William W Davis.

History of Whiteside County, Illinois from its earliest settlement to 1908 : illustrated, with biographical sketches of some prominent citizens of the county (Volume v.1) online

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Online LibraryWilliam W DavisHistory of Whiteside County, Illinois from its earliest settlement to 1908 : illustrated, with biographical sketches of some prominent citizens of the county (Volume v.1) → online text (page 10 of 72)
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Fleet, 1809-1882; Polly Wells, 1847, at sixty-six; Rexroad; "Myers and
others. A charming situation. It is a city set on a hill that cannot be hid,
city of the dead.

Duncan is in his grave.
After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well.


Slocumb street was originally a trail made by a log dragged with an
ox team from Albany by Stephen Slocumb in 1837.

A fine quality of winter wheat was once grown, and threshed with flail
or by tramping with oxen. No nearer market than Galena or Chicago until
Albany became a shipping point.

Eliza Abbey taught the first school in 1839 in Henry Rexroad's cabin.
Ten pupils, and by subscription.

The Methodists were first as usual on the field, and preached in the
Rexroad and Slocumb cabins in 1839. McMurtay and McKean the min-

The first schoolhouse was built in 1842 near Mineral Springs. It was
of hewn logs. When the schoolhouses were ready, religious services were
held in them.

Near the eastern boundary were two springs whose waters were once
so highly esteemed that they promised to be the Carlsbad of the county. A
romantic spot. Ideal for a picnic or an excursion.

In 1856 a rail fence, staked and ridered, five feet high, was decided to
be a lawful fence. In 1862 it was voted to invest $50 of tax money in
wolf scalps, one dollar for old fellows. In 1864 a tax of one per e.ent on
each $100 valuation was voted to pay soldier's bounties.


Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,

Stand dressed in living green,.
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,

While Jordan rolled between Watfs.

There are two ways of invading Genesee from Sterling: North on the
Pennington road and then west, south of the big mound, or west to Emer-


son and then north. Let us take the latter. It is early autumn, and the
roads are smooth and well beaten. Here and there the hills have been cut
down, and the ditches along the side keep the main track dry and in good
condition. The country is gently undulating, and the extensive cornfields
stretch away with their rich harvests.

Heap high the farmer's wintry hoard,

Heap high the golden corn,
No richer gift hath autumn poured,

From out her golden horn.

Much in shock. In early days cattle were turned in to roam at will,
destroying more than they ate, but now the eastern custom prevails; the
stalks are shocked, husked and hauled to the yards to be shredded. Pity
so many poor -fellows lose their hands and arms. A pleasing feature as you
drive along is the grassy roadside, clean as a lawn, no coarse weeds to annoy
the eye and seed the adjoining fields.

What neat white building on the west of the road? That is St. John's
Lutheran church. It has had only three pastors, John Becker, now in
Mitchell, Iowa; C. Prottengeier, now in Dubuque, and the present, Carl
Holtermann, who came in May 4, 1902. He was born in Lamstedt, Han-
over, Germany, educated at Verden, universities of Berlin and Gottingen,
coming to America in June, 1890. His previous charges were in Missouri
and Nebraska. The congregation consists of fifty families, and the Sunday
school of 40 to 50 scholars. All services are in German. Most of the people
come from Grossherzagtum, Oldenburg, Germany. With this congregation is
connected, the West Genesee Lutheran church, two miles west of Coleta. Its
name is Immanuel. There are 24 families, and the services are in German.
The officers of East Genesee church are: Eibe Folkers, Julius Schultz,
Edward Remners, Herman Balster. The officers of the AVest Genesee are:
Carl Bnhrow, Wilhelm Rohde and Dirk Dirks. Mr. Holtermann is 44 years
old and in the prime of his usefulness. He has a fine family, and happily
situated in a white frame parsonage just across from the church. It is
affiliated with the Iowa Synod.

By the side of the church is the grave yard, with several substantial
monuments. On the tombs we read the names of well known families:
Beutel, Wahl, Engel, Eilers, Harms, Dirks, Stern, Matznick. Glancing
through the windows of the church, the interior showed two long rows of
pews, finished in oak, with other ecclesiastical furniture in proper keeping.

Few old or weather-beaten houses are noticed. The farmers as they
improved in circumstances, tore down the early tenements, and now in every
direction you see the pretty dwellings with piazzas and the huge red barns
and necessary out buildings.

