Knox County Illinois
Lynn Township History
by J. A. Beals
[pgs. 818 - 821]
The north east township of Knox County is and will be, because of its location and environment, a township of farms. In the early days some effort was made to attract the merchant and mechanic to a point on the south-line, called Centerville [afterward platted as Milroy], but it failed of success, and there has never been a post-office, a church building, or a village within the limits of Lynn. Galva, Altona, Victoria, and LaFayette are near at hand, and furnish all the trading points required by the people.
Great is the contrast between the landscape of today, dotted with well-improved farms, with their commodious dwellings and barns, and that of 1828 when Michael Fraker, with his family, came to Section 23 to find the tract of land he had purchased in Kentucky in the possession and occupancy of the Indians. The braves were away hunting, having left only the old men, women and children to contest his claim. So the white man made himself at home. But the returning hunters disputed his title, claiming that theirs came from the Indian God and was long prior to that of the new settler. Mr. Fraker thought diplomacy was better than valor. He was adroit; he had tact and genius, and was kind and helpful. He was a blacksmith, and could mend their guns. They took him to their hearts, and helped him build his cabin, but could see no necessity for his making tight joints between the logs. But his trust in his newly-found friends was not wholly without reservation—bullets had a better chance where the cracks were large. They finally left him their wigwams and council house, and made new homes at Indian Creek, seven miles east, returning yearly as friends at the sugar season. A granddaughter of Mr. Fraker says she has heard her grandmother say that the only white women she saw for four years were those of her own family, and those who came with them. A fairly-sized band of Indians lived and roamed from Spoon River to the Mississippi, their trails being distinctly perceptible long after they had left the country. A clear, flowing spring on the east side of Fraker’s Grove had trails from all directions centering there. Some of the early settlers now living remember the friendly visits of the chief Shaubena after the Black Hawk War.
Mr. Fraker was a middle-aged man when he came from Kentucky. He had buried two wives and was living with his third, and was the father of twenty-four children. He was regarded as an exemplary Christian, a member of the Methodist Church, just and kind, and endowed with qualities that adapted him to pioneer life and made him serviceable and agreeable to others. His mechanical talent was displayed in the construction of a hand grist mill with two burr stones, of the kind called hard heads, or pudding stones, found on the prairies. The upper one was made to revolve by means of a pin set in the outer rim. All of the old settlers that were then boys and girls remember this primitive contrivance and were familiar with its working, especially two daughters of Mr. Fraker, who were not at all pleased to see the arrival of a grist unless the owner was to do the grinding. Mr. Fraker died in 1848, aged seventy-nine years. His grave is marked with a marble stone and enclosed by a picket fence, and is situated in the middle of the road running south from a point near his early home.
George Fitch, a son-in-law of Mr. Fraker, settled near by soon after the Frakers, and was the first school teacher and Justice of the Peace in the settlement. His son, Luther, is reported to have been the first white child born here. The first marriage was that of William Hitchcock and Julia Fraker. John Essex was the first settler on Walnut Creek in 1830. His wife was the daughter of Jacob Cress, who, with his family, settled on Section 24, in 1831. These were the only persons living in Lynn before the Black Hawk War. During that struggle they went to Forts Clark and Henderson for safety.
About 1834, William Dunbar bought the improvements of one of the Frakers on a portion of Section 13, and entered the land, going to Galena by wagon, with two yoke of oxen, to do so. He came from Kentucky, and, being a hatter by trade, furnished fur hats to the neighborhood, peddling them on horseback. Mrs. Theodore Hurd says that when she, a girl of twelve years, came here with her father (Luther Driscoll) in 1836, they found twelve families here, the settlement being known as Fraker’s Grove; not all of it in Lynn, however, as the east township line ran through the middle of it.
In 1836, on Walnut Creek there were only John Lafferty on Section 36; the Montgomery boys on Section 35; Samuel Albro (who was a soldier of the War of 1812 and settled on the land patented to him for his military service) on Section 34; John Essex and the Taylor's, south of the creek near Centerville; and Hugh and Barney Frail on Section 31. Mrs. Hugh Frail was the pioneer sister of the Cravers and Collinson's, who followed, from time to time, settling that corner of the township. By 1838 the population had increased considerably. Jonathan Gibbs came then, and purchased the Montgomery property on Section 35, where he lived until his death. He was always a leading man in the township, a Justice of the Peace for twenty-five years and Supervisor for half that period. About this time also came Elison Annis, who settled on land patented to him for service in the War of 1812; Solomon Brooks, John Sisson, Ralph Hurley, and Elder Shaw, all from Ohio and originally from Maine. They were old neighbors, and were members of the Free Will Baptist Church. Soon after coming they organized the Walnut Creek Baptist Church; Elder Shaw and Luther Driscoll for years acting as pastors. It is now extinct.
Peter Hagar, Simeon Collinson, the Snider's and Edward Selon were early settlers. Mr. Selon had been mate on an ocean vessel and in one of his last voyages across the ocean the Charles family were passengers on his ship. One of them he soon after married. Another daughter is Mrs. Ira Reed, of this township; and Mr. Charles, of Round Grove, Henry County, who was the first man married on the Stark County side of the Fraker settlement, is a member of the same family. In 1836, there was a rather large immigration from Goshen, Connecticut, for which Goshen Township, in Stark County, was named. Captain Gere, and William and Ira Reed were among these settlers. In 1840 came a considerable number of Mormons, but most of the latter remained only a short time.
The first tavern opened was that of Mr. Dunbar, who so used his own house, but in 1846 Nathan Barlow opened the “Traveler’s Home,” on Section 24. It was on the Chicago trail and the stage road, and hence afforded accommodation much needed at the time.
Population increased slowly until the railroad was projected. That was the ending of the old, and the beginning of the new, era in the history of Lynn. The writer’s relation to the township began in this transition period. Proximity to the railroad influenced his selection of a small piece of land for a future home, on the then unbroken prairie. The following spring his wedding trip from home in Vermont was begun by rail, and finished by stage at Victoria. The ending was a little analogous to the overturning of the old by the new. It was a frosty March morning when the stage stopped at Victoria, with two newly wedded couples, the destination of one of which was Galesburg. The wife whose journey had ended and the husband who had yet to reach Galesburg both stepped out. The driver had dropped the reins and was at the boot, removing the baggage. The horses, impatient with cold and excited by their drive, suddenly started on the run and made a short turn to the Reynolds barn. In a moment’s time the startled travelers were standing on their heads (to judge from the way they felt and looked afterwards) inside the coach. The shock was but for a moment, though the impression was that we were being dragged, and that something was yet to happen; the side door was above us, and open; the hind wheel was revolving, and the head of the young wife was soon at the opening inquiring if we “were hurt in there.” The stage had uncoupled in the overturn, and three horses had dragged the fourth and the front wheels to the barn.
The first physician at the Fraker settlement was Dr. Nicols; at Centerville, Dr. Spaulding. Mr. Leek built the first saw mill in 1837, at Centerville, and later Jonathan Gibbs put up a second. The first log school house, used also for meetings, was built prior to 1836, by volunteer labor, near the home of the Dunbars, in the edge of the grove. Squire Fitch and Maria Lake were the earliest teachers. Later, a school house was built near Fraker’s. Dr. Nicols is said to have been one of the first teachers. One of the early pedagogues at the Centerville school was a boy of eighteen, who, in 1863, became General Henderson, and afterward was a member of Congress. Anna Shaw, Betsy Smith, and Catherine Annis were early residents, the last named teaching for a time in a log house near the Frails’. In 1841, James Jackson was appointed school trustee, and made two districts of the township, which till then had formed but one. There are now eight frame school houses, worth about nine thousand dollars. None of the schools are graded, and the aggregate attendance is about one hundred and seventy-five pupils.
Besides the regular services provided at Centerville by Revs. Shaw and Driscoll, there were circuit ministers, who had regular appointments to meet the people. Jonathan Hodgson, one of the earliest settlers at the Grove, became a local Methodist preacher. He was a man of influence in the settlement, a Probate Justice while a resident of the State, and a radical anti-slavery man. At the time of the Kansas struggle he cast in his lot with the free-soilers. He became so much interested in the work of Jonas Hedstrom, at Victoria, that he learned enough of the Swedish language to preach to people of that nationality in their own tongue. Edward Selon also became a minister, and Rev. Alba Gross preached as well as farmed, until called to the Baptist Church in Galva in 1857. Though there has never been a church building in the township, the school houses have been freely opened to Sunday schools and religious meetings; and now there is a good-sized town hall in the southwest corner of Section 15 that is available for all public gatherings. The standard of morals of the people is exceptionally high. There has never been a person fined in the town for a violation of law, and never an indictment found in the Circuit Court for an offense in Lynn. The nationality of the people has largely changed in the last fifteen years, but it has not proved perceptibly detrimental to the cause of good morals.
In the presidential election of 1840, the polling place for both Lynn and Walnut Grove was at Centerville; four years later at the school house near the Frails’, Squire Ward being one of those in charge. The practice of betting on elections dates back at least to this time, for James Jackson lost and Dr. Nicols won a pair of trousers on that election.
The grist mill and the market involved much labor and forethought for the early settlers. The first grist which William Dunbar sent away went as far as Tazewell County; and in 1838 the nearest points of shipment were Canton and Moline. After getting to the mill one often had to wait for two weeks for his turn to grind. It can be imagined what a convenience was even the little hand mill of Mr. Fraker.
One winter Jonathan Gibbs contracted to deliver a drove of hogs at Peoria on a certain date. Deep snow came, and in order to fulfill his agreement he made a snow plow of two planks, set on edge and wedge-shaped. A yoke of oxen was hitched to this and driven ahead, making a path in which the pigs could walk.
Recreation was not entirely neglected. Social life, where there were so few, perhaps meant more than it does now. A wolf hunt took not only the men, with their guns, but the women, with their kettles, chickens and potatoes, to make chicken pies for the tired hunters. The pies were baked out of doors in twenty-five gallon kettles, set over the coals.
Mrs. Jonathan Gibbs is now the only survivor of the settlers of 1838. Mr. and Mrs. William Smith were the two oldest at the time of their death. Mr. Smith was ninety-seven, and his wife more than one hundred years old. They had lived together as husband and wife for seventy-one years.
About one-half the original timber land has now been cleared.
Lynn was organized in 1853, by the election of Jonathan Hodgson, Supervisor; I. S. Smith, Clerk; William A. Reed, Assessor; A. Gross, Collector; Erastus Smith, Overseer of the Poor; S. G. Albro, John Lafferty, and H. A. Grant, Highway Commissioners; John Hodgson and John Gibbs, Justices; John Snider, Constable.
The population according to the United States census: in 1860, nine hundred and sixty; in 1870, nine hundred and sixty-six; in 1880, nine hundred and sixty-four; in 1890, seven hundred and forty.
Lynn Township Biographies
Gideon A. Barlow -- John Ashley Beals -- John Spare Collinson -- John G. Emery -- John Milton Sipes -- Austin Smith -- Heman P. Smith -- A.A. Snider -- Warfield B. Todd -- Alexander W. Albro -- Charles Lawrence Appell -- Fred Atherton -- John Albert Chelman -- Richard F. Gibbs -- John W. Hamerstrand -- J.B. Hathaway -- Thomas A. Hayes -- Edward L. Jackson -- Charles H. Jones -- R.P. Kermeen -- Edward L. Kewley -- Burton F. Nance -- George W. Potter -- William I. Sellon -- Daniel W. Sheahan -- James G. Sheahan -- Taylor C. Swan
Gideon A. Barlow
Prominent among the successful farmers of Knox County was Gideon A. Barlow, who resided in Lynn Township, where he had an excellently improved farm of six hundred acres. He was born in Sullivan County, NY, July 18, 1833. His parents, Nathan and Athalia (Gillett) Barlow, were natives of the State of New York, and came to Illinois in 1838. They settled in Lafayette, Stark Co., and two years later removed to Lynn Township, and located on Section 24. Nathan Barlow erected a country tavern at Fraker’s Grove, known as the Travelers’ Home, a great resort in 1849-50-51 for travelers on their way to the gold fields of California. In 1852, he sold the Travelers’ Home, went to Lafayette, and conducted the Lafayette House until 1862. His wife having died in 1859, he lived with his son, Gideon A., until his death Feb. 16, 1867.
