Lanark Calendar 1980


Calendar And History 1980
Happy 150th Anniversary Tom Crain
Lanark Museum, Lanark Illinois

Text & Drawings by Caralee Aschenbrenner
Transcribed by Alice Horner with permission


(Transcriber’s notes: Caralee Aschenbrenner used both the Crain and Crane spellings in her original text. The 1880 History of Stephenson County Illinois spells it Craine. I have left the original spellings. Also, the author had a lot of text to put on an 8-page calendar, so many of the original paragraphs are huge. I have divided some of the original paragraphs to make them more readable.)


Greetings for the year 1980 from the Lanark Museum. We have spent months, hundreds of hours and dozens of phone calls looking for Thomas Crane (or Crain). Many friends, near and far, have become involved. The search for Tom Crane continues. For those of you who don’t already know, Crane made the second settlement in Carroll County in 1830, two years after Savanna. 1980 will be the 150th anniversary of his contribution to our history and we felt it important to point out this fact.

Although we have learned a great deal about him that has not been heretofore known, we have yet to learn of his ultimate demise, where he was from the year 1841 until his death, where it occurred, etc. We have learned for instance that he was married twice and had step-children; the last date we have for him is 1853, if it is the same Tom Crain (or Crane) and he traveled once in company with another man and a “one-eyed” woman. Now that alone should be enough to pique your interest.

Thomas Crane made history by building a fort on the north slope of the Cherry Grove ridge near a big spring. The location of the fort is pretty well determined. For those of you who would still like to argue, please come and we’ll show you what documentation we are collecting. Rumors, legends, old wives (or husbands) tales will be heard only if they will be useful in providing the location.

Because so much has been gathered so far we could not do it justice by including it in the calendar. The calendar has become too lengthy as it is. We plan to remedy that next year, by stressing more pictures, leaving the written portion to another project. This project, which for lack of a better name will be called “loose-leaf” history. Various topics; biographies, businesses, buildings, other subjects of interest will be written up in essay form and will be available for you history buffs. This will be printed in limited numbers, however. More about that further on.

We hope to have some sort of observance concerning Tom Crane’s fort building in the spring around the time when he was said to have made his squatters claim. A 150th anniversary should not go unnoticed. Would you care to join in? Please let us know.

One factor is proving a deterrent in the search for Tom Crane. A Baileyville resident wrote a book about Crane’s locating there. This book is used widely as a reference work for Crane’s life. Unfortunately, the book has many glaring inaccuracies and discrepancies. As far as is known, it is undocumented history. We do not have any notion to discredit the author but to point out by fact and clear evidence that Crane made his first location in Carroll County in 1830 as the history books all agree upon and not in Stephenson County in 1835 as is noted in the Baileyville book. Deed book entries, old journals, cross references with various county history books, genealogies, etc. figure prominently in the work. It has become quite a puzzle to piece together.

This year has been quite fruitful for the Museum. We are open on a regular basis, on Saturday mornings for visiting and coffee. Many hundreds have visited from several states and abroad. Programs have been initiated with accompanying desserts. More are on the agenda. A Quilt Show in the fall was attended by about 200.

Few cosmetic changes took place with the Museum this year. We had to recoup. This year Conrad will, hopefully, clean out the basement so that we can begin thinking about the displays to be added there. This will take time and nagging. We lack a place to store the junque. Will it never end? Display of the pictures will take more time and money than we have at present. They deserve a decent job. We will keep you posted on all developments.

Initiated this year is the “Prairie Advocate Book of Receipts and Home Interests” featuring anecdotes and recipes about people, past and present, in the area. It is a greeting card in an envelope. We are also adding some new note paper called, for the first series, “Additions and Corrections.” We use these means to help defray the expenses of operating the Museum along with the Museum Gift Shop (in lieu of admission). Thanks to all who have made this a successful and interesting year. Your interest, contributions, volunteering and ideas have made the project very worthwhile. Sometimes you feel as though you have a tiger by the tail. You can’t let go. One of these years we’ll get organized. Ha! Then it won’t be so time consuming and we can go off the peanut butter diet.

Crain's cabin may have looked something like this

The key words in deciding the location of Crane’s Fort built in Cherry Grove in 1830 on a north slope near a big spring, as the county histories agree: “Crain sold to Mr. Hitt of Ogle County.” “Francis Garner’s claim adjoined Crane’s claim.” “Laird’s farm, now the Emanuel Stover farm, was the location of a stockaded fort built in the old-time way near a big spring.” These statements were the basis in determining and attempting to prove where Thomas Crane (or Crain) located and when.

Thomas Crain of Kaskaskia, Illinois, where his family had settled shortly after 1800, came to the wilds of northern Illinois in the spring of 1830. Soon thereafter presumably, he began construction of a cabin and protective stockade. He made a squatter’s claim as was common because the land had not been surveyed and would not be for over 10 years. This was the usual manner in which claims were made and were mostly honored when the government finally came in to establish boundary lines.

An aunt and uncle of Crain’s had come to Galena in April 1830 aboard the steamboat “Red Rover.” Did the two parties travel together? Or were the relatives here to inspect the area to which their nephew had migrated, lead rich, land rich, northern Illinois?

However Crain came, he probably traveled with companions. One journal notes his passing through Dixon in the company of a man and a one-eyed woman, at this time the date is unknown. Who they were leaves much to the imagination.

When the area government census was taken in 1830 (this was Jo Davies County) there were 3 males and 3 females in the household. Crain, in order to build an adequate shelter, would have progressed better with help. The males, all over 15 and under 40, would certainly have been enough muscle to accomplish the job.

The cabin is said to have been 2 rooms divided by a central chimney with a fire place on either side, a door opening into the side where a “hall” led around the chimney. What made the cabin unique is that it was surrounded by a palisade of pointed logs perhaps 8-9 feet tall with pointed ends leaning slightly outward at the top. The 1878 county history states that an abatis protected the cabin and the small garden inside it. The definition of an abatis is “a row of obstructions made up of closely spaced, felled trees with branches trimmed to points and interlaced.” It doesn’t sound too sophisticated but it certainly sounds adequate as protection. Crane would have been well acquainted with methods and the necessity for fort building from his youthful days in the American Bottoms around the Kaskaskia area. Before and during the War of 1812, several forts were built there in the immediate vicinity and were used frequently in times of Indian threat.

