 45, of reputable character, and free from ailment that would be likely to render him a burden upon the association. The initiation fee is graduated according to the age of petitioner, and the monthly dues are 25 cents. When sick, members receive an allowance of $4 weekly, and if death occurs, decedent's family is paid $150.
The present officers are M. Anslinger, President; John Koch, Vice President; E. Kuenneth, Secretary; F. P. Ohden, Financial Secretary, and A. Schwarze, Treasurer.
The membership numbers seventy-five, and meetings are held monthly, in the evening of each second Monday, at No. 81 Stephenson street.
Germania Society. Previous to 1877, the German residents of Freeport were members of either the Saengerbund or Turn Verein. The former was a musical association, vocal and instrumental, organized in December, 1856, while the Turn Verein, which was established in August, 1855, sought excellence among its members, not only in music but also in athletic sports. These societies were always regarded as among the institutions of Freeport, and the most prosperous of the kind in the West. The Turn Verein erected what is known as Turner Hall, on Galena street, between Adams and Mechanics streets, in 1869, at a cost of $18,000, which remains today one of the most imposing structures in the eastern portion of the city. It is of brick, 60x90, two stories high, the first floor being devoted to store purposes, the second story to the hall of the society, wherein meetings are held and entertainments given.
The objects of both societies being similar, and each society numbering among its members many who belonged to both, it was decided to consolidate and more perfectly harmonize their interests. Accordingly, a meeting was held for this purpose on November 15, 1877, at which the following gentlemen were appointed a Board of Trustees to conclude arrangements in that behalf: Jacob Krohn. D. B. Schulte, F. J. Kunz, John Erfert, M. Hettinger, Philip Arno and W. H. Wagner.
Subsequent meetings were convened for the furtherance of this object, at which a constitution and code of by-laws were adopted, other preliminaries disposed of, and the following officers elected: C. E. Meyer, President; August Kraft, Vice President; R. Hefty, Secretary; M. Anslinger, Financial Secretary; J. M. Walz, Treasurer, and Philip Knecht, Jr., Librarian.
The association has since prospered, at this date including 200 names on the roll of membership; meets the first Wednesday of every month, and during the winter furnishes musical and theatrical entertainments to its immediate friends. The present officers are C. E. Meyer, President; Jacob Kline, Vice President; E. F. Spranger, Secretary; M. Anslinger, Financial Secretary; John Hoebel, Treasurer, and Philip Knecht, Jr., Librarian. The society property is valued at $25,000.
Freeport Driving Park Association Composed of gentlemen interested in developing speed and purity of breed in horses; was incorporated on the 10th of September, 1875, with forty-two members, and a capital stock of $10,000, of which $5,000 has been paid up.
Immediately upon the organization being completed and officers elected, the association projected a number of meetings for the exhibition of speed, which collected a field of famous horses, and promised to be remunerative. These were held as advertised, and more fully detailed in the notice of Taylor's Driving Park, but, owing to the indifference of citizens and lack of patronage, the meetings were abandoned. The association still lives, however, thoroughly solvent, and a member of the National Association.
Though meetings are held annually, on the first Monday in April, the officers elected at the charter meeting still serve. These are J. B. Taylor, President; E. L. Cronkrite, Vice President; W. T Marshall, Treasurer, and A. C. Warner, Secretary. The Executive Board consists of John F. Smith, H. Lichtenberger, F. J. Middleditch, John Hoebel and H. M. Buckman.
Freeport Shooting Club An association composed of the leading citizens of Freeport, having for its object the more complete enjoyment of field sports, the protection of game and fish, and the enforcement of the game laws of Illinois. The club was organized, and a constitution and a code of laws established, July 23, 1878, at which an election of officers was held, resulting in the choice of L. Z. Farwell as President; Dr. W. H. Mills, Vice President; E. B. Hall, Secretary, and J. H. Staver, Treasurer. Jesse Rurchard, C. D. Knowlton, L. Z. Farwell, Dr. W. H. Mills and E. B. Hall, Executive Committee.
The charter members and those who took an active part in the organization of the club, were E. B. Hall, J. H. Staver, Jesse Burchard, George P. Rose, Jr., H. J. Porter, D. W. Burrell, B. W. Merrill, J. J. Piersol, O. B. Bidwell, W. A. Stevens, A. V. Richards, C. D. Knowlton, William Walton and L. Z. Farwell.
The club has a handsome range about half a mile south of the court house, and adjoining the fair grounds, where practice at trap shooting is indulged, regular shoots being had on Friday afternoon of each week, and the member making the best score during the season is awarded a club badge. Spring and fall hunts are undertaken at some of the numerous shooting grounds, within easy access of the city, where camps are established, and the members come and go as their convenience permits.
The present officers are E. B. Hall, President; Dr. W. H. Mills, Vice President; O. C. Lathrop, Secretary; C. D. Knowlton, Treasurer, with the following list of members E. B. Hall, D. W. Burrell, W. H. Mills, W. A. Stevens, L. Z. Farwell, O. C. Lathrop, J. H. Staver, Jesse Burchard, C. D. Knowlton, B. W. Merrill, O. B. Bidwell, William Walton, J. J. Piersol, B. H. Sunderland, A. V. Richards, George P, Rose, Jr., W. W. Moore, W. R. B. Smyth, and William Waddington.
Great Union Band A prominent and meritorious association for the cultivation of music and a taste for the art, was organized in the fall of 1875, with eighteen members under the leadership and management of Prof. D. S. McCosh. The society then was made up of members of the Young America and Germania Musical Associations, which contained some of the choicest talent in the State; as a result, the combination of today is regarded as not only strong but superior. The organization was maintained to its full strength until 1879, when the number was reduced to fourteen, and so continues.
