Knox County Illinois
Sparta Township History
From Sketch by E. H. Goldsmith,
This township was organized April 5, 1853, at the home of Thomas H. Taylor, on Section 14, and the following town officers were elected: T. H. Taylor, Supervisor; Asaph DeLong , Clerk; Stephen Smith, Assessor; Charles R. Rhodes, Collector; D. Reed, Stephen Russell and Peter Davis, Highway Commissioners; Moran Baker and Hugh Ferguson, Justices of the peace, and Marshall P. Delong, Constable. Mr. DeLong afterwards served the town as Justice of the Peace for 25 years. S. G. Dean served eight years, and John J. Sutor for a number of years. William Robson served long continuously as supervisor.
While Hezekiah Buford has the credit of being the first settler by building on Section 23, in 1834, the Wilmots have a record for longest continuous residence on the same land, for Amos Wilmot built a log cabin in June 1836, on Section 6, in which he lived for 15 years. He then built a house where he lived until his death in 1878. Very soon after his arrival came Reuben, Cyrus and Edward Robbins, brothers, and Levi Roberts, a cousin. The first of these was about the last of the early settlers. To him we are indebted for some of the information given in this sketch. From the fact that Levi Robbins having raised a large orchard and other trees “Robbins’ Grove” was for many years a noted land-mark and people came long distances for apples, as well as to hold picnics. In 1836, Asaph DeLong (who built the first house between Knoxville and Heath timber), Luman Field and William Heath settled on Section 31. The latter was married at Knoxville to Lucinda Field in 1837, and “hung up” housekeeping in their log cabin, a picture of which is still preserved. In a northeast direction they had but one neighbor nearer than Victoria. Mrs. Heath was a member of the society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she being a granddaughter of Elisha Field, Jr. and a great granddaughter of Elisha Field, Sr. both of whom fought in the Revolutionary war. She possessed papers showing the entire war history of her illustrious ancestors. Her grandchildren presented her with the badge of the society, which is an old-fashioned spinning wheel with beautiful surroundings and inscriptions.
James Neely settled on Section 30 in 1838, and Abram Neely on Section 5 a few years later. Other early settlers were: B. Ely, Thomas and George W. Faulkner, Booker Pickerel, and C. C. West.
Among those who came subsequently and who, with those already mentioned, as well as those who will be noticed hereafter, have been influential in the political and religious prosperity of the township are Solomon Lyon, J. V. R. Carley, Schuyler Goldsmith, A. F. Adams, William E. Morse, Henry Rommel, L. W. Olson, Oliver Stream, Joseph Masters, J. H. Merrill, James Paddock, Edmund Kennedy, James Barry, William S. Patterson, William A. Lee Jr., D. W. Nisley, R. W. Hulse, Vickrey Nation, Ransom Babcock, F. Z. Wikoff, G. S. Hawkins, and John Taylor. The latter has been assessor for thirty-one years.
As an indication that Sparta is a rich agricultural locality, capable of producing a great quantity as well as a great variety of crops and having in it many enterprising stock-raisers, besides being well watered by natural streams and springs, may be noted the fact that A. N. Phelps’ 200 acre farm, now owned by William Robson on Section 8, took three first prizes from the State Agricultural Society. The southeast portion, though more broken, is nevertheless fully as valuable in that it has been, and is yet to some extent, covered with an excellent growth of white and burr oak timber. But the chief value lies underneath, in the form of shale, from which, to quite a large extent, paving and building brick is being manufactured by the Galesburg Vitrified Brick Company. The coal industry from this fourth vein has also been quite large, and at one time as many as fifteen carloads per day were shipped from here, being handled principally by J. M. Holyoke, R. M. Campbell and Peter Dolan. At present, the trade consists in supplying the demands from the brick plant and the farmers in the vicinity, besides what is taken to Galesburg by teams.
The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy passes through Sparta in a diagonal line from near the northeast to the southwest corner. In November 1894, the Galesburg, Etherly and Great Eastern Railroad was opened, running twelve miles east, ostensibly to strike a great coal belt of some eighty-two sections, the center of which is Etherly, where the company placed a shaft costing $30,000. This company suspended operations September 7, 1895, but resumed December 7, 1897, under the name of the Galesburg and Great Eastern, with Edward J. Harms as manager. Foxie's Note: This fails to mention the Galesburg & Great Eastern Railraod, also ran through the town of Victoria, which is north of where Etherly used to be. Etherly was a coal mining town, when the coal stopped so did the town. Victoria still had the railroad for sometime after this. But the railroad to Etherly had quit when the mine was decapitate. My so many great grandfather Peter Dolan from Ireland was in a mining accident her which in the end caused his death. He was said to have owned a mine and have always wondered if this was the one or not. I live not far from where Etherly used to be.
The educational institutions of Sparta consist of one graded school, of which Professor O. H. Newman is now the Principal, and eight district schools, all of which are well sustained, the general policy being to employ competent teachers for the three hundred and ninety-five pupils now in attendance. The buildings cost a total of over $8,000. It is worthy of mention that in District No. 2, R. W. Robbins gave the site for school purposes, and here Mary Allen West, when in her fourteenth year, taught her first term of school. Later she was the honored superintendent of schools in Knox County.
The well improved highways of the township are due to the wise business management of Sparta’s road commissioners, seconded by her voters, for, in addition to being well graded and properly tiled, a large proportion of the bridges are substantially built of stone.
Prairie fires in early days were beautiful to witness and oftentimes to be dreaded. The writer has seen on his own farm, on Section 4, prairie grass (blue joint) six feet high on fire, the flames traveling at a rapid rate and with a dreadful roar. At one time a fire which is said to have started at Red Oak, in Henry County, threatened to devastate the farms of the new settlers, but warning was given those in the southwest part of the township by Maria, daughter of Luman Field, in time to avert the approaching catastrophe.
Sparta, both before and during the Civil War, contained quite a number of abolitionists, among whom was Abram Neely, a conductor on the underground railroad. Some of the old citizens still remember his hiding fugitive slaves at his home and taking them a night’s ride north to the next station.
The population of Sparta Township, according to the United States Census, has been as follows: 1840, 113; 1870, 1,950; 1880, 1,682; 1890, 1,293.
Wataga was platted in the spring of 1854 by J. M. Holyoke, Silas Willard and Clark M. Carr, and was incorporated by a special act in 1863. The first village election was held September 19, 1863. In 1874 it was re-incorporated, under the general law, with Section 16 as the village territory. J. M. Holyoke was the first resident and postmaster, and also built the first store, in conjunction with A. P. Cassel. This was operated by Willard and Babcock. The only bank in the place was started in 1863 by H.P. Wood, and is still run by him. The depot was built in 1856 and in the same year the Wataga House was erected and operated by Garrett Post for one year, when Loren Smith bought and conducted it one year, since which time it has been the property of C. H. Norton. The Wataga mill was built by William Armstrong in 1856, and soon afterwards was damaged by an explosion in which John Armstrong was seriously injured. George F. and David P. Niles, now extensive farmers and fine stock-raisers, bought the mill in May 1867 and ran it very successfully for eight years, patrons coming long distances with their own wheat and receiving entire satisfaction. Among those who have since owned the mill are: William and M. O. Williamson, who introduced expensive modern machinery, and Frank Darst, the present owner, who has also put in improvements and is doing excellent work.
The First Congregational Church was organized June 10, 1855, and the church society October 27, 1856. The church organization was led by the Rev. S. G. Wright. The first meeting was held in the depot, where the first sermon was preached. Subsequent services were held in the newly completed school house until 1860, when a substantial church, costing over $3,000, was erected, to which, in 1876, a parsonage was added at a cost of $2,000. The original members were: A. P. Babcock, William S. Farnham, Mrs. Maria S. Farnham, Mrs. C. F. Farnsworth, Benjamin Gardner, Mrs. Abigail Gardner, Miss Sarah Gardner, Mrs. Minerva Holyoke, Charles W. Rhodes, and Mrs. Jane Rhodes. Mrs. Charlotte Farnsworth, daughter of William S. Farnham, who served as a deacon for thirty years, and Amos P. Babcock are the only ones now known to be living. James Hastie also served as deacon until his demise in 1879 and was succeeded by Amos S. Fitch, the latter holding the office until his death in 1882. Among the secretaries of the society have been Hon. John Gray, of Jefferson, Iowa; the late J. M. Holyoke and E. H. Goldsmith, the latter of whom held that office twenty-four years and was church clerk for thirty years. This church has had seventeen pastors. Among those who have faithfully served in that capacity may be mentioned the Revs. Azariah Hyde, William W. Wetmore, Hiram P. Roberts, Prof. Willis J. Beecher, of Auburn (New York) Theological Seminary, and William R. Butcher, the last named serving six years. The present pastor is the Rev. O. C. Bedford. The Sunday school records show that on December 26, 1869, the membership was two hundred and the average attendance one hundred and forty-eight. John Hastie was the secretary and E. H. Goldsmith the superintendent, the latter holding that office for twenty-five years. The present secretary is E. Percy Robson and the membership is now ninety-one and the average attendance fifty-nine. The late George P. Holyoke and William M. Driggs, with their wives, rendered valuable assistance in former years.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1856 by the Rev. William M. Clark, whose circuit consisted of Oneida, Wesley Chapel and Wataga. He made his journeys on foot. Mr. Clark gave the site of Gilson camp ground to this district. Among the early members were S. F. Spaulding, John Gaddis, B. W. Foster, Lucius Vail and S. G. Dean, with their wives. The latter couple are the only ones now living here. Mr. Dean is seventy-nine and his wife eighty-one years of age. They have been and are still stanch pillars of this church. Mr. Dean was the first Sunday school superintendent, serving four years, and he was succeeded by S. F. Spaulding who, for nineteen years, gave his best services to the school. L. W. Peterson is the present superintendent. Among the pastors were: G. W. Brown, N. T. Allen, William Watson, D. Ayers, N. G. Clark, G. P. Snedaker, and the present incumbent, C. F. W. Smith. The church was completed and dedicated in 1867 under the pastorate of J. W. Coe, the presiding elder being W. H. Hunter.
The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1856, the first pastor being the Rev. T. N. Hasselquist. In 1860 the society commenced building a church, having formerly worshipped in private houses and school buildings. This church was struck by lightning and burned in 1875, but in the same year the present tasteful edifice was erected. The Rev. N. Nordgren, the present pastor, has acceptably served this people for some ten years. The membership of the church is about one hundred and forty, and that of the prosperous Sunday school one hundred and fifteen.
The Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1857 with the Rev. V. Witting as the pastor. The keeping up of regular services and of the Sunday school has been largely due to the untiring efforts of Oliver Stream. The present pastor is the Rev. John P. Miller.
The Wataga Christian Church, costing $2,000, was erected in 1875, but was torn down in 1896 and the church organization no longer exists.
The Wataga Catholic Church was erected in 1877 at a cost of $2,000. The Rev. P. McGair was its first pastor. The church is now connected with that of Galva and services are held once a month.
Wataga Lodge No. 291, A. F. and A. M., was instituted August 17, 1858, with S. G. Dean, W. M.; J. H. Thorpe, S. W.; Septimus Soper, J. W. The lodge has now a membership of thirty-two and its officers are: C. W. Merrill, W. M.; J. H. Merrill, S. W.; Hamilton Taylor, J. W.; C. H. Norton, Treasurer; J. M. Churchill, Secretary; Charles Dennison, J. D.; J. M. Cooper, S. S.; H.H. Marsh, J. S.; and John Wiles, Tyler.
The Order of the Eastern Star was organized February 22, 1888, and being the first chapter in the county it had many members from the surrounding towns, there being at one time seventy-four names on the roll. Other chapters having been organized in every town from which this drew its followers, it has now only twenty-seven members. The first officers were: Mrs. S. C. Slater, W. M.; H. H. Marsh, W. P.; Mrs. Merinda Dennison, A.M.; Miss J. Curry, C.; Miss E. Dolan, A.C. The present officers are: Mrs. M. Dennison, W.M.; Dr. A.S. Slater, W. P.; Miss McClanahan, A.M.; Mrs. Mary Dennison, C.; Mrs. J. Cooper, A. C.; Carl Merrill, Secretary; and J. H. Merrill, Treasurer.