Placing the cabin on a north slope does not seem in keeping with accepted tradition. We would assume that it would be built facing south. In questioning a number of people to determine their opinion of what is a “north”

slope, all or nearly all decided that north slope faced north rather than being on the north slope. It was, however, near a big spring. Since there was a big spring on the south side of Crane’s Run or the north slope it would seem logical to assume that the cabin would be close to it rather than cross the large marshy area made by the spring. There are no absolutes when dealing with humans so if Crane wanted to build on the north slope and not have the warming sun on the face of the house (or maybe he did) he could do as he pleased.

The Cranes are mentioned as having a “decided character.” During inclement weather or threats from the Indian population, having the spring nearby was a comfortable thought. Springs were commonly found bubbling out of the ground. This spring, however, was always noted as being a BIG spring. Examination of the records finds that a spring measured off to an acre in size was sold off separately by Emanuel Stover who lived where Ray and Dorothy Lower live in Section 25, Freedom Township. This spring was parceled off separately as a valuable piece of property at other times also. Through the years the spring has of course decreased in size and today although the area has been tiled, water still pours out into the waterway known once as Crane’s Run.

Levi Warner, who became the first Carroll County surveyor, was commissioned to locate a state road from Peoria to newly rich Galena in the spring of 1833. His precise readings lead from Chambers Grove (Brookville) across Middle Creek, Straddle Creek northwestward to Crane’s, thence to Plum River and Galena beyond.
See map below. (Freedom Township)

Samuel Hitt, pioneer promoter of Ogle County, was eager to encourage migration to the territory and increase its political influence. A good business sense prompted him, doubtless, to buy out Crain’s squatter’s claim in 1835 (the most frequent date given and logical because at this time Crain moved to the north). This place of Crain’s had become a popular stopping place because it was on the main road to everywhere, to and from Galena. The mail for the entire eastern part of the county was delivered here and because of the lead rush, business was booming. In the meantime, Tom Crain, in the hope of even better business opportunity, moved to Stephenson County to Silver Creek Township, named another Crane’s Grove to confuse historians and everybody in general for the next hundred plus years. He remained here only about 6 years. His hopes were dashed when a state road from Chicago to Galena was surveyed a few miles north of his place and today is Rt. 20.

Like a good businessman, Samuel Hitt found a good manager in George Harris, who came in to look after Hitt’s “western” interests at the Grove, now being called Cherry Grove, to avoid confusion. The stage coach inn was proving so popular that new accommodations were needed for the traveling public and the Cherry Grove house was built higher on the ridge nearer the newer trail and the road leading to Freeport and Savanna. This was in 1840-41. Harris remained here only a short while until David Emmert, one of Mt. Carroll’s founders, took over the management. Harris began his own place further north on Plum River.

The land in Carroll and Ogle was finally surveyed completely by 1843 making it open for sale. The numerous squatters here could then make legal claim to their land. But the amount of cash on hand was small. Samuel Hitt, who knew many influential people, went as a special envoy to Washington, D.C. and the President urging them to delay the sale until the settlers could summon greater resources. In the spring of 1844, at the land auction the squatters at last had the opportunity to become legal owners of their property. Samuel Hitt applied for a patent on the quarter sections which he had gotten from Crane. Squatters claims were mostly honored throughout Illinois although the Vigilantes were present to bring into line anyone who attempted to stray. An interesting chapter involving a Crain connection who was claim jumping in Freedom Township waits to be told.

Various managers kept the Cherry Grove House after Emmert’s departure. Prior to 1878, then the old stagecoach house, its useful days now over as the roads to health and wealth trailed off in other directions, was torn down and removed to the growing village of Lanark to the south which was in need of some instant housing. The Taber House on East Carroll put it to use as part of its livery.

Emanual Stover of the influential Stover clan in Cherry Grove, seeing the opportunity in the advent of the railroad, moved to town probably in the late 1860s and at this time the spring was sold off separately, the acre for it and a half acre for a burying ground (Wolf’s Cemetery, Section 25, Freedom Township).

To the immediate east adjoining the Crane/Hitt claim was that of Francis Garner with 7 or 8 quarter sections to which he had put claim. Brothers-in-law, Garner and Crane became neighbors in 1834 when Garner brought his family up from Kaskaskia following a visit with Crane at the close of the Blackhawk War.

During the 1850s, probably Garner, too, became an innkeeper at his house in Cherry Grove Township. The traffic was not nearly as heavy as in the early days. He had seen the possibility which lay in this beautiful land 20 years previously. He had remained on his original claim to multiply his holdings in the surrounding sections by which his large family benefited.

Tom Crane, however, for all indications was not as settled. His numerous moves had cost him in the advantage of acquiring any suitable amount of land. His various sales seemed to serve to the advantage of the buyer. He sold too early or too late. Was he a man looking for just the right pot of gold, too impatient to accumulate with time, did he prefer to be one step ahead of “civilization,” a type who wished the solitude of the woods and prairies? Tom Crane seems to have accumulated little other than the notoriety of being the first settlement in the county, away from the mighty river, on the edge of the prairie at the timber line. Tom Crane could look down the peaceful valley with its trail “opposite and 50 links east of Crane’s house” winding towards Galena, the prairie rolling off treeless at his back. He would have little realized that he would stimulate so much interest 150 years later by the fact of building his cabin on that north slope between the Cherry Grove/Freedom Township line road and the burying ground

Much more will be added in documenting Crane’s settlement in the future. Dates, maps, journals plus the usual newspaper accounts will be used. Tune in then.

Bouquets this year should go to Jim Myers who put back the cornice of the Hess building after he had removed the entire second floor. Thanks Jim. The town appreciated it.

Bouquets to Tom Rogers at Rogers Chevrolet for beautifying the area between his place and the medical clinic with grass and plantings. You didn’t have to do it but we’re glad you did. A little spot of green.

Bouquets to June and Kenny Kniss for standing in the way of big business and saving the magnificent cottonwood tree along the road south of their place. It sure looks like one big tree if you look closely. How many years old? How much wildlife has it sheltered? What good is it? It’s a king of trees. Thanks for standing up when so many others are cutting down.

