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 33 of 72)
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mums, and the feast was presided over by the hostess assisted by her son,
Dr. Frank B. Willsey of Chicago, while Mrs. E. W. Mitchell, Mrs. Bert Knox
and the help in the house made themselves useful in serving the guests
promptly at 1 o'clock p. m.

The supervisors were brought in carriages and other vehicles from
Morrison after adjournment of the regular session. Those accompanied by
their wives were: William W. Blean, Albany; H. L. Halsted, Coloma;
Thomas Mclaughlin, Fenton; C. C. Snyder, Fulton; Mathias Wolber, Gen-
esee; C. Frank Seidel, Hopkins; Henry Brown, Hume; Elmer Mensch, Jor-
dan; Allen E. Parmenter, Lyndon; Oscar Woods, Mt. Pleasant; Theodore
Frank, Montmorency; Mrs. John G. Wetzell, Sterling; Frank A. Thomas,'
Tampico; Frank Moulton, Union Grove.


Those single men were: Joseph Wood, Clyde; E. Peckham, Erie; John
Renner, Hahnaman; James Y. McCall, Newton; Bert Besse, Portland; El-
wood Beeman, Prophetstown ; H. J. Simpson, Garden Plain ; Adam Beien,
John S. Landis, Sterling; John J. Entwhistle, Ustick. After the dinner and
inspection has been concluded, some of the company was taken to the sta-
tion at Round Grove, and the rest returned to Morrison. And thus success-
fully ended the ninth annual dinner given by the Willseys at the White-
side county poor farm.

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind;
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And the days of auld lang syne?"

In order that the reader may . have some idea of the operations of a
county house, we clip the following statement from a report submitted to
the supervisors at their meeting in March, 1908:


Hogs sold $1,097.60

Corn sold 583.60

Oats sold 48.50

Cattle sold 220.00

1 Calf sold 9.30

Hides sold 5.60

1 Bull sold : 32.70

Cash for board and care of Wm. Harmon to Mar. 1, 1908 96.00



Superintendent's salary $1,200.00

Clothing, Dry Goods, Boots and Shoes 297.93

Groceries 440.63

Plumbing 92.34

Farm Machinery 113.55

Hardware 98.75

Repairs 80.10

Coal and Wood : . . 424.29

Fresh Meats 196.80

Drugs and Medicine 84.97

Hired Help 1,009.22

Furniture and Undertaking 200.60

Insurance 16.00

Lumber and Material 227.36

Grain and Grass Seed 19.80

Stock Hog 18.00

Telephone 13.00

Total Expenditures $4,533.34

Less Receipts from Farm 2,093.30

Net Cost to County . .$2,440.04


A few rods west of Round Grove on the north side of the railroad has
stood for years a large two-story frame dwelling, that by its ragged and worn
appearance shows the storms of many a winter. It was built by Simon Fel-
low of New Hampshire, who came to Illinois in 1834, settling first in Lee
county until he came to Whiteside in 1850. His wife was Miss Elizabeth
Deyo of Jordan. Eight children gladdened the hearthstone.

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

Edward owns the early homestead. Albert was in the 4th Illinois cavalry
and died in 1866. Charles was in the 75th Illinois infantry, and lives in.
Unionville. Mrs. Fellows died in 1890 at 74. The father died in Nov.,
1907 at 92. A good Methodist, reading his Bible and praying twice a day.


As Egypt does not on the clouds rely,

But to the Nile owes more than to the sky;

So what our earth and what our heaven denies,

Our ever constant friend, the sea, supplies. Edmund Waller.

Fashions change in dress, and methods change in transportation. First
ox carts and wagons. Teamsters used to haul goods in four-horse wagons
from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and emigrants made the toilsome journey
across the plains to California in prairie schooners. Then came the era of
steamboats on the Ohio and the Mississippi, and people pitied their ancestors
in the cramped stage coach, and believed they had reached the luxury of
travel. Next the iron tracks running up and down the states and across the
continent to meet the demand of commerce for rapid transit. Now, the
electric lines piercing every valley, and stopping at every farmer's door.