Wataga Lodge No. 509, I.O.O.F., was organized January 10, 1876, by A. W. Berggren. Its first officers were: W. N. Thomas, N.G.; J. E. Thomas, V.G.; L. S. Whitcomb, Secretary; P. A. Smith, Treasurer. Other charter members were P. A. Smith and John McConchie. They meet in the Masonic Hall.
Rebecca Lodge No. 48 was organized October 20, 1891, with ten members, which number has been increased to twenty-two. The first officers were: John Deming, N.G.; Mrs. Nancy Deming, V.G.; Oliver Stream, Secretary. Meetings are held in Masonic Hall.
Wataga Camp No. 2339, Modern Woodmen was organized September 24, 1895, with eighteen charter members. The camp, though not having made much growth, is in a very healthy condition, having now twenty-one beneficiary and five social members.
The Wataga Nickle Plate Band is under the leadership of Anvern Thomas, and comprises the following members: D. M. Cooper, Carl Johnson, C. W. Huston, Edward Williamson, Fred Mallin, Earl Curry, John Whitehead, Frank Cooper, Eric Severin, George Curry, Carl Merrill, Will Thomas, and Charles Marsh. They have been faithful and efficient in serving the public for very little compensation.
The United States census returns give Wataga the following population: 1860, 1,538; 1870, 1,205; 1880, 734; 1890, 586.
Sparta Township Biographies
Thomas Carter Duval -- Boanerges Ely -- George W. Faulkner -- Henry Gehring -- Edward Howell Goldsmith -- George F. Niles -- William Robson -- John James Sutor -- Swan W. Swanson -- Frederick Zina Wikoff -- Jonas Williamson -- William Williamson -- Hannibal Parish Wood -- Alexander Frank Adams -- James Barry -- Tufve Benson -- George Henry Campbell -- Alex Gehring -- Joseph Gehring -- Dr. Henry Wyley Giles -- William Augustus Lee, Jr -- William Masters -- David Pratt Niles -- Jonas Olson -- William Stevenson Patterson -- James Durham Reed -- Oliver Stream -- Harrison T. Weed -- John Edwin Williamson
Thomas Carter Duval
son of James and Judith (Jennings) Duval, was born in Bath Co., KY, Feb. 28, 1802. His father was of French descent, was born in Virginia and was a soldier in the War of 1812. Mr. Duval was reared to manhood in Kentucky, where he learned the cooper’s trade, which he followed both in his native State and in Illinois.
He was married in Bath County, April 2, 1822 to Nancy Shumate, who was born in Virginia, Aug. 19, 1804, and died at Wataga, March 2, 1888. Ten children were born to them: Barryman, Elizabeth, Martha, James, William, Mary, Helen, Ellenor, Daniel J., and Ann.
Ellenor (now Mrs. S. S. Soper of Wataga) who places a portrait in this volume in memory of her father, was born in Henderson Township, Knox Co., May 3, 1839. She received her education in a district school and always lived on a farm. She was first married to David Temple, and had one child, Thomas F. She was married to Mr. Soper in Henderson Township in Oct. 1861. They have five children: George T., Mary E., Septimus S., Edward D., and Nettie May. Thomas F. is a farmer in Boone Co, IA; George T. is a farmer in Clark Co, MO.; Mary E. is Mrs. Mary E. Russell of Wataga, Knox Co, IL.; Septimus S. is in the Klondike gold fields; Edward D. is a farmer near Wataga, and Nellie M. is Mrs. Nellie May Jacobson.
Mr. Thomas C. Duval came to Illinois in 1835, settling first in Warren County, near Robinson’s Point, and removing to Henderson Township, Knox Co, in 1836. He brought to Illinois his wife, six children and one hundred dollars in money. He invested the money in land in Henderson Township, and his industry and good management insured success. When corn sold for a dollar a bushel he invested the proceeds in land, and in 1869 owned about two thousand acres in Sparta and Henderson townships.
In politics Mr. Duval was a republican, and he was a member of the Christian Church. He was a good and an upright citizen, ever ready to help others with money as well as advice. He was especially lenient to his tenants, sometimes giving them a second chance if crops failed, and, in one case at least, aiding a tenant, who was unable to pay his rent, to weather the storm and finally secure a farm of his own. Mr. Duval was kind-hearted and true, a kind father and a good neighbor, a man whose place could not easily be filled. His death occurred in Wataga, Sept. 25, 1890.
was born at Cumberland Gap, Claiborne County, Tennessee, December 21, 1821. His parents, Solomon and Rachel Turner Ely, were both natives of East Tennessee. His paternal grandfather, Isaac Ely, was born in West Virginia; his grandmother, Katherine came from Germany. His great-grandfather, Isaac Ely, was born in England, and his great-grandmother, Jessie Hopper, was born in Ireland. On his mother's side the grandparents were William and Susanna Turner, born in Virginia, the latter near Richmond.
Solomon and Rachel came to Illinois in 1834, just at the closes of the Black Hawk War. and settled in what is now De Witt county where they lived on a farm, and reared a family of ten children, four of whom came to Knox County. They were devoted members of Christian Church, and died where they first located, aged sixty-nine and forty-seven years respectively. He was of a poetic turn of mind. and was accustomed to write verses upon events of the times and the affairs of the neighborhood.
Mr. Boanerges Ely came to Knox county in 1845, and settled on Section 16, Sparta Township. He first bought forty acres of timber on Section 24, and then bought eighty acres of government land at government price, and afterward bought forty acres at two dollars an acre. He now owns a farm of three hundred and fifteen acres near Wataga. He was married in Henderson Grove, November 03, 1850, to Mary M. Duval, daughter of Thomas Carter and Nancy Shumate Duval, both of whom were born in Kentucky. Mrs. Ely was one of a family of ten children. her Father settled ona farm in Warren County, Illinois, in 1835, and came to Knox county in 1836, locating at Henderson Grove in Henderson Township. In politics he was a republican. He was a member of the Christian Church. Mr. and Mrs. Ely have three children: Nancy Ann, wife of J. H. Deming; Ella J., wife of Samuel Temple; and William L., is a farmer at Mayville, Traill County, North Dakota.
Mr. Ely is a republican, and in religion a Christian. He was successful in business and is counted among the prominent and substantial citizens of Sparta Township.
George W. Faulkner
of Sparta Township, was born November 13, 1827, in Orange County, New York, and was educated in Oakland County, Michigan. His ancestral record is most interesting. His paternal great-great-great-great-grandfather was a Huguenot minister who fled from France to Scotland in the days of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His paternal grandparents were Colonel William Faulkner, of Orange County, New York, and Ann Rogers Faulkner. Colonel William Faulkner served under General Putnam and had a find record as a soldier; he was twice wounded, and drew a pension. His maternal grandfather was James Bushfield, who was born in Ireland, and was of Scotch descent.
His parents were William J. and Isabelle Bushfield Faulkner, the former born in Orange County, New York. the latter born in New York City. William J. Faulkner was a soldier in the War of 1812, and drew a pension; he died in 1875, at the age of ninety; he was a good man and citizen. Mrs. W. J. Faulkner died February 17, 1863, aged seventy-nine. She was a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church. a noble Christian character and much beloved. Seven Children were born to them: William J.; deceased; Mrs. Catherine A. Sweet; Thomas B. deceased; Gardener S., deceased; Mrs. Esther E. Poyer, deceased; George W.; and Mary J. deceased.
George W. Faulkner came to Knox County with his parents in 1839, at the age of twelve. November 12 of that year they settled ten miles northwest of Galesburg, and the next spring moved to Henderson Township, and for one year rented land of Major Thomas McKee. They then moved to land in Warren County, for which they had exchanged their Michigan property. In 1848, they bought one hundred and sixty acres of land in Sparta Township, where David Niles now lives Section 19, which they subsequently sold, and bought one hundred and sixty acres of prairie land in Section 29. This they improved, and it is now one of the very best farms in the county.
Mr. Faulkner was married in Knox County March 17, 1864, to Bertha Emerson, who was a native of Norway, a member of the Congregational Church, and an exceptionally fine woman. She was educated in Galesburg and was successful school teacher, and it was while teaching at the military school that she met and married Mr. Faulkner. Mrs. Faulkner died October 21, 1872, at the age of thirty-two. They had two children, George Emerson and Kate; the latter married Mr. L. W. Peterson and they have two children. Harry and Edith: George Emerson married Mary Rommel, daughter of Henry Rommel, deceased and they have three children, Henry G., Nellie and Janet.
After his marriage Mr. Faulkner remained on the home farm, and was in partnership with his brother, Thomas B. until 1890, when they divided the property. he has two hundred acres of good land., the result of industry, economy and careful business management. His neighbors are his best friends, a fact that speaks volumes for his character. He is a republican in politics, and is Assessor and School Director having held the latter office for twenty-five years
Henry Gehring, is the son of Zavier and Elizabeth (Heminger) Gehring, both natives of Germany, the former having been born near Baden, February 9, 1825. Zavier Gehring was one of a family of nine children, and his parents were Bennet and Elizabeth (Closman) Gehring. He received an education in the common schools of his native land, and left home to work out when he was eighteen years old. He continued in this position two years, when he was drafted into the German army and served three and one-half years. In 1850, when he was twenty-five years old, he came to the United States, landing in New York City with only one dollar in his pocket. There he worked as a coachman and in other positions four years, and there, in 1853, he married Elizabeth Heminger. In 1854, he came to Knox County and began farming, buying thirty acres of land on which he now resides. He was a good farmer and stockman, one of the most successful in the county, and increased his holdings to about eight hundred acres of land, which he partially divided among his three children. He has been School Director, and has taken a great interest in education. He has lived an honest and upright life, and is an example to his posterity. His first wife died July 2, 1878. Afterwards he married Mrs. Mary A. (Leighton) Stevenson.
Henry Gehring was born August 29, 1858, in the old Gehring homestead, then a log house, and received his education in Knox County. His home is in Sparta Township. He is a successful stock-raiser, and now owns four hundred and eleven acres of land. On his farm is located the famous Gehring Coal Bank, from which hundreds of families derive their supplies of fuel.
In Knox County, March 3, 1887, Mr. Gehring married Carrie Benson, who was born March 4, 1864. They have two children: Earl Raymond, born January 5, 1889; and Webster Henry, born August 9, 1893. In religion, Mr. Gehring is a Methodist. In politics, he is a republican. He is a School Director and Road Commissioner, having held the latter office for eight years. [Transcribed by Linda Kestner]
Edward Howell Goldsmith
was born at Mecklenburg, NY, Dec. 20, 1834. He was the son of Schuyler and Catherine E. (Howell) Goldsmith. Schuyler Goldsmith was the son of Daniel and Sarah (Brewster) Goldsmith; his wife, Catherine, was the daughter of Caleb and Martha (Halsey) Howell, both of whom were born on Long Island, although the Howells were of Welsh ancestry, and Caleb Howell’s father was born in Wales. The Goldsmiths were natives of New York.
Schuyler Goldsmith, who had been a farmer in New York, removed his family to Illinois in 1855 and bought a farm in Knox Co., near Wataga, where he lived until his death in 1861. His wife, Catherine, having died in 1850.
Edward H. Goldsmith was brought up on the farm in New York. He received his education in the common schools, his training there being supplemented by much hard study at home. Although his early opportunities were limited, Mr. Goldsmith is at once recognized as an educated man, in whom the effect of strong self-discipline is evident. In addition to his intellectual pursuits, he diligently applied himself to the management of a farm, and in time became an experienced and successful agriculturalist. From 1860 to 1876, Mr. Goldsmith was engaged, during the winter terms, in teaching school. In this line of work he was especially successful, both as teacher and disciplinarian, his pupils taking high rank when they entered higher institutions of learning.
With all his varied interests, Mr. Goldsmith has traveled quite extensively, and in 1895, accompanied by Mrs. Goldsmith, who was in failing health, he spent several months in the west, visiting the Pacific coast and many of the intervening States.
March 8, 1859, Mr. Goldsmith was married to Anna Maria Whiteford, daughter of William and Margaret Whiteford, of New Jersey. Their marriage took place at Mecklenburg, N.Y. They have had three children: Julia Elizabeth and Catherine Howell, deceased; and Edward Whiteford, a farmer in Sparta Township.
