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 32 of 72)
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Mrs. Electa E. Smith, former postmistress of Sterling, now in the Treas-
ury Department at Washington, who has given repeated instances of her
sympathy with the soldiers, was a frequent visitor, and on the first Sunday
in camp gave the boys of Company E a royal spread. So, too, came Sena-
tors Cullom and Mason, of Illinois, and Representatives Hitt and Marsh,
to see that the Illinois troops had every needful comfort.

Major Anthony gave the boys daily thirty minutes of instruction in
regard to treating wounds before medical assistance could be secured. Roy
Eshleman was granted a discharge on account of failing health, and returned
to Sterling in June. As the government decided to fill every regiment to
its maximum, officers were detailed to visit the home stations, and recruit each
company to the number of one hundred and six. First Lieut. Dillon of
Company E was appointed recruiting officer of the first battalion of the Sixth
regiment, and Sergeant Osborne of Company I and private Bensinger of
Company E were detailed to accompany him. They left Camp Alger for /
Illinois, June 7. The recruits were secured at Sterling and Morrison, and
Companies E and I had their full complement.

When the companies were increased to 106 men, new appointments of
non-commissioned officers were necessary. Capt. Lawrie made the follow-
ing promotions on June 23: Privates Deyoe, Reese Dillon, Triggs, Burk-
hart, Bert Johnson, and Lineberry to be corporals; Clark, musician to supply
place of Eshleman, discharged. Private Hess was appointed company artifi-
cer, and Smith for duty at the regimental hospital.' Sergeant Cushman was
detailed to assist ordnance officer Eick as sergeant, and Corporal Dillon
was assigned to duty in the quartermaster's department. In Company I
the appointments were: Privates Burr, Hyatt, Berry, Everhart, Sherwood,
and Snyder as corporals, and Willcox, lance corporal. Jenks was given spe-
cial duty at post-headquaters, and Kingery was appointed acting veterinary
surgeon of the Sixth regiment, and placed in charge of the officers' horses.


The old folks at home, at Lyndon, Albany, Prophetstown, Erie, Morri-
son, Sterling, Rock Falls, showed their affection for the absent boys by fre-
quent consignments of cake, pie and sweetmeats. The members of Company
E, to show their appreciation of Mrs. Smith's kindness, presented her a sil-
ver card receiver, which she gracefully acknowledged. On July 4, 1898, the
members of Company I presented Captain Colebaugh and Lieutenant Law-
ton each a gold-mounted sword, which elicited a cordial response. Mean-
while our forces elsewhere on the map were driving Spain into the last ditch.
Dewey on May 1st had demolished the Spanish fleet at Manila, giving us
the Philippine archipelago in the Pacific, Shafter carried El Caney at San-
tiago, Cuba, by assault July 1st, and on the morning of July 3rd, Commodore
Schley knocked Admiral Cervera's ancient squadron into a sorry wreck. It
was Perry of 1813 over again : "We have met the enemy, and they are

For the front at last. July 5th the Second Brigade received orders to
prepare for departure, and the next morning, the Sixth Massachusetts and
the Sixth Illinois boarded day coaches and box cars for Charleston ,nhz band

"The Girl I Left Behind Me."

July 8th, Companies E, I and F were transferred at Charleston to the Cruiser
Columbia, and July 11 the steamer arrived at Santiago just after the bombard-
ment had ceased. The remaining companies of me regiment with the band,
Colonel and staff, came on the steamer Rita the following Friday.

Now came a great disappointment. The boys had looked forward to
marching with the victorious troops into the Spanish city.

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

They were tired of their cramped quarters on the boat, disgusted with
their rations of hash and weak coffee, and longed to have the freedom of i
the shore. At noon, July 21, they steamed from Santiago, not having been /
permitted to land, with an effective force of about 3,300 infantry and artillery.
Porto Rico was occupied by 8,233 Spanish regulars, and 9,107 volunteers,
and San Juan on the northeast coast was their destination. At ten on the
morning of July 25th, Company E. landed at Guanica. The first American
troops to land on Porto Hican soil were a company of marines who hoisted
the stars and stripes. v

It proved to be a peaceful occupation of the island, as the Spanish troops
did not act on the offensive. The regiment had only one small skirmish with
the enemy. Orders were given to proceed to Ponce, and on July 30th, Gen.
Henry's division, of which the Sixth was a part, broke camp. It was a trying
march. The roads were wretched from rain, the beef not fit to eat, the ground
alive with centipedes, half-ripe bananas fried in grease a luxury, and their
outfit so heavy that even ammunition and bayonets were thrown away. Eight
days in Ponce with a population of 20,000 or more. Primitive style of life.
Everything is toted on the head. No milk in bottles, but cows milked at


the door of the customer. Clothes are taken to a stream, pounded on a flat
stone, and spread on the grass to dry.