August Croft is the manager of the society affairs, and the property of the band is valued at $500. The band is now under the leadership of John Tappe, and meets weekly, on Tuesday evenings, for practice at the Band Hall, on Stephenson, between Mechanic and Adams streets.
In 1846, soon after the Hydraulic and Manufacturing Company was incorporated, Edward Hanchett and Charles Powell felled timber on the river bank, and shaped it for the raising of a saw-mill, which was immediately begun on the site of the present Goddard Mills. The building was finished in the fall of the same year, being constructed of square timbers, hewed into form with an ax, and, when completed, was 20x45, two stories high, and equipped with the tools peculiar to the business carried on therein, driven by a Parker wheel, a pattern long since gone out of date. The establishment was operated by its builders until 1847, when Hanchett's interest was transferred to D. A. Knowlton, who in turn disposed of the title thus acquired to Benjamin Goddard, who operated the mill in conjunction with Charles Powell until October 8, 1851, when he became sole owner.
In February, 1860, Benjamin and A. P. Goddard procured two run of buhrs, built an addition to the saw-mill, and advertised to do custom milling for residents in the vicinity. The capacity of this venture is estimated at 100 bushels of grain daily, and, during the four years that the grist was ground, an extended patronage was secured.
In 1864, A. P. Goddard became a member of the firm, and radical changes and improvements were begun and completed, which are still in use. The old saw-mill was torn down, the grist-mill improvised to supply a suddenly increased demand for its product, appropriated to other uses, and the present three-story frame, 36x46, was substituted, furnished with five run of buhrs, and put in working order at a cost of $12,000. It is complete in all details, with a capacity of 300 bushels of grain, and 500 bushels of feed daily, and does an extensive business for farmers, store keepers and citizens of Stephenson County and vicinity. Three hands are employed, and the annual business is quoted at $30,000.
Webster & Serf Millers and manufacturers of feed, occupy an establishment at the foot of Bridge street, said to be the first of the kind erected in the present city of Freeport. The business was begun during 1849 or 1850, by John Lerch, who put up a convenient brick edifice, and, furnishing the same with three run of buhrs, began to supply the local demand. The power employed to run the mill was water, obtained from the Hydraulic and Manufacturing Company, and still serving that purpose. Mr. Lerch, continued in the business of milling for about two years, as near as can be ascertained, when a cyclone razed the premises and put a period to his operations. A short time after this circumstance, Jerod Sheetz succeeded to the good will of Mr. Lerch, purchased the water-power, and, erecting the present two-story frame on the site of the old brick, began operations with improved facilities and increased capacity for work. In time, however, Mr. Sheetz disposed of his interest to Jacob Riegard, who remained in possession and active operation until 1866, when he in turn sold to Thomas Webster and William H. Rhodes, who still own the property.
Under the management of the last-named firm, the mill was reconstructed throughout, and remains today one of the most complete enterprises to be found in the city. These gentlemen remained as operators until August, 1879, at which date the firm was dissolved, Martin Serf renting the share of Mr. Rhodes in the business, the latter removing to Kansas, where he recently died. The investment represents a valuation of $25,000; three hands are constantly employed, and the business aggregates many thousand dollars annually.
Freeport Brewery Situated at the corner of Adams and Jackson streets, and conducted by Baier & Seyfarth, was opened to the public, in 1849, as a supply depot for malt liquors by Calvin McGee, with a capacity of about 200 barrels per annum. A year's experience was sufficient to influence the sale of the premises, which were purchased by a Mr. Wade, who ran them until 1852, when a fire put a period to his proprietorship. They were rebuilt, and sold to E. Hetrich, who carried on a prosperous business for years, and died. His widow married William Beck, who perfected some valuable improvements, availing himself of the advantages thus acquired for about four years, when Mrs. Beck was again widowed and succeeded to the business, conducting the same until 1869, when the present proprietors took possession.
These gentlemen made further improvements to those completed under the administration of Mr. Beck, including an ice-house, brewery building and malt house, the same costing in the aggregate fully $10,000, and are at present engaged in the manufacture of a quality of lager not surpassed in the State. They employ eight hands, costing $250 per month, pay out nearly $1,500 for materials for the same period, turn out about 4,000 barrels of beer annually and do a business estimated at $30,000 a year. Their investment is valued at $35,000.
Albion Ale Brewery Is a comparatively recent acquisition to the material prosperity of Freeport, having been established in 1865. To Joseph and George Milner is due the credit of its origin, who, appreciating the demand for pure ales, began their manufacture about the date above mentioned. The originators of the scheme built a roomy brewery, 120x30, on Chicago street, near Oak Place, supplied with every appliance necessary to a successful conduct of the business and the production of a superior grade of the beverage. In time, a wing 30x30 was added to the original structure, and the opinion is ventured that the premises will have to be still enlarged to accommodate the increasing demand for pale, stock and cream ales, and porter, bearing Mr. Milner's brand.
During the fall of 1879, the firm began the manufacture of beer, which has met with favor by consumers. The present capacity of the brewery is represented at 4,000 barrels annually, though that amount is not produced every year. The trade is principally among farmers in this portion of the State, a very small proportion of the manufactured article being disposed of to saloons or retailers, and is quoted at about $10,000 per annum. The investment Mr. Milner considers worth $20,000.