Thanks to all of the land owners who so patiently let us tramp about in the search for Crain’s Fort. Duane and Doris Kruse, Ray and Dorothy Lower. To all who came forward with suggestions, too. Thanks. We’ll probably be back.

Dependably solid and square after more than a century is the Georgian style home of Mrs. Ernest Miller, 127 East Locust St. Its design is typical of the many homes built in Lanark in the 1870s. Once it was determined the town was here to stay, more permanent homes were built to replace the shanties and cottages of the ‘60s.

Consider the numbers of houses of this era, look around as you pass along the streets and notice the familiar hip-roof, often trimmed with a balustrade or ironwork, the generous numbers of windows and the ever present well built on the side or back for the kitchen or summer kitchen. Porches such as the one here have often been removed. Happily, this porch has been preserved to give the friendly old home a proper welcome and balance. A turn-of-the-century snapshot shows that the curved design of the porch has not been changed. In fact, the house next door to the west had one very similar but that one was removed when the house was changed after 1910.

Alma Miller graciously explains the numbers of rooms and we are pleased to see that old-fashioned molded woodwork and evidences of wainscot remain. The open staircase in the central hall is another clue to its age. The hallway has introduced callers to the home since 1875 when it was built by Orpha Howlett, widow of John R. Howlett, editor of the first newspaper in Lanark.

Building of the house was begun by contractors Snyder and Raymer that year of ‘75 in August within a month of the death of John Howlett. A strict ritual of mourning was observed in Victorian times so it seems strange that Mrs. Howlett would undertake the construction of a home so soon after the death of her husband. Perhaps by this time the widow had endured so much controversy and emotional upset that this project could hardly have been anything but therapeutic to sustain her after the sorrows and pain of the preceding years.

Howlett, who had been a pioneer in journalism in Ogle County, came to Lanark in 1864 following service in the Civil War. For three years, he edited the “Lanark Banner” until he sold out to J. E. Millard in 1867 and began publication of a newspaper in Shannon. Much speculation is given as to the reason why Howlett abandoned the Lanark project but still kept up frequent threats to publish again in Lanark. The aggravated Millard had to resort to an injunction to protect his journalistic territory. Details of their actions are to be told elsewhere.

Problems, crises, even disaster, plagued the restless Howlett. One trouble was solved only to be followed by another. After 1871, his Lanark paper was a success. His temper and sharp-tongue seem to have kept him in hot water. He would lash out at friends and enemies alike but his anger was sort-lived and he would soon be

recognizing their activities again through the columns of the paper. Even though a person’s ideas were different, he was fair-minded and gave them credit if he felt it was due. He was always partisan to Lanark and worked tirelessly for its progress. Perhaps that was in part responsible for his early demise. That, and his naturally restless personality.

Howlett’s years here were those when Lanark was just growing. He asked in his first editorial in 1864 to grow with the town. The lingering, insidious illness with which he was often bedridden finally took its toll and John Howlett died on July 19, 1875, 51 years old.

Even in death, controversy surrounded him. A local minister wrote bitterly of the hypocritical way he felt the funeral for Howlett was conducted. The funeral had been the largest the village had seen to that time. As long as two years after his death one of his most vocal enemies, for no reason connected with the proceedings, began to rail against him during a trial being held when this leading citizen had been brought to court for gambling. Stormy in life and in death was John Howlett.

Orpha Howlett was surprised at a birthday party at this home in January of 1877. Her friends had not forsaken her and seemed to use this opportunity to pledge their friendship, making it a point that all would know of their fidelity. Within a few months, however, she and her family had sold the house to her next door neighbors of long standing, D. W. Dame, who moved into the house in April of 1877. Through the Dame connection it came into the Bray family, relatives of the Dames, who lived here for many, many years.

John Howlett’s small, insignificant gravestone in the Lanark Cemetery gives no hint to the substantial role he played in the promotion of the town. He seems to deserve more than the tiny stone which lies near the hedge in the south part of the cemetery. He probably was responsible for much of the early success in the growth Lanark enjoyed due to his enthusiasm and push. He was also probably responsible for choosing the epitaph which tells eloquently of what he considered his most important contribution to his country, Civil War Veteran.

There was so much that could be written about John Howlett that we decided not to try and include it all here because most of the other pages have become too lengthy as it is. It would be an injustice to the subject to try and shorten or rewrite this biography so we will attempt a new project for the Museum. In the future instead of putting so much information on the calendar we will initiate a series of short booklets which for lack of a better name will be called “loose-leaf” history. Instead of attempting to write a book for which we do not have the time, talent or resources we will from time to time present articles in printed form that can be arranged in a notebook to be added to as items of interest appear. These could include such things as biographies, businesses, buildings, places of interest and occurrences which we think you might be interested. Your ideas will also be most welcome. The abbreviated manner by which we have so far presented the calendar information leaves out much of interest. Also more pertinent information is found at a later date, even conflicting evidence is found which it would be important to tell about so by writing short sketches we correct that problem more easily than by writing an entire booklet. These will, however, be printed in very limited numbers which will make the price a bit higher and of course, besides telling our history we like to make a small amount for perpetuation of the Museum. We hope not to be faulted for that. Give us your opinions of “loose-leaf” history. The biography of John Howlett is progressing rapidly while that of Tom Crane limps along but we hope to have him available by spring in order to celebrate his 150th anniversary of fort building.

Chester Olmstead and H. D. Howe stood talking beside their heavy wagons. Chester pulled a brown bandana from his pocket and wiped his neck. The ride up from near Milledgeville had been long and dusty; to top it off, he and Fletcher Hutton had had to drive clear out to Georgetown for scales to weigh the loads of wheat being brought in. The delay had cost him sharing some of the excitement of the day in the new village but then Hutton had paid him 68¢ a bushel for the wheat. Chet and Henry agreed that this new market sure beat hauling the grain to Chicago.