Gideon A. was the second of three sons who lived to manhood. He was educated in the common schools of Knox County. May 20, 1856, in Toulon, Stark Co., Mr. Barlow was married to Martha Peterson, who was born in Sweden, Oct, 8, 1838. Mrs. Barlow came with her parents to the United States when she was but seven years of age. Her parents were connected with the Johnson colony, but left it and settled in Copley Township, Knox County. Her mother died in Copley Township, and her father removed to Henry County.
Mr. and Mrs. Barlow had eight children: Ames A., William F., Gideon B., Mrs. Ada L. Swickard, Edgar S., John Franklin, Forest S., and Lewis W. Lewis W. and John Franklin reside in St. Joseph, Missouri; Amos A. in Galesburg; Edgar S. is in the grocery business in Galva, IL.; Willard F., Gideon B., Ada L., and Forest S. in Lynn Township.
It was when Mr. Barlow was twenty-three years old that, taking his father’s advice he entered upon the task of making a farm from eighty acres of unbroken land, which his father had given him in Lynn Township. His faith and enthusiasm gave him perseverance and courage, and his small beginning became one of the best farms in Knox County.
Mr. Barlow was a member of the Baptist Church. Politically he was a republican, and held many local offices. His death occurred Dec. 10, 1898.
Mr. Barlow’s third son, Gideon B., was born in Lynn Township, Knox Co., Oct. 4, 1862, and received his education in Galva, Henry Co., IL. and in Davenport, Iowa. Feb. 15, 1888 in Galesburg, he was married to Carolina Peterson, who was born Jan. 5, 1859; they have had four children: Ada Louise and Ernest Austin, born Sept. 10, 1890; Willie F. born June 6, 1893; and George Gideon, born Mar 23, 1895. He is a farmer and stock raiser, feeding about twenty-five head of cattle and a hundred head of hogs. In religion, he is a Methodist. In politics he is a republican, he has held the office of school director.
Mr. Barlow’s sixth son, Forrest Samuel, was born Mar. 5, 1874, on the old Barlow homestead, and received his education in the common schools of Knox County, and at the Galva, Henry County High School. Jan. 16, 1895 he married Nellie, daughter of Richard Payne of Galva; they have two children: Amy A. and Richard P. Politically he is a republican. [BACK]
John Ashley Beals
born in Wells, Rutland Co, VT. Feb. 9, 1828. The Beals family came from England to America in 1638, and settled in Massachusetts. Mr. Beals’ paternal grandfather, Caleb Beals, was a native of that State, as was also his father, David Beals, who was born in Plainfield, MA. His mother, Sarah, daughter of David Keyes, was born at Middleton, VT.
Mr. Beals received his education at Castleton Academy, Castleton, Vermont, and in 1850, was appointed by the American Board of Foreign Missions, to whom he had offered his services, manager of the Indian farm at Ianuba, now Stockbridge Station, Indian Territory, where he was employed from 1850 to 1853. These years, spent with the Indian Nation of the Choctaws, were three of the most interesting of his life. It was on his return from the Indian Territory to Vermont, that he passed through Knox County and stopped at Victoria, where his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Bissell, former teachers among the Indians, resided; and it was then that he determined to return to Knox County and make it his home.
March 2, 1854, in Castleton, Vermont. Mr. Beals was married to Jane E., daughter of Alvin Loveland, a merchant and manufacturer of boots and shoes. Mr. Beals had been reared upon a farm, and as soon as he was married, started at once for Knox County, where he finally settled upon a farm of eighty acres on Section 7, Lynn Township, to which he added another eighty, and later, forty acres more. Mr. Beals had prospered as a farmer, and his life and character has been above reproach; he is respected and honored by all who know him. In religion he is a Congregationalist, and has given much time and wise effort to the Sunday school work. He is now President of the Lynn Township Sunday School Association. In politics, he is a republican.
Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Beals, five of whom are now living. Mrs. Emily Hunting; Mrs. Alice L. Foote; Mrs. Mary E. Foster; Mrs. Hattie Betts; William E. and Arthur R., deceased. Mrs. Beals died July 2, 1891, aged 63 years. [BACK]
John Spare Collinson
was born in Luzerne Co, PA., Jan. 28, 1850, the son of Charles and Catharine A. (Spare) Collinson, the father was a native of Yorkshire, England, born May 14, 1826, died Jan. 17, 1889, at the age of 62. The mother was born in Luzerne Co., Aug. 18, 1824, and died Mar. 27, 1899. His paternal grandparents, Thomas and Hannah (Codlin) Collinson, were natives of Yorkshire; his maternal grandparents, John and Catharine (Cline) Spare, were born in Pennsylvania, and were of Dutch descent.
Mr. Collinson’s parents were married in Wilkesbarre, PA, July 18, 1847, and came to Knox Co. Oct. 15, 1852, the trip requiring thirty-eight days. They settled in Lynn Township, where they bought two hundred acres of land, which they improved and enlarged. They were industrious and prosperous, and highly respected in the community. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The father was a democrat, and held local offices. They had eleven children, ten of whom are now living, six sons and four daughters, all of whom reside near the old homestead, excepting one son and one daughter. There were fifty-three grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren.
Mr. John S. Collinson was raised on the old homestead, and received his education in the common schools. Jan. 1, 1872, he married Mary E. Carver, at the home of the bride’s parents in Lynn Township: seven children were born to them: Nora A., born Aug. 21, 1873, died Mar. 7, 1887; Dennis A., born July 20, 1875; Katie R. born Mar, 25, 1879, died Sept. 13, 1895; Wiley A., born Aug. 8, 1882; Judge T., born July 31, 1884, died Mar. 3, 1886; Cora S., born Aug 5, 1886; and Grove C. , born July 26, 1888, died Dec. 3, 1889. Dennis, Wiley, and Cora are at the old home with their parents.
Mrs. Collinson, one of eleven children, was born Oct. 13, 1852, and is the daughter of Thomas and Rebecca (Cameron) Craven, who came from Carbondale, Luzerne Co, PA, and settled in Lynn Township in 1856. They purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land and afterward bought one hundred and sixty acres additional on Section 28. They now reside in Altona, Walnut Grove Township. They are members of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Collinson has been very successful. He has a farm of three hundred acres in Lynn Township, and eighty acres in Victoria Township. He is a breeder of fine stock, and is one of the largest hog raisers in Knox County. He is one of the directors of the Knox County Fire Insurance Company, of Knoxville. He and his son, Dennis A., are members of the I.O.O. F., Lodge No. 511, Altona. Mrs. Collinson is a member of the Order of Rebeccas. He is a democrat in politics and has been School Director for a number of years. [BACK]
John G. Emery
was born in West Jersey, Stark County, Illinois, September 24, 1839. His parents were Frederick W., born July 14, 1808, and Hannah Gaffney Emery, born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in 1814. His father was of Scotch-English, and his mother of German descent. They went to Ashland County, Ohio, where they were married in 1834. They moved to Fulton County, Illinois, in 1835, and to Stark County in 1839, where the father died in 1846; his wife died in Galva, Henry County, in 1888.
John G. was next to the youngest in a family of five children, four sons and one daughter. His youngest brother, William E., was killed at the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, December 30, 1862. Another brother, David H., was wounded at the battle of Missionary Ridge in 1864. John G. worked on his mother's farm, and attended school until he was twenty-one years of age, when he went to Henry County, Illinois. He was married December 24, 1862, to Ruth A. daughter of Jacob J. and Fanny Knable Friend. She was born in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, March 20, 1844, and was nine years of age when her parents came to Illinois and finally settled in Henry County. Her father was a native of Maryland; he died in 1891. Her mother is living. Mr. and Mrs. Emery are the parents of seven children: William E., Fred W., Charles L., George F., Edwin A., Burtis C. and Rollin G. Charles L died in 1869, aged sixteen months. Burtis C. died March 21, 1899. Three sons are married: William E., who resides in Wisconsin, and is traveling salesman for the American Book Company; Fred W., who is in business at Morris, Illinois; and George F., who resides at Slater, Missouri, and is chief Train Dispatcher for the Chicago and Alton Railroad. Edwin A. is an electrician. Rollin G. is at home.
After his marriage, Mr. Emery lived for two years in Stark County, one year in Henry County, and two years in Elba Township, Knox County. In the Spring of 1868, they removed to Lynn Township, and settled on the northern east quarter of Section 2, which is their present home.
In Religion, Mr. and Mrs. Emery are Methodists. In politics, Mr. Emery is a republican. He cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He was Supervisor for eight years, and is now serving his second term as Justice of the Peace.
Mr. Emery is a successful farmer, and a prominent and influential man in the community. [BACK]
John Milton Sipes
was born Jan. 31, 1840, in Fulton Co, PA. His father, General John Sipes, was a farmer, and a son of George and Catherine Sipes of Pennsylvania. His mother was Mary (Burton (sic)) Sipes of Bedford Co, PA. General Sipes was married to Mary, daughter of Noah and Mary (Crumb) Barton (sic) of New Jersey. General Sipes represented Bedford County three terms in the legislature, and was a man of marked ability. He came to Illinois and settled in Galva in 1857, and died on his farm Jan. 14, 1881, at the age of 82 years.
Mr. J. M. Sipes came to Illinois with his parents when seventeen years old, and remained on his father’s homestead until his marriage in Galva, Henry County, Dec. 20, 1876. His wife, Emma A. Howard, was born in Lawrence Co, OH., Sept. 11, 1852. She was the daughter of O.J. and M. Howard of Ohio, who came to Illinois in 1865, and lived in Victoria and Walnut Grove townships, Knox Co., and in Henry Co., IL., finally locating in Harvey Co, Kansas. Mrs. Sipes received a good education, and was a school teacher from 1874 to 1876. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Sipes are: John M., born Dec. 25, 1877; William F., born Feb. 20, 1878; Mary Olive, born March 29, 1881, died March 5, 1890; Charles, born Jan. 14, 1883, died Jan. 24, 1883; Ava Jane, born Feb. 20, 1891; and George Milton, born Sept 4, 1896.
Mr. Sipes is a member of the Methodist Church. In politics he is a democrat, and has held many important offices, including that of Justice of the Peace for eight years, School Trustee for the same length of time, Constable, and Collector of taxes.
Mr. Sipes has a fine farm on Section 2, and is interested in general farming, the raising of Holstein cattle, and a high grade of swine. Mr. and Mrs. Sipes are members of the Home Foreign Association. [BACK]
son of William and Lorinda Badger Smith, was born in Marathon, Cortland County, New York, October 16, 1823. His parents were married in Cortland County. His maternal grandfather was Edmund Badger.
Mr. Smith's family history is one of much interest. His paternal grandparents, Robert and Grace (Braithwaite) Smith, were natives of England, the latter born near Leeds. They were married in the old country, and came to America at the outbreak of the War of the Revolution. Robert Smith at once enlisted in the colonial service, and served the entire seven years in the struggle for independence, most of the time in the rank of Orderly Sergeant; wintered at Valley Forge; took part in the principal battles, and was present at the surrender of Yorktown. He served throughout the war without a wound, and at its close received a grant of land in Cincinnatus, Cortland County, New York; he died in Virgil, New York, at the age of eighty-four; there were eight children, five sons and three daughters.
William Smith was born in Schoharie County, New York, but moved to Cortland County with his parents, where he was reared on a farm. There were ten children, seven sons and three daughters, two of whom died in New York. The parents came to Illinois in 1844, and settled on Section 27 in Township of Lynn, Knox County. Although he had not had the advantages of the schools, he was a good business man and prosperous farmer. He was a deacon in the Baptist Church. He died at the age of ninety-two. His wife lived to the great old age of one hundred years and three months, having been born December 15, 1790.
Austin Smith married Sarah McNaught in Toulon, Stark County, they have four children, May C., Ruth B., Addie F., and Charles A. Mrs. Smith is a daughter of Thomas and Eliza (Custer) McNaught, early settlers of Illinois, having located at Fraker's Grove about 1840. Mr. McNaught died at Centerville, Lynn Township.
Mr. Smith was raised on the farm, and has been engaged in farming all his life, excepting six years when he was in the hardware business in Henry, Marshall County, Illinois. On account of his health he returned to farming and now owns one hundred and twenty acres of land. He was made a Mason in Henry Lodge, No. 19, Henry, Illinois. His father, William Smith, was also a Mason.
