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 44 of 72)
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Mrs. Nehrhood. The two great sacraments of the church are observed, but
not in the usual manner of symbols. No water is used in baptism, no bread
and wine in the Lord's supper. These are material, and it is held that these
ordinances should have a purely spiritual significance. Members on applica-
tion for admission to the church must answer suitable questions, which, as
well as other requirements are set forth in a small manual provided for the
use of the society.


Over twenty years George P. Perry, druggist of Sterling, has conducted
a class for the study of the bible and the best methods of teaching. It has
generally met in one of the churches. The sessions are held weekly during
the winter months, and at the close written examinations are often given.
Once Prof. H. M. Hamill was present and made an address. During the
winter of 1907-08 the class completed a term's work in Brumbaugh's "The
. Making of a Teacher." Sixteen members of the cla*s took a written test,
the results of which were highly gratifying to the class leader. After the
examination ML=S Mary Hey, in the name of the class, presented Mr. Perry
with four volumes of Rev. George Matheson's books, to remind him of the
appreciation and respect which the class has for their faithful and efficient
instructor. Mr. Perry, in his courteous manner, thanked the givers for the
pleasant surprise.



Two or three miles north of Sterling on a cross street between the Free-
port and Hoover roads stands a white frame building in which one branch of
the followers of Simon Menno worship. The congregation was organized in
1859. Jacob Snavely, John Hendricks, and Jacob Heckler formed the first
board of trustees. The first minister was Benjamin Hershey. The present
pastor is Rev. Aaron C. Good. The membership is 150. A good Sunday
school. Much interest in missions, assisting in the support of the foreign
work in India, and at home in -Chicago, Kansas City, Fort Wayne, Philadel-
phia, and Toronto. Charities are not neglected. An old people's home in
Ohio and at Lancaster, Pa., an orphanage at West Liberty, Ohio, a sani-
tarium at La Punta, California, and a college at Goshen, Indiana. Besides
the regular church conference, a Sunday school and bible conference is held
each year, and a general conference convenes every two years. A board of
missions and charities, and ' a board of education have full control of the
institutions. Hitherto the church literature has been published by private
parties, but now a movement is on foot for the church to do its own printing.
The old doctrines are maintained that have been peculiar to this denomina-
tion for three hundred years. Menno died in 1561. They believe in affirm-
ing, not taking an oath. They are opposed to law suits, to performing mili-
tary service, to holding public office, to taking life insurance, to secret so-
cieties. Baptism only upon confession of faith. Foot washing is observed
as a religious rite, and simplicity in dress for men and women. Of all
branches of this faith this is most progressive and in harmony with other
Protestant bodies. As a people, they love the soil, and the most flourishing
farming communities anywhere are controlled by the Mennonites and the
Amish. These sects are the backbone of the agricultural industry of Lan-
caster county in Pennsylvania, and are doing their part toward the rural
prosperity of Whiteside.

Adjoining the modest church is the graveyard where many of the plain
people of early days are resting. They were the grandfathers and mothers
of the present generation. Here lies Jacob and Barbara Snavely, the Landis
family, Hecklers, Ebersoles, Rutts, Kreiders, Eshlemans, Kehrs, Jacob and
Mrs Hendricks, Millers, Royers, Frys, Myers. Many of these were born in
Lebanon, Lancaster, and other counties of eastern Pennsylvania, and coming
here in middle life, grew old in transforming the virgin prairies into homes
of comfort and happiness.


The First National Bank of Sterling, Illinois, was organized in 1870,
as No. 1717, with a capital of $100,000. Formal articles of association, as
required by law, were adopted September 15, 1870, being signed by William
A. Sanborn, Decius 0. Coe, Lorenzo Hapgood, James M. Wallace and John
S. Miller. On that date the first shareholders' meeting was held, electing as
first board of directors the five persons above named. The certificate of final
organization bears date October 8, 1870, and was signed by John Jay Knox,
Acting Comptroller of the Currency, the capital stock having been previously


paid in full. The bank's first charter expired September 15, 1890, and was
extended for a further period of twenty years, by a certificate of succession,
dated August 20, 1890, signed by E. S. Lacey, Comptroller of the Currency.