Just then a shout went up at the corner. Another speech, he supposed, but then it was a day to celebrate. This was the day the railroad had come to Lanark. The engine, “D. W. Dame” stood chugging and puffing at the end of the tracks. The boys had put up a liberty pole when they’d begun work in the summer and now the flag at the top could be seen for miles across the prairie. Every now and then the engineer would ring the bell on the train and another burst of shouting and speechmaking went up among the railroad crews and new arrivals gathered around the pole. Laughingly, they were teasing Tim O’Keef because he’d said that he was the start of the railroad since it was his pick which had struck first to begin the track.

Chester looked up at the autumn sun and saw that it was getting late. He climbed up on the wagon seat, picked up the reins and said goodbye to Howe. The two had argued a bit about whose was the first load of grain hauled into town. Chester supposed that a hundred years from then no one would know or care that he’d been first but it was a nice memory for him to keep along with all the others he’d enjoyed since coming from New York nearly 10 years ago.

He turned the wagon south onto the broad, sloping street. Chester saluted his old neighbor, Chauncy Grant, who was all set up as a merchant in the middle of the main business block. As the empty wagon bumped over Nycum’s former wheat field Chester smiled to himself, thinking of the modest stock Chauncy and his son, Willie, displayed. They’d set up shop with $150 worth of merchandise and were paying $150 for the lot. Chet had, himself, once gone into merchandising but he’d had $500 worth of goods. How he had scrimped and saved for that. He’d walked to Rockford and Chicago as common practice. Now he could afford a fine team.

At the top of the big hill south of the settlement he stopped the horses and looked back at the scattering of buildings. Fletcher Hutton had said that a grain storage of some kind would soon be built. Chester tried to visualize what a grain bin would look like built there on the treeless prairie. Times were changing fast these days. The war would make everything different. The boys in blue would need more and more bread. The wheat he’d just sold would help. He sighed, flicked the reins over the horses rumps and the wagon rumbled homeward across the prairie.

The above story was fiction, pieced together from numerous anecdotes and reminiscences in journals and newspapers. The main events are fact. The engine “D. W. Dame” was actually the name of the first train into Lanark but whether it was for the arrival in 1861 from Milwaukee or the later Chicago line is questionable. (I could not find where I had read that bit of information. Caralee) Notes were put together to make a story around the importance of the grain elevators in Lanark’s earliest days. It’s difficult to imagine what Lanark looked like when it was new and beginning but the village on October 1, 1861 boasted a spacious hotel, still standing, plus several frame buildings some of which had been moved here from Brookville and from George Puterbaugh’s unfulfilled town to the north. Possibly some even came from Cherry Grove west of here. Fletcher Hutton was a grain dealer. He probably died in the mid-1860s. He had by then whet the appetite of the local farmers for a convenient grain market and they were eager to use Lanark as a central shipping point. Many stories have been related about early settlers having to go as far as Chicago to sell their produce because no nearby market could give them cash. Hard, cold currency was seldom used. It was difficult to do business other than by trade or barter. The burgeoning lakeside Chicago was the logical place to find cash for your products. You could also return with furniture, lumber or supplies of all kinds to make your trip profitable.

There are two deed book entries for Fletcher Hutton owning railside lots west of Broad Street on Carroll; one in the first block and one in the second block. In the first block within memory of some there was an elevator and it would have been next to where George Crofton’s Feed Mill was located beside the present day fire department building. The two buildings may have formed the nucleus for that early day grain business. Fire destroyed what was described as an “old and unoccupied” elevator in August of 1908. It had been owned by the late David Wolf. The elevator was unused but the feed mill had been in use and continued so for many years. However, a warehouse, elevator, what have you, was also in the second block where the Carroll Service lumberyard and office is today on the north side of West Carroll St. The deed records show a tripling in price of the lots from the time of Hutton’s ownership until George Bingaman bought it in 1868-1869. Butch Gaul relates that part of the present building has a small, low room which you enter by descending steps. It is more or less dug out of the hillside, a semi-basement. Evidences of a turned or metal auger mechanism came down through the ceiling as if it had once been part of a grain auger. An 1893 plat book of Lanark also plainly lists a structure of note on this location about on the northwest corner of Boyd and Carroll. Perhaps we can assume then that the first elevator to serve was the one destroyed by fire in 1908, it being close by the depot and the second block location was built shortly after as more permanent buildings were put up, probably before the 1868 ownership of George Bingaman.

Brookville sent over many of its residents who became Lanark’s first settlers. The Bingamans were just one such a family to migrate when Lanark became a reality.

An account of leading merchants in the 1870s noted George Bingaman as having inaugurated a grain trade with livestock in 1868. He was not the largest able dealer which should commend him to the public.” Andy Tomlinson, well-known fixture about town, sub-let a room from George in 1870 and advertised the sale of a new fuel - COKE-COKE-COKE. That year, 1868, also saw the construction of the “NEW” elevator on East Carroll St., the one which still commands the landscape today.

August 11, 1868 the Mt. Carroll newspaper reported that “enterprising Lanark was doing considerable in the way of improvements” among which was named the building of a large new elevator. John L. Sprogle was the man behind the finances. He, like the Dames, Wolfs, Stovers, and VanVechtens, was called a capitalist and could well handle the vast outlay of cash to build a town from the foundation up. At the same time that Sprogle was building the elevator he was also putting up an impressive new house on Locust St. where Jesse and Mary Shidler live today at 326 East Locust. More time and effort are necessary to do justice to a history of that beautiful home at a later date. Mr. Sprogle’s considerable outlay of cash might have taxed him somewhat financially, however for just 2 years later both properties were sold for the fabulous sum of $18,000. The “STEAM ELEVATOR PROPERTY,” as it was known, showing its modern, up-to-date efficiency, now became the “Edwards and Horning Elevator” which continued for about three years.

Mr. Edwards enjoyed the commodious dwelling on East Locust next to Ike Hamilton’s frame house (1977 Calendar) while Horning kept busy inventing things like the Automatic Stock Gate for which he won a prize at the State Fair.

In 1873 grain dealers were selling property right and left. Bingaman had sold out to Henry B. Puterbaugh, old-time Cherry Grove farmer and stockman. Edwards and Horning sold out to a Mr. VanMeeter of Kankakee who probably did not live in Lanark at all. Perhaps the vast amounts of shipping being done gave the investors a quick return on their money. Briefly in 1875 the partnership of “Bailey and Strevell” were mentioned at the “Big” east side elevator. This was presumably Ransom Bailey and Edwin Strevell of Stephenson County and other parts east. They left in 1875. Maybe they were busy developing Ransom’s new village, Baileyville. H. B. Puterbaugh bought out this elevator now also (1875) with George Bingaman renting it from him, making a move over from the west side, and with J. R. Bingaman evolving as the manager, it was reported.