Mr. Smith is a Prohibitionist and Democrat, and has held local offices. [BACK]
Heman P. Smith
was born in Marathon, Cortland County, New York, November 14, 1833. His parents were William Smith, born in Schenectady, New York, August 21, 1787 and Lorinda Badger Smith, born near Coventry, New York, and the daughter of Edmund Badger of Becket, Massachusetts. His grandfather, Robert Smith, came with his bride to America from Manchester, England in 1776, landing at New York when Washington was organizing his army at White Plains. He immediately enlisted and served in the Revolutionary War seven years and eight months, during part of which time he was a commissioned officer on detailed duty. During the war, his wife lived on the Mohawk Flats, at Fort Stanwix. At the close of the war he located at Schenectady, New York, where he resided until 1794. He was a man of strong character and felt the military services he rendered was a duty he owed his adopted country, and they were cheerfully performed. He led essentially a farmer's life. He removed from Schenectady to Cincinnatus, Cortland County, New York, and settled on the six hundred and forty acres allowed him by the government for his services in the war. That section of New York State was at that time almost a wilderness, and his nearest neighbor was sixteen miles distant. After a residence here of fourteen years, he removed to Marathon, where he spent the remainder of his life. He had a liberal English education, and while residing in Schenectady, was honored by being elected to several municipal offices. He had five sons and three daughters. The sons were John, Isaac, Robert, William and Abraham.
Heman P. Smith came to Knox county with his father, June 19, 1844, and settled in Lynn Township, on the farm which he now occupies and where his parents died, the father at the age of ninety-two and the mother at the remarkable age of one hundred years and three months. Mr. Smith was educated in the common schools of Knox County, and at Beloit College, Wisconsin, from which he was called to take charge of the home farm. He enlisted in the Civil War in 1862, Company G of the Eighty-ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, and served until February 1865, when he was discharged for disability, three months before the disbanding of his entire regiment. He was in all the engagements of the regiment, which had some of the most severe encounters of the war, and took part in fifteen pitched battles. He was in the front rank during the charge up Missionary Ridge, and spent nine months in the hospital.
May 25, 1865, Mr. Smith was married to Harriet E. Thompson in Lynn Township. They have seven children, La Mont born December 9, 1866; Letha born April 7, 1870; Fred born July 8, 1873; Abbie and Addie born September 5, 1880, Urban born June 5, 1882; and Bertha born October 31, 1885.
In politics, Mr. Smith is an independent democrat and has held most of the township offices, including that of Assessor, and School Director. He is a very successful farmer and owns three hundred and fifty acres of land, including the old Smith homestead. [BACK]
was born in Stark Co, IL, Nov. 29, 1849, and received his education in the common schools. His father, John Snider, was born in Ohio, and his mother, Susan S. (Wright), was a native of New York State. His paternal grandparents were William and Mary Snider.
Mr. A. A. Snider is the oldest of a family of six children. His brothers are: L. W., William E., and Elmer B. His sisters are both married: Mary M., married Call Salisbury; Emma, married John Cunningham.
Jan. 13, 1872, Mr. Snider married Martha J. Mahaffey, in Henry Co, IL. Mrs. Snider was born in Peoria County, Oct 22, 1849. They have two children: Minnie M., born in 1876; Perry O., born in 1882.
Mrs. Snider’s parents were Nain and Deborah (Wright) Mahaffey; her father was born in Ohio; her mother in New York State. It was early in the history of Peoria County that her father, a stone mason by trade, settled there. They had four children. Mr. and Mrs. Mahaffey are now deceased.
Mr. Snider lived with his parents until he was of age. For about six years after his marriage, he made his home in Stark County, on a farm east of La Fayette. He then purchased land in Section 1, Lynn Township, Knox Co., where he now has a fine farm of 272 acres.
Mr. Snider is a member of the Masonic Order. He and his wife are members of the Eastern Star. In religion they are Methodists. He is School Director, and has been Road Commissioner several terms. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Warfield B. Todd
was born in Frederick Co, Maryland, Feb. 23, 1837, and was educated in the common schools of his native State. He came to Illinois with his parents, Vachel H. and Susan (Brown) Todd in 1851, and he is the eldest of their three children now living. They settled first in Stark County, but in 1855 located in Lynn Township, Knox Co.
In the City of Chicago in March, 1862, Mr. Todd was married to Euphemia Lafferty, who was born in Lynn Township, Knox Co., Oct. 23, 1838, and is a daughter of John and Sallie (Slocum) Lafferty. Mr. and Mrs. Todd have had twelve children: John; Susan; Anar; Jennie; Charles; Nellie; Benjamin J.; Upton B.; Emma, who died Jan. 23, 1895; and three who died in infancy. John married Emma Reed. Susan is now Mrs. F. L. Hilliard; and Anna was the wife of John Dryden, a farmer in Stark County, who died Feb. 22, 1899.
Mr. Lafferty was a native of Pennsylvania, and eight years after his marriage came from Ohio and settled in Lynn Township, where he was a farmer until his death in July, 1867. Mrs. Lafferty was a native of the State of New York, and still resides upon the old homestead.
In Sept. 1861, Mr. Todd enlisted in Company B, Thirty-seventh Illinois Infantry, and was Orderly Sergeant for seven months, when he was discharged for physical disability. In June of 1862, he enlisted again, this time in Company D, Sixty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, and was elected First Lieutenant, in which capacity he served four months, when he was discharged and returned home. In 1864 he was drafted and was assigned to Company A, Thirty-sixth Illinois, went to the front, and was in the battles of Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville. He served until 1865 when he was discharged and returned to Lynn Township, where he has since been engaged in his calling as a farmer. His farm consists of 320 acres of good land, under excellent cultivation.
Mr. Todd is a democrat, and has always taken an active interest in politics. In 1857 he was elected Constable, and in 1879, Supervisor, which office he held for six years. In 1898, he was again elected to the same office, which he now holds. He has been Assessor and Collector, and was a School Director for eighteen years. Mr. Todd is a member of the Masonic Order, Kewanee Chapter, No. 47, and of Lafayette Blue Lodge, No. 501. [BACK]
Alexander W. Albro
merchant and farmer; Galva, Henry County and Lynn Township, Knox County; born November 23, 1824, in Warren County, New York. His parents were Samuel and Polly (Green) Albro. His father was a soldier in the war of 1812, and secured 160 acres of land in Lynn Township on a soldier’s warrant, which he settled upon and improved, coming to Knox County in 1835, the first settler south of Fraker’s Grove on Walnut Creek.
Mr. Albro was married to Emily Spaulding Feb. 19, 1846. They have two children living: Ester Ann, wife of Job Babbett; and Hattie H., wife of Chauncy Beadle; both reside in the State of Nebraska.
It was in June 1855 that he became a resident of Galva. He kept hotel, store, and livery barn, was prosperous in his business, and became one of Galva’s prominent citizens. He is also one of the directors and principal stock holders of the Galva Gas Works. In Douglas County, Nebraska, he has 440 acres of land and another farm in Saunders County of the same state.
In 1862, Mr. Albro enlisted in Company G One Hundred and Twelfth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, and was Captian of the Company, Colonel Thomas J. Henderson, now General, commanding the regiment. After serving nearly two years, he resigned on account of the death of two of his children.
Mr. Albro is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. In politics, he is a republican. He was Revenue Assessor for two years after the war, during the time of “income taxation”. [BACK]
Charles Lawrence Appell
Stockman and Farmer; Lynn Township; born in Sweden, June 7, 1836; educated in his native land. His parents, Peter M. and Anna (Hendrickson) Appell, were natives of Sweden. Mr. Appell came to America with his parents and six brothers and sisters in 1852, landing in New York City. They were nine weeks in a sailing vessel. The father and two children died of cholera in Chicago, where they had been only one week. Two other children died after the family had reached Victoria, Knox Co., IL.
The family lived three miles East of Victoria and depended much upon Charles L. as the oldest, for support. Later the mother made her home at his house where she died in 1889, honored and respected, nearly eighty years of age.
For nearly ten years, Mr. Appell worked for others, though part of this time he worked with his brothers, Alfred and Andrew, upon eighty acres of land which his mother bought with money she brought from the old country. In 1862, the family moved to Indiana, where Mr. Appell teamed for more than three years, and where he met the one who became his wife.
Nov. 11, 1863 he was married, in Attica, Indiana, to Johanna Sophia, daughter of Lars and Anna (Johnson) Anderson, who came to the United States from Sweden in 1852, settled in Indiana, and died in Paxton, IL., where they had moved to educate their children.
Mr. and Mrs. Appell have had eleven children: Lydia, wife of Rev. G. A. Brandelle, Denver, Colorado; Alfred, a Lutheran minister in Peoria, IL; Hanna Charlotte; Carl John, an attorney; Amanda Sophia; August Louis; Edward Joseph; Alfrida Henrietta; Ferdinand Laurence; Martin Philip; and Edith Wilhelmina.
After the war, Mr. Appell returned to Lynn Township where he has been a successful farmer; he is one of the largest land-owners in the county. In religion, he is a Lutheran. He is a republican. [BACK]
Farmer; Lynn Township; born July 11, 1873 in Stark Co, IL; educated in Lafayette. His father, Frank P. Atherton, was born June 5, 1851, in Stark Co, IL.; his mother, Alice (Hoxton) Atherton, was born Dec. 5, 1850, in Pennsylvania; his grandparents, Joseph and Eliza (Simmons) Atherton, were born in Ohio.
He was married to Phebe White, in Toulon, IL. October 19, 1892. They have one child, Ralph V., born Nov. 1894.
Mr. Atherton has a farm of 160 acres. He is a member of Walnut Grange, No. 1653; he is also a member of the Lafayette Band. In religious belief, he is a Methodist. He is a democrat. [BACK]
John Albert Chelman
Merchant; Galva, Henry County, Illinois, born in Victoria Township, Knox County, Illinois, January 22, 1855, educated in Knox College. His parents, John P. and Martha (Hayden) Chelman, were natives of Sweden. They came to the United States in 1846. They were married in Galesburg. The father lived two years in Chicago, then a short time in Canton, Illinois, and in 1850, came to Knox County when he became a prosperous farmer in Victoria Township; he died in 1877. His wife survived him ten years. There were three children: John Albert; Lottie, deceased; and Mrs. Mary A. Ericson. Mr. Chelman remained on the home farm until 1882, when he learned the jeweler's business in Galva, and conducted a jewelry store till 1885. In 1886, he bought a grocery store in Galva, which he has since conducted. He married Anna Laurie, daughter of James and Anna M. (Knight) Soles, prominent citizens of Knox County; James Soles died March 16, 1889, at the age of seventy. Mr. and Mrs Chelman is a director in the Copper Creek Mining and Milling Company, located in Gunnison county, Colorado;' Secretary and Treasurer of the Belleview Mountain and Milling Company and Vice-President of the Rustler Milling Company of Colorado. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias and to the Modern Woodmen of America. In politics, he is a republican. He was elected Mayor of Galva in 1898. In 1896, he was delegate tot the republican state convention. He has been a member of the School Board for nine years. [BACK]
Richard F. Gibbs
Farmer; Lynn Township, where he was born Aug. 14, 1850. His grandparents, Martin and Hannah (Beck) Gibbs, and his maternal grandparents, Joseph and Martha Norcross, came from New Jersey; his father, Jonathan Gibbs, was born Dec. 22, 1808 in New Jersey and came to Lynn Township in 1838. His mother, Tamar (Norcross) Gibbs, was born May 11, 1812 in New Jersey.
Mr. R. F. Gibbs was educated in the public schools. He was married to Mary J. Reed in Galesburg, Nov. 25, 1875. Their children are: Grace E., born May 4, 1877, died Dec. 14, 1885; Stella A., born Nov. 19, 1878; Laura E., born Dec 13, 1880; and Harry A., born Feb 13, 1883.
Mrs. Gibbs was a school teacher before her marriage.
In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
John W. Hamerstrand
Farmer; Lynn Township; born May 29, 1840, in Sweden, where he was educated. His grandparents were Nels and Mary Hamerstrand of Sweden; his father, Erick J. Hamerstrand, was born in Sweden in 1808 and died May 29, 1892.
Mr. John W. Hamerstrand was married to Anna Carlson in Altona, May 21, 1877. Their children are: Albert W., born Feb 5, 1878; Elma C., born Dec 3, 1879; and Fannie E., born Aug 11, 1885.
