Newton Bateman.

Historical encyclopedia of Illinois online

. (page 197 of 207)
Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 197 of 207)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Township, where he was born, November 9,
1849; educated in the common schools. His
parents, James and Safrona (Bland) William-
son, were both natives of Indiana. Mr. Will-
iamson's father came from Sangamon County,
Illinois, to Knox County in 1833. He
had nine sons. May 28, 1874, Frank M.
Williamson married in Galesburg his first
wife, Margaret Warren; they had five chil-
dren: Warren, Elsie, George, Maud aifd Mag-
gie. The first Mrs. Williamson died in 1889, and
October 15, 1891, Mr. Williamson married his
second wife, Nettie Goddard, in Warren
County: she was a daughter of Robert God-
dard. They had two children: Ruby and Pearl.
Mr. Williamson is a member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church. In politics, he is a repub-
lican, and was elected Justice of the Peace three
terms; the first time was during Governor
Oglesby's last term of office.

CITY OF abi>(;do\.

By Samuel T. Mosser.

Abingdon, the second city in Knox County in
population and importance, was originally laid
out in 1836, by Abraham Davis Swarts, on the
southwest quarter of Section 33, Township 10
North, Range 1 East, its southern boundary
being at first coincident with that of the town-

Mr. Swartd came to Illinois from Abingdon,
Harford County, Maryland, in 1821, and at first
settled near Walnut Hill, Jefferson County.
Eight years later he removed to the present site
of Monmouth, and soon afterwards (in August,
1829) settled on a farm about three miles north
of the present city of Abingdon. In 1833, he took
up his residence on the northeast quarter of Sec-
tion 32, the present site of Abingdon Cemetery,
and at the same time purchased the soutbern
half of Section 33. He was a man of means,
for that time, public-spirited and philanthropic.
It was one of his earliest and most cherished
hopes to found a college at Abingdon, but he
died before realizing his dream. His children,
however, ultimately became leaders in a move-;

ment to carry out his project. [See Hedding

The first house to be built in the new town
was the log cabin of Josiah Stillings, which
stood on the southwest corner of Block 6. It
was enlarged the following year, and in it A.
Bowman and John W. Green opened the first
store of the incipient village. Other early mer-
cantile and manufacturing ventures are worthy
of mention, as illustrating gradual growth.

Mr. Swarts early conveyed four lots to David
Reece, on condition that he should open a shop
for the manufacture of furniture. Mr. Reece
used a portion of his dwelling house for this
purpose, and it was at his home that his son,
Alonzo N., was born in 1838, and where his son.
Dr. Madison Reece, was reared. The first named
enjoys the distinction of having been the first
white child born within the present corporate
limits. Directly south of the furniture shop
James Smith opened the first shoe shop, about
1838. The original blacksmith, Abraham
Swarts Nichols, located his shop on the north-
east corner of the same block. No. 6. About
the year 1839 Cornelius and James Dempsey
built a carding mill on the southwest corner of
Block No. 4. After operating it for a short
time they disposed of the plant to T. S. Bas-
sett. He failed to make it earn a profit, and
transformed it into a planing mill, doing a re-
munerative business in the manufacture of
sashes, blinds and doors. With the growth of
the demand for building material, a saw mill
and a brick yard became necessities. A. D.
Swarts and Josiah Stillings were the first to
erect the former, on the Berwick road, some
four miles west of Abingdon, and a second saw
mill was built not many years afterward, b?
John E. Chesney. Cager Creel and O. P. Swarts
established the first brick yard, in 1842, about
one-half mile north of the site of Hedding Col-

John E. and J. B. F. Chesney were both
among the early settlers, and the latter is cred-
ited with having been among the first to invent
the modern plow. Early in the forties, a Mr.
Cochran began making pumps from hewn logs,
the tubing being of hickory and the stock of
white oak. Tne first flouring mill was built in
1856, by Barr and Hoffman. It stood on the
corner of Jefferson and Pearl streets, and was
subsequently sold to John W. Thompson, who
transferred the business to Roseville.

The settlement began to grow very early in
its history. In 1837 an auction sale of lots was



held, and not !ess than forty were sold. In-
corporation as a village did not follow for sev-
eral years. Unfortunately the records of that
event have been lost; but it occurred about IS 15.
The first addition was laid out April 2, 1849, by
Frederic Snyder. It was on the south, and lay
within the northeast quarter of Section 4 of
Indian Point Township. Three others were laid
out in 1854, two by Mr. Snyder and one by Mr.
Swarts. Others were platted in 1855 by Messrs.
Swarts and Wilson, and three more by Mr. Sny-
der, in 1856.

