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 15 of 72)
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of Major Bushnell, of the 13th Illinois.

Henry was a gentleman of fine taste, an easy talker, and very agree-

A merrier man,

Within the limit of becoming mirth,
I never spent an hour's talk withal.

An excellent reader. At a social given by Mrs. McCune in the parlors of the
Wallace House, being called upon for a reading, Major Henry recited:

Oh, the snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and the earth below.

Watson's poem was not then so familiar. He was a regular attendant at
Grace Episcopal church during the pastorate of Rev. J. E. Goodhue. He,
Lorenzo Hapgood, and Gabriel Davis, as senior members, occupied front


The most jovial of our lawyers, always ready for a joke, never without
a cigar. A self-made man, making no pretension to culture, with an inti-
mate knowledge of common law. He laid the foundation for what is now a
part of the residence of W. W. Davis, Bellevue Place. Four friends planned
a sort of select quarter. Dr. Hudson on the Ed Bowman place, Kirk where
Dillon is, Ed Allen across the street. The.-e with Sackett would have made
a social ring. But fate determined otherwise. Death and misfortune
crushed these fond projects, and Sackett died homeless and desolate.



A slender, delicate person. He used to take walks for his health. The
writer met him one morning strolling along the Morrison road. For a time,
partner of Dinsmoor, the firm being Dinsmoor and Haskell. Fond of writ-
ing for the press. He and \V. W. Davis were proposed as editors of a pro-
jected paper during the Farnsworth and Arnold contest for the Con-
gressional nomination. His sons still live in Sterling. William W. was for
years assistant postmaster with Thomas Diller. Walter N. is a lawyer,
making patents a specialty, and is secretary of the Central school board.


A lawyer of the old school, plain, earnest, rugged, positive, always ready
to give a reason for the faith that was in him. Fulton was his home for a
long time, and the old handbills announcing speakers, regularly had "D.
McCartney of Fulton." An explosive style of speaking, firing his sentences
in what musicians would call staccato. When McCartney took the platform,
the crowd prepared for something rich and stirring. He came to Sterling
in 1865 and died in 1888. At his death, he was state's attorney, the predecessor
of Walter Stager. Before the present law was enacted, he was prosecutor
for four counties. Mrs. Fannie Worthington, the well known speaker and
writer, is a daughter, and also the present wife of C. L. Sheldon, Esq.


He was in a law office when the rebels fired upon Fort Sumter, and
being young and enthusiastic, he enlisted with numerous personal friends in
the Thirteenth Illinois, and followed the flag to the close of the rebellion.
On his return he resumed practice. For a time the firm was Kilgour and
Manahan, then Manahan and Ward. John failed gradually, yielding to a
cruel, hereditary malady, consumption, which carried off his mother at an
early age, and also a sister. With only a common school education and law
study in an office, John secured an excellent standing in the circuit and
higher courts. A ready writer and speaker, industrious, and the soul of honor.
For years an elder in the Presbyterian church.


Fresh from college and law school, in the prime of his young manhood,
James came directly to Sterling, and remained here in the practice of his
profession to his death a few years ago. He was like Goldsmith's village
preacher :

Remote from towns he ran his godly race,

Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place.

Like Emery A. Storrs of Chicago, Mr. McPherran was not satisfied with
the dry details of statute books, but had a natural fondness for literature.
He read at night and kept in touch with new publications. He was rightly
considered the best historian of the Whiteside bar. For over twenty years
he was president of the Sterling library board, and his portrait, presented by


the family, now adorns the walls of the directors' room in the new public


His father was a pioneer, moving to the state in 1839. Charles studied
law with Judge McCoy of Fulton, and in 1854, in company with David
McCartney, was admitted to the bar at Sterling in the old courthouse on
Broadway, now fallen like Babylon. After eighteen years of practice at
Morrison, and a short stay in Rock Island and Chicago, he came to Sterling
in 1879, where he remained to his death. Charlie, as he was commonly
called, made no pretension to oratory, but was a fine office lawyer, with the
principles and decisions of the courts at his tongue's end. His younger
brother, Caleb, with whom he was associated, is still in practice in Sterling.


Coming here from his Virginia home, and beginning the practice of
law at Fulton in 1840, Judge McCoy was the Nestor of the Whiteside bar.
He was a public-spirited man, and was never so devoted to his profession, as
to forget the claims of the community. He showed a lively interest in edu-
cation as well as in politics. A presidential elector in 1868, a delegate to
the constitutional convention in 1869, a trustee of the Illinois Soldiers' Col-
lege. Fond of mingling among the people. Never forgot a face. The
writer met him regularly at the fairs on the Sanborn grounds at Sterling,
and he was always ready to give the hearty grasp of friendship.