Mr. Hamerstrand came to America in 1868, and worked on different farms at Altona. In 1886 he bought a farm of 140 acres in Lynn Township, upon which he is now erecting a commodious residence. Mr. Hamerstrand is a member of the Lutheran Church. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Farmer, Lynn Township; born March 23, 1860 in Galva, IL. His grandfather was Jeptha Hathaway of North Adams Co., MA.; his maternal grandparents were William and Jane Mowatt of Scotland; his parents were A. F. Hathaway, born in 1820 in North Adams, and Jane (Mowatt) Hathaway, who was born in 1819 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Mr. Hathaway was educated in the Galva High School. He was married in Lynn Township Mar. 2, 1886 to M. Edith Jones, who was born June 15, 1862. They have two children: Alta Adaline, born July 1, 1894; and Howard Raymond, born Aug 27, 1899.
Mr. Hathaway has a farm of 160 acres a mile south of Galva. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, Number 241, Glava. He is a model farmer. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Thomas A. Hayes
Lynn Township; born June 9, 1838 in Saratoga Co, NY. His parents were Isaac and Agnes E. (Alexander) Hayes of Galway, Saratoga Co, NY, where his father was born Dec. 14, 1799.
Mr. T.A. Hayes was married in Altona, IL., Nov. 22, 1884, to Jennie C. Swan, who was born Feb. 22, 1862. Their children are: George Ferris, born March 29, 1886; E. Alexander, born June 14, 1888; Agnes E., born Jan. 14, 1890; and Mabel May, born Dec. 2, 1891.
Mr. Hayes has a farm of 110 acres, 20 of which are used for the cultivation of hops. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Edward L. Jackson
Farmer; Lynn Township; born Mar 19, 1838 in Goshen, Ohio; his grandparents were Jothan H. Jackson of Ireland, and Mary Jackson of England; his father, P. M. Jackson was born May 15, 1807 in New York; his mother, Jane (Meek) Jackson, was born June 7, 1812 in Ohio.
He was married in Abingdon, IL, Nov. 2, 1859 to Rhoda M. Morey, who was born Feb 22, 1843. Their children are: C. P., born Nov. 30, 1861; A. M., born July 26, 1863; C. A., born May 26, 1872. Their children are all married. C. P. Jackson is a manufacturer of shoes in De Kalb County, and A. M. is a farmer.
Mrs. E. L. Jackson was a school teacher. Her father was Amos Morey, a Methodist preacher who began his ministry in 1853, and died at Lafayette in 1892.
Mr. Jackson is a Methodist. In politics he is a democrat. [BACK]
Charles H. Jones
Farmer and Machinist; Lynn Township; born Aug 8, 1864 at Wooster, Ohio; his grandfather, Charles H. Jones, and his maternal grandparents, J. C. and Amelia Jaynes, came from England. His parents were Walter N. and Adaline (Jaynes) of Ohio.
He was married in Galva, Nov. 7, 1888, to Jennie Todd, who was born June 1, 1871. Their children are: Milo Todd, born Dec. 4, 1890; Vachel Hamilton Todd, born June 27, 1893; and Jennie May, born Mar 6, 1898.
Mrs. Jones is a member of the Eastern Star, Lafayette. Mr. Jones owns a farm of 160 acres on Section 11, Lynn Township. In addition he runs a threshing machine, a corn sheller, a feed mill, a saw mill, and a blacksmith shop. Mr. Jones is a Methodist. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Farmer; Lynn Township; where he was born June 20, 1865; grandparents were James and Mary Kermeen; parents, James and Julia (Carlett) Kermeen, came from the Isle of Man (1849), locating at Brimfield, Peoria County; removed in 1858 to Lynn Township.
R. P. Kermeen was born June 20, 1865; educated in the common schools; married June 21, 1894 to Anna M. Wade of Henry County; one child, Frederick Wade, born Oct. 1, 1897.
Mrs. Kermeen was born in the Isle of Man in 1871 and came to America in 1890; Methodist. Mr. Kermeen is a democrat, and holds the office of Road Commissioner [BACK]
Edward L. Kewley
Farmer; Lynn Township; born Jan 11, 1863, in Henry Co. IL. His parents were Edward and Ann (Craine) Kewley, who came from the Isle of Man; educated in the common schools.
He was married in Henry Co, IL, Jan. 16, 1889 to Edith H. Clucas, who was born Dec. 4, 1870 in Henry County. Their children are: Myrtle A., born Feb. 12, 1890 and Margie L., born Sept 9, 1892.
Mr. Kewley is a member of the I.O.O. F. Lodge No 408, Galva, and of Maple Grove Grange, No. 1680. Mr. Kewley is a Methodist. In politics he is a republican, and has been a School Director.
Burton F. Nance
Farmer; Lynn Township; born Feb. 11, 1864, in Wethersfield, IL.; educated in Kewanee and Quincy. His father was Hiram Nance, M.D. of New Albany, IN; his mother was Sarah R. (Smith) Nance of Batavia, Ohio. Mr. Nance’s paternal grandparents were William and Nancy Nance of Virginia; his maternal grandparents, George and Martha Smith of Ohio.
Mr. Nance was married to Eva M. Cowden, in Burns Township, Henry Co, IL., Oct. 15, 1889. Mr. and Mrs. Nance have one child, Daisy A., born Jan. 13, 1891.
Mr. Nance is liberal in his religious belief. In politics he is a republican. He holds the office of School Director. [BACK]
George W. Potter
Farmer; Lynn Township; born in May 1843, in Washington Co, OH. His father, Joseph Potter, was born May 19, 1797 in Providence, Rhode Island; his mother, Sarah Potter, was born June 9, 1898 near Parkersburg, West Virginia. George W. Potter was educated in Ohio.
He was married to Luna J. Jackson in Toulon, IL. Oct. 28, 1869. Their children are: Edgar S., born Nov. 10, 1870; Fred A., born April 22, 1874; Eva Jane, born Aug. 6, 1876; Ada May, born Nov. 22, 1879; Inez L., born Feb 5, 1884; Sarah E., born Feb. 7, 1886; George O., born Dec. 14, 1888; and Glen A., born may 21, 1892. Edgar S. and Eva J. are married and live near Galva, IL.
Mrs. Potter is President of the W. R. C. Corps, No. 19, Galva, IL. Mr. Potter was a resident of Stark County, during which time he served on the School Board. During the Civil War he enlisted in Company G, One Hundred and thirty-second Regiment Illinois Volunteers. He has been Commander of the G. A. R. Post No. 33 for a number of years. Mr. Potter is a republican. [BACK]
William I. Sellon
Farmer; Lynn Township, where he was born Sept. 1, 1853. His father, Edward Sellon was born near London, England, his mother, Elizabeth (Charles) Sellon, came from Wales; his grandmother, Elizabeth Brown, came from Columbus, Ohio; he was educated in the public schools.
Mr. Sellon was married to Augusta B. Johnson in Stark Co, IL, Feb. 28, 1877. Their children are: Claude, born Dec. 19, 1878; Iona Belle, born July 5, 1881; and Jane, born March 9, 1883. Mrs. Sellon was born April 28, 1854, and is a member of the Relief Corps.
Mr. Sellon has a farm of 320 acres of choice land, and deals largely in fine stock. In religion he is a Methodist. In politics he is a republican, and has been a School Director. [BACK]
Daniel W. Sheahan
Farmer; born Aug. 15, 1843. He came with his parents, John and Margaret (Goodman) Sheahan, from Saratoga Co, NY to Knox County in 1855, settling in Copley Township.
He was married to Sarah J. Brown of Copley Township in 1856. Their children are: John P., William W., Albert G., James F, Francis A., Daniel E., Adelaide M, and Mary E.
In 1862 he enlisted in Company 1, One Hundred and Second Illinois Volunteers Infantry. He was First Sergeant, First Lieutenant, and acting Adjutant at the muster out of his Regiment.
In the spring of 1873, he went to Nebraska and returned to Lynn Township in 1881. He is a member of Walnut Grange, P. of H., No. 1653, and P.G. Tait Post, Grand Army of the Republic, of Victoria.
Since returning to Illinois he has served seven years as School Director, and in 1890 was elected Town Clerk, a position he still holds, having been elected to the office each year. In religion, Mr. Sheahan is a Catholic; in politics he is independent, though generally voting the democratic ticket. [BACK]
James G. Sheahan
Farmer; Lynn Township; born June 8, 1863 in Copley Township; educated in Galesburg and Galva, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa; his parents were John and Margaret (Goodman) Sheahan; they were born in Ireland.
Mr. Sheahan was married in Galva, Oct. 20, 1886 to Mary Sullivan, who was born Oct. 25, 1865; she was the daughter of Cornelius and Julia (Handley) Sullivan. Their children are: Julia M, born Jan. 16, 1888; Mary, born Nov. 6, 1890; John C., born May 6, 1892; Leo, born Sept 10, 1893; and Cornelius A., born April 12, 1896.
Mr. Sheahan is a School Director. In politics he is a democrat. He is a Catholic. [BACK]
Taylor C. Swan
Farmer; Lynn Township, where he was born, Feb. 20, 1865. His grandfathers were Taylor C. Swan and David Johnson; his parents were George M. and Elizabeth M. (Johnson) Swan of Indiana, born Feb. 25, 1835, and Oct. 16, 1840, respectively. He was educated in the common schools.
Mr. Swan married in Galesburg, Aug. 28, 1894, to Sadie A., daughter of Daniel Stivers of Roseville, Warren County, IL. She was born March 15, 1872. Their children are: Glenn J., born Feb. 28, 1895, and Stella A., born May 20, 1897.
In religion Mr. Swan is a Methodist. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Henderson Township History
Henderson was the first township in Knox County to be settled by white men. In February, 1828, Daniel and Alexander Robertson came to Section 15. They were soon followed by others, and by 1830, a good many people had settled within its boundaries. (Much of Henderson’s early history will be found in the articles on Knox County and County Government.)
Henderson is well watered by the branches which make up the head waters of Henderson River. Along these creeks originally stood one of the finest bodies of timber in Illinois. It was a favorite resort for Indians, who, on Sections 23 and 26, had extensive fields of corn. A well was dug at an early day on Section 30, near the creek. At a depth of sixty feet ashes, stumps, a red cedar log and general rubbish were found in as perfect a state of preservation as though the fires had just gone out. Until the Black Hawk War, the Indians were very friendly, remaining in their wigwams and helping the settlers in sugar making, but at the outbreak of that disturbance they went away, but without committing any deprecations.
The prairie land which comprises about one-half the township is very good. Along the edge of this prairie, and near to the timber, the first settlers located. For their mail they had to go to Rushville, seventy-five miles away. In 1833, a post office, with John G. Sanburn as the first Postmaster, was established in the settlement. The post office, under the same name, “Knox Court House”, was afterwards moved to Knoxville. In 1830 the first “corn-cracker” was put up, and in 1837, Silvanus Western, William and Olmstead Ferris put up a steam saw-mill, and not long after added mill-stones, grinding corn and making unbolted flour.
Rev. Jacob Gum preached the first sermon, in 1829, at the house of John B. Gum. F. B. Barber taught the first school, in a log shanty near the grove in 1830. Mr. Barber afterward moved to Texas where he died. In 1833, Harmon G. Brown opened a school, on Section 31. At present there are four hundred and seventy-five persons under twenty-one years of age in the township, of whom two hundred and fifty-nine attend the twelve public schools, one of which is graded. The school houses are frame structures and are worth seven thousand, three hundred dollars.
The first settlers were fond of hunting, and devoted much of their time to the chase. One of the disastrous prairie fires was discovered by H. G. Brown, Peter Frans, and Ben Bruington while out hunting. They returned home from their quest for game to engage in fighting the flames during an entire night.
Only one village, Henderson, has ever been started in the township. One of the farmers, Henry M. Sisson, has made the township famous by his fine hogs, which he has shipped all over the country. His biography may be found on another page.
At the first town election, April 5, 1863, one hundred and fifty-five votes were cast, resulting in the election of Peter Frans, Supervisor; Martin W. Gay, Clerk; James McMurtry, Assessor; C. G. Dean, Collector; Thomas McKee and Abraham Jackson, Justices.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows have a Lodge here.