George F. Niles
son of Sill and Louisa (Olmsted) Niles, was born at Hillsdale, Columbia Co, NY, Aug. 25, 1827. He received a common school education, which was supplemented by an academic course. His father was born at Spencertown, NY, in 1795, and died there, March 7, 1872; his mother was the daughter of Stephen Olmsted, of New England. Eight children were born to them, six of whom lived to the age of maturity. His grandfather, Thomas Niles, was born in Connecticut in 1760, and died at Spencertown, NY, Dec. 25, 1844. His grandmother, Rhoda (Phelps) Niles, was born in CT in 1765, and died at Spencertown Nov. 21, 1819. The Niles family is of English descent.
Mr. Niles arrived in Wataga, Knox County, IL. in May 1857, and with his brother, David P. Niles, bought the Wataga Flouring Mill. They did an extensive business, and their brand of flour was well known and popular. Much of their business was from the surrounding country to a distance of twenty-five miles. In 1864, they exchanged the mill for three hundred and sixty acres of land in Henry County, which they soon sold. From 1867 to 1871 they were in the mercantile business at Altona. The business interests of the brothers have been largely conducted under the firm name of Niles Brothers. They came to Knox County with very little money, but they had youth and energy, they were honest and industrious, and soon had the good will of the community.
In 1862, they bought one hundred and sixty acres of land in Sparta Township, Section 19, where David P. Niles now resides. They owned 840 acres of land in Sparta and Henderson Townships, which remained undivided until 1893. They also own 1092 acres of land in one tract, in Page County, Iowa, which is known as the Niles Stock Farm, and is located three miles south of Villisca, on the Nodaway River. Never did two brothers plan and work together in greater harmony.
The principal business of Mr. George F. Niles was farming and the raising of stock, and his herd of short-horn cattle was one of the best in the county. In 1866 he bought three hundred and twenty acres of land in Sparta Township, Section 21, where, in 1871, he built a fine residence which he has since greatly improved and now occupies.
Mr. Niles was married in Wataga, April 4, 1866, to Ella Josephine Wood. Two children were born to them: Charles W., born May 15, 1867, died Jan. 15, 1883; and Marian Ella, born April 8, 1873. Marian Ella graduated at Knox College in June 1894. Oct. 2, 1895, she was married to George W. Hayden, of Oak Park, IL., and they have one son, George Niles Hayden, born July 24, 1897.
Mrs. George F. Niles was born at Westford Hollow, Crittenden Co, VT., May 19, 1846, and was educated at Knox College, Galesburg, IL. She was the daughter of William S. and Phylena (Smith) Wood. Her maternal ancestors were English. Two of her ancestors, Colonel Seabody and his son, were in the Revolutionary War, and gave largely of their property to the cause of independence.
Son of John and Mary (Brown) Robson, was born near Newcastle, Durham County, England, Sept. 5, 1831. His parents were born near Newcastle, his father in Northumberland County. His paternal grandparents were John and Elizabeth (Stobart) Robson, the former having been born near Manchester England. On the mother’s side, his grandfather was James Brown, and his grandmother’s maiden name was Armstrong.
Mr. Robson received his education—and a very practical education it was—in a select school in England, and also in the cattle business in Newcastle. He came to the United States with his parents, and lived first at Beaver Point, Beaver Co, PA. The family arrived in Knox County early in the spring of 1850 and lived on a farm south of Galesburg till the year 1854, when they removed to Rio Township, where some members of the family still reside. His mother died in 1853, and his father died in Galesburg, aged 87 years. Mr. John Robson was a thoroughly trained English farmer, and reared his children in the most practical manner; he lived a retired life; politically he was a republican.
Mr. Robson remained in Galesburg several years, where he learned the building trade. He was first married in April 1857 to Miss Jane Goff, daughter of Mr. Louis Goff, who was one of the early settlers of Knox County, and held the office of Justice of the Peace in Rio Township for many years. There are two children born of this marriage, Cora Alice and John L. John L. married Miss Jessie Murdock of Galesburg, and resides in Omaha, Nebraska. Mrs. Robson died in 1867.
In November 1871 Mr. Robson was married to Miss Elizabeth Gordon, daughter of Mr. Peter Gordon of Copley Township, who, although yet living (1899) was one of the early settlers, and became one of the largest land owners and most influential farmers of the county. Of this marriage three children were born: Gordon, who died in Oct. 1881, at eight years of age; Edward Percy, and Henry Stewart, now living.
Mr. Robson has been actively engaged in farming most of his life. His first farm of 190 acres was located in Rio Township on Section 11, on which he erected buildings with materials hewed and sawed from native timber. He moved to this farm in the spring of 1857, and resided there till 1864, where he bought 320 acres of prairie land of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company at Wataga. This tract he improved, making it his home, and being very successful, added to it 580 acres and he now has a farm of about 900 acres, lying in one body near Wataga. Between Galesburg and Henderson he owns another farm, thought by some to be the oldest in the county, a part of it having been cultivated by the Indians. Roundtree, a Kentucky farmer, located upon the tract and was undoubtedly one of the first white settlers in this part of the country. As a feeder of cattle for profit, Mr. Robson is perhaps the most successful in Knox and Mercer counties.
A remarkable instance of fraternal confidence is the fact that Mr. Robson and his brother John were associated for twenty-one years in raising stock and in large farming operations with never the “scratch of a pen” between them by way of keeping accounts. About the year 1884 they determined to divide their property which consisted of nearly two thousand acres of land, in different farms in Knox and Mercer counties, with hundreds of cattle and hogs at various feeding yards. Starting out on horse back one morning, they “finished at noon”, giving each other “quit claim” deeds in connection with which no dissatisfaction has ever arisen.
Though a very public-spirited citizen, Mr. Robson has shown no ambition to hold office. Possessing the confidence of the citizens of his town, which his success in business and strict integrity in public matters naturally created, he was called to fill the useful office which afford remuneration only in the credit for having well performed their important and sometimes difficult duties. As School Director and Highway Commissioner, he rendered valuable services. He was year after year an influential representative of his town, and often of his county, in political connections. The County Board of Knox County ranks among the very first in the State for able and honest administration. In creating and sustaining that character the Town of Sparta has done its full share, and more, in the choice of its representatives, but never did better, if so well, as when in 1878 it elected Mr. Robson supervisor and retained him till 1899, when, justified by the condition of his health, he declined to serve longer. Bringing to the discharge of his duties the business habits and the methods with which his own business had been so successfully conducted, with a thorough knowledge of the county, and the character and habits of its people, his services were at all times valuable. On all questions his influence was profitably felt. In all building construction during his official service, including the Court House and the Alms House, he had a prominent part, his knowledge of the building trade giving him especial qualifications. But most important were his services on the Committee having charge of the Alms House, and all public charities, of which he was twenty years chairman. On no other committee rests greater responsibility; nowhere else is so much required of sound judgment and careful, laborious, painstaking consideration. To his firmness, integrity, impartiality and adherence to correct business methods, the admirable management of those interests is to a great extent due. He assisted in the organization of the Galesburg National Bank, has been a Director ever since, and the Vice President for several years. Indeed, it may be said that William Robson is one of the most useful citizens of Knox County.
John James Sutor
son of John and Martha (Lytle) Sutor, was born in County Monaghan Ireland, Jan. 25, 1849. His paternal grandparents, Martin and Jennie (McDonald) Sutor were both of Scotch descent. His parents came to America in 1852, when he was only three years old, and settled in Haldimand Co, Province of Ontario, Canada. There they lived until 1858, when they moved to Knox Co., IL, and rented a farm in Galesburg Township, southwest of the city of Galesburg. In 1864 they bought 80 acres of land in Sparta Township for $3,000., to which they subsequently added another 80 acres. Of the nine children born to them, four sons survive: William, John J., Martin, and Henry T. The father, John Sutor, died Nov. 14, 1874, aged 58 years. In religion he was a Presbyterian, and he was highly respected. The mother, Martha (Lytle) Sutor survived her husband, and kept house for her son, John J., until her death, May 28, 1895. She was born in 1817 in County Cavan, Ireland, and was of that sturdy Scotch-Irish stock of Presbyterian faith, which has set its mark on the world’s history for honesty, perseverance and thrifty industry. She was a worthy member of the race, truthful, inflexibly honest, and of a very devout disposition, a good wife, mother and citizen, honored and respected by all who knew her.
John J. Sutor was educated in the schools of Knox County, and by faithful attendance and careful improvement of the advantages they afford secured a good general education. His young manhood was spent at home assisting his father, and when the latter died, he was ready and qualified to carry the burden that had fallen upon him. In 1875, twenty years before his mother’s death, Mr. Sutor, with his brothers Martin and Henry T., had built a pleasant and comfortable residence upon the farm, valued at $2,700. Beside the home farm they have a large stock ranch in Rooks County, Kansas, comprising five and one-quarter sections of land or 3,360 acres. His brothers, Martin and Henry T., are associated with him in business.
Mr. Sutor is a man of influence in his township, and in 1890 was elected Justice of the Peace, which office he has held to the present time. He was elected Assessor in 1898 and now holds that office. In politics he is a republican.
Swan W. Swanson
son of Swan and Bengta Peterson, was born in Oenestad, Christianstac Laen, Sweden, Jun 14, 1833. His parents were natives of Sweden, and died in that county aged 84 and 65 respectively. Mr. Swanson was educated in Sweden and was nineteen years of age when he left his native land and came to the United States. The journey across the ocean was made in a sailing vessel, a “Liverpool Packet,” which had for a cargo, in great part, rails for a railroad. After twenty-two days of fine weather and uninterrupted sailing, he was landed at New York City, in Oct. 1852. He came directly to Knoxville, IL, traveling a part of the way on the Hennepin Canal. He had but a little money, which was stolen from him, so that he was penniless and homeless. To pass the time while looking for work, he hunted with a gun which he had bought in Hamburg. At last he found work with Lorentus Conger of Galesburg, at seven dollars a month. The following summer he worked for Isaac V. Gilbert, and farmed successfully.
Mr. Swanson was married April 3, 1865 to Sallie Truedson, who was born in Troedstorp, Ignaberga Soken, Sweden; her parents were John and Ingra Truedson. Mr. and Mrs. Truedson came from Sweden, and arrived in Knox County, Oct. 1, 1852, but a few days before the coming of Mr. Swanson. Their children were Nellie, Carrie, Ellen, Trued, and Bennett. The parents died in Galesburg.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Swanson are Hannah, Samuel R., Joseph O., David B., Mary C., Emelie E., and Winifred I. Mary C., who was married to L. O. Williamson of Galesburg, was graduated from Knox College in 1883, and Winifred I. in 1898. Samuel R. graduated from the Galesburg Business College.
Mr. Swanson conducted a dairy, and for seven years furnished milk to the people of Galesburg. He later settled upon land of his own, and assisted by his wife, became an independent and prosperous farmer. He bought forty acres of land within the limits of the City of Galesburg, which he afterward sold, buying other land, which he exchanged for a farm on Section 32, Sparta Township. This farm, with slight additions soon made, contained 320 acres. Mr. Swanson improved it by the erection of excellent buildings, and soon found himself the proprietor of one of the best farms in the county. He now owns 520 acres of arable land, besides 174 acres of woodland in Knox Township. The foundation of his success in acquiring a competence was laid in farming and especially in raising broom corn; his success was assured by his industry, honesty and good management.
In politics Mr. Swanson is a republican. He has been Road Commissioner many years, and was elected Supervisor of Sparta Township April 4, 1899. He and his family are Lutherans, and he has been a Trustee of the Lutheran Church in Galesburg.
Frederick Zina Wikoff
born in Rio Township, Dec. 27, 1846, was the son of John and Cornelia (Crane) Wikoff. His paternal grandfather was Zina Crane. The name of his paternal great-grandfather was Van Wikoff, and the family was of Dutch descent. His father, John Wikoff, came from New Jersey to Knox County in the fall of 1836, making the trip on horseback from Ohio. He devoted himself to farming, and took up 140 acres of land in Section 36, Rio Township. He improved the land, and built a comfortable home, where he lived for fifty-four years, and in which he celebrated his golden wedding: his death was the first that occurred in the house. He was a successful farmer, and accumulated considerable property, becoming in every way an influential citizen, honored and respected not merely by all the people of his township, but also by those of the county. He was Supervisor for Rio Township. He died April 30, 1897; aged 84; his wife survives him. They had five children: Gertrude A., wife of Hiram Colby; Frederick Z.; Harriet E., wife of G. H. Pratt of Hastings, Nebraska; Carrie F., wife of S. T. Howell of Woodhull; and Mary M., who married Oswald Oliver and died in Jan. 1896.