Yellow Creek Brewery Is located on the old stage road from Freeport to Chicago, three miles from the city, and one of the oldest brewing establishments in the county, having been established in 1845 by M. Hettinger who, with John Hettinger, began in a small way and laid the foundation for a business that is at present of the most prosperous character. In 1856, Mr. Kachelhoffer, who became a partner in 1852, retired from the firm, and Adam Aiker assumed charge of the interest thereby resigned (under this firm lager beer cellars were built), remaining until 1860, when his death created a vacancy, filled in the same year by Jacob Haegle, who purchased decedent's interest for $4,000. Immediately thereafter, additions were made to the original property, and, in conjunction with the original founder, conducted the business until 1869. During that year, Michael Roth purchased the Hettinger moiety for $7,500, when the firm became Haegle & Roth, and so remains.
In 1872, improvements were made of an extensive character, embracing an ice-house, warehouse, etc., etc., commodious and convenient, and fitted with the latest machinery. The brewery buildings occupy an elevated site in the center of a nine-acre tract plainly visible from the surrounding country, and valued at not less than $15,000. The firm gives employment to four hands, manufactures a total of 1,500 barrels of beer annually, and does a business of $9,000 per year.
Western Brewery. The origin of this enterprise dates back sixteen years, or to 1864. During that year, Michael and Mathias Steffen, residents of Freeport since 1853, erected two massive stone edifices, each 100x40, and two stories high, to be devoted exclusively to the manufacture of a superior quality of lager beer.
They began business under the most favorable auspices, and for many years occupied a prominent position in the trade, supplying dealers throughout the county with the very best brands of this delightful and exhilarating beverage. They continued actively engaged until the latter portion of 1879, when the property, which consists of three acres of ground, together with the improvements, was sold to Michael Huber, who is now in possession and carrying on the undertaking successfully.
At the present writing, he employs six hands, at a weekly compensation of $40, turning out about 600 barrels of beer per year, but when trade, temporarily limited, increases, he has the capacity for placing double that quantity of the product on the market. He does an annual business stated at $15,000, and his investment is valued at two-thirds that amount.
Freeport Vinegar Works, located at the foot of Spring street, was established early in the sixties, and has been severally owned and operated by Harris & Co., F. E. Josel & Co, W. S. Lamb and Charles E. Meyer, who is the present proprietor, having acquired title by purchase in 1873, for a consideration of $8,000. Immediately upon taking possession, Mr. Meyer effected improvements, increased the number of generators, and the capacity of production from 1,200 to 4,500 barrels per annum, added to the buildings and accomplished other important changes. The premises at present consist of a three-story brick edifice, 100x50, with all the appurtenances indispensable to success in the business, located at a convenient point for shipment, and the headquarters of a thriving trade throughout Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Mr. Meyer at present employs a complete and competent force of workmen, requiring the appropriation of $150 for their payment weekly, and does a yearly business of $35,000.
The Freeport Beet-Sugar Factory. For many years prior to 1871, when this enterprise took shape and culminated in the erection of the factory buildings, the subject of establishing an enterprise of the kind was thoroughly canvassed by capitalists in various portions of the State.
As early as 1867 Jacob Bunn, who was operating a beet-sugar factory at Chattsworth, in Livingston County, made overtures to C. H. Rosenstiel, of Freeport, for a removal of the business to the latter city. The experience of Mr. Bunn at Chattsworth had demonstrated that success and profit were the attendant concomitants of manufacturing sugar from beets but, owing to a variety of causes, the success at that point had not been of that pronounced character which might be attained elsewhere. In consequence of this the factory, which had about $70,000 worth of machinery, was compelled to seek a new location where the soil, water facilities and other requisites could be obtained.
The question of encouraging the enterprise was mooted for some years, but definite action delayed until about March 12, 1871, when a meeting of the citizens of Freeport convened at the opera house and discussed the situation. On the evening of April 8, of the same year, an adjourned meeting was held for the consideration of the subject. Finally negotiations were concluded and arrangements made for the transfer of the machinery from Chattsworth to Freeport, where it was insisted that superior advantages existed; Prof. William Kullberg, of Germany, and Prof. Clark, of Massachusetts, with other scientists, being unanimous in the opinion that land in the vicinity of Freeport was better adapted to the growth of beets, and other facilities for carrying on the business, such as the employment of labor, etc., abundance of water, etc., prompting the removal.
The merit of establishing this additional power for the development of the resources of Stephenson County is due in a great measure to C. H. Rosenstiel, who, convinced of its utility, sources of wealth and other advantages, faltered not till he had accomplished his object. He, in conjunction with Jacob Bunn, of Springfield, and John I. Case, of Racine, Wis., held title to the venture, and, after the disposition of preliminaries incident to the business proper, ground was broken on a tract of seven acres one mile east of the city, donated by Mr. Rosenstiel, and work on the buildings practically begun on the 18th of April, 1871. The immense structures were constructed by contract, the laborers and. artisans employed thereon being residents of Freeport, and prosecuted so successfully that the same were gotten under roof during that year. Work was suspended during the winter, but resumed with the return of spring and continued until completion in the summer of 1872.
These buildings are two stories high, the main building, 377x65, running east and west. At the extreme eastern point of the latter the bone-black house, 142x33, is located, adjoining which on the southwest stands the boiler and engine house, supplied with six boilers, which supply the power necessary to run ten engines of from ten to seventy-five horse-power each. Later in the same year, an addition 120x55 was made to the main building for the storage of beets, an office and residence on the main road for business and residence purposes, and five dwellings for employes east of the office were completed and ready for occupation. In August, the machinery and appurtenances thereto were placed. These consist of centrifugals, vacuum pans, filters, bone-black ovens, each supplied with thirty-two pipes, beet-grinders, copper kettles, etc., etc., and twenty-two miles of pipe, costing, with the buildings, a total of $167,000, supplied by Rosenstiel, Bunn & Case. Still later in the same year, alterations and improvements were completed at an outlay of $50,000, and on the 25th of September, 1872, the work of manufacturing sugar from beets, embracing three processes, was commenced.
