Copyright
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

. (page 14 of 72)
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 14 of 72)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


how much older it is she does not know. Her old pewter platters are prob-
ably over two hundred years old. Mrs. Bouck loaned counterpanes, pla.tes,
platters, cups, bowls, tureens and saucers, large and small, that are just
magnificent, one set of dishes being imported and almost priceless. The
dishes are the delft, mulberry and oriental ware.

John Dudley has a bear trap and all who are interested in the early
history of the county will be much interested from the fact that its history,
so far as is known, began with the days when the first settlers came to ths
county. Here is the story : Soon after the Dudleys and Hamiltons settled
at the bluff, John Dudley's grandfather found the trap in the wood.?. Tightly
clenched in its iron jaws were the bleached bones of an animal, thought at
the time to be the bones of a deer. When we think of the years that have
elapsed and that these traps are scarcely in existence in Illinois, it really is a
valuable relic of other days. It was never known who placed the trap in its
place, whether Indian trapper or white man.

A very interesting document, yellowed by age, is possessed by Mrs.
Mahala Hicks Cady. The paper in question is a commission granted to the
first justice of the peace of Whiteside county. It was granted by Gov.
Joseph Duncan and Secretary of State A. P. Sweet on September 13, 1836,
to Chauncy G. Woodruff, Mrs. Cady's grandfather. This territory was then
undivided and was known as Jo Daviess county. The document is one of
many valuable papers much prized by Mrs. Cady relating to the early days
of our village and county.

THE LANGDON SCHOOL.

Five miles south of Morrison in Lyndon township was dedicated with im-
pressive ceremonies in October, 1907, a new schoolhouse which is a fino
specimen of modern educational progress. The walls of concrete, the inside
of yellow pine. A concrete porch, a belfry, cloak rooms, furnace and warm
play room in basement. The building is 24x28, and twelve feet high. A
lively program of music, recitations, letters from former pupils, toasts, an
address by the veteran John Phinney on "Schools Fifty Years Ago." Miss
Augusta Fuller is teacher, with thirty pupils.

THE BOYS IN BLUE.

In the God of battles trust!
Die we may and die we must ;
But, oh, where can dust to dust

Be consigned so well,
As where heaven its dews shall shed,
On the martyred patriot's bed. John Pierpont.



116 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

A group of active veterans. Win. Ward, Co. G, 156th Illinois, fought
at Nashville and Chattanooga, Henry B. Shaw, Co. B, 75th Illinois, Capt.
Whallon, was at Stone river, Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga, wounded in
ear and coat shot to pieces, good at 81. Wm. Allen, enlisted at 17 at Lyndon,
Co. C, 8th Illinois cavalry, wounded in arm and neck in service near Wash-
ington. H. Hazard, 78 years old, enlisted at Morrison in Co. C, 8th Illinois
cavalry, first colonel, Farnsworth, service in Virginia and Maryland. A. W.
Greenlee, postmaster, is of Scotch descent, enlisted first at Spring Hill in
Co. I, 8th Kansas Infantry, 1861, the second time in 9th Iowa cavalry, 1833.
A remarkable record, as father and six sons all enlisted. His son, H. R., is
ensign on the Rhode Island, battleship in the great fleet that lately sailed
for the Pacific.

In the cemetery west of Lyndon are the graves of several soldiers.
Capt. G. M. Cole, Co. G, 13th Illinois. Capt, Harry Smith, 71, 1854. A. A.
Higley, died of wounds, Perryville, 1862. On the tombs may be read the
names of old settlers, Lathe, Sands, Bell, Pratt, Emery, Hazard, and others.
Martin Potter, 1812-1884. Mary A. Smith, daughter of Dr. Smith, 1837.
George R. Hamilton, 1820-1904. On the family lot, the principals of a
dreadful tragedy. Albert S. Swarthout, Nov. 10, 1892. John S. died in
jail, 1893. Ernest in the penitentiary, 1896. In front along the road is a
soldiers' plot, with a cannon for a centerpiece. It recalls the lion on the
mound at Waterloo, 1815.

THE SCHOOL.

There are two buildings, the main one two stories, three departments,
four teachers, seventy-five pupils. Well equipped with piano, globes, maps,
various apparatus, portraits of Webster, Lincoln, and other eminent Ameri-
cans, dictionaries and encyclopedias. J. W. Machamer, the principal, after
high school study, attended the De Kalb Normal. He is assisted by Miss
Drusilla Parmenter in primary, Miss Bessie Smith in intermediate, and Mrs.
Cora Millikan in the high school room.