Mr. Frederick Z. Wykoff married Ida M. Conger, daughter of John N. and Elizabeth (Wheeler) Conger, in Oneida, Sept. 16, 1874, and they have four children: Winn C.; Gem, wife of W. B. Nelson; John N., a student at Galesburg; and Cornelia.
Mrs. Wikoff’s paternal grandfather was Uzziah Conger, who came to Knox County in 1838, and settled in Cherry Grove; her paternal grandmother was Hannah (West) Conger; the aged couple lived to celebrate their golden wedding. They had ten children: Lorentus; Genette; Lauren; Lucien; Crayton; Norman; J. Newton; Edward; Lois, wife of J.S. Wilcox; and Harvey, all of whom lived at one time in Knox County. Mrs. Wikoff’s father, John Newton Conger, was a native of New York, her mother, Elizabeth (Wheeler), came from Connecticut. Her maternal grandparents, Alvah and Jerusha (Stevens) Wheeler, came from CT. and settled in Knoxville in 1838. Alvah Wheeler was a carpenter, and assisted in building the first court house (still standing at Knoxville) in Knox County. In early years, while in Bridgeport, CT., he built the first peanut stand for P. T. Barnum, “America’s Greatest Showman.” Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler: LeRoy; Mrs. Elizabeth Conger; Mrs. Mary Conger; Frederick C.; Mrs. Harriet B. Shaw; Mrs. Helen Conger; Mrs. LaVantia Conger; and Mrs. Alta Murdoch. Mrs. Wikoff had one sister, Eva Conger, now deceased.
Mr. Wykoff was educated in Knox and Hedding Colleges; he is a capable business man, and has been very successful. He has a fine, well improved farm of 240 acres in Sparta Township. In politics, he is a republican.
son of William and Margaret (Olson) Williamson, was born in Sweden, Feb. 22, 1836. His education he received in the land of his birth. In 1850 the family came to America and located in Sparta Township. Other children besides Jonas were William, Peter, John, Maggie, and Moses O. Jonas loved his home and, even when he was a boy, could seldom be lured away from it. Losing his father when he was only fifteen years old, he contributed to the support of the family, and in every way led an exemplary life. Mr. Williamson was exceptionally temperate and did not indulge in stimulants or tobacco. Although his opportunities for acquiring an education were but limited, he nevertheless accumulated a large amount of useful knowledge. He was very industrious and an excellent business manager.
Mr. Williamson’s first wife was Christine Anderson, whom he married in Wataga. Of this union, there were two children, John E. and Lotta. The latter was married to Thomas Rommel. Mrs. Williamson died in 1875, and four years later, May 29, 1879, Mr. Williamson married again. His second wife was Anna M., daughter of Mattas and Martha (Hanson) Hedberger, who came from Sweden with their infant daughter in 1857. The family settled in Galesburg and lived there until 1867, when they removed to Wataga, where they have since resided. Mr. Hedberger is a tailor by trade and has followed the business many years. Their daughter, Mrs. Williamson, is one of a family of five children who reached maturity. She owns the fine farm of 80 acres of well improved land, which was her husband’s homestead.
Jonas Williamson was a member of the Swedish Lutheran Church, and was honored and respected by all who knew him. In politics he was a republican. He died April 30, 1893.
son of William and Margaret (Olson) Williamson, was born in the North of Sweden, Oct. 10, 1833, and the little education it was his privilege to secure was gained in his native land. He was the oldest of seven children, five sons and two daughters, and came to this country with his parents in 1850. In October of that year, after traveling some time in Wisconsin, the family reached Knox Co, IL. The father was so affected with consumption that he was unable to do the least work after reaching America, and died in 1853.
As the oldest of the family of children, although himself a mere boy, Mr. Williamson was early compelled to shoulder a man’s responsibilities and to do a man’s work. He gave all his time and his earnings to the support of the family, until the younger boys got started and could manage the small farm of 60 acres of timber land, for which they paid one hundred dollars, and upon which they built a log house. He was young and strong and could do the work of two days in one. An old Pennsylvania miner taught him how to dig coal, and Mr. Williamson became an expert miner and followed the business for fifteen winters. A character developed by such faithful devotion, by consciousness of responsibility, and by the habit of hard work is a reward in itself, and brings the reward of subsequent business success. Mr. Williamson was finally able to buy 60 acres of land where he now resides, and, as fortune smiled upon him, to add thereto from time to time, until he now has 447 acres in one body. He owns another splendid farm of 188 acres near Henderson. In Kansas he has 1,600 acres in one piece. In Clay Center he has large financial interests; he controls the waterpower, has built a grist-mill of two hundred and fifty barrel capacity, and also a large electric plant. In these improvements he has invested more than $50,000. Stock-raising and farming have been his principal business, and his success demonstrates his character as a business man. In politics he is a republican, but he has held only local offices. In religion he is a Lutheran.
Sept. 28, 1855 in Galesburg, IL., Mr. Williamson married Catherine Olson. Ten children have been born to them, five of whom are still living: Joseph Henry, a resident of Longmont, Colorado; Amanda C.; Edwin P., who manages the Henderson farm; Frederick Leonard; and Alvin Luther. The deceased are Mrs. Mary J. Danielson; Margaret Amelia, who was the wife of Rev. A. Nelson; Lars Olaf; Martha; and George.
Frederick L. is a graduate of Knox College; he is manager of Mr. Williamson’s extensive business interests in Clay Center, Kansas. Amanda C. and Alvin Luther are at home. Mr. Williamson’s mother survived his father many years, dying in 1886 at the age of 73.
Hannibal Parish Wood
born in Vermont, Sept. 12, 1818. His father, William Wood, was of English descent and was born in Lanesboro, Berkshire Co, MA, Aug. 24, 1790, and died at Westford, VT., April 5, 1845. His mother, Hannah (Parish) Wood, daughter of Nathan and Hannah Parish, was born in Brookfield, Orange Co, VT., March 7, 1795, and died in Aug. 1883.
Hannibal P. Wood was reared and educated in Vermont. He was married in Westford, Vermont, Sept, 28, 1841 to Hannah M. Bowman. Two children were born to them: William H., of Wataga, IL., and Emma J. Wood, who died in Wataga in Jan 1899, aged 54 years. Mr. Wood was married a second time, Jan. 1, 1876, in Wataga, to Mrs. Mahlah (Phelps) Watkins, who was born in Enfield, Tompkins Co, NY, May 14, 1834.
Mr. Wood was in the mercantile business in Westford, Vermont, many years, and in 1850 removed to Boston, MA, where he was a commission merchant for about five years. In the spring of 1856, he came west and settled at Wataga, Knox Co, IL., where he has since resided. He bought the store in Wataga, which was owned by Silas Willard of Galesburg, and continued the business with his partner, Amos P. Babcock, whom he bought out five years later. For some years the business, that of a general store, was conducted by Mr. Wood alone, and later with the assistance of his son, William H. Wood. During the Civil War, about the year 1863, he opened a bank which he has conducted to the present time.
As a republican, Mr. Wood represented his district in the Legislature in the years 1880-82. He was Chairman of the Committee on Public Charities, and was a member of the Committee on Banks and Banking. He was for many years a member of the Board of Supervisors of Knox County, during which time the county seat was removed to Galesburg. He has belonged to various temperance organizations, and is a member of the Masonic Fraternity. For four years, he was a Trustee of the Asylum for the Blind at Jacksonville, IL. He has been a Trustee and the Treasurer of the Congregational Church at Wataga, of which he is a member, and has been Township School Treasurer for about thirty years, which office he now holds.
Mr. Wood achieved success as a merchant and banker, and in the service of the public, and has exerted a wide influence for good wherever he has been.
Alexander Frank Adams
Farmer, Sparta Township; born in Henderson Township, Knox County, March 7, 1842; educated in common schools. His parents were James Adams, of North Carolina, and Sarah (Miller) Adams of Indiana. He was married in Lewis County, New York, to Elizabeth Woolworth. Their children are, Birney H. and Fred C. His parents settled in Rio Township in 1841, and entered Government land in the Military Tract and paid for it twice. The father was a successful farmer and died on the homestead July 1, 1879, aged seventy-three years; the mother died in 1846, aged forty-five years. The father was three times married. He was a republican. In religion he was a Methodist. The children by the first marriage are: Wilson, Caroline, William, John, Lucinda, Alexander Frank, Phelps and Sarah Adams; the children by his marriage with Melba Haynes are: James, Lida and Julia. Mr. Alexander F. Adams has a fine farm of one hundred acres, and is a successful farmer. He paid $60 an acre for his land, which was entered by his uncle Ruben Robbins in 1837. Mr. Adams belongs to the church of the Second Adventists. In politics he is a republican.
Farmer; Sparta Township; born in Limerick, Ireland. His parents were John and Mary Healy Barry of Limerick, they attained the age of ninety-three years; his grandfathers were James Barry, and Patrick. He was educated in select schools in Ireland. He was married at Edward's Homestead, Knox County, December 15, 1864, to Frances, daughter of George and Elizabeth Wayland Edwards. Their children are: john W. George Henry; Lilie C., wife of George Rockwell of Galesburg; Mary E.; Lucy I., wife of H. Welsh; Winnifred; Morris J.; Frances F. C. who died in infancy, Mr. Barry came to New York in May, 1854, at the age of nineteen and remained there for three years. He came to Knox County in the Fall of 1858, and worked by the month. He owned many horses and bought and sold farms. He remained for ninteen years on one farm in Ontario Township. In 1884, he moved to the farm of three hundred and tweny acres where he now lives; he owns in all nearly one thousand acres of land. He has been an extremelyu successful stock raiser. His success is due to his persevering industry and to the assistance and good management of his wife. In religion, Mr. is a Catholic. in Politics. he is a democrat, and has been a School Director for many years.
Farmer; Sparta Township; born near Christianstadt, Sweden, Aug. 27, 1838. His parents were Bengt and Hannah Nelson of Sweden. At the early age of sixteen, in 1855, he came to Warren Co, IL, where his brother Olof had preceded him. After spending five years as a farm hand, he purchased sixty acres of land in Warren Co. and began farming for himself.
April 11, 1861, he was married in Monmouth to Catherine Ellison, daughter of Nels and Permelia Ellison, she having emigrated from Sweden with her parents in 1851, when ten years of age. Three children: Samuel David; Carrie, wife of Henry Gehring; Hannah, wife of George Behringer, were born to them in Warren Co.
In 1867, Mr. Benson, with his family, moved into Knox County, and settled south of Wataga. Here Edith (deceased), Ida May, and Ira Edward were born. In 1875, Mr. Benson bought a farm of one hundred and twenty-nine acres on Section 8, Sparta Township, where he now resides. At this place three children were born to them: Harvey Russel, Jeannette, and Hazle June. Samuel D. is a successful merchant in Chicago, and owns five hundred acres of land in Marion Co, IL. Ira E. is a former railroad employee, and when a soldier in the late war, was stationed in Porto Rico. Jeanette is a Normal student at Austin, Minnesota.
Mr. Benson has been successful, and is a highly respected farmer. In religion he is Lutheran; in politics a republican.
George Henry Campbell
Farmer; Sparta Township; born in Wataga, September 28, 1866; his parents were Robert M and Catharine (Dolan) Campbell of Ireland. He is of Scotch descent. Mr. Campbell was married to Mary A. Tiernay, in Galva, Illinois, October 26, 1892; they have one child, George Henry, born September 8, 1894. Mrs. Campbell is the daughter of James and Mary Tiernay of Knox County. Mr. George Henry Campbell was reared a farmer, and educated in the common schools. In 1890, he located on a farm, which contains one hundred and sixty acres of choice land. Mr. Campbell became a Mason in 1887, and is a member of the Wataga Lodge, 591, A. F. And Am M. Mr. Campbell is a republican.
