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 5 of 72)
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in 1887 at the age of seventy-one. As one stood in his old home in Galena,
what memories arose of that brain, busy with cares of state.

And now 'tis silent all,
Enchantress, fare thee well !

Under the apportionment of 1872, nineteen districts were formed, and
Whiteside was thrown in company with Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Carroll and
Ogle, or the fifth district. Horatio C. Burchard of Freeport was our repre-
sentative till 1879, succeeded by Robert M. A. Hawk, of Mt. Carroll from
1879 to 1881, and part of the following term, 1881 to 1883, filled out after
his death, by Robert R. Hitt, of Mount Morris.


Freeport was his home. No orator or campaigner, he never spoke to
the galleries in the House, but will be remembered as one of the steady
members who worked for their constituents in the quiet but efficient atmos-
phere of the committee room. He was an active member of the committee
on ways and means, and was obedient to every wish of his constituents.
After his service in Congress, he was appointed director of the U. S. mint,
and was removed by Cleveland.


had his residence in Mount Carroll, and died somewhat suddenly as the
result of a wound from which he had long suffered, received in a skirmish
with Wade Hampton's cavalry near Raleigh, N. C.

By the apportionment of 1882, the state was divided into twenty dis-
tricts, and Whiteside was put into the seventh with Lee, Henry, Bureau and
Putnam and


of Princeton became our representative. He was born in Tennessee, where
he received a common school education, removed to Illinois, and after sev-
eral terms in the legislature, entered the army in 1862, as colonel of the
112th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, serving gallantly to the close of the
war. He was our member from 1883 to 1895, his repeated re-election show-
ing the favor in which he was held by his constituents. AVhiteside has
always been conservative, and always ready to stand by public servants who
render- efficient service. Gen. Henderson, now an old man, eighty-three in
November, 1907, is enjoying his deserved retirement at his early home in
Princeton, but wa happy in response to a cordial invitation to appear at
the opening of the Hennepin canal feeder in Sterling. October 24, 1907,
make a speech, and receive the congratulations of his admirers on the com-


pletion of an enterprise to the inception of which his unwearied efforts in Con-
gress and elsewhere were so largely due.

Another deal in 1893, and Whiteside was lined with Rock Island, Mer-
cer, Henry, Knox and Stark, forming the tenth district with


of Galesburg, as our member, but dying in January, 1895, soon after the
beginning of the term,


was elected to fill the vacancy, and was continued in office by successive
re-electiohs to 1903. In the case of Mr. Prince, there was a practical example
of civil service. He rose to his high office by gradual preparation. A grad-
uate of .Knox college, city attorney, member of the legislature. Only about
forty when first elected, he proved himself a worthy successor of his predeces-
sors of ampler experience, and was always equal to the responsible demands of
his position. He is still in the prime of life, and continues his residence in

As the state continues to develop, new arrangements become necessary,
and in 1901 another apportionment was made, dividing Illinois into twenty-
five districts, giving Chicago ten congressmen, and the rest of the state
fifteen. Whiteside is now in the thirteenth district with Carroll, Jo Daviess,
Lee, Ogle and Stephenson.


of Mount Morris, was elected as our new representative in 1903. He was
new to our district, but a tried member for successive terms from the ninth,
so that when he took his seat, he was in familiar work and amid familiar
scenes. In fact he was at home in Washington. Hitt was indeed a veteran
in political life. Born in Ohio, like Grant, Sherman, Garfield, Bishop Simp-
son, and a dozen other great men, removing to Illinois, receiving his early
education at Mt. Morris seminary which he continued at De Pauw university,
he took up as a diversion, shorthand reporting, which formed the starting
point of a brilliant career. As an acquaintance of Lincoln, he was requested
to make full reports of the famous debate between Lincoln and Douglas in
1858. An old citizen, Albert Woodcock, gives the following incident of the
debate at Freeport, August 27:

"A stand was erected in a field adjacent to the city. Thousands of peo-
ple gathered about the platform. The speakers were ready, the throng was
impatient. The tall form of Lincoln arose. He looked anxiously over the
crowd and called out:

" 'AVhere's Hitt? Is Hitt present?'

"Hitt from the outskirts of the surging mass answered, 'Here I am, but
I cannot get to the platform.'

