The Story of Savanna
The First 100 Years
Written by Alice M. Bowen 1928
Contributed by N.P. Eichelberger

Postcard from Alice Horner

F O R E W A R D
This brief record of the Pioneers of Savanna is written with the desire that the present generation and the generations yet to come, may learn what manner of men and women were the first to seek their homes in this far West.

When it was suggested that I put this story into book form, I hesitated, for it was written with an intimacy and informality suitable only for our own community. However, if there are any who might enjoy the story which is the result of patient gleaning for a number of years on my part, I shall gladly share the pleasure with them.

The Coming of the Pioneer

The city of Savanna has turned back the pages of its history one hundred years to do honor and reverence to those few hardy pioneers who came to the end of their journey at this uninhabited point one cold November day in the year 1828. They at once undertook to wrest home and a living from the soil, and from the natural resources surrounding them.

The story of this pilgrimage into the unknown wilderness begins several years before the courageous few readied this point in their quest for a place to found a home and a city.

In this simple story we shall not attempt to follow the changes which had taken place in the possession and control of this vast, unbroken territory. You are all, more or less, familiar with the early explorations and settlement of the Mississippi Vallev. After the Revolutionary war this section of the was organized into the Countv of Illinois in the Indian Territory. In 1809 it was divided into two counties. Another division was made which added four more comities. The carving still continued and in 1818 Illinois was admitted into the union as a state.

In 1827 Jo Daviess county was organized and occupied all this northern section of Illinois. Later the counties of Lee, Ogle and Whiteside were cut off but Carroll County still remained a part of Jo Daviess County. In 1837 this county petitioned to be set apart from Jo Daviess, but it was not until 1859 that it formally became a separate county, with its own county officials. At the beginning of the year 1800 there lived near Boston, Massachusetts, a family by the name of Bellows. Among other children they had a daughter, Harriett, who had been educated in the schools of Boston, and especially had she received a thorough musical education in one of the colleges of music. Living neighbors to them was a family by the name of Fierce who had a son named Aaron. And it came about that young Aaron courted and married the cultured and educated young Harriett and they started out to seek their fortunes. Rumors of the great West were gradually sifting through to the East, and this young couple gathered together what few articles were needed and resolutely said good bye to family and friends and turned their faces toward the west. They reached the western part of the state of New York about 1815, having made the great distance by wagon or canal boat through the unbroken and uninhabited solitude. At this time western New York was on the very outer edge of civilization, and a wild forest occupied only by Indians and the native wild animals.

Here they halted for a period of about ten years and Mr. Pierce engaged in the business of getting out timber from the vast forests.

Three children were born to them during their sojourn in New York. Again the spirit of adventure took possession of the pioneers and as news of the Illinois country reached their remote settlement, they turned their faces westward once more. Loading their possessions once again into a wagon and with a team of oxen started out through the dense forests, following Indian trails, camping in the wagon at night, but going steadily onward and westward. The constant terror of lurking Indians and the dread of wild animals was with them, be­sides the anxiety of the father for his helpless wife and children. After a journey of six weeks, they reached Bond County, Illinois, the. year being 1825.

The story of these pioneers is the story of thou­sands who were lured from home and loved associates to make a home in the far West. Just a different setting for the starting point, and just a little different course across the vast area of forest and prairie, and these first pioneers paved the way for those who were to follow.

The southern and central sections of Illinois were being settled gradually, and the settlements were being extended northward through the state, from the Ohio river, the waterways being the main arteries for transportation.

In Bond County the Pierce family rented a farm which had a house and other improvements. Here they became acquainted with two other pioneer families who had reached that locality, having made the journey from Kentucky. These two families were George Davidson, his wife and his son. Vance, William Blundell and his wife who was a daughter of the Davidsons. These names all became a part of Savanna '& history.

The families farmed for about two years and in February, 1827, another little daughter was born to the Pierce family. This daughter was known to all the older residents of Savanna as Mrs. David Bowen, a much loved and respected gentlewoman.

But fever and ague and the mosquitoes proved too much for these unsettled pioneers and they decided to cast their lot together and start out once more to find the haven of peace and plenty they were seeking. Having heard of the lead mines in Galena, which was already quite a settlement, they faced northward this time, with hopeful hearts. The hardships endured on this trip proved discouraging but with dauntless perseverance they pushed onward and finally reached Galena. But this location did not suit them and after trying mining for about six months they held a counsel and decided to move on again. This time they agreed upon a beautiful valley on the bank of the Mississippi which Vance Davidson, who was quite a soldier of fortune, had noticed and with which he had been enraptured as he made a trip on horse­back from Rock Island to Galena, a year previously. So, once again, the resolute frontiersmen now loaded their few possessions and started out facing the lonely trails into the unknown.

This time the Pierce family, all huddled into a covered wagon drawn by oxen, took the old Indian trail through the deep woods, led by Vance David­son on horseback. Without sign of human life other than the Indian, they pushed on, fording streams and following trails. But as they reached Apple River they came across two men who were building a flour mill. This was later used by the settlers for grinding their grain and was known as "Craig's" mill. The place was afterwards called "Wappello" and is now known as the town of Hanover.

On the afternoon of the third day of travel they came out on the bluffs above what is now Savanna, and caught their first view of the broad Mississippi River. When they saw the beautiful valley spread out below them and saw the clear water of the big river slowly winding on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, they felt they had reached the fairy land they had been seeking. With a beautiful sun­set in the west, and the stillness of the forest primeval around them they felt this would certainly become a home. But it was necessary to get from the high bluffs above down to the valley below. They cut down a tree and tied it to the wagon and, after unloading the wife and children, slowly made the steep descent with oxen and wagon. The point where they came down has been cut away, but it was the first ridge north of the Pinnacle.

It was late afternoon of a cold November day when this brave band of pioneers reached this point, and an unoccupied wigwam furnished shelter for the family. This wigwam was somewhat larger than the usual one and had been used as a Council house by the Indians.

In the pencil sketch drawn by Mrs. David Bowen, and made from information given her by her mother. Mrs. Aaron Pierce, this important historical wigwam was located east of what is now Main street, at the foot of the Pinnacle at what is known on the charts of Savanna as Randolph street.

The other two families of the party had loaded their possessions on a flat boat at Galena and had just as resolutely faced the unknown on the water, floating and paddling down Fever River to its mouth and out. into the current of the broad Mississippi. With a few mishaps such as sticking on sand bars a few times, they reached this same point not long after the party which came by land. There being no other wigwams handy, these people camped on the flat boat over night and the next day built themselves a couple of wigwams out of poles and covered them with the tall grass which was growing so abundantly all around, and found themselves nicely sheltered from the cold. This date is the Fourth of November, 1828. The colony of settlers consisted of eleven persons in all, seven adults and four children.

And, now, began in earnest the founding of a frontier settlement. The men began at once the building of the log cabins. From logs cut from the walnut trees growing in the valley, they erected their buildings. The Pierce cabin was built on the ground where the large brick house stands on up­per Main street and known as the old Captain John Rhodes homestead. The Davidson cabin stood just north of this on the site of the Dupuis home­stead, and William Blundell built his cabin south of the Pierce cabin on the ground occupied by the J. A. Stransky homestead. These cabins were all completed and the families were under, shelter be­fore Christmas. It was a joyous day for the pioneers when their small supply of household goods and still smaller store of provisions could be moved into the new log cabins. Then it was,

"The prairie schooner, her anchor cast,
Lay at her moorings, just before
The little log cabin's open door,
And the household goods, a meager store
Lay scattered about on the puncheon floor.
Then it was that the bright young wife
Began the work of her frontier life."