Now with a pair of elevators, Mr. Puterbuagh gained the reputation as the premier shipper of grain and livestock. Also working nearby at the Western Union Railroad stockyards was Charlie Dame in cahoots with C. W. Stone.

The grain and livestock trade occupied the most important position in Illinois towns at that time. It was for the reason of shipping, a marketplace situation, that Lanark and other small towns were created. Not only did an elevator’s physical size make it the dominant structure, they were prominent for the fact that they were centers of commerce.

Mr. Puterbaugh entered vigorously into shipping. By January of 1877 it was reported that in the previous year of shipping was included 4,800,000 lbs. of hogs or 18,885 head had been sent to market in 340 freight cars. Hogs were considered better when bigger back then. Lanark was no slouch in grain trade either: 10,538,840 lbs. of all kinds of things going from the Carroll County breadbasket. At that time it cost 2¢ a ton a mile to ship on the railroad. Did that cut into the profits considerably?

The two elevators kept up a brisk trade in a variety of items. Milo Trescott had been advertising bricks for sale at Puterbaugh’s elevator, “the broken ones thrown out, if you wish.” In 1876 Trescott leased the east elevator and bricks were forgotten in the main concern of selling agricultural implements; the machine age was dawning. He had been an 1861 settler, primarily known for his partnership in the lumber business with Edgar Dingee. The name Trescott and Dingee meant lumber in those early days of building in Lanark. When 1877 rolled around he was selling implements, shipping grain and being elected as Lanark’s second mayor, the first to serve a full term.

By now the Steam Elevator Property was known as the “old” elevator, Puterbaugh having extensively added on and remodeled the west side structure to make it a modern, up-to-date business. A neighboring businessman had given Henry a few bad moments in June of 1875 and reason to believe the elevator was not long for this world. Gottfried Guenther, south across the street, while trying to rid his poultry nests of chicken lice, set fire to his coopers establishment. His barrel making digs got up quite a blaze before the newly formed fire department came on the scene to put out the fire, hopefully drowning as many lice by water as were consumed by fire, the usual method of extermination.

Mr. Puterbaugh, ever on the move and keeping up with the times and thinking maybe of the upcoming Centennial, in late 1875 began building a large barn holding 100 tons of hay, 100 head of cattle, 100 head of hogs on his farm in Cherry Grove Township in Section 29. This farm is still in the Puterbaugh family, its owner, Mr. Puterbaugh’s great-grandson, Kenneth Truman, relating that a large plain barn with a pair of cupolas ran at right angles to the one standing there today, a detail of which is pictured above right. He believes that was the first barn Mr. Puterbaugh might have built. It had a hog shed on its north end with a pump enclosed INSIDE the building, certainly a wonderful convenience.

Thanks to the Trumans, we have pictures of those barns which can been seen at the Museum. The barn still standing on the farm where Jim Miller farms today is worth seeing even if it would not be the one mentioned. It has a T-shape construction and some interesting saw tooth detailing around the windows, an indication that it is old. An old house sketched on the previous page was probably the original Puterbaugh shelter and keeps its position by habit. It reminds us of the days when homes were much smaller but dreams were big. When that original barn was constructed in 1876 it cost $600.

Time passed with changes in ownerships, the businesses being absorbed through exchange and consolidation until in recent times the Lanark Farmers Co-op is in recent memory as the owner. The west elevator and subsequent coal yard were changed, removed, and changed many times with little note being given. The east elevator, the 1868 Steam Elevator Property, still stands, however.

Rising some 170 feet above the ground, the elevator stands like a sentinel tower marking the place on the prairie where occurred so many exchanges in the commercial wars. The elevator shell surrounds about 6 deep bins which are made up of 2' x 6" laid flat, one on top of another. The wood, aged for over 100 years, must now be iron hard. Its had to withstand the pressure of tons and tons of grain over these many years. Think of the amount of lumber which went into the construction of it.

The names important and familiar then have nearly all passed on. The flurry and excitement surrounding the giant skyscraper have gone too. Lanark’s original purpose as a railroad marketplace has changed also. At the foot of the still impressive elevator lies only a bit of debris to mark the location of the former railroad depot. Its forlorn state a sad ending to those glory days of railroads importance. We merely glance at the site of the once charming depot, giving it only passing thought. We hardly note the elevator so much a part of our everyday lives. It stands alone and unused. The depot and elevator once the hub around which Lanark grew is only dimly recalled. Their last days of slow decline is no fitting tribute to their former importance. Take time…Salute!


Conservation of our resources is one of this season’s main topics. It might be appropriate to write of an age old way of putting a resource to use…the windmill. Our grandfathers didn’t look at it so much as conserving resources as conserving their strength.

The first windmills or wind pumps in the United States were used in about 1854. They proved their worth and became a necessity in the Midwest and the plains states. A Carroll county atlas shows a windmill pump in Section 12 of Salem Township. Why it is specifically pictured and the only one shown in the county map is not known for certain. Perhaps it was the first county-wide or one of uncommon size and efficiency.

The map at right was published in an 1878 county history but Joseph Arnold had homesteaded there prior to 1870 so it is likely that he was responsible for its construction. Sam Brantner lives today in the comfortable old house with its 2 Pennsylvania style front doors. A windmill tower still stands on the farm.

Looking down from the knoll on which it is built you can see the countryside rolling away in any direction.

The scene only proves again how fortunate we are to live in this prairie place. The tower itself is steel and therefore not what you’d call antique for steel wasn’t commonly used until the 1880s. It is old, nevertheless, and the steps to the top are unique in design. Faint but still legible on the angles of the legs of the tower is the stenciled name “Wm. Lotz, Lanark, Illinois.” The Lotz’s lived there after the turn-of-the-century. Buyers names were often painted on an item when it was shipped by the manufacturer. The sails are no longer on this tower. Sam and Thelma Brantner’s farm built on this high piece of ground, however, is an excellent place for the sails of a windmill to catch every breath of air stirring over the prairie.