From the beginning The First National Bank of Sterling met with a
favorable reception by the people. The community had outgrown its bank-
ing facilities ; and there was urgent need of a strong bank with ample capital.

The bank began business in the small building, previously occupied by
Mr. Sanborn as a private bank, located on the west half of the lot where the
bank now stands. Shortly after, at a meeting of the directors held December
3, 1870, the building, lot and bank furniture, were purchased of Mr. Sanborn.

It soon became apparent that more room was needed to accommodate
the rapidly increasing business. Accordingly more ground was purchased
on the east, adjoining the lot bought of Mr. Sanborn. And in the fall of
1874 work was begun on a new bank building. While the new bank build-
ing was in process of construction, the business of the bank was carried on
in the Harvey building, at No. 112 East Third Street. In the latter part
of January, 1875, the bank moved into its new quarters, occupying the west
half of the new building the east half having been rented to Hagey & Son
for a jewelry store. Later, in December, 1900, the room occupied as a
jewelry store was remodeled, and a new safety deposit vault added, thus
doubling the space previously occupied by the bank.

Again in 1906, feeling the need of a more modern building, and bet-
ter equipped banking rooms, it was decided to remodel and rebuild the old
building, which had done good service for over thirty-one years. Accord-
ingly, on September 4, 1906, the work of remodeling and rebuilding began.
The undertaking was accomplished without seriously interfering with the
business of the bank. The new building is an attractive structure architectur-
ally, with fine interior finishings, and thoroughly modern equipments. Am-
ple provision was made for enlargement of the business of the bank. The
vaults are also protected by an electric burglar alarm.

Since its organization, the bank has had but two presidents, and three
cashiers. John S. Miller, Sr., was its first president, serving in that capacity
until his death, which occurred February 27, 1874. Soon after his death,
his son, John S. Miller, was elected president, and has continued to hold
that office up to the present time.

Of the three cashiers, William A. Sanborn held the office from the
organization of the bank in 1870, until his death, Otcober 24, 1901. On
October 29, 1901, Henry Green was elected cashier, holding the office for
about a year, when he resigned. He was succeeded by Thomas S. McKin-
ney, who died July 1, 1905. Upon the death of Mr. McKinney, Mr. Green
was again elected cashier, and still holds that office.

The First National Bank of Sterling ranks among the strongest and
most substantial banking institutions of the state; and every effort is made
by its officers and directors to keep its standard up to the highest. With
its capital stock of $100,000, it has accumulated a surplus of $100,000 and
undivided profits of nearly $50,000.

While the policy of the bank has always been one of conservatism, yet


it has never failed to recognize it.s duty to the community at large, by a
just and liberal accommodation of its patrons, and an ever-courteous desire
to deal fairly with all. The fact that it has served the public well, is shown
by its rapidly increasing business. Ten years ago its deposits rarely exceeded
$400,000, while, during the past five years they frequently have exceeded
$1,000,000. And it is but fair to predict, from past prosperity, that the
bank's greatest success and influence in the community, is yet to be realized.


March 25, 1882, application was made to the Comptroller of the Cur-
rency for the authority to organize a national bank. The application was
signed by J. H. Lawrence, B. C. Church and Charles A. Reed. James R.
Bell, Charles N. Russell, Abijah Powers and E. F. Lawrence were mentioned
as associate stockholders with the applicants.

This bank was to be located in Sterling with a capital of $50,000.00
with the privilege of increasing same to $300,000.00.

April 22, 1882. articles of association were adopted and the name of
the association was called the Sterling National Bank.

The following persons were the stockholders at the time of organiza-
tion : James R. Bell, James Dinsmoor, Aaron A. Wolfersperger, Edgar G.
Baum, Charles N. Russell, John Wolfersperger, Edwin F. Lawrence, Adam
Smith, Charles A. Reed, Bradford C. Church and John H. Lawrence.

A board of seven directors was chosen by the stockholders, which con-
sisted of James Dinsmoor, Charles A. Reed, James R. Bell, C. N. Russell,
B. C. Church, A. A. Wolfersperger and J. H. Lawrence.

This board of directors organized by the election of B. C. Church as
president and Charles A. Reed as cashier. The capital was paid in on May
15, 1882, and the bank began business.