A short drive further and we enter the village of Coleta, the emporium
of Genesee. The houses stand along two main streets, north and south, east
and west. Besides the cottages, there are two general stores, Charles Garwick
and Hugh Shannon; hardware, Adam Myer; blacksmiths. P. Eckel. H.
Wolf and Laren Hughes; confectionery and restaurant, H. Carpenter. Here


you can get a delicious country dinner that no money can buy in the stale
supplies of the cities. Cream from their own Jersey cow, and bread like a
cork of Mrs. C's own baking. J. S. Bushman is postmaster. Dr. Proctor,
a graduate of Rush Med. College, began practice here in 1896.

One main school with two departments, taught by Prof. C. L. Hurless
and wife. He is son of Cephas Hurless, long prominent in county affairs.
There are 75 pupils in both rooms, and eight grades of study with one year
of high school work for those who graduated last year. Their sixth year of
service here. Mrs. H. received her education in Iowa, at the Jefferson
County high school and the Iowa State Normal school at Cedar Falls. Six
years' experience in Iowa. Prof. Hurless, after the common school course,
attended the Milledgeville high school, the Illinois college at Fulton, and the
South Dakota Normal School at Spearfish. His experience extends over
eleven years, and as an educator he commands the confidence of the whole

The churches are frame. The United Brethren, Radical, dating from
1889, has 75 members, with Rev. Arthur Harrison, pastor, in his second
year, residence at Mi. Carroll. He was previously presiding elder.

The Christian church, or Disciples, has 115 members. It is the second
charge of Rev. C. W. Marlow, a graduate in 1901 of Eureka College. The
nucleus_ of the present church was formed at Genesee Grove in 1837 by
Elder Yeager. Then came the regular organization in 1847 in a school
house by Henry Howe. Among the leading members were the Crums,
Nances, and Mr. and Mrs. John Yeager. The latter deserve grateful remem-
brance for their zeal.

Rev. S. A. Hoffman is in his second year at the M. E. church. There
are 45 members. The foreign missionary society has 20 members, Epworth
league 25. The superintendent of the Sunday school is J. L. Milroy. Mr.
H. came to this conference from Wisconsin.

The store of J. T. Crum was the first building erected in Coleta, after-
wards purchased by Ephraim Brookfield, who for several years besides
teaching carried on a business in general merchandise. He taught as early
as 1858.

Rev. J. G. Breden is pastor of the United Brethren Church, Liberal. He
takes the place of Rev. J. A. F. King, who went to Jordan church. The
membership is 29, and is composed of a few families, chiefly Overholser,
Deets, and Hurless.

Perhaps the most lively institution in Coleta is the literary society
which is in operation every winter. There is a regular program at every
session, music, recitations, essays, and a debate. This is announced a week
or two in advance, giving the speakers ample time to prepare. The subjects
for discussion are timely. For instance, during the winter of 1908 were
argued: Should Washington's example in retiring after a second term be
made a law? Is there more pleasure in pursuit than in possession? Will
the Hennepin canal prove a financial benefit to Illinois? The meetings are
held on Saturday night, and arouse great enthusiasm.



Janies Siddles enlisted at Mt. Carroll in Co. K , 15th Illinois Infantry.
The first captain was Adam Mase. They were sworn in at Freeport, April,
1861. The first battle was Shiloh, then at Corinth, Vicksburg. Part of the
time the regiment was chasing Sterling Price through Missouri. Their
service of three years ended at Natchez.

Jacob 'Howe, 85, was in the 75th Illinois, and was wounded three times,
in head, foot, and leg, and mustered out at Nashville. He came to the
county in 1855 from Newcastle, Pa., the home of Sankey, the singer. His
mother lived to 89, his grandmother to 110. He rejoices in the increase of
his pension to $24 per month, owing to the efforts of Hon. Frank O. Lowden.

While the original settlers of Genesee are gone, there are still living in
Coleta some venerable people who are bright and active. Perhaps the
oldest is Grandma Wallace, who has celebrated her 88th birthday, but some-
what hindered by a lameness in her hip, caused by a fall. John Overholser,
son of Martin, came here from Ohio in 1854. He is brother of J. P. Over-
holser, P. M., of Sterling. Although 74, he does his various chores every day.
On his father's side all lived to 80 or 90. John Anthony, father of Joshua,
from Cayuga county, N. Y., 1853, entered six hundred acres at $1.25 an
acre. R. B. Colcord, who died in 1907 in California, settled in Genesee in
1837, and after his marriage in 1854 carried on the business of marble
cutting till his removal to Sterling in 1869.