After a gradual decline for months, Mr. Andrews passed away in the
autumn of 1907. His office was always in .Sterling, where he had grown
up, but his death occurred in Rock Falls, where he had resided for a few
years preceding. A broad-shouldered man, his early decease was a surprise.
His general appearance seemed to indicate vigor and endurance. One of his
most striking mental qualities was firmness, resolution. When he entered
upon a course of action, he pushed the business to a conclusion, with all his
energy, regardless of criticism or opposition. He was high authority on
drainage from his long experience as a surveyor, and it was chiefly due
to his recommendation that the feeder to the Hennepin canal was placed at

At a memorial meeting of the Whiteside bar in Morrison, appreciative
tributes to his character were paid by several of his associates. All spoke of
the habitual purity of his life. Jarvis Dinsmoor said: "In an acquaintance
of twenty-five years, meeting Mr. Andrews in court, in conference, in shop,
street, in politics, I never heard fall from his lips, a profane, hasty or vulgar
word. When I called to see him in his sickness, the sick man had reached
the condition so beautifully portrayed by Whittier:

" 'And so beside the silent sea

I wait the muffled oar,
No harm from him can come to me,
On ocean or on shore.' "


\V. H. Allen, of Erie, the oldest member of the bar, dwelt on his loyalty
to justice, his love of truth, his courage in doing what was morally right,
undeterred by argument, ridicule, sarcasm or denunciation. His work was
honestly and fairly done in a great profession, and it is well that his breth-
ren should gladly award the praise due a career so fittingly closed.


Some of our first lawyers are a vanishing memory. They soon passed
from the stage by death or removal. For example, Brooks Ward and Joe
Ware. Some came into our court from other counties, flashed like an occa-
sional meteor and then retired. There was Joe Knox of Rock Island, a
strong speaker and there was Judge Leffingwell of Clinton, perhaps the most
brilliant pleader who ever appeared in our court. He had all the endow-
ments of the orator in aspect, voice, manner, heightened by careful study,
and jury and audience were soon captivated by the magnetism of his address.
A persuasive talker on the platform, and his services were always in demand
in political campaigns.


To one who has been long in city pent,

'Tis very sweet to look into the fair

And open face of heaven, to breathe a prayer

Full in the smile of the blue firmament. Keats.

About twenty miles from Sterling, south on the Burlington towards
Rock Island through Sands, Lyndon, Denrock, is the thriving town of Erie.
Leaving the station, a short walk brings you to the heart of the place, an
irregular plaza, in Spanish, around which the principal business houses are
built. Various stores and two opera houses, Burchell's and Breed's, which
are in frequent demand for lectures and plays. Along the railroad are three
elevators, which deal in coal, grain and live stock. There is a custom mill,
in operation for forty years, with a capacity of thirty barrels of flour a
day, but which is really now a custom mill, grinding grists as brought by the
surrounding patrons. The creamery, Gilbert Wilcox, twelve years in exist-
ence, produces in the aggregate 100,000 pounds of butter a year. The
receipts of cream are much heavier in summer than in winter. In summer
ice cream is made and readily sold. .

The longest industrial establishment in Erie is the poultry house, carried
on by the Morrison Produce Company. It measures 150 by 42 feet, with
numerous windows. The concern was started 18 or 19 years ago. All kinds
of fowls are bought, mostly chickens, five wagons run to scour the country
for the bipeds, six to twelve pickers employed, and the shipments to Boston,
New York, Philadelphia, are from five to six thousand pounds a day. But
understand the fowls are not exported as received from the country. They
are artificially fattened. Twice a day buttermilk or other rich liquid food
is forced into their craws in order that the flesh may be white and tender
for the palates of eastern epicures.

A high tone in Erie society. The people are organized in various capaci-


ties to do good. The Christian church was started in 1871 with forty mem-
bers, the present property bought from the United Brethren, and remodeled
in 1902. There are one hundred members, a Sunday school of 94, Ladies'
Aid society and Christian Endeavor. The pastor, Rev. G. W, Morton, studied
at Millersville, Pa., Moody's Institute, Chicago, and before his residence here,
was engaged in evangelistic work. His first year in Erie. A young man
with plenty of energy.

