pub Chas. C. Chapman & Co..

History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws online

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Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 25 of 79)
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at home until about sixteen years old, when he went to live with his
uncle. At school he learned to read, and obtained some knowledge
of arithmetic, but never learned to write.

Not long after he went to live with his uncle he began to sow the
seeds of his future ruin. His first theft was a three-cent piece.
From this he went on, from time to time stealing money and other
things. Finally he became enamored of a woman who must have
had a large amount of the demoniac in her nature, for she urged him
to set fire to barns, to rob and the like. These things, however, he


would not do. Still he wanted money to enable him to deck him-
self out. The desire for money grew to a blind maddening passion.
He stole some jewelry and fled to -Illinois^ where he brought up at

There he heard, as he said, people talk about Orendorif having
plenty of money, and that Miller, who worked for Orendorif, was
laying up money fast. Money he wanted, money he would have.
He thought and cared for nothing else. So in his own mind he
determined to get it, and said nothing to anyone about his intentions.
When asked if he went to Orendorif 's intending murder, he replied :
" No ; I did not expect to find anyone at home." When asked if he
did not think it might be necessary to commit murder to get the
money, he replied : " Yes ; I had taken that into account on going

When he started out from his cousin's, where he lived, he went
west till he struck the road leading north. Down this he walked
some distance and then struck straight for Orendorff 's home. He
saw Mrs. Orendorif at the stable and inquired after Mr. Miller.
Then leaving her as if to go out to the east and west road he slipped
around the straw stack near the house, and remained there about half
an hour meditating murder. Having determined to do the deed, he
sallied out ; but as he approached the house he saw the innocent ones
and his heart failed him. He then requested Mrs. Orendorif to tell
Miller when he came home to come over to his cousin's. She
replied, " I will," and these are the last words she is known to have

But no sooner had he left the house than his diabolical intent
began to gather strength in him once more. This time, he hid him-
self behind a straw stack, remaining there about half an hour.
Having fully determined to do the deed, he started toward the house,
picking up a club on the way. As he passed into the kitchen he
laid hold of Mrs. Orendorif and told her she must die. She sprang
away from him, and ran screaming into the front room. She was
not able to open the door before'her pursuer was upon her and felled
her with powerful blows with his club. Then he struck down one <
of the children, who followed and clung to her mother. The
the other little girl had run out of the house. He met her at the
corner of the house and beat her down also. Having done this he
next took the axe and finished his bloody work. The one he struck
out of doors, he carried in and laid beside her mother. He burned


the club in the stove. He then took what money he could find
and fled.

Joseph W. 3IcDowell.

Joseph W. McDowell, indicted for the murder of A. J. Finley,
was arraigned before the Circuit Court Thursday, Feb. 7, 1861.
Both sides were represented by able counsel. For the prosecution
appeared State's Attorney FuUerton, and Mr. Grove, assisted by
C. A. Roberts and J. M, Hanna, while the defendant was represented
by Messrs. Puterbaugh and James Roberts, of Pekin, and Julius
Manning, of Peoria. The jury returned into Court Sunday morn-
ing with the verdict of " guilty." A new trial was granted, and in
June, 1861, a change of venue to McLean county was taken, and
the prisoner tried and sentenced to one year in the penitentiary.
He never entered within the walls of that prison, however, as he
was met at the doorway with a pardon. McDowell now resides in
this county a respected citizen.

Edward McDoioell,

a brother of Joseph W., was indicted at the February term of the
Circuit Court as a party concerned in killing A. J. Finley. He
was arraigned before the Court Feb. 15, 1861, and granted a change
of venue to Mason county. He was tried at the March term of the
Circuit Court and acquitted.

Enoch Green

"Was indicted in February, 1861, for participation in the Orendorff
murder. At the June term, 1861, he was discharged.

Thomas Hougle.

Sunday evening. May 24, 1863, Thomas Hougle shot and killed
Abner H. Underbill. The tragedy was enacted upon the farm of
Underbill, about two miles east of Delavan. Hougle had lived
with Underbill for sometime, but left his employer and a quarrel
ensued between them concerning a woman, when Hougle with a
shot-gun committed the murder. Hougle was' immediately arrested
and had a speedy trial, which closed Saturday, June 13, 1863. He
was convicted of murder, and Judge Harriott sentenced him to be
hung July 9, 1863. Two days before the date of the execution,
Gov. Yates commuted the death sentence to a life sentence in the
penitentiary. He was taken from the Tazewell county jail July 9,
when not a prisoner was left within its heavy stone walls.