When the cabins had been completed and the families moved into them, Aaron Pierce, George Davidson and Vance, leaving William Blundell to finish the building of the fireplaces, returned to Bond County to drive back the stock they had left when they moved to Galena. This stock consisted of two or three cows, same number horses, and a couple of yoke of oxen. These were the first domestic animals to be brought into Carroll County. As soon as this was accomplished the stock was turned out in the low valley to find food for themselves.

The men at once set to work clearing the ground for the spring planting. The trees were felled and the cordwood piled in ranks along the bank of the river, ready to be sold to the steamboats in the spring. This was the main object of the pioneers when selecting this location for their settlement.

Founding The Home

During the winter the fields were laid out and the ground cleared for planting, occupying the whole valley from the foot of the Pinnacle southward, covering what is now the site of the city of Savanna, lying along the bank of the river as far south as the slough and Plum River.

It proved to be a long, hard and extremely cold winter, and the snow piled in great drifts around the cabins until spring.

The provisions were nearly exhausted and starvation was close at hand and had it not been for the Indians who were quite friendly, there would have been intense suffering. At one time they wore reduced to a small amount of meal, which made into gruel sustained them. The Indians kept them supplied with venison, for deer were very plentiful around the bluffs, and with other wild game and fowl, which the settlers received in exchange for a few trinkets.

In a letter from Mrs. Blundell, who was a young bride at that time, written many years afterward from California, she tells of that winter wit its terrible snow storms, and the ice in the river not breaking up until the 17th of April. She also states that although spending her later years in sunny California amid pleasant surroundings, she looks back upon those pioneer years in Savanna as the happiest in her life.

In the spring new hope took possession of the settlers, as crops were planted, and even the children were drafted into service in keeping the crows from the cornfields. All the land bloomed with new life, and when the first steamboat came up the river there was much rejoicing. Although this boat carried a cargo of flour, and the men rowed out to try to secure a barrel, as it was all consigned to a dealer in Galena, they could not secure a pound, they therefore made the trip to Galena and bought a barrel for which they paid twenty-five dollars.

In the spring, another little daughter was added to the family of Aaron Pierce, and she was named Mary Jane. She was made welcome and a hollow log was made into a cradle for her comfort. She afterward became the wife of Captain J. B.Rhodes, and the mother of the Rhodes brothers whose names have been identified with the business life in Savanna for many years. She was the first child born to the settlers in Carroll county.

In the fall a son was born to the Blnndells and he was named Jefferson. The Blundell family in later years pioneered once again, this time to California, and so were lost to the records of the settlement.

Another addition to the settlement was the arrival of four old bachelors, at least they were called old. Among the arrivals was the famous Bob Upton, a soldier of fortune and a carrier of mail through the valley from Rock Island. They were welcomed by the pioneers and urged to settle in this section. John Bernard took up a claim and settled on what is now the Hatfield farm north of town on the river road, and other claims in Washington township were taken up by a man named Goss and a man named Corbin. They were not such courageous frontiersmen as the first settler who arrived and Corbin built himself a home in a tree to keep away from the snakes.

The Indians were all about the settlement, but were friendly and made no trouble. Mrs. Pierce learned to talk to them, partly in their own language and partly by signs and when her husband, who was of a fiery disposition, could not deal with them, he called his wife.

This whole section seems to have been a favorite camping place of the Indians, as in excavating for the foundations of many of the homes in the north part of town, large numbers of Indian relics have been found at a depth of several feet. And on the out lying farms, pieces of pottery have been found.

The three log houses stood on the rise of ground on the west side of Main street facing the river, and from their doors the bank of the river sloped down to the water's edge where there was a beautiful pebbly beach.

At a point just south of where the Burlington station now stands was a level plat of grassy ground and standing solitary in the middle of it was ail large cotton wood tree. This interesting and advantageous location was used by the warriors as they passed up or down the river in their canoes.

In a letter, Mrs. Blundell tells of a war party returning from a successful campaign against a tribe in southern Wisconsin, stopping to celebrate their victory with a dance. There were more than a hundred Indians camped between their cabin and the river, and more than five hundred warriors passed this point that day.

In the evening they built their bonfires and form­d themselves into a ring, with one large brave standing in the center holding aloft a spear from which dangled the scalps of the enemy taken in battle. The other Indians, forming a circle, with their spears and other implements of warfare, danced around him chanting a peculiar weird air, and keeping time with their spears. With bodies bent halfway over and with hideous countenances they kept this dance up all night. But with the break of day they loaded into their canoes and departed, much to the relief of the dwellers in the little log cabins.

The years between the founding of this frontier outpost in 1828 and the breaking out of the Black Hawk War were years filled with toil, combined with isolation and hardships.

Each family had a large plat of ground surrounding the cabin, and the remaining ground was laid out into twelve acres to each family, to clear and till as he chose and they have recorded that the first years the soil yielded wondrous crops with 125 bushels of corn to the acre. With this corn ground juto meal at Craig's mill, before mentioned, whither it was carried on horseback, and with the wild fruits growing abundantly all about them, and with nuts and honey to supply delicacies, the settlers were in no danger of lack of food.

In one of the letters I have read, the writer asserts that when a rarity of any food happened to reach them, if it was not enough to be divided, one housewife cooked it and they all ate it together. Also the sale of cordwood to the passing steamboats supplied them with a little money and they settled down into peace and plenty.

In the present day when pictures form such a part of our everyday life it is almost impossible to visualize a time when the art of picture taking was unknown. But photography had not yet been discovered or invented, and it was not until 1839 that DaGuerre, in France, had perfected his first pictures, the old Daguerreotypes.

The pioneers had nothing with which to light their cabins, except candles or coon oil in saucers with ragwicks, for kerosene had not been discovered. There was no way to cook the food except over the fireplaces as stoves were unknown at that date in remote frontier settlements.

There were no matches with which to light the fire, the only way being to start it with a spark from a flint, or to borrow some fire from a neighbor who had kept his burning. Matches were crudely made about 1830, and, for those who are fond of statistics, it is said that civilization uses 3,000,000 a minute and that Americans us as many matches as all the rest of the world put together.

The water used by the settlers was dipped from two bubbly springs nearby and a spring house was built in which to keep the milk and butter sweet and cool. This spring house stood over the large sprag just south of the Pierce cabin.

The old wigwam or council house was never used again after the first few weeks while the men were building the three log cabins. There is no record that it was other than a small wigwam, as on their arrival that November night in 1828, only one family could occupy it, the other two families, arriving a few hours later, had to sleep on the flat boat that night until they could build two wigwams the following day.

It was never used as a tavern or for any other purpose as stated in an early Carroll history, and certainly could not have held one thousand people.

It was not the birthplace of the first white child born in the settlement, as the log cabins were ... and all were safely and comfortably housed ... Christmas, and the baby girl was born to the Pierce family the following spring.

..... are made to clear some of the .... and contradictory accounts given in the early histories, and are all verified in letters from Mrs. Blundell who was a daughter of George Davidson , a sister of Vance Davidson and the young bride of William Blundell at the time of the settlement.