Until windmills were commonly used after the 1870s, a farmer settled near springs or drilled and pumped up water by man, woman or child power.

The advent of perfecting the windmill locally can be credited to Dan Stover and his brother, Emanuel, inventors and perfectors of the “Stover Wind Pump.” Advertising in a Carroll County Gazette of 1873 they stated, “attached to a good well a windmill is better than a stream of water, in fact, we know farmers who prefer it because they can have water where they want at all times.” This direct statement would certainly appeal to the practical farmer hereabout. A picture accompanying the ad shows the wind catching sails to be mounted on a wooden tower. The Stover families had settled in the Cherry Grove area in the 1850s and had great influence in the formation of this vicinity. Dan Stover moved to Freeport probably in 1866 but Emanuel Stover remained for several years to help promote the village of Lanark. While Dan was expanding into an international business, Emanuel displayed family enterprise here in the 1870s by using a Stover windmill to grind corn and grain. An ordinary wind produced power to grind 15 bushels of corn a day.

In the spring of 1871 progressive businessmen decided to erect a windmill on the northwest corner of Broad and Carroll. A manufacturer from Batavia, Illinois was bargained with to erect a water tank in connection with the windmill. That well and the one dug by subscription in 1861 at the intersection of Locust and Broad would both be equipped with a force pump to help in the event of fire. This would cause there to be an expenditure of $300 from the city treasury which prompted the inimical forces to loudly voice their objections to the need for this contrivance. They were asked to hold their opinions until the wind pump and the water tank could prove their efficiency. Opinions were probably not withheld of the city trustees. The only positive aspect for those looking only at the financial side of the project was that the insurance rates would probably moderate because of the additional water storage, the fires occurring could be confined to a smaller area.

The lower well was to have a wire attachment for greater pumping efficiency and the upper one a water tank, wooden, no doubt, which would be elevated 15 feet about the ground and would be warranted from freezing. It was suggested that a pump be used when the wind was not sufficient to fill the tank and that the water could flow back through a reservoir, which would supply a drink for thirsty livestock which still roamed the streets.

One thing led to another; heretofore hastily assembled on-the-spot volunteers were pressed into service to fight any fires. Now, with the additional water supply, there was a possibility that better fire protection was at hand. It was suggested that a hose company be formed to take care of the villages’ supply of axes and hose. No fancy rig was necessary; only good substantial men to give service to the community. Just in case some public spirited fellows took the hint, 400 - 500 feet of hose was ordered.

But the townspeople weren’t given to hasty action. Have times changed? A fire department wasn’t formally organized for about four more years and the windmill project didn’t quite get off the ground.

The water tank was built but the requested watering trough was not installed. A kerosene barrel was pressed into service to serve as an oasis for thirsty beasts at Lanark’s “oldest corner.”

The tower and tank were erected by June of 1871 and with many problems was in limited use by September. It was then that news editor, John Howlett, mentions his friend, Will Beans, local men’s ready-to-wear and joke merchant. Always one to take advantage of a situation, Beans promptly put up what might have been one of Lanark’s first large outdoor display advertisements by putting up a sign on the water tank. The dependable dissenters, doubtless, railed against Will’s promotional efforts. Well, after all, it was on city property.

There were problems. John Adair, editor of the Mt. Carroll Mirror and former partner of Howlett, noted after a visit here “made inquiries about the internal improvement in the water navigation department and learned that an account of a scarcity of water in the wells, the windmill tank enterprise is a failure. It is to be regretted as the expense in making the improvement has been considerable. We think the concern unsightly where it stands but if it had met the purpose for which designed its use would have been more important than looks.” So the project limped along for lack of water.

By July of 1875 the city again appropriated funds for a windmill over the public pump. It was expected “that the windmill would devote its energies when the pump was not otherwise engaged.” The local firm of Welch and Butts was contracted with and they stuck by another hometown boy, Dan Stover, and erected a Stover windmill with a 12 foot wheel. George Butts, also the local sign painter, made a No. 1 job of the tower which was 42 feet high. He also made a clever arrangement of underground pipes to carry water to the large cistern which presumably was the one in the center of Broad St., mid-block. The newspaper again urged that the kerosene barrel be dispensed with.

Soon windmills were everyday necessities and made for corner conversation. The news editor visited the Woodmanse manufactory in Freeport where 40 men were employed making Stover windmills. Many would be sold locally but not exclusively. From his place over by the railroad tracks, Dan Wiley, a bit miffed perhaps that he hadn’t gotten the city contract, said that the efficient ECLIPSE windmill at 10 foot in diameter could pump water 145 and he’d just gotten a contract to prove it. But could he replace the kerosene barrel?

Time and the windmills churned on.

J. L. Aspinwall up at Bingaman’s warehouse on Carroll St. bought out Welch and Butts. The tower, now taken for granted, was sometimes used as a flag pole especially during presidential elections. After all the argument, it was now commonplace.

In the 1870s, however, windmills were yet unique and therefore tax worthy. M. Gashaw in his Rock Creek township tax assessments listed: 111 dogs, 7 billiard tables, 71 windmills, and 2 engines. The engines presumably were at the Steam Elevator property and maybe at the planing mill.

The construction of a modern waterworks and tank in 1888 left the old windmill without a patron. Now it was considered an eyesore after all those years of duty. Its dilapidated condition was determined to be a blot on the community reputation of being a “boss” town. The fire bell which had been mounted on the tower was now removed and put in a conspicuous location on two poles a few feet away in front of George Wales’ (the senior) Grocery. It was declared that one eyesore replaced another where the fire alarm was concerned.

A few short years would pass before electricity took over and more reliably pumped the water for the town. Windmills were no longer servant to the fickle wind and were used well into the 20th century, some being in service yet today. Those few remaining windmills are often the only remnants to mark a once busy homestead. Their skeleton forms etched against the horizon and the setting sun create a real feeling of nostalgia. They are a lonesome but peaceful reminder of those long ago pioneer days when priorities were different and hopes and dreams were as lofty as the towers and numerous as the prairie winds.