There are nine schools in Genesee, and six Sunday schools. Most of
these people's academies have names, as is the fashion now, North Star,
Washington, Lafayette. Some of the grounds are attractive with lawn,
trees, and walks, and the interiors adorned wdth portraits of Lincoln, Lowell,
and other eminent Americans. ,

South of Coleta is the creamery operated by J. B. Gilbert, managed by
G. M. Lefever. The receipts of cream vary with the season. Churning is
not done every day unless sufficient cream is furnished. The butter product
varies from 350 pounds in the fall to 600 pounds in midsummer. Six men
are engaged in hauling, their territory extending to Milledgeville.

Not far south of Coleta is a low, weather-beaten shanty, windows out,
the picture of loneliness and desolation. It is known by the neighbors as
the "Helen Brookfield Eighty," and belongs to the original estate of Ephraim
Brookfield, who married Harriet Yeager in 1859, doing business in Coleta
till 1874, when he sold out, If this ancient structure could talk, what an
intensely valuable narrative it could give of people and changes in Genesee.
We are reminded of Horace Smith's address to Belzoni's mummy in London :

Speak! for thou long enough hast acted dummy;

Thou hast a tongue come, let us hear its tune;
Thou'rt standing on thy legs, above ground, mummy,

Revisiting the glimpses of the moon.

This white frame building is the Hickory Grove church, originally built
by the Methodists, but except an occasional Sunday school, no regular


service has been held for years. A neat iron fence in front. The early
members of the society are dead, their descendants have gone, and the farm-
ers adjacent have other church relations. The cemetery, however, is kept in
excellent condition. Every spring and fall the kindly hands of the sur-
rounding country unite in showing respect to the graves of the pioneers.
On the tombs we read the names of Wink, Courtright, Kingsbury, Van
Osdol, Johnson. On the monument of John Yeager, who died at 33 in 1864,
is the inscription, "Erected by Union Ladies of Genesee."


John Miller killed August Langberg on Aug. 3, 1884, with an ax,
splitting his head open. Both were farm laborers, and the tragedy was on
a farm where one of them was working. The quarrel was about a jug of
liquor. Miller was indicted at December term of court, 1884, plead guilty,
and was sentenced to penitentiary for life. He was taken to the penitentiary
Dec. 16, 1884, and was sent from there to insane asylum at Chester, Feb. 4,
1893, and in October died of consumption. Walter Stager, states attorney,
has kindly furnished this item from his practice.


If good roads and substantial bridges are 'a sign of civilization, Genesee
is entitled to a high place. Two steel bridges have just been placed over
Spring creek, whose antics in the early freshets require the strongest safe-
guards. Each forty feet long. Concrete approach.

Among the smaller industries is pop corn. Charles Muntz had three
acres in 1907 from which he gathered 200 bushels. At one dollar a bushel,
it is evident that the crop is profitable.


Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts tho stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating,

Funeral marches to the grave. Longfellow.

Soon after leaving Morrison, as you drive north, on the south side of
the road, is a cemetery with numerous tombs. The gate is not fastened,
and one is at liberty to walk about the grassy mounds. Several names on
the marbles of early settlers, Secor, Kennedy, Hays, Pratt, Harris, Parry,
Hiddleson. The oldest record is that of T. L. Jackson, who died in 1882 at
94. Compass and square on the stone. Here sleep a group of heroes of the
Civil war. Aaron Bailey, who died in 1871 at 77. J. Warren Heaton, 1864,
only seventeen, a youthful patriot. D. Columbia, whose stone bears the
simple motto, "In the service of his country." J. D. Paschal, 1886, at 79.
Sergeant Charles M. Shaw, Co. H, 5th Vermont Volunteers, dving in 1870
nt 34.


Sleep, soldiers, still in honored rest,

Your truth and valor wearing!
The bravest are the tenderest,

The loving are the daring.

This little cluster of houses to which we are coming is Malvern. Two
stores, a town hall, and a church, the Evangelical. The pastor, Rev. R. S.
Welsh, lives at Fairhaven, and comes over to preach on Saturday night
or Sunday morning, according to previous arrangement. Before his present
work, he labored in Paoific Garden Mission, Chicago. Mrs. Davis is super-
intendent of the Sunday school of 35 scholars. The proprietor of one of the
Malvern stores is M. W. Humphrey, who came to the country in 1857,
and married Emma Newton, whose father, George Newton, emigrated from
England in 1852, and was a gallant soldier in the 75th Illinois.