At the close of the first period of the story of Savanna, it is necessary to clear the picture of all improvements, and have in mind only a strip of ground lying along the bank of the Mississippi River, at the foot of the high bluff we call the Pinnacle. On this ground stood three log cabins of the most primitive type, with their faces turned toward the river and the vast uninhabited prairies stretching beyond the western hills.

There was no way of communicating with the outside world, as there were no railroads, or telephones or telegraph and mail had to be carried from fort to fort by men on horseback or on foot, over distances of many miles. It took from two to four weeks or even longer for mail to reach this point from the eastern part of the country.

The Black Hawk War

The next period of vital importance to the settlers of this section was the breaking out of the Black Hawk War. This was the last stand of the Indian tribes to retain their hold upon the vast hunting grounds east of the Mississippi.

Chief Black Hawk (Ma-Ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak) of the united tribes of the Sacs and Foxes claimed and held all the territory in western Illinois and Wisconsin, from the mouth of the Wisconsin River on the north, to the Portage des Sioux, near the mouth of the Missouri, on the south.

He claimed this entire area under a treaty of 1804, and when white settlements were being made, and claims filed within this territory, he was loath to give up such a fruitful hunting ground. He was ordered to move his tribes across the Mississippi into Iowa, but he refused to do so.

The village of Black Hawk was situated on the north bank of Rock River, near its mouth below Rock Island, and included about eight hundred acres under cultivation.

It was here Black Hawk was born in the year 1767, and here the Sac village had stood for more than one hundred years, and here were the graves of their forefathers.

The Chief once again refused to move his tribes across the river and there followed a year (1831) of uneasy and futile bickering between Black Hawk and the government officers and the settlers all through the valley were warned to provide places of safety.

Early in the spring of 1832, the few pioneers who were settled here, erected a block house on the ground between the Davidson log cabin and the Pierce cabin. There they stored provisions and ammunition and prepared it as a place of refuge for the women and children in case of an outbreak of the Indians. Hardly had these preparations been made when a soldier came riding on horseback from Port Armstrong at Rock Island, warning all settlers throughout the valley that Black Hawk was on the war path, and they should seek safety in a fort.

Like Paul Revere, he delivered his warning and departed on his flying steed, leaving fright and despair in the hearts of the pioneers. Making a hurried decision the men loaded the women and children into the wagon once again and started for Galena. The children were huddled into the bottom of the wagon box and covered over with quilts and hardly dared raise their little heads to breathe.

By this time, the summer of 1832, a few new names appear among the settlers, and we find a man named Hays, and Mrs. Goss, wife of Leonard Goss is mentioned as one of those making the trip to the Fort at Galena.

The resident's of Galena had held a meeting in May of that year and studied ways arid means of providing protection for their settlement, and decided to build two block houses and a stockade. By July these were ready and the stockade garrisoned with 150 men.

The trip of the fleeing settlers from here to Galena was made without accidents or adventures of any kind and they arrived safely in the town and secured houses in which the families could live and be within reach of the stockade for better protection. After providing for their welfare, the men returned to their homes here, to look after their crops and stock. They found plenty of work awaiting them, so the time passed quietly away, until they began to lose their fear and dread of the Indians, and to relax into peaceful, every day pioneer life.

It was a beautiful afternoon in midsummer with a "Sunday quiet over all." The men were resting lazily about the settlement. Vance Davidson had gone out over the hills looking for a horse which the Indians had stolen from him. William Blundell had gone to Galena to see how the families were getting along, and Bob Upton was up on the hills towards Apple River, hunting. Aaron Pierce was the lookout at the time and was in the block house shaving. Suddenly the dogs began to bark, and, looking out, he saw an Indian head rising slowly above the rank of cordwood standing along the bank of the river. He gave the alarm and Hays and Goss, who were the only other men left in the place, ran for the block house. Hays ran for the door and in his excitement fell just as he reached it. Two Indians fired on him, the bullets striking the door on each side of him. Goss wasted no time, but climbed down the chimney and reaching Hays pulled him inside and fastened the door.

This was in the afternoon, and the Indians kept up an intermittent firing from behind the pile of wood, while the men fired away through the port holes in the block house, but neither side accomplished very much.

Finally toward night the Indians crept around and got up on the hill back of the block house and tried to fire into the roof. This maneuver was not successful as they were too far away, so they satisfied this savageness by going down into the fields, destroying the crops and killing the stock.

They also took revenge in cutting loose two skiffs belonging to the settlers, so they would float away down the river, but fortunately for the men a kindly Providence in the form of a strong wind, blew them back inshore where they lodged.

All the stock was killed with the exception of one old white horse, which was so frightened it ran past the block house and took refuge in the river. When the men saw the intelligence of the animal, they decided to take to the river also.

So under cover of darkness the men reached the river unobserved, and getting into a skiff started for Galena. "When they had rowed up the river a short distance they heard a call from the shore. Fearing it might be Indians, they hesitated about going nearer, but a second and louder call convinced them that it was Bob Upton, as it was known he had gone hunting in the morning. As they neared the shore, the men urged Bob to jump,, but as the distance was about forty feet, he preferred to wade and swim to the boat, where the men assisted him in getting aboard.

Bob Upton delighted to tell of his marvelous ad­venture and escape, and the tale lost none of its thrills in the telling. He said that as he was nearing home that afternoon, he heard firing in the vicinity of the blockhouse. He turned about wondering which way he should go, when suddenly seven Indians appeared from nowhere and started in pursuit of him. He ran down the side of the bluff and hid in the crevice of the rock, thus evading his enemies. This cave has since been known as Bob Upton's Cave, and has been a favorite rendezvous of every school boy. He remained hidden until after dark, and when he heard the dip, dip of the oars of the escaping men, at first he could not tell whether it was friends or enemies, but he concluded it was a skiff and not a canoe of the Indians, and so he joyously joined the party bound for Galena. The men rowed all night and by nine o'clock the next morning they had reached Galena and their families.

The day following the attack on the block house, Vance Davidson and John Bernard started for home from up on Apple River. When they reached the block house and saw the bullet holes and found such a scene of devastation, the burned fields and the dead stock, they were horrified, but on investigation they found no signs of the men and there was silence everywhere. They could not tell whether the men had been killed and carried off, or whether they had fled for their lives. However, they started for Galena, and on arriving there were greatly relieved and overjoyed to find them all safe and sound. The others had been equally anxious about them so there was good reason for all rejoicing over their good fortune in making their escape, and being united once again in a safer place.

The attack on the settlers at Savanna was not a part of the war waged by Black Hawk. He had taken his warriors north and east from their village near Rock Island and the fiercest battle was fought at Stillman Valley. The attack on this settlement was made by a wandering tribe, estimated at about twenty in number, who had taken advantage of the general uprising to do some marauding of their own.

Now for a time our little frontier settlement in the beautiful valley on the bank of the broad Mississippi was abandoned. The men enlisted their services with the government and the families remained in Galena. Vance Davidson served throughout the war and was in all the engagements with the Indians under Black Hawk. Aaron Pierce offered his services and was engaged in hauling provisions for the soldiers. The three older Pierce children, Marshall, Lorenzo, Dow, and Harriet attended school. During this time an epidemic of cholera broke out in Galena and the families experienced much sickness.