Before the railway, the canal was deemed the best method of communica-
tion where there was no natural outlet. The Erie canal from that lake to
the Hudson was the first great enterprise in this country, and its opening
in 1825 was signalized by a grand demonstration, and Gov. DeWitt Clinton,
its projector, was carried in a triumphal barge to New York. Similar schemes
were soon undertaken, and for twenty years the canal was popular for travel
as well as for freight. Slow, but sure and safe. No collision or explosion,
and the tourist reached his home without loss of life or limb. Passenger
packets made regular trips. The writer as late as 1851 journeyed on the
canal from Johnstown to Pittsburgh. No other way, as the Pennsylvania Cen-
tral was not completed. An old Mitchell's map of the United States, 1835,
has some tables giving the lengths of the railroads and of the canals. The
two longest railroads were the Baltimore and Ohio, 250 miles, and the Bos-
ton and Albany, 200 miles. The Erie canal was 363 miles, and the Chesa-
peake and Ohio, 341 miles. These figures tell their own story. The canal
was evidently at a premium.

But the age of enormous railway construction came on, and canals
were neglected or abandoned. In some cases, the bed was used for a track.


The locks rotted away, and grass grew on the towpaths. Conditions, how-
ever, have rapidly changed. The increasing traffic of the world needs every
avenue of communication by land and by water. Where natural arteries of
transit are wanting, they must be created. Why a tedious voyage around
Good Hope, when a deep ditch through the desert will convey the hugest
steamers of the ocean? So thought De Lesseps, and it must have been a
proud day for the French engineer when in 1869 before the crowned heads
of Europe the Suez canal was opened from the Mediterranean to the Red
Sea, shortening the time from London to Bombay twenty-four days, and
cutting down the distance from 11,000 miles to about six thousand. The
cost of construction was nearly sixty million dollars, and the receipts in
1889 were over thirteen millions. A very profitable investment from every

This success led to the Panama Canal in 1879, a dream for centuries.
Why navigate the South American coast for ten thousand miles, around the
dangerous Horn, when a cut of fifty miles will pass vessels to the mild
waters of the Pacific? A company was formed and bonds sold, but after
two hundred millions were spent and only twelve miles completed, the con-
cern went into bankruptcy in 1889. The good genius of De Lesseps for-
sook the gray-haired man. Now Uncle Samuel has secured rights from the
Central American states, assumed all obligations, and is digging the much-
discussed ditch in good earnest. No failure this time. As John Pierpont
sang of the Yankee boy :

And when his hand's upon it, you may know,
There's go in it, and he'll make it go.

For a hundred years rivers and harbors have been a standing item in
the national appropriation bills. There is a constant demand for the im-
provement of our large streams and the great ports of foreign trade. Our
waterways, indeed, are a prominent feature, of late, in speeches, messages,
and conventions. A direct connection between the Mississippi river and the
Great Lakes has long been felt to be very convenient in time of peace, and
vitally important in time of war.


Over 200 years ago, Joliet and La Salle, the early French explorers,
saw the ease of constructing a passage from Lake Michigan to the Illinois
river, and thus forming a continuous channel to the gulf of Mexico. In
1801 Alfred Gallatin recommended the scheme, and in 1816 a survey was
made. In 1827 Congress gave to the state 300,000 acres of land for canal
purposes, work was begun in 1836, and twelve years later the canal was
opened for navigation at a cost of six millions. Since that time almost as-
much has been spent for improvement and repairs. This canal extends
from Chicago to La Salle, connecting the Chicago and Illinois rivers. It
is 96 miles long, with a depth of six feet, and a width of sixty feet at the
water line.



by which the current of Chicago river is turned into the Illinois river from
the metropolis, is the most colossal work ever undertaken for the sewerage
of a city. The entire length is thirty-four miles, and it was completed in
eight years, 1892-1900, at the cost of $37,000,000. But it is richly worth
the immense outlay in municipal health. The first eight miles from the
city, the channel is nearly 200 feet wide, with a depth of twenty-two feet.
For fourteen miles its course was blasted through solid rock, forming a
decided contrast to the sides of the Suez canal with its banks of shifting sand.

The reader may naturally ask, What have these other two canals to
do with the Hennepin? As St. Paul would say, Much every way. With-
out them the Hennepin would fail in its purpose. Without the old Michi-
gan canal, boats on the Hennepin could not reach Chicago or the lakes, and
without the Hennepin, boats from the lakes could not reach the upper Mis-
sissippi without making the circuit of the Illinois river, two hundred miles
to the south. In other words, the Hennepin, tapping the Michigan canal
near its terminus at La Salle, furnishes a direct communication with the
Northern Mississippi and its tributary territory. A glance at the map will
show the situation.