"The good-natured people understood the situation, seized the slender
youth and passed him over their heads to the stand." Hitt's report of that
epoch-making discussion is the authoritative standard of this day. Then
began that versatile career which kept him in the public eye to its mournful


close. In 1867-8 he made the tour of Europe, Egypt and Palestine. In
1874 Grant appointed him secretary of legation at Paris, a position con-
tinued by President Hayes, and during the six years of Mr. and Mrs. Hitt
in the French capital, his tact and her charm won golden opinions from all
classes. Although offered a foreign mission by President Arthur, he declined,
preferring to remain in his own country. Hitt was like Lincoln, a plain
man, fond of mingling with the people, and ever ready to accept any respon-
sibility in the line of his work. Illinois or the United States never had a
more conscientious public servant. He had a comfortable cottage at Mt.
Morris, and in Washington occupied the mansion at Fifteenth and K streets,
formerly the residence of William M. Evarts, secretary of state in the cabinet
of President Hayes. Hitt's health was gradually failing, however, and his
death was not a surprise.

The sweet remembrance of the just,
Shall flourish when they sleep in dust.


A country boy getting his education in the primitive style, working on
the farm in the summer, and attending school in the winter. A graduate
of the Iowa State University in 1885, where he was valedictorian, and then
of the Union College of Law, Chicago, where he repeated his literary suc-
cess. He married a daughter of the late George M. Pullman, and began the
practice of law in Chicago, in connection with various avenues of business.
His early love of rural life returned, however, and closing his commercial
interests, he purchased a large tract of land near Oregon in Ogle county, and
began the career of farmer on an extensive scale.

When the late Senator Pettus of Alabama was asked what he would do
if he had his life to live again, he replied, "Buy a big piece of land, and
settle in the middle of it." Many of our statesmen felt the same way in
regard to an Arcadian retreat. Jefferson had Monticello, Clay had Ashland,
Webster, Marshfield. So Col. Lowden is following some eminent examples.
The original dwelling of his purchase has been enlarged, necessary farm
buildings erected, several miles of road laid out, choice stock secured, arid
every arrangement made for the development of a farm model in every detail.
The spacious residence on a high slope along Rock river, like Abbotsford on
the Tweed, has already become a Mecca not only for politicians, but for
friends and neighbors, who are sure of a cordial reception. As in the case
of Gen. Harrison's cabin, the latch string is always out. Col. Lowden was
elected by a large majority in the fall of 1908 to take the place of the
lamented Hitt, and he promises to keep up the prestige that Whiteside has
always been fortunate in enjoying in her Congressional representatives.



Fifty years ago almost every one in Whiteside or the west was ready to
talk about this book. The' full title was :





An Authentic Narrative


Thrilling Adventures
in the Early Settlement of the Western Country.

By Edward Bonney.

A gang of robbers and cut-throats, who infested Northern Illinois and
Iowa, murdered Col. George Davenport July 4, 1845, at his home at Rock
Island in the river. This Bonney tracked the villains, discovered their plans,
and was the mea^is, at the risk of his neck, of bringing them to justice.
They were tried at Rock Island, and on Oct. 19, 1845, John and Aaron
Long and Granville Young were hung in the presence of a large crowd at
Rock Island. One of the prosecuting lawyers was Joe Knox, who frequently
appeared in Whiteside as pleader or campaigner. This hanging struck terror
into the rest of the marauders, and they speedily vanished. Doubtless their
piracies often took them through Whiteside.


Whoever fights, whoever falls,
Justice conquers evermore. Emerson.

As in the legislature and congress, our county has not always been in
the same district. The first court -was held at Lyndon, April, 1840, Honi.
Daniel Stone, of the sixth judicial circuit, presiding. James C. Woodburn
was sheriff. Among the attorneys present whose names are familiar were:
Hugh Wallace, Harvey and Woodruff, James McCoy, Knox and Drury. Joe
Knox was a popular speaker in the political campaigns. By the act of the
general assembly, 1839, the sixth judicial circuit included the counties of
Rock Island, Whiteside, Carroll, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone and "Jo
Daviess. Subsequent acts changed the counties and the number of the cir-
cuit. By the act of 1877, thirteen judicial circuits were created, and White-
side was in the thirteenth. From the Blue Book of Illinois, 1905, compiled
by James A. Rose, secretary of state, the subjoined list of judges in the thir-
teenth is given :


Wm. W. Heatoii, June 16, 1873, Dixon, died.

Wm. Brown, June 16, 1873, Rockford.

Joseph M. Bailey, Aug. 20, 1877, Freeport,

J. V. Eustace, June 16, 1879, Dixon, vice Heaton.

J. V. Eustace, June 16, 1879, Dixon.

Wm. Brown, June 16, 1879, Rockford.

Joseph M. Bailey, June 16, 1879, Freeport.