The Settlement

year 1833 saw the end of the struggle between the Indians and the white settlers for the possession of the fertile valley. Before the treaty of peace was actually signed our plucky pioneers were back in their devastated homes. All joined in the work of repairing cabins and fences, and in getting their fields once more in readiness for planting.

Vance Davidson and Aaron Pierce each built a new log house of hewed logs, two stories high, with cellars and each with a porch fronting the river. They each had a fireplace, also a stairway with good stairs. The cabins each had one room below and one room upstairs and all the rooms had good pine floors. The old log cabins, standing nearby, were used for kitchens and sleeping rooms, and the families were very comfortable in such luxurious quarters.

There were still many Indians on this side of the river, passing up and down in small parties, both on the land and on the river. The frontier wife in her lonely cabin could not get used to their friendly way of pressing their faces against the window panes and looking into the room, and the mother's heart would almost stop beating as she gathered her children behind her. But she would divide flour or meal or other eatables with them and the Indians would appreciate her fairness and go away.

Many Indians also stopped here to trade and exchange their furs, as this was the most import­ant trading post in this section. They came here in the fall and camped along the small streams and trapped, disposing of their furs in the spring before setting out for their northern hunting-grounds. They were peaceful and quiet, and remained, in this region unmolested, as by this time the white settlers were accustomed to dealing with them.

One day a young brave appeared before the door of the Pierce cabin, depositing a large bundle of furs which he wanted to exchange for Harriet, the oldest daughter, a girl about fifteen years old. It took much explaining and gesticulating on the part of the mother to make him understand they did not give their daughters for wives Indian fashion, and he marched angrily away.

The accounts of the Black Hawk war had gradually sifted through to the eastern states, and attention was called to this vast unsettled region and settlers were arriving throughout the valley, seeking homes in these rich lands.

Strangers began making their appearance in the settlement, some arriving on horseback, some on foot, and still others by steamboat. This was the only stopping place between Rock Island and Galena, hence many travelers spent the night at this place and accepted the hospitality of the settlers.

And now began the arrival of men whose names have been closely connected with the history of Savanna, and who took an active part in the affairs of the new Carroll County.

One of these first arrivals was Elijah Bellows, a brother of Mrs. Aaron Pierce. He was accompanying some military officers who were on their way from Boston to Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien. They were on horseback and had been compelled to camp out many nights as only occasionally did they find a settler's log cabin where they could stop over night. When they reached this point the officers seemed pleased to meet a woman of intelligence and refinement in such a wilderness, but Mr. Bellows was much mortified to find his sister dressed in a linsey-woolsey dress with a calico cap on her head and living in such rough surroundings.

After a night's rest the officers departed on their way, but, Mr. Bellows, who came, saw, and was conquered, remained with the pioneers and we find his name among the first records of Carroll County.

About this time came also Luther H. Bowen, hustling, energetic young man from Herkiraer, County, New York. He had accompanied a party of surveyors and was engaged with them in locating the disputed boundary line between Illinois and "Wisconsin. The work having been completed, he remained in Galena and was employed by a firm as bookkeeper.

In exploring around the country looking for a good location, he finally reached this frontier settlement. He was much pleased with the situation, as it looked like, an ideal site for the founding of a city on the Mississippi. He therefore negotiated with the settlers for their claim interests and returned to Galena with the intention of returning later and laying out the town.

And now as our story goes on we find great activity in the little pioneer settlement. The log cabins were filled to overflowing every night with travelers. The upstairs rooms in the new log cabins were filled with beds, and after supper was cleared away, beds were made on the floors down stairs, the families using the old one room log cabins for sleeping rooms and the kitchens for cooking.

The years from 1833 to 1830 were filled with arriving settlers whose boundless courage and endurance had been sorely tried on the long, long trail that came a'winding into the West. These pioneers were refined, educated men and women and they brought into their western home the same spirit of independence that their ancestors, the New England colonists had brought from their native homes across the Atlantic.

As they reached this part of Illinois, either at Galena or at Savanna, they gradually settled either in or near these places or upon the lands between. The land now included in Washington township and on north to Sand Prairie and Han­over had a goodly share of these early settlers.

John Bernard with his wife and family occupied the farm now known as the Hatfield farm on river road, and all the lowlands lying west and north to the river has ever since been known as Bernard's Bottoms.

Mason Taylor, older brother of Pliney Taylor was one of the very first settlers in Washington township. He took an active interest in county affairs and was the first coroner of the new Carroll County in 1839.

Milas C. Robison, father of the late well known John A. Robison and George F. Robison, owned the farm known as the George Fish farm now the Henry Airhart place on the river road on the new Route 80.

In a letter received lately from George F. Robison who at the age of 85 is still in active business in Windom, Minn., he writes that his old home was the old Robison place which he disposed of to George Fish nearly sixty years ago. He recalls as a boy working his board and attending school in Savanna, staying one year with Aaron Pierce when they were still occupying the El Dorado Hotel, located in the north part of town. Stephen Arnold settled north on the river at the place called by his name, Arnold's Landing, afterward known as the John A. Robison place.

The Armstrongs, Coopers and many others settled on Sand Prairie around in 1835-6, but that section remained in Jo Daviess County, hence their history did not enter into the records of Carroll County.

A town and steamboat landing was laid out near the mouth of Apple River and was named Portsmouth, and for many years the ruins of the foundation of an old warehouse marked the site. The deep channel of the river followed that shore, making it an ideal spot for the location of a town. This place is now the lower end of the Savanna Proving Ground.

During this same year David L. Bowen, younger brother of Luther H. Bowen, arrived in the settlement, having walked nearly all the distance from Herkimer County in "Western New York. He often told of passing through Chicago and coming on out here thinking this place looked like a much better location.

The first marriage to take place in this new home of the settlers was that of Harriet Pierce, eldest daughter of Aaron Pierce, who at the age of sixteen became the wife of Vance L. Davidson, nearly twenty years her senior. The ceremony was performed on June 11, 1835 by Hooper Crews, an elder of the Methodist church and the first circuit rider in this section of Illinois.

And now for those who do not care for dry old history, but who have a love for romance and adventure in their hearts, I would like to follow the fortunes of this couple at this point in our story for fear I shall not find another opportunity or suitable place.

After their marriage in 1835, they continued to live in Savanna, taking an active part in all business and social affairs. But when the call to the gold fields of California came in 1849 the urge was too strong for the pioneer blood in the veins of our hero, Vance, and he joined the party going from this section. Later he, returned, and in 1854 he took his wife and family and started out across the plains. In a letter I have before me, Mrs. Davidson, his wife, says that was the hardest time she ever experienced. They were over five months dragging along in alkali dust with six children, the youngest an infant. There were fifteen in the party to cook and care for, and the six cows they look with them when they started from here all ate a poison weed and died. "But," she adds, "we lived through it all, and we are glad we are in California, and while we never made our fortune, we live comfortably." Twelve children were born to them, and, their pioneering over, they are sleeping in the sunny land they loved so well.

It is from the interesting and ever cheerful letters of Mrs. Davidson to her sister, Mrs. David Bowen, that much of the material used in piecing together the early history of Savanna has been obtained. These letters cover a period of years from 1854 to the last letter written in 1908, just before her death, and include one describing her experience during the terrific earthquake in San Francisco in 1906, where she was living at the time.

Laying Out the Town

The story of Savanna up to this point has been gathered from old letters, old scrap books, and from personal recollections handed down to the second generation by the settlers themselves.