The beets are first macerated into fine pulp, and the juice pressed out by rapid centrifugal motion. This pulp is then subjected to a chemical process, in order that the sugar may be free to crystallize. This is done by mingling a certain proportion of the milk of lime, which seizes hold upon organic impurities, iron, magnesia, oxides, and silica and phosphoric acids. The application of steam heat to the bottom of the tank, called the defecating plan, stimulates the formation of a thick scum, composed of impurities mingled with the lime. The liquid is then drawn off from beneath, care being taken to avoid disturbing this scum, and the juice is impregnated with carbonic acid gas, which absorbs the lime and albuminous matter remaining.
The product is then filtered through animal charcoal, after which it is boiled down in vacuum pans, passing thence to the crystallization pans, freed from molasses by a second rapid centrifugal movement, and the raw sugar remains ready for refining, which, being completed, is prepared for market. To do this work satisfactorily, required two sets of hands of eighty each, alternating day and night; sixty-five tons of beets, which undergo seventeen processes, and twenty-five tons of coal. The product varied, of course, but the capacity of the factory is about 200 barrels of sugar per diem.
The establishment was operated by Messrs. Rosenstiel, Bunn & Case during the seasons of 1872, 1873, 1874 and 1875, with indifferent results, owing, as has since been discovered, to the deficient means employed in carbonating the sugar. In the fall of 1875, some difficulties occurred as to the title of the several owners, which were settled by Mr. Rosenstiel gaining control, remaining in charge until the failure of Jacob Bunn, when that gentleman's interest was purchased by his surviving partners, who now own the property in the proportion of one-half each. It was operated as a beet-sugar factory until the fall of 1876, furnishing employment to a force of 200 men, at a monthly compensation of $7,000, and doing a business of $500,000 annually.
In November, 1876, the premises were leased to G. A. Colby & Co. for a term of six years, at an annual rental of $8,000, who changed it into a glucose factory; this continued for about one year, during which 7,500 barrels of sirup were placed on the market, netting the proprietors, it is said, a profit of $26,000. Notwithstanding this alleged prosperity, Messrs. Colby & Co. reached the end of their worsted at the close of the year. The profits accruing in the manufacture of an article, the consumption of which sustained life and promoted health, were sacrificed, it is said, in an effort to perfect a patent, the chief excellence of which was the security afforded in the care of man after death. In other words, what was made in developing the saccharine resources of corn juice was "dropped in an effort to popularize an earthen burial case, rivaling all others in its capacity to resist nature's laws. The unexpired lease came into the possession of A. Collman & Co., bankers in Freeport, who in turn disposed of it for $12,000 to Veiller, Jayne & Co. who are said to have established the first glucose factory in America, at Greenpoint, L. I. commencing January 1, 1879, and continuing until January 1, 1883. They put in four new runs of stone, erected a warehouse, increased the capacity of the factory, etc., and today consume 2,000 bushels of corn each twenty-four hours, or 600,000 bushels annually, employing a force of 100 men at a monthly compensation of $6,000, and do a business of nearly $1,000,000 per year, paying for freights alone the sum of $150,000. The investment represents a valuation of about $250,000.
W. G. & W. Barnes, Manufacturers, Jobbers and Dealers in Agricultural Implements, Machinery, etc. Located in the square bounded by Mechanic, Stephenson and Bridge streets, and one of the most extensive of the kind in Northern Illinois. The firm is composed of Walter G. and William Barnes, father and son, who commenced business in 1865, at Nos. 91 and 93 Galena street. In forming the partnership, the idea prevailed that it would continue many years, and, in the course of events, the father would be likely to retire before the son, hence it was thought best to place the name of the latter first.
Mr. William Barnes, who had been engaged in commercial pursuits for years, removed from Pennsylvania to the West in 1857, and to Freeport, three years later. The son entered the army at the breaking-out of the war, and, barring a brief absence on account of ill-health, served with credit until the close of hostilities, when he returned to Freeport and entered as a partner in the present firm.
Business was at first of a local character, but increased in volume with each succeeding year, until finally, from small beginnings, it has extended throughout the West, and become a source of immense profit to its founders.
In 1874, so enormous had grown the demands of customers that it was found necessary to enlarge the capacity of their business. Thereupon, the old Montelius property, at the corner of Stephenson and Mechanic streets and extending to Bridge street, was purchased for $10,000, and improvements made thereon at a cost of $40,000. These latter consist of a warehouse and office, built of brick, one story high, 75x80, and containing every variety of agricultural implements, wagons, tools, etc., for sale.
The machine shop is also of brick, three stories high, 60x40, supplied with machinery of every description, from the most powerful lathes and drills to the most delicate saw. Attached to this is the foundry, engine and boiler rooms, complete in every detail, representing an investment of many thousands of dollars, and furnishing the means of employment to an aggregate force of sixty men, requiring a weekly outlay of $800 for wages alone.
The line of manufacture includes the Invincible and Triumph walking cultivators, Peerless and hand rakes, hand and power shellers, harrows, fanning mills, hay elevators, grapples, hooks, barows, etc. The firm are also agents for Aultman & Co., of Canton, Ohio, and the business controlled by the Messrs. Barnes extends all over the West. Their customers reside in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and California, and to supply their wants requires the employment of five traveling men, who are constantly on the road. The firm's business is stated at $250,000 annually, the largest of its kind in this portion of the State.