George Dunn.

Thursday, Feb. 9, 1865, the body of David Townsend was found
on the farm of Benjamin O'Brien, near Groveland. A jury was
called and a post-mortem examination made by Dr. F. Shurtleff.
The jury came to the conclusion that Townsend had been shot with
a pistol in the back of the head. He was killed on or about the
26th of December. The body was concealed under some logs, where
it remained undiscovered until the above date. Townsend and an-
other man named George Dunn, had been chopping wood for Mr.
O'Brien, and from the sudden and peculiar manner in which Town-
send's companion left the neighborhood, there seemed to be little
doubt of his being the murderer, although he was never found.


On Thursday, Oct. 19, 1865, the body of a man, at the time sup-
posed to be that of George Jackson, was found in the Illinois river
near Pekin. The head had been severed from the body, and to pre-
vent the body from floating a quantity of iron was fastened around
it. The body bore marks of five or six deadly wounds. The corpse
was not identified positively, but was thought to be that of George
Jackson, a well known resident of the county who had been mys-
teriously absent for some weeks. The mayor of Pekin offered a re-
ward of $500 for the apprehension of the murderer.

Nothing was heard from Jackson until in 1866, when his wife
went to England, and on arriving in Liverpool almost the first per-
son she met was her supposed murdered husband ! Who the mur-
dered man really was has never yet been discovered, or who com-
mitted the deed.

Thomas A. Williamson

Was arrested Monday, Aug. 27, 1866, for the murder of Charles
Koch, of Delavan township. Koch was last seen in the neighbor-
hood about July 18, but his body was not found until Saturday, Aug.
25, when it was found in the corn-field near his house. The fact
that Williamson was living with Koch at the time, and the contra-
dictory stories he told concerning the missing man, excited suspicion,
and led to an inquiry among the people of the neighborhood. Wil-
liamson left and suspicion became stronger then ever. A search was
made and Koch's body found. The murdered man was a German
and had no relatives in this country.


At the February term of the Circuit Court, Williamson was tried
and found guilty of murder. Judge Harriott sentenced him to be
hung Friday, March 22, 1867. Just previous to the day of execu-
tion, however, a postponement was obtained until June 21. This
fact was not known to the Sheriff until Thursday night. Much dis-
satisfaction was manifested among the people at this delay of the ex-
ecution. On the loth of June Gov. Oglesby commuted the sentence
to twenty-one years in the penitentiary. He was discharged from
prison about April 1, 1879, and went to Kansas, where he says he
will live a good and peaceable life.

Enoch West.

A man named West was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Stone June
9, 1868, in Fulton county, for the killing of a German named
Henry Winninghaum. The Circuit Court was in session, but his
trial was postponed until the September term, when he was convict-
ed and sentenced to the penitentiary for nineteen years and six
months. ' A new trial was granted, however, and at the February
term, 1869, he was again tried, and sentenced to twenty years in the

William Berry and others.

On Friday night, July 30, 1869, Deputy Sheriff Henry Pratt
was murdered near Circleville whilst endeavoring to arrest a band
of desperadoes, who had long held the community in terror.
Armed with the necessary legal papers, the Deputy Sheriff, accom-
panied by the jailor, George Hinman, assistant City Marshall
Kessler, and Constable W. F. Copes, proceeded to Circleville for
the purpose of making the arrests, when he was shot and killed by
Ike Berry, one of the parties named in the warrant. Jailor
Hinman was wounded, and Mr. Copes made a narrow escape.

The body of Sheriff Pratt was brought to Pekin Saturday morn-
ing, when the most indescribable excitement ensued. Hundreds of
armed men started to scour the country for the murderers, and by
Saturday afternoon five of the gang were captured and lodged in
jail. William Berry, who was said to be the leader of the band,
was arrested in the city early Saturday morning. The other
members of the gang were Emanuel Berry, Ike Berry, Matthew
McFarland, C. Daily and Robert Britton. The latter was arrested
at San Jose, Mason county, Saturday night, by Marshal Stone, and
Ike Berry was captured by M. M. Bassett, at Bath, Mason county,
some weeks after.