But with the year 1835, we enter upon a decided epoch in our history. In that year Luther H. Bowen returned to the settlement and the land he had purchased from the original pioneers, and with a man named Murray, surveyed and laid out the town. Pie named it Savanna, which means a treeless, grassy plain, such as lies to the south of the town. And now the cornfields were laid out into streets and building lots and the little settlement began to take on the air of a thriving frontier village. In laying out Main street they took for the east side, the line of the field fences which had been built following the line of driftwood, indicating some previous high water mark. Commerce street was laid out one block west of Main street along the bank of the river. This street and the part of Main street lying south of what is now Chicago avenue, were afterward vacated by an act of legislature.

This was the Original Town of Savanna as is staled in all conveyances of property and included the ground lying between Davidson street on the north, and Chicago avenue on the south.

When the first three families settled on this ground, they each laid out four acres on which they built their log cabins, the remaining part of their claims was divided into twelve acre fields, each family having its own field to plant. (Prom one of the letters of Mrs. Blundell. This accounts for the part lying mirth of Division street being platted as an addition.

In a story of this kind it is not possible to go into details as is the original owners and transfers of property, but many of the deeds and abstracts read almost like romances as step by step they unfold the story of gains and losses, of mort­gages, divorce, heartaches, wills and deaths. I have before me an abstract which anyone talented in that direction could turn into a two volume tale of love and disaster.

The year 1836 opened with great activity in the new village. From out the east had come many men who were to be identified with the organization of the town and county, and whose descend­ants are still connected with the business and educational interests of our city.

John Fuller and an elder sister, Hannah, arrived from Kennebec county, Maine, he having driven the entire distance with an ox team. Arriving in Galena in March, 1836, he found the snow deep for the wagon, so he exchanged it for a sled and completed his journey to this place.

At this point mention can be made of the first school which was ever held in Savanna. The teacher was Hannah Puller who had come to keep house for her brother, and while waiting for him to complete a house he was building on upper Main street north of the Davidson's cabin, she consented to teach a little school of six pupils. The school was held in the Pierce log cabin that had a bed in the room. Four of the pupils were of the Pierce family, the other two being Jefferson Blundell, and a boy who lived with the Vance David­sons, this number being all the small children in the settlement.

Hannah Fuller afterward taught a select school in the new house her brother had built and had for her pupils the same children, with the addition of Sarah Ashby, whose parents had in the meantime moved here from Canada.

In 1810, at the age of 16, Sarah Ashby was married to John Puller, whose acquaintance she had made while a pupil in his sister's school. The marriage took place in her parent's log cabin on the banks of Plum river near the Stedman farm, the ceremony being performed by Bartholomew Weed, then presiding elder of the Methodist church in the northwest section of Illinois.

They went to housekeeping in the home Mr. Puller had built in the north part of town, and here nearly all of their nine children were born In 1860 they moved into the old homestead on Chicago avenue and on Sunday, January 19, 1890 they celebrated their golden wedding. Mr. and Mrs. Fuller wee Methodists, first, last and always and lived up to their faith. Through their efforts, and with the assistance of the Davidsons and the Blundells, who were also Methodists, they had a church society started very early.

It was the winter of 1836 Mr. Pierce took his wife and children to Galena once again, so the children could attend school. They rented a furnished hotel and remained there more than a year, Mrs. Pierce keeping the hotel, afterward returning to their home in Savanna.

Building Activities

The actual work of founding a city in a wilderness now began, and all the old settlers and many new ones were busy in building and getting into active business.

A saw mill on Plum River, below the present bridge this side of Old Mill Park, was built by Luther and John Bowen, and was soon doing a rushing business supplying lumber for the many buildings being erected. A powder mill was also erected near the same site on the banks of Plum river, by Porter Sargeant. The powder was mostly hauled to Galena and sold for use in the mines.

Aaron Pierce began the erection of a hotel on the ground near where the old log cabins stood, and although he hired all the help available, the work moved slowly. Young David Bowen was hired to get out the timbers for the frame work, and spent the winter on the island across from the town, cutting the immense oak trees and hewing the timbers out by hand. (This hotel was first named the Frontier House but but was afterward called El Dorado House and was later moved south to the corner of Main and Jefferson streets, occupying the corner where the news depot of Hershey Bowen now stands. It was presided over by different landlords, among them, I. S. Woodruff, father of A. P. Woodruff and afterward by Fred Chambers and was known for many years as the Chambers House. Many residents of Savanna can recall the night in December, 1882 when the old Chambers House burned down. When all else had burned away arid fallen into the ruins, those old oak timbers and framework stood aloft like a burning skeleton).

The work on the new hotel, the Frontier House was hurried along until the dining room could be used by setting the tables at one end of the room, while the travelers and boarders sat around a huge Franklin stove at the other end of the room. But with even this improvement they could not meet the demand and many travelers had to be turned away. By this time the stage coaches had begun to appear, also the prairie schooner, all loaded down with passengers. The steamboats were also bringing in large numbers of people, all looking to find a place to locate in this land of promise.

Among the numbers arriving were many speculators, and the period following was known as the period of "land speculation," when everyone was coining west to invest in land, and the old land records show the names of a number of Quakers from Philadelphia.

In this connection there was a well known story told by the pioneers of some speculators from the east who bought and laid out into town lots the land lying south of the Slough bridge and west of Plum river (Pecatolikee, as given in the old land warrants), during the summer. These lots were sold in the east and when the purchasers came west to occupy them in the spring, there was no land to be seen as it was entirely covered with high water. Much disgusted they hired John Fuller and his team to take them back as far as Chicago.

Vance Davidson built a store and warehouse on the river bank near their log cabins in the north part of town, as this was the steamboat landing. He went to New York to buy his goods, and they were shipped down the Ohio and up the Mississippi rivers.

And here we come upon an interesting link in our story, in an old ledger kept by Vance Davidson recording this transaction in 1836. It contains the record of his investment in goods amounting to $1,900.00 and also the names of many of the first settlers of the town, and we read the name of William Goss, Edward Corbin, Elijah Bellows, John Bowen, Robert Upton, John Bernard and others unknown to this community.

The ledger was found by Mrs. Abbie Collins among the old books of her grandfather Fuller. He had used the same ledger 20 years later as an account book. As books were books in those early times and not, to be thrown lightly away, lie had utilized the blank lower part of the pages for a record of his sale of cordwood to the steamboats. Some of the boats landing and taking on wood were the Lucy May, the Alhambra, the Metropolitan, the Vixen, the Ben Bolt, the Greek Slave, the Henry Clay, the Clipper, the Skipper, and many others, the wood selling for $3.50 per cord for hard wood.

And so the record of the old days goes on. One dollar for a day's labor, a day at that time meaning from sunrise to sunset, and sixty-five cents for a day's hoeing, thirty cents for two pounds of butter and twenty-five cents for a straw hat.

Luther Boweu started a store, and the first post-office to be established in all this section was opened here in 1836, with Mr. Bowen as postmaster. He went to New York to buy goods for his store, and when he returned he brought with him a bride from Erie, Pennsylvania. They came in a covered wagon and, after boarding a short time with the Pierce family, they moved into the log house belonging to William Blundell, the Blundells having, in the meantime, built a new home on the hill.