Gen. Miles' plan was to drive the Spanish troops to the center of the
island, and hemming them in, force a surrender. In pursuance of this
scheme, our boys made several tiresome marches, to Arecibo, to Adjuntas,
*/ to Utnado, back to Ponce. They eventually looked the worse for wear. Some
were barefoot, some had no trousers, all had beards, and all were half-
starved. Even at Ponce, where tons upon tons of supplies were in store, the
regular ration was hardtack and sowbelly. But the campaign was at an
tt end, and orders were given to turn faces homeward.

No rumor of the foe's advance,
Now swells upon the wind.

Clothing was issued that the boys might make a respectable appearance on
their return, and on Sept. 7th they sailed on the Manitoba, an English trans-
port, after a stormy experience of six weeks on the island of Porto Rico.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 13, the vessel passed the statue of liberty
in the harbor of New York, but the regiment did not go ashore till the next
day. Our Congressman George Prince was prompt to welcome the lads,
and gave each captain ten dollars towards furnishing civilized food. Wed-
nesday night they boarded the cars for Springfield, and on Friday night
were in Camp Lincoln. On the Sunday following a committee of citizen.?
from Sterling and Rock Falls invited Company E to attend a banquet at
the Leland. How good the steaks, omelets, and coffee, prepared by delicate
cookery, tasted to famished appetites after coarse arlny rations. Cigars and
toasts were in order. C. L. Sheldon as toastmaster led a succession of speeches
by Col. -Foster, Chaplain Ferris, Captain Colebaugh, Major Anthony, Mayor
Miller, Ex-Mayor Street, Lieutenants Dillon and Wahl, and Robert McNeill
for Rock Falls. At one on the morning of Sept. 21, the train with the
returning soldiers left Springfield over the Burlington, and reached Sterling
at ten, and Morrison a little later. . A magnificent welcome. Bells rang, whis-
tles blew, crowds lined the streets, a day of jubilee. It was a Roman triumph
without barbaric spoils.

Home, home, sweet home !
There's no place like home!

Four sick privates of Company E were left in hospital at Porto Rico: Fred
Sneed, Ernest Kahl, Leo Bushnell, and George Rounds. Corporal Luther
Allpress was placed on board a hospital ship. Of the sick members of Com-
pany I, fourteen were left on the island: Q. M. Sergeant Mathews, Ser-
geants Osborne and Rockey; Corporal Berry; and privates Brearton, Sweeney,.
Sears, Andrews, Freek, Smith, Lepper, Lueck, AVilkins, Patterson. Ralph
Humphrey of the hospital corps was detained in the mountains. Four mem-
bers of Company I died on ship or in hospital: Schuyler Sweeney, Ross
Wilkins, Thomas Phillips, and Ralph Humphrey.


Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er,

Sleep the sleep that knows no waking;

Dream of battlefields no more,

Days of danger, nights of waking.

After the sixty days' furlough expired, the boys returned to Springfield, signed
payrolls, received two and a half months' pay with balance due on clothing
and rations, and on Nov. 25th were again citizens instead of soldiers.

While the Sixth Illinois regiment led no forlorn hope, executed no
brilliant charge, they did their duty faithfully, and nobly responded to
every call for service. During their short term, they covered 3,000 miles
by rail, three thousand on the sea, besides tramping over two hundred miles
of mud and hill in Porto Rico. A general told Chaplain Ferris: "You.
should be proud of your men. They are soldiers, every inch of them." Gen-
eral Miles had the same opinion: "I had two regiments of Illinois volun-
teers in Porto Rico, and in justice I must say they stood the fatigue better
than the eastern troops. The Sixth Illinois was brigaded with the Sixth
Massachusetts, and I must say the boys from the prairies stood the cam-
paign better than the boys from the mills of New England."

A second company was organized in Sterling and Rock Falls with
Walter N. Haskell as captain. W. L. Emmons, first lieutenant, and G. A.
McKelvey, second lieutenant, to be part of a provisional regiment organized
by Gen. Clendenin, of Moline, but the speedy close of the war rendered their
services unnecessary.