As soon as possible the site of the present place of business was secured
: and a bank building erected.

January 1, 1883, the capital stock of the bank was increased to, $75,-

In September, 1883, Bradford C. Church, President, died and his son,
E. G. Chvirch, was elected to fill vacancy in the board of directors, and James
R. Bell was elected president.

In January, 1885, Adam Smith was elected a director succeeding James

On October 5, 1886, Chas. A. Reed's resignation as cashier was tendered
and accepted and John H. Lawrence was elected to fill vacancy.

At the stockholders' meeting in January, 1889, the names of Abijah
Powers and E. F. Lawrence were added to the directory, taking the places
on the board formerly occupied by E. G. Church and Chas. A. Reed.

In January, 1891, Fred Simonson was elected a director and continued
ft member of the board for six years. W. J. Bell was elected a director in
January, 1894, to fill vacancy caused by the death of Adam Smith.

In 1902 John H. Lawrence, who had been cashier for over fifteen years,
tendered his resignation in order to devote his attention to the already large
and rapidly increasing manufacturing business of Lawrence Brothers.


C. H. Tuttle who had been employed as teller in the bank for several
years was elected to succeed Mr. Lawrence and at once assumed the duties of
the office.

During the summer of 1903 the capital of the bank was increased from
$75,000.00 to $100,000.00 and the beginning of the year 1904 found them
with capital $100.000.00, surplus fund $50,000.00, undivided profits $53,-
122.49 and deposits of $583,451.84.

Cashier Tuttle tendered his resignation Oct. 24, 1904, to take effect
Jan. 1, 1905, and same being duly accepted he retired from the business at
the last mentioned date.

Samuel G. Crawford succeeded Mr. Tuttle as cashier and his name with
that of Paul T. Gait was added to the list of directors about the same time.

In June, 1905, James R. Bell who had been president of the bank
since 1883 died and John H. Lawrence w r as elected to fill the vacancy.
Since the election of Mr. Lawrence to the presidency there have been no
changes of officers or directors.

At this time the bank has a capital of $100,000, a surplus of $100,000,
and undivided profits of $25,000 and $600,000 of deposits. Besides accumu-
lating the present surplus and undivided profits the bank 'has paid semi-
annual dividends satisfactory to the stockholders.

At this time, in addition to the cashier, the bank employs an obliging
and competent force consisting of Harry R. Trudo, Teller; John Royer,
Assistant Teller; Walter Reed, Bookkeeper; and Arthur J. Becker, Collector.


The youngest of our financial institutions has its quarters in the former
postoffice, corner Locust street and Fourth. Capital, $50,000. Organization
was effected Oct. 16, 1905, by F. Heflebower, C. E. Windom, John M. Kohl,
J. Frank Wahl, J. H. Gray and August Frank. Charter was granted in 1906,
and business began Jan. 24 of that year. Accounts of Gait's savings bank
were assumed Jan. 1, 1908. Money is loaned on real estate, and a general
banking business is carried on. The directors consist of N. G. Van Sant, C.
E. Windom, F. A. Grimes, Fernandus Jacobs, John M. Kohl, J. Frank Wahl,
J. H. Gray, of Morrison, the others belong to Sterling. Van Sant is president,
C. E. Windom vice president, F. Heflebower is cashier. He is an Ogle county
man. Fred B. Frerichs is teller and bookkeeper. The rooms of the old post-
office were completely remodeled, hard wood partitions and furniture installed,
and the place presents a light and attractive appearance. The directors are
among our conservative and substantial citizens, and a good business is al-
ready secured.


Everything comes to him who waits, and there was general rejoicing
when the first car rolled through third street 011 the afternoon of May 5,
1904. Franchises had been secured once or twice before, surveys made, and
even rails laid, but the projects were given up. But it was reserved for Ed-
ward Higgins to carry the enterprise to a successful completion. The railway


runs from Main street in Dixon to the end of Fourth street in Sterling, pass-
ing through Prairieville and Gap Grove in Lee county, and following for the
most part the common highway between Dixon and Sterling. Sign boards
advertise regular stations through the country where passengers are received.
The interurban cars leave Dixon and Sterling every hour, the smaller cars
run in each city every twenty minutes. In Dixon a spur leads from the main
line to the Assembly grounds. The fare is 25 cents from Sterling to Dixon,
five cents in Sterling. The ride in summer between the two cities presents
views of a charming landscape with fertile fields, verdant valleys, attractive
homes, and all the tokens of a rich agricultural district. The full name is
Sterling, Dixon and Eastern Electric Railway.