J. M. Bailey, June 1, 1885, Resigned.

Wm. Brown, June 1, 1885, Rockford.

J. V. Eustace, June 1, 1885, Dixon, died.

J. D. Crabtree, June 4, 1888, Dixon, vice Bailey.

J. H. Cartwright, June 1, 1888, Oregon, vice Eustace.

J. H. Cartwright, June 1, 1891, Resigned.

J. D. Crabtree, June 1, 1891, Dixon.

James Shaw, June 1, 1891, Mt. Carroll.

J. C. Garver, April 7, 1896, Rockford, vice Cartwright.

Two of these judges were well known to all citizens who had business
at Morrison in court time. Under the old constitution of 1848, John V.
Eustace and William W. Heaton were on the twenty-second circuit, the first
commissioned in 1857, the second in 1861. Judge Heaton sat so regularly
on the bench year after year that he seemed one of the fixtures of the court
room. Quiet, easy, genial, approachable. Judge Eustace was somewhat
sterner, and carried to his position much of that military dignity which he
found necessary as provost marshal at Dixon during the civil war. Under
the apportionment of 1897, the counties of Rock Island, Mercer, Whiteside
and Henry compose the fourteenth judicial circuit, with Emery C. Graves,
Geneseo, William H. Gest, Rock Island, and Frank D. Ramsay, Morrison,
as judges. The term is six years, and the salary, $3,500. Judge Ramsay
began in 1897, and is serving acceptably in his second term. Court is held
on first Mondays in January, April and October.

Of the conspicuous figures at Morrison during the last 30 or 40 years
were David McCartney, formerly of Fulton, later of Sterling, states attorney
from 1872 to 1880, and Walter Stager of Sterling, 1880 to 1904, who made
a brilliant record in the prosecution of crime. H. H. Waite of Prophets-
town occupies the position since 1904.


Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness!

This is the state of man. Today he puts forth

The tender leaves of hope, tomorrow blossoms,

And bears his blushing honors thick upon him ;

The third day comes a frost, a killing frost. Henry VIII.

All persons under forty years of age know no more of the Grange move-
ment than they do of the laws of the Medes and Persians. Like the Know
Nothing party in 1856, it was mighty for awhile, but soon vanished. It
was a political meteor, a social coiliet that blazed and disappeared. As the


name indicates, the Grange was a farmers' organization to give the sons of
the soil their proper influence in business, in society, in politics. From a
small beginning it rapidly spread to various parts of the country, and was
especially strong in Whiteside. Every district had its branch. The opera-
tions were confined to the rural districts, and carried on secretly without
giving any notice in the papers, so that town people were in blissful igno-
rance of the movement. A picnic was planned for the island below the dam
at Sterling one summer day about 1870, and when the long procession of
two-horse wagons, filled with the families of the farmers, began to movie
slowly through the streets, the citizens rubbed their eyes and gazed in amaze-
ment. It seemed like an endless procession. It was evidently no circus. This
was the first open notice to Sterling of the existence of -the new organization.
To show the controlling influence exercised by Whiteside in the order,
the following is clipped from a paper of 1873:



Master Alonzo Golder, Rock Falls>

Secretary 0. E. Fanning, Gait.

Lecturer A. Woodford, Rock Falls. \/

Overseer E. V. Lapham, Morrison./

Steward S. J. Baird, Sterling. /

Asst. Steward Jos. Anthony, Round Grove.

Chaplain A. B. Smith, DixonX

Treasurer J. H. Simonson. Round Grove.

Gate-Keeper W. P. McAllister, MorrisonX

Ceres Mrs. D. W. Dame, Lanark.

Pomona Maggie J. Lapham, Morrison. "'

Flora Miss E. Golder, Rock Falls./

L. A. Steward Mrs. H. P. Garrison, Morrison.*

Leading citizens in every township entered heartily into the new organi-
zation, as will be seen by the subjoined list of local branches taken from the
same sheet of 1873:


Portland, No. 396. George B. Quigley, M. ; J. P. Averill, S. Regular
meetings first and third Saturday evenings of each month.

Newton, No. 47. Wm. Payne, Master; G. M. Miller, Sec'y.

Garden Plain, No. 54. C. R. Rood, M.; Alex. Wilson, S. Regular
meeting held at Town Hall, Garden Plain, every Thursday evening on or
before full moon, and second Thursday evening following.

Little Rock, No. 55. J. H. Platt, M.; J. J. Davis, S. Regular meet-
ings first Tuesday in each month.