Farmer; Sparta Township; born December 1, 1844, in Germany; educated in Germany and the United States; his parents, Anthony Gehring, born March 12, 1821, and Mary (Mosier) Gehring, born June 24, 1823, came from Germany to Sparta Township in 1857; his paternal grandparents were Bennet and Elizabeth (Closman) Gehring; his great-grandparents, Mattice and Susan Gehring, and his maternal grandparents, Jacob and Mary Mosier. Mr. Gehring was married May 30, 1867, in Sparta Township, Section 33, to Jerusha, daughter of Ira and Caroline (Stewart) Squires of Ireland and Scotland, respectively. Mrs. Gehring was born August 1, 1847, in Vienna, Trumbull County, Ohio. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Gehring are: Mary Alice, born October 29, 1871; Sarah Luella, born October 9, 1874; Carrie Lenora, born April 6, 1877, and Ira Anthony, born December 15, 1879. Mary Alice was married June 11, 1890, to James Parkinson; they have two sons, Archie, born January 30, 1893; and Frank Donald, born September 10, 1896. Mr. Gehring is a member, and has been a Trustee and Steward of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a republican and has been School Director and Pathmaster. [Transcribed by Linda Kestner]
Farmer; Sparta Township; born March 16, 1856, in Knox County, where he was educated. His father, Xavier Gehring, was an early settler. He was married January 29, 1880, to Cora, daughter of O. Peterson. Four children were born to them: Adella Maud, Edna May, Arthur J. and Myrtle Irene. Their mother died May 15, 1895. Mr. Gehring's second marriage occurred March 25, 1896, with Harriet, daughter of Peter Knight, a native of England. They have one son, Frank Earl. Mr. Gehring has a valuable farm of one hundred and seventy-seven acres besides one hundred acres of pasture and timber land. He has been School Director in Wataga for twelve years.
Dr. Henry Wyley Giles
Physician; Wataga, Sparta Township; born in Peoria Co, Mar. 28, 1861; his grandfather was an English soldier, and one of the guards of Napoleon Bonaparte on the Island of St. Helena. He came to America in 1824. He studied for the ministry, and had charge of a Baptist Church. He and his wife died in Peoria County. They had five sons and two daughters, all of whom except Sarah, who was killed by lightning, have by hard work and economy, accumulated considerable property. They are also very widely and favorably known through out Peoria County.
Thomas, the oldest child, was born on the Island of St. Helena Feb. 28, 1814. He moved, with the family, to England and from there, when he was but ten years of age, to this country, the family settling at Utica. NY, where they lived until 1836, when they moved west, settling at Peoria. He followed steam-boating for two summers, then, with his brothers, William, Joseph, and Nathan, manufactured brick until 1849, when the two brothers, William and Nathan, went to California, while Thomas bought land six miles north of Peoria, which he cleared and occupied until 1882, when he retired and bought a home on the Bluff in Peoria, where he died Sept. 7, 1893.
He was the father of Dr. H. W. Giles and six other children, two of whom died in infancy, the other four now live in Peoria and vicinity, one of whom, Dr. W. N. Giles, is practicing medicine in that city.
The mother of Dr. H. W. Giles was Margaret (Poplett) Giles, of Knox County; her father was Thompson Poplett. The Poplett family came to Illinois from Indiana in 1835, settling in the northwest corner of Sparta Township, where they lived for about twelve years, making farming their occupation. They moved to Peoria County. Mrs. Margaret Giles was born in Indiana June 15, 1828, and died in Peoria County, Aug. 7, 1875.
Dr. H. W. Giles was educated in Peoria County. He was married to Christine Schildwachter in Peoria Nov. 26, 1891. Their children are: Clark Webster, William Thomas, and Ruth Helena.
Before attending medical college Dr. Giles was in the employment of Allaire Woodward and Co, of Peoria, IL. in the Medical Laboratory. Although his father was well able to furnish the necessary funds to carry him through college, he chose rather to be independent and by persistent effort and strict economy he was enabled to keep his little home, which he had paid for in addition to his college course. Dr. Giles graduated at Keokuk, Iowa, Medical College, class of 1895, and practiced for nine months in Iowa. He located in Wataga, IL. and has built up a good practice, and is a careful and conscientious physician. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, the Galesburg Medical Society, the Military Tract Medical Society, and Illinois State Medical Association. Dr. Giles is a member of the Methodist Church. He is a prohibitionist.
William Augustus Lee, Jr
Farmer; Sparta Township, where he was born March 5, 1858, on the old Lee homestead, Section 6; educated in Knox County. His parents, William A. and Betsey (Knowles) Lee, were natives of New York State; his paternal grandfather was Amos Lee. His father settled in Knox County at an early day, and the son was reared on the farm where he became a practical farmer and stockman; he received a good business education at the Galesburg Business College. When he was married he lived on section 5, where his father formerly resided, and in 1882, moved to his present farm of 160 acres.
September 9, 1880, Mr. Lee was married to Jennie May Patterson in Sparta Township. There are four children: Freddie P., Bessie K., Jennie May, and George Edward.
Mrs. Lee’s father, William Stephen Patterson, came at an early day from Ohio to Knox County and settled at Henderson with his parents. There he learned the cooper’s trade, but after his marriage he became a farmer and stockman and was very successful. He gave his daughter, Jennie, the advantages of an education at St. Mary’s, Knoxville. Mrs. Lee is not only an accomplished and talented lady, but also a devoted mother.
Mr. Lee is a republican. He holds the office of School Director.
Farmer; Sparta Township; born in Ontario Township, March 5, 1855; educated in Oneida. His parents were Joseph and Phebe (Fookes) Masters; they were born in Somerton, Somersetshire, England.
Mr. Masters was married to Lida Nation, in Wataga, Dec. 27, 1883. Their children are: Fred N.; and Don C., who died May 22, 1896.
Mr. Masters is a republican. He has been School director for thirteen years.
David Pratt Niles
Sparta Township; Farmer; born in Columbia Co, NY, Oct. 20, 1824; educated in New York.
He was married July 9, 1870 in Knox County, IL. to Helen C. Johnson; she was born in Smalland, Sweden, and is a daughter of John Swanson and Helen Johnson. His parents were land-owners whose ancestors had for several centuries, lived on the same farm. The family were Lutheran in religious belief. Mrs. Niles was educated in Sweden and came to the United States in 1869.
Mr. Niles worked on the home farm in New York till in 1856, he came west with his brother, George F., and they bought a mill in Wataga. They made a fine quality of flour, and had a large patronage from the surrounding country. They traded their mill for land in Henry County, IL, and engaged in farming near Wataga, where David Niles owned 300 acres of land which he bought in 1862 or 63. He continued farming and stock raising and in 1874 entered into partnership with his brother with a herd of 75 short-horns. They conducted a large and profitable business until 1893, when the partnership was dissolved so far as stock and lands in Sparta Township were concerned; they retained, however, over 1000 acres of land south of Villisca, Iowa, and a quarter section of land in Henderson Township, Knox Co, IL.
In politics Mr. Niles is a republican.
Farmer; Sparta Township; born Jefleborg Lan, Sweden, Dec. 31, 1841, where he was educated. His parents were Olaf and Elizabeth (Larson) Nelson; his grandfathers were Nels Olson and Jonas Larson.
Mr. Jonas Olson was married in Knox County, Feb. 5, 1869, to Anna C. Donaldson. Their children are: Elizabeth L. (Mrs. Williamson); Ansfried (deceased); William C.; Alvin Arthur; and Andrew E.
Mr. Olson came from Sweden with his parents at the age of fifteen and settled on a small farm, afterwards moving to a farm of 62 acres. The father died within a year, leaving seven children largely dependent upon Jonas. He bought his farm before his marriage, and has greatly improved it.
Mr. Olson is a man of good standing in the community. He has been a member of the Lutheran Church for 41 years. He is a republican.
William Stevenson Patterson
Sparta Township; Farmer and stockman; born near Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 13, 1825. His parents, John S. and Mary (Stevenson) Patterson, were natives of Washington Co, PA, and were married March 8, 1824.
Mr. Patterson was reared in Ohio and came to Knox County Nov. 7, 1838, with his father and stepmother. They settled at Henderson where he learned the cooper’s trade, which he worked at until he went on a farm.
Sept. 30, 1846, in Henderson, he married Matilda Miller, after which he bought 320 acres on Section 18, where James Barry now lives. He was prosperous and owned a large tract of land. He was one of the best known men in Knox County, where he bought and sold and shipped stock on a large scale. He finally moved to Stockham, Hamilton County, where he engaged in the same business with his usual success. His children received most of their education in Galesburg.
His accomplished and talented daughter, Jennie May, was educated at St. Mary’s, Knoxville, and has decided artistic talent. She is a devoted mother and is an influential member of society.
Mr. and Mrs. Patterson had four children who reached maturity: Edwin W., Mrs. Clara Smith, Mrs. Wm. A. Lee, Jr. (Jennie May), and Fred A. With the exception of Mrs. Lee all are residents of Nebraska.
Mr. Patterson received his education in Ohio and in Knox County. In politics he is a democrat.
James Durham Reed
Farmer; Sparta Township; born in Kentucky, June 27, 1825; died in Wataga, Dec. 8, 1883; his parents, Jonathan and Polly (Newell) Reed, came from Kentucky to Knox County at an early day, and died at an advanced age in Henderson Grove.
He was married in Knox County, Aug. 22, 1847 to Martha A. Duval. She was born April 27, 1831. Their children are: Mary S., deceased; Mrs. Nancy E. Haver; Mrs. Helen M. Andrews; Mrs. Sarah E. Langless; Frances A.; Mrs. Rosalla A. Temple, deceased; Mrs. Polly E. Slabaugh; James A. I.; and Dora E.
After his marriage Mr. Reed lived in Henderson Grove. For fifty years he worked a farm of 220 acres near Wataga, where Mrs. Reed now lives. He greatly improved his farm and had fine out houses. He built a fine residence in 1888. Mrs. Reed is a member of the Christian Church. Mr. Reed was a democrat.
Farmer; Sparta Township; born in Sweden Dec. 4, 1833, where he received a limited education. His father was Olof Stream, who was a soldier in the Swedish Army for twenty-five years; his mother was Betsy (Isaacson) Stream.
Mr. Oliver Stream was first married to Margaret Donaldson of Sweden in July 1855, emigrated to America the same year, settling in Knox County, where he has since resided. Their children were: John, Mary, Frank, Albert, Olive, and Willie. His first wife died in Rio Township in 1871.
Mr. Stream’s second marriage was with Mrs. Martha Johnson in Knox County, Feb. 13, 1872. They have one daughter, Carrie.
He is a member of the Methodist Church. In politics he is a republican, with prohibition sentiments. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Harrison T. Weed
Farmer; Sparta Township; born in Delaware County, New York, March 18, 1840; educated in his native state. His parents were James Weed, born in the state of New York, and Abigail (Terry), a native of New Hampshire. His paternal grandfather was Lewis Weed.
Mr. Weed came with his parents to Belvidere, Boone Co, IL. There his parents died, and the son at the age of twenty went to Wisconsin. He came down the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers with lumber to Burlington, Iowa, where the lumber was sold, and young Weed went by steamer to St. Louis, where he remained one winter and part of the next summer. He was twenty-one years of age when he reached Knox County; he spent nearly all of the first year in Henderson Grove splitting rails. He then went to Harrison County, Missouri, and taught school about a year and a half, till the breaking out of the war, after which he taught during one winter five miles west of Galesburg. He next farmed near Oneida seven years, and was enabled to make a payment on his present farm of 80 acres, on Section 27, where he now resides.
Dec. 11, 1862, he married Sarah J. Conley, who died July 23, 1875. They had two children: Mrs. Harriet E. Vaughn and Ada M. Weed.
Oct. 19, 1876, Mr. Weed was married to Susan A. Franham, at her home near Wataga. They have two children: Abbie M. and Charlotte A.
In religion he is a Congregationalist, and has been for many years a Deacon and a Trustee in the Church. In politics he is a republican. He has been a School Director for seventeen years.
John Edwin Williamson
Farmer; Sparta Township, where he was born April 21, 1861. He was educated in Knox County, and is a graduate of the Western Business College. His parents, Jonas and Christine (Anderson) Williamson, were natives of Sweden. When fourteen years old, Jonas Williamson came to the United States with his parents and settled in Sparta Township. He died in 1893 at the age of 57 years; his wife died in 1875; at the age of 35 years. They left two children: Charlotta Margarette, wife of T. H. Rommel; and John Edwin.