As everywhere, the Methodist is the pioneer church, started in 1839 with
preaching by Rev. Norris Hobart. In the first class were John Freek, Mrs.
Hunt, A. Brooks, Mrs. Early. First services in the log school house. The
present membership is 120, with a good Sunday school of 100' pupils. Also
a Ladies' Aid, Epworth League and Junior Epworth. The pastor, Rev. John
A. Edmondson, has had a varied career. Originally in the Tennessee con-
ference of M. E. C. South, he was chaplain during the war of a state regi-
ment, but resigned when it was proposed to turn it over to the Confederacy,
came north to the Colorado conference in 1875, then to the Central Illinois,
next to Rock River. This is his second year.

The plain building of 1870 gave way in 1901 to a modern structure with
two elevations and tower at the intersection. Of frame, with stained glass
and every necessary equipment for comfort and beauty. At the dedication,
Rev. Fred D. Stone offered prayer and the sermon was preached by Dr. M.
A. Head. E. W. Thompson was pastor at that time.

One of the oldest members is Dr. H. K. Wells, born in Lebanon, N. H.,
1824, who took his academic course at McKendree college, and his medical
al Rush college, Chicago. The doctor has been a stanch Wesleyan since
sixteen. He came to Erie in 1865, and is still in occasional practice.

On a side street stands a dark frame building with cupola and bell,
but the worshipers who once sat beneath that roof are dead or scattered. The
bell rings no more.

Of joys departed never to return,
How painful the remembrance.

This is the Baptist church, erected in 1870, with a membership of eighty
in happier days. Rev. L. L. Lansing was the first pastor, with a dozen suc-
cessors. Mrs. Maria Hubbard is one of the few remaining of the early
members. The Hubbard farm was her first home before her marriage and
removal to Erie, where she has lived 36 yeats. In 1853 she went to a log
schoolhouse in Erie. Her great-great-grandfather was in the battle of Lex-

Perhaps the most active intellectual influence in Erie is the Woman's
Club. It was organized March 28, 1903. The motto is Progress, and the
colors purple and gold. There are 43 members, comprising the leading
ladies of the town. Mr?. Burnice Sieben is president, and Mrs. Margaret
Burchell, treasurer. A fine fountain of malleable iron in the square is a
monument of their zeal. Meetings are held every two weeks, and a neat
booklet contains the program for each session. As will be seen the order
changes from time to time, keeping their minds in wholesome occupation.


For instance this program for Dec. 3: Music, Quotations from American
poets, Early Indian history, the Indian today, Indian music and literature,
music. For March 3, Plantation Folk Lore, quotations from southern
poets, southern dialect stories. One day is set apart for the annual reception,
-and one day to the discussion of local needs. In addition they aim to have
regular courses of lectures. In the season of 1907-1908, Hon. Arthur K.
Peck, of Boston, gave an illustrated lecture on the U. S. Life Saving Service.
He was followed in an entertainment by John B. Ratto. At one meeting
Mrs. Maria Hubbard located the site of the first schoolhouse. It was a log
building on Main street, on the lot now owned by Carrie Hoffman and her
sister, Miss Sophronia Wright.

"What is so rare as a day in June?" inquired Lowell. What is handier
than the phone? Erie has fine service in the Crescent Telephone Company.
It was organized in Rock Island county 1898, by seven men. On June 14,
1904, the license of incorporation was received, capital stock, $12,500. A
steady growth since. Today the company has 233V2 miles of poles, of
which 177% are in Rock Island county and 56 miles in Whiteside. They
have sold also miles of wire. The stock of 494 shares is located as follows:
Watertown, 38; Port Byron, 114; Hillsdale, 157; Erie, 185. The shares
.sell at $25 each or share and telephone, $40 each. At the annual election
in January, 1908, at Joslin, 111., it was voted to increase the capital, to $25,000,
or 1,000 shares, or 500 more than they had to sell.

The company have four switchboards, one at Watertown, Port Byron,
Hillsdale, Erie. The officers are W. H. Whiteside, Joslin, president; E. L.
Hansen, Hillsdale, treasurer; and A. A. Matthews, Erie, secretary. Mr.
Whiteside has been at the head for several years. A struggle till the enter-
prise was on its feet, but now it is a great success, giving the best of service.

Erie was incorporated in 1872 and the board of trustees for 1908 are:
George H. Fadden, president; C. D. Hannon, clerk; and the usual commit-
tees on streets, finance, fire, health, judiciary and cemetery. Regular meet-
ings are held first Tuesday evening of the month at seven in the winter, and
7:30 in the summer.