F. S. Taggart's Foundry and Machine Shop. An extensive industrial enterprise first started in Freeport, at the corner of Mechanic and Stephenson streets, in 1876, where Mr. Taggart began with $25 cash and five hands, his undertaking being attended by the cheerful predictions of sympathetic friends that in about three months he would be open to engagements. Mr. Taggart, however, was undismayed by the prophecies of these self-constituted Cassandras, and continued to realize abundant success, at the close of the year his business footing up over $8,000. In 1877, he removed his foundry for the purpose of securing more desirable quarters, but, after a short stay, was obliged to again remove for similar causes, when he determined to erect a foundry that should contain room and conveniences more harmoniously proportioned to his business.
A lot at the corner of Mechanic and Spring streets was accordingly purchased for $1,500, and in the fall of 1878 ground was broken for the foundations of his present structures. These consist of a machine shop 100x40, two stories high, an engine house and foundry of smaller dimensions, each one story in height, all built of brick, and, when finished in 1879, a decided ornament to the eastern part of the city. They cost, complete and furnished, an aggregate of $10,000, were taken possession of in the spring of 1879, and have been run without intermission since, turning out immense quantities of stock, and attracting a wide-spread and remunerative custom.
The manufactures of the establishment include castings, building fronts, pulleys, hangers, sleigh shoes, iron kettles, etc., etc. Thirty men are employed, at a monthly cost of about $1,500; the business is quoted at $70,000 annually, and the investment at $25,000.
Novelty Iron Works Occupy the corner of Chicago and Jackson streets, and are conducted by E. H. and Charles Morgan, composing the firm of Morgan Brothers. The business was first established by the present firm in 1868, on the present site, in two small brick buildings, where a total of ten hands were employed in the machine-shop and foundry. In 1874, the old buildings, becoming too contracted, were torn away, and the present commodious quarters, consisting of a machine-shop, foundry, engine-room, and quarters connected therewith, substituted at an expense of $25,000. They are large, complete in all their appointments, and not surpassed in the city by any similar premises.
In 1877, J. P. Easter was accepted as a partner, and the firm began the manufacture of plows on a large scale, which was continued about one year, when the original firm name was restored, Mr. Easter retiring, and has since remained. The business of the works, in addition to the usual class of castings turned out, include the Swords windmill, of which 300 are completed annually, farm pumps, store fronts, iron pavements, etc., etc., employing an average of twenty-five men at a monthly cost of about $1,000, with a business stated at $40,000 per year. The investment at present represents a valuation of say $25,000.
O. A . Stiles & Co., Foundry and Machine Shops. Located on the river bank, between Stephenson and Bridge streets, were established October 1, 1876, though Mr. Stiles and W. S. Lamb, composing the firm, had been engaged in the business elsewhere, as also in Freeport, for many years previous the former in Rockton, with Richard Griffith, in the manufacture of fanning mills, and the latter in Ohio. These gentlemen bring to the business a long experience, and every improvement, either in design or practical utility, completed at the present time, and applicable to agricultural machinery.
Their manufacture includes cultivators of the Favorite, Peerless, and other brands; the Excelsior fanning-mill, etc., etc., made of the best materials and in the most thorough and workmanlike manner. In addition to the patterns cited, the establishment manufactures machinery to order; also, windmills, which are shipped to all parts of the West. Their business extends into the Territories, in addition to that transacted in Illinois and the Western States, requiring the services of twenty-five men, at a weekly salary of $300, to supply the demand, and aggregating $40,000 per annum.
The foundry is supplied with hydraulic and steam power, both of which are employed in operating the machinery.
Freeport Machine, Boiler and Ornamental Iron Works Was first established some years ago, by Walldorf & Wahler, but remained closed after this firm dissolved until July, 1880, when W. C. Siebert took charge, and is doubtless at present operating the same.
Windmill and Pump Factory. That of H. Woodmanse, at the foot of Galena street, was established in 1872. As early as 1868, Mr. Woodmanse opened a depot for the sale of agricultural implements, in the Malburn Block, corner of Stephenson and Dock streets, devoting his attention particularly to handling the Marsh Harvester, 1,700 of which he disposed of in six years. At the date above mentioned he opened his present factory, which fronts on Galena, Dock and Railroad streets, possessing extensive facilities, and placing an immense amount of goods on the market each year. Latterly, he has confined his business to the manufacture of the Woodmanse Windmill, for which superiority is claimed over rival patents, and farm pumps, turning out 2,000 of each every year. He employs thirty-five men, and does a business of $100,000 annually.
J. H. Snyder, Pumps, Ladders, etc. Is located on the corner of Bridge and Adams streets, where it was originally established in 1862, by C. M. Shatter and J. H. Snyder, and the business conducted under the firm name of C. M. Shaffer & Co. At first the manufacture was confined to wooden pumps of various patterns, but, experiencing a demand for sash, doors, blinds and other house furnishings, included these in the articles they placed upon the market. Along in 1870, finding the unpretentious quarters in which they had begun business nine years previous, too contracted, the firm erected the present handsome brick structure, finished substantially and adapted to their wants, at a cost of $3,000.
The building is 38x70, three stories high, and with its appurtenances occupies a prominent place on the list of Freeport enterprises. In 1871, Mr. Shaffer disposed of his interest to H. H. Upp, and under the administration of the firm of which that gentleman at that time became one of the interested factors, additions in the shape of buildings, machinery, conveniences, etc., were made to those cited, and supplied the demand made by increasing business. The new firm remained in existence until January, 1876, when a dissolution was concluded, Mr. Upp retiring, his interest being absorbed by that held by his partner, who thereafter, and at present is engaged in conducting the affairs solus. He turns out 1,000 pumps annually, separate and apart from the other lines of manufacture that engage his attention, and does a business of not less than $25,000 yearly, employing an average of twelve men, at a weekly compensation of $100.