The Bowens lived in the log cabin until a new frame house could be built in the lower part of the newly laid out town. This first frame house to be built stood on the west corner of Third street and Chicago avenue, the corner now occupied (1928) by the residence of Mrs. C. L. Howe. He also erected a hotel on the corner where the Radke House now stands and called it Mississippi House. This hotel was known afterward for many years as the Woodruff House and was presided over by I. S. Woodruff and his wife. This building was finally torn down to make room for the fine building which occupies the site.

Many of the travelers who arrived about this time on journeys of exploration remained and took active, part in the affairs of the town and county, but left no descendants, and their names are becoming only a memory even to the older generation. Among these are found the names of John Orr and his wife who came here in 1836 from Vermont and remained here until death called them. Mr. Orr started one at the first general stores in the town.

Many a barefoot youth in the fall was taken to Mr. Orr's store by his dad and out of a big wooden box of boots a pair was selected which seemed about the right size. They were taken to the peg scraper and the sharp wooden pegs on the inside were scraped down and the boots were tried on. Although some of the sharp pegs may have been left inside, if he could get them on his braised and battered feet, they were promised a fit. The boots were made straight so they could be worn on either foot thus securing longer wear. However when these kip knots and mother's home knit woolen socks were once thoroughly soaked they could hardly be removed from the foot, even by the aid of the bootjack, which every family had.

No history of Savanna would be complete without the name of Dr. Elias Woodruff. He came west from the state of New York in 1830. He had just graduated from a medical school and he settled first in Joliet, III., and the year following he came to Savanna. Here he remained, teaching school, doctoring the sick and for many years conducting a drug store. After his marriage to Miss Arma Eddows of Galena in 1842, he built a home on north Main street opposite the Pierce hotel. This house was moved farther south on Main street, and he erected the large brick residence which still stands on the old home grounds. He spent the remaining years of his life in our midst, a respected and beloved friend of all.

Another settler who arrived very early was Nathan Lord who came from Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1836. He and Royal Cooper, another arrival of about the same time, entered and surveyed the land south of the original town and nearly all the land in and around Chestnut Park was owned by Loyal Cooper. He set out the chestnut trees which give this thriving suburb its name, and there is much interesting history connected with its settlement.

The high ridge of ground extending cast on the rain hill was covered with oak trees, and was a wonderful place for flocks of wild pigeons which gathered there arid fed on the acorns, hence was the happy hunting ground of the young hunter of that day.

The transfers of property will show that many of the early settlers owned farm land in that section and there were several log houses located there very early.

The farm of Nathan Lord lay on the east side of the present road to the cemetery, and the old turnpike connected the village of Savanna with that settlement. It was not until 1853 that the bridge across Plum River was built to connect York township and* Fulton on the south. Previous to this time the only means of crossing the stream was by a ford in low water, and using a ferry in high water.

In 1843 Nathan Lord married Mary, the eldest daughter of John Smith and they remained in that vicinity, he taking an active part in the new county organization. Lord's lake in Chestnut Park is a reminder of the pioneer family that lived nearby in the long ago.

John Smith, father of Mrs. Lord, arrived early in this community, coming from Louisville, Kentucky and bringing with him his wife and eight children. They came up the river in a flat boat, or keel boat it was called in those days, and settled in Savanna in 1838. He started the first brick­yard and all of the first brick buildings were built from these native bricks.

There has been considerable discussion as to just where this first brickyard was located as some of the authorities do not agree, but one of his grand­daughters, Mrs. Julia Smith Bashaw, gives the site as east of Fifth street, and south of Walnut street her father, James Smith, having worked there as a boy. The family lived at one time in a house on the site of the City Hospital. He also started a brickyard on Chicago avenue east of the Fuller homestead.

The first brick house to be built was erected for Mrs. Harford and her daughter, Miss Swing, mother and sister of Mrs. Luther Bowen. It stands today on Main street just south of the Northwestern Illinois Utilities company office building. At the time the house was built in 1838, the grounds extended south to the corner and it was the first place to be beautified with a flower garden, like bushes, and other shrubs, and also with an orchard. The deed to the lots was given to Mrs. Sarah Hartford by Luther Bowen. Mrs. Harford and her daughter, Miss Ewing, were the first Episcopalian's to make their home here.

The First Decade

I have tried to group together the families arriving during the years from 1836 to 1838 as nearly as the records can be traced, but in some« cases the records are incomplete and in many others entirely lost Among the arrivals in 1837 were Charles Ben­net and his wife with their two year old twin daughters named Adelia and Amelia. They located their log cabin in what is now East Savanna, near the Plum River bridge. Our story concerns the twins for when they had grown to womanhood, Adelia became the wife of Martin Shepard and they spent all their lives in this vicinity, rearing a large family. Amelia became the wife of George Nipe and also spent all her life near Savanna.

Another family whose history is closely identified with the first years of the foundation and growth of Savanna is the Jenks family. William L. B. Jenks, P. M. Jenks, George W. Jenks and their sister, Almira, with other members of the family together with their parents came west from Beverly, West "Virginia and settled in Rock Island in 1836. After a stay of about a year at that place they arrived in Savanna in 1837. Capt. W. L. Jenks became the first landlord of the. Mississippi House built by Luther Bowen. He afterward engaged in several business enterprises and became connected with the old Northern Line Packet company, and for several years was a well-known captain and boat owner. He retired .from the river to the farm in the east part of town now occupied by his son, Thomas Jenks.

F. M. Jenks was too well known to need much added to his history as he was among the leaders in business and politics. He married Miss Louisa Armstrong of Sand Prairie, near Hanover and they spent all their lives in Savanna. In 1905 they celebrated their golden wedding. Mr. Jenks retired from active service and left his business in the hands of his sons, the Jenks Bros.

James White came here also about 1837 and started a store. He married Miss Almira Jenks, a sister of the Jenks brothers, and they went to Elizabeth and started a store and later settled in Hanover where he is remembered best as the founder and builder of the Hanover Woolen Mill which continues to be one of the big enterprises of northwestern Illinois.

Out of that dim past appear the names of Henry B. Harmon and his wife Nancy Bowen Harmon who arrived here from Herkimer County, New York. Squire Harmon, as he was familiarly known in those days, was an educated man, and taught one of the early schools, and held positions of trust in the new county after its organization. They settled on the farm east of town, now owned by T. C. Jenks (1928) and set out the first apple orchard in this section. They sold the farm to Capt. W. L. B. Jenks, father of T. C. Jenks, and the records show but that one transfer of the property until the present day.

The Harmons built a stone house on the south side of Chicago avenue, which was then away out in the country. The house was part stone and part frame and had on one side what the pioneers called a stoop. After the death of Squire Harmon, Mrs. Harmon, who was a sister of Luther and David L. Bowen, made her home with her daughter, Mrs. John A. Cooley. She lived to be past ninety years old and was one of the most lovable of all those early pioneer women. She could tell many tales of the early days and was always a welcome guest at all the social affairs.

One of the stories Mrs. Harmon delighted to tell was about the time when the first steamboat came up the Mississippi equipped with a real steam whistle. The families who had come to this country, which was inhabited only by Indians and wild animals, had lived in fear of the dangers of the forest, and the tales they had hoard, only added to this fear.