Late Saturday night, July 31, an organized body of men, mostly
from Delavan, where Berry had killed a young man some time
before, proceeded to the jail, overpowered the police, battered down
the iron doors of the prison, and after a desperate struggle took
William Berry from his cell and hung him to a tree in the jail yard.
During the struggle, Berry, who had by some means secured a knife,
severely wounded three of the lynchers.

The trial of the remaining desperadoes came off afterwards at
Jacksonville, Morgan county, it having been taken to that Court on
a change of venue. The jury found a verdict of guilty and sen-
tenced the prisoners to the penitentiary as follows : Ike Berry, for
life; Robert Britton, 20 years; Emanuel Berry, 15 years; Matthew
McFarland, 15 years; Cornelius Daily, 15 years. Simeon Berry
was found " not guilty," and is now living in Elm Grove township in
this county. McFarland was pardoned some three years ago, went
out West and was killed. Daily was also pardoned about the same
time, and has disappeared. Attorneys Bassett and Rodecker, and
Barnes for the defense. Brown, State's Attorney Morgan county,
Whitney, State's Attorney of this county, and C. A. Roberts, ex-
State's Attorney, for the prosecution. Thus, with the career of a
band of bad men, ended the first and only mob violence known in
the history of Tazewell county.

William Ashby.

Saturday, Aug. 13, 1870, the body of Alfred Carl, a lad of ten
years of age, was found concealed in the brush near the upper end
of Pekin lake. About noon the previous day he was sent out by
his step-father, William Ashby, a mulatto, after his horse. Not
returning Ashby went after him and returned without finding him.
The neighbors became suspicious and went in search of the lad, and
found the body, which to them showed evidences that he had been
murdered. The skull was crushed. Ashby was indicted for the
murder, tried and acquitted.

William Costly.

William Costly, alias Nigger Bill, was indicted for the murder of
Patrick Doyle, at Pekin, tried and acquitted.

Jehiel Stevens.

Was indicted Sept. 13, 1870 for the murder of a man by the
name of Crawl, at Pekin. Crawl was waylaid. o^e night near the



Wide-awake engine house on Court street, and pounded to death, for
which crime Stevens was arrested. A change of venue was taken
and he was tried at Lincoln and acquitted.

Samuel E. Willard.

Tuesday morning, June 8, 1875, Samuel E. Willard shot and
killed Charles Ziegenbien. Both of these men were farmers, living
on adjoining farms, on section 10, Spring Lake township. Willard
appeared before Esquire Tinney at Pekin, and on his own evidence
was placed in jail on the charge of murder. Willard was indicted
at the September term of the Circuit Court for murder, and tried at
the November term. The evidence showed that for two years
there had been trouble between Willard and Ziegenbien ; that each
had threatened to take the life of the other. The difficulty out of
which the murder grew arose from the trespass of Ziegenbien's
stock on Willard's premises on the previous Sunday. Willard took
up his horse and tied it in the brush not far from his barn, sending
word to Ziegenbien to come and get it and pay charges. He went
over after it, taking a boy with him. The boy went to see if
Willard was at home ; not finding him he went into the barn after
the horse. It was not there. Ziegenbien remained on his horse at
the gate. When the boy came out he heard the horse in the brush,
went and got it and proceeded to Manito. There the two men met
and quarreled. The next morning Ziegenbien started his cows
down the road by Willard's house, and as they passed Willard's
hired men set the dogs on them. Ziegenbien came out and went
down the road to Willard's barn-yard gate, went inside the yard and
was engaged in loud talk with the men for dogging his cows. Wil-
lard came out and demanded what he wanted, Ziegenbien replied,
" none of your damned business." Willard ordered him off the
premises, and went to his house for his gun, procured it and came
down to the front gate. Ziegenbien was then passing along the
road toward his house. Willard stopped him and gave him a talk-
ing; told him he had invaded his premises, abused his family, and
, interfered with his rights as a citizen. Ziegenbien went on toward
his house. Willard followed on the inside of the fence for some
distance, finally climbing over. Ziegenbien told him he was a
coward to bring out his gun. Willard told him he had come loaded
down with arms to kill him. Ziegenbien replied that he was. not
armed. Willard then laid down his gun and wanted to fight.