It is at least sixty years ago that the project of a canal along the route
of the present Hennepin began to be discussed, and the claim has lately
been made that the idea was born in the brain of Major James M. Allan,
of Geneseo, and that L. D. Whiting, of Tiskilwa, and John H. Bryant gave
the plan their hearty support. A canal convention was held in Sawyer's
hall, Geneseo, and other conventions were held at Dixon, Sterling, and
interested towns in the district. Public attention was aroused, the scheme
was presented at Springfield and Washington, in 1871 a preliminary sur-
vey was made, and in 1890 Congress made an appropriation of $500,000 to
begin the work. Thomas J. Henderson, member from this district, was
the champion on the floor in pushing the claims of the new waterway.

The length of the main line of the Hennepin canal from Milan, on
Rock river, near its mouth, to the town of Hennepin on the Illinois river,
is seventy-five miles. Excavation was begun at Milan in July, 1892, when
Capt. L. L. Wheeler, civil engineer, in charge of the work, turned the first
sod with a spade which is now in the Historical Society at Davenport. The
depth of water is seven feet, and the width of the cut is 52 feet at the bottom,
and eighty at the water line. There are thirty-three locks, measuring thirty-
five feet by one hundred and seventy, with lifts varying from six to twelve
feet. Two aqueducts carry the canal over Green river, one at the lower
end of the feeder, the other at the western end of the canal near Rock river.
There are fifty-two culverts that carry small brooks, drainage ditches, and
other water courses under the canal-.


In order to keep a suitable stage of water in the canal proper, a feeder
is necessary from Rock river. Where shall it tap the crystal current of this


stream? It will be a point of travel and traffic for all time to come. Dixon
and Sterling both felt its importance, and put in a claim for the terminus
of the feeder. (X L. Sheldon and C. C. Johnson, in an interview with Hon.
Redfield Proctor, Secretary of War, at Washington, in regard to the matter,
were informed that the government in its decision would be guided by the
length of route and economy of construction. The necessary funds were
subscribed by the citizens of Sterling and Rock Falls, and a survey made
by the late Frank E. Andrews. The survey and estimates showed conclu-
sively that the route from Rock Falls was not only over eleven miles shorter
than that from Dixon, but that numerous items of large expense could be
avoided. These figures were decisive, and the feeder was recommended from
Rock Falls. It starts east of Rock Falls, runs almost south, joining the
main canal in Bureau county, a distance of 29.3 miles. The depth of water
is seven feet. When the feeder proposition was first broached, a fear was
felt that so much water would be drawn from Rock river as to seriously
lessen the main current of the stream, but this has proven unfounded. The
feeder once full, there is little loss by evaporation.


This leaves the Rock Falls shore just below the entrance of the feeder
into Rock river and strikes the Sterling or north side between Tenth and
Eleventh avenues. The length is over 1,300 feet, and with the flash boards
in place will raise the water above its common level eleven and a half feet.
Beginning on the south side, besides the abutment, there are eighteen huge
piers, each 34 feet long, 17 feet high, and six feet wide. Each contains 120
yards of concrete in which 135 barrels of cement 'were used. Between these
piers are the ponderous controlling steel gates which are raised or lowered
to regulate the flow of the water. Where these piers end, the center dam,
500 feet long, begins. It consists of heavy timber cribs, bolted together,
and the space inside filled with rubble obtained from blasting the bed of
the river. The up-river face of the dam is sheathed with steel plates one-
quarter of an inch thick to protect the wood from ice, and the down-river
slope is faced with three-inch oak plank. It is over this central slope that
the river flows, sparkling in a long and wide crystal sheet like the old style
dams of our childhood. From the end of the crib section are a series of con-
crete piers, similar to those on the south side, extending to the abutment on
the north bank. Here will be placed the power house, fifty feet wide and
167 feet long to contain the electric generators attached to the water wheels
below. In six flumes, twelve turbine wheels will be installed in pairs, each
pair occupying one flume. A tail race excavated in the solid rock eleven
feet below the river bed will carry the water from the wheels.