No town, west or east, is complete without a paper. A city sheet can-
not give the local news, and even your own county dailies are unable to
furnish the little items that people enjoy. A town paper is really a home
bulletin. The Erie Independent was established in 1877 by G. W. Guernsy,
and in 1885 was purchased by Wm. M. Patrick, of Lyndon, who was pub-
lishing the Lyndon Advocate. In 1890 the establishment was bought by
the present editor and publisher, C. D. Hannon. He has given his best
efforts to the paper, and made it an excellent repository of home intelligence
with an advertising patronage creditable to the merchants. Mr. Hannon is
an affable and courteous gentleman. The Independent has four pages and
.six columns to the page. One dollar per year.


All that tread the globe are but a handful
To the tribes that slumber in its bosom.


Along the main street leading north is the cemetery. Here is the tomb
of Andrew J. Osborne, a well known reformer in his day, who ventilated
his views freely by pen and voice, 1829-1901. On the dark granite is the
inscription, "His greatest aim in life was for the liberty of labor." A hand-
some soldiers' monument, Orcutt Post, 553, with a volunteer on the summit.
On each of the four sides, Gettysburg, Stone River, Shiloh, Vickshurg. Names
of soldiers engraved below.

"Dedicated to the soldiers of the Rebellion."


Samuel Orcutt Post, G. A. R.,
Erie, 111.

Ah, never shall the land forget

How gushed the life-blood of the brave,

Gush'd warm with hope and courage yet,
Upon the soil they fought .to save!

A goodly band of veterans are enjoying their well-earned retirement,
Robert Thompson, 34th Illinois, enlisted at Prophetstown, mustered out
at Goldsboro, N. G. Started as private, returned as captain. H. A. Hatton,
enlisted in the 10th Iowa Infantry, saw long and strenuous service at Island
No. Ten, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Mission Ridge, with Sherman in the march
to the sea, and then north to the grand review at Washington, 1865, which
he says was the proudest day of his life. Of the 107 who left in hi,? com-
pany, only 17 came back. L. E. Matthews, 75th Illinois, was hit in knee
at Perryville, and wounded also at Dallas in 1864.

Hiram Deyo, enlisted twice, first in Mechanics Fusileers, then in 92nd
Illinois, Col. Atkins. He fought at Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain,
marched with Sherman to the sea, and was mustered out in North Carolina.
Arthur Welding, first in 15th Missouri Independent Rangers, 1831, next
in 8th Kansas Infantry, 1882, followed the flag under Rosecranz, Sherman
and Grant, and was mustered out at Chattanooga in 1864. York Eddy,
75th Illinois, was in that terrible fight at Perryville. He is thankful to
Uncle Sam for $20 a month pension. Joseph M. Stephenson, born in Eng-
land, enlisted in De Witt, Iowa, in 26th Iowa Infantry, spent his term
chiefly about Helena, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, hospital at St. Louis,
to his discharge in 1863.

Thanks to the genius of Edison, a mild moonlight is enjoyed in all
our smaller towns every winter night. An electric plant furnishes incandes-
cent lights in Erie streets. The town is charged $1.25 for every light, or
$66 per month for the whole number. It was established in 1899. There is
an engine of eighty horsepower. The price, three lights for $1.25 per
month, seems reasonable, for household use, sixteen candle power. E. L.
Muesse, formerly of Wisconsin, is engineer. The service is generously em-
ployed in stores, shops, hotels and the newer residences.

The bridge over Rock river wa.s built in 1892 by the Chicago Bridge
and Iron Works at a cost of $21,500. Three spans. A solid piece of work.



Erie comes naturally by its name, as two of the first settlers came from
Erie county, New York. Lewis D. Crandall settled here in 1835, and estab-
lished a ferry over Rock river, the first below Dixon. Lafayette, also, came
from the same county in New York, and opened a farm in 1837. Samuel
Carr, Vermont, kept hotel in a log cabin, 1843, when a stage line was in
operation. John Freek, England, came in 1835, and took an active interest
in Sunday schools and preaching services, so often neglected in the primitive
districts. In 1840 a postoffice was kept at Crandall's Ferry by Lewis D.
Crandall, and moved to Erie in 1849.

In the autumn of 1835, Peter Gile, wife and two children, with L. D.
Crandall, started from Dixon with goods on two canoes lashed together.
Night came on, and the frail craft was overturned in the raging current.