Within a year or two after the war, several of the boys died of disease,
doubtless, of exposure in camp. Leo H. Bushnell, Bugler Roy Eshleman,
and Frank Aument, all of Company E, and Lieut. Ed Lawton and Albert
Anstett, of Company "I.

Sleep, soldiers, still in honored rest,

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

The loving are the daring.

A few were so enamored of the pomp and circumstance of glorious war
that they joined the regulars: Leslie Sheldon, Company M, Fourth U. S.
Infantry, Richard 0. Jones, Company H, Nineteenth U. S. Infantry, served
in the Philippines. Wilson R. Byers, Company E, Eighth U. S. Infantry,
served in Cuba. James P. Kereven, of Sterling, was at Santiago and El
Caney, and afterward died of typhoid fever at Montauk Point. Frank D.
Ely, an original member of Company E, subsequently graduated from West
Point, and was with his regiment at San Juan Hill and El Caney. Will H.
Allen, Morrison, was a lieutenant on the Oregon when that battleship made
her memorable run from the Pacific to participate in Sampson's fight off
Santiago. George H. Fay, Morrison, was the original captain of Company
I, a veteran of the Civil war, and during the War of 1898 was in the pay-
master's department with the rank of major. Henry C. Thompson, Fenton,
medical student, enlisted in Company E, Second Wisconsin volunteers, and
was later transferred to the ambulance corps.


Since the war, both companies have kept up their organizations, meet-
ing for frequent drill in their armories. As to be expected, several changes
in the officers by resignation or promotion. But the boys are justly proud
of their patriotic experience, and grew as enthusiastic over San Juan or
El Caney as the veterans of the Civil war in their camp fire memories of
Chattanooga or Gettysburg.

When Johnny comes marching home again,

Hurrah, hurrah !
We'll give him a hearty welcome then,

Hurrah, hurrah!

The men will cheer, the boys will shout,
The ladies they will all turn out
And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to min'?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And days o' lang syne? Burns.

It was a happy thought of the boys in blue to start their yearly meet-
ings soon after the war, and keep fresh the friendships of the camp and
the field. The veterans of this section have formed the Northwestern Sol-
diers' and Sailors' Association with meetings at the different cities in the
territory comprised. In 1886 it was held in Sterling, and five hundred
soldiers were in attendance. August 24, 25, and 26 were the days of jubilee.
H. S. Street, Mayor of Sterling, gave the address of welcome at the amphi-
theater, to which Hon. J. D. Crabtree, of Dixon, replied. Short speeches
also by Hon. T. J. Henderson, H. D. Dement, and Chaplain Stillwell. The
expenses for tents, music, printing, drayage, and lumber were $265. A free
dinner was given on the last day by Will Robinson Post, of Sterling, to all
comrades and their wives. Entertainments were offered at the academy of
music. One evening at dress parade, two hundred soldiers were in line. It
was voted that the next year's Reunion be held at Dixon, August, 1887.
Time has passed on, the soldiers have kept up their annual jubilees, and
before us as we write is the program for the twenty-second reunion of the
soldiers and sailors at Sterling again, Sept. 11 and 12, 1906. A feast of
reason and flow of soul. The first day after a parade, there was at Central
Park a varied program of solos, welcome by Mayor Lewis, music by drum
corps, address by Comrade McConochie of Rock Island. In the evening,
music, recitations, and addresses by Gov. Van Sant, Rev. E. Lee Fleck, and
others. Wednesday was occupied with regimental reunions. In the middle
of September, 1907, the association gathered at Morrison, and 240 of the
grizzled heroes registered. Dozens of regiments, east and west, were repre-
sented from New York to Kansas. The attendance was larger than usual.

We quote from an appreciative report in the Morrison Sentinel:


A fine picture "was presented when on our streets marched the soldiers of
the various regiments the 34th, 140th, Army of the Potomac, and the
75th, the old 75th. carrying the historic flag which led them during those
long months of war. The veterans kept time to the stirring martial music
and they straightened up and marched with almost as quick tread as on
that day long ago when they bade goodbye to loved ones and went bravely
forth to face the danger and horror of war.

The address by Hon. Thomas H. Gault of Chicago on Wednesday after-
noon was a fine effort and was fully appreciated by the large number of
people who gathered at the Auditorium to hear the exercises of the after-

Chaplain Smith was called upon for an address and gave one of his
characteristic lively and interesting talks .which everybody enjoyed. His
recital of incidents coming under his observation during the war held the
attention of the audience and received hearty applause at the close.