Sept. 18, 1884, John Edwin Williamson married Christine Hanson in Lynn Township. They have seven children: Mabel E., Florence V., Minnie C., Axel Wesley, Mary Edith, Emma L., and George E.
Mrs. Williamson is a daughter of Olaf and Elizabeth (Anderson) Hanson, who settled in Sparta Township before the war. Olaf Hanson served through the war and draws a pension. He is a successful farmer in Lynn Township, near Galva.
In religion, Mr. Williamson is a Methodist, and has been a Trustee in that church. In politics he is a republican and has held the office of School Director.
Walnut Grove Township History
by J. F. Hubell
This is one of the most desirably situated townships in the county, its surface being chiefly rolling prairie. It is well watered, by Walnut Creek and several tributary branches; its soil is unsurpassed in fertility, and fine farms, with substantial buildings, are to be seen everywhere within its limits. It is in what is called the "Military Tract" a section of State selected as bounty land for soldiers, because of its fine soil and undulating surface, affording an abundance of water courses and excellent natural drainage.
The township derived its name from extensive groves of walnut timber growing near its center. Another, Turkey Hill Grove, lies on the northwest quarter of Section 26; and these two include all its timber lands, with the exception of a small tract in its southern end.
There is one village in Walnut Grove, which has borne various names; its final title being fixed as Altona, when the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was built through the place.
The first white men who undertook to make settlements here were Messrs. Jones and DeHart, who built a cabin on Section 21, but became alarmed at the hostility of the Indians, and left at the time of the Black Hawk War. The ruins of their cabin were still standing in 1838. In 1836, came John Thompson, the first permanent settler, who moved here from Pennsylvania, with his wife Catherine, and located on Section 16; though a Mr. Smith, a Mormon, built the first frame house on what was originally called the Snow, and afterwards known as the Wisegarver farm. Mr. Thompson also planted the first crop -- a field of sod corn -- in 1837, fencing it in with the first rails spilt in the township.
Mr. Thompson and Mr. Copps, two of the first settlers, had been soldiers in the War of 1812; the father of Mr. Allen, one of the pioneers of the township, had served in the Revolutionary War. After Mr. John Thompson, Levi Stevens was the next to arrive, and Abraham Piatt the third.
Mr. Amos Ward soon followed (in 1838), and was, in the 1839, elected the first Justice of the Peace. Township organization was effected in April, 1853.
As has been already said, Elder M. Smith, of the Mormon Church, built the first frame, house, in 1840, on Section 15, and in 1842 several hundred of his co-religionists had located here. They designed building a temple, on Section 5, but, before carrying out their plans, left for Hancock County, on the advice of Joseph Smith. As they had entered and possessed themselves of nearly all the timber land, and designed building up a community of their own faith, the other settlers were not sorry to see them depart. Since then, settlement has been rapid, and there is no where to be found a more flourishing and intelligent community than that now living in Walnut Grove.
The first boy born in the township was John Thompson, Jr.; the first girl was Helen Ward, now Mrs. A. P. Stephens. The first couple married were Austin Frederick and Elizabeth Finney. the first death was that of Mrs. Hinsdale, a sister of Amos Ward, who died August, 1838, at the residence of Abram Piatt, on Section 15, where she was also buried.
In 1844, John W. Clarke was appointed the first postmaster. He was succeeded by S. Ellis, in 1845, and he by Amos Ward, in 1846.
The first school house was built on the southwest quarter of Section 16, in 1840, and Miss Robey Tabor, a Quarkeress from Massachusetts, was the first teacher. She married afterward, moved to Henry, and died in 1896. Another early teacher was E. L. Gross, afterwards a distinguished attorney of Springfield, and editor of the Illinois Statues.
Elder Samuel Shaw organized the first church [after that of the Mormons]. It was known as the First Baptist Church, and had eight members, with a place of worship on Walnut Creek, There are now eleven schools, one of which is graded, with two hundred and eight-four pupils out of four hundred and fifty persons under twenty-one years of age. The eleven school buildings have cost nearly ten thousand dollars.
The first township officers, elected April 5, 1853, were Amos Ward, Supervisor; A. F. Ward, Clerk; H. L. Sage, Assessor; James Livingston, Collector; H. L. Collinson, Daniel Allen and C. Copps, Highway Commissioners; Reuben Cochran, Overseer of the Poor; Amos Ward and David Livingston, Justices of the Peace.
The population of Walnut Grove was, in 1860, eleven hundred and twenty; in 1870, nineteen hundred and sixty; in 1880, seventeen hundred and eighty-one; in 1890, thirteen hundred and fifty.
Altona, the only village in the township, is situated on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, about eight miles from Galesburg. Around it lies as rich a farming country as is to be found in Illinois; and the village itself is the center of a considerable trade, being one of the most prosperous in the county. While the Central Military Tract Railway (now called the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy) was being built, in 1853, many laborers employed on the road came and camped in the edge of the wood, near the railroad line. To supply their wants Cyrus Willard and J. S. Chambers built a store, eighteen by thirty-six feet in size, near the center of Section 16, on the northeast quarter of that section, on land then owned by Daniel Allen. This was the first building erected in Altona, and was the pride of the community, as it was the only store between Galesburg and Kewanee. The second store, built the same year, was owned by Samuel Whiting. Altona was, for several years thereafter, a good business point, there being no other villages sufilciently near to compete with it in trade. In 1854, Nils P. Peterson, of Moline, built a flouring mill, with a distillery in connection with it; the latter, being in opposition to the popular sentiment, was discontinued after one year. The mill, however, continued in successful operation for ten years, and was the only mill or factory ever constructed in the village. In 1855 an elevator was built. In 1854, Needham Rogers built the "Walnut Grove House," which is still run as a hotel. The second hostelry, the "Altona House," was constructed and opened by Mrs. McKee, a year or two after.
Altona was laid out and platted in 1854, by John Piatt, for the heirs of John Thompson. The same year, E. B. Main and Daniel Allen, on whose land the first building of the village was erected, laid out an addition, just northeast of the first location. The place was then called LaPier. After the railroad was completed, however, at the instance of the railroad officials the name was changed to Altona. The name of the postoffice, however, being Walnut Grove, a confusion resulted, and an attempt was made, in 1863, to change it; and the name of Reno was chosen, in honor of the famous general of that name. But about that time three desperadoes by the name of Reno, who had made the patronymic decidedly unsavory, were lynched in Indiana; so that the citizens rejected it, and united on the name of Altona for village, station and postoffice.
The village was incorporated, by special charter, in 1856, and under the general law in 1862, and again in 1874.
Altona has always been noted for the excellence of its schools. There has been a good graded school there since 1858. The local sentiment of the place and surrounding country has always been strongly in favor of temperance. During the intense excitement attending the agitation of the slavery question, the opposition to the extension of a system of human bondage was so pronounced, that the place was reputed a "hot bed of abolitionists," a term considered much more opprobrious in those days than now. It has been always noted for intelligence and education, and, being the center of a prosperous farming community, has shared in the prosperity of the rich agricultural locality in which it is situated.
The population of the village was, in 1870, nine hundred and two; in 1880, eight hundred and sixteen; and in 1890, six hundred and fifty-four.
Altona has five churches, a bank, a newspaper and several societies.
Of the churches, the first to be organized was that of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, in August, 1853. It had a membership of thirteen, and was under the pastoral charge of Rev. James Quimby. In 1857, a church edifice was erected, and later a parsonage. The two are valued at five thousand dollars. The present pastor is Rev. A. M. Barlow, who also has charge of the Nekoma Church, in Henry County. Their joint membership is ninety. The Congregational Church was founded February 21, 1857, with nine members, under the charge of Rev. A. Root. A building costing four thousand dollars was dedicated November 9, 1866. The present membership is forty-nine, but the congregation has no pastor, and worships with the Presbyterians. George A. Ward is Clerk. Revs. L N. Candee, D. D., T. S. Vaill and J. T. Bliss organized the Presbyterian Church (Old School), on April 25, 1857, there being twenty-one members. Rev. J. T. Bliss was the first pastor, and Rev. J. Rugh is at present in charge. The formation of the Lutheran Church took place in 1859. In 1869, the congregation erected a building costing four thousand dollars, and later a parsonage. The first pastor was Rev. Philip Direll. The de-nomination has steadily grown in numbers, there being at present three hundred and twenty-five communicants and one hundred and thirty-five in the Sunday school. Rev. J. G. Dahlberg is the pastor. A Swedish Baptist Mission was opened in 1876 by Rev. J.W. Stromberg, but no church was built, and the flock is at present without a pastor.
The first bank in the village was an out-growth of the general mercantile business of A. P. Johnson and Company, which was started in 1854. They cashed checks to accommodate their customers, and from this practice the bank gradually grew into existence. Until 1890, when Mr. Johnson left the place, his was the only bank in Altona. Then the Bank of Altona, incorporated under the State Banking Law, was organized, with A. M. Craig as Presi-dent; C. S. Clarke, Vice President; George Craig, Cashier; and J. M. Nickie, Assistant Cashier. In January, 1896, J. M. McKie was elected to the position made vacant by George Craig's death, and O. E. Peterson was made Assistant Cashier. It has a capital of $50,000, a surplus of $27,000, deposits of about $80,000 and loans amounting to some $15,000.
Among the societies is the Altona Forum, which meets at Peterson's Hall, and has twenty-three members. As its first officers, it elected Dr. W. B. Gray, President and Medical Examiner; Mrs. C. C. Geiler, Secretary; L. K. Byers, Treasurer. Its present officers are: B. W. Crandall, President; C. McGrew, Secretary; L. K. Byers, Treasurer; Dr. W. B. Gray, Medical Examiner. There are also lodges of the Odd Fellows and of the Order of the Rebekahs. A Masonic Lodge was organized October 1, 1860, which now owns its own Masonic Hall, on Main street, and has a roster of fifty-four members. The first officers were Hiram Hall, W. M.; A. P. Stephens, S. W.; G. D. Slanker, J. W.; J. N. Brush, Secretary; J. S. Chambers. Treasurer; B. H. Scott, S. D; George McKown, J. D.; O. S. Lawrence, T. Those holding office at present are: R. C. Sellon, W. M.; D. U. McMasters, S. W.; J. W. Mount, J. W.; W. M. Stockdale, Secretary; G. O. Snydam, Treasurer: E. S. Keyes, S. D.; C. W. Main, J. D.; Thomas Craver, T.
A chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star — organized in 1892 — has forty-six members, and meets in Masonic Hall. The first officers were: Mrs. C. C. Givler, W. M.; W. H. Givler, W. P. At present the list includes Mrs. A. A. Culbertson, W. M.; C. W. Main, W.P.; Mrs. L. K. Byers, Secretary. The Modern Woodmen also have a camp here.
Altona can boast of a fine public library, which is highly prized and in constant use by its intelligent citizens and by the dwellers in the country around. With its educational advantages, its fine location and its superior railroad facilities, it is one of the pleasantest residence villages in the county, as it is one of the most prosperous business towns. [Additional info tr. by K.T.]
Walnut Grove Township Biographies
Rev. John G. Dahlberg -- John Miller McKie -- George W. Sawyer -- Anders J. Anderson -- John W. Andrews -- John Boland -- Levi Knox Byers -- George E. Challman -- Leonard B. Cummings -- Benjamin Dayton -- Peter Gibson -- Charles Hanson -- J.F. Hubbell -- Peter Larson -- Elias B. Maine -- Hugh McGaan -- James McGaan -- Chauncy J. McMaster -- Thomas McMaster -- Josiah Multer -- Frank Nelson -- Swan Nelson -- Charles C. Sawyer -- Robert C. Sellon -- David J. Shear -- W.M. Stockdale -- Simeon S. Stukey -- George V. Suydam -- John A. Tornquist -- John P. Walgreen -- Frank Ward
Rev. John G. Dahlberg
Altona, Walnut Grove Township, Knox County, Illinois, was born in Hvetlanda, Sweden, March 28, 1862, March 28, 1862, and came to the United States in 1880. During the years 1880-1882 he worked on farms in Montgomery and Page Counties, Iowa. In 1882, he entered Augustana College and Theological Semiary, Rock Island, Illinois, and graduated in the classical course in 1889. In the Fall of 1889 he entered the theological school of the same institution and gradutated in 1891.