The boat was on a stormy land,
A stormy sea before her.

The younger child was drowned, and Mrs. Gile soon died from the effects
of the exposure. 0. Brooks built the first house in Erie, and the first teacher
was Polly Ann Sprague, afterwards Mrs. Reuben Hard. The first marriage,
that of Oliver Olmstead and Electa Hunt, and the first child born was
Harriet Coburn, her father, Charles, having come in 1839 from New York.
An agreeable hour was spent with John D. Fenton, who as a child came
with his father, Joseph, to the country in 1835. He was born in 1832, and
has lived in Erie since 1863. All of his early associates are dead and gone.
He likes to tell of the family trip to the west by Erie canal, the lakes and
ox cart from Milwaukee. Mr. Fenton is one of the most sprightly men of
his age to be met in a day's travel. Rises early, does his own chores, regular
in eating, sleeping and all his habits, and what is rare, a systematic reader
of the dailies and magazines, taking a variety of the best publications. He
talks well, no slang or slip-shod words. The thought and language of a gentle-


William Allen, esq., who has been in Erie since 1856, may be called the
Dean of the Whiteside bar. A judicial mind and a phenomenal memory.
A Solomon in judgment, and a Macaulay in recalling names and dates.
His spacious farm house and barn on a tract of 300 acres, on the edge of
town, is conspicuous, and assure Mr. Allen a comfortable old age.

But D. B. Henwood is in age the G. 0. M. of Erie. A pioneer of pioneers.
His mother kept tavern in Harrisburg, Pa., in 1812 ; he was born in Phila-
delphia in 1824, moved to Ohio in four-horse wagon in 1825, to Indiana in
1837, to Erie in 1850. He had a farm and ferry, and ran the boat across
the river till the bridge was built. A genuine Charon that the Latin poets
speak of. Still vigorous at 84.

The First National Bank has a paid-up capital of $40,000. Robert L.
Btirchell is president, Ora A. Wilson, vice-president and Robert C. Burchell,
oashier. Eight directors: Charles McLane, Ora A. Wilson, Frank J. Vagt,


Henry A. Huntington, G. H. Fadden, R. C. Burchell, R. L. Burchell, W. C.


All the fraternal orders flourish. The Masons doubtless the oldest, Erie
Lodge, No. 687, instituted in 1870. Then there are the Mystic Workers,
Odd Fellows, Woodmen, Knights of Pythias, with their lady society adjuncts.

At the last meeting of the board of trustees, a bill of $543 was allowed
for gravel on the streets, the best material for giving a solid foundation for

A substantial city hall of brick, built two years ago. On first floor an
assembly room, in rear, fire engine and jail, above council chamber and
other offices.

Erie had no railway connection until the Rockford, Rock Island and
St. Louis R. R. was opened in 1869, and since then the place has enjoyed
a healthy improvement. One advantage. It has no competing towns in
business, Rock Island and Geneseo on the south being too far away to attract

The two most imposing residences in Erie are those of R. C. Burchell,
merchant, and Dr. Larue, physician. They are both of the southern style,
Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, or Jackson at Hermitage, with their tall
columns under the high portico in front.

Like Chicago, the town recalls a memorable fire, July 3, 1897, which
destroyed a whole block, stores, printing office, heart of the place, but the
new buildings are better. Erie is progressive.

Men said at vespers, all is well.
In one wild night the city fell.

A young men's club was lately organized at the Christian church on
the plan of the Y. M. C. A. with 25 members, with the general aim of
personal and public improvement in the better life. , -.

A highly respected citizen died in Jan., 1908, M. H. Seger, whose father
came from Maine and settled in Erie in 1854. Mr. Seger was born in 1838.
A useful man. In his seventy years, he had served Erie in every position,
justice, assessor, collector, director, supervisor.


Erie people have always taken much pride in their educational affairs,
and the school was never more efficient than today. Gradual additions are
made to the library, laboratory and necessary apparatus. A half hour twice
a week is given to music in each room. A catalogue is published in which
the general course of study is outlined. There are twelve grades, compris-
ing the primary, intermediate, grammar and high school divisions. Grad-
ing is on the scale of one hundred. A pupil falling below 75 must make
up the study in the next term. There is a truant officer. Four years in
the high school with the following course. For the Freshman, English,
Algebra, Physiology, Botany and Latin. Sophomore has English, Alge-

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 15 of 72)