The regimental reunions were of. much interest and were well attended.

The 75th Illinois had a business meeting, and after thanking the ladies
of the W. R. C. for dinner, the boys decided to take a short march under
the comamnd of Cap. Frost, led by the old 75th flag and the drum corps.
This was done after the meeting adjourned. They marched several blocks
up and down Main street, stopping in front of the hotel to give the "old
flag" three cheers.

The deaths in the 75th during the past year as near as could be ascer-
tained were eight and were as follows : Lieut. P. S. Bannister, Co. C ; George
R. Shaw, Co. C; Wm. M. Lane, Co. C; W. W. Wilkins. Co. B; Russell D.
Hopkins, Co. E; John Lanphere, Co. B; M. E. Lovan, Co. A; A. B. Cady,
Co. B.

Their ranks are thinning, and every reunion witnesses a shorter march
and a scantier registry.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,

From the field of his fame fresh and gory;

We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone
But we left him alone with his glory. Wolfe.

In 1907, J. V. McCarty, adjutant of Will Enderton post, G. A. R., Rock
Falls, received the following communication from Vespasian Warner, pen*
sion commissioner:

"Thanks for your report of the death of Captain William Parker, Com-
pany A, Seventy-fifth Illinois infantry. Yes, it is a little tough on us old
chaps. 32,666 died last year, which is about the harvest of death for ten
years past, over 300,000 deaths having been reported to this bureau during
that period.

"360,000 soldiers have applied for pensions under the act of February
6, 1907, which indicates that few are under the age of sixty-two and many
are seventy-five and upward. As some compensation for their advancing age
the law wisely provides a larger pension for the old men.


"As the setting sun shines in our faces as we march down the western
slope of life to our bivouac in the valley, let us go forward with the same
unfaltering step as when in the brave days of the sixties we bore Old Glory
to the front on many a hard fought field, nor furled it until victory was won."


Pity the sorrows of a poor old man,

Whose trembling limbs have borne him to your door,

Whose days have dwindled to the shortest span,
Oh, give relief, and Heaven will bless your store.

Thomas Moss.

The easiest way to reach our public sanitarium from Sterling, is to
take the morning train at half past ten, and return at half past three. This
will permit a stay of four hours, enough for a satisfactory examination. You
get off at Eound Grove station, and walk a mile to the west, unless an
automobile awaits you at the cars.

There is a cluster of houses, about twenty, at the station, two stores,
the elevator of J. A. Mathew, a pumping apparatus to furnish a tank hold-
ing 51,000 gallons to supply the numerous freight trains that take water.
An extensive creamery that receives 3,000 pounds every other day in the
fall, and 6,000 in summer. It is controlled by the John Newman Com-
pany, Elgin, and has been in operation for several years. R. J. Koepsell is
manager. The most spacious mansion in the village is that of Mrs. Knox,
which is conspicuous on the ridge, and belongs to the Simonson farm of
400 acres, left by that early family.

As iwe pass through the village and up the hill, to the east is a Union
church, supplied by a minister from Morrison. To the west at the corner
a handsome new schoolhouse, frame, painted white, two rooms, built in 1906
at a cost of $4,000. Two young ladies from Morrison in charge, Mary Ward
and Edna Stone. Flowers in the window give a home air to the common
routine of study. An excellent feature in the construction of the basement.
There is a cement floor with the furnace on one side, and on the other sepa-
rated by a partition, a commodious room where the children can play in
the bleak days of winter.

Now we turn west for the county house. What stately buildings. Seen
from the railroad by the tourist, they might be taken for the country seat
of a wealthy banker. The main edifice is 72 feet front, 60 feet deep, three
stories and attic, surmounted by a cupola, commanding a wide view over
a rich landscape. The first story is of stone, and divided into a dining room,
kitchen, vegetable and fruit cellars, men's sitting rooms. The upper stories
are brick, and contain eleven sleeping rooms of various sizes, for two or
four beds. An annex to the kitchen for a store room. On the second floor
are apartments for the family of the superintendent.

Some years ago a brick annex was built on the east side, occupied by
insane patients before the law was passed requiring their removal to state
institutions. Watertown, near Moline, is now the most convenient. In


front of both edifices is a large yard containing grass, flowers, evergreens,
and shrubbery. Cement walks everywhere. All the necessary out-buildings
in the form of ice and milk houses. Two pumps furnish water to the house
and the stock tanks in the barn yard. East of the main edifice is a garden
for vegetables, grapes, cherries, and strawberries. In front, across the road
an old orchard with walnut and butternut trees, and also a young orchard
bearing fall and winter apples.