Mr. Dahlberg was ordained a minister of the Luteran Church at Chicago Lake, Minnesota, pastor of the Swedish Lutheran Church of Altona, Illinois. Besides the pastor-ship of this important church, he is a member of the Board of Directors of Augustana College and Theological Seminary, and Secretary of the Board, and is also Secretary of Illinois Conference of the Augustana Synod. In 1889, he was elected a member of the Board of Home Missions of said Synod and was afterwards made Treasurer of this Board.
Mr. Dahlberg has remained with his first charge, although he has had numerous flattering calls elsewhere. In 1889 he was twice called to the principal-ship of Immanuel Academy, Minnesota. In 1893, he received a call to the chair of Swedish Language and Literature in Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. The Lutheran Church of Princeton, The Lutheran Church of New Windsor, Illinois, and Zion Lutheran Church of Rock Island have all extended calls to him to become their pastor. These invitations he has felt constrained to decline. In the Spring of 1899 he had a call to the Lutheran Church of Bertrand, Nebraska, which he declined, but later did accept a second call to the Zion Lutheran Church of Rock Island, Illinois.
Before Mr. Dahlberg was set apart to his sacred calling by ordination, he had served as pastoral supply in various places. He had also taught school and had been an instructor in Augustana College.
His first wife was Emily C. Envall, of Galesburg, who he married in November, 1891. she died November 08, 1892, leaving a son, Carl Johan Emil, now living in Galesburg.
During the year 1896 Mr. Dahlberg visited England, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. June 22, 1898, he married Miss Josephine Nelson of Altona.
John Miller McKie
born in Copley Township, Knox Co, IL. June 4, 1844. He is of Scottish descent, and the son of William and Margaret (Miller) McKie, who came from Scotland about the year 1840, and settled in Copley. His parents were an industrious and frugal people, and brought up their children with correct habits and right ideas of economy.
His father was a farmer, and it was on the farm that the son had his first experience in earning a living. His early educational advantages were somewhat limited; but by close application in the common schools, by reading books and the general literature of the day, he acquired a thorough practical education.
His first occupation on leaving school was teaching. He pursued this but a short time, when he engaged in farming until the year 1876. He then became a dry goods merchant at Altona, Illinois, and continued in that business for two years. He then took the position as bookkeeper for a large grocery firm, which place he held for eight years. For the next two years, he became a member of a firm dealing in groceries and hardware, which ended on account of a fire which swept through the town, Jan. 2, 1888.
During all these years, Mr. McKie was diligent in business, and success seemed to crown his efforts. He possessed the power to turn even misfortune to his advantage. In 1889, he aided in organizing the Bank of Altona, and was elected its first Assistant Cashier. Afterwards, he was elected Cashier, which position he still holds. For four years, from Dec. 1894 to Dec. 1898, he held the office of County Treasurer of Knox County, being elected on the republican ticket. He has also held at Altona several other minor offices—such as School Treasurer, School Director, Village Clerk, and Tax Collector.
Into whatever position Mr. McKie has been called by the confidence and suffrages of his fellow citizens, he has filled it most acceptably and with high commendations. The office has been honored by his official connection. As a citizen, he has shown himself worthy of the friendship of others and worthy of public trust. In all his public and private relations, he is honest, faithful, and true, and is a good exemplar for others to follow. He is kind in his intercourse with others, benevolent in disposition, and wears in his countenance and demeanor the marks of a Christian gentleman.
In religious faith, Mr. McKie is a Presbyterian. He belongs to the republican party and is a constant and ardent supporter of republican principles.
Mr. McKie was united in marriage, Feb. 22, 1872, to Jeannette Gordon McDowell. Her parents came from Scotland and were early settlers in Knox County.
Mr. and Mrs. McKie were the parents of two children: Margaret, born Jan 30, 1873, died March 7, 1880; and Mary, born Oct. 9, 1880, died Sept. 15, 1882.
George W. Sawyer
was a Farmer in Walnut Grove Township, Section 9. He was a notary public and insurance and real estate agent in the town of Altona, and he so conducted his business as to gain the respect and esteem of his fellow-townsmen.
He was born in Fergusonville, Delaware Co., N.Y., Aug. 5, 1828, and received his education in the common schools. His ancestry on the paternal side was English, and his mother was of German descent. His parents, Henry and Margaret (Multer) Sawyer, were natives of the State of New York. Mrs. Sawyer’s father, Mr. Multer, was a native of Germany. Henry Sawyer’s life was spent in Fergusonville, but his wife, after her husband’s decease, came to Illinois and died at the home of her son, George W., Oct. 26, 1885, at the age of 80.
It was in 1856 that Mr. Sawyer came west and settled at Galesburg, IL. He had learned the carpenter’s trade from his father, and this trade he followed in Galesburg for one year, when he removed to Minneapolis, where he spent another year. After spending some months in Wisconsin, he returned to Galesburg and took up teaching, which he had followed in his native state, where his first pay as a teacher was only ten dollars per month. For nearly two years, beginning with 1859, he was identified with the nursery business, after which he resumed his trade for a short time.
Dec. 9, 1859 in Quincy, Illinois, Mr. Sawyer was married to Sarah Cleveland, a native of Schoharie Co., N.Y.; they had five children: Lucinda, deceased; Mrs. Ida S. McMaster, deceased; Charles C. of Altona; Lillian, deceased; and Henry J. of Galesburg. Mrs. Sawyer’s parents, Asa and Cynthia (Childs) Cleveland, although natives of Schoharie Co, NY, were of English descent.
After a visit in the east, Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer settled in Walnut Grove Township on 160 acres of land near Foreman Creek, which they sold after a few years and went to Quincy, IL. Later they returned to Altona, where Mr. Sawyer conducted a very successful lumber business, and finally secured the farm of 260 acres north of Altona, which subsequently sold for $100 per acre.
Mr. Sawyer died April 2, 1890. He was a Mason. In politics he was a republican, and held many township offices.
Anders J. Anderson
merchant; Altona, Walnut Grove Township; born in Sweden, March 27, 1843; educated in the common schools. He came to America in 1852, and to Altona in 1857. Mr. Anderson was clerk in the stores at Altona till 1875, when he opened a grocery store, which he has since conducted, excepting four years between 1884-88. The firm is now Updyke and Company.
Mr. Anderson was a republican, but of late years he has voted with the prohibitionists; he is active in town affairs; has been Village Trustee, and a member of the School Board. He is a member of the Congregational Church.
He was married to Margaret Olson, in Altona, Dec. 25, 1868.
John W. Andrews
Farmer, Walnut Grove Township; born Oct. 3, 1845, in Ayrshire, Scotland; educated in the common schools.
He was married to Elizabeth Scott, in Alton, Dec. 25, 1877.
He came to Walnut Grove Township in 1855. Mr. Andrews is a stock buyer and farmer. He takes an active part in town affairs, and was elected Supervisor in 1878, holding the office eight years. He also served on the School Board for fifteen years, and is a member of the Library Board. For twenty years Mr. Andrews has been a member and Trustee of the Presbyterian Church.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Sweden; came to Knox Co. in 1857, and worked by the month until 1860. He was married to Anna Olson in 1860; their children are: Anna, Ida, Emma, Alfred, and William.
Mr. Boland rented a farm in Ontario Township for ten years, and in 1871, bought eighty acres of land in Walnut Grove Township; he afterwards purchased the farm on which he now lives.
He is a member of the Lutheran Church. Mr. Boland is one of the prominent citizens of the township.
Levi Knox Byers
Lawyer, Altona; born Feb. 12, 1845 at Milton, Ohio; educated at Knox College, Galesburg. His parents were James and Sarah (Knox) Byers of Ohio; his grandparents were Samuel Byers of Pennsylvania, and Elizabeth (Dean) Byers of Vermont. His great grandfather was Samuel Byers of England. His maternal grandparents were Levi Knox of Delaware and Elizabeth (Camp) Knox of Vermont; his maternal great grandfather was Thomas Knox of Scotland.
Levi Knox Byers was married May 25, 1876 at East Brady, PA., to Jennie Foster. Their children are: Herbert F., Lord R., and Cardace T.
Mr. Byers came to Woodhull, IL. in 1861 and taught school when eighteen years of age. He attended Knox College from 1865 to 1869, and in 1869 entered the Law School at Ann Arbor, Michigan, being admitted to the Bar of that State in 1872. In 1888 he was admitted to the Bar of the United States Court. He was City Attorney at Altona for twenty years; President of the Town Board; member of the School Board for six years, and Justice of the Peace for eight years. He was a member of the County committee for twenty years; nominated twice for County Treasurer, and in 1892 was elected State Senator for the Twenty-fourth District on the democratic ticket. Mr. Byers is a democrat, and has always taken an interest in municipal and county affairs.
George E. Challman
Retired Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born Dec. 22, 1825 in Voxna, Norland, Sweden, where he was educated, and taught the catechism of the Swedish Established Church. His parents were natives of the Province of Halsingland, and being persecuted because of their religious belief, left Sweden in 1846, and settled in Henry County, IL. They were the first emigrants of the “Bishop Hill Colony”, a socialistic, theocratic community, with which they lived for two years. In 1848-49 they lived with the “Puritans” in Galesburg. March 14, 1850, they started for California by way of Salt Lake City, where they heard Brigham Young preach; they were in the desert July 4, and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the gold region, July 14. Mr. Challman left San Francisco July 21, 1851, on the steamer Oregon, returning east by way of Central America, and the West Indies, reaching Galesburg in the fall of 1851.
He was married to Anna Lind in Knoxville, April 21, 1854. She came to America from Sweden in connection with the “Johnson Party”. Her mother died soon after their arrival, and her father returned to Sweden.
Mr. and Mrs. Challman have had four children: Amanda, born Jan. 21, 1855, died Oct. 16, 1868; Rose A., wife of G. Waite Robbins, born May 18, 1857, died Oct, 25, 1894; Elizabeth, now Mrs. Justus A. Larson, living in Victoria Township, and Hester Matilda, living with her parents.
Mr. Challman is a republican, and has been several times delegate to the Republican Convention of Knox County. He has held the following offices: School Director for twenty-seven years; Commissioner of Highways; School Trustee; and member of the Public Library Board for Walnut Grove Township. Mr. Challman is a prominent and influential man.
Leonard B. Cummings
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born June 28, 1823, in Knox Co, Maine. He is the son of Suel and Sophia Cummings, and grandson of Richard Cummings, who was of Scotch descent. He was educated in the common schools; came to Knox Co., IL. in 1853.
He was married in Copley Township, July 16, 1854, to Celinda, daughter of A. W. and M. A. Bulkeley. To them were born eleven children, four of whom are now living: Lenora C., wife of O. C. Housel, Galesburg, IL.; John A., Walnut Grove Township; Aurelia C., wife of Theodore Cochen, Jr., Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Grace C., wife of F. S. Stephenson, Oneida, IL.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Harpersfield, Delaware Co, N.Y., March 13, 1834; educated in the common schools. He is a member of the Library Board, and has been Assessor.
He came to Victoria, Knox County, in 1854, and was clerk in a store till 1859. He then began farming, and in 1863, bought a farm in Walnut Grove Township, where he now resides, and upon which he built a fine brick residence in 1864.
Mr. Dayton is a republican, and has always taken an active part in town affairs. In religion, he is a Protestant.
Farmer, Walnut Grove Township; born in Sweden, June 21, 1829, where he was educated. He came to America in 1854, and to Galesburg, Knox Co, IL. in 1855, where he worked by the month for several years.
He was married in 1857 to Anna Eng, in Ontario. They had three children: Oscar, Mary, and Emma.
Mr. Gibson’s second marriage was with Mrs. Carrie Buckley.
For five years he rented a farm in Ontario Township, after which he bought a farm of eighty acres in Rio Township, which he sold after four years and bought a farm near Altona.
In religion, Mr. Gibson is a Baptist, and was clerk of the church for twenty years. He is a republican in politics, and for eight years has been a member of the Town Board. He is a leading farmer in his township and interested in all matters pertaining thereto.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Sweden, October 4, 1838, and there educated. He was married to Ellen Benson, in Galesburg. March 21, 1868. Their children are: Barnard E.; Huldah A.; and Henry A., who died in infancy. Mr. Hanson came to Galesburg in 1864, and farmed for several years in Warren County. In 1872, he moved to Oneida, Knox County, and lived upon Dr. H. S. Hurd's farm for fifteen years. In 1892, he settled on a farm in Walnut Grove Township, where he has since been a prominent man in the locality.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born June 17, 1830, in Morrow County, Ohio; educated in Knox Co. His father, Manessa, and his mother, Phelina (Buck) Hubbell, were born in Seneca Co, NY.