A brief record of the church history of the township will be of interest. The first church edifice was built at Henderson, and was the result of the efforts of Baptists and Methodists, jointly. In 1874, the Methodists erected a structure of their own. The first pastor was Rev. Mr. Waters, and at present the congregation is under the pastoral charge of the minister residing at Wataga. The Baptists have not now any distinctively sectarian place of worship. A Lutheran church was organized at Soperville, in 1870, and a building erected in 1881. Rev. Mr. Westerdahl was the first pastor, and the present occupant of the pulpit is Rev. H. Olson. There are some two hundred and twenty-five communicants. At one time there was a Christian (sometimes called Campbellite) church in the township, but it no longer exists. The same statement may be predicated of the “Church of Latter Day Saints” (Mormon), which flourished at Soperville in the early days.
The village known by this name was laid out June 11, 1835, by Parnach Owen, for Calvin Glass, on Section 14 of Henderson Township. It was incorporated in 1838, an election being held March 7, at which twenty-eight votes were cast for the measure and none in opposition.
In early days it was a flourishing place, with five general stores, besides a number of other shops. Gardiner and Chapin built the first store. Between 1840 and 1850, over thirty coopers were employed here in making pork and whiskey barrels, which were shipped all over the State.
In 1839, the post office here was the largest in the county, and previous to the building of the railroad Henderson was nearly as important a place as either Knoxville or Galesburg; and was able to exert sufficient influence to secure the insertion of a provision in the railroad incorporation act that the line should pass through the town, but the provision was evaded. Nevertheless, when the Central Military Trace Railroad was constructed, it was a stirring village, though fallen behind its rivals, Knoxville and Galesburg. Subsequently, trade being attracted to the railroad stations, the village steadily declined, until little remained. The construction of the Rio branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad has saved it from extinction, and some little improvement appears.
In 1839, Ben Campbell established a distillery, which Mr. Koons bought, and removed to Section 10. Early in the thirties a saw mill was started here which, in 1841, was owned by Calvin Glass, who that same year started in it a still with a capacity of ten barrels a day. It was burned the same year. The next year Poyer and Wickes put up a still with a daily capacity of twenty barrels, a little north of Henderson. It too burned in about a year, and with its destruction ended the attempts at distilling in Henderson.
Population: 1850, 378; 1880, 198; 1890, 163; 1899, estimated at 125.
Henderson Township Biographies
John Junk -- James Champion McMurtry -- Eli F. Baer -- Edwin Carver -- Joseph Davison -- James Elvin Junk -- Harriet McMurtry -- William McMurtry -- Charles Henry Nelson -- John Lowrey Overstreet -- Franklin Parsons -- Thomas Pendergast -- Riggs Pennington -- Francis Poplett -- Harbin Crawford Robertson -- J.J. Shay -- Edwin Peter Williamson
John Junk was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, May 6, 1827. His parents were James and Elizabeth (Lincoln) Junk of Pennsylvania. James Junk died in Fayette County July 3, 1877, previous to which he had celebrated his golden wedding. He was the oldest of seven children, the others being: Samuel, Thomas, Sarah, Henry, Robert, and Jackson. John Junk’s paternal grandparents were John Junk of New Jersey, and Sarah (Preston) Junk of Pennsylvania; his maternal grandparents were Benjamin Lincoln, who was born near Baltimore, and was a second cousin of Abraham Lincoln; and Elizabeth (Bates) Lincoln.
John Junk was educated in a log school house in Fayette County, and later apprenticed to learn the trades of carpenter and joiner, and millwright, devoting three years to the former and two years to the latter. He came to Knox County in May 1855 and, having previously known Dr. Joseph Henderson, he settled near him in Henderson Township. The first application of his trade in the county was the building of a barn for Governor William McMurtry, after which he built a school house in District No. 1. While thus engaged, he boarded with Mrs. Ebenezer (Robertson) Westfall. November 22, 1855 he was married in Knoxville, Illinois to Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander and Narcissa (Ferguson) Robertson. Mr. Robertson served in the Black Hawk War. He and his brother, Daniel Robertson, came to Henderson Township in February 1828. Alexander Robertson died February 28, 1848. His daughter Elizabeth was born in Henderson Township December 14, 1837.
During the Fall of 1855, Mr. John Junk bought eighty acres of land and began farming. He was very successful, and, after a few years, went to the old home of his wife and bought out the other heirs, securing a farm of four hundred and thirty acres, where he now resides.
Mr. and Mrs. Junk are the parents of two children, Stephen A., who died at the age of four years; and Alexander Robertson.
In politics, Mr. Junk is a democrat, and has held many important offices. In 1871, he was elected Supervisor, serving four years, and was again Supervisor in 1906. He was Justice of the Peace for eight years, and Road Commissioner for three years; he also served as Assessor. He is a member of Hiram Lodge, No. 26, Masonic fraternity. [BACK]
James Champion McMurtry
James Champion McMurtry, son of William and Ruth (Champion) McMurtry, was born in Crawford County, Indiana, February 3, 1829. He belongs to a noted family, whose descent is from the French Huguenots. His great-grandfather, John McMurtry, had a large family of children, five of whom were killed in the Revolution, at the battle of Cowpens.
The McMurtry family came to Knox County, November 1, 1829, and settled in Henderson Township. The family consisted of the grandfather, James McMurtry, his two sons, William and James, their wives, and the children of William—Mary and James C. The following families, whose names will always be associated with Knox County, were already settled in the neighborhood: Daniel and Alexander Robinson, and Riggs Pennington, of whom William and James McMurtry bought their farm of one hundred and sixty acres, on which was a small log cabin. On this farm, the people of the whole neighborhood assisted in building a block house or stockade, which afforded protection against the incursions of the Indians. At different times before, during and after the Black Hawk War, about twenty-five families were gathered here. During the war, William McMurtry organized a company of Rangers of about eighty-nine, which embraced nearly all that were fit for service in Knox, Warren, and Mercer counties. They were all mounted, each man furnishing his own rifle and horse. They pursued the Indians in all directions but were never engaged in battle.
His grandfather, James McMurtry, was one of thirteen children, and was born in Tennessee. His maternal grandfather was of Irish descent, and was born on the “Emerald Isle’. James McMurtry died in 1854, at the advanced age of nearly ninety.
His father, William McMurtry, was one of the most remarkable men of his time. He was strong intellectually, was a thorough student of human nature, and was an adept in the art of leading and controlling men. He was born in Tennessee, and married Ruth Champion, a native of Kentucky. He was a State Senator for many years. In 1848, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Illinois on the same ticket with Governor French. He was captain of a company in the Black Hawk War and Colonel of the Sixty-seventh Regiment of Militia of Illinois. During the Civil War, he was chosen Colonel of the One Hundred and Second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and after serving a short time in Kentucky, he became ill and was honorably discharged.
In 1846, he became a member of the Masonic Order, joining the Hiram Lodge in Henderson and the Horeb Chapter in Henderson. He was the Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge and Chapter for fourteen years. He was one of the first three County School Commissioners of Knox County and has held the office several times since.
Governor McMurtry was an uncompromising democrat, and a particular friend of Stephen A. Douglas. He was early instructed in the democratic ritual by his father and grandfather. He was one of the most conspicuous political figures in Illinois, and on account of his tenacity of opinion and firm adherence to democratic principles, he was regarded as a “wheel horse” in his party.
The natural powers of Governor McMurtry were great. He was a great reader and had a well stored mind. He was entertaining and agreeable in conversation, a good neighbor and constant friend. He performed the duties of citizenship faithfully, and was regarded by everyone as a conscientious and upright citizen.
Dr. James C. McMurtry received his education in the common schools. Later, he was a student in Knox College, and in Union College, Schenectady, New York. He took his degree in medicine at the Rush Medical College in Chicago. After graduation, he returned to Knox County, and has practiced medicine here ever since.
In early life, Dr. McMurtry embraced the political faith of his father. He was a democrat until the breaking out of the Civil War. He cast his first republican vote for Abraham Lincoln’s re-election. Since that time he has been a firm adherent to republican principles, and his voice is often heard in the council hall of the republican party. He is regarded as an influential party man, and is a party leader in local and State politics. He helped form the Union League in Henderson Township and was elected its first president. He has been offered many official positions in the party, which he has declined. He says that “during the war, his life was threatened many times by members of the Golden Circle; but his good nerve, judgment, and reputation as a good fencer, and ‘dead shot’, did much to prevent disorder in Knox County.” The doctor is a superior athlete, and has exhibited his strength and nerve on many occasions.
Dr. McMurtry possesses many of the characteristics of his father. He is noted for the honesty of his convictions, his clear-sightedness of obligation and duty, and his moral courage in maintaining the right. In manner, he is not finical or affected, and in his speech, he is straightforward and plain. He is liberal in his views, charitable towards all, given to hospitality, and has lived a life full of good deeds.
Dr. McMurtry was married June 9, 1855 to Caroline Nelson, of Warren County. She is the daughter of Andrew Nelson, who, at the time of marriage, was a merchant in Henderson. To Dr. and Mrs. McMurtry were born five children: James W., Franklin Hl, Susan H., Caroline and Mary. Franklin H. died at the age of five. [BACK]
Eli F. Baer
Farmer, Henderson Township; born Jan. 11, 1863, in Henry Co., IL; educated in Westfield College, IL. His parents, who were natives of Franklin Co., PA. were: David F. Baer, born May 11, 1827, and died July 18, 1890, and Susanna (Rine) Baer, born April 28, 1825; his grandparents were David and Elizabeth (Flickinger) Baer, of Lancaster Co, PA; his maternal grandparents were Michael Rine of Lancaster Co, PA., and Elizabeth (Dunkle) Rine of Hagerstown, Maryland; his great-grandparents were Michael Dunkle and Susanna Raider.
Mr. Baer was married to Angie Waters at Gilson, IL. May 25, 1898. Mr. Baer is a prohibitionist. In religion he belongs to the United Brethren in Christ. [BACK]
Farmer and fruit grower; Henderson Township; born June 28, 1834 in Fayette Co, IN. His father, Jonathan Carver, was born on the Hudson River in New York State, and died at the age of 82. His mother, Malinda (Nelson) was a native of Augusta, Maine. His paternal grandparents, Elijah and Susan (Longwell) Carver, were natives of New York State; his paternal great-grandfather was Timothy Carver. His maternal grandparents, Jacob and Mary (Campbell) Nelson, were born in Maine, as was also his maternal great-grandfather, Jacob Nelson, whose son Horatio Nelson, was in the naval service during the Revolution.
Feb. 18, 1857, Mr. Carver was married in Fayette Co, IN., to Nancy J. Van Buskirk, daughter of George and Rachel (Helm) Van Buskirk, natives respectively of Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Both parents died in Fayette Co, IN., the father being nearly 96 years of age.
Mr. and Mrs. Carver have one son, Grant, who was educated in Galva and Chicago, and married Helen, daughter of S.H. Bateman.
Mr. Carver came to Illinois, Oct. 18, 1865, and settled three miles northeast of Lafayette, Stark County, on a farm of two hundred and forty acres of virgin prairie, which he improved and subsequently sold. He moved near Lafayette and from there, in 1880, to Galva, where he engaged in the implement business. After five years, he returned to the farm, which he cultivated until 1889, when he moved to Galesburg. He owns sixty-five acres of land near Henderson, which he converted into a fruit farm, a charming retreat greatly admired by Galesburg people. He is a republican. [BACK]
Farmer; Henderson Township; born in Northumberland, England. January 21, 1828; educated in his native land. His father, Robert Davison, was a shoemaker and merchant in Northumberland, which is on the border of Scotland. His mother, Mary Charlton, was a native of England, as were also her parents, Joseph and Mary Charlton. Mr. Davison's paternal grandfather, John Davison, was a North-of England man; he was a Mason. His paternal grandmother was Isabella Nesbit. In 1853, Mr. Joseph Davison came to the United States and settled in Henderson, Knox County, Illinois, where he engaged in the shoe business, which he had learned in England. This he continued until about 1875, since which time he has devoted all his attention to farming. He was frugal and industrious, and added to the first forty acres which he bought adjoining Henderson, until he now owns more than four hundred acres of good land. Mr. Davison was twice married; first to Jane Armstrong in Scotland; his second marriage was to Isabella Kilgore. He has three son: Robert, Harvey C., and Irving. In politics, he is an independent. He has held local offices. He was made Mason at Hiram Lodge Number 26, and Horeb Chapter Number 4. [BACK]
James Elvin Junk
Farmer; Henderson Township, where he was born April 20, 1864; educated in the same township. His parents were Thomas and Maria (Kilgore) Junk, of Fayette Co, PA; his paternal grandparents were James and Eliza (Rankin) Junk of the same county and State; and his maternal grandfather was James Kilgore, of PA.