Rock creek and Little Rock creek run through Clyde, and various mills
were erected in early days. The Milnes mill on Little Rock, built by
Joseph Milnes, was taken down in 1895, and a bridge now crosses the
stream near the site. W. P. Hiddleson erected the building known as the
Hough's mill, still in active operation by George Appel, who grinds grists
for the farmers as they bring them in the old-fashioned style. Chiefly,
feed for stock, as most people prefer the refined roller flour. There was also
a Brothwell mill which disappeared long ago. As these mills were the
natural centers of business and gossip, the first post offices were established
at Brothwell's and Milnes' mills. In 1840 an oil mill to manufacture that
fluid medicine was put up, but early frosts spoiled the castor beans and
ended the enterprise.

Near Malvern reside the liveliest couple the writer has seen in his
travels. The gude wife is a daughter of Donald Blue, who had an adven-
turous career. He was born in the Highlands of Scotland, 1799, year of
Washington's death, emigrated to Canada, was in the Patriot War of 1837,
settled in Clyde in 1839, drove an ox team to California in 1852, returned
to his farm, and spent the last twelve years of his life in Morrison. A large
family of eleven children. This daughter was first married to Robert
McKay by Rev. Mr. Crissman of Morrison in 1888, and the second time to
Daniel Ackerman, of New Jersey, the last of his family. He came with his
father through Chicago about 1840. The father was offered eighty acres
in the heart of the young port if he would act as pilot on the lake for a few
months, but fleas, mire, and other annoyances were so offensive that the
mother refused to stay, and so the Ackermans are not today among the
millionaires of the metropolis. The old gentleman landed in Clyde with
fifty cents in silver, and moved into a green loo; cabin before the chimney
was completed. Both the present Mr. and Mrs. Ackerman are impetuous
talkers, each trying to head the other, and lively as crickets. She regu-
larly every Saturday takes thirty pounds of butter to Sterling, receiving
30 cents in winter, 25 in summer.

Here is a Dunkard church. It was purchased about 1868 from the
Seventh Day Adventists who had become too feeble to support it. There


are 40 members, and Sunday school all winter. There are three pastors who
exercise the sacred functions in turn, like the priests in the tourses of the
Jewish sanctuary: D. E. Gerdes, W. M. Grater, and John W. Miller.
They do not expect support from the congregation, but earn their own
bread by the sweat of their brow. The Bible is their creed. They take its
declarations in their plain meaning. Feet washing is observed once a year
after communion. At their religious meetings there is the utmost freedom
and cordial intercourse.

A little further on is the Aldritt School, taught in 1908 by Miss Cora
Hoak. The property in fine condition with concrete walk to the door,
convenient pump, pictures on the walls, cheerful flowers in the windows.
Judging by the register, the Janvrins are the prevailing family in the dis-
trict. The school is fitly called Aldritt, for several of that name were
pioneers in the district. John in 1846, Richard in 1844, William in 1845^
all from Staffordshire, England, settled in Clyde, and reared large and
respectable families. Another Englishman was Richard Beswick, who came
to Clyde in 1839, and opened an extensive farm. His son, George R., was
in the 13th Illinois, and died at Rolla, Missouri, in 1862.

Near the site of the early Milnes mill, the writer had a short interview
with the venerable R. M. Kennedy, who came from Franklin county, Pa.,
in 1839 to Indiana, then to St. Paul, driving an ox team 800 miles, which
he sold, and returned by water to Fulton. Seven in the family stayed all
night with Walter Wright for two dollars and a half. He settled in Clyde
in 1855. Mr. Kennedy is 85, and looks good for another decade.

Besides the Aldritts, some of the other pioneers were from England,
Zachariah Dent, 1839; Henry W. Daniel, 1838; Samuel Ressell, 1838.
From Scotland, Samuel Currie; 1839; William Wilson, 1839; and John
Wilson, 1839. In honor to the 'Scotch element, there is peculiar propriety
in naming the township Clyde after the famous river at Glasgow.


'Tis not enough to help the feeble up,

But to support him ever after. Shakespeare.

The drying up a single tear has more

Of honest fame than shedding seas of gore. Byron.

Ten miles northeast of Morrison, in Clyde township, is situated the only
private charity in Whiteside. This is Mt. Carmel Faith Missionary Training
Home and Orphanage. It is undenominational, and depends upon the
promises of God and prayer of faith to supply its needs. Very much in the
spirit of Spurgeon's Orphanage in London, Francke's institution at Halle,
or George Muller's at Bristol, England. There are forty acres in the prop-
erty deeded by the generosity of Mr. and Mr?. A. G. Zook. There are several
houses for the school proper, besides the buildings for farm purposes. Two
wells and some unfailing springs afford an abundant supply of water.