The present population of the place comprises 24 men and seven women.
In various conditions of health. Those who are able help about the kitchen,
laundry, farm and garden. Wholesome food in bountiful supply. Break-
fast is generally of hot cakes, butter and syrup. Dinner of meat and gravy,
vegetables and tea, with turkey, pie or pudding on holidays. Supper of tea,
bread and butter, fried potatoes, sauce and cake.

To keep this family in proper condition, careful housekeeping is essen-
tial, and C. L. Houck and wife are equal to the situation, who have been
here three years. Huge loaves of bread, three times a week, 150 sacks of
flour a year. Delmonico could not have equaled our dinner at twelve.

As there is an extensive farm of 192 acres of land, numerous build-
ings are necessary, and seldom will you find so complete and substantial a
set of every kind of structure for all the needs of modern agriculture: a
bank barn with stone basement with stalls for twelve head of horses and
fourteen cows, with bins for grain and mows for hay above, a long corn crib,
a hen house, a hog pen with four acres attached for exercise, a cattle shed,
another corn crib, another hog house with concrete foundation and oak
floor, and a commodious shed for shelter of wagons and implements. The
live stock varies. At present, 12 horses and mules, 36 head of cattle, 120
hogs and 13 milk cows, which supply the wants of the institution.

Whoe'er has traveled life's dull round,

Where'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found

His warmest welcome at an inn.

These forlorn inmates would gladly endorse Shenstone's familiar stanza,
for they are really enjoying more comfort than some ever had in their earlier

The institution dates from 1869, when the Board of Supervisors ap-
pointed James M. Pratt, L. S. Pennington and H. R. Sampson to select a
site for a poor farm near a railroad, and also to erect suitable buildings.
The farm of William Knox on the Morrison road was selected at $45 per
acre, 108 acres, and buildings were authorized at a cost not to exceed $15,000.
The main building and barn were completed in 1870. The Insane Annex
was added in 1875 at a cost of over $7,000.


West of the county house along the Morrison road is the last resting
place of the loved and lost of many a home of the neighborhood. At the
entrance of wrought iron is the inscription, "This fence and arch donated


by Mrs. C. G. Curtis, 1906." We notice the graves of several soldiers of
the Civil war. Thos. Mason, Co. G, 75th Illinois Infantry. Peter Barbery,
Co. H, 8th Illinois Cavalry. David Symonds, Co. B, 13th Illinois. Wm.
P. Crump, Co. B, 34th Illinois. J. S. Green, Co. B, 75th Illinois. Sergeant
O. A. Seeley, Co. C, 75th Illinois.

Rest on, emblamed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye gavel

The oldest tomb is that of Thomas Mayhew, 1808-1892. In one corner are
numerous monuments of. granite to members of the Knox family. There
are two acres in the enclosure.

Our visit to our county infirmary was made very pleasant and instructive
by the courtesy of Mr. A. D. Hill, who was in charge of the reception room,
and who is thoroughly acquainted with the affairs of the institution. He
began his career as a teacher, founded the Prophetetown Spike, and has had
long experience in editorial work. He wields a ready pen, and much of
the information in this sketch was derived from an exhaustive article which
he contributed to the Prophetstown Echo.

Since the infirmary was opened five superintendents have been in charge,
Hurd, King, Barnum, Ely and Willsey. Since the death of Mr. Willsey,
Mrs. Willsey has shown great efficiency in the discharge of the onerous duties.


But the crowning event of the year at the sanitarium is the feast given
the supervisors after their regular inspection of the property. A red letter
day for the officials and the charitable inmates. Mrs. Ira Willsey was mis-
tress of ceremonies at the function given in December, 1907, and she ac-
quitted herself to the admiration of her official guests. Perhaps as a speci-
men of Whiteside festal enjoyment at the opening of this century, the fol-
lowing description contributed by A. D. Hill to the Gazette, will be found
curious and entertaining:

The bill of fare consisted of six turkeys with dressing, cranberry sauce,
escalloped oysters, celery, olives, pickles, jellies, mince pie, cheese, coffee,
bread and butter with a dessert of chocolate, cocoanut, fruit cakes, angel food,
grapes and oranges. The tables was placed in T shape in the chief sitting
room of the house with decorations of purple, yellow and white chrysanthe-

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 32 of 72)