Ziegenbien would not fight. Willard then picked up his gun when
Ziegenbien took hold of the barrel, Willard then fired twice, the
first shot striking Ziegenbien just below the ribs, killing him
instantly, the second shot passed over his head. Ziegenbien was a
constable and had a revolver as it was his custom to carry.

The trial of Willard occupied the greater part of the November
term of the Circuit Court of that year. Considerable interest was
felt in the case, as both the murderer and murdered were well
known. The trial lasted ten days, and is said to have been one of
the most closely contested criminal cases ever tried in this county.
The attorneys for the prosecution were, States Attorney Henry, Ro-
decker, Shoup & Dearborn; for the defence, Cohrs, Roberts &
Green, and Prettyman.

The jury found Willard guilty of murder and sentenced him to
the penitentiary for fourteen years.

George W. Johnson, Stephen D. Johnson and John Pruitt.

The above named persons were indicted for murder in the county
of Mason, but they took a change of venue to this county. They
were tried in May, 1875. The case was one of unusual importance,
on account of the length of time consumed in obtaining a jury and
trying it ; the enormity and brutality of the murder, the large
number of witnesses brought from Mason county, and the ability
and reputation of the attorneys engaged in the trial.

The scene was enacted at a dance, and while some of the parties
were under the influence of liquor. George W. Johnson and John
Pruitt were acquitted, and Stephen D. Johnson was sent to the
penitentiary for two years.

George Clinton.

George Clinton, a police officer, shot and killed William Thorpe
at Mackinaw, Friday, June 28, 1876. In the preliminary examina-
tion it was found the act was justifiable and no crime.

Mrs. Anna E. Weyhrich.

Peter Weyhrich, an old resident of Sand Prairie, died very sud-
denly Wednesday night, June 20, 1877. The sudden death and
incidents attending it caused grave suspicion of foul play. A jury
was impanelled and a post-mortem examination made of the de-
ceased, and the stomach sent to Chicago for examination, where it
was decided that he came to his death by poison. Mrs. Weyh-


rich, wife of the deceased, was arrested and tried for the mur-
der. The case was taken from this to Logan county and tried
the last week in March, 1878. States Attorney Prettyman and J.
B. Cohrs prosecuted, and Messrs. Roberts & Green defended.

The trial was a long and tedious one, and the prisoner was found
guilty and sentenced to fourteen years in the penitentiary. A mo-
tion for a new trial was made and denied, when an a])peal to the
Supreme Court was taken. This tribunal reversed the decision and
remanded the case for a new trial, which took place in July, 1878,
and resulted in her acquittal.

Jacob and David Hudloic.

Rudolph Myers, of Sand Prairie township, left Pekin on the night
of Dec. 22, 1877, for his home. About 10 o'clock he returned to
the city and went to the Central House. There he told of his
assault about half a mile below the city, — how three men apprached
him in a threatening manner ; that one had a dirk, another proceeded
to gag him, and the third did the robbing ; that he told them to
take everything if they would not harm him ; that after robbing
him they brutally and violently kicked him and fearfully maltreated
him ; that his watch and chain and money were stolen, and then
how he made his way back to Pekin. Medical aid was summoned,
and it was discovered he was seriously injured internally. At one
o'clock, P.M., Sunday, he died.

Some time elapsed before any apprehension of the murderers was
made. On Wednesday, April 17, 1878, at the instigation of Chris-
topher Ropp, of Elm Grove, Jacob and David Hudlow were arrested
as being the offenders. They were clearing timber in Spring Lake
township at the time. They were tried at the May term of the
Circuit Court, found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to the
penitentiary for fourteen years.




