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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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Another sprightly member of this family is Mrs. James H. Slaymaker,
daughter of David Hanks. It seems it was her uncle, Sam Hanks, Princeton,
Iowa, who was the child taken by the father and mother on the visit to
Thomas Lincoln in Indiana, Abraham's father, who married Nancy Hanks.
At the convention in Chicago in 1880 when Garfield was nominated, Robert
Lincoln showed Samuel much attention, and secured a seat for him in the
political circus. The Slaymakers were an influential family in Newton
township, and James H. is a cousin of Thomas and Robert, who lived in
Sterling over forty years ago, and removed to Kansas.

A MOTHER'S EXPERIENCE IN THE TORNADO.

It was the privilege of the writer to hear the experience of a mother
who passed unharmed through this dreadful visitation. At the foot of the
hill below the Presbyterian church is the low brick dwelling in which Mrs.
Chamberlain has lived since 1848. She was born at Carmi, White county,
October. 1828, came to Albany in 1845, was married to Wilson Nevitt who
died in 1849, and in 1851 was married to W. A. Chamberlain. It was Sunday
evening, June 3, 1860, a very sultry day. Her father. Dr. Riley, who had
lived in the South, noticed the ominous appearance of the sky. remarked



HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 65

that it looked like a hurricane, and left the dwelling to secure the windows
in a new cement building not far away. A pane of glass was broken in the
room, and she told her husband to stuff a pillow in the opening, but it was
twice blown out with tremendous force. Now thoroughly alarmed, Mrs.
Chamberlain picked up her baby girl and two little boys, and rushed for the
cellar, followed by her husband. They had barely descended the stairs*
when the whole roof and upper briok walls of the house fell with a crash
upon the floor above them. As it was made of heavy joists and boards, it
was sufficiently strong to sustain the weight, and thus save them from destruc-
tion. Meantime the work of ruin was complete. Most of the young town
was leveled. Her father was so terribly crushed by a falling timber that he
lingered in agony for a few days till he died. Knowing her helpless con-
dition with her babes and dying father, neighbors and mechanics at once
made a gratuitous offer of their services, renewing the walls and putting on a
roof. Across the street still stands a deserted frame store, built of the pieces
gathered from the debris, and bearing above the name, "W. A. Chamberlain,
druggist." Before this was erected, a temporary counter was placed in their
sitting room, and the drugs dispensed. Mrs. C. is also a registered phar-
macist. Prof. Pepper, principal of the school, married her granddaughter,
who is a natural artist.

Wilson Nevitt, first husband of Mrs. Chamberlain, was one of eleven
children of William Nevitt, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1779, moved to
Kentucky, then to White county, Illinois, in 1818, then to Knoxville, and
finally to Albany in August, 1837. He was justice of the peace, and his
commission was signed by Shadrach Bond, first governor of Illinois. He
was also school commissioner of the county. Mr. Nevitt died in 1848. His
best known son, Hon. Edward H., was educated at Knox college, and filled
several public positions, assessor, supervisor, and in 1877 was elected repre-
sentative to the legislature from the Eleventh district. The Nevitts have
always held an honorable place in the affections of the people of Albany.

THE CEMETERY.

The old Egyptians had a skull at their feasts to assure them of the end
of all festivity. The bright shining monuments on the hill are a daily
reminder in full view of the world to come. Albany people have a daily
funeral sermon. There are few very ancient graves. Some of the early
settlers were buried elsewhere or their bodies removed to other places. There
is a family memorial block for the Nevitts, containing the names of several
members of the once numerous circle. Also a family memorifll of the
Slocumbs, in honor of numerous members. Alfred Slocximb put up a log
house in 1837. On one tomb is the name, Warren Olds, 1818-1888. Phebe,
his wife, 1819-1897. Cheney Olds and family came to Albany in 1838. Here
is Rev. Samuel Slocumb, 1783-1850. On one humble stone:

Remember as you pass by

As you are now, so once was I.

Capt. James Hugunin, 1839-1905, and wife. W. S. Booth, 1821-1883. Dr.



66 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

Jordan Brock, 1841. Francis Buckingham, 1845. One of the mast imposing
monuments bears the name Rosenkranz. It is of gray granite, which seems
to be the favorite stone. James Hewlett, England, 1843.

Oh, friend forever loved, forever dear,
What tears have bathed thy honored bier.

Among the soldiers resting here are Eugene Barney, C. G. Slocumb,
1899, Co. B, 147 111. In a row with small headstones are buried T. M.
Perkins, Co. G, 8th 111. cavalry; Peter Huguenin, Co. F, 52nd 111. infantry;
Jacob McDonald, Co. M, 1st Iowa cavalry; Thomas Jackson, U. S. navy;
Abner McMahan, U. S. navy. In the cemetery is also the tomb of Samuel
Happer, one of the first of the early settlers to pass away.

"West of the cemetery is the Albany school, a brick building in two
sections. There are 160 pupils. Hettie Slaymaker, primary, 5'8. Ella
Galvin, intermediate, 43. Kathryn Hanks, grammar, 36. High school, three
years' course, 25. H. \V. Pepper, principal, has had careful preparation at
Rockford Business College and three years at De Kalb Normal. In his
fourth year, and with the confidence of pupils and parents, is doing suc-
cessful work.

THE CHURCHES.

On the edge of a hill in full view of the Mississippi is the white frame
Presbyterian edifice with its little cupola, The society was organized at the
house of David Mitchell, December, 1839, by Rev. Mr. Prentiss, of Fulton.
The members were Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Kilgour, Mr. and Mrs. David
Mitchell. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Miller, Mr. and Mrs. John S. Thompson,
Mr. and Mrs. Erastus Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Duty Buck, Mrs. Ivy Buck, and
Mrs. Buckingham. The first elders were Samuel Kilgour and 'David Mitchell.
No regular pastors for a while. In 1843, Rev. Silas Sears began . regular
service, and among his successors were Oscar Park, W. C. Mason, Louis Gano,
A. H. Lackey, Jacob Coon, J. Giffin, Josiah Leonard, N. D. Graves. The
former church of brick, dedicated in 1858, was swept away by the tornado in
I860, and the present structure was placed upon its site.

A congregational church was organized in 1842 by some members who
had withdrawn from the Presbyterian. The certificate was signed by James
B.othwell, Erastus Allen, Duty Buck, William Efner, William Bothwell, G.
Buckingham, Mrs. Ruth Bothwell, Mrs. Hannah Allen, Mrs. Fanny Buck-
ingham, Mrs. Dinah Bothwell. Duty Buck and Wm. Bothwell were chosen
deacons. Rev. A. J. Copeland began his labors in October, 1847. at $400
per year, followed by Revs. J. J. Hill, Hancock, Cady. Hamilton. Ostrander,
Emerson, Macnab. In the meantime, both churches finding the support of
separate pastors a burden, agreed to harmonize their doctrinal differences,
and unite in a call for a minister, and in July, 1875, Rev. N. D. Graves
entered upon his duties. The recent pastor of the Presbyterian church was
W. Bryson Smith, who resigned in April. He was student at Lake Forest
academy and McCormick theological seminary. Of the seventy-two mem-
bers, many are Pennsylvanians, and the Slaymaker family is largely repre-
sented.



HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 67

The Methodists began to hold services in Albany in 1840 as part of the
Savanna circuit, preaching before that time in dwellings'. In 1840 Rev.
Philo Judson was minister, and in 1842 Albany was placed on the Union
Grove circuit. In 1845 a small frame building was erected, with Rev.
Isaac Searles in charge followed by McKean, Babcock, Haney, Hanna,
Applebee. In 1853 Albany, Erie and Newton formed the Albany circuit,
with a membership in Albany of 172. In 1854 the parsonage was built.
In 1860 both church and parsonage were ruined by the tornado. The present
Urick edifice was erected in 1861 by funds given by the Methodist churches
in the East. In 1868 Rev. Barton Cartwright was pastor, and loaned the
church $600 to replace the parsonage. Among the later ministers was Rev.
Zechariah D. Paddock, who in 1857 preached at Broadway church, Sterling,
dying in Albany at 64 in 1883. Two of his children, Mrs. Slocumb and
Charles, live in Albany. Mr. Slocumb in the mercantile business and Charles
cultivating some land. Both unusually intelligent people.

The minister in the Methodist pulpit now is Rudolph C. Doenges, who
studied at Iowa Wesleyan University and at Garrett Biblical Institute. His
boyhood was spent in Nebraska. There are 180 members, and 100 pupils in
the Sunday school. A ladies' aid and a missionary society. As the church
is too small, it is proposed to enlarge by adding a concrete front at a cost of
$3,000. Before entering the ministry, Mr. Doenges served his country six
years in the army, and was at San Juan hill in the Spanish-American war.
He is a strong, muscular young man, with abundant hope and vigor. He
left the army in 1900. He also preaches at Zion church, eight miles distant,
to a small congregation.

THE INDIAN MOUNDS.

A few miles below Albany, down the river, is the largest collection of
mounds in the county. They have not all been explored. The Davenport
Academy of Sciences have opened some of them, and found skeletons, beads,
copper, iron, and mica. The land on which they are situated belongs to
farmers, and at the solicitation 'of Mr. McCartney of the Review, and others,
it has been enclosed, and all trespassing by strangers forbidden. This his-
torical enclosure is for sale, and should be carefully preserved by the county
or state as relics of aboriginal activity. What treasures may be here for
future antiquarians! Mr. McCartney has a skull in his office taken from a
mound. There are seventy acres in the enclosed land.

ALBANY'S OLDEST MOTHER.

In a neat cottage on the outskirts -of the town, the writer found Mrs.
Hoobler and her venerable mother, Mrs. Stagg, who was born April 15, 1817.
She was thrice married, her last husband dying 22 years ago. She was reared
in Tennessee, and after several changes her father moved to Illinois, and
from White county came to Whiteside in 1835. For a nonagenarian. Mrs.
Stage's vigor is wonderful. Last summer she pieced four quilts, this winter
two. looks after the family mending, and can run the sewing machine three
hours at a time. Eats and sleeps as well as most persons of sixty. No



68 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

tremor in voice, no sign of feebleness in her frame. She is a Methodist, her
father being a Methodist preacher. She sees no reason for the Lord's per-
mitting her to stay here so long.

AN ALBANY SETTLER IN FLORIDA.

In a letter from I. P. Allen, St. Petersburg, Florida, he relates some
very interesting reminiscences of his early years. In the winter of 1837 his
father moved from Ottawa to Lyndon, leaving himself and sister to live with
Deacon Hamilton, while he built the first house in Albany. In a few weeks
he moved us over, and I was the first bo'y in the place. My sister was called
the belle. His father was Erastus Allen, and his brothers, George and Isaac.
C. R. Rood was the surveyor, and afterwards the county surveyor. He settled
in Garden Plain. Mr. Rood taught the first school in Albany, and I want to
him when I was but five years old. There was some discussion in regard to
the name of the town. As there were several Aliens, they preferred Allen-
town, but then, as all came from New York state, Albany was selected. A
man named Corbin had built a cabin, ten by twelve, at the lower end of what
was called the Eddy. Aside from that my father's house was the first real
dwelling. It was eighteen by twenty-two. The first presidential election, 1840,
was held there. Soon after came Ivy Buck, justice for years, and then his
brother, Duty Buck. Also, Cheney Olds with his six boys and three girls.
The most of these people came from New York, Cattaraugus county. Then
came Capt. Barnes and Uncle Sam Slocumb with a lot of boys.

ON MAIN STREET.

The Albany Review, a weekly of six folio columns, is published every
Friday by G. S. McCartney, nephew of the late David McCartney, of Sterling,
so long states attorney of Whiteside. It is non-partisan. It was established
in 1899, and is the seventh journal started in the town. The others rose,
flourished, and fell. Above his desk, Mr. McCartney has an assortment of
curios, skull and ax from the mounds, wooden cutting bar of an early
McCormick Reaper, ancient pistols, lanterns, ox yoke, hames, candle molds,
horns. The circulation of the Review is 1,252 copies, and the home mer-
chants evidently make good use of its columns.

First National Bank has a capital of $25,000, and deposits of $132,828,
August, 1907. S. B. Dimond is president, and C. E. Peck cashier. Among
the directors are James Beach, Louise W. Olds, C. E. Peck, John Woodburn.
Four per cent is allowed on savings accounts, compounded semi-annually.
Banking hours from 8 to 4.

Albany State Bank, established in 1889, incorporated in 1904, has
Charles George for president, and Charles A. Olds, cashier. Four per cent
paid on savings and on six months' certificates. Capital is $25,000. Among
the stockholders are A. J. Beardsworth, W. W. Blean, E. H. Olds. E. L.
Bigelow. One dollar opens an account. Drafts sold on principal cities, and
loans made on real estate.

Here is the brick block erected in 1900 conjointly by the Masons and
Knights of Pythias, each society having rooms on the second floor. There



HISTOEY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 69

are seventy-seven members in the Masonic lodge. It dates from 1867.
Albert W. Lewis is master; AV. H. Smith, senior warden, Frank Phillips,
junior warden. The Knights of Pythias have seventy-four members, and the
chancellor commander is E. A. Huggins. The lower story of the block is
occupied by James Beach with a stock of general merchandise. His residence,
lately erected of concrete, is the first of the kind in the town, and a model of
good taste.

J. W. Dinneen, well known in politics, is the largest dealer in all kinds
of implements for farm and household.

BEICKLAYKR AND STATESMAN.

No man in Albany has had a more strenuous career than Dean S. Efner.
He came from New York, crossed Eock river at Sterling on the ice in Feb-
ruary, 1841, on his way to Albany, his home ever since. He has seen and
done much, and likes to relate his adventures. A mason, like Eobert
Collyer, he built the Happer house in 1848, and the one in which he lives.
He studied law, and went to Springfield for examination, where he met
Lincoln in 1859. He was in the legislature from 1871 to 1874. Born in
1822, and now in his 87th year, has never spent a dollar on the doctor. Mr.
Efner is a man of positive convictions, and is ready to express them.

FIRST PEOPLE AND FIRST THINGS.

Eev. Enoch Bouton, Presbyterian, 1840, was the first minister to settle
in Albany, preaching as occasion offered.

Ivy Buck, who came in 1837, was the first justice, serving eighteen years.
A mason by trade, he built several houses, kept a store, and ran a ferry.
Duty Buck was killed in the tornado.

David Bernheisel was the first doctor, who afterwards removed to Utah,
and was elected delegate from the territory to congress.

In 1838 Uriah Cook erected the first frame building, and the first brick
was erected in 1840 by W. H. Efner. Ivy Buck opened the first grocery in
1837, and Mcllvaine and Happer the first dry goods store in 1840 in a
building near the river.

In December, 1839, the village was surveyed for Nevitt, Buckingham,
Slocumb, and the other proprietors, by C. E. Eood, county surveyor, and the
plot recorded in the Eecorder's office in 1840.

Charles S. Dorsey built the first saw mill in 1837, but after four years it
burned down. In 1853 Walker, Happer & Co. built a steam saw mill on the
river in Upper Albany/and it was destroyed in 1860 by the tornado.

The first ferry between Albany and Camanche was run by David and
Samuel Mitchell, 1840. Horse power was used until 1850, when a steam
ferry boat was put into operation. The tornado of 1860, Albany's destroying
angel, put an end to its usefulness.

In 1854 McAuliffe started the Herald, which soon passed into the hands
of Charles Boynton. He continued the publication until December, 1854,
when he removed to Sterling.

A postoffice was established at Van Bnren, now Upper Albany, in



70 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

winter of 1837-38, and Willis Osborne appointed postmaster. In 1839 the
name of the office was changed to Albany, with Gilbert Buckingham post-
master.

The popular Frink & Walker line of stages opened their route in 1844
from Chicago directly to Albany, having previously conveyed passengers
from Galena by the river. The increased travel led W. S. Barnes to erect the
Eagle hotel.

The first white child born in Albany was Josephine Davis, daughter of
Jonathan' and Phebe Davis, May 18, 1838.

Mrs. Chamberlain says Dr. A. T. Hudson lived for a time in the second
story of her brick cottage, 1848. He was a brother of Dr. A. S. Hudson of
Sterling.

That ragged shack west of the old Eagle hotel, one report says, was built
by a certain Darrow, and that grout house on Main street by Cheney Olds,
who came in 1838.

LIVING HEROES OF THE G. A. K.

The post is small, about sixteen, and scattered in town and country.
Col. Peter Ege, who is a veteran enthusiast, has given the writer from hi.?
records of about seven hundred, living and dead, the names of the old
soldiers residing in the neighborhood: W. D. Yopst, 8th 111. cavalry. Nnthan
Sypes, 75 years -old, Co. B, 13th 111. Four years and three months in
service, pension increased; George A. Hill, Co. A, 34th 111.; W. R. Slocumb,
Co. F , 52nd 111. ; Wm. Mitchell, 75, 75th 111., pension increased to $20 per
month; J. C. Snyder and John Miller, 93rd 111. Infantry; Thomas Turner,
Iowa Regiment; Wm. Tucker, 75 years old, Indiana Regiment; John Wol-
senholm, 86, 111. Infantry; P. Perrigo, Wisconsin Regiment; George D.
Quick, 140th 111. Perry Langford, 93rd 111. ; Sergeant W. S. Barnes, son of
the late W. S., 93rd 111.; James H. Ege, 93rd 111., is now at Minneapolis;
Robert A. Rouse, Co. A , 34th 111., is in Minnesota; J. High Woodin, Robt.
C. Markee, 34th 111., are at Quincy; Col. C. Peter Ege himself, 34th 111., in
the service four years and four months; W. R. Lewis, commander of the
post, still active at 71, was in a Pennsylvania battalion, fighting bushwhack-
ers in Virginia. The writer met also C. L. Brinker, four years in the signal
.service.

ALBANY A PORT OF ENTRY.

A wave of dark Oblivion's sea
Will sweep across the place
Where I have trod the sandy shore
Of Time, and been to be no more.

Hannah F. Gould.

No strangers and few of our Whiteside people, as they tread the sandy
slope along the river, ever dream that this 'quiet spot was once gay with life
and busy with traffic. No memorial to recall the past but a few weather-
beaten tenements that look so sad and forlorn in their desolation. In imagina-
tion one can see La Salle and the French explorers in their frail barks row-
ing up and down the mighty river.



HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY 71

But it is of Albany's palmy days between 1840 and 1860 that we desire
now to speak. It was a prominent point on the Mississippi, and stage lines
brought their passengers from the east to catch steamers up and down the
river. The ferry transported emigrants to Iowa and the territories towards
the opening west. The packets on the river made their regular stops to dis-
charge and receive freight, as well as their quota of travelers. Farmers hauled
their grain and produce to the warehouses on the shore, and returned with
lumber from the saw mills to build their houses and barns. Stores were
opened aiid business was booming.

According to the Albany Herald of 1854, the town had then 1,000 inhab-
itants, with four forwarding and commission houses, six dry goods and
grocery stores, two drug stores, two steam saw mills, one sash factory, and
several other business houses. Dean Efner says in 1841 Albany polled more
votes than any other place in the county and had much political influ-
ence. It was the center of trade from all directions.

To many emigrants for Whiteside from the east, Albany was the nat-
ural port of entry. The people from New England and New York came
either overland or by the lakes to Chicago, and thence by team across the
prairies. But those from Pennsylvania and Ohio embarked on the rivers,
and landed at Albany. There they engaged teams to transport them to the
other parts of the county. So John Wolfersperger and others came in 1851.
Indeed, until the railroad was completed to Sterling in 1855, and then onward
to the Mississippi, Albany was the most convenient port through which to
enter Whiteside. But the tornado of 1860 with its wide-spread ruin, and the
diversion of travel and traffic by railroads, have robbed Albany of much
of its early prestige. The same sky and lovely landscape, but the hum of
busy barter is no longer heard.

ITEMS.

The completion of the Western Union in 1865 gave Albany railroad
communication. It is now the Milwaukee and St. Paul, giving direct con-
nection with the lakes and the north and Rock Island and Kansas City to
the south.

An electric lighting plant is proposed for streets, residences and business.
The scheme contemplates municipal ownership. The cost is estimated at
$7,000.

The little ferry boat that plies in the summer season between Albany and
Clinton is a great convenience for travelers who wish to meet trains on the
Northwestern. Besides 'it is a delightful sail of six miles on the big river.
Two trips every afternoon.

The expenses of the town would make a New York or Chicago alderman
smile. At a meeting of the village trustees in October, 1907, after the treas-
urer's report was read, a resolution was adopted to the effect that on account
of some extraordinary expenditures on streets, the president and clerk were
instructed to borrow not to exceed $100 at legal rate of interest/, and to execute
notes for six months. The village board consists of five trustees and a president.

The population of Albany has varied. In 1854 it was 1.000, in 1877
about 500. and in 1900 placed at 840.



72 HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY

The following list is given of settlers in 1837: C. R. Rood, Erastus
Allen, Isaac C. Allen, R. C. Niblack, S. Searle, C. Lusk, A. Bergen, P. B.
Vannest, G. McMahan, 0. McMahan, J. Davis, S. Mitchell, T. Wilcoxson,
Ivy Buck, Duty Buck, Jeremiah Rice, Wm. Nevitt, G. Buckingham, S. B.
Slocumb, Thomas Finch, John Slocumb, Uriah Cork. In 1838 were Cheney
Olds, Dr. Eernheisel, D. Mitchell, Isaiah Marshall, E. Ewers, G. Reid, R.
Kennedy, D. Bliss, L. Spurlock, A. Nichols, J. Nichols, B. Spurlock, G. Gar-
rett. In 1839 came B. S. Quick, W. S. Barnes, Dr. Clark, James Hewlett,
C. C. Alvord.

For a time Upper Albany was Van Buren and the lower town Albany,
but the folly of two names was soon apparent and the common name adopted.
The towns were platted in 1836.

-DID LINCOLN SURVEY ALBANY? A MYSTERIOUS QUESTION OF HISTORY.

The following article contributed to the Moline Daily Dispatch by J. B.
Oakleaf in 1908, we have not been able to verify:

Very few are aware that Abraham Lincoln's service as surveyor were in
demand in the immediate vicinity of Rock Island county. He surveyed and
platted New Boston in Mercer county in 1834.

Mr. Lincoln's services as surveyor were required in Whiteside county
two years later, for he surveyed and platted the original town of Albany,
which consisted of seven blocks of eight lots each, 62x124 feet, and in addi-
tion one block which was designated as "Public Square." In numbering the
blocks from one to seven Mr. Lincoln omitted to number block 5, so that
one block of the original plat has no number. The surveyor's certificate is
dated June 16, 1836, and the plat was filed for record in the recorder's office
of Whiteside county June 21, 1836.

Mr. Lincoln evidently went up the Mississippi from some point near the
mouth of the Illinois river, and the boat in which he was a passenger must
have made stops at Rock Island, then Stephenson, and while the boat was
unloading its cargo Mr. Lincoln may have taken a little stroll in the village.

In his journey up the Mississippi he passed the mouth of Rock river,
where four years before he had been in camp preparatory to the march up
Rock river, and he, no doubt, was an interested observer of the country from



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 8 of 72)