Lyndon is an incorporated village. A. W. Greenlee is president of the
board, and the trustees are R. Allen, C. Gardner, Dr. Harriman, J. Shep-
herd, W. Austin, N. Mayberry, and clerk, P. Holt. The supervisor is A. E.
Parmenter.

DENROCK.

Five miles southwest of Lyndon is this station, on the edge of the town-
ship. It Ls at the intersection of two branches of the Burlington, from Clinton
and from Sterling. The most prominent objects are the coal shoot and
two tanks, for the accommodation of the numerous freight trains. The
lunch room attended by Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Hogeboom is made unusually
inviting by the kindly sendee of these excellent people. Home cooking,
mince pies of her own baking, every viand good and wholesome. A cozy
sitting room in the rear for retirement, and bedrooms for chance travelers
above. They have managed the place for fifteen years.



HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 117

TWO LYNDON TRAGEDIES.

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Macbeth.

Christmas, December 25, 1883, was not a day of peace on earth and
good will to men for two young fellows, the assassin and his victim. Chris-
tian Riebling, a foreign German, 32 years old, entered the office of G. R.
Cady's livery stable, and ordered Albert Lucia to leave, as he had previously
ordered him from the store of C. L. Parkhurst. Lucia replied that he would
not unless told to do so by Cady. Riebling repeated his order, at the same
time pointing his revolver at the boy, who jumped to his feet, exclaiming,
"My God, he is going to shoot!" As he passed towards the door, he struck
Riebling's arm, and forced the revolver downward so that the bullet took
effect in the upper part of Lucia's leg. Riebling was arrested, taken to Mor-
rison jail, December 27, to await action of the grand jury for the March
term of circuit court. Eleven days after receiving the wound, Lucia died,
and when the grand jury met, Riebling was indicted for murder. The case
was called March 25, Messrs. J. D. Andrews, of Sterling, and W. H. Allen,
of Erie, appointed by court to defend the prisoner, state's attorney Walter
Stager prosecuting. The trial occupied two days, the case given to the jury
at nine o'clock on evening of March 26, and after seven hours' deliberation
the verdict of guilty was brought in the following morning. The execution
of the sentence was fixed by the court on May 16. The gallows was erected
in an enclosure near the jail. The prisoner was attended to the last by his
spiritual advisers, Sweet of Morrison and Breen of Lyndon, took his stand
on the trap with composure, in a short speech spoke of his trust in the Lord
and his sorrow for the crime, and with the black cap placed over his head,
awaited the end. When Sheriff Beach pulled the lever at six minutes after
two, the body fell five feet without a struggle, and in fifteen minutes life
was pronounced extinct. The number of persons in the enclosure was
estimated at 150. but there was a curious crowd outside. Riebling had dark
hair, blue eyes, face pitted with small-pox, and weighed 165 pounds. Not a
single relative with him in his last moments upon earth.

THE SWARTHOUT MURDER.

An orphan's curse would drag to hell

A spirit from on high ;

But oh, more horrible than that

Is the curse in a dead man's eye. Ancient Mariner.

Two miles west of Lyndon is the farm of Albert M. Swarthout. There
is a large frame house, and the usual buildings to furnish a farm of 200
acres. He had two sons, John, the older, who was practicing medicine and
rooming in Lyndon, and Ernest, the younger, married, who with his wife
was keeping house for the father, whose wife died in 1891. For a while his
daughter, Rattle, Mrs. Buell Langdon, had been in charge at the old home
till the marriage of Ernest.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, 1892, Mr. Swarthout drove in his buggy to



118 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

Morrison, returned at six in the evening, unhitched the horse, took him to
the barn, and was seen no more. Shortly afterward, Mrs. Buell Langdon,
the daughter, and Mrs. Ernest Swarthout, the younger son's wife, who were
in the house, noticed a straw stack to the south on fire, rang the bell and
called the sons, John and Ernest, who were at the barn. Charles Sturtevant,
a farmer living sixty rods west, also saw the burning stack, and went over
to give the alarm. He found the boys in the house, who said they had been
to the stack, but could not put it out. Mr. Sturtevant asked where their
father was, but they did not know.

No search was made for the missing man until the neighbors insisted
upon it. On Friday morning, however, an examination of the ashes of the
straw pile revealed portions of the skull and other bones. At the coroner's
inquest in the afternoon, the two sons and one son's wife were the only
witnesses, and the verdict was that the deceased came to his death from
causes unknown to the jury. This was not satisfactory to the community,
now thoroughly aroused. Complaint was made, both Ernest and John were
arrested on Saturday, taken before Justice Bates, but on requesting that the
preliminary examination be postponed till Nov. 18, in default of bail, they
were lodged in jail at Morrison.