“Commonplace things are often more rewarding than the exotic. It’s only because they are common that we belittle them.” The writer of this is anonymous but the thought well-known. There are many things right under our noses which we overlook for their interest or beauty only because they are so familiar. It sometimes takes an outsider to point out the positive. The biography which follows was made available to us through the generosity of the subject’s grandson, George C. Bussey of Sacramento, California. Mr. Bussey has visited Lanark only five times and then only briefly. He is quite familiar, however, with much of Lanark’s past - perhaps even more so than many who live here. Mr. and Mrs. Bussey in working on their genealogies have gotten to know Lanark through this research and have pointed out many things of interest, one of them being the story of Mr. Bussey’s grandfather, Erastus D. Leland.

Mr. Bussey’s parents were Clyde and May Leland Bussey, who farmed on Pioneer Road where Wayne Linker now lives. They moved to California in the early 1900s but kept up with Lanark news through the newspapers, correspondence with relatives and friends and by attending the picnics regularly held in that state which reunited former Illinoisans. Mr. Bussey said he obtained much of his information through osmosis. However it was obtained we thank him and his wife for making available to us most of the information contained herein about their special ancestor, Professor Leland; making us aware of his talents now, unfortunately long forgotten and for reminding us of his occupation, that of singing master, little known today.

Singing masters were much sought after in early days. Every community and neighborhood vied for a teacher of vocal music in the days before stage, screen, radio and television claimed our attention. Ogle County’s first official school was held in 1836 and that first winter a singing school was noted as having been held. The socialability was as important as the singing ability.

What joyous noise must have echoed over the prairie. The echoes could be heard through the years of the rude cabin up until the more sophisticated days of Sherwoods’ and Hess’ Opera Halls of later years. And with a teacher of Prof. Leland’s renown, Lanark could boast of leading in choral contests. The professor, however, did not limit his teaching to this area. He traveled all the way from Nebraska to Ohio, throughout Illinois and Wisconsin too.

Erastus D. Leland was born Sept. 13, 1828 in Holliston, Massachusetts and descended from the earliest settlers in the colonies - 1624 in Massachusetts and from Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower. So two hundred years of the Leland family preceded Erastus’ move from New England to the prairies of the Midwest.

The manufacture of shoes and bonnets were important industries in the Holliston area. When a child reached 6 or 7 he was expected to plait straw into a braid to a specified length each day to be used in the manufacture of hats and bonnets. These cottage industries were important additions to the family income and these jobs Erastus Leland learned as a child.

In 1841-42 at the age of 13 Erastus was sent to live with a half sister to become an apprentice in the boot and shoe trade which occupied him for 3 years. On October 31, 1850 he married Serena Morgan and the following year they moved to Vermont where he practiced his trade. A child, Ploomy, was born and in 1852, unhappily, Serena died. Within a relatively short time Erastus married again to Harriet Persons and in December, 1853, a second son, Effendi, was born. By late 1854 the family moved to Erie, Penn. where Leland continued in the shoe trade.

During this time the first son, Ploomy, died but the Lelands welcomed two more children, Hattie and Henry.

Music was drawing Erastus Leland steadily away from shoemaking. He had been studying and developing his love and talent for music and began teaching vocal music, an occupation to which he gave his devotion for over 50 years.

Erastus and Harriet with their family moved to Monroe, Wisconsin in 1857 and it was here he began his music career in earnest. While in Monroe he organized a concert troupe named the “Nationals” who entertained and were popular through out the “northwest” as this part of the country was still known. He was ably assisted at this time by his sister, Polly, whose husband, Henry Foulds, was to be Lanark’s postmaster for 15 years. Baby Adella was added to the lively household in 1859. Five years later death again took a wife of Leland when Harriet died.

August of 1866, the motherless Leland family moved to Lanark where the Prof. remained for 50 years, using the town as a base from which he traveled widely and in which he became a valuable part of the community life.

The Lanark Congregational Church in March of 1867 was the setting for the marriage of Erastus and his third wife, Susan Clarissa Newcomer, the daughter of George and Catherine Newcomer, late of Pennsylvania. To Susan and Erastus were born 3 children, George N., May, and Ella. The Lelands were to raise their large family and live together to celebrate their golden anniversary.

The energies and abilities of Prof. Leland, as he was invariably known, were phenomenal. The newspapers prior to 1900 are filled with numerous mentions of his varied activities. An 1883 edition notes: “Upon the importunity of his friends, the Prof. will organize singing classes to learn the old-fashioned Do-Re-Mi-s. Books will be furnished and 15 lessons will be given for $1.” It was often noted that lessons, especially for children’s programs, were free and the public would be urged to turn out for the recital to which a charge of 25¢ would be requested. “Little Red Riding Hood” was one popular choice. Wouldn’t you have liked to see those bad wolves and riding hoods? Many singing fests were conducted in the churches and at Sherwoods’ Opera House. Some were also held in Hess’ Hall which enjoyed only brief success but which later became popular as a roller skating rink. The late Leona Hess remembered that she would accompany her parents to singing school there and vocalize along with the adults. Perhaps Leona’s own considerable talents were fostered in those choruses.

The “Queen Esther Cantata” was extremely popular as a vehicle to express one’s musical abilities in the late 1870s and ’80s. It never failed to elicit favorable comment. There are few references to the casts of thousands who performed in the many concerts over the years. However, Capt. E. T. E. Becker, a resident of Mt. Carroll but whose roots were in Rock Creek as a son of David Becker, its first settler, was noted as a leading vocalist. He was often called upon to sing a solo, form a quartet, or lead the group sings at church or GAR/SAR reunions.

An interesting but unfortunate chapter in Prof. Leland’s career is recalled in the columns of the Carroll County Gazette in 1875 when a group of Negro performers named the “North Carolinians” organized by the Prof. in his travels were appearing locally. Music and love of people were so obviously a part of the Professor’s character that he and others in the community were shocked when the “colored company,” as it was referred to, were confronted with bigotry and prejudice and in a church. The “North Carolinians” were resting here for several weeks when they were asked to give a concert at the Lutheran Church in Brookville. During the performance “demonic noises, obscene language from the most filthy-mouthed ruffians were heard from outside the church.” The noise did not abate as the singers attempted to continue. The crowd of hooligans were lead in their demonstrations by Rev. Cramley of the Brookville Evangelical Church. A wave of dismay at this insult followed and was transcribed in the papers. A letter from a Mr. T. H. Brand probably from Brookville summed up the feeling of the majority. In a letter dated July 14, 1875 he soundly castigated the “Brookville KKK” and particularly Rev. Cramley that as a minister of the gospel he could act in such an unchristian-like manner. The letter ended by asking all to refer to a song in the repertoire of the “North Carolinians”

“You can’t pick a beam out of your own eye.