Mr. Junk was married to Carrie Blanche Hampton in Galesburg, Dec. 24, 1891; their children are: Fred Hampton, Geneva Jane, and Dorothy.
Mr. Junk is a member of the Methodist Church. He is a democrat [BACK]
Henderson Township, where she was born, Feb. 12, 1854, and where she was educated. Her parents were James McMurtry, born in Hardin Co, Kentucky, died March 1893, and Eliza (Rice) McMurtry, born in Indiana, died Sept 23, 1879; her grandparents were James McMurtry of North Carolina, and Margaret (Lucas) McMurtry of Kentucky; her maternal grandparents were Jacob Rice, and Margaret (Edwards) Rice of Kentucky.
In religion Harriet McMurtry is a Universalist.
was born in Mercer Co., Kentucky, Feb. 20, 1801. He removed, with his parents, to Crawford Co., Indiana, where he married Ruth Champion, by whom he had five children: Mary E., James C., Nancy, Francis M., and Cynthia. Mrs. McMurtry died Feb. 10, 1864.
In 1829 he came, with his family, to Henderson Grove, where he lived until his death, from dropsy, April 11, 1875. He was a democrat in politics, and was elected to the legislature in 1836, and again in 1838. In 1844 he was sent to the State Senate, and in 1848 was made Lieutenant Governor. He was comparatively uneducated, but his sociability, his strong, good sense, and his inimitable energy made him one of the most influential men of his day in Illinois politics.
In 1862 he was commissioned Colonel of the One Hundred and Second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, but ill health compelled his resignation in Feb. 1863.
He was a man of powerful physique and great vitality, but his rough life in the early frontier days left him broken down in constitution during the later years of his life. [BACK]
Charles Henry Nelson
Farmer; Henderson Township; born in Monson, Hampden Co, MA, June 2, 1830; educated in the common schools of Knox County. His parents, Andrew and Susan (Hawley) Nelson, were born in MA., the former in the town of Wales, the latter in Amherst. His paternal grandparents were George and Susan Nelson, the former having been born in Wales. His maternal grandparents were Philip and Roxanna Hawley, the former a native of MA. The Nelson family was of English descent.
Mr. Nelson was married in Henderson, Nov. 8, 1882, to Ruth Cook; they have two children: Frank A. and John T. Mrs. Nelson is a daughter of James Cook, who came to Knox County in 1862 and died in 1891; he was a farmer.
Mr. Nelson came to Knox County with his father and step-mother, Barbara (Hamilton). His own mother died in Pennsylvania, Nov 9, 1839. For ten years he was a merchant; he then studied law in Chicago (1862) with George Ford, since which time he has practiced in Knox County.
He owns 965 acres of land, chiefly in Knox County. He is a self-made man, his financial success being entirely due to his own efforts. In politics he is a democrat, and is a free and independent citizen; he is not a member of any society. He was supervisor for three terms. [BACK]
John Lowrey Overstreet
Farmer; Henderson Township; born Nov. 13, 1859 at Galesburg, where he was educated in the district school, and at Knox College. His parents were Milton Lowrey Overstreet of Nicholasville, Jefferson Co, KY, and Catherine (Martin) Overstreet of CT; his grandparents were Robert S. and Jane (Lowrey) Overstreet of Kentucky; his maternal grandparents were Joel and Phoebe Martin of Connecticut; his great-grandparents were James Overstreet of England and Susan (Daves) Overstreet of Kentucky.
He was married to Nannie A. Brown in Galesburg, Dec. 26, 1882.
Mr. Overstreet is a member of the Congregational Church and is a republican [BACK]
Farmer; Section 25, Henderson Township; born Jan. 9, 1826, in Agawam, West Springfield, Hampden Co, MA.; educated in New York and Ohio. His parents were David Hastings and Lydia T. (Warren) Parsons of Massachusetts; his paternal grandparents were Hosea Parsons, born Oct. 25, 1778, and Sallie (Upham) Parsons, born Oct. 25, 1778, the latter of Springfield, MA.
Mr. Franklin Parsons first married Sarah Bullard at Knoxville, IL., March 1, 1848. His second marriage was with Actus Baxter, in Henderson, Sept. 5, 1871. His children are Leonard U., Edatha E., Frank D., Ellen A., John R., Lincoln E., Sarah L., M. Emma, and Effa M.
Mr. Parsons is a member of the Universalist Church. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Coal Operator; Henderson Township; born Dec. 22, 1846, in County Kilkenny, Ireland. He was married to Rosanna Sharkey, Dec. 28, 1869, at Galesburg. They have five children: John, Mary, James, Katharine, and Johanna.
John Pendergast, the father of Thomas, was born in Ireland, as was also his mother, whose maiden name was Catherine Gorman. His paternal grandfather was Patrick Pendergast; his maternal grandfather was Michael Gorman, and his maternal grandmother was Mary Cady, all of whom were natives of Ireland. In the spring of 1863, Mr. Pendergast came to Knox County where his father had located in 1855. He engaged in farming until 1889, when he sunk a shaft and began to mine coal on his own farm in Soperville, IL. He is a self-made man, and his success in life is due solely to his tireless energy and industry.
Tragic circumstances attended the removal of his father’s family to America. Mr. John Pendergast came to New York in 1848, and one year later, sent for his family. Upon landing at Quebec they were seized with cholera, and before the father could reach them from New York, the mother, one daughter and a son had died. His surviving daughter was taken to the home in New York, which the father had provided for his family. He is a member of the Catholic Church. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Mr. Pennington was one of the first County Commissioners. He was a keen, shrewd man, of medium size, dark complexion, having piercing eyes, straight black hair, a full forehead, and a general appearance that gave him the air of a thoroughly wide-awake business man.
Not much can now be learned of him, but he deserves mention herein, for in his day he was one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Northern Illinois. When he left this state for Texas in 1837, he carried nearly fifteen thousand dollars with him.
He was a native of North Carolina and was the first white settler in McDonough County, Illinois. He came to Knox County in 1828, and returned here once for a short visit in 1840.
It is said that he remained in Texas until his death in 1869, but perhaps a more trustworthy report is that he shortly left Texas and went to Mexico where he amassed a large fortune. [BACK]
Farmer; Henderson Township; born in Sparta Township May 28, 1851; educated in Knox County. His father, John Poplett, was born in Indiana, Sept. 12, 1826, and died March 30, 1852; his mother Sophia (Davis) Poplett, was born in Indiana Nov. 2, 1829; his grandfather, Thompson Poplett came from Kentucky; his maternal grandfather, Peter Davis, was born in Kentucky in Dec. 1801, and died March 15, 1871; his maternal grandmother, Harriet (Cannon) Davis, was born in Kentucky March 4, 1811, and died Nov. 8, 1891. John Poplett and Sophia Davis were married Nov. 16, 1848; a son, Henry Thompson, was born in 1849, and died June 16, 1850.
Francis Poplett was married to Laura L. Rowe in Sparta Township July 3, 1872. Their children are: Nellie Harriet, born July 10, 1873, died Aug. 11, 1873; Laura Ella, born Jan 12, 1875, married to Jacob M. Findley, Jan 9, 1896; Mary Alice, born Aug 19, 1876, died Feb 8, 1880, and Elmer Frank, born April 20, 1884.
Laura Lorrania, wife of Francis Poplett, was born February 22, 1849, and died March 31, 1890.
Mr. Poplett is a Protestant. In politics he is a republican, and has held the office of Road Commissioner. [BACK]
Harbin Crawford Robertson
Farmer; Henderson Township; born in the old log homestead May 5, 1850; educated in Knox County. His father, Daniel Robertson, was born June 12, 1804, in Blair, Perthshire, Scotland, and came to this country with his father, Alexander Robertson, also a native of Scotland, when he was but six months old. Alexander Robertson settled first in New York State, but in 1817 removed to Illinois, finally settling in Morgan County, where he died. Daniel Robertson moved in 1822, to Sugar Creek near Rushville, and in 1828 to Knox County, where he died April 6, 1890. Daniel Robertson’s wife, Hopey Jan (Riddle) was born in Kentucky, Feb. 25, 1812, and died Nov. 29, 1895.
Dec. 27, 1877 in Henderson, Mr. H. C. Robertson was married to Lida McKee; they have three children: Fannie Maud, Mary Elener, and Millard Allen. Mrs. Robertson is a daughter of Allen and Harriet (Biggerstaff) McKee, natives of Athens Co, OH, and of Scotch-Irish descent. Her parents moved to Iowa in 1873 where her father died; her mother is still living.
Mr. Robertson owns the old homestead and has, altogether, 201 acres of land, 84 acres of which are in section 28, where he resides, and where he settled when he was married. He is the only one of the family in the township. From April 1871 till Sept. 1873 he lived in Kansas and Missouri, where he still owns 160 acres of land. In politics he is a democrat. [BACK]
Farmer; Henderson Township, where he was born Nov. 14, 1859. His father, Michael Shay, and his mother, Mary (Fitzgerald) Shay, were born in Ireland. Mr. Shay’s parents came from Ireland to New York in 1848; in 1850 they moved to Knox County where they resided until their death.
Mr. Shay was married to Anna Horstman at Lexington, Nebraska, March 1890. They have two children: Ray and Earl.
Early in life, Mr. Shay went west and spent fifteen years in western Nebraska and Wyoming as foreman for Daters & Company of Cheyenne, Wyoming. He had the management of 25,000 head of cattle. In 1895 he returned to Knox County, where he has since resided and follows the occupation of farming.
In politics Mr. Shay is a republican, and is now serving his second term as Assessor. He is energetic and industrious, and much respected by the community in which he lives.[BACK]
Edwin Peter Williamson
Farmer; Henderson Township; born March 13, 1870 at Wataga, Knox County; educated in Business College at Galesburg, and at Davenport, Iowa. His father is William Williamson.
Mr. E. P. Williamson was married to Elizabeth L. Olson at Wataga, March 22, 1899. He was brought up on the Williamson farm, near Wataga, and was a clerk in his father’s store in Moline, IL., from 1887 to 1888. After the death of his brother George, he managed the mill in Wataga until the fall of 1895, when he began to farm on the homestead.
After his marriage, Mr. Williamson settled near Henderson on a farm of 187 acres, where he is making a record for industry and thrift. [BACK]
Victoria Township History
by J. W. Temple
[pgs 828 - 830]
The surface of Victoria Township is somewhat broken, in some-parts running down into timber land toward the south. It is well watered and drained by branches of Walnut Creek and tributaries of Spoon River. Some of its prairie land, however, is equal to the best in the county, and this comprises about two-thirds of its entire area. The larger portion of its coal. Stock farming has also been extensively and successfully conducted.
The early settlers chose to locate farms in or near the timber in preference to the prairie, because of the shelter, fuel, and building material afforded.
The pioneers in Victoria Township began to arrive in 1835. Among them were John Essex, Edward Brown, Moody and Moses Robinson, Passons Aldredge and one or two others, who located farms in the "timber." Others followed the next year, among them being Deacon George H. Reynolds, who built the first house on the prairie. He was also the first postmaster in Victoria and the first tavern keeper, if we except a small hostlery kept for a few years at the old site of Victoria village, The first child born in this township was Sarah, daughter o Moody Robinson, who first opened her eyes on November 16, 1836. The first marriage was that of Peter Sornborger and Phebe Wilbur, in 1836, section 39. The first sermons preached were by Revs. Z. Hall and Charles Bostwick. Passons Aldrege was the first Justice of the Peace and Henry Shurtleff the first Constable. Both were elected in 1837. Mr. Shurtleff was also the first school teacher in the township teaching, in 1838, in a log school house in a grove of timber on Section 21. Most of the school houses in this early day were built of roughly hewn logs. There are now nine substantial frame school buildings in the township. One of the schools is graded, and the enrollment is two hundred and eighty-eight. These houses cost nearly six thousand dollars.