When they heard that awful sound of the whistle in the distance, unlike any sound they had ever heard before, they were almost paralyzed with fright. Thinking it was some strange wild animal about to make an attack, or perhaps a tribe of Indians starting out on the warpath, the Blnndells who had by this time settled on a farm near what is now Chestnut Park, gathered the family together and ran all the way across the swamp to the home of the Harmons. The only other family nearby was the Bennett family this side of the mill, and they also came running to the Harmon home with the twins. But as nothing happened and their fears gradually subsided, they learned the cause of the alarm.

With the year 1837 we reach a logical close of the settlement period, and with the years following, 1839 and 40, came many of the most important men and women who carried on so successfully the work already begun by those earlier pioneers.

In a history of this kind it is not possible to trace the family fortunes down to the present generation, but I have tried to find the names of those who helped carve a city out of a wilderness.

Organization of Carroll County

And now our story of Savanna has covered the first decade of its growth, and we reach the next important epoch in its development which was the organization of Carroll County. In the year 1837 the residents of this section, finding it quite inconvenient to make the trip to Galena for all legal business, petitioned the Legislature to be set apart from Jo Daviess County and to be made a separate county organization. The Act was approved in February, 1839, second Monday in April following, was named as the day upon which the election should be held and a full set of county officers named and the place for locating the county seat be decided upon.

It is interesting to know that there were only three precincts or voting places in this new county, those being Savanna, Plum River and Elkhorn Grove, and that the full county vote numbered 212, of this number 127 lived in the Savanna district. Savanna received the majority of the votes cast and therefore was declared the county seat for the time being.

This was a proud day for all of our old friends in the village whose fortunes we have been following since 1828, and we meet them all again in their official capacity as they helped to lay the firm foundation of our own county.

And now as this is a woman's story of the way things are accomplished, I shall just write down the facts which look to be the most interesting and leave the dry details of the procedure of the organization to those who care to look through the old records.

From the history of Carroll County of 1913, I find the names of the first County Commissioners to be Luther H. Bowen, Sample M. Journey and Garner Moffett. The first meeting of these commissioners was held in Savanna, April 13, 1839. They appointed Elijah Bellows of Savanna and Alvah Daines of Elkhorn Grove the first assessors, also Norman D. French the first collector, and each man was assessed by the commissioners, four day's labor on the roads.

William Goss was the first clerk of the county commissioner's court, Hezekiah Francis was the first sheriff. John C. Owings was the first probate justice, and Mason Taylor was the first coroner. Royal Cooper was the first recorder and Levi Warner was the first surveyor. Leonard Goss was the first notary public and Vance L. Davidson was the first public administrator. Everything being in readiness for the transaction of business, on the 12th of September 1839 the first term of the circuit court was held. The building used for the court stood on the corner of Main and Webster streets and served as a sort of public building. There does not seem to be any record of who built it, or why it was built. It was used for school and for church services of any denomination that, came along. (An extract from the papers of Mrs. Sila Bowen). School had to be dismissed during court week and it was then that the Pierce tavern was extra crowded. It was then the tables had on extra fine linen, and the tall brass candlesticks had an extra polish as they were set in a straight line through the center of the long tables which were set for thirty or forty people, each candlestick holding a sperm or wax candle.

It was then the old black cook came down from Galena, the same one who had cooked for us in Galena, and roasted pigs or turkeys and monster sirloins of beef. The same old cook who had the beef steaks broiled to just the right turn on the large gridiron, over the red hot coals on the hearth of the big fireplace, in which all the cooking was done. The baking was done in an outside brick oven.

By this time they had some bedrooms finished, but not enough to accommodate all who came and they therefore still kept the ballroom filled with beds. They had one bedroom in the attic which had no window in it, and this was used during court week to put the criminals in, as there was no jail, and always afterward it was called the "criminal's room.

Old Judge Brown had to have a room by himself, and often brought his own cook along so as to have everything just as he liked to have it." That first session of the court did not have many eases, but the second term, held the next May 1840, was quite like modern times as there were two divorce cases and two slander suits.

But Savanna was not left long to enjoy her court and her county seat, owing to the condition of the roads, and the long distances they had to drive which made it hard to reach this place. Many settlements had been made by this time in other parts of the county, especially on Preston Prairie, Elkhorn Grove, Cherry Grove and the eastern parts.

An election to locate the county seat on a site afterward named Mount Carroll, had been urged by a Mill Company of that section. This election was held in August, 1843, with the result that the Mount Carroll site received the majority of the votes cast, and in 1844 the county offices were moved to that place. And there we will leave them, as this is a story of Savanna, and the county seat does not enter into its growth or progress, except as a place to transact the regular legal business. With that matter out of the way, we will return lo the records of the families in this locality just before or after 1840.

Pioneers of 1840

One of the pioneers to arrive about 1840 was John Finke. He shortly afterward opened the first cooper shop. He married Margaret Bothwell and they always made Savanna their home. They had several children, but the two that are beet remembered were Sarah Ellen and Anna who were teachers in the school for many years. All the members of the Pinke family were devout church members, Mr. Pinke being one of the founders of the early Congregational church.

Another pioneer who arrived in 1840 from his I native home in England was Charles Pulford, father of Bothwell and Samuel Pulford and the late Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson. He married Sarah Bothwell, a sister of Mrs. Pinke, and for years they lived in a stone house on the corner of Third street where the Public Library now stands. Later in the forties, 1848, two other brothers arrived from England and after getting as far as Chicago they finished the remainder of the distance on foot. These two brothers were James and Jeremiah Pulford. Having reached a point somewhere near the corner where the Catholic church now stands, they inquired of a man they met where they could find Savanna. He told them they were in Savanna, greatly to the joy of the foot weary travelers. All these families have descendants still living in Savanna.

Fred Chambers, who for years was the big landlord of the Chambers hotel which bun down in 1882, came to Savanna, also, in 1840 He was born in England but had spent his early W. hood in New York. He was engaged in several enterprises, among them being a powder mill before he engaged in the hotel business. The family has left this vicinity with the exception of Mrs. T. B. Rhodes, who lives in Mount Carroll.

One of the noted pioneers whose name appears on so many old legal documents is that of Silas Killam. He was a bachelor and had a wagon shop on the south corner of Main and Adams streets where Dr. Maloney's office has stood for so many years. When the call to the Civil War came, Squire Killam, as he was called, packed all his tools into barrels, headed them up, locked up his shop and enlisted. When the war was over he returned to Savanna, opened up the barrels, took out his tools and started to work in his old shop.

Captain John B. Rhodes, one of the best known arrivals of this period, reached Savanna in 1841. One of the outstanding business enterprises in the life history of this distinguished pioneer was his connection with the old Northern Line Packet Company, operating for years on the Mississippi from St. Louis to St. Paul.

In 1816 Mr. Rhodes and Miss Mary Jane Pierce, the pioneer baby girl of the early settlement, who had by that time reached the age of seventeen years, were married. They made Savanna their home and later built the large brick house on north Main street, on the site which had been occupied by the early Pierce log cabin. In the big house they raised a family of five boys and one daughter. The sons have been known in business circles as the Rhodes Brothers during all these years. But as time changes, only two of the family continue to make Savanna their home, John B. Rhodes, one of the twins, and Henry C. Rhodes, the second son. Thomas B. Rhodes, twin brother of John B., has made his home in Mount Carroll for several years.