In 1857 Abingdon was incorporated as a city,
the several additions mentioned being all in-
cluded within the corporate limits. The charter
was approved February 13, 1857, and the first
election held April 21. following. The provis-
ions of the instrument reflected the moral senti-
ment of the people, gaming houses, saloons, and
even billiard tables falling under the ban of
prohibition. The legislative power is vested in
a Board of four Aldermen who, as well as the
Mayor, hold office for one year. A list of the
city's chief executives, with the dates of their
respective terms, is given below:

W. H. Gillespie, 1857-58-60 and '64; Thaddeus
Merrill, 1859; Henry Frey, 1861-62-67 and '77;
D. D. Shoop, 1863; A. J. Thompson, 1865; S. M.
Lewis, 1866; C. C. Lewis, 186S; William M.
Yeatch. 1869-70 and '84; J. B. Strode, 1871-72;
Abner Vickery, 1873-74 and '78; William John-
ston, 1875-80; H. C. Murphy, 1876; John Mosser,
1879-81-88 and '91; William B. Main, 1882;
Thomas Newell, 1883 and '87; William V. Tro-
villo, 1885-86; J. F. Latimer, 1889; S. D. Hall,
1890; Thomas Austin, 1892 and '98; H. R.
Crouch, 1893-94; John G. Burnaugh, 1895; Cor-
liss G. Mosser, 1896-97; James Richey, 1899.

A postoffice was opened in 1863, and Mr. A. D.
Swarts was the first postmaster. He named it
Harford, after the county in Maryland from
which he had emigrated, just as he had called
the town Abingdon in honor of his early home.
In order to avoid confusion, however, both
postoffice and village were later given the same
name. Mr. Swarts was succeeded by D. Reece,
and he by the following list of incumbents: S.
H. Richey, W. Shannon, B. Bradbury, W. D.
Lomax, Jesse Chesney, A. B. Cochran, T. E.
Glvens, William M. Veatch, S. McWilliams and
J. W. Maginnis.

The early years of the young city's history
were marked by prosperity. As early as 1851,
brick came into use in the building of stores,
the first, of this material, being erected by J.

B. F. Chesney on the northeast corner of Main
and Martin streets. In 1853, the second brick
store building was erected by D. K. Hardin, on
the northwest corner of Main and Martin
streets. In 1870, John H. Chesney, who occu-
pied this building, built his new brick store
building joining this on the north, which
was the beginning of the brick block on the
west side of Main street. At the same time the
Masonic building was erected, also the next
building north, by F. P. Foltz, ^nd still another
by Henry Frey. The largest store of this period
was that of John H. Chesney, who had three
rooms connected. There is no doubt but that
he did the largest retail business of anyone
who has ever done business in Abingdon. In
the following year, 1871, Lyman Sanderson
erected two more brick store buildings joining
Frey's on the north. The first one was occu-
pied by S. D. Pollock as a drug store; the other
by John Mosser as a general store. In 1873, the
corner-stone was laid for the new building of
Hedding College; the brick store building of
W. H. Heller, and numerous residences were
built the same year.

In 1855, Abingdon was made a station on the
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and
twenty-eight years later the Iowa Central line
also passed through the place. These circum-
stances not a little added to its commercial im-
portance in the surrounding country. During
the Civil War, however, building was compara-
tively at a standstill, the perpetuity of the
Union, enlistments, and the success and com-
fort of the soldiers at the front engrossing pub-
lic thought and care. Another, and later,
hindrance to the city's prosperity happened in
1874, when the inhabitants separated into fac-
tions concerning the internal dissensions in
the management of Abingdon College. Citizens
were hung in effigy, assaults were not infre-
quent, and even the lives of some of the leaders
on either side were threatened. In fact, there
are those who opine that this factional fight
actually turned back the city's progress by fit-
teen years. Sidewalks fell into decay and were
not repaired: weeds grew along the sides of the
thoroughfares; no new buildings were erected,
and even those standing failed to receive a sadly
needed coat of paint.

Prior to this, however, — in 1869 — a steam
flouring mill was erected by Jefferson and James
Dawdy. It was known as the "Highland Mills,"
and had a somewhat checkered existence. It
was burned within a few months after com-



pletion, rebuilt, and again partially wrecked by
a boiler explosion, in 1S74. It was repaired, but
again burned to the ground, in 1882, and never
rebuilt. Other manufacturing concerns located
at Abingdon are the Animal Trap Company, the
Abingdon Wagon Company, and the Globe Man-
ufacturing Company's plant for the making of
workingmen's clothing.