Waddell Brothers' Planing-Mill At the corner of Spring and Liberty streets, is one of the leading manufacturing industries of the city. The firm, which consists of J. R. & T. L. Waddell, who have been residents of Freeport since 1846, was established in 1877, when these gentlemen became the successors of C. M. Shaffer & Co., largely engaged in the manufacture of sash, doors, blinds, moldings, brackets and all kinds of building materials. At that date, the present firm purchased the Shaffer interest for $17,000, and have added largely to their purchase since. The business is conducted in a commodious brick building 44 x60, two stories high and equipped with new machinery of the latest and most approved pattern. The first floor is occupied by a boiler and engine room contained in fire proof apartments, the balance of the story being devoted to the manufacture of dressed lumber, doors, blinds, etc., and furnished with planers, saws, stickers, smoothing machines, etc. The second floor is used for finishing, polishing and details. This contains jig and rip saws, smoothers, mortising and blind-slat machinery of large capacity, for work in every department.
The firm turn out an aggregate of 3,000,000 feet of dressed lumber annually, together with immense quantities of every grade and variety of manufactured mill work, which find ready sale in all the suburban county towns within a radius of forty miles of Freeport. They employ a force of ten men, requiring the weekly payment of $70, and do a business of $20,000 annually. The investment is valued at $15,000.
D. O. Stover's Experiment Works Located in the old Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Walnut and Stephenson streets, have been recently established by Mr. Stover, who is an old citizen and identified with mechanical interests of the West for many years. Mr. S. is the inventor of a wind-will bearing his name, barb fence wire machinery, and other patents made practicable; he first came to Freeport in 1866, and became connected with the establishment of Jere Pattison, then with Stiles & Jenkins, machinists and engine builders, and finally opening works at the place above designated. His line of work will consist of originating and completing plans and improvements in machinery, which will be patented, tested and sold, the manufacture of which will be carried on elsewhere by the purchaser or assignee. The works are at present writing far from completed, but their readiness for business will not be delayed beyond early in the fall. When running to full capacity, Mr. Stover will employ a force of six hands, and anticipates carrying a large stock.
J. W. Henney & Co., Carriage and Buggy Manufacturers. The present extensive business of this firm is the result of a small beginning made by the senior partner eleven years ago at Cedarville, one of the thriving suburban towns that light up and beautify the landscape of Stephenson County in the neighborhood of Freeport. In 1869, Mr. Henney opened a shop in that village for the building of wagons and other qualities of rolling stock with "one fire and three men.
Seven years of apprenticeship to the needs of the purchasing public had brought Mr. Henney into close communion with the requirements of the market, and enabled him to turn out a superior quality of workmanship which created a demand that has increased with years, and, at present, is found difficult to supply. In 1876, he increased the capacity of his works at Cedarville, and formed a partnership with John Wright, at the same time opening a repository for the storage and sale of his goods in the Germania Hall, on Galena street, city of Freeport. Business increased, as was expected, and, in 1878, Mr. Henney purchased Saladee's Eclipse Spring, the substitution of which for the elliptic and other springs previously used in the manufacture of his buggies, Mr. H. thinks has contributed materially to the success which has attended his business.
On the 1st of December of the same year (1878), he removed his manufactory to the city, locating at the corner of Stephenson and Adams streets, and increasing his laboring force to forty men, when O. P. Wright became a partner by the transfer to him of one-half the interest held by John Wright. The orders during this and the following year became so numerous, and the amount of stock it became necessary to carry so large, that, in 1879, the buildings erected for the convenience of the Huber Carriage Works, at the corner of Bridge and Adams streets, were obtained, and a final move made thereto.
In these enlarged premises a vehicle is begun in the rough in one portion, and sent out from the shipping room complete in every detail, and as handsome in finish as a bit of choice furniture. The manufacture of the firm includes extension phaetons, carriages, wagonettes, coal box, whitechapel, piano box and other styles of road wagons, together with coaches, landaus, cabriolets, democrats, etc., etc., supplied with the eclipse spring, which is said to be an outgrowth of the Dexter and Triple springs, combining all known improvements on the extension springs, possessing durability, and rendering the ease of riding superior to that furnished by the elliptic and other springs.
The firm manufacture 600 vehicles of the choicest descriptions annually, consuming 3,000 yards of broadcloth and 1,000 hides in their work, employing forty men, under the supervision of Frank Northrop, at a weekly cost for wages of $300, and doing a yearly business estimated at $100,000.
Kline's Carriage and Wagon Factory Situated at the corner of Van Buren and Bridge streets, was founded by Jacob Kline, in October, 1858, and is the oldest enterprise of the kind, established and carried on by the same person, in Freeport. His business, at first limited, has increased to large proportions, and the small, contracted and inconvenient quarters originally occupied, have gradually developed into a commodious manufactory.
In 1860, he razed the frame premises that then occupied the present site, substituting therefor a handsome brick edifice, which received additions in 1871, and again in 1875, until today his establishment is one of the most prominent on the street. His line of manufacture embraces buggies, carriages, spring and farm wagons and other vehicles of travel, and his business each year foots up a total of $15,000. Ten hands are employed requiring the sum of $125 weekly, and his investment is represented as worth $10,000.
