OUR EARLIER PIONEERS.
AMONG those who came out prospecting in the spring of 1831 were EARL ADAMS AND EBENEZER MORGAN, from New York. They descended the Ohio to the Mississippi, and then up to St. Louis, where buying ponies, they followed the banks of the Illinois river to Ottawa, and up the Fox to Yorkville. Reining up their horses on the present Court House Hill, they gazed on the lovely stream below them, the wide, beautiful prairies beyond them, and the timber behind them. The green was dotted with flowers, the birds sang in the branches, and a group of deer stood gazing at the strangers from the edge of a hazel thicket some distance away. ''Here," thought Mr. Adams, " is my home," and dismounting he drove his stake in the soil and took possession. Following up the river about two miles farther, they came to a creek, where Mr. Morgan halted and made his own claim. This done, they passed up to Chicago, sold their ponies, and returned home by way of the lakes.
The Old Log Cabin
Geo. Hollenback's First House, Fox Township, 1831
But before that, indeed as early in the season as it was possible to travel, GEORGE AND CLARK HOLLENBACK, from Magnolia, Putnam county, and their friends William Harris and Ezra Ackley, were on the ground. They were from West Virginia, and had approached the frontier by short stages; first to Ohio, then to the Wabash, and lastly to Magnolia. The men came first on a prospecting tour, in the latter part of March. Traveling on foot, they crossed the Fox river at Ottawa, passed over the high prairies of the town of Mission to Vermet's, and from there struck out for the Big Woods, above where Aurora now stands. At Specie grove they were informed that the Big Woods country was very wet, so they did not go as far as they intended, but encamped at a place near Oswego.
In the morning, while the others prepared breakfast, Mr. Hollenback strolled off on a tour of observation, and in a few minutes found and drove a stake on his claim. But it had been decided that they should settle together, and when the others objected that there was not enough timber there for all of them, he relinquished his claim. Where now? Mr. Hollenback remarked that he had noticed a large grove on their left as they came up, which, from its lying low, seemed to promise desirable shelter as well as timber; so it was agreed that they should return to that. It was Hollenback's grove, near Millbrook. They entered it on the east side, and it was at once settled that the ridge between the two creeks should be the dividing line, Ackley and Harris taking the north, and Hollenback the south. And that ridge is a dividing line still.
Then they brought up their families : Clark Hollenback, wife, daughter and three sons—young men ; George Hollenback, wife, daughter and three sons, who were boys; William Harris, wife, three daughters and four sons; Ezra Ackley, wife and two daughters; Patrick Cunningham and wife; and William Brooks,—a little colony of twenty-nine souls. Clark Hollenback settled in the Newark timber, living in Hobson's old cabin until he could build his own, on the hill below Mr. Needham's. Cunningham put his stake on the opposite side of the timber, where John Boyne now lives.
In a few days Hobson happened along, and was'not particularly pleased at finding his old house inhabited ; but Mr. Hollenback satisfied him, and they parted good friends. But it was the common law of squatter days that when a man forsook his claim, it was the rightful property of whoever should next claim it.
The others settled on their respective claims and at once erected three shanties, viz : enclosures of logs, covered with bark and split timber, to shelter their families while the houses were building. Mr. Hollenback's was on Hollenback's creek, near the present residence of W. A. Hollenback. Mr. Harris' was near the present site of a tenant house owned by Thos. Atherton, north of Ackley's creek, and Mr. Ackley's was near the ridge, midway between.
Arrived on the ground April 18, they immediately began to make clearings to plant corn, for they had rather plant among the stumps than risk the prairie sod. But Clark Hollenback broke, during the summer, fifty-five acres and fenced it in. It is now Albert Needham's farm.
GEORGE B. HOLLLENBACK, the oldest son of Clark, started a pioneer blacksmith shop, which he afterward sold to his father and Mr. Holderman. When the summer's work was done, he built a log store in the edge of the grove, and going to Peoria on horseback, he took the boat to St. Louis and purchased a stock of Indian goods to the amount of two hundred dollars. They were brought up the Illinois river, and thence overland. This was the beginning of a frontier store which became widely known, not only among the surrounding settlers, but even in the States. It was the beginning of the business of Newark, or Georgetown, as, for many years, it was called—after the founder. His wife was Mrs. Reynolds, whose daughter is Mrs. A. D. Newton, of Yorkville. It is perhaps needless to say that he sold but little of his goods for cash, but traded them to the Indians for muskrat skins.
Early in the spring, about the time Geo. Hollenback and party came up prospecting, DANIEL KELLOGG was on the move. Leaving Ottawa, where he had been chosen the first Justice of the Peace in LaSalle county, he came to Holderman's, and crossing the narrow slough, bought out Countryman, at what has ever since been known as Kellogg's grove. And the Indian family, packing their little property on ponies, bade farewell to their old wigwam, and filed out among the trees and over the prairie in search of another resting place. A few weeks after, MOSES BOOTH, on foot, with an ax and gun, crossed that slough, and weary with his journey, lodged with his friend and old neighbor, Mr. Kellogg. In the morning he set off prospecting, and after exploring all day through the towns of Big Grove and Fox, found himself at dusk at the infant settlement in Hollenback's grove. Mr. Hollenback's family had arrived that day, and had just established themselves in their new shanty. It afforded but little room, but what frontiersman was ever known to turn away the stranger? Mr. Booth was entertained, and in the morning, when no pay would be taken, he volunteered to cut down a tree, and did so—thus giving the littlt; settlement their first lift. Then retracing his steps of the previous day, he choose for the site of his cabin the splendid knoll on the north-east corner of Apakesha grove, now occupied by the fine residence of Lott Scofield. Looking out from among the tall white oaks that formed the border of the grove, his eye could take in the wide sweep of level prairie to Plattville, and around almost to Minooka. It would have been glorious to a poetic temperament, but Mr. Booth was a practical man, and proceeded at once to cut "a set of house logs." This done, he brought his family, which consisted of his wife and ANSEL REED, the boy who, four years before, went through the snow from Beresford's to Hawley's, in search of a needle. He was a slim lad, not yet thirteen years of age, and had been bound to Mr. Booth about two years. The country had changed somewhat since his previous trip. Instead of two lonely families, out of sight of each other—the only inhabitants in eighty miles—there were five houses, and other little settlements near; traders and travelers passing every few days, and Indians every day. Ansel Reed now owns a fine farm near Plattville, and has a sister—Mrs. Eraeline March—at Bristol Station. She was five years old at the time of the journey through Kendall. Mr. Booth remained at Kellogg's a few weeks, and rented of him five acres of land, to plant corn and pumpkins. But dissatisfied witli his claim, for some reason—perhaps remembering the northcast wind— he made another in the adjoining Big grove, where a mile of heavy timber would be between him and the north wind in any shape. There, about twenty rods in the grove, on the south side, he built his house. It was sixteen feet square, and Mr. Kellogg, his son Ezra, and his hired man — William Teal — helped raise it, Ansel Reed looking on. It still stands, as a part of the residence of J. W. Mason, Esq., and was not only the first house in Big Grove, but is, without doubt, the oldest existing building in Kendall county, and as such we may hope it will be long preserved and cherished as a memento of the days that are past, and that will come again no more.