Mr. Hubbell was twice married. His first marriage was with Mary Moxsey at Knoxville, March 16, 1854. His second wife, Mary Kessey, of Macomb, to whom he was married June 13, 1880.
Mr. Hubbell was a member of the Methodist Church. In politics he was a republican, and served for a time as Supervisor. He died June 29, 1898.
Retired Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Sweden, Aug. 10, 1829, where he was educated.
He was married to Hannah Hawkinson, Oct. 13, 1855 at Knoxville, IL. There were four children: John, Joshua, Hannah, and Anna.
Mr. Larson came to Knoxville in 1852, and in 1865, bought a farm on the north line of Walnut Grove Township, where he farmed until 1892, when he retired, and moved to Altona. He is a member of the Lutheran Church.
Elias B. Maine
Farmer; Altona, Walnut Grove Township; born in Otsego Co, NY, May 4, 1815. He was the son of Joseph and Jane (Blanchard) Maine, who was of Scotch descent.
When a boy, he learned the wagon-maker’s trade, which he followed for twenty years after his arrival in Knox County. He came west in 1853, and bought land in Walnut Grove Township; he afterwards laid out fourteen acres in village lots, the business center of Altona.
In 1835, Mr. Maine was married to Mary A. Huntington, of Burlington, NY. There were six children: David E., Rev. Delos S., Mrs. Ella Stockdale, Mrs. Emma Wisegarver, Joseph T., and Charles.
Mrs. Mary Maine died in 1887, and in the following year, Mr. Maine married her sister, Mrs. Lavinia Butler, who is the mother of three children by her former marriage.
Mr. Maine is a Methodist. In politics he is a republican and a prohibitionist, and holds local offices.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born Jan. 1858 in Walnut Grove Township. He is a son of William McGaan, who came from Scotland to Knox County in 1857. He was a very successful farmer, and had three sons: William, James, and Hugh.
Hugh was married in Nov. 1885 to Lottie Arnold of Galesburg; their children are: Agnes, Sarah, Susie, Grace, and William.
Mr. Hugh McGaan settled on a part of the homestead, and is a leading farmer in the township.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Scotland March 22, 1849; educated in the seminary in Scotland and in the Altona High School. He is the son of William McGaan, of Scotland, who came to Altona in 1857, and settled in Walnut Grove Township in 1859. James McGaan lives on the old homestead.
He was married in Walnut Grove, Jan 1, 1874, to Susan Collinson, a daughter of S. L. Collinson. Their children are: Harry, Henry and Simon. Mr. McGaan is a member of the Presbyterian Church. In politics he is a republican, and has always taken keen interest in town affairs. He is one of the leading farmers in Walnut Grove Township.
Chauncy J. McMaster
Merchant; Altona, Walnut Grove Township; born May 19, 1861, in Walnut Grove Township. He is a son of John McMaster. He was educated in the common schools and Galesburg Business College.
He married in Walnut Grove Township, in 1889, to Ida M., daughter of S. S. Stukey, who died Aug. 13, 1890. His second marriage was Sept. 1, 1892, to Ida E., daughter of G. W. Sawyer.
In 1887, Mr. McMaster with J. M. McKie as partner, bought the grocery business of J. T. Main at Altona. In 1889, the building and stock was burned, and the partnership was dissolved. Mr. McMaster erected another building upon the same site, where he has conducted a grocery and hardware business.
In 1897, he was appointed Postmaster. He has been Township Treasurer; has held other minor offices, and takes an active part in township affairs. He is a member of the Masonic Order. In politics he is a republican.
Farmer, Walnut Grove Township; born April 13, 1843, in Ayrshire, Scotland. He is the son of John and Ann McMaster. He was educated in the common schools.
March 19, 1878, he was married to Sarah E. Hank in Galesburg. There are three children: Ida, George and William. Mrs. McMaster is a daughter of Joseph Hank, of Victoria Township.
Mr. McMaster settled in Copley Township in 1852, and began farming in company with his brothers. He had but little property in early life, but he is now one of the wealthiest farmers in Walnut Grove Township. He is a republican.
Broker; Walnut Grove Township; born in Worcester, Otsego Co, NY, April 22, 1824; educated in the common schools.
He was married at Harpersfield, Delaware Co, NY, Feb. 17, 1869, to Anna M. Titus; they had one adopted daughter, Lucile.
Mr. Multer was for many years a prominent citizen of Altona, and for eight years was Police Magistrate. He was a republican.
Mr. Multer was a prominent member of the Methodist Church. He died Dec. 16, 1897.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Galesburg, IL, Sept 17, 1865; educated in the common schools. He is a son of Swan Nelson, a farmer who came from Sweden to Galesburg in Oct. 1851, and settled in Walnut Grove Township in 1867. He had four sons: Henry, living in Oneida; Frank; Fannie; and Alfred, who is living on the old homestead.
Frank Nelson began farming in 1890 on Section 1 in Walnut Grove Township. He was married in Walnut Grove Jan. 14, 1891 to Johanna Matilda, a daughter of Carl A. Jacobson. Their children are: Oliver Phillis, born May 24, 1893; Clarence Reynolds, born June 16, 1895; and Evan Frank Eldred, born Sept. 20, 1898.
Mr. Nelson attends the Lutheran Church, and was Superintendent of Fort Sumpter Sunday School for a year and a half. In politics he is a republican.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Sweden May 13, 1828. He came to Galesburg in 1851. He married Bengta Carlson May 26, 1855. Ten children were born to them: Henry; Frank; Tannie C; Alfred; Hannah, who married P. P. Nelson; Mary; Josephine (wife of Rev. John Dahlberg); Olivia; Amanda; and Emma (Mrs. Frank Gustafson), who died in 1892. In 1857, Mr. Nelson located in Henderson Township; and in 1868, removed to Walnut Grove Township, where he died April 10, 1896. Since his death the farm has been managed by his sons, Tannie C. and Alfred. Mr. Nelson was a prominent member of the Lutheran Church in Altona, of which all the family are members. In politics, he was a republican. [Tr. by K.T.]
Charles C. Sawyer
Real Estate and Insurance; Altona, where he was born March 9, 1867; educated in Altona and in the Galesburg Business College. He is the son of G. W. Sawyer, an early settler from New York, who died April 2, 1890.
Mr. Charles C. Sawyer was married in Altona Dec. 25, 1890, to Susan F. Thompson, a daughter of Daniel Thompson, and a granddaughter of John Thompson, who was one of the first settlers of Altona. Their children are George E. and Catherine T.
Mr. Sawyer is a Protestant. In politics he is a republican. He has been Town Clerk and Village Clerk for six years. In 1898, he was appointed Supervisor in place of Jonathan F. Hubbell, deceased.
Robert C. Sellon
Lumber merchant; Altona; born in Lynn Township, Nov. 21, 1855; son of Edward Sellon of England, who came to Lynn Township in 1835. He was a sailor, farmer, and preacher, and died in December 1883.
Robert Sellon was educated in the public schools and in the Davenport Business College. He was married to Eva Day at Galva, IL, Feb. 13, 1884. Their children are: Abbie L., Hazel E., and Francis D.
In 1884 Mr. Sellon began to work in the Houghton Lumber Yard at Galva, after which he came to Altona and sold lumber, coal, and agricultural implements, under the firm name of the E. W. Houghton Lumber Company. They have several yards on the line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.
Mr. Sellon is a member of the Presbyterian Church. In politics he is a republican, and has been a member of the Village Board for several years.
David J. Shear
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born July 27, 1843 in Otsego Co., NY. His father, Henry Shear, came to Knox County in 1857 and settled near Galesburg where he lived until 1866, when he removed to Walnut Grove Township with his family, and bought a farm, on which David J. now resides.
David J. Shear married Hannah Bulson in Copley Township, May 14, 1890.
He is a republican, and has held the office of Road Commissioner. He is a member of the Methodist Church.
Druggist; Altona, Walnut Grove Township; born Jan. 7, 1844 in Elkhart, Indiana. His father was Thomas Stockdale of Pennsylvania, and his grandfather, Hugh Stockdale came from Ireland; his mother, Catherine (Manning) was born in Ohio. He was educated in the common schools.
At the age of seventeen he entered the Union Army, and served in the Regiment Band until Aug. 9, 1865, when he came to Altona to join his father, who had previously moved there. Mr. Stockdale was clerk in a drug store there in 1868. In 1888 he opened a drug store on his own account.
He was married in Altona in 1871 to Ella Main. He has been Town Clerk, and is a member of the Masonic Lodge in Altona. He organized, and was leader of the first band in Altona.
Mr. Stockdale is a republican and has always taken an interest in municipal affairs. He is a Protestant.
Simeon S. Stukey
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Bedford Co, PA., Dec. 8, 1823. His father was Samuel A. Stuckey, of Pennsylvania.
He was married in 1849, to Caroline Border who was of English descent. They had nine children: Albert; Edward; Samuel; Augustus; William; Ella, who married P. M. Gilchrist; Margaret, who married W. I. Cook; Ida, the wife of C.J. McMaster; Avis, who married Charles Mann.
Mr. Stuckey came to Walnut Grove Township in 1855, and lived on a farm until 1894, when he retired and moved to Altona. He built the first house in the north-eastern part of the township.
In religion Mr. Stuckey was a Presbyterian, and a Trustee in the church for many years. In politics he was a republican, and filled the office of Road Commissioner, and was a member of the Board of Supervisors for many years. Mr. Stukey died Aug. 23, 1898.
George V. Suydam
Insurance agent; Altona; born Jan. 17, 1831, in Greene Co, NY; son of Abraham Suydam, a farmer who settled in Victoria Township in 1852; he was educated in the common schools.
In 1860 George V. went to Pennsylvania and married Sarah McCalmont. He resided in Pennsylvania for five years and after his return to Victoria, his wife died in 1867, leaving two children, George E. and Mary E.
Mr. Suydam went to Altona in 1870 and engaged in the insurance business; he served as Justice of the Peace for ten years, and was a member of the Library Board, of the Village Board, and of the Masonic Order.
He married for his second wife, Catherine M., daughter of Henry Sawyer; their only son, Henry S., died when nine years old.
Mr. Suydam is a republican. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church.
John A. Tornquist
Carriage-maker; Altona, Walnut Grove Township, IL.; born Nov, 16, 1874, at Keitsville, Missouri. His father, John F. Tornquist, was a carriage-maker near New Windsor, IL. Mr. Tornquist was educated in the Business College at Rock Island, IL.
He was married in New Windsor, Jan. 25, 1895, to Hannah E. Lindstrom; their children are Paul A. and Wendell E.
Mr. Tornquist learned his trade at his home in New Windsor, and set up business for himself in Altona, IL., in 1895. He is a blacksmith and carriage-maker, and turns out twenty to thirty fine buggies yearly.
John P. Walgreen
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born in Sweden Dec 27, 1848. His father, Nels P. Walgreen, was born in Sweden and came to America with his father in 1864.
John Walgreen was educated in the common schools. After working by the month, he settled in Ontario Township, where his father located in 1866.
He was married to Anna Fredericks in Altona, March 28, 1872. Their children are: Delphia, Amelia, Mabel, Della, Laura, Anna, Fred, and Floyd.
Mr. Walgreen was a successful farmer in Ontario Township until 1897 when he removed to Altona, where he built a fine residence, and where he is a Director of the Altona Bank. Mr. Walgreen is a member of the Lutheran Church. In politics he is a republican.
Farmer; Walnut Grove Township; born Nov. 4, 1830, in Litchfield County, Connecticut; educated in the common schools. He is a son of Amos Ward, who came to Knox County in 1838. Amos Ward was County Commissioner and Justice of the Peace for many years.
Frank Ward was married in 1857 to Masha Eels; they had one child, now Mrs. M. H. Mather.
His second marriage was in Walnut Grove Township, Nov. 9, 1861, to Cornelia S. Abernethy; their children are: Fred F., George A., and Edith M.
Mr. Ward is a republican, and an earnest worker in town affairs. He is a Protestant.
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