Franklin, No. 60. A. M. Abbott, M. ; A. C. Crauch, S. Regular meet-
ing, Friday evening of each week.

Ustick, No. 124. J. C. Martindale, M.; G. W. McKinzie, S.


'- Bock River, No. 7. P. C. Woods, M.; J. W. Niles, S.

Whiteside, No. 9. E. V. Lapham, M.; A. B. Gibbs, S. Regular meet-
ings the last Friday in each month, special meeting every Friday.
? Rock Falls, No. 10. Rob't. McNiel, M. ; J. Wright, S.

Hume, No. 12. W. F. Ramsay, M.; J. Angell, S.

Hopkins, No. 13. S. J. Baird, M; S. N. Brown, S. Regular meeting,
Saturday, on or before each full moon.

Round Grove, No. 14. J. H. Simonson, M. ; Aaron Young, S. Regular
meetings Wednesday evening, on or before the full moon and the second
Wednesday evening after.

Prophetstown, No. 15. Chas. Humaston, M. ; G. W. Park, S.

Gait, No. 16. B. R. Watson, M. ; R. G. Wallace, S.

Prairie Center, No. 18. W. P. McAllister, M.; J. Upton, S. Regular
meeting on Friday evening, on or before full moon, and second Friday fol-

Hahnaman, No. 20. W. K. Caughey, M. ; V. Rice, S.

Tampico, No. 19. John Fea, M. ; J. C. Reeves, S.

Jordan, No. 23. D. N. Foster, M.; T. S. Kauffman, S.

Genesee, No. 25. R. J. Silliman, M. ; B. F. St John, S.

Union, No. 26. R. A. Langdon, M.; S. H. Baird, S.
/Sterling, No. 27. Benj. Stauffer, M.; C. A. Wetherbee, S.

Genesee, No. 28. W. H. Green, M.; W. Tumbleson, S.

North Prairie, No. 29. Henry Tucker, M.; F. M. Thomas, S. Regu-
lar meeting on or before the full moon of each month.

Lyndon, No. 31. E. P. Gibbs, M.; F. G. Brewer, S.

Fenton, No. 34. A. S. Round, M. Regular meetings the last Thursday
in each month.

Union Grove, No. 42. R. F. Logan, M. ; Geo. Topping, S.

D. N. Foster, an intelligent farmer living north of Sterling, went with
enthusiasm into the Grange movement in the 'seventies, when it was at its
zenith. He championed the principle that if farmers ever received any bene-
fit from state legislation, they must elect farmer legislators. The principle
found favor, and seven farmers were elected in the fall of 1876 as the result
of this agitation. These seven found when they met in the capitol at the
assembly that the two political parties were so evenly divided that they, the
seven, held the balance of power. As a United States Senator was to be
elected, each party was scheming to secure the votes necessary to elect their
candidate. At this critical period, the regular annual convention of the
state grange with 800 delegates met at Springfield. Hon. David Davis, then
on the supreme bench at Washington, offered the use of his opera house to
the convention, and it was accepted. The seven Grange legislators were unde-
cided in regard to their action in the election of senator. In the caucus
that was called were Alonzo Golder, Omer Fanning, D. N. Foster. Should
the seven vote with the Democrats or Republicans? After some discussion,
Mr. Foster proposed that they make their own nomination and oblige one
of the parties to come to their selection. The idea seemed ridiculous, as no


candidate could be secured at so short notice. "Why not Judge Davis,"
replied Foster. A telegram was sent, he accepted the nomination, and David
Davis was elected senator from Illinois. Mr. Foster rightly claims this
result as a crowning triumph of Granger legislation.

Some agreeable features in the Grange which made it popular in the
county districts: Ladies were eligible to several offices, and the regular
meetings when elections took place, were social occasion of great enjoyment
in the way of banquet, addresses and literary exercises. An attempt was
made to establish stores to be controlled and supported by the patronage of
the order, but it was soon found that necessary expenses made competition
impossible with the established stores of the towns. Salaried officers proved to
be somewhat of a burden, members began to lose their early enthusiasm, there
was a lack of political cohesion, and thus by degrees the once prosperous
organization declined, in the words of Grover Cleveland to "innocuous desue-


Delightful task! to rear the 'tender thought,
And teach the young idea how to shoot. Thomson.

One of the first regular institutes in the county took place in the small
brick church, Como, in the last week of September, 1856. Gray-haired
Deacon Charles S. Deming, of Lyndon, was county commissioner, or super-
intendent, as the office is now called. Alexander Wilder was imported from
New York to be conductor. A tall, lank specimen, a walking cyclopedia,
who could answer any question about earth, air and sea, but confessed his
inability to open the sessions with prayer. So a concert repetition of the
Lord's prayer formed the devotional exercises. M. R. Kelly brought from
Lyndon a two-horse wagon full of girls, which he jocularly called a grist of
teachers in allusion to the large Como mill then running. Ephraim Brook-
field and John Phinney were there. In the evening audience sat regularly
Miss Mary Pollock of Como, a handsome brunette, afterwards married to
Mr. Wadley, and long a resident of Clinton. Among the members was
C. B. Smith, then conducting a select school in the basement of the old
Presbyterian church in Sterling, who studied law, and removed to Mt. Carroll
where he died.

For years the institute was on wheels, held from town to town. In
1857 at Erie, 1858 at Fulton,' 1859 at Prophetetown, and so' through the
county. For the last thirty years, the sessions have been held at Sterling or
Morrison in the last week of August, just before the opening of school?.


In the Whiteside County Historical Society is a program of an insti-
tute held in Sterling, August 27, 1867, to continue a week. Instruction wns
given daily in the various common branches, and discussions on 'such sub-
jects as government and object lessons. Among the lecturers at night wa*
State Superintendent Newton Bateman, and among the instructors, Metcalf
of Normal. E. C. Smith of Dixon. M. AY. Smith of Morrison, C. C. Buell


of Sterling, H. E. Burr, M. R, Kelly, all numbered with the dead. Walter
Stager, John Phinney, W. W. Davis, Emma Wilson, still grasp the hands
of their friends.


Col. Michael W. Smith, superintendent from 1869 to 1873, was elected
by a whirlwind of Sterling votes, as there was no excitement or issue, and
a light vote was polled in the rest of the county. He was precise, stern,
methodical, very efficient in the discharge of his duties; for awhile principal
of the Morrison schools. On leaving Whiteside he was appointed professor
of English literature and history in Hughes high school, Cincinnati, 1874,
where he labored with great success to his death in 1889.

Clinton C. Buell was principal for three years' of the old second ward
school in Sterling after its completion in 1867. He had a farm in Mont-
morency, and drove in a light buggy every morning to his duties. A strenu-
ous career. After graduating at Madison University, New York, and teach-
ing eight years in academies, he emigrated to Iowa, where he entered the
army on the beginning of the war in 1861. He was a scholarly man, well
read, a good writer and speaker, took a deep interest in agricultural affairs,,
and often read papers or made speeches at various meetings.

One of the mast genial of the former teachers was H. E. Burr, who grad-
uated from Oberlin College in 1849, removed to Morrison .in 1865, opened
a select school, and afterwards taught in public schools. Two heavy mis-
fortunes threw a gloom over his later life. A stone falling on his foot in
a quarry made him lame, and the death of his only daughter, Charlotte,
a young lady of rare qualities of mind and heart, was a crushing blow from
which he never recovered. She was the idol of the home, and henceforth
the world had no further charm. When the writer met the old gentleman
just a short time before the end, he sadly remarked that he was just waiting
to move on.

One of the best known primary teachers of Sterling was Miss Sa_die
Patterson, who was first in the second ward, and then in Wallace school.
She grew gray in the service, and almost two generations of children passed
under her discipline.

Of all the early teachers, M. R. Kelly, of Morrison, was the dean. Com-
ing to the county in his young manhood and remaining here to his death
in 1904, he was a landmark. Teachers came and went, but Kelly was like
Tennyson's brook:

For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.

His duties as superintendent called him to all parts of the county, and
his sunny disposition made friends everywhere. His face was always wel-
come at the tables or the gathering? of the old settlers. Like Caleb of the
Old Testament his vigor of mind and body was so remarkable even in the
eighties than his sudden decline and death came as a surprise. From the
Sentinel of Morrison we quote the account of the last sad rites : "The serv-
ices were held at the Presbvterian church, and after a hvmn bv the choir


and prayer by the pastor, Rev. W. V. Jeffries, his old friend and co-laborer,
W. W. Davis, delivered the following address:

" 'It lies around us like a cloud,

A world we do not see ;
Yet the sweet closing of an eye,

.May bring us there to be.

" 'Standing in this solemn presence and thinking of our dear departed
friend, I recall almost fifty years of uninterrupted and delightful social inter-
course. No more that radiant face, that cheerful voice, that active step. On
my visits to Morrison, my first thought always was, I hope I shall see Kelly

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 5 of 72)