WHILE Booth was building his house, the Ament brothers arrived from Bureau county, where they had been living several years. They were originally from Livingston county, N. Y., in 1824. The eldest, EDWARD G. AMENT, worked a few weeks at Peoria for Joseph Ogee, an Indian interpreter. Then came along John Kinzie and Medore Beaubien—the latter a young man, son of John B. Beaubien—with a Mackinaw boat and a two ton cargo of Indian goods for the fall trade. They were on their way up from St. Louis. Mr. Ament hired to Mr. Kinzie for ten dollars a month, and went with him. They made but slow progress working the heavy boat up the stream. When it would get aground, Kinzie and Beaubien would leap into the cold water, and one each end of an oar would push it off again. But at Marseilles they found it impossible to navigate further, and Mr. Kinzie, leaving the two young men in charge of the goods, went to Chicago after ox teams and wagons. He was silversmith to the Indians, making silver ornaments, brooches, bracelets, &c., which the wealthy Indians freely indulged in, and Mr. Ament's work was to do chores, cut wood, make hay, tend stock, &c. There were but seven families in the place. In 1825 he hired to the Claibornes, four miles up the north branch. There were two brothers. Archibald spent most of his time trading with the the Indians, while Henley helped work the farm. That year Edward helped a man by the name of Vermet raise the first log cabin on the site of Evanston. The logs, instead of being raised up on forked sticks as usual, were pushed up on skids—a much easier process. In 1820 he went to the Galena lead mines, where his brothers were getting twenty-five dollars a month. He spent two years there working leads for himself, and then removed to Red Oak Grove, Bureau county, where he and his brothers were the only settlers between Galena and Peoria—fifty miles on one side and one hundred on the other. Early in the spring of 1831 he came up this way, prospecting, and stopping at Dougherty's, rnet Peter Specie, his old Chicago friend. Specie had a little farm, formerly, about where Bridgeport now is, two or three miles out on the south branch, and the good man was in such constant diificulty with his neighbors that he sorely tried the patience of Mr. Kinzie, then Justice of the Peace. Mr. Ament, however, had had no trouble, for he had had no deal, and Peter was glad to see him, escorted him to the cabin which he and Colonel Sweet called home, and there Edward made his claim, and returned for his brothers. Four came with him—Hiram, Calvin, Anson and Alfred—all unmarried, and the youngest, Alfred, not more than ten years old. The eldest brother, Justus, was married, and remained behind. They arrived about May 10th, and set to work at once to improve their claim. They were entitled to the distinction of being the youngest squatters in Kendall county.
About the same time GEORGE HAVENHILL, wife and, two sons—Fielding and Oliver—and his son-in-law, Anthony Litsey, entered the county. Mr. Havenhill was born in Virginia, in 1778, and emigrated to Tazewell county, in Illinois, in 1830. His brother William was the first white child born in Kentucky. Mr. Litsey had a family of four little children, so that the party consisted often persons. Part of Mr. Havenhill's family was for the present left behind. They found temporary shelter at Mr. Dougherty's and Mr. Kellogg's, and, renting a few acres of land, planted it to corn. Mr. Litsey placed his stake on the site abandoned by Mr. Booth, and using the logs already cut, erected his cabin nearly on the site of Mr. Scofield's present residence.
Soon after they arrived, Countryman, who had moved to Pawpaw Grove, came over to get some one to break up a corn patch for him, and Fielding Havenhill was commissioned by his father to do the work. With two yoke of oxen, a plow and wagon, he undertook the journey, crossing the river by the ford at William Smith's and ate and lodged with the Indians while he remained. The squaws followed the plow in a troop, planting the corn and treading it in with their feet. It was a novel experience for the young man, but he acquitted himself well. He brought back seed enough for their own field in Kendall. The summer was spent by the settlers in making clearings, building cabins, and making ready for winter. Geo. Hollenback was gone six weeks after one grist. He waited for the wheat to ripen, cut it with a cradle, ground it in a horse mill, bolted it by hand, and reached home with it just as the last loaf was being divided. On the last day of October, 1831, ABRAHAM HOLDERMAN arrived with his family at Dougherty's and Kellogg's, in search of a new home. He came from Cass county, Ohio, having sold his property there, and was the wealthiest settler that had yet entered Kendall county. Ansel Reed says : "November first was a cold, frosty morning. I was up before sunrise and drove Mr. Booth's oxen and wooden-wheeled wagon over to Kellogg's after a load of pumpkins and there I found the new-comers."
Mr. Holderman had eleven children, as follows : Harriet, now Mrs. Peter Miller of Sheridan, Illinois ; Ruianne, now Mrs. Newton Reynolds, New Lenox, Ill.; Matilda, now Mrs. Samuel Hoag, Nettle Creek, Ill.; Caroline, now Mrs. Isaac Hoag, Morris, Ill. ; Jane married and removed to Iowa, where she died ; Henry is in Bates county, Missouri; Burton, ditto ; Abraham is two miles east of Seneca, Ill.; Samuel, at Morris, Ill.; Jacob is dead ; Dyson is on the old homestead, at Holderman's grove.
Mrs. Reynolds was noted as a fearless rider, and rode all the way from Ohio on horseback. Mrs. Miller was married, and she and her husband did not come until the next spring. Mr. Holderman's first act was to buy out Walter Selvey, who owned one hundred and sixty acres, of which one-half lay in the grove. The sale was made before Daniel Kellogg, Justice of the Peace, and and the deed was recorded Nov. 14, 1831. It is the earliest sale on record in the county.
Two days after, he bought out John Dougherty and Pierce Hawley—eighty acres each. The latter sale was made before Stephen J. Scott, a Naperville Justice, who happened to be present. Willard and Hadassah Scott were witnesses. The other was made before Mr. Kellogg, with Bailey Hobson as witness. Edmund Weed, with his one hundred and twenty-eight acres, held out for a month, and then sold. The affidavits were made at Mr. Kellogg's, with Edward A. Rogers as witness. Deed recorded December 20th. Mr. Vermet did not sell until the following year. Mr. Holderman now owned the largest part of the Seminary section—the only land in Kendall county which was in the market, and to which a title could be given. Mr. Dougherty and Mr. Selvey went over to the Aux Sable grove and took up claims near the Lawton reservation, where they remained several years, but finally emigrated to Oregon.
Walter Selvey was undoubtedly the first settler in Na-au-say, his claim covering the farm now owned by David Goudie. Mr. Dougherty went into the timber nearly a mile north of Selvey's, where was a fine spring of water, and cleared up a little field with as much labor and patience as if prairie flowers did not bloom all around him. Mr. Selvey returned a few years ago to Aurora, and died there in 1876.
Mr. Weed after a while went to California.
December 1, in George Hollenback's cabin, Geo. M. Hollenback was born, the first white child born in Kendall county, and to-day is one of our most valued citizens.
THE WINTER set in early, and was known as "the winter of the deep snow." The Indian ponies were unable to find their usual feed, and some of them died. It was a lonely time for the settlers, though none of them suffered for want of provisions, of which corn was the chief. It was ground by beating it in a pestle made out of a block cut from a tree. An iron wedge answered for a mortar to pound it with. The mail facilities were far between. The nearest office was at Ottawa. The next nearest was at Chicago, where a half-breed was the mail carrier. He made trips twice a week from Niles, Michigan, and easily carried the entire mail in one pouch, pony-back. So closed the year 1831. It was signalized by new cabins, and clearings, but the next was to be signalized by the TERROR OF WAR.
Not all the Indians were involved; it is Black Hawk and his turbulent Sacs who must bear the blame. And yet there were, doubtless, those who were more blameworthy still, viz: Indian agents, who, to secure treaties, often made utterly false representations and promises that were never kept—and then cheated in the payment of the annuities, so as to secure a share for themselves. There was a current conviction with some classes that among white men Indians had no established rights. As a gigantic instance of this see the Cherokee lottery, which was taking place the very year now under consideration—1831.
The Cherokee nation owned one million acres of land in Georgia. There were gold mines on some parts of it. The Georgians wanted it. The Cherokees declined to sell. The State declared the land seized and ordered it disposed of by lottery. The gold lands were divided into 35,000 lots, of forty acres each, and the remainder into 18,000 farms of one hundred and fifty acres each. Any freeholder was to send in his name and have a chance of securing, without any adequate money or price, a share of the coveted spoils. Eighty-five thousand men wanted farms, and sent in their names. The gold fields were more attractive, and were competed for by one hundred and thirty-three thousand persons. There were about four blanks to a prize. The drawing was made at Milledgeville. There were two missionaries of the American Board, Messrs. Worcester and Butler, with the Indians. They were their pastors and teachers, and feeling the utter injustice of the entire proceeding, gave their counsels against it. Refusing to remove from ther fields of labor, they were forcibly taken, and spent sixteen months in the penitentiary. Again and again they were offered their freedom if they would cease teaching among the Cherokees; but they would not yield. The U. S. Supreme Court decided against the State courts, but the decision was not regarded. At last they were released, and went back to their work.
Black Hawk's warriors had no such provocation, but were simply irritated by a long accumulation of causes. It was a war of revenge, in which they expected not to conquer, but to kill. And like a sudden thunder burst it swept down upon the lonely clearings of Northern Illinois.
THE WAR ENDED.
A FEW days after the flight of the settlers, Peter Miller and wife, now of Sheridan, came out from Ohio and headed towards Ottawa. While crossing Grundy county, south of the Illinois river, they inquired their way of two drovers who were driving cattle to an Eastern market, and were then first informed of the war. They arrived, however, without accident at Ottawa, to the great relief of their friends— the Holdermans—who were anxiously expecting them. In June JOHN N. SCHNEIDER, the pioneer miller of Kendall county, arrived at Ottawa, having accomplished the entire distance from Pittsburg a-foot and alone. He was unmolested throughout the entire journey. His brother Peter, now living in the Big Woods above Aurora, came with his family by steamboat around the lakes, but when the captain heard there was cholera in Chicago, he put off before half the goods were unloaded, and the unfortunate Peter never saw them again.
The war now went on vigorously. Mr. Booth enlisted as a volunteer to fight the Indians, and so also did others from among the settlers. Those who had taken refuge in Chicago were at first housed in the fort, but when Major Whittlesey arrived with his regulars they occupied the fort, and the settlers moving out upon the prairie were gathered in shanties built of a raft of lumber just received by the Noble family. Half a dozen families were in some cases packed in a room fourteen feet square, and the confusion was great. Children quarreling, mothers chaffering, and men disputing, working, playing, or going on scouting expeditions, as they had opportunity. Black Hawk did not trouble them. He made a vigorous siege of the fort at Galena, but he was repulsed, and besides that seemed to avoid any open engagement. But a foe more deadly than the savage Indian was creeping up the country. It was the ASIATIC CHOLERA.
It started in Canada, and followed the highways and navigable streams westward, leaving lines of dead behind to mark its fatal track. On July 8th, a steamer arrived having on board Gen. Winfield Scott and two hundred United States troops, and the Cholera. The latter was shipped at Detroit. The boat anchored a mile from the beach, as there was no harbor, and small boats and canoes put out to bring off the men and cargo. Some had died on the trip, others were sick, and all were in fear. After landing it spread frightfully, defying all efforts to arrest or confine it, and in a few days ninety men had perished and were buried in a common grave, corner Lake street and Wabash Avenue. Those streets were not laid out at that time, though Lake street was surveyed the same fall, and the spot was included within the military ground. As soon as the news came to the ears of the settlers they fled again, being more willing to risk the Indians in the field than Cholera in the camp. While they needed an escort of forty men to bring them to Chicago, they needed none to guard them back, but fled in hot haste to the stockade at Plainfield, to Reed's Grove, to Hickory Creek, to Ottawa, wherever there was promise of safety. Gen. Scott's headquarters, while in Chicago, was at John Wentworth's tavern, familiarly called "Rat Castle," in allusion to a large number of its regular boarders. It stood at the east end of Lake street bridge. The government sent two steamboat loads of provisions up the Illinois river, and they made their way as far as Lemont, the highest point ever reached by steamboat on the Illinois. There was great rejoicing when they came, both on account of the prospective opening up of commerce, and because of the present need, for as the cornfields were not planted there was danger of famine. The provisions were intended for the troops, and to be given as government supplies to the friendly Indians and the settlers. But the agent in charge sold to the settlers, and whether unjustly or not, was popularly supposed to have made a dishonest purse for himself. However, it was better to buy than to starve, though it was hard on many of the people, who had all they could do to live before.
The war finally ended in the latter part of July by a decisive battle on the Wisconsin river, after which the Indians retreated to the Mississippi, marking their route by their dead, and were defeated again. Dr. L. D. Boone, a relative of Daniel Boone, and one of the oldest living pioneers of Chicago, was regimental surgeon under Gen. Henry, and was present at both engagements. These reverses settled the policy of the wavering Winnebagos, who pursued and captured Black Hawk, of their own accord, and delivered him up to the whites. In the meantime, THE HALL GIRLS had been rescued by a ransom. They had lost little Jimmy Davis. Before he had gone many miles he became so tired as to be a burden to the Indians, and they stood him up by a tree and shot him. The two sisters were taken into Wisconsin, and were ransomed by the government for two thousand dollars and forty horses. Their case excited much interest, and the legislature voted them a quarter section of canal land at Joliet. Congress also voted them a small sum of money. They were taken to St. Louis, and from there by Rev. Erastus Horn, a friend of their father, to his house in Morgan county, Ill. Sylvia afterwards married William Horn, and lives at Lincoln, Nebraska. Rachel married William Munson, and moved to Freehold, LaSalle Co., where she died a few years ago. The war being closed, Scott's Troops were not needed, and about August 1st the remnant of the little army, with baggage wagons and a drove of cattle for supplies, marched through the northern part of Kendall county, on their way to Rock Island. Fresh deaths occurred every day, and nearly every camp was marked by its graves. The second night out they
encamped near Little Rock, and the three soldiers' graves left behind were seen for years by the early settlers. Black Hawk, the cause of all the misery, was taken to Washington, where he made his celebrated speech to President Jackson, beginning: "I am a man, and you are another." He was confined in Fortress Monroe for the Winter, and released in the Spring, after making the tour of the eastern cities. He was lionized by the ladies, whom he complimented by saying, "pretty squaws." He returned by the way of the lakes to his tribe in Iowa, and died a very old man, Oct. 3d, 1840. He was far inferior to Pontiac or Tecumseh, having little to distinguish him but his bravery.
As to Mike Gurty, the outlaw and murderer, the RETRIBUTION that followed his crimes is worthy of mention. He was taken prisoner at the final defeat of the Indians, and for subsequently killing a guard, was confined at hard labor, with ball and chain, in the garrison at Prairie Du Chien, for four years. It was probably the first honest work he ever did. When he was so far gone with consumption as to be unable to work, he was released and suffered to wander off to Bureau county, in this State, in search of his family. It was the locality of his murders, too, and where one poor man and his young wife had been burned alive. He entered Princeton in the last stages of consumption, with a violent cough, emaciated, and tottering under his load of blankets, copper kettle, pot, gun, tomahawk, knife, and a piece of venison. When told that the Indians had all moved west of the Mississippi, he groaned in his despair, and shed the tears for his own misery that he could never shed for others. Reeling to and fro from weakness, he took up his march for the West. A week afterwards a body, eaten by wolves, was found on the prairie, and around the neck, attached to a buckskin cord, was a silver medal, on which was engraved, "A token of friendship, Lewis Cass, U. S. A." It was the last of Mike Gurty, the assassin of Indian Creek. And over him might be raised the epitaph : "He showed no mercy in his life; he received none in his death."
In August, 1832, John and Walter Pearce and WILLIAM WILSON arrived with their families. They were from the Mad river country, Ohio, and started almost the moment they heard the war was over, with horse teams, driving their cattle and sheep before them. It was a tedious journey, and the prospect, when they reached the quaking swamps around Chicago, anything but inviting. But from that point they struck for Fox river, and after a day's travel in that direction were better pleased. They touched the river at Aurora, though there was not one solitary cabin then to mark the spot, and passed on down the south bank to the present site of Oswego. There Mr. Wilson drove his stake, while the Pearces crossed the river and made their claims on the other side. Oswego is therefore, by a few months, the oldest inhabited town in Kendall county, being now in the forty-fifth year of her age. Mr. Wilson built his cabin near Walter Loucks' present residence. A few weeks afterwards, Ephraim Macomber and family arrived and claimed the place now owned by J. Budlong, on the Newark road, two miles west of Oswego. There were then two cabins on each side of the river.
This was not only the first settlement on Fox river in Kendall county, but, so far as known, they were the only settlers on the river, at that time, between Indian Creek and Geneva. During the same fall Mr. See, an unlearned and rather tedious preacher, well known in the early days of Chicago, made a claim covering the present site of Plattville. It was then known as The Springs, and was on the trail from Plainfield to Holderman's. Mr. See, no doubt, was charmed with the gushing fountain, beside which travelers used to camp, and wondering that no claim-stake had yet been driven there, resolved to drive his own. But he never occupied his claim. In September and October most of the settlers returned to their claims, which they found plundered of everything movable, so were obliged to begin over again. Some, however, wintered in other parts. George Hollenback and family and Mr. and Mr. Combs went to Ohio; Mr. Harris went to his former home near Ottawa; Mr. Ackley had gone on to Ohio on the breaking out of the war. Mr. Booth returned from Macomb and arrived on his claim October 31st. Mr Holderrnan sold his field of corn at Pekin, and returned so full of vigor that he was able to buy out Mr. Vermet, the last remaining old settler at the Grove. The sale of eighty acres was made November 16th, before J. Cloud, Justice of the Peace. John Hollenback and L. L. Robins were witnesses.
IT WAS HARD TIMES that winter. Corn was the principal food. It was cracked in a mortar at Holderman's. What little wheat could be got was ground in a coffee mill. Pork was supplied from the pigs that survived the war, feeding on acorns in the woods. But one by one the cold snowy days passed by.
THE OLD TRAPPERS.
ABOUT the time Mr. Goisline died at Holderman's Grove, and Mrs. Minkler at Specie Grove, Big Thunder, the renowned Winnebago chief, died in his lodge at Belvidere, and was buried sitting up, wrapped in blankets. His tomb was a log pen, covered with earth, and it was carefully kept in repair by his people as long as they remained there. Their time was not long, for the edict had gone forth that all Indians must leave their native hunting grounds and cross the great river toward the setting sun. September 27th, 1833, SEVEN THOUSAND POTTAWATOMIES were assembled in tents in the timber on the north bank of the Chicago river, and there the Government made a treaty with them by which they ceded all their remaining territory east of the Mississippi, and a good deal west of it. So earnest was the Government in having them fully represented, that the farmers were hired to take in their wagons all who were not provided with ponies. A few days afterwards, five government wagon loads of silver half dollars, to help pay the annuities, toiled up through the sloughs to Chicago, stopping at Plattville over night. The Indians, however, did not all disappear for three or four years after that. They went in detachments, tardily and unwillingly, and often returned in smaller parties to visit again their old homes. They hunted small game in the groves, fished along the streams, and gleaned in the wheat fields in harvest time. They were frequent visitors at the houses of the settlers, always stealing in softly, so that often they were not perceived. Such was the instinct of their wild nature. Especially in storms did they seek the white man's shelter. Boys used to play with them, wrestle with them, run races with them, and sometimes go off to the river to visit them. They learned to like pork, but did not stay in one place long enough to raise a hog, so were fain to procure the coveted bacon from the more stationary pale face. It was therefore a common occurrence for an Indian to come to the door with a string of fish, or some other catch, and making his wants known without any store of useless verbiage, say: "Pork, how swap?" They wore nothing on their heads, winter or summer. With moccasins and leggins of rawhide, and filthy blanket, they passed through all weather. Loose deer hair was stuffed into their moccasins in winter to keep the feet warm. The same dress constituted part of the outfit of a GENERATION OF PIONEERS, who were passing away as the eastern settlers came in. They added only a coon-skin cap, with the tail dangling behind, and a deerskin frock, open in front and belted in the middle, forming convenient wallets on each side for chunks of hoe cake and jerked venison. They were hunters, trappers and traders, and from continued association with the Indians became half savage in manners and appearance. Of a similar stripe were the keel boat men of the same period. The keel boat was long and narrow, with running boards along each side, on which stood the fifteen or twenty hands needed to push the boat up stream, with setting poles. One man always stood astride of the steering oar, and another might generally be seen on deck sawing away at a fiddle with the most desperate energy. They were on the rivers what the trappers were on the land, only more so, as they had opportunities for getting together in larger numbers and having lawless sprees. The keel boat and the trading post have passed away; and the old emigrant wagon, too, with its broad tires and heavy tongue, its high and curving side-boards, ribbed and barred and riveted, glaring in red paint, and the four horses or oxen toiling along before it. And now that we are at it, we might swell the list of obsoletes indefinitely, winding up with the hatchels, wooden plows and tinder boxes. The latter were almost indispensable, but not always available or attainable. The settlers usually kept fire covered up all night in the ashes on the hearth, but sometimes it went out, and then if they had no tinder they would have recourse to powder and gun, or borrow of their neighbors. The early settlers in Seward often brought firebrands from Plainfield, ten miles away, and it was a vexation that sometimes happened that when within half a mile of their homes, the cherished spark would shut its eyes and expire.
During the night of November 13th, 1833, occurred the famous FALLING OF THE STARS, continuing until daylight, which put an end to the scene. Those who saw it never forgot it to their dying day. In this section it was cloudy the first part of the night, and only those who were up before the first break of day had the opportunity of beholding it. All were awestruck, while many were affrighted, believing that the world was coming.to judgment. But when that night comes all the world shall know it, and "every eye shall see Him."
Many explanations have been attempted of this wonder, viz: that they come from volcanoes on the earth, from volcanoes in the moon, from compressed vapor in the atmosphere, from some far away exploded planet, &c. But it is now believed that they revolve in a permanent orbit of their own, like millions of flocks of birds flying around the sun, and sometimes the earth's atmosphere hits them with such a blow as to set them on fire and bring them down.
The following note is from E. Colbert, Professor of Astronomy in Chicago University: "The only theory now accepted by astronomers is that the meteoric matter revolves in a prolonged orbit within the solar system, extending like a monster leech over about one-quarter of the orbit, and each particle revolving in a little more than thirty-three years. The earth passes a certain point in this orbit every November, but only encounters the meteors when they are passing that point at the same time. Our next encounter with the meteor-storm will be before daylight, November 14th, 1899, or a little earlier—the point in which the orbits meet not being stationary."
It may be added that stray meteors are everywhere— invisible, by day, but seen every night. They are mostly little fellows. The larger ones we call fire-balls.
In 1834, very early in the season, emigration began to move. Among the earliest were two men from Putnam county, Mr. Hull and James M. Smith, who in February came up on a prospecting tour. They followed up Fox river as far as Millbrook, and were so well pleased with the country and carried back such a good report that when they emigrated in the following month, the families of R. Bullard and William Vernon came with them, and they made claims along the Fox river timber, on the south side of the river.
John M. Kennedy and Joseph Weeks came in the same party. The latter was born in Gallatin county, Illinois. Elias Doyle came soon after from the same locality in South Carolina.
During the summer, R. W. Cams, J. S. Murray and E. Dyal came in a company from Camden, South Carolina, and settled on the north side of Hollenback's grove. Mr. Cams bought the Harris place of Robert Ford, now owned by Thomas Atherton. Mr. Murray's claim is now owned by George Nichols and Nathaniel Austin, and Mr. Dyal's by William Van Cleve. John A. Newell, then a young man, came with them. They also brought out two colored women, former slaves, who had been a long time in their families—Dinah in Mr. Cams' family, and Silvie in Mr. Murray's. They were the first colored people in the county and both died here.
Mr. Hull claimed six hundred acres now owned by Dwight Curtis and Lewis Steward. Mr. Smith joined him on the west, the. farm now owned by Nathaniel Austin. Mr. Vernon came next, locating the farms now owned by George Nichols, H. C. Myers and Robert Barren. Mr. Bullard took from Mr. Vernon's claim furrow down as far as Hollenback's Grove. It is still owned by J. M. and J. R. Bullard and Jacob Budd.
About the same time Robert Ford and William Burns bought the Harris claim of JOHN MATLOCK, and added more to it on the north side of the grove. Mr. Matlock was from Indiana. His family consisted of five sons: John, who after two years returned again to Indiana; West, well known as Deacon Matlock, now residing in the town of Kendall; George, who became a physician and died in California; Joseph, a lawyer in Marcello, Ind. ; and David, a Baptist pastor, who died at Makanda, Ill. William Paul and Simeon Oatman came with them. The former was Mr. Matlock's son-in-law. He bought of George Hollenback the farm now owned by John Evans, west of Pavilion. The Bristol brothers had it first, and left it. Then Henry Ford took it, and sold to Hollenback. Paul is probably living now, somewhere out West. Oatman is dead. When David Matlock and his father were out prospecting the previous autumn, they slept one night in the bark covered hut erected by the Bristol brothers on their own claim, not more than two rods from John Evans' residence. It snowed in the night, and when they awoke in the morning they were covered with a sheet of snow. It was a cold reception in the new land, but it did not damp their ardor, though it did their clothes. After selling to Robert Ford, Mr. Matlock bought out James Ford, whose claim covered the present site of Pavilion and the farm of John Kellett. His sons also took other claims towards the river. Henry Ford lived where W. L. Ford does now. The family were from Tazewell county, where they had moved from Ohio in 1825. Samuel Piatt came with them, and taking a claim on the southern point of Long Grove, sent for his mother and the rest of the family. There were three sons and four daughters living together. But all are gone—scattered or dead. Almon Ives, from Vermont, father of Rev. F. B. Ives, came in and settled between Ford and Matlock, where Mr. Moulton now lives. There was now almost a continuous line of claims from Millbrook to Oswego. JAMES PRICKETT, from Champaign county, Ohio, was among the earliest to make a claim at Long Grove, but when he returned with his family the claim was jumped, and he bought another in Apakesha Grove. It is still owned by Elijah Prickett. The only evidence of Mr. Kellogg's claim there was some rails he had cut in the timber. Besides Elijah, Mr. Prickett had three other sons: Charles, now living at Nettle Creek ; John, at Seneca; and Aaron, below Dwight. Also a daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Bowen, near Lisbon. His first log house had door and floor of basswood puncheons, and still stands back in the grove, a relic of bygone days. He died after being in the country nine years, and his wife survived him but one year.
Three families from Middlesex county, Mass., came into the neighborhood. One of them, Dea. Isaac Whitney, settled on the south edge of Big Grove, opposite Lott Scofield's. His son, Lucius Whitney, born there in 1836, is now postmaster at Morris. The second, Jonathan Raymond, now residing in Bloomington, made the claim now owned by Mr. Van Buskirk. The third was DR. GILMAN KENDALL, now of Lisbon, who settled between the two others, making claims for himself and younger brother, Sylvanus, on land now owned by David Brown and C. Vreeland. Dr. Kendall had moved to Bond county, Ill., three years previously, and leaving that place, struck out, intending to find a new home somewhere in the region of Chicago. Now occurred two new things in the history of the county. He put up a frame house. The timbers, to be sure, were split out, but it was a true frame, nevertheless. What sawed stuff was necessary was obtained at Schneider's mill, which started at Bristol. The hardware was got at Chicago. There was a store at Ottawa, but people went to the lake for their large trading. But second, the house was located on the prairie, eighty rods from the friendly shelter of the grove. The settlers were astonished at such audacity and believed the building could not stand. The wind would blow it down ; the cold would pierce it through. But it did stand, and the example was so infectious that the next year Levi Hills moved his log tavern far out upon the prairie, on the site of Lisbon, as a half-way stage station between Plattville and Holderman's.
THE MEXICAN WAR.
EIGHTEEN hundred and forty-six was the year of the invention of the sewing machine, by Elias Howe, of Connecticut; the year of the admission of Wisconsin; of the battle of Nauvoo, in Hancock county, and the first year of the Mexican war. There was much sickness during the summer, so that in some localities it is still remembered as "the sickly season." Among those who died in this county were John Matlock, Rulief Duryea, and Moses Booth—three of our oldest pioneers. In the spring, the first piece of strap iron was laid on the line of the Galena & Chicago Union R. R., the pioneer road of Northern Illinois. The difliculty of getting produce to market kept prices low, and could only be overcome by railroads. In the autumn of 1846, in Chicago, prices were as follows : Wheat, 50 cents ; oats, 17 cents; corn, 23 cents; pork, $1.50; beef, $2.25; lard, 4 cents; butter, 9 cents; cheese, 6 cents; potatoes, 31 cents; wood, $3.50 ; turkeys, 50 cents; salt,$1.87. The canal was nearly completed, and was expected to afford much relief. A smaller canal was in anticipation, as a feeder, from Fox river across Kendall county to the Illinois ; but though the route was surveyed, the work was never begun.
On May 16th, the OSWEGO CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH was organized by Rev. Hope Brown. The constituent members were Josiah Walker, Seth Walker, Orlando Walker and wife, E. Jackman, Paulina Richmond and Mary Gr. Fenton. The pastors have been: J. W. Brown, E. B. Coleman, Russell Whiting, J. Van Anthrup, Robert Budd, Robert Brown, Mr. Wilhelm, D. J. Baldwin, J. A. Cruzan, Jonathan Waddams and H. D. Wiard. The meeting house was built in 1847. The celebrated UNION SCHOOL of Na-au-say, dates from this year. The house was built by subscription, and was undoubtedly the best school building in the county. The early teachers were: William B. Richardson, Jas. G. Andrews, Sarah A. Andrews, H. S. Towne, A. S. Westcott, Miss Gleason, Theodore L. De Land, Deborah Shepard and Frances A. Whiting.
The well known "Na-au-say Invincibles" debating society was organized here in 1872. S. J. Van Dorston, A. R. Thompson and brother, and Guy C. Wheeler were among the prime originators and supporters of it, and their unswerving energy has demonstrated what can in this line be done in a purely farming community.
In 1840, Royal Bullard built a little house on his place and rented it to Mr. See, an Englishman, who occupied it one year. In 1841, Mr. Bullard taught school in it. J. S. and R. K. Bibbins and Levi Brainard were among the scholars. The next year Maria Lester taught the school. In 1846 the school house was built at Millbrook, and George and Daniel Ross, Miss A. Ingalls, Miss Carlton, James Ward and Sarah Ball were among the early teachers.
THE OSWEGO CEMETERY was laid off and donated to the village about 1835, by Morris Gray, L. B. Judson and L. F. Arnold, who owned the land. It was where the Baptist Church now stands. About 1846 it was included in Loucks' and Judson's addition to Oswego, when Mr. Judson opened another burying ground in his grove, which is now used. The remains in the old yard were gradually transferred to the new one, until it was vacated. In 1876, M. J. Richards, who had bought Mr. Judson's farm, conveyed the cemetery to the Oswego Cemetery Association, which had just been formed, and a considerable amount has already been expended in fencing and clearing up. They now propose to add gravel walks.
The officers are: President, Rev. Henry Minard; Vice President, C. L. Roberts; Secretary, L. N. Hall; Treasurer, David Hall.
The Plano cemetery was platted February 5th, 1846, by Almon Ives. The first burial was a son of William Ryan. Mr. Favor was buried about the same time. But that was seven years before Plano was founded.
The county postmasters in 1846 were: Oswego, W. D. Parke; Bristol, James Noble ; Penfield, Josiah Lehman; Little Rock, L. D. Brady ; Newark, Walter Stowell; Lisbon, Thomas J. Cody ; Aux Sable, Alanson Milks.
August 16th, 1846, an election was held for or against a new State constitution. There was a large majority for it throughout the State, but this county went against it five hundred to four hundred and forty-six. The entire population of the county at the time was about fifty-six hundred, of whom three were colored, and there were two hundred more men than women. Their sawing and grinding was done by fourteen saw and grist mills. The Millington grist mill was built in 1845 by J. P. Black and Samuel Jackson.
THE MEXICAN WAR commenced early in 1846. A call was issued for fifty thousand volunteers to serve for one year, and thereupon a mass meeting was called in the school house, used for a court house, in Oswego. A. R. Dodge and A. B. Smith spoke, but not many enlisted at first. During the following days, however, some fifty volunteers were obtained, and were known as "Capt. Dodge's Company." The neighbors volunteered to take them by team to Peoria, from which point they went by boat to Alton, where the company was made up to its full number and marked as Company E, 2nd Illinois. Thence they went by boat to New Orleans, and from there marched overland through Texas. Following are seventeen of the names : A. H. Kellogg, William Sprague. David W. Carpenter, John Sanders, John Roberts, George Roberts, Aaron Fields, Edward Fields, James Lewis, Dr. Reuben Poindexter, William Joyce, Benjamin Van Doozer, William Potter, Mr Tucker, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Hatch and Mr. Sheldon.
They arrived at the seat of war late in the fall, and on February 23d, 1847, participated in the terrible battle of Buena Vista, which lasted all day and resulted in a victory for the American army, and a total loss on both sides of nearly three thousand men. David Carpenter and John Sanders are the only members of that company now living in this county. They were mustered out in Mexico, and arrived home July 17th, 1847.
When their term of service had expired, another company was raised by Mr. Fullerton. Among the names were: James Nelson, Hiram Burdick, James Boss, Joseph Wilson, Vernon Hopkins, "Hickory Bill," D. C. Kennedy, John A. Yeigh. The last two enlisted in Aurora, but are now living in this county. No surviving members of Capt. Fullerton's company, who went from this county, are known. They did not, however, reach Mexico in time to do much fighting, before the war closed, and Uncle Sam had lost some of his boys but increased his farm.
THE YEAR 1847 was signalized by its being the date of the first proposition for a Pacific railroad. Mr. Whitney, of New York, laid the proposition before Congress. It was favorably reported on by our Senator, Hon. Sidney Breese, called forth the encomiums of our Legislature, was the subject of petitions from Michigan, whence the proposed transcontinental railroad was to start, and, indeed, the nation was thrilled. And this, too, without the attraction of the gold mines, then on the eve of being discovered. But the financial winds did not favorably blow, and the project slept.
Early in the winter, the newly invented telegraph tremblingly knocked at our doors for admission, and it was finally granted in "an act granting the right of way to S. F. B. Morse and his associates through this State for his Electro Magnetic Telegraph." Verily, what hath thirty years brought forth !
The Mormon war at Nauvoo was finally closed up at a cost to the State of nearly forty thousand dollars.
The convention for the revision of the constitution sat at Springfield from June 7th to the end of August. John West Mason was the delegate from Kendall county.
Augustus C. French took his seat as Governor, in place of Thomas Ford, who could retire saying, "Without being wasteful, I retire from office poorer than I came in."
A ripple of LOCAL EXCITEMENT was created early in the year, by an attempt to consolidate Kendall county with Grundy. It originated with the people living along the line of the two counties, but the alarm quickly spread, and petitions with five hundred and fifty-three names attached were sent to the Legislature, remonstrating against any change, and so the matter ended. Eternal vigilance was the price of county existence in those days. Toward the close of the year, small-pox broke out about Newark, and carried off several victims; among them, Asahel Lewis, Esq., and Mrs. Henry Newton and child. But it did not spread to any extent into the surrounding country, which was an additional cause for gratitude on December 16th, the official Thanksgiving Day.
In the spring, Truman Mudgett opened A BREWERY in the stone building by the track in Oswego—the first institution of the kind in the county. But the soil was not congenial, and it ran only a few seasons. Ten years afterwards another and more pretentious one was erected on the east edge of town, but that, too, finally became a financial failure, and the building is now occupied by W. H. McConnel as a butter factory—milk instead of barley, and butter instead of beer. And both cows and men are the gainers. There is now neither brewery nor distillery within the limits of Kendall county.
Torkle Henderson, a well known Norwegian settler, made his claim on the prairie east of Nels 0. Cassem's, and became the nucleus for a large number of his Norwegian countrymen. He was not the first, for Nels. Oleson, Chris. Johnson, and one or two others were on the prairie before him ; but from that time the Norwegian settlement dates its growth, until now they are numerous enough to maintain two churches and two or three schools.
In the Minkler district, town of Kendall, a new frame school house was built. There had been two log school houses before it. In the first, opened in 1835, Lodemia and Mary Luce, James Butler and James Hubbard taught. The second was built in 1837, and had the following teachers: Almon Ashley, Wesley W. Winn, W. W. Van Emmon, Harmon Minkler, Mary Stockton, Miss Judson, Malvina Ashley, Rosina Morgan, Alice Ashley, Miss Hill, Lizzie Winn, Isila Springer, Hannah Beecher, W. K. Beans, Samuel Kerr, Fred. Church, Mr. White, Mr. McCroskey, Mr. Mason and Mrs. Hoyt. The new frame school has been running thirty years, and the following is a partial list of the teachers : P. C. Royce, Mr. Goodhue, Miss Drew, Miss Walker, Lodemia Morgan, Theodore Hurd, Wm. Minard, John Dodge and Miss Harkness.
The Asbury school is just over the line in LaSalle, but is patronized by Kendall. The house was built in 1847, and was named from the post-office near by. The early teachers were: F. W. Partridge, Elizabeth Fisk, Eugene Coe, Amelia Smith, Mary Bosworth, Mary Brown, Alexander White, Mary Scott, James Mead, Sarah Densmore, John Newman, Angeline Smith, Mr. Kern Jane Knight, and George Corcoran.
At the Bronk school, Na-au-say, the first teachers were Benj. F. Vandervoort, Philander Royce, Joseph Hall, Mr. Holliday, Parker Holden, and James Hunt.
The well known RED SCHOOL HOUSE, in Big Grove, was built in 1847, and lasted twenty-nine years, before it was displaced in 1876 by a better one and sold to the township for a town house. It gave shelter, therefore, to nearly sixty terms of school, besides spelling schools, lectures, shows, exhibitions, festivals, elections, caucuses, Sunday schools, preaching, prayer meetings, singing schools, and all the other public gatherings which nsually accumulate during a thirty years' experience in the center of a thickly populated township. The house was the successor of the "Old Log Church," that stood near by. The following are the names of a few of its teachers: Miss Day, Wm. Cody, I. N. Brown, Mary A. Brown, Hiram Scofield, and Frank Taylor. The new school house is a fine building, costing $1,200, and is an ornament to the town. It will be many years before it draws the sarcasm which the last years of the old one drew.
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