Earlville, La Salle County IL


The Settlement of Earlville
An account printed in two parts in the Earlville Gazette by Charles H. Sutphen, Earlville's first settler
Contributed by Charles Brummel, Great-Great Grandson of Charles H. Sutphen

EARLVILLE GAZETTE, 18 January 1868

On the 25th of April, 1834, I arrived in Chicago, from the City of  Boston, after a long and tedious journey, in company with John R. Dow and his brother, Joseph W. Dow - the latter now Postmaster of Ottawa. The next day we left Chicago to explore the country west, with a view to finding a place to locate. The first night after leaving Chicago we stopped with Capt. Joseph Naper, who lived in a double log cabin where now stands the village of Naperville. After travelling some fourteen miles farther west, we came to Fox River, where we found a cabin occupied by one Wilson, where now is the town of Oswego. From there we proceeded down the river some 20 miles to Hollenback's grove. There we crossed Fox River and explored its tributary streams on the west side, went to Shabbona Grove, and Paw Paw Grove, and found Indians living at both groves, of the Pottawattomie tribe.

Shabbona gave us some corn for our horses. The Indians raised the 'white squaw' corn by girdling the timber in the edge of the groves. They were then preparing to plant by burning up the dead timber.   We struck Indian Creek, and followed it down the east bank to the grove. Here, on the north side of the grove, we found two families encamped in their wagons, having just arrived. Their names were Ross and Johnson, and they were busy in staking out their claims, the land not having been surveyed by the Government. Oliver P. Johns (sic), of Johnson's Grove, was a member of the Johnson family that was then encamped in the wagons. We crossed Indian Creek near where the railroad bridge is. We rode around the head of the grove, crossing the run that is now commonly called Sutphen's Run, where now stands the bridge. On the 29th of April, 1834, we staked out our claims - the Dows claiming what is now known as the Bagley and McGregor farms; and I claimed the land where now stands the village of Earlville, and where I now reside.

After staking out our claims we followed down the grove some five miles, and came to a cabin occupied by David D. Martin, near a saw-mill. The cabin is the one occupied by the Hall family when they were surprsed and captured by the Indians in the Blackhawk War. Two Misses Hall were taken prisoners by the Indians, and held until they were ransomed by the Winnebagoes, and the U. S. We staid with Martin overnight, and the next day following down the grove where lived Wm. Munson, and the Messrs. Warren were living in cabins farther down the creek. Munson had married one of the Misses Hall who had been taken captive by the Indians.

I returned to Boston for my family and arrived here on the 5th of October, the same year, with my wife and one child. I built a double log house near where now stands the residence of Wm. H. Robinson. The same fall, John T. Cook, Amos Foster, Corran Doane, and Miles Rouse came here from the east, and also built cabins and took up claims. There was a little prairie broken in 1834; in the fall of that year some wheat was sown by two or three settlers. The next season it produced an excellent crop. Shabbona and a portion of the Pottawatomie tribe were residing at Paw {Paw Grove and Shabbona's Grove. They often mingled with the settlers, and were perfectly friendly; they made maple sugar here two springs after the settlement.

In 1835 the first wedding was solemnized - Oliver P. Johnson to Matilda Ross. In the same year the first white child was born in the township - Carrie T. Sutphen. I think Alexander McClaskey and James M. Phillips came in this year, also John Thornton; and soon thereafter O. J. Wilson, the Messrs. Carters, John Currier, B. F. Ransted and Major Wallace came in and settled on the north side of the grove. David A. Town came from Ohio in the fall of 1834, and settled at Pawpaw Grove. Allen Brown and his brothers came here in 1836 and bought out Levi Thornton. The same season William Halliday became a settler here.

At this time LaSalle Co. extended north to the state line. Of course the settlers that were here in 1835 had to vote with Ottawa in that precinct. On the first Monday in August, 1835, I cast my ballot in the Ottawa precinct for the second sheriff of this county; Wm. Stadden, George Walker having been the first. At this time I also cast my vote for the first member of Congress from this district - Hon. Wm. May of Peoria. After this election the congressional districts were altered, and the member of Congress that I supported was Hon. John Wentworth of Chicago. He made a very efficient member and accomplished a great deal of good for the northern part of Illinois, in the way of harbor improvements, post routes, and post offices.

While Wentworth was in Congress, and the Hon. Mr. Wickliff was Postmaster General, I sent a petition to him asking for a postoffice at this place, our nearest office being at Ottawa. I accordingly got the office located here, in Tyler's administration, and was appointed the first postmaster, with the understanding that the proceeds of the office should be paid to the mail-carrier, as the department was then embarrassed. I therefore accepted the appointment and kept office for seven years without any compensation, my wife attending the office during the day. In 1846 I sent on a petition to Wentworth for a mail-route from Ottawa to Pawpaw grove. It was established and the contract let to carry mails.

In the fall of '35 we petitioned the county commissioner's court for a precinct to be set off here, twelve miles square, by the name of Indian Precinct. The petition was granted, and then we elected our own officers. Milton G. Roberts and myself were elected the first Justices of Peace. I served 13 years, right along. Indian Precinct was subsequently divided, and the present Township of Earl was called Washington Precinct.

In the fall of 1839 we had other settlers come here and locate, among whom were S. T. Stilson, from western N. Y. He purchased the land of me where now stands the village of Earl, and where he now resides. The same fall or winter he was married to Eleanor Wood; in 1846 we see him keeping the first public house. In 1849 we voted to adopt a new constitution for the State, and after the adoption this congressional township was called the Town of Earl.

EARLVILLE GAZETTE, 8 February 1868

Soon after the marriage of Oliver P. Johnson, he went to keeping house  on the south side of the grove in a small cabin on the bank of the creek. The site where the cabin stood now belongs to the farm of S. T. Stilson, known as the John T. Cook farm.

Mrs. Johnson, being alone one day, and confined to the bed by the ague, an Indian appeared at her door, which was open, it being warm weather, mounted on a pony, and demanded whiskey; she told him there was none in the house; he then rode directly into the house, and made the demand again; she sprang from the bed, and seizing the ready weapon of her sex, the broomstick, cleared him out, pony and all. I happened to be going down to the grove that day, and met the Indian soon after he had been thus summarily expelled. He told me that "white squaw down there made me puckachee." I saw he was somewhat under the influence of whiskey then, having been out on a chase and got separated from his comrades.

In the spring of 1838, there were about 30 young warriors rode up to my house, they appeared to be well-armed with knives and tomahawks. I demanded of them what they wanted, and the foremost one pointed to their weapons and said they were sick, meaning that they were dull and unfit for use, and he pointed to my grindstone, and showed me that they wished to grind their weapons. I asked them what they intended to do after they got their weapons sharp. He replied that they were going to kill Fox and Sacs Indians by and by; they had been stealing ponies. In the month of June thereