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 9 of 72)
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which Black Hawk had been driven, and in passing the island and entering
the rapids .he had an opportunity ~of seeing the place where the Rock Island
bridge was first built.

In his argument to the jury in -the United States court at Chicago in
September, 1857, as to the effect of the rapids on navigation in the vicinity
of the bridge, he pictured the rapids as he had seen them a score of years
before. Any one reading his argument before the jury in the famous "bridge
case" will notice that his knowledge was not gained from the testimony of
witnesses alone.

Albany, 111., was the farthest point north in the state in which Abraham
Lincoln's services as surveyor were required. No doubt there are many people
now living in Albany who are not aware that Abraham Lincoln surveyed
the original town.



These are the gardens of the desert, these
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
For which the speech of England has no name,
The prairies Bryant.

After John Howard Bryant and his brothers came from Massachusetts
in 1831, and settled around Princeton, Bureau county, their famous brother,
William Cullen Byrant, paid them a visit. He had much travel over the
prairies, and was struck with the virgin beauty of these vast plains, so dif-
ferent from the narrow wooded valleys of New England. No wonder he
burst into song as a hundred images excited his mind of the flame-like
flowers, the breezes of the south, the prints of the buffalo, the mounds of the
Indian, the birds and the insects reveling in the summer sun, the sly wolf
and the playful gopher, "the graceful deer that bounds to the wood at my
approach." Then he becomes prophetic:

I think I hear

The sound of that advancing multitude
Which soon shall fill these deserts. From the ground
Comes up the laugh of children, the soft voice
Of maidens, and the sweet and solemn hymn
Of Sabbath worshipers.

Bryant died in 1878 in New York, but long before he might have looked
in vain for his poetic prairies amid the fenced farms of Bureau.

No wonder, following Bryant, the early emigrants were enraptured, and
felt as Daniel Boone did when he gazed on the valleys of Kentucky. Abel
Parker, with his lively family of six sons and three daughters from Vermont,
1836, was the happy man to build his cabin first amid these charming sur-
roundings. Others soon followed, the land was rapidly taken up, farms were
opened and the rich soil began to blossom as the rose. Only a small portion
of the township is not open to the plow. On the north are the Mississippi
bluffs, and here and there a strip of sand or slough, but ditching and labor
have brought every available acre to a high state of cultivation.


Garden Plain, proper, or the "Corners," as it used to be designated, has
grown at the intersection of two roads and consists of a group of tasteful
residences, two general stores and the usual shops. It has the advantage of
the Mendota Branch of the Burlington railroad, which was built in 1871.
The school is in charge of Minnie Mouck from Fulton, her second year,
with 32 pupils. The village stands almost in the center of the township.
The first schoolhouse was erected here in 1850, a better edifice for graded
purposes was dedicated in 1869. Like the other emigrants from the east,
they from the first gave earnest attention to the training of their children.

The most conspicuous edifice is the First Presbyterian church. It was


organized in 1863 with James A. Sweet, C. S. Knapp and Alexander Wilson
as trustees. The society really began, as usual, in a schoolhouse at the '
Corners in 1850, and the first communion was observed March 24 of that
year, Rev. J. J. Hill officiating. A succession of pastors. For a time the
pulpit was supplied by ministers in connection with other charges, Albany
and Fulton. The present structure was dedicated in October. 1870, at a
cost of $4,000. South of the church is the parsonage, built at an expense
of $1,750. Both are ornaments and a credit to the community.

Rev. Archibald G. Stewart is now the pastor, coming east from Liver-
more, Iowa. He is a clergyman of thorough preparation, having pursued
his college course at Monmouth, and his theological at McCormick Seminary,
Chicago, 1899. Mrs. Stewart is also a lady of culture, a graduate of Lenox
college. Iowa. There are 100 members in the church, and besides the Sun-
day school, a Christian Endeavor, Junior Endeavor aid society and mission-
ary society. This Garden Plain charge is in connection with that in Newton.
One quarter the services in the morning at Newton, and the next at Garden

In the eastern part of the village is the cemetery, and here lie many
of the first people of the settlement: Senior, Baker, Reams, Stone, Storer,
Kilgour, Snyder. Side by side, Charles Rood, 75, and Sarah, his wife, 88,
who died in 1904, having long survived her husband. On the tomb of
Eliza Ann Short, 1814-1884, "To dear mother." Grounds in good order.
Several soldiers, whose graves are not marked with flag or record of com-
pany and regiment to which they belonged. Some of the bodies buried
here were moved from farms where they were first interred, as there, was
no cemetery. The land belonged to the Abel Parker estate, Edwin told the

A few miles south of the village, on a corner, is a white frame church be-
longing to the Methodists. The society was organized in 1848, and in 1860. the
building was erected at a cost of $2,000, the first church in the township. It
was built on the land of William Minta. First on the Albany and then on the
Fulton circuit. No regular services now, and' the house looks lonely and
deserted. The original members are dead or away, and the people -who
have come since are of other denominations. This is not the only case
in the county, where the church homes of early worshipers are left standing
among strangers who have no attachment.

"Gone, gone, are the old familiar faces."


At the annual meeting of the Garden Plain Mutual Fire Insurance
Company, held in the town hall at Garden Plain in January, 1908. this
report was read:

This company was organized and began business, in June, 1874. with
policies written at that time amounting to $50,000. Since then it has had
a steady growth until the membership has reached 666 with insurance
amounting to $999,995.

During the year just closed the company has written 161 policies


amounting to $246,000. The losses paid during the year were on fire risks,
fifty-one dollars; lightning, $712.41.

When the company was first organized it included for territory the
towns of Garden Plain, Newton and Fenton. Since then the towns of Ful-
ton, Ustick, Albany and Erie have been added. The present secretary, J.
M. Eaton, has held that office continuously since 1875, a period of thirty-
two years.

To show the price of land, we may mention that the C. R. Rood farm
in Garden Plain of 160 acres was sold in 1908 to James Smith of that town
for $125 an acre. Mr. Smith had rented the farm and conducted it for
several years previous to the purchase.


When Adam dolve, and Eve span,

Who was then the gentleman? Hume's History.

. We have several familiar names of men who were well known through-
out the county. James A. Sweet, 1839, who was elected Sheriff in 1844, and
supervisor for years. His wife, Miss Judith Greenborn, Lyndon, formerly
from Vermont, died in 1877. Mr. Sweet was a New Yorker. William
Minta, England, 1839, had thirteen children. Consumption carried off
most of the family. A devout Methodist, and he gave the ground for Zion
church. Three children removed to California.

Another New Yorker was Charles R. Rood, who came to Whiteside
in 1836, but did not make a permanent residence in Garden Plain till 1844,
when he returned with his wife, Miss Sarah Churchill, of Clinton county,
N. Y. Mr. Rood was a surveyor, a master in his profession, and on the
organization of Whiteside in 1839 he was elected county surveyor. Har-
risburg and Chatham, Lyndon, Albany, Fulton, as well as main roads,
farms and blocks, were laid out by his compass. He was first postmaster
at Garden Plain. From Ohio, the state of Grant and McKinley, came David
Mitchell in 1838 to Albany, where he lived until he bought his farm in
Garden Plain. Highly esteemed, and served as county treasurer from 183&
to 1841. He died in 1850.

The writer had an interesting chat with Edwin Parker, who lives on
his farm near the village. He found the gray-haired pioneer doing his even-
ing chores in the barn .yard. He is one of the six sons of Abel Parker, 1836,
David, Jacob, Truman, Francis, Hiram, himself. Three sisters, Clarissa,
Eliza, Mina. He spoke of his older brother, David, who kept travelers when
they wanted lodging and meals, and of his going to California when the
gold fever broke out. Edwin was born in Vermont in 1831, and married
Mary Jane Dewey in Fulton in 1858. In those days wolves were trouble-
some. Although 75, Mr. Parker is spry and able to attend to the lighter
duties about his place.

In the village we called upon the oldest woman of the place, Mrs. Mar-
garet Storer, who makes her home with her daughter, Mrs. Andrew Stowell,
in a comfortable cottage. Her maiden name wa? Curry. She was born near


Pittsburg, Pa., 1818, Dec. 29, and is now in her ninetieth year. She came
west in 1853 by boat on Ohio and Mississippi, landing at Albany in this
county. Mrs. Storer is naturally somewhat feeble, but sits in her chair and
enjoys visitors. She spoke of Mrs. Happer, of Albany, ninety-one, as her
older sister.


Not far south of Garden Plain on the direct road is a creamery, which
has been in operation for 25 years. It is in charge of Samuel Murphy, but-
started by Robert from Ohio. Samuel has been the manager for four years.
Churning is done every day in summer but Monday. The butter product
for September, 1907, was 17,800 pounds, but the amount has reached 26,000.
It is shipped to Chicago, Clinton, and other points, besides furnishing a
large local trade. A high reputation in market. Four men are employed,
and three teams of their own gather the cream. The residence is near the


The road running alorg the Mississippi from Rock Islard to Galena, a
stage route, was the main line of travel before any of the present towns were
laid out. It is now the Fulton and Albany road. A second road ran from
Union Grove to Albany. In 1839 the most ambitious scheme was under-
taken in the construction of a highway across Cat-tail slough with rails and
earth, a sort of corduroy, and over this the Frink & Walker stage company
organized a lightning express from Chicago to Albany, then the exporting
metropolis of the county, a point for the landing of emigrants from the
east or shipping grain on the river. It is now the Albany and Morrison


The postoffice at Garden Plain was established in 1846, and Charles R.
Rood was appointed postmaster. The first mail was carried from Peoria to
Galena, and afterwards from Chicago to Rock Island. This was by stage.
Then came the railroads.

The old ferry from Garden Plain to Clinton across the Mississippi
river was called the Aiken Ferry, and it was used until the railroad bridge
was built.

Father McKean, Methodist minister, living at Elkhorn Grove, who as
a kincl of home missionary, a second Peter Cartwright, traversed the country,
preaching as he could, and in Garden Plain held services in the log school-

Two tornadoes have visited the township. One on the afternoon of
Tuesday, May 11, 1875. coming from the southwest, destroying buildings,
fences, hogs, cattle, poultry and trees but doing no injury to people. The
other was the memorable cyclone of June 3, 1860, which ravaged the south-
ern section of the county.

The citizens have always shown a deep interest in moral questions. At
ah early day was a temperance reform club. Wherever possible Sunday
schools and religious services are held in the school houses. There is a


Woman's Missionary society which holds an annual praise festival in the


Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night;

God said, Let Newton be! and all was light. Pope.

In one respect, Newton differs from all the other townships. Instead
of a village or city, a strong church is the center of influence. All its early
history, its cherished traditions, its present social life, are bound up in New-
ton Presbyterian church, which lies in the heart of a community of farms
and homes which hold many a precious association. Its semi-centennial,
1857-1907, was celebrated in the latter year, and from a pamphlet issued at
the time, we glean many interesting particulars.

As early as 1839 the Millers, Thompsons and Booths were upon the
scene, and at once felt the importance of religious services. Mr. and Mrs.
John S. Thompson took part in the organization of a church at Albany in
1839. After the Methodists appeared, both denominations held services
as they could secure ministers in the log schoolhouse near the James Smack
place. After the old Kingsbury school house was built in 1854, the Presby-
terians met there until the erection of their present edifice. Ministers from
Albany, Fulton, Morrison and other towns in the presbytery sent supplies.
Finally a meeting was called in the Kingsbury schoolhouse, March 11, 1857,
and a permanent organization effected with James Blean and John Thomp-
son as ruling elders. The sermon was preached by Rev. Louis Gano, and
the constitutional questions proposed by Rev. W. E. Mason, of Fulton. Four-
teen persons united- in the organization: Joseph Miller, Robert Blean, John
Thompson, Thomas Wilson, James Blean, Mrs. Nancy Kennedy, Mrs. Em-
mons, Mrs. Joseph Miller, Mrs. John Thompson, Mrs. James Blean, Mrs.
Deborah Booth, Mrs. Sarah Thompson, Mrs. Robert Blean, Mrs. Thomas
Wilson. The same day, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Slaymaker, William Weakley
and Mrs. Ephraim Rexroad united with the church. For eleven years the
people continued to meet in the Kingsbury schoolhouse, but in the spring
of 1868, assisted by the Board of Church Extension, sufficient money was
raised to erect a building.

The church was united with that at Albany as one charge until 1873,
when Rev. Josiah Leonard of Clinton agreed to preach for what salary
they could raise. In 1877 Rev. D. B. Fleming became resident pastor, and
that fall a parsonage was erected on the lot adjoining the church. He was
succeeded by Rev. J. L. Lafferty. For twelve years or until 1885, the church
was self-sustaining. Of late, however, the congregation has not felt able to
maintain a regular minister, and services are now held in connection with
the Garden Plain church, one society to have preaching in the morning for
three months, and then the other. This order was adopted at the installation
of Rev. W. C. Miles in 1891.


To the church are 1 due the existence of several flourishing bodies which


have done so much for the welfare of the community. Fourteen women, at
the suggestion of Mrs. Helen Fleming, the pastor's wife, met Sept, 25, 1877,
and organized the Ladies' Home Missionary society. The first officers were:
Mrs. M. J. Arrell, president; Mrs. Helen V. Fleming, vice president; Miss
Mary Carruthers, secretary; and Miss Alice Arrell, treasurer. Since 1902 it
has been called the Woman's Missionary society. One of the members, Miss
Edith Jenks, went in Oct., 1901, to the Punjab, India, and is laboring faith-
fully as a foreign missionary. Meetings are held monthly and officers are
elected annually. At present the society numbers 23 active and three hon-
orary members. Altogether 83 have been enrolled since the beginning. The
society has made and sold carpets and quilts, given dinners, suppers and
socials. The total amount raised since organization is $1,969, divided equally
between home and foreign missions. Since 1883 a scholarship has been
sustained in Miss Noyes' school, Canton, China. The salary of a missionary
teacher at St. George, Utah, has been assisted. Occasionally addresses have
been delivered, the last by Rev. W. S. Marquis, D. D., of Rock Island.


This was organized Nov. 12, 1887, with a membership of nineteen girls
from two to fourteen years of age. Mrs. L. A. Slaymaker was elected first
president, and re-elected for fifteen years until her removal to Albany in
1902. At present twenty-two on the roll. Meetings are held regularly
every month. . Each girl pledges five cents a month. Various methods for
raising money have been adopted, such as mite barrels, birthday offerings,
earning dollars, autograph quilts, fairs, bazars, mite boxes, sociables. Dur-
ing the first ten years $489 were raised. Since, $512, making a total of
$1,001, all given to the cause of foreign missions. This is a record hard
to surpass for a country society. The secretary regularly attends meetings
of presbytery and brings back reports for encouragement. Since Mrs. Slay-
maker, five of the girls have been presidents.


This was organized Feb. 22, 1891, with twenty-six members. It was
in existence for thirteen years, but was finally discontinued owing to removals
and other causes. In 1894 the society undertook to aid in the support of
Graham Lee, missionary in Corea,- by raising $1.10 per member from 59
members. This obligation was afterwards assumed by the Rock Island
church. In 1895 a series of four lectures were given. Dr. Skinner of Mor-
rison, "The Bible in Literature;" McCluskey of Geneseo, "Formation of
the New Testament;" Dr. Davis of Aledo, "Bible Inspiration;" Dr. Marquis,
of Rock Island, "The Bible and Its Monuments." During its short but
earnest history, the society gathered $403 for missions and other charities.


These Mission Soldiers, as they are sometimes called, were organized
in 1888 with seven boys: Albert, Jesse, George and Louis Slaymaker, Alvin
Van Fleet, Edward Hawk and Robert Blean. During the twelve years fif-


teen boys were enrolled and $85 collected for missions. As the boys grew
to manhood, they entered into other Christian work.


This met in the old log schoolhouse at Newton Center until 1859, when
quarterly meetings were held at different places. Since 1859 by donations
and subscriptions, a total of $2,100 has been collected. It is undenomina-
tional, the offerings being from all good people interested in the cause.


A long roll of devoted clergymen. Rev. Louis Gano, 1857 to 1859.
Dr. Lackey closed his service in 1862. Rev. Jacob Coon was seven years
from 1863. Rev. John Giffin, 1871-1872. During much of the time the
Newton and Albany charges were served by the same minister. Rev. Josiah
Leonard began his ministry in 1873, and remained over three years. Rev.
David Fleming came to the Newton church in 1877, spending six and a half
years of faithful labor. From 1883 to 1885 Rev. James Lafferty occupied
the pulpit. Rev. Edward H. Sayre, after seven years in India, began his
ministry in 1885, for two years being the first pastor who served the Newton
and Garden Plain churches as one field of labor. Rev. John L. Henning
preached two years from 1887. C. S. Bain for one year, when his mind
became affected. Rev. Will C. Miles remained two years from 1891. Rev.
William H. Hyatt came to Newton and Garden Plain in 1893, remaining
over two years. Rev. Andrew McMacken next for two years from 1896.
Rev. Charles P. Andrews, 1899, served the two churches for three years.
Rev. Lewis C. Voss came in 1902 and recently resigned for another field.


On Sunday, Jan. 24, 1869, the present edifice, 36 by 52 feet, was dedi-
cated. Rev. Josiah Leonard of Fulton, and Rev. Jacob Coon of Albany
conducted the exercises. The building cost about $2,000 and will seat 250
persons. In 1877 subscriptions to the amount of $1,300 were made and
the parsonage was erected on a lot bought from Joseph Marshall for $200.
Also from him was purchased the cemetery lot in 1858 for $50, and here
repose many of the early citizens. At the semi-centennial in 1907, Rev.
Lewis C. Voss preached the sermon from I Corinthians : "For other founda-
tion can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." The records
show that 281 persons have been members of the church. The number of
deaths is fifty-six. The present membership is eighty-six. It was highest
in 1899 with 136 members, but numerous removals and deaths have mate-
rially reduced the roll.


Up, then, with speed and work;

Fling ease and self away
This is no time for thee to sleep

Up, watch, and work, and pray? Horatius Bonar.


Among the first comers no name is more deserving than that of Miller.
Three brothers, Joseph, John and Samuel, who made their first trip to
Whiteside, like the Wallaces of Sterling, on horseback. This was in 1838.
In 1840 they settled in Newton. Joseph and Samuel had several children.
John was single. At an old house along the main township road the writer
met Jack Miller, son of Samuel, who emigrated from Cumberland county,
Pa. He proved to be a veteran, having enlisted in the 93rd Illinois Infantry,
Col. Putnam, and saw three years of service. He is sixty-seven, and lives
on the original claim. Part of the house is ancient, half of it having been
moved from another on the hill. Mr. Miller is still active. His uncle,
Joseph, was one of the charter members of the Presbyterian church.

Alexander Thompson, 1839, was another Cumberland county man.
Luke Abbey, 1837, and John Beardsworth, were from England. Wm.
Booth, 1839, was from Virginia, and also Henry Rexroad. Stephen B. Slo-
cumb, a genuine Sucker, was born in White county, on the Wabash river,
1813, and settled in Newton in 1841. Most of these pioneers reared large
families. The broad prairies were lying waste and they believed they should
be peopled.


Kings have no such couch as thine,
As the green that folds thy grave.

Not far from the church is the cemetery. The soft, shady lawn, in
perfect order, speaks volumes for the refined and earnest people whose kin-
dred are here. As you ramble over the sacred grounds, familiar names of
the early settlers are inscribed on the marble and granite: Millers, Booths,
Robert and Mary Blean, John Blean, 1796-1867, Elizabeth Kilgour, 1794-
1874, Slaymakers, Alexander Thompson, 1840, aged eighty-three, and his
wife, 1783-1859, Sarah F. Hawk, 1877, aged seventy-eight. The Beards-
worth family have a massive monument. John, 1810-1895, Mary, 1815-
1870. Alfred B. was a soldier, 1837-1863. No family name has a worthier
record than that of Blean, worthy in church and state. The Bleans were
Christians and patriots. Here is James H. Blean, second lieut. Co. B, 75th
111. Infantry, Perryville, Oct. 8, 1862. D. K. Blean, Co. G, 156th 111. Infan-
try. Major Joseph A. Ege, 1805-1861.

What a pretty prospect as one- gazes over the wide expanse of alluvial
lowland, dotted with cottages, to the bluffs on the horizon. In one lot are
the town hall and Kingsbury school, 1898, both white, making a pretty
contrast with the foliage of the grove. Miss Flora M. Parker presided in
the youthful realm with 21 pupils.


As you drive east from Newton church to Fenton Center, lying on a
hill, north of the road, is one of the most inspiring spots in the county.
St. Paul's, London, has Wellington, Nelson, and her heroes under the pave-
ment, but here the patriot graves lie open to sun and shower. A goodly
company of soldier boys. They were lovely and pleasant in their lives,


and in their deaths they are not divided. Elisha Ege, 75th 111., 1864; Wil-
liam S. Abbey, Co. A, 34th 111., died in camp, 1861 ; Ellis Passmore, shot
on his way to regiment, 1865; Robert M. Hawk, Co. G, 15'6th 111. Vol.,
1865, with Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty;" Ira A. Payne, killed at Mis-
sion Ridge, Tenn., Nov. 25, 1863; William Rainier, Co. F, 16th Iowa
Infantry, 1873; Harrison R. Myers, Co. C, 8th 111. Cavalry; Harry Hawk,
Co. F, 93rd 111. Vol., wounded at Mission Ridge, Nov. 25, 1863, died Dec.
5, 1863. Then there are many of the fathers and mothers who bore the
burden and heat of the day at home while the noble sons were battling at
the front. Luke Abbey, Yorkshire, England, 1869, at eighty-two; Van

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 9 of 72)