A brick power house with dynamos installed was erected in the first
ward near the river, but was soon discontinued, as it was found that the mo-
tive power could be secured cheaper at Dixon by using electricity developed
by water power at the dam.


The city has two kinds of illumination, the gas works, constructed in
1870, and the electric plant, in 1890. The Chicago office at 184 La Salle St.,
the Sterling office on East Fourth. Elmer Crawford is resident manager. In
1;he city are 19 arc lights, and 245 incandescent, for which the monthly bill
is $439.78. The city hall in addition is $19.20. Most private houses use the
gas for cooking, and in the new residences electricity is installed for lighting,
as well as in the stores and churches. The price of gas is $1.35 per thousand
with a discount for cash of 20 per cent. In electric light, kilo watts at 16


In November, 1907, Mrs. Helen M. Brookfield tendered the Thomas A.
Gait homestead on West Third street to the people of Sterling and Rock Falls
provided they raised an endowment fund of $10,000. The property U con
sidered ideal for the purpose. The house was built in 1871 by Thomas A.
Gait at a cost of nearly $25,000,. and could not be duplicated today for less
than $40,000. The elegant residence with the adjoining grounds is valued at
$50,000, and is one of the best and most desirable locations for a hospital in
either city.

The house is large and roomy, and has a sloping terraced lawn. There
are two rooms which could be made into wards without any remodeling
whatever. One of these rooms is 40x30 feet and the other 30x30, and twelve
beds could be installed in these wards. There are several other rooms in the
residence which could be fitted up very easily for wards. The library would
make a splendid office.

The house is a four-story structure, and has a fine south frontage which
has all the requirements of a hospital, such as sunlight and air. The kitchen
and large laundry are located in the basement. One of the physicians of the
city stated that should the people of the city build a new building they could
not plan it better for a hospital than the residence given by Mrs. Brookfield.


The interior is finished in the most expensive solid walnut which is highly
polished. The house has recently been repaired and remodeled at a cost of
several thousand dollars. The cost of additional remodeling to put the house
in condition for a hospital would be very light.

Preliminary steps have already been taken to start the charity on its
beneficent mission. A board of directors was elected whose officers are A. A.
Wolfereperger, president; W. J. Doherty, vice president; R. L. Halsted, sec-
etary, and John Royer, treasurer. The board of physicians is composed of
Doctors A. C. Smith, S. S. Kehr and S. A. Allen.

Liberal offers of assistance have been made. Manager M. C. Ward of the
Academy of Music has offered the use of the Academy one night in each year
for the benefit for a hospital fund; Mrs. Electa E. Smith of Washington, D.
C., whose home for many years was in Sterling and who always has taken
great interest in the old soldiers, has offered to furnish a room to be known
as the old soldiers' room for the use of the G. A. R., U. S. W. V. and their

Substantial citizens stand ready to contribute liberally. The ladies of
the Presbyterian church held a Dutch Market, whose characteristic booths
and wares attracted large crowds, and realized $300 for the hospital fund.
Subscriptions are under way, and the endowment of $10,000 will be easily


Hear the loud alarum bells!
In the startled ear of night,
How they scream out their affright! Poe.

On the corner of Fourth street and First avenue stands the municipal
building of Milwaukee brick with its square tower. On the third floor is
the council chamber and the hall of the Grand Army; on the second, the
police headquarters, the public assembly room, the firemen's chambers, and
the Historical Society ; in the basement the station of the fire department and
the lockup. The main equipment of the department consists of a hook and
ladder wagon, a hose wagon, and several thousand feet of hose. Two heavy
Norman horses, about 1,300 pounds, are ready to gallop, night or day, to the
scene of destruction. John Gleason is janitor of the building and driver of
the grays. There are twenty firemen connected with the city hall, and ten
in the first ward with a small hose carriage in the upper barn. S. A. Stull is
chief, and the alacrity with which the boys respond to an emergency call de-
serves a much higher compensation than the city allows, $60 per year. Fires,
of course, are rare, but the position is no sinecure, for it means work and expo-
sure when the call comes.