The water had been raised nine feet at the dam, and the back water
extends to Dixon. The overflow has inundated 1,436 acres of land, which
has cost the government $103,787. This inundation extends eight miles
above the dam. The estimated cost of the feeder dam was put at $100,000,
but Capt. Wheeler thinks it will not exceed $90,000. The cost of the canal
and feeder will reach about $7,250,000. The yearly maintenance of the


canal will take about $150,000, to be borne by the government. Consid-
ering the national value of the enterprise, these figures seem trifling. New
York expended over twenty millions on her Albany capitol, and Philadel-
phia a similar sum on her city hall, and they are structures of local con-

At the entrance of the feeder to the river there is a guard lock to pro-
tect the canal from high water in the river. This is very important. As
much of the canal passes through a flat country, and at places, above its
level, a freshet in the river, would soon rise above the banks of the canal,
and flood the lowlands, producing wide-spread destruction. This lock is
250 feet long, and 35 feet wide between the walls. As an additional pro-
tection, there are collapsible needle dams provided at each end of the lock. A
neat iron bridge over the top of the guard lock offers a passage to the east
from Second Avenue, Rock Falls.

The canal is spanned by seventy highway bridges and eight railway
bridges. These all have concrete abutments, and the highway bridges being
at a considerable elevation above the water, require a long and gradual ap-
proach. As the bridges over the feeder are not high enough to permit the
passage of barges and tugs over twelve feet high, both Mr. Wheeler and Major
Riche believe that to allow unrestricted traffic, these structures must be raised
to the level first established by the engineers. The construction of the locks and
canal walls near Milan, the western terminus, is the first case in the United
States where cement was substituted for cut stone, which costs nearly twice
as much as concrete. Its successful use here has resulted in its adoption by the
government, railways, and great corporations everywhere for similar work.
It is said the total amount of concrete material in the canal is sufficient to
make a four foot cement sidewalk to Boston.

A short distance from the guard lock, fronting Second avenue, Rock
Falls, and commanding a fine view of the dam from shore to shore, is the
government building, a spacious square structure, very substantial with its
concrete walls and red tile roof. The east half, first and second story, is
devoted to public offices in connection with the business of the canal, the west
section to household rooms for the use of the janitor. The large area sur-
rounding the edifice, will, doubtless, in time become a miniature park where
amid trees and shrubbery and flower beds the visitor can enjoy the waterfall
and its massive handiwork.

It is too early to estimate the benefits that will accrue to Sterling, Rock
Falls, Dixon, indeed, the whole adjoining valley, from this magnificent im-
provement. Electric power enough can be generated at the dam to run end-
less mills and factories on either bank, and make the combined cities the
Pittsburgh of Illinois. The feeder and canal will create for this section direct
communication with central Illinois, securing for us cheaper coal, and open-
ing a market for grain and other produce. In fact, at every point along the
route, warehouses will furnish a home market for farmers to send freight or
receive it. Already a company has been formed to operate boats and barges
for the transfer of freight and passengers between this point and Peoria, and
other places on the Illinois river.


Aside from the direct commercial advantage of the waterway, is the
prospect of local travel. Navigation on Rock river is no longer a tradition, it
is a coming reality. Small excursion steamers will make frequent trips
between Sterling and Dixon, giving people an opportunity of admiring the
picturesque scenery of our noble stream, or down the feeder through the
fertile plains of our southern border, or into the Illinois with its stir of traffic
or legends of La Salle. The dam formed by the government has really given
the citizens of the two cities a lovely little lake, where boats and launches
may safely glide as on a summer sea. A home harbor of delight.

My soul today is far away
Sailing the Vesuvian bay.


Rise, lass, and mak a clean fireside,

Put on the muckle pot;
Gie little Kate her cotton gown,

And Jock his Sunday coat,
And mak thedr shoon as black as slaes,

Their hose as white as snow ;
It's a' to please my ain gudeman,

For he's been long awa'. W. J. Mickle.

