This pleasant farming town, with its pretty name, so suggestive of green fields, Mayflowers, and all of the beauties of spring-time, was first settled in 1835. The valuable timbered lands upon the shore of the Kishwaukee, which courses along its eastern border, early attracted settlers, and it was claimed and occupied by adventurous white men even before the departure of the Indians. A large Indian village then occupied the present site of Coltonville.
John Tower, John Thorn, Morris and Erasmus D. Walrod, James and Samuel Gilbert, Ira Douglas, Robert Graham, James McCollum, and Henry Madden, were among the first to occupy this very attractive section of the County ; but with them were a number of rough fellows, who made claims of great extent for the purpose of selling them out, and who defied the regulations of the claim association, and kept up a war which drove emigrants away.
Stephen Mowry first settled the place afterwards purchased by Rufus Colton, and which, a few years after, was known as Coltonville. This, about 1838, became a smart little village, at which the courts of the County were first held, and which it was supposed would be the County Seat. Mr. Cox, Mr. Peaslee, Spafford and Curtis Smith, Phineas Stevens, and Timothy Richardson, first settled this southern portion of the town.
Dr. Henry Madden, an active and intelligent citizen at Brush Point, was the first Representative to the Legislature from this district, and labored hard to secure the location of the County Seat at his place.
Before Sycamore had an existence there was a lively village of a dozen houses at Coltonville, with a lawyer and a doctor, a store, a tavern, post-office, and shops.
A distillery was built by Phineas Stevens and Rufus Colton in 1840, but it never was a source of much profit. The proprietors couldn't prevent their fattening swine from getting drunk ; and when Stevens finally barreled them up, took them one hundred and fifty miles north to the pinery for a market, and then obtained only two cents a pound for his pork, the distillery was abandoned.
The little village at Coltonville gradually declined, its buildings were removed, and now the entire town contains no village, nor even a post-office, being better accommodated for these purposes by the neighboring village of Sycamore.
Liberty was the name given to the town upon its organization in 1850. It was selected by the Townsends, Nichols', and Nickersons, those earnest, active members of the Liberty party of those times, who were neither ashamed nor afraid to be known as station-agents on the underground railroads, but the name had probably been previously given to other townships; for a few months after, it was changed to Mayfield.
Deer, wolves, and massasaugers (or the prairie rattle-snakes), were particularly numerous in the first years of its settlement. In the autumn of 1837, Mr. Godfrey Carnes killed twenty-five deer on his farm, and one new comer was startled, on finishing up the center furrow on a ten-acre "land" which he was breaking, to find twenty-five lively massasaugers hissing and rattling their warnings at him.
The town was kept in a broil for many years by claim jumpers; but when the claim wars were settled by the perfection of their titles through purchase from government, and the claims of the rival points for the seat of justice had been disposed of, the affairs of the town moved on the even tenor of their way. with perfect quiet. The old settlers gradually acquired the comforts of life, the outlying prairie became settled, and the country increased in population and wealth.
In 1855 its population was 835, in 1860, 998, and in 1865, 1029.
Mayfield sent 103 men to fight the slaveholders' rebellion, and scarcely any town in the County was more prompt in responding to the calls of the government.
Those who gave their lives to the country in the war were:
J. P. Young, who died at Camp Nelson, March 5, 1864.
W. H. Decker, at Farmington, May 16, 1862.
G. G. Farewell, at Shiloh, Tenn., April 6, 1862.
J. Patterson, at Camp Sherman, Miss., August 25, 1863.
Turner Wing, at Mayfield, May, 1862.
Alonzo Houghton, in rebel prison, Cahaba, Ala., September, 1864.
Wm. Stevenson, at Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., June 27, 1864.
Joseph Piper, at Quincy, 111., April 23, 1862.
Samuel Piper, at Youngs' Point, La., April 1, 1863.
Edward Howe, at Chattanooga, Tenn., August 15, 1864.
Elias Goble, at Gallatin, Tenn., December 21, 1862.
Marvin Dennis, at Smithland, Mo., December 31, 1861.
William Kerr, on steamer City of Memphis, Jan. 5, 1863.
The assessment of 1868 shows that it is one of the most wealthy of the towns of the County, in proportion to the number of its inhabitants.
The first religious meetings in the County were held in Mayfield, by the Methodists, and for a year or two they were held regularly at Mr. Ira Douglas' house. They were subsequently continued at the school houses ; and in 1860 a fine church was built at Pleasant Hill, by that denomination, the inhabitants contributing with unusual liberality for its construction.
The town Supervisors have been :
For the year 1850, Mulford Nickerson ;
1851, Willis Lott ;
1852, James Sivright ;
1853-14, Agrippa Dow ;
1855, James Parker ;
1856, Henry Madden ;
1857-58. W. A. Nickerson ;
1859-60, A. B. Crippen;
1861-62, James Sivright;
1863-64, T. Wynkoop ;
1865-66-67-68, Curtis Smith.
Source: History of DeKalb County, Illinois by Boies, Henry L. (Henry Lamson), 1830-1887
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