Another name which was closely identified with the growing town was that of M. Dupuis. He was born in Canada of French-Canadian parentage, and came to this part of Illinois before the Black Hawk war. He served during the period of the war, remaining in Galena until 1845, when he came to Savanna, where he engaged in the lumber business. His wife, who was Miss Sarah A. Woodruff, teacher in the earliest school in Elkhorn Grove, was one of the most highly respected and beloved of the pioneer women. She was foremost in all things for the betterment of the community and was a founder and leader of the W. C. T. U. It is a pleasure to pay tribute to such a noble woman. Mr. Dupuis was active in all town affairs and was the first Mayor of Savanna.

In looking over some old papers of her father, Reuben H. Gray, his daughter, Mrs. Sarah Gray Bowman, came across a dairy kept by him when he came west from the state of New York. He left his home in Erie County in July, 1844, accompanied by his wife, Abby Dewey Cray, and two children, Helen Gray (Kearney) and George G?. The trip was made by wagon. In the party were his father and mother, also hiss brother, Calvin, with his wife and family. In two weeks they had reached Michigan and by September they were at Inlet Grove, near Chicago. After doing some surveying at this place they started out again and the party reached Savanna, their final destination, in January, 1845. He went to Dixon and entered land for a home here easting his lot with the early pioneers, where he followed his vocations of teacher, surveyor, and merchant. Early in the year of 1845, his parents died and were buried in the cemetery on the hill.

Another settler who came west, arriving in Savanna in 1845 was Albert Stedman. He settled in Stephenson County in 1839, then later came to Carroll County. He took active part in the affairs of the town and his sons, Prank and Ira M., for many years held positions of trust in the community. At this writing, 1928, a daughter living in Savanna is the only one left here of a large family. It is to her, Mrs. Louisa Robinson, that I am indebted for many dates and incidents given in the story of Savanna.

The Forties were the years of many additions and changes made in the frontier settlements throughout this section of Illinois. Although I have not been able to mention the names of all those families locating here at that period, tribute has been made in a brief way to those who had a prominent part in guiding the affairs of the little village. And so the struggle of the years went on, the primitive conditions remaining about the same. They had no other means of transportation. of any of their products except by steamboat or hauling by team across the entire state to Chicago.

In their urgent desire to get to a better market with their grain, stock, or other productions, they eagerly welcomed the proposition for the building of a railroad, as this mode of transportation had become an assured improvement. In those days when a dollar which had been wrested from the virgin resources and been saved in a home, a few acres, or a small business, was worth a hundred dollars in the present time, or even a thousand dollars, perhaps.

To secure this first railroad, they mortgaged their homes, or land, to raise the money to aid the project of building the road. And folded up with­in these old mortgages which have been handed down among other papers to the present generation, you may find a heartache or a tear, as those brave old settlers struggled to pay off that debt. But all that passed away and was forgotten, and with a railroad finally a reality, a more prosperous condition prevailed in the little village.

The Poll Book of 1846

In looking through a box of old papers left by D.L. Bowen, I came across the Poll book of an election held in Savanna precinct August 3, 1846. This was a State and County election and contains the names of the entire population who voted that day and furnishes a list of the residents of the year ending in 1846. The original document has been framed and placed in the public library exhibit of old pictures.

Poll book of the election held on the Third day of August 1846. And John B. Rhodes, David L. Bowen and W.L.B. Jenks judges and Merritt Hamilton and Silas Killam clerks of said election were severally sworn as the law directs previous to their entering on the duties of their respective offices.

Names of voters: John Beecroft, James Kimball, J.M. Planck, J.P. Goodrich, N.C. Gilbert, John O'Neal, H.B. Harmon, L.J. Smith, Joel Howd, Simen Gilbert, Robert Mcclanahan, John Parker, Royal Jacobs, Clement Starbeck, Benj. N. Kellogg, L.D. Ensley, A.M. hatton, Alex McDonald, Luther Griswold, Wm. Hawthorne,P.R. Kingon, Anthony Pero, Thomas Roof, P. Sargeant, Elias Woodruff, Enoch Chamberlain, H. Melendy, Lewis St. Ores Jr., Thos. B. Rhodes, Robt. Richardson, David L. Harrison, Summer Downing, Jonathan Manning, T. S. Barnes, Hez Francis, Solomon Ashby, Charles Pulford, Oliver Bashaw, Wm. P. Hard­en, John M. Kibey, Calvin Gilbert, Stephen Neal, A/B. Miller, Luther Gilbert, T. F. Sheldon, Wm. C. Thompson, Levi Kent, Henry Spafford, Geo. Ashby, Joseph Ashby, J. C. Boyer, Robert Blair, N. K. Lord, Aaron J. Pierce, Wm. Rhodes, Wm. McEntire, George Davidson, Alex Wallace, James Wilson, G. R. Day, Geo. Myers, Vance L. David­son, N. P. Walter, Jas. Myers, Wm. Patterson, Wm. Edmonds, Henry Miller, John Orr, Wm. Bashaw, Wm. Ashby. Robt. Ashby, Wm. Wait, R. H. Gray, Hiram Maxfield, Wm. Bacheldor, Chas. Bennett, John Smith, Amos Whitten, John Fuller, F. Chambers, Alex B. Warren, Isreal Day, Cyrus Colvin, James Watson, Horace Davis, L. H. Bowen, Albert Stedman, E. Hitchcock, Wm. Blundell, J. B. Rhodes, D. B. Hartsough, D. L Bowen, Silas Killam, M. Hamilton, Levi Wilson.

At an election at the school house in Savanna, Savanna Precinct, in the County of Carroll, and State of Illinois, on the third day of August in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred, and forty-six the following named persons received the number of votes annexed to their respective names for the following described offices towit:

Thomas M. Kilpatrick had 56 votes for Governor
Augustus C. French had 36 votes for Governor
(We will skip over the other state officers)
Luther H. Bowen had 45 votes for State Representative
Henry Smith had 32 votes for County Commissioner.
Norman D. French had 56 votes for County Commissioner
John B. Rhodes had 83 votes for Sheriff
John B. Whiteside had 4 votes for Sheriff
Jered Bartholomew had 56 votes for Coroner
Then follows a scattering vote for different candidates
Certified to by us , John B. Rhodes, Wm. L. B. Jenks, D. L. Bowen; Judges of Election.
Attest: Silas Killam, Merritt Hamilton - Clerks of Election

With this date, the year of 1846, the period of the settlement of Savanna logically closes. This old document which was evidently laid away immediately after election seemed never to have been unfolded. It is to be hoped that every legal voter cast his ballot that day as this gives the only record we have of the settlers living here at that time. The original Poll book, as it was called, may be seen at the Public Library and is worth looking at.

Those settlers who arrived after that time found conditions as prosperous as any frontier village could be at that early date, and they simply had to carry on what the others had begun.

I have tried to tell the simple story of these earliest pioneers who came here when there was nothing but a wild, unbroken forest where the Indian hunted, trapped, and roamed at will; and who lived out their simple unassuming lives and passed peacefully to their rewards. None of them ever achieved greatness and no one of them ever had greatness thrust upon him. Great fortunes were not made, and as they came empty handed, no fortunes were lost.

But the fact that they built well their foundation cannot be disputed as we look upon the beautiful streets and buildings of our present city. My aim has been to follow the fortunes of those early founders down through the years when there were few records kept and their history was more or less handed down from one generation to an­other. After the organization of Carroll County the records have been preserved and papers filed, so those in need of legal dates can possibly find them.


Savanna 100 Years - Part 2

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