Many of the first settlers of Victoria were from the south; the Robinsons coming from Tennessee, which state they left because of their conscientious objection too slavery. This family appears too have been of exceptional longevity, one member having reached the age of one hundred and four; another, a lively old lady, still a resident of the village, is past ninety-nine and seems likely too live for several years more. Another, familiarly called “old Uncle Moses Robinson,” lived till past ninety-four. This town is rather noted for the number of extremely old persons in its limits, not a few having lived past the age of ninety years.
The population of Victoria is peaceful, law-abiding and industrious. They have two churches; and in addition too the religious training given in these, services are held in many of its school houses. Among its citizens is a large percentage of Swedish birth or descent, who here, as everywhere, prove too be a valuable addition too the population; and by their thrift and industry many of them have become wealthy and solid citizens. The first pioneer among these was Rev. Jonas J. Hedstrom, who settled in the town at an early day, and succeeded in drawing after him a numerous immigration from Sweden.
In the early settlement, many of the farmers were compelled too haul their wheat too Chicago, a distance of over one hundred and sixty miles. Wheat was then worth but thirty cents for choice fall varieties. On the return trips they brought home lumber, salt and dry goods.
The population of the township has remained nearly stationary for forty years, being, by the census of 1890, eleven hundred and seventy-nine; in 1860, it was eleven hundred and twenty; in 1870, the returns showed eleven hundred and ninety; and in 1880, twelve hundred and fifty-two.
The first town officers elected (in April, 1853) were J. L. Jarnigan, Supervisor; J. F. Hubbell, Clerk; B. Youngs, Assessor; C. A. Shurtleff, Collector; Alex Sornborger, Overseer of the Poor; A. B. Codding, Peter Van Buren and J. W. Mosher, Highway Commissioners; Peter Van Buren and Moses Robinson, Justices of the Peace; C. A. Shurtleff and Seneca Mosher, Constables.
By J. W. Temple
The village of Victoria, one of the very few towns in Knox County, until lately lacking railroad facilities, yet which persistently went on and prospered without them, is located on the high ground of a beautifully rolling prairie, partly in Copley, and partly in Victoria townships. It was first laid out May 11, 1849, by A. A. Denny, then County Surveyor, for John Becker, J. W. Spaulding, J. J. Hedstrom, J. Halstrom, W. L. Shurtleff, J. Freed, G. F. Reynolds, A. Arnold and J. Knapp. It was at first platted on Sections 7 and 16 of Victoria Township, but soon spread until it covered parts of Sections 12 and 13 of Copley. The village originally started one and one-half miles southeast of its present location; where those pioneers of a new settlement, a store, a tavern, and a blacksmith shop, strove too become the nucleus of a future town. But the Chicago road ran through the present site, and George F. Reynolds kept his house here open as a tavern, and the village gradually formed around its present position, presumably too be nearer a good tavern and an important road. This hypothesis accounts for the number of proprietors when the place was finally platted. They had come there and actually started a town before it had been laid out at all, so that nearly all the residents may be reckoned among the early owners of desirable village lots.
The present village of Victoria boasts of over three hundred inhabitants, and is the center of a flourishing farming community and of a considerable local trade. The first, and for many years it’s only, store was conducted by John Becker. Early in 1899, it had four, besides a post office, which distributed more reading matter in proportion too the population than any other in the county. The last mentioned circumstance affords an index too the average intelligence of its people. In the summer of 1899, the Galesburg and Eastern Railroad was extended into the township and village, thus furnishing a fresh impetus too business property. Lumber yards, stock yards, elevators and a bank are now among its commercial institutions, and these improved trade facilities have wonderfully added too the growth and importance of both village and township.
Victoria also has a well conducted graded school and three churches—Methodist, Congregationalist, and Swedish Methodist.
Of these, the first, in order of time was the Congregational Society, which was originally organized as a Presbyterian body, but subsequently changed its affiliations. It dates its existence from May 30, 1841, and became identified with the Congregational communion on April 25, 1849. On August 12, 1852, a church edifice costing twelve hundred dollars was dedicated, and the congregation subsequently built a parsonage, valued at eight hundred dollars. The number of communicants is eighty-nine, and there are ninety pupils in the Sunday school, while the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor has a membership of sixty-five. The first pastor was Rev. S. G. Wright, and the present incumbent of the office is Rev. James J. Watson. N. B. Ives, Jr. is Superintendent of the Sunday school.
The Methodist Episcopal denomination has a church membership of eighty-seven, and a Sunday school attendance of fifty. A house of worship was erected in 1855, at an outlay of three thousand dollars. The present pastor is Rev. W. S. Porter, who also has charge of the Maxey chapel, in the township of Persifer. The latter is a branch, or mission, of the Victoria church. It has thirty-nine members and a Sunday school attendance of fifty.
In that part of the village lying in Copley Township may be found the first Swedish Methodist Church ever organized. It was established on December 15, 1846, with only five members, by Rev. J. J. Hedstrom, the founder of Swedish Methodism. A church edifice was erected in 1854, and a parsonage built three years later, the denomination’s real property being at present valued at three thousand five hundred dollars. It conducts a mission church at Center Prairie, in Victoria Township, where a house of worship costing fifteen hundred dollars has been built. There is but one Board of Trustees for both bodies, the two branches virtually constituting one church. The Center Prairie branch was organized in 1869, by Rev. Peter Newburg. The aggregate membership of both churches is one hundred and fifty, and of the Sunday schools, eighty. The first permanent pastor was Rev. H. O. Wester, who came in 1857. The present minister in charge is Rev. Otto Raba.
Popular sentiment has always been intolerant of the saloon, and there are no licenses granted for the sale of ardent spirits.
Victoria has many societies. The G.A.R. has a flourishing post, the village having furnished many gallant volunteers too the national forces during the War of the Rebellion. Victoria Lodge of the Odd Fellows’ fraternity is a thriving society here. The Masonic brotherhood has a hall and a large membership. The Modern Woodmen have a large and flourishing camp, and, with the Rebekahs and Odd Fellows, occupy a fine hall.
Victoria Township Biographies
George W. Reynolds -- John Becker -- Frederick Bulson -- James Coleman -- Clayton A. De Wolf -- Eric Ericson -- Svante B. Hardine -- Charles O. Hedstrom -- Jonas Hedstrom -- Samuel Jarvis -- Justus A. Larson -- Aaron W. Olmsted -- Charles S. Robinson -- Charles A. Sayre -- John E. Silen -- Charles D. Sornborger -- George M. Sornborger -- Thomas Woolsey
George W. Reynolds
Captain George W. Reynolds was born in Milton, Massachusetts July 15, 1826. He is the son of George F. and Abigail (Locke) Reynolds, who were natives of New Hampshire—the father having been born at Harrington, in 1799; the mother in the same town, in 1804. They had a family of four children: George W.; Charles C.; John W.; and Julia A. They came to Illinois in June 1835 when George was only nine years old, and settled for a short time in Tazewell County. They came to Knox County in 1836, settling on a farm in Victoria Township, which has been known for nearly two full generations as the “Reynolds Farm”. Here the father lived, and died at a ripe old age, reaching within seven years of the century mark. He was Victoria’s first Postmaster; was Justice of the Peace for many years; and was one of the first organizers of the town, which stands mostly on his land.
Captain Reynolds’ early school advantages were not at all satisfactory. He remained on the home farm until 1853, attending the district school as much as his farm duties would permit. Schools throughout the State had not then been organized, and here and there, the little log school house stood as the precursor of the better structures of today. The school was three miles distant, and George availed himself of all the instruction that the little log cabin afforded. At the age of eighteen he attended Knox Academy for one year, paying his board by working nights and mornings, and Saturdays. He then returned to the old homestead, remaining until 1847, when he took a trip to the New England States. In the Spring of 1848, he returned to Illinois and took his father’s farm on shares until 1854. His next adventure was to California by the overland route, in search of gold. After remaining there for two years, he returned by the way of Panama and New Orleans, and settled on the farm which he subsequently purchased, and where he now lives.
Captain Reynolds is imbued with a good degree of patriotism and served his country faithfully during the late Rebellion. In 1862, he enlisted in Company K, Eighty-third Illinois Volunteers and was chosen Captain. He served through the war and was mustered out in June 1865. He returned to his home in Victoria, receiving the plaudits of his fellow townsmen for his meritorious service. He then engaged in farming and stock-raising.
Captain Reynolds has always had the confidence of his neighbors, and the citizens generally. He was elected Town Clerk for several years, was Township Treasurer of the School Fund for about ten years, and has been School Director for a long time. The village of Victoria was organized in 1887, since which time he has been Village Treasurer. In religious belief, he is a Congregationalist, and has always done active work for the church. In politics, he is a true republican, believing thoroughly in republican measures and principles.
Captain Reynolds has been twice married. His first wife was Mary C. Hotchkiss, a native of New York. They were married in February 1849, and the union was blessed with one son, Lewis M., born October 26, 1849. Mrs. Reynolds died in 1858, and a second marriage took place in 1859, to Elizabeth Swickard, a native of Wayne County, Ohio: they have one daughter, Jennie M., born November 1, 1868, and now the wife of James McMaster. Mr. and Mrs. McMaster have one daughter, Ethelyne, born in 1896. [BACK]
Merchant (retired); Victoria Township; born June 10, 1811, in Otsego County, New York. His father was Philip Becker; his grandfather, Jacob Becker, came from Germany, and was a soldier in the Revolution. Mr. Becker was educated in the common schools. He was married in Victoria, October 12, 1845, to Mary J. Smith, daughter of an 1839 settler of Victoria, and a sister of Judge A. A. Smith, of Galesburg. Their children are: Hannah, Emma, Ella, Carrie, and Sue L. Mr. Becker came to Victoria in 1844, and was a merchant for twenty years. He moved to Galesburg, where he was prominent in banking circles, and was Alderman of the Third Ward. In 1892, he returned to Victoria Township, and settled on a farm which he owned in 1845. In religion, Mr. Becker was a Methodist. He was a republican. [BACK]
Farmer, Victoria Township; born July 10, 1820 in Otsego Co., N.Y.; educated in the district schools. His father, Isaac Bulson, of Rennsselaer Co, N.Y. was a farmer and settled in Otsego County. Frederick worked on the farm till 1846 when he came to Victoria Township. In the spring of 1847, while on a visit in Pike Co, he enlisted for the Mexican War in Company K, First Regiment Illinois Volunteers. He marched to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and after a service of twenty-one months returned to Illinois and was discharged.
He soon after bought the farm on which he lived for half a century. He now owns 600 acres of land in Copley, Victoria, and Lynn townships, besides a large tract in Nebraska.
He was married in March 1850 to Mary, daughter of John Hainline. They had three sons and five daughters: George H. (deceased), Ira, Abram (deceased), Sarah E., Hannah A., Susan E., Alice and Mary. Ira is a farmer in Copley Township; Abram died Aug. 10, 1889, aged twenty-three years; George H., died at the age of five years; Susan E. is Mrs. W. A. Shaw of Nebraska; Sarah E. is Mrs. O. C. Bradley of Iowa.
Mr. Bulson died Jan. 9, 1892. He was a democrat and served as Road Commissioner and School Director. [BACK]
Farmer; Victoria Township, born Dec. 27, 1830 in Mercer Co, PA. His father, Samuel Coleman, came to Victoria Township in 1855, and died in 1875; his mother came from Ireland. He was educated in the common schools.
Mr. Coleman was thrice married. His first wife died in Pennsylvania; his second in Illinois; he married as his third wife Eliza Kane of Victoria.
Mr. Coleman came with his father from Pennsylvania, and located on a farm near him. He finally moved to the homestead where he now lives. He has been School Director for twenty-one years. His children are: Lincoln, John, William, Clyde, Francis J., Lottie, Ada F., and Susie B. [BACK]
Clayton A. De Wolf
Farmer; Victoria Township; born April 30, 1845. He was the son of Joseph DeWolfe and Mary Ann, daughter of Martin Gibbs, one of the early settlers. Mr. DeWolfe was educated in the common schools.
He was married to Lucetta, daughter of Joseph Atherton, March 7, 1867, at West Jersey, IL. They have four children: Burton A., Ernest C., Ethel N., and Louise. One son is a farmer, the other a carpenter, both of whom are members of the Grange.