You can’t pick a moat out of mine.

But keep your heart nice and clean

Then you’ll have time to talk about me.”

Hopefully Prof. Leland did not meet with such narrow thinking often. That the “North Carolinians” received an enthusiastic reception elsewhere is found in an article which told local leaders meeting to promote a railroad line coming in from Chicago to join the first one from Milwaukee. A large crowd which had assembled in Sherwoods’ Hall to hear discussion of the financial aspects and general details of the progress of the talks with the rail company were entertained by the “North Carolinians.” Their rousing syncopation was embellished with a rhythmic swaying of the bodies of two of the females was met with stamping, shouting and wild demonstrations on the part of the audience. Sound like fun?

Besides his musical profession, he took an active part in public life. He was elected 2nd ward alderman on the Temperance platform in 1884 and during the 1897 election was named mayor of Lanark. He was devoted to the Temperance cause and to promote it often performed the “Little Brown Jug,” a play pointing out the evils of alcohol. Mr. Leland was also an early member of the Modern Woodmen and he had joined the Lanark Lodge of Masons in 1868 of which he was Master in 1900-1902. He was, along with his brother-in-law, Henry Foulds, a chicken fancier and enjoyed raising and improving the more exotic breeds. One of his many sidelines gave him some trouble which was reported in 1893. The papers reported that the Prof. was laid up at home (their homes were on West Pearl where Jerry Melton and Don Rahn live today). The Prof., who kept a number of hives of bees, had put up a ladder against an old dead cherry tree to take a swarm of bees. The tree, rotten, broke off at the roots and the Prof., bees, ladder and various appurtenances came down in a bunch. He suffered painful bruises.

His long and productive life was full and varied and fun was no little part. A tennis court was built near the above mentioned houses, not a common feature in those days. He and his daughter-in-law’s brother, Finley Boyle, held a popcorn eating contest at one of the local drug emporiums, the Prof. being declared the winner.

The years here on the prairie passed swiftly but in 1915-16 Prof. and Mrs. Leland went to Los Angeles, Calif. to be near their daughter, May Bussey and her family. Mr. Leland continued with his music, pumping away on a foot pedal organ situated in the bay window of the Bussey home. Grandson George Bussey, though small, recalls going to church with his grandfather Leland, who was dressed in his dark suit and stiff black hat and carried a gold headed cane.

Erastus Leland died March 20, 1918 at nearly 90 years of age. The Lelands are interred in the Lanark Cemetery. Their simple, unassuming gravestone in no way gives an indication of the importance of their contribution to Lanark’s history or the numbers of lives they influenced. They could hardly have been wealthy since Mr. Leland’s income depended upon the fickle public for support of his productions and to utilize his services, but they must have been rich indeed in memories and friends.

In September of 1978, Mr. and Mrs. Bussey visited the Holliston, Mass. birthplace of Erastus Leland. The house was built in 1722 and is in active use as a residence.

They had the distinct pleasure of standing in the area of the old “borning” room just 150 years and 15 days after his birth. It was, doubtless, a moving experience for our friends, the Busseys, to visit the old homestead which provided a link with the distant past of their ancestor - the place where he had spent a happy childhood and formed the character which helped make Lanark a richer place because of his contribution.

The Leland marker is simple and unassuming

A portrait photograph of the Professor in his later years shows him in profile, his long white beard upon his chest, a book open in his hands. This reflective study captures the beautiful essence of his life. He was certainly a neighbor we have enjoyed knowing and an uncommon man in our town’s history.

A single word or phrase often supplies the idea for a page in the Museum calendar. The Carroll County history books give endless food for thought. One such comment stated that it was Daniel G. Eckman who built the first bank barn in Rock Creek Township in 1871. It was not too difficult to learn where that Eckman homestead had been. By asking some senior Rock Creek people, and studying an old plat, it was found to have been in Section 17, Rock Creek where Jake Sturtevant farms on Willow Road. Upon inquiry, Jake agreed that the barn was indeed an old one. He also pointed out the long spans of timber used in the construction of the building. The barn itself is quite plain, even undistinguished, on the outside but upon examination of the interior one can appreciate the abilities of the old time craftsmen who measured, fit, and pegged together this lofty spacious barn which, according to the description is 50 foot x 100 foot in size.

Mr. Eckman was a native of Lancaster County Pennsylvania and came to Illinois in 1871 and bought 160 acres, the first year building a barn and a house. Although the barn is plain and unadorned, the house is very interesting with its many angles, additions and porches and worthy of a drive in the country to see. Go west on Willow Road a mile or so and stop on the hill and look at the farm on the right. Shaded by a lane edged with tall, old trees the scene gives a feeling of yesterday revisited, especially if you go as the sun is setting. A smaller house sets immediately to the east and is perhaps the house first built and mentioned in the biography. It has plastering and woodwork typical of a very old house. It has an enclosed stairway with the triangular steps making the necessary curve which further indicates it. Dan and Leah Hoak Eckman, it’s said, subsequently erected a handsome residence. This older one might possibly have been given over to become a washhouse or a summer kitchen, that predecessor of today’s utility room.

The editor of the Carroll County Gazette noted in 1875, following a drive in the country, that many barns were then being built because the farmers were at last tired of digging their hay out of the snow. Mr. Eckman had obviously gotten a 4-year jump on them.

Eckman “kept a good grade of stock and had a proper idea of caring for this portion of his wealth, providing good quarters at all times.” If Mr. Eckman could visit today he would certainly appreciate the fine lot of cattle Jake keeps on the farm. If he could stand in the high west door and look out over the acres of corn where once there was only grass he would, doubtless, compliment those who today also have a “proper idea” of caring for their portion of the earth’s bounty.


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