At the preliminary examination which occupied two sittings, thirty
witnesses were examined for the state, and as all the evidence tended to con-
firm the horrible suspicion that the father was murdered by the sons, they
were remanded without bail to the county jail. At the February term of
court, they were indicted by the grand jury for murder. At a glance, the
boys seemed incapable of such an unnatural crime. They were young,
slender, and intelligent. John was 25, Ernest 22. John was inclined to
consumption, and confinement aggravating the disease, he gradually declined,
dying in the jail at Morrison July 19, 1893.

During the long interval popular excitement had gradually increased,
and the opening of court was awaited with intense interest. The case of The
People against Ernest Swarthout for the murder of Albert Swarthout, father
of the defendant, was called for trial at two on Monday afternoon, Nov. 6,
1893, in the circuit court at Morrison. Hon. James Shaw, of Mt. Carroll,
presided. Walter Stager, state's attorney, was assisted by H. C. Ward, of
Sterling. 0. F. Woodruff and F. D. Ramsay, of Morrison, appeared for the
defendant. By the side of Ernest Swarthout sat his young wife, a mere girl,
married just sixty days before the murder.

A special venire of one hundred men were summoned from which to
select jurors, and by noon of the next day the following twelve were selected:
Frank Plumley of Fulton, W. A. Stsrtzman and M. F. Fell of Fulton. E. L.
Booth of Albany, G. Crandall of Erie, Frank Wilson of Newton. John
Hunter of Prophetstown, M. J. Ryerson of Hopkins, W. Runk of Jordan,
L. Dawson of Hahnaman, H. Cain of Tampico, and C. Minor of Hume.
The court room was packed, nearly half of the audience being ladies. In
the close of his opening address to the jury, Walter Stager, state's attorney,
said in substance:

"The theory of our case is that Albert Swarthout when he came home



HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 119

went to the new barn to put away his horse, was murdered there, that he
was put on the cart and wheeled down to the sheep shed and left there until
he was taken to the straw stack, that the stack was fired, that late that night
or early next morning the unburned portions were pulled from the stack,
hacked to pieces and buried in the slough, that the cart was broken tn pieces
and the bloody portion burned, that if Ernest did not do the killing himself,
he must have known of it as he was in the same barn and but a short
distance from the spot where the blood indicates their father was killed
according to his own statement."

No other trial in the county, civil or criminal, was so hotly contested.
The advocates of both sides made long, exhaustive and eloquent pleas. On
Wednesday morning, Nov. 14, the judge gave the jury their instructions,
and on Thursday morning at the opening of court a large audience with the
attorneys, the prisoner and his wife, listened in breathless silence as Circuit
Clerk Tuttle read the following verdict: "We, the jury, find the defendant,
Ernest Swarthout, guilty of murder, in manner and form as charged in the
second count of the indictment, and find his age to be over 21 years, and
fix his punishment at fourteen years in the penitentiary."

Albert M. Swarthout, the victim, was born in Fenton township, 1841,
and married in 1865 to Miss Frances A. Cuppernell, of Dixon. An indus-
trious man and member of the Methodist church at Lyndon. Tall, muscular,
and of fine physique. He was contemplating a second marriage, which the
sons bitterly opposed on the ground that it was too soon after the mother's
death the previous year. Various rumors for the inhuman act were afloat,
but there was never a shadow of doubt that one of the sons fired the shot
that ended the father's life. Ernest was in due time taken to Joliet to serve
his sentence, but the gloomy walls did not long hold the unhappy prisoner,
dying in 1896. Father and boys sleep side by side in the Lyndon cemetery.

A REMARKABLE MECHANICAL GENIUS.

Fred Mayfield, who not long ago returned after spending four years in
the U. S. navy, has just completed a model of a battleship in miniature. The
dimensions and armament of this model are as follows: Length two feet,
ten inches; breadth eight inches; mean draught six inches. The battery
consists of one thirteen inch revolving rifle, two twelve inch revolving turrets,
four orie-poundefs, ten six inch guns, four rapid firing guns in firing tops.
These guns, with two or three exceptions, were whittled out by Mr. Mayfield
in a correct and precise manner, and are mounted strictly according to regu-
lations. There are also two search lights, two whale boats, two gigs, one
steam launch and one sailing launch, also constructed in like manner. Even
to the minutest detail the steam launch, not over three and one-half inches
long, is equipped with a miniature engine, propeller, a rudder and steering
device, as well as a plush lined seating capacity. This launch in itself is
a wonder to all who have seen it when one realizes that it has all been
whittled out with a pocket knife, and WP will say now that a knife, a smnll
saw, wire pliers, a chisel, a paint brush, comprised his entire mechanical
outfit. The ship itself is equipped with everything, in a miniature way,



120 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

to be found on a first-class battleship, consisting of a chart house, conning
tower, shooting gallery, executive offices, anchor davit and chains, ventilator
and smoke stack, signal halyards and arms, machinery of all kinds, ropes,
tackles. Mr. Mayfield has been working at the model more or less for the
past two months and the work involved in such an undertaking is enormous.