Be wakeful, be vigilant,

Danger may be
At an hour when all seemeth

Securest to thee.

The hall was erected in 1889, and in 1892, the corner tower was elevated


a full story for the bell of fire alarm. The building has cost complete about


Perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honor bright; to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty nail. Shakespeare.

Near the bridge are the new shops of the National Manufacturing Com-
pany, who make hardware specialties of standard sorts. It was founded by
W. P. Benson and Louis Bittorf, both former employes of the Messrs. Law-
rence. Six years ago they began business in a little three-story building, fifty
by seventy feet and in 1907 they completed a new shop four stories high and
have a floor space of 45,000 feet. They employ nearly a hundred men and
their trade has extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The capitalization is

The Novelty Company on Wallace street turn out an elaborate assort-
ment of iron hitching posts, lawn and cemetery vases, plumbers' supplies,
stove repairs, and porcelain lined cylinders for iron and wooden pumps. A
pay roll of fifty men, and a yearly product of $80,000.

Few persons know that Sterling is the home of the first gasoline engine,
and the Charter Gas Engine Company gets its name from John Charter, who
twenty-five years ago, solved the problem of operating an engine by vaporized
gasoline. From the standard type from two and a half horse power to forty,
the company make several other types such as marine engines, traction en-
gines, wood sawing outfits, electric generators, both of direct and belt types,
hoisters, and several styles of pumping engines and make many for special
purposes. These engines are in use for at least 250 different purposes where
power is required, from making baggage checks to milking cows. In the
early nineties the firm sold the first engine ever put to the latter use and now
have several operating in large dairies where they take the place of the old
time milk maid and the hired man on the three legged stool. These engines
are pushing yachts, making cob pipes, weaving wool and cotton, making fish-
ing rods, pens, pop and lace.

The company employs about fifty men on the average, though at times
the force in the shops has approached a hundred. The engines are sent to
Mexico and South America.

On Wallace street is the only concern of the kind in the city, the Sterling
Pattern Works, whose specialty is metal and wood patterns of all sizes and
shapes. It makes patterns for local factories and inventor.-:, and has
a large trade outside. It has just completed the making of a new gaso-
line marine engine of two, four and six horse power. The engine is single,
double and triple cylinder variety, designed for pleasure boats. The engines
were placed on the market and local owners state that they are as near per-
fection as possible, as they are light and durable and very powerful.

The Harrison Manufacturing company, the only company in the two
cities making a specialty of all kinds of inside finishing for houses, churches,
stores, etc., is located at the foot of Locust street on Mill street. It occupies


two buildings, each 60x160 feet and it derives its power from a turbine wheel.

The company is engaged in the manufacture of all kinds of store fixtures,
bank fixtures, drug store cases, display racks, interior fixtures for residences,
in fact, make a specialty of making anything from wood.

The company has been in existence in this city for many years. During
the busy seasons of the year is employs thirty men and during the dull sea-
son not less than eight men. It has an average pay roll of eighteen men. The
men are skilled mechanics and their wages are. seldom less than $2.50 per day.

The annual output of this establishment is about $60,000.

The most imposing establishment in the city is that of the Dillon-Gris-
wold Wire Mill. The buildings, three stories high, cover three and one-half
acres, and the floor space ten and one-half acres. The lofty smoke stacks are
striking and ornamental. A large variety of wares like wire fence, poultry
and garden, wire nails, barbed wire, bale ties, straight and cut wire, telephone
wire, gates, are produced.

Over 2,555 tons of stove polish is made in Sterling every year. The two
stove polish factories, the Black Silk company and the Sterling Stove Polish
company, between them turn out over seven tons of polish each day of the
365 days of the calendar year. This amount of polish, when canned, makes
a total of over 1,250,000 cans of the finished product.

The works of the two companies are large and commodious. The fac-
tory of the Black Silk Company is 60x124, two stories in height, with offices
15x30. The manufacturing rooms are 40x30 and the labeling rooms five feet

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 44 of 72)