Mr. DeWolfe went to Iowa in 1880, and in 1889, he returned to Illinois and settled in Goshen; in 1890 he moved to Victoria Township. In 1894 he was elected Road Commissioner and served three years; he has also been School Director for several years. In religion Mr. DeWolfe is a Protestant. [BACK]
Farmer; Victoria Township; born in Farla, Soken Lane, Helsingland, Sweden, March 02, 1836; educated in his native land. His father was John Ericson of Sweden who died at the age of eighty-six years at the home of his son, Eric; his mother was Segrid Munson. His paternal grandparents were Eric and Margaret Peterson Ericson; his paternal great-grandfather was John Ericson. The family is an old and honored one in Sweden. Mr. Ericson came to the United States with his parents in 1850, an settled in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. in 1864, he came to Knox County with his wife and settled in Victoria Township, section 10, where he bought seventy acres of land; he now owns 320 acres, besides timber land. In Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Mr. Ericson was married to Christina Bloom, February 06, 1862; they had one son, John E., born May 27, 1866. Mrs. Ericson died March 04, 1896, at the age of fifty-nine. John E. Ericson was married, January 18, 188, to Amanda, daughter of John A. Johnson, a blacksmith in Victoria; they have four children; Edna Christina, Alice Maurie, Ealr John, and Carl Magnus. Mr. Ericson is one of the best farmers in the township, and was for six years Road Commissioner. He is a member of the Swedish Methodist Episcopal church. In politics, he is a republican. [BACK]
Svante B. Hardine
Farmer; Victoria Township; born Sept. 10, 1858, in Sweden, where he was educated and learned the carpenter’s trade.
He was married to Mary Nelson, in Victoria, Dec. 30, 1881; their children are: Earl M., Raymond B., Hazel N., Esther M., and Ethel J.
Mr. Hardine came to Galesburg in 1880, and worked at the carpenters’ trade for two years; he then located on the farm in Victoria Township, on which his father-in-law, B. Nelson, settled in 1868, which he afterwards bought. In 1890 he removed to Galva, IL. where he died in 1891.
Mr. Hardine is a member of the Lutheran Church. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Charles O. Hedstrom
Farmer; Victoria Township; born in Walnut Grove Township, Jan. 29, 1868. His father, Nels Hedstrom, was an early settler and prominent farmer of Walnut Grove Township. Charles O. Hedstrom was educated in the common schools, and began farming in 1892, with his brother. In 1894 he located on a farm in Victoria Township, where he now resides.
He was married to May Herald of Victoria, July 28, 1892. They had three children: Cecil C, Hester, and Josephine.
He is a republican, and a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. He is one of the leading farmers of his township. [BACK]
The precise place of Mr. Hedstrom’s birth cannot be certainly told, but it is believed to have occurred on the Island of Oland, Sweden, Aug. 13, 1813. His brother, Olof, who was ten years older, had as early as 1825, arrived in New York, and within a decade had become a Methodist Minister. In 1833 Olof visited the fatherland, and on his return to America was accompanied by Jonas. The first few years of his residence in this country, Jonas passed in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, and worked at his trade as a blacksmith. When a family named Sornberger moved west to Victoria, IL, the young smith was irresistibly led to follow them in 1838. The reason was made clear when he shortly married one of the Misses Sornberger. He took up his abode with his wife at Farmington.
During his residence in the east, he had become converted to Methodism, and in 1839 he commenced to preach in the Salem school house, a little way east of Victoria, still continuing to work at his forge, as his regular occupation. His sermons were in English, and were listened to by many of the settlers thereabouts. However, believing that many of his countrymen would soon cross the ocean and find a home on the western prairies, he obtained from his pastor, Mr. Clark, a testament with the English and Swedish text in parallel columns. Thus he renewed his knowledge of the Swedish tongue, which he had almost forgotten.
The preparation was timely. Swedish immigrants came, many of them directed to Illinois through Rev. Olof Hedstrom, who was conducting a mission for them in the Bethel ship at New York. In 1845, Olof Olson, who had been sent by the Jansonists of north central Sweden to secure a suitable site for the colony, was directed to Jonas Hedstrom, and by him assisted in purchasing the first land for the Bishop Hill colony.
In July 1846, Eric Janson and a band of followers, came to Victoria and were hospitably entertained by Mr. Hedstrom, after which they were piloted to their destination.
On Dec. 15, 1846, Jonas Hedstrom organized in his log cabin at Victoria, a Swedish Methodist Church, with a nucleus of five members. This was the first Swedish Methodist organization in the world. The small beginning grew and flourished, and Mr. Hedstrom was led to join the Peoria conference in 1847. Thenceforth he devoted his time entirely to the ministry, becoming an indefatigable worker. He traveled extensively over a wide circuit, and established churches at Andover, Galesburg, Rock Island and Moline; and assisted in forming a church at New Sweden, Iowa, and a Norwegian organization at Leland, IL.
His strong constitution finally succumbed to the severities of “circuit” life. In the fall of 1857 he retired, and on May 11, 1859, went to his heavenly reward, at the age of 45. The funeral sermon was preached by Rev. W. P. Graves, and the remains interred in Victoria cemetery. In 1874 his wife passed away. Of his five children, two are living—Luther Hedstrom and Mrs. Becker of Victoria. [BACK]
Farmer; Victoria; born Dec. 5, 1829 at Long Island; educated in the common schools.
He was married to Mary E. Dean in Victoria in 1857. Their children are: Fannie, Jennie and Hetty.
His second marriage was with Hannah Sornberger in Victoria. They have one child, Lena.
Mr. Jarvis learned the carpenter’s trade in New York City and came to Victoria in 1855. He worked at his trade and farmed for several years, and then moved into the village. Mr. Jarvis is a republican. In 1888 he was appointed Postmaster and held the office till 1893; he was deputy for three years, re-appointed, and now holds the office at the present time. He is a prominent Mason, and was Master for ten years; Deputy Grand Master for the Thirteenth District of Illinois; Deputy Grand Lecturer of the State, and has been Assessor and School Director. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Methodist Church. [BACK]
Justus A. Larson
Farmer; Victoria Township; born June 14, 1858 in Copley Township, Knox Co, IL. His father, Lewis Larson, was born in Sweden and came to Copley Township in 1844. There were four sons and one daughter: Henry G.; Justus A.; John W., deceased; Victor T.; and Ida M.
Mr. Larson was educated in the Galesburg Business College. He was married to Elizabeth Challman in Walnut Grove Township, Oct. 10, 1888. There was one son, Paul K. Larson.
Mr. Larson has always been a leader in town affairs. He is Highway Commissioner of Victoria Township. He is a republican. [BACK]
Aaron W. Olmstead
Liveryman; Victoria; born July 5, 1851, in Otsego County, New York; educated in the common schools. His parents were Henry B. and Catherine (Wilder) Olmsted.
He was married to Etta Robbins in Oneida March 24, 1874. Their children were: Lester; Claud, deceased; Harry; Paul; Hazel; Rex; and Don, deceased.
Mr. Olmstead moved with his family to Marceline, Missouri, in September 1892. They returned to Galesburg in December 1893, where his wife died January 24, 1894. Her parents were Rubin and Mary (Mayo) Robbins.
His second marriage was with Lone E. Sornberger, June 15, 1895; they have one son, Winthrop A., born March 8, 1896. Her parents were Anson and Catherine (Wilbur) Sornberger, of New York.
Mr. Olmstead followed farming until 1895, since which time he has been engaged in the livery business. In politics, he is a republican. [BACK]
Charles S. Robinson
Merchant; Victoria; born June 4, 1845, at Victoria, IL; educated in the Business College of Davenport, Iowa. He was married to Emily Bristol in Galesburg in 1869. Their children are: Grace E. and Gertrude.
Mr. Charles S. Robinson is a son of Moses Robinson, a farmer, who came to Victoria Township in 1836, and engaged in the mercantile business in 1866. Moses Robinson died Jan. 2, 1898 at the age of 93. Charles S. Robinson began business with his father in 1867. He was afterwards in business in Beatrice, Nebraska, and Greenfield, Iowa. He returned to Victoria in 1883 and engaged in the same business with George M. Sornborger. Mr. Robinson is a democrat and was the first President of the village. [BACK]
Charles A. Sayre
Druggist; Victoria; born Aug. 9, 1844, at Rushville, New York; educated in the common schools and Rushville Academy. His father was John Sayre.
Mr. C. A. Sayre was married to Mary E. Young, in Victoria, Feb. 28, 1884. They have one child, Gertrude Peabody.
Mr. Sayre enlisted in April 1861 in Company E, Twenty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry for two years; then re-enlisted in Company C., Fifteenth New York Cavalry, and served until June 1865 as first Sergeant. Sept. 4, 1865, he enlisted in Company F, Fifteenth United States Cavalry, and served as Sergeant for three years.
Mr. Sayre spent four years in Minnesota, where he was for a time Deputy Clerk of the District court. In 1875 he came to Victoria. He is a member of the Village Board, and Commander of P. G. Tait Post, No. 698, G. A. R. Mr. Sayre is a democrat. [BACK]
John E. Silen
Farmer; Victoria Township; born in Sweden April 3, 1825, where he was educated. In July 1858 he was married to Catrena Patronella, who died March 18, 1876.
Jan. 19, 1878 he was married to Matilda Rodine. By the first marriage, he had four children: Arthur E. of Nebraska, grocer and farmer; Sophia; Emma; and Lorena.
Mr. Silen came to America in 1846, and lived at Bishop Hill one year, when in company with George Challman he went to Galesburg and worked at the carpenters’ trade. In 1850 he went to Peoria, where he remained until the fall of 1851, when he moved to Victoria, and began buying stock. In 1852-3, he worked at his trade of carpenter. In 1859, he moved upon a farm that he purchased the year before and on which he still resides. In 1863 he built a house of lumber hauled from Peoria. Mr. Silen has been a very successful farmer. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
Charles D. Sornborger
Farmer; Victoria Township; born in Victoria in 1843; educated in the common schools. His father was Anson Sornborger, an early settler.
Mr. C. D. Sornborger was first married in 1870, to Marion Clark, who died leaving two sons: Clifford F. and Clide W.
His second marriage was with Irene Brown in 1885.
Mr. Sornborger is a republican and has been active in public affairs; he has been School Director for four years, and has also been Town Treasurer. In 1868 he settled on the farm where he now resides. Mr. Sornborger is in religion a Protestant. [BACK]
George M. Sornborger
Farmer; Victoria Township; born April 1, 1841 in Victoria, IL.; educated in the common schools. He was married to Frances E., daughter of John T. Suydam, Oct. 12, 1865 in Copley Township, IL. They have eight children: Clarence T., George A., Lolette K., Mary E., Claud, Floyd, Grace F., and Fern L.
Mr. Sornborger’s father was Anson Sornborger, who came from Dutchess Co, NY in 1838; he had nine sons, and one daughter, now the wife of Aaron Olmsted; and two brothers, Alexander and Peter.
George Sornborger, the father of Anson, was a soldier in the Revolution; he died in Victoria in 1841. Anson lived in Victoria until 1859 when he removed to Copley Township and engaged in farming.
George M. remained at home until 1862, when he enlisted in Company K, Eighty-third Illinois Volunteers; he served one year and then returned to Copley, having been discharged for disability. He settled in Copley in 1866 on a rented farm. In 1868 he purchased 160 acres of land in Victoria Township, where he now resides.
Mr. Sornborger is a charter member of P.G. Tait Post, No. 698, G. A. R., a charter member of Knox Henry Pomona Grange, No. 837, and a member of the Illinois State Grange. In politics he is a republican, and has held the offices of Collector and Assessor. [BACK]
Farmer; Victoria Township; born Jan. 30, 1848, in Sycamore, DeKalb Co, IL.; educated in the common schools. His parents were Deo and Minerva (Olmsted) Woolsey of New York.
He was married in Victoria, Sept. 10, 1871, to Mary H., daughter of Dr. John L. Fifield, of Victoria. Their children are: Ralph B., Ross A., L. Eselwin, and Robert C.
Mr. Woolsey’s father came from New York to DeKalb County, and later moved to Victoria, where he died in 1853, leaving his wife, who died in 1867, and four sons: W. McKindry, John A., Russell, and Thomas, and one daughter, Hannah.
Dr. Fifield was born in New Hampshire in 1805 and came to Victoria in 1837. He was a practicing physician for many years and died in 1890.
Mr. Woolsey enlisted in 1864, in Company B, One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Illinois Volunteers, and served till the close of the war. He is living on the Fifield homestead. He is, in religion, a Congregationalist. In politics he is a republican. [BACK]
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