Novelty Carriage Works Located near the corner of Chicago and Bridge streets, are conducted by J. L. Robinson; turn out a superior quality of work, which has met with more than ordinary demand throughout the county. The business was commenced at Ridott, in 1873, by Mr. Robinson, where he remained for three years, supplying the calls of customers, which gradually increased in numbers, until they became too numerous for the comparatively limited resources to be there obtained, when he removed to Freeport and established himself in the brick building he at present occupies, erected especially for his accommodation. Here he has every facility for the manufacture of varieties of buggies and wagons, the construction of which is under the supervision of skilled mechanics, whose efforts are directed to excellence in the product. The patronage received is merited and aids largely not only in encouraging home industries, but also in building up and benefiting the city.
Mr. Robinson employs an average of eight hands at a weekly compensation aggregating $100, and does a business of $14,000 annually. The investment is valued at $10,000.
Carriage Works of T. L. J. Klapp Located at the north end of Chicago street, was established in 1857 by John Klapp, at the corner of Chicago and Galena streets. Here he remained, building up a business and acquiring prominence and reputation, until some time during the war, when his enterprise was overtaken by fire and entirely consumed. Soon after this calamity, he erected a portion of his present establishment, which, with additions since made, is now 90x44, three stories high, built of brick, and favorably adapted to the business for which it was designed.
In 1873, Mr. Klapp retired from active participation in the affairs of the works and was succeeded by his son, the present proprietor, who has enlarged the facilities, and is today constantly occupied in the building of every description of vehicle, from a skeleton to a double-seated carriage, employing ten hands at a weekly expense of $75, and doing a business of $20,000 per year. The investment represents a valuation of $10,000.
Carriage and Wagon Factory of John Wertman Was established in Freeport twenty-two years ago, one of the earliest, if not the original, undertaking of the kind begun in the present city. His establishment first materialized in a hollow on Bridge street, between Clay and Van Buren streets, where he began in a small way and with but moderate encouragement. In 1856, he removed to his present quarters, where, with one or two exceptions, he has since remained. His manufactures embrace every grade of buggies and spring wagons, employing five hands, and doing an annual business of $2,000.
Mr. Wertman's shops are on the ground occupied by the first schoolhouse erected in Freeport.
Emmert's Churn Factory Situated on Manufacturer's Island, near the foot of Adams street, was established in 1868, since which time an extended business has been built up, and a permanent success guaranteed. Prior to this date, Mr. Emmert was engaged in the hardware business on Stephenson street, in the house at present occupied by Burchard Scott, where he was more prominently identified with the trade than any other dealer of the kind in Freeport.
Early in 1868, having perfected certain improvements in the ordinary churn, combining simplicity, durability, etc., he began their manufacture, and placed them on the market under the name of the Climax churn. His first beginning was made in a small, unpretentious building at the corner of Chicago and Spring streets, where, with three men, he sought to gladden the hearts of dairymen and women throughout the land by the building of a churn which should effect a revolution in the art of butter-making. He remained here for about one year, when the limited room afforded for work compelled a removal to the third story of a building on the site of that at present occupied.
In 1870, Mr. Emmert's business was temporarily suspended by a visitation of the elements, in which the premises were destroyed by fire, his net loss being $8,000. The place was rebuilt at once, however, Mr. Goddard, the owner of the same, substituting a handsome two-story brick for the ancient building burned down, into which Mr. Emmert moved in 1871, and has since occupied.
His manufactures embrace the Climax churn, Emmert windmill, "Emmert step and extension ladders, Emmert patent elastic check ease, and tread-powers, employing an average of twelve hands, at a weekly cost of $120, and doing a business of $50,000 per year. His investment is quoted at $10,000.
Taylor's Tannery Located on the east bank of the Pecatonica; was established in 1864, on Jackson street, near the gas works. Here Mr. Taylor operated a total of fifty vats, requiring the services of ten men, and doing a large business until January 8, 1878, when his establishment was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of $12,000.
Immediately upon being rendered homeless by this visitation of the elements, Mr. Taylor erected his present establishment, of which, within the year in which his tannery on Jackson street was burned, he took possession and was again at work. The building is of brick, 120x55, three stories high, containing forty vats, and giving employment to nine hands, from whose labor he turns out 8,000 pieces annually.
In this connection, Mr. Taylor carries on a manufactory of horse-collars, at his store on Stephenson street, where he employs five hands, placing 750 dozen collars on the market per annum, which find ready demand in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and the Territories. The tannery consumes 300 cords of bark annually, and for stock to supply this and the collar factory necessitates the expenditure of $34,000 each year.
Hoover's Soap Factory Conducted by D. Hoover, was begun in the first instance during the year 1866, on Galena street, opposite Turner Hall. He remained here until the fall of 1873, when he removed to his present site, on the Cedarville road, three-quarters of a mile north of the city, where, after experiencing the total loss of his establishment by fire twice, once January 28, and the second time on February 20, both in the current year(1880), he completed his building, and is once more engaged in business. The last factory built is of frame, 24x55, two stories high, and, though far from being a Salamander, the proprietor indulges the hope that he has provided such safe-guards against future attack, that he will be spared a repetition of his previous losses.
He manufactures 100,000 pounds of laundry soap each year, which finds a market throughout the State, employs a force of four hands, at a weekly compensation of $30, and does an annual business of $15,000. The investment is valued at $2,500.
The Copper Scroll Lightning Rod Company Was organized in the year 1861 by Oscar Taylor, a resident of Freeport since 1842, and one of her enterprising spirits. Upon completing arrangements for the manufacture of his commodity, Mr. Taylor leased the premises at the corner of Bridge street and Galena avenue, where for many years he carried on the trade, employing a large force of men and consuming immense quantities of raw material.