A simple narrative explains the origin of the work. While engaged at


the wood pile in 1899, God met Mr. Zook, definitely calling him to yield his
property and himself for service. A new move, but the assurance was clear
that it was to be a training home for Christian worker.-;. It was soon learned
that the earnest laborers in Chicago in this field were overrun with -neglected
and homeless children. They were praying for relief, and here was their
opportunity. On March 1, 1900, the home was opened. The first child was
received April 6. In August, 1901, a new step was taken by faith, the editing
of a paper. Its name, Soul Food, is significant of its purpose.

From time to time children were brought into the orphanage from Chi-
cago and from surrounding towns. The object of the work is not to put
children into private homes, but to provide proper care and training in the
orphanage, and bring up the neglected children in ways that will make them
useful Christian men and women. Only children will be accepted who will
be allowed to remain till they are eighteen, so that parents may not reclaim
them before they are firmly established in right principles. There are three
features in the discipline of the young people: the day school, religious in-
struction, and industrial training. Each day is begun with an hour of

All are expected to take part in the affairs of the establishment. The
boys do the chores, cut the wood, help about the field and garden. Each has
a small garden spot to exercise his taste and ability. The girls assist in the
household and in the care of the younger children. Good health has been
a blessing vouchsafed to the little family. The laws of proper living are
observed. The nervous and debilitated children from the city with country
air and diet and exercise soon gain appetite, digestion, clear skins and
bright eyes.

But more room is an imperative necessity, or the work cannot enlarge.
More children cannot be taken because there is no place to receive them.
In 1904, the last report, the family consisted of thirty children ranging
from two months to fifteen years, all well and active. There are five workers.
Very soon a. Missionary Training Home is expected to be an active depart-
ment. There are constant calls for men and "women qualified for evangelistic
work, to carry the gospel to darkened minds at home and abroad. The
printing press is proving an important factor in the preparation of gospel
workers. While setting type the boys are gathering a fund of useful infor-
mation. A while the farm had been rented but now an overseer in charge
provides employment for the lads, and thus an income is secured from the

From a booklet of By-laws we glean several items of interest. No salaries
are paid to any worker. There must be simplicity of dre. Purity and
temperance are demanded in all things. All workers are encouraged to make
special study of the Bible, and to spend much time in secret prayer. Punc-
tuality must be observed in rising and retiring, and in attendance at th^
table. There are only four articles in the simple confession of faith, and
this is the second: We believe in a definite work of sanctification by grace,
cleansing the heart from all sin, and making the body the temple of the
Holy Ghost.


To set forth the needs of the home and the spirit of the institution, a
small, three-column paper of four pages is published monthly at Morrison,
with A. G. Zook as editor, and A. Myrtle Zook and May L. Donaldson, asso-
ciate editors. The subscription price is low, and two hundred more patrons
are needed to make the journal self-supporting. "Soul Food" is the sug-
gestive title of the paper. No secular topics are discussed, the whole aim
being to encourage faith and pious meditation. Bishop Ken's hymn seems
to pervade the columns:

Direct, control, suggest, this day,

All I design, or do, or say;

That all my powers with all their might,

In thy sole glory may unite.

Near Malvern is a horticultural enterprise that has grown steadily from
a small beginning. In 1882 Lee Horning conceived the plan of a vineyard,
and planted several thousand vines of different varieties. Some not yielding
well were replaced with Concord and Moore's Early, which nourished till
1900, when the severe winter froze them so they had to be replanted. Now
they are in good bearing condition. It was his intention to market the
fresh fruit, but it was attended with so much drudgery, that he decided to
make the crop into wine. His plan has proved successful, but has required
the expenditure of time, money, and perseverance: In order to give the
proper flavor, age is a necessary condition, and he keeps the wine in storage
from eight to ten years, before placing on market. As this storage requires
much room, underground cellars of stone, steel and cement had to be con-
structed, as well as cold air ducts to afford proper ventilation. An acetylene
system furnishes abundant light. Two of his products he takes special
pleasure in recommending, the unfermented wine for church service, and the
pure article for medicinal use. Mr. Horning is justly proud of his estab-

Online LibraryWilliam W DavisHistory of Whiteside County, Illinois from its earliest settlement to 1908 : illustrated, with biographical sketches of some prominent citizens of the county (Volume v.1) → online text (page 10 of 72)