ITEMS.

Hamilton school on the bluff was the first school in the county, 1838,
and the Congregational church organized in 1837 was the first of that
denomination west of Chicago.

Liberty Walker, bachelor, was the first man who died in the settlement,
1835, and he was buried on the hill.

Pardon A. Brooks boarded for a time with Healy, the artist, in Boston,
and a copy of Brooks' portrait painted by Healy hangs in the home of
Charles Sturtevant.

Bluff school was first of logs, and the Deacon's daughter taught before
it was built in the homestead.

As Kentucky onoe bore the uncanny synonym of the "dark and bloody
ground," so the road leading from Lyndon toward Erie has sometimes been
styled "Dead Man's Lane," because of the ghastly occurrences of suicides,
untimely deaths, and other dreadful events associated with several of the
dwellings. Denrock has been the scene of some distressing accidents.

The prominent physician of Lyndon is Dr. S. S. Harriman, graduate
of Jefferson Medical School, Philadelphia, who came here in 1890.

A Browning Club was patronized for several years, Miss Elsie Gould,
now of Sterling, the leader. In 1891 Aurora Leigh was read.

Various societies are in operation. W. R. C. of 17 members, with Mrs. S.
E. Chiverton to look after the widows and orphans for the present year.
The Masons number about fifty, with adjunct, Eastern Star, Master, Walter
Austin. Thirty Woodmen. One hundred Mystic Workers, prefect, Mr.
Shultz.

The town shows a healthful growth. New residences', concrete walks,
and general evidences of thrift. The center of a rich farming district.

TWO HONORED CITIZENS.

In January, 1908, Mrs. Martha A. Whallon passed to her reward. She
was born in Ohio, 1832, and removed with her parents to Lyndon in 1838.
Mrs. Whallon resided with her parents at the old homestead just north of
town until her marriage to Capt. John Whallon Sept. 10, 1831, and since
that time has lived continuously in the town of Lyndon.

Before her marriage she was one of the favorite pioneer teachers, she
having taught in Sterling, Fulton, Prophetstown, Como, Portland and Lyn-
don, in all places esteemed by a wide circle of friends among patrons and
pupils.

She passed through the schools of our town then the best in the
county and took further training at Knox college, Galesburg, for some time.
In her youth she cultivated many graces of mind and heart.



HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 121

To Mr. and Mrs. \V ballon was born one child, a son, Hal, who sur-
vives them. The father, Capt, Whallon, lived until Oct. 21, 1903. Since
then Mrs. Whallon and her son have lived together in the old home.

Mrs. Whallon united with the Congregational church of this place in
her childhood and has since remained an active and useful member thereof,
always faithful in attendance upon the regular Sabbath services and the mid-
week service, and especially active in the Sunday school. Her brothers, Fred
W. Millikan and Rev. S. Frank Millikan, are the only surviving members of
Deacon Millikan's family.

General William Clendenin, whose sudden death in Moline created a
sensation, and who was so prominent in Illinois army circles, was a Lyndon
boy, born in 1845, and spending his childhood there until his father's
removal to Moline in 1859. He enlisted in Co. B, 140th Illinois infantry,
April 30, 1864, and on June 18 of the same year was advanced to first ser-
geant, and on Sept. 17 became sergeant major of the regiment. He was
mustered out of the service Oct. 29, 1864. He served with the United States
regulars, being mustered out of that service March 23, 1866, having held
the following offices: Sergeant major, 108th Regiment, U. S. Col. troops,
Feb. 7, 1865; second lieutenant, Co. A, 108th U. S. Col. troops, Aug. 8, 1865;
first lieutenant, Co. A, 108th U. S. Col. troops, Jan. 1, 1866.

His connection with the Illinois National Guard began Aug. 24, 1877,
rising from one rank to another until at his resignation in 1903 he was
brigadier-general. Interment was made in the cemetery at Galesburg.

SOME OF OUR EARLY LAWYERS.

No man e'er felt the halter draw,

With good opinion of the law. John Trumbull.

A lawyer's dealings should be just and fair;
Honesty shines with great advantage there. Cowper.