In 1867, the present company was incorporated, with a capital stock of $25,000. D. H. Sunderland was elected President, with Oscar Taylor, Secretary, and the capacity of the establishment was largely increased, turning out some years 210,000 feet of rod, in the manufacture of which 30,000 pounds of copper were utilized. In 1873, the hard times and stringency in the money markets induced the company to contract its trade and limit its manufacture to the demand of responsible customers, and since that date it has been so employed in a business, which, though not so extensive as heretofore, is eminently remunerative and safe. The manufactory now occupies quarters in the basement of the German Insurance Building, and is constantly operated under the management and direction of Oscar Taylor, the original founder.
Soda Water Factory Maintained by Galloway & Snooks, occupies a building near the corner of Jackson and Walnut streets, erected forty years ago by Benjamin Goddard, when it was one of the first hotels known to Freeport, and as such furnished food and shelter to many who came West at that early day to grow up with the country.
The present business was established in 1872, as the successor of Crotty Brothers, and includes a patronage extending throughout the city and adjoining country.
The line of manufacture is soda water, champagne cider, root beer, etc., of which an aggregate of 2,000 gross are put upon the market annually, furnishing employment to four men, at a monthly cost of $125, and doing a business of $3,000 per year. The investment represents a valuation of $5,000.
John Jacob Himes Cooper Shop One of the largest enterprises of the kind west of Chicago, has had a local habitation and name in Freeport for upward of a quarter of a century. Mr. Himes first came to the city of his adoption and future home from Pennsylvania in 1850 a practical cooper, and entered the service of Jacob Smith, where he remained about one year. In 1851, he established a shop near the corner of Liberty and Washington streets, and, unaided by adventitious circumstance or exterior influence, laid the foundation for that extensive business with which he has for many years been so intimately associated.
In 1853, he became associated with the son of his first employer in the West, and, in 1857, removed to his present site. He purchased the lot for $100, which was drained and raised to a level with the street at great expense, and erected a commodious shop, supplied with all the equipments his then large and growing business demanded. Soon after, he put up a store-room on the same premises, 118x24, which was subsequently re-modeled into a machine-shop for the manufacture of materials. At that time he employed a force of twenty men, and turned out a total of 25,000 barrels, made up for flour, pork and whisky.
Here he continued until 1868, when business stagnation and limited demands for his product influenced him to remove to Boscobel, Wis., where he added largely to his fortune in the manufacture of staves, hoops, etc., for the Milwaukee and Chicago markets. After nine years' experience in his new field, he returned to Freeport, re-establishing himself in his old quarters, and began the manufacture of barrels for the sirup company, in which he is still engaged.
He employs a force of thirty men, with a weekly pay-roll of $250, turning out 25,000 barrels annually, and doing a business of $30,000 per year. His investment is rated at $10,000.
Freeport Lime Works Were established in 1868 by Bernard Hunkemier and Anton Behring, and have since been attended with a successful experience. They consist of three large kilns, erected in the year mentioned, at a cost of $2,500 each, and with a combined capacity of 720 bushels per day of a superior quality. These gentlemen conducted the business, with an office in Chicago, until 1873, when Mr. Hunkemier disposed of his interest to Elias Perkins, after which the firm was known as Behring & Perkins, and so continued until 1877, when Mr. Behring assumed entire control.
The works are located in an immense quarry west of the city, on the line of the Illinois Central Railroad, complete in every particular, and turn out what is conceded to be a superior quality of lime, thoroughly burned, and with a very small percentage of waste.
In November, 1878, Frederick Gund and others obtained control of the business, paying $6,750 for the improvements, though Mr. Behring remained in charge until January 1, 1880, when the present firm of Lawless Wohlford & Co. rented the works for one year for a consideration of $545, and are now operating the same.
The firm employ a force of seven men, at a weekly salary of $100, and anticipate the business will foot up $10,000 during the period of their tenancy.
Freeport Brick Company Was established in 1872 by Thomas and Patrick Grant, incorporated in June, 1873, and offers superior inducements to citizens contemplating the erection of any kind of buildings. The yards are located at the corner of Galena avenue and Wissler street, consisting of ten acres, the soil of which is peculiarly adapted to the business, and equipped so completely that the firm is able to mold 20,000 per diem, or 3,000,000 during the season of five months devoted to work. These include pressed and common grades, and find ready sale throughout Stephenson and adjoining counties, some of the prominent edifices in Freeport, including the Baptist Church, being constructed of this product, which, by the way, was awarded the first premium at the State Fair holden at Peoria in 1873.
The Grant Brothers have been residents of Freeport for the past twenty years; are identified with the interests of the city, and are shrewd, enterprising, liberal-minded citizens, who have built up an enormous business by the exercise of tact, industry and reliability. They employ a force of eighteen men, at a weekly cost of $100, and value their investment at $10,000.
Truncks Brick Yards Owned and conducted by Frank and Oliver Truncks, are located on Galena avenue, corner of Foley street, where they were established in 1872.
The brothers manufacture a total of one million five hundred thousand brick of common and superior grades per annum, employ an average of eight hands, and do a business of $5,000 each year.
Edwin Perkins' Brick Yard Located on five acres of ground at the eastern extension of Adams street, was established in 1855, by the gentleman whose name heads this notice. During the season, which extends from May to November, Mr. Perkins manufactures a total of seven hundred and fifty thousand brick of various grades of excellence, which are sold in all parts of the county He employs eleven men, at a weekly cost of $80; does a business of $3,000 annually, and regards his investment as worth $5,000.
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Stories, Volume 1
Part Three - Freeport
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