The first named of these three owes its origin
to the invention of a mouse-trap by W. C.
Hooker. The inventor, with John E. Cox and
K. R. Marks, were the original incorporators,
Messrs. Cox and Marks having closed out their
profitable hardware business in order to em-
bark in the enterprise. The beginning was very
modest, but the growth has been rapid and
steady. Their present factory, on Meek street,
was erected in 1896, and is said to be the largest
manufactory of traps in the world. The com-
pany exports largely, both to Europe and to
South America, and employs about a hundred

The Abingdon Wagon Company was removed
from Clinton, .owa, to Abingdon in 1895. To
secure this removal an addition to the city was
platted, east of the "Burlington" tracks, and
the proceeds of the sale of lots was given as a
bonus. The community has never had reason
to regret the transaction. The present owners
of the works are A. B. Spies and his four sons —
Frank, William, Adam and Henry. Their large
brick factory stands near the tracks, and about
one hundred and twenty-five employes are en-
gaged in making wagons and "bob" sleds.

The Globe Manufacturing Company began
the making of workingmen's clothing in 1889.
James W. Cox and Samuel T. Mosser are its
proprietors, having started their factory work
with only ten sewing machines. They were
almost phenomenally successful from the start,
and at present (1S99) occupy a large two-story
building and give employment to nearly or
quite one hundred and twenty-five hands.

The other manufacturing industries of the
city may be briefly enumerated: Abingdon
Brick and Tile Company; Abingdon Paper Box
Manufacturing Company; Hall Trap Company;
Roller Grip Pencil Holder Company; the Cham-
pion Display Rack Company.

A fire visited the city in February, 1899. lay-
ing in ashes a considerable section of East Main
street, but rebuilding commenced at once.
Abingdon's citizens are enlightened, progres-
sive and energetic, and a general system of im-
provements, to conform with modern ideas, is

already under contemplation. A new building
for city offices is nearing completion, and here
the Public Library will find permanent quar-

The institution last named was established in
1897, by popular vote, and has already played a
prominent part as an educational factor.

Next to its prominence as a commercial and
shipping point, Abingdon enjoys a justly earned
fame as an educational center. Not only have
its common schools been well maintained, but
higher education has always been the ideal of
its founders and most public spirited citizens.
The first school house was built on land be-
longing to A. D. Swarts, just north of the orig-
inal town plat, in 1837. It was of the character
incident to the days in which it was built, and
the instruction given was in consonance with
the surroundings and qualifications of the
teacher. Abingdon being located in two town-
ships, it has two school districts. In 1868, a
large, two-story brick building was erected in
North Abingdon, and the youthful mind may
now be developed in a well-taught, graded
school. The North Abingdon School has a
corps of six teachers, in addition to a principal.
South Abingdon also boasts a two-story brick
school house, with a principal and three teach-
ers. The latter building was erected in 1892,
and both schools grant diplomas to graduates.

Opportunities for higher education were also
afforded at a relatively early date in the town's
history. Abingdon College was for years a
school of excellent reputation, while Hedding
College is a fiourishing institution today. For
a succinct history of these institutions the reader
is referred to the captions Abingdon College and
Hedding College. The former no longer exists,
but its history is worth preserving and per-

The first denomination to organize a church
was the Methodist Episcopal, and the first Pre-
siding Elder was that famous circuit rider,
exhorter, orator and patriot, Peter Cartwright.
Regular services were held in the first rude
school house, built in 1837, already mentioned.
Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Swarts, with five other per-
sons, constituted the first original membership
(1833), and this devoted band was accustomed
to meet at Mr. Swarts' log cabin; strong in faith
and hope, but weak in all else. In 1846 they
put up a building at the southwest corner of
Block 11. two blocks south of the site of the
present Methodist Church. After the building
of Hedding Seminary, they used its chapel as a



meeting place until 186S. when they built a
two-story frame structure, which was then con-
sidered a handsome edifice, reflecting credit
upon the piety and liberality of the congre-
gation. In 1S98, under the pastorate of Dr. R.
E. Buckey, a fine house of worship, of red gran-
ite, was built and a large two-manual pipe
organ installed. The present membership of
the church exceeds five hundred. ' It is pro-
gressive, and its power for good can scarcely
be overestimated.

The Christian Church was organized by Elder
Hiram Smith, in 1840, and its first building was
erected in 1349. In 1885 they removed to the
chapel of Abingdon College. The trouble which
arose in that institution in 1S74 rent the con-
gregation in twain, part of the membership
withdrawing and forming a new society, called
the Jefferson Street Christian Church. These
worshipped at first in the Protestant Methodist
Church building, at that time idle, and after-
wards moved to a small frame building on
Washington street, which had been built by
the Methodists in 1846. Here they remained
until 1884. when the two congregations were re-
united. Six years after the reunion, in 1890, a
very handsome church was built on South Main
street. The church is energetic and prosper-

The First Cumberland Presbyterian Church
was organized in Cherry Grove, by Rev. James
Stockton, in 1834. In 1866 the denomination
erected a church edifice in Abingdon. This so-
ciety was later changed to a Congregational
church, which was organized in 1881. The so-
ciety bought the Cumberland Presbyterian
property, and in 1885 refitted the building, add-
ing a lecture room. The house was again re-
modeled in 1897, and a pipe organ placed in the
church. The society is in a prosperous condi-

The Protestant Methodists organized a so-
ciety in 1839-40. They erected a frame structure
about 1869. The membership fell off. and the
sect has no longer an established place of wor-

The Free Methodist Church was organized in
1880, by Rev. J. G. Terrell, with four members.
The denomination never gained much in
strength, and after a few years the local organ-
ization disbanded.

At the regular election, in the Spring of 1897,
the citizens voted to establish and maintain a
public library. Although not much more than
two years have elapsed since its founding, it

has greatly grown in favor and is largely pa-
tronized by the citizens. It is expected that
within a few years a permanent building will
be erected, which will be an honor to the pro-
jectors of the enterprise and a legitimate source
of pride to the city.

Abingdou has a well managed volunteer fire
department, organized in December, 1877, and
consisting of an engine and a hook and ladder
company, with a membership of about fifty.
At the tournament held at Peoria in 1879, the
Abingdon hook and ladder company won the
State championship. The members of the de-
partment are paid twenty-five cents each for at-
tendance at a fire or a meeting.

The first newspaper published was the Abing-
don Messenger, which was founded in 1856 by
Chambers and White. Its publication was dis-
continued after two years. The Nonpareil was
published by D. H. Elliot, but lived only a year.
The next paper to appear was the Reporter,
which was conducted during 18G1 and 1862 by
C. C. Button. E. E. Chesney published the Ga-
zette for a short time, and from 1869 to 1875
W. H. Heaton issued the Knox County Demo-
crat. He sold the paper to H. C. Allen, who
started the Knoxonian, which lived for about
three years. The Educational Magazine, a
thirty-two page paper, devoted to the interests
of Abingdon College, was edited and founded by
J. W. Butler in 1864-5. S. J. Clark and J. S.
Badger founded the Abingdon Leader in 1874,
but discontinued its publication after about a
year. In 1875 Frank L. Ritchey issued the first
number of the Abingdon Express. This was a
small sheet at the beginning, but gradually
grew in size. It died within ten years. Charles
K. Bassett, who, when a boy of sixteen years,
had printed a small sheet, three inches square,
which he called the "Amateur News," began
the publication of the Abingdon Register in
1877. It appeared for several years, when it
was discontinued. The Enterprise was estab-
lished in 1880, by J. C. Cromer, who sold it, in
1884, to J. N. Reed and R. E. Pendarvis. Charles
A. Murdock bought the paper in 1893. and one
year later disposed of it to M. A. Cleveland and
E. M. Killough. Mr. Killough had before this
(in 1892) founded the Herald, and the two
papers were consolidated, under the name of
the Enterprise-Herald. This paper is still pub-
lished. Abingdon has also two other journals,
the Argus and the Kodak. The former first
appeared on March 8, 1882, the proprietors be-
ing W. H. Clark and William Purdue. Mr.



Purdue withdrew from the firm in 1883, since
which date Mr. Clark has edited the paper and
conducted the business alone. The Kodak is a
journal of neat typographical appearance, and
was started by Jesse C. Shoop in 1897.