HUGH WALLACE.

Doubtless the first of our early lawyers. He came from Cumberland
county, Pa., in 1837, soon after graduating at Washington College and read-
ing law with General Porter in Lancaster. At first a farmer, for there was
little business in his profession. Most of wastern Sterling is built on the land
he cultivated. He was a member of the legislature in 1846, a senator in
1852 in the same body, and for four years register of the land office at Dixon
under President Pierce. His dwelling for many years was a low, one-story
sort of cabin, called from its curious aspect the "old fort." It was not far
from the present square mansion on West Third street, now occupied by Mrs.
Randolph. This he built in 1855 of blocks taken from the river. His wife
was Mary Gait, sister of the late John Gait, a thorough housekeeper.

Wallace was a genial man, fond of society, and liked nothing better
than to have the' young folks come to his house, and play the fiddle for them
to dance. He had great faith in the future of his town, and the writer on a
visit in 1851 remembers his taking a map of Illinois and showing us that



122 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

Sterling was directly west of Chicago, and that an air line to the Missis-
sippi must pass through this point. He was right, and wisely gave the com-
pany land for the station and yard, which at once moved business from upper
Sterling, and made Wallacetown the center of operations, which it has
since retained. In later years he retired from practice, and spent his after-
noons on his broad piazza overlooking what was then a grassy river bottom,
now covered with railroad tracks, shops, and tenements.

B. C. COBLENTZ.

The writer's first view of B. C. was at Lancaster, Pa., in 1853. He
was a member of the class graduated that year from Franklin and Marshall
College. Captain Wilberforce Nevin, afterward in the civil war, and a while
editor of the Philadelphia Press, was also a member. Coblentz came west
soon after finishing his law studies, and had his office with Hugh Wallace
in that small annex which once stood east of the Wallace House. He was
quite popular, and in 1867 was elected mayor.

His wife was Miss Murphy, from Mercersburg, Pa., an entertaining
talker. Coblentz liked ease, was a good liver, somewhat pompous, and in
summer was the only man in town who sported a white vest. For a time he
had an office in the quarters of the Rock Island Railroad on the second
floor of Wallace Hall. Misfortune followed the family after the removal
from Sterling to Arkansas. Both he and his wife died, and some of the
children.

All are scattered nOw and fled,
Some are married, some are dead.

EDWIN N. KIRK.

In the summer of 1861 Mr. Kirk gave a large party at the pretty villa
which he had erected in the grove in eastern Sterling, now the property of
Wash Dillon. As we stood on the south piazza, he said he was not satisfied
to be at ease while soldiers were needed to uphold the flag at the front.
That fall the 34th Illinois infantry was organized with Kirk as its colonel,
and the writer visited the boys while at Camp Butler, near Springfield. At
Stone River, Tennessee, Dec. 31, 1862, Kirk had two horses shot under him,
was severely wounded in the thigh, and some time after that terrific battle,
underwent an operation from which he never recovered.

Gen. Kirk was ambitious, and like many others, felt that military dis-
tinction would be a passport to success in politics after the war.

'Twas ever thus from childhood's hour,
I've seen my fondest hopes decay.

He was a tall, fine-looking man, and as Mrs. Kirk, who was short, walked
by his side up the aisle to a front pew in the old Presbyterian church in Rev.
E. Erskine's day, they created a sensation, especially as they came late when
the services were in progress.



HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 123

JAMES DINSMOOR.

One of our few college men fifty years ago, a graduate of Dartmouth,
the alma mater of Daniel Webster and Rufus Choate. His son, Jarvis, now
practicing law in Sterling, enjoyed the same privilege. He was the only
lawyer who had an office in town and residence in the country. For forty
years, rain or shine, summer and winter, he drove in his buggy from Hazel
Hill farm, five miles north of Emerson, to his business in Sterling. For
tome time he was associated with Graves, another eastern man, and then
with Walter Stager. Mrs. Dinsmoor, in early life a teacher, loved to speak
of Emerson, Holmes, and the literary traditions of her New England home.
Lowell was their residence before removal to Illinois.



MILES S. HENRY. ',

He was born in Geneva, N. Y., in 1815, the year of Waterloo and New
Orleans, was a schoolmate of Stephen A. Douglas, and began the practice of
law in Sterling in 1844. An active citizen, and he filled several responsible
positions. He was in the banking business with Lorenzo Hapgood, a delegate
to the Philadelphia convention that nominated Fremont in 185B, president
of the Sterling and Rock Island Railroad Company, and in 1862 was ap-
pointed paymaster in the army. His second wife was Mr.=. Bushnell, widow



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 14 of 72)