As the feeder and the dam, the last stage in the national undertaking,
approached completion, it was decided to mark the event with a suitable dem-
onstration. Preparations began months ahead, invitations were sent far and
wide, and nothing was left undone to arouse the enthusiasm of the popular
heart. October 24, 1907, was the date selected, and it proved ideal. The
weather was superb. The clear sky, the grass still green, temperature mild,
and the foliage slightly turned to gold and crimson, bathed in the mellow
sunlight, made the landscape glorious, and the occasion inspiring. Both
Sterling and Rock Falls were in gala attire. Stores and public buildings
were profusely and elaborately decorated, and the stars and stripes waved
over the streets and floated from every flag staff. The people began to arrive
from the country for miles in every direction at an early hour, while the
regular and special trains came loaded with eager passengers. By ten in the
morning the sidewalks on Third street were a moving mass of men, women
and children, dressed in their best 'bib and tucker, patiently waiting for the
promised show. No similar crowd ever gathered in the streets since the fair
of 1880 when the lamented generals, Grant and Logan, were the heroic
attractions. Some estimates place the multitude at 25,000. The pageant
began in the morning with a parade, Abram Caughey, marshal of the day.
The first section consisted of the mounted police, the Sixth Regiment band
with Major Lowrie, and Cos. I, G and E of the Sixth Regiment. The second
and larger section was industrial, representing the mercantile and manufac-
turing interests of the two cities. Every separate establishment had its float,
and many of them were elegant and ingenious. It was the longest and most
ambitious procession ever attempted by the cities. It was headed by the Banda


Verde. The parade was about two and a half miles in length, and required one
hour to pass.

Now let us sing, Long live the king,

And Gilpin, Long live hel
And when he next doth ride abroad,
May I be there to see.

Another pageant in the afternoon. This time aquatic. Boats and
launches from Sterling, Rock Falls, and Dixon, assembled on the river near
the Water works, under command of Commodore Ben Eick, and after some
evolutions, moved through the gates into the feeder, sailed down far as the
Dixon avenue bridge, and then returning gave another parade on the river.
There were fifty boats, all beautifully decorated, in line, and the display ex-
ceeded every expectation. It was the privilege of Miss Grace Wheeler, young-
est daughter of Captain and Mrs. Wheeler, to swing back the big gates, and as
the band discoursed a lively air, permit the young fleet to float on the smooth
waters of the feeder.

Never in the annals of Whiteside were so many prominent visitors
assembled. No star actor like Senator Douglas in 1855, or Abraham Lincoln
in 1856, but a long array of men of distinction in every department of public
life, governors, congressmen, engineers, legislators, mayors, editors, organizers.
Among the worthies of the occasion may be mentioned:

Governor Charles S. Deneen of Springfield ; ex-Governor Samuel R. A 7 an
Sant of Minnesota whose home is now at Minneapolis ; Frank 0. Lowden of
Oregon, 111., our congressman, and his secretary, James R. Cowley; Congress-
man Joseph V. Graff of Peoria; Congressman Ben H. Caldwell of Spring-
field ; ex-Congressman Thomas J. Henderson of Princeton, 111. ; Colonel Clark
E. Carr of Galesburg, excongressman from that district; Senator James W.
Templeton of Princeton ; representative Frank Covey of Belvidere ; Edmund
Jackson of Fulton, member state board of equalization; C. C. Duffy of
Ottawa, clerk of the appellate court for the thirteenth district ; Fred E. Sterl-
ing, editor of the Rockford Register-Gazette and candidate for nomination
for secretary of state ; Judge Emory C. Graves -of Henry county and Judge
Farrand of Dixon.

Among the government engineers and waterway people present Tvere
Major C. S. Riche of Rock Island, J. W. McGee of the inland waterway com-
mission, one of President Roosevelt's advisors concerning waterway projects.
Hon. Thomas Wilkinson of Burlington, who is president of the Upper Mis-
sissippi Improvement association; Hon. T. A. Murphy of Davenport, a son
of the late Hon. Jerry Murphy of that city, who was one of the fathers of the
Hennepin project.

Chicago was represented by John M. Glenn, secretary of the Illinois
manufacturers association ; Guy Guernsey, clerk of the Cook county probate
court and proprietor of Kent law college; W. H. Manns, industrial commis-
sioner of the Chicago Association of Commerce ; Clayton E. Crafts, formerly
speaker of the house of representatives; Malcolm McDowell of the Central
Trust company; Walter H. Moore of E. B. Moore & Co.; George Bonnell of


the Northwestern railway; H. D. Judson and E. R. Puffer of the Burling-
ton road.

Nearly every county official of Whiteside and Lee counties was present,
.as well as the editors of various journals throughout the valley.

O, as a bee upon the flower, I hang
Upon the honey of thy eloquent tongue.

After dinner the oratorical part of the program was to take place. Early
in the afternoon the crowd began to gather, and the animated movements of
the people on the shore, and the evolutions of the gay launches on the water,

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 33 of 72)