The city's banking facilities are good, there
being two solid financial institutions; the First
National Bank and the private banking house
of J. Mosser and Company. The latter was
opened in 1895, and Mr. Mosser is highly es-
teemed as a sagacious, conservative business

The People's Bank was opened December 1,
1879, with an authorized capital of $30,000. M.
C. Bates was President, and J. B. Mackey,
cashier. In December, 1882, its capital was in-
creased to $50,000. and in 1S85 it was changed
to the First National Bank of Abingdon. This
institution nas done a successful business ever
since it was organized, and is today recognized
as one of the leading banks of the county, hav-
ing over $200,000 on deposit. The present offi-
cers are: Thomas Newell, President; J. F. Lat-
imer, Vice President; Orion Latimer, Cashier.

Abingdon has had two other banking institu-
tions, but both have gone into voluntary liqui-
dation. T. H. and Strawther Givens, with J. M.
Dawdy, engaged in banking under the firm
name of Givens, Dawdy and Company, in 1873.
In 1S7S the business was reorganized and the
Union Bank of Abingdon incorporated, with M.
C. Bates as President, and Strawther Givens as
Cashier. It went into liquidation in 1886. The
Abingdon Safety Bank, incorporated under the
State law, was organized in 1892, with a capital
of $25,000. M. Reece was President, and Jesse
Barlow Cashier. It went into liquidation in

It is impossible to give the name of the first
physician who located in Abingdon. Some say
a man by the name of Golladay was the first,
but the memory of the old settlers is so treach-
erous that it is difficult to make a positive
statement. It is said that Doctors Garfield and
Hubbard located here in 1841, and that in 1846
Dr. W. H. Heller moved to Abingdon. He is
now in active practice, having been over a half
century in his chosen profession in one local-
ity. Dr. Madison Reece, a son of David Reece,
one of the early settlers in the village, won
great renown as a physician. He studied medi-
cine with Dr. Heller, went to the army and was
promoted to the rank of Major, and after the
war settled in Abingdon for the practice of his
profession. He was known all over the Mili-

tary Tract, and probably no physician in cen-
tral Illinois enjoyed a larger practice. The
present physicians are W. H. Heller, C. F. Brad-
way, Jesse Rowe, F. B. Dickinson, T. W. David-
son and J. S. Cannon.

Among the very old residents of Abingdon is
Dennis Clark, who settled here back in the
thirties. He held the office of County Judge
for over twenty years and now lives a quiet and
retired life at his residence in South Abingdon.

Population, 1899, estimated, twenty-eight hun-

By A. P. Aten.

The preliminary work that resulted in the
founding of Abingdon College began in April,
1853, when P. H. Murphy and J. C. Reynolds
taught a select school in a rented building on
Main street, in Abingdon. In the Fall of the
same year it became Abingdon Academy, with a
Board of Trustees. Early in 1854, a new brick
building, now known as the old college building,
was begun, the contract being given to Jesse
Perdue in consideration of ten thousand dollars.
In February, 1855, the institution was char-
tered as Abingdon College, and in January, 1856,
removed into the new building and began work
with a faculty composed of P. H. Murphy,
President; J. C. Reynolds, Professor of Ancient
Languages; J. W. Butler, Professor of Mathe-
matics, and an efficient corps of assistants. This
faculty continued without material change until
1858, when J. C. Reynolds resigned and A. J.
Thompson became Professor of Ancient Lan-
guages. President Murphy was removed by
death in 1860, and J. W. Butler was chosen to
succeed him. William Griffin about that time
became Professor of Mathematics. Judge Der-
ham was shortly afterwards added to the Fac-
ulty as Professor of Science, S. P. Lucy as Pro-
fessor of Elocution, and Albert Linn as Profes-
sor of Mathematics in place of Mr. Griffin, who
had resigned. In 1868, A. P. Aten was chosen
Professor of Belles Lettres, and Professor Lucy
retired, to accept other work, succeeding Pro-
fessor Derham in the chair of Science, however,
in 1871. The Faculty as thus constituted con-
tinued until 1874, when President Butler, with
Professors Lucy and Aten, retired on account
of some internal troubles that threatened the
life of the college.

In 1868, what is known as the new building
was erected at a cost of forty thousand dollars,
and was occupied early in the next year. A



period of great prosperity now began, wiiich
continued for six years, after which its de-
cadence was equally well marked.

In 1S74 Oval Pirkey became President, hold-
ing the position for one year. He was succeeded
by Clark Braden. All efforts to revive the col-
lege seemed unavailing until after F. M. Bruner
assumed the presidency, in 1S77. He became
sole owner of the institution, by purchase, in
ISSO, and continued at its head until 1SS5, in
which year negotiations were successfully con-
cluded by which Abingdon College was united
with Eureka College, and its alumni were rec-

Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 197 of 207)