IN 1847 a State election was held for members of the Constitu-
tional Convention, which Convention prepared and submitted to
the people a new constitution, which was adopted by a large majority.
By this constitution, in place of the Commissioners' Court a County
Court was organized in each county. This Court consisted of a
County Judge, and, if the Legislature saw proper to so order it, two
Associate Justices. This the Legislature favorably acted upon.
The last meeting of the County Commissioners' Court was held
Nov. 7, 1849. After the transaction of such business as properly
came before them, they adjourned until court in course, but never

On the 3d of December of the same year the first regular term of
the County Court was held. The duties of the Court in a legisla-
tive capacity were precisely the same as those of the County Com-
missioners' Court. In addition to the legislative power the members
of this Court were permitted to exercise judicial authority, having
all the rights and privileges of justices of the peace, together with
all probate business. This Court consisted of a County Judge and
two Associate Justices. The Judge and Associate Justices acted
together for the transaction of all county business, but none other.
The Justices had an equal vote with the Judge, and received the
same salary while holding court, which was §2 per day. Two of
the three constituted a quorum.

Benjamin F. James was chosen the first County Judge, being
elected Nov. 6, 1849, — the first November election held. The first
Associate Justices were Joseph Stewart and Lawson Holland.
During the existence of this Court the people were agitating the
question of township organization. Many counties of the State,


since the new constitution, had adopted that mode of conducting
county affairs. The constitution gave counties the privilege of
adopting either the County Court or the Board of Supervisors.
At the fall election in 1849 a vote was taken "for" or "against
township organization," which resulted in favor of the new measure.

The County Court had but a short existence. The last meeting
was held Saturday, April 6, 1850. In the mean time, however, the
Court appointed B. S. Pretty man, Anson Gillon and J. M. Coons a
commission to divide the county into townships. This duty they
performed in due time. Generally they constituted each congres-
sional township a separate town. Beginning at Fond du Lac town-
ship they fixed the boundary as it now is, and named it " Fond du
Lac," according to the wish of the people. The first election under
the township organization was held at Farm creek school-house.

Washington township was laid off six miles square east and ad-
joining Fond du Lac. It was called Washington because the village
and post office bore that name. The east half of township 26 north,
and range 2 west, was attached to Washington at the request of the
citizens, as there were not sufficient • inhabitants to form a separate
town. The first election was held in the district school-building at

Deer Creek had its boundaries fixed as they are at present. The
first election was held at the Monmouth school-house. The town-
ship was named by Major R. N. Cullom, taking the name of the
creek that flows through it.

Morton was laid off and named as it is at present. Harvey Camp-
bell proposed the name in honor of Gov. Morton of Massachusetts.
First election was held at W. W. Campbell's.

Groveland was constituted a township, and its boundaries fixed as
they now are. The first election was held at the Randolph house,
Groveland. The township took its name from the village.

Pekin township was at first one tier of sections less north and
south than it is at present. The northern tier of sections of Cin-
cinnati was taken from that township and added to Pekin. It was
named after the city of Pekin.

Cincinnati township was laid oflp by this commission one tier of
sections larger than it is at present. The first election was held at
the Cincinnati hotel, Pekin.

Elm Grove had its boundaries fixed as they now are. First elec-
tion held at Elm Grove school-house. -


Tremont had its boundaries defined by including a Congressional
township. First election was held at the court-house at Tremont.

Mackinaw township had its boundaries permanently fixed. First
election was held at school-house in the town of Mackinaw.

Little Mackinaw has never had its boundary lines changed. First
election held at a school-house on Little Mackinaw creek.

Hopedale at first was christened Highland. The present bounda-
ries were fixed. A portion of Boynton township was attached to
Hopedale, there not being enough inhabitants to organize a town-
ship. First election '\\;as held at Mrs. Purviance's residence. The
name Highland was changed because there was another township
in the State wearing that name.

Dillon was constituted for a Congressional township. First elec-
tion was held at the school-house in Dillon.

Sand Prairie, formerly JeiFerson, had its boundaries described as
they are at present. First election held at John Hisle's. Malone
township was not organized, but the territory was attached to Sand

Spring Lake had its boundaries -described as they remain at pres-
ent. First election held at Charles Scewell's.

Delavan was constituted a township as it remains at present, and
had a portion of Boynton attached to it.

Hittle was first named Union, then changed to Waterford, and
finally to Hittle. It included its present territory and a portion of
Boynton. First election held at Hittle Grove church.

The last meeting of the County Court was held Saturday, April
6, 1850. It then adjourned sine die.


This system of county government is so entirely different in origin
and management from the old mode by county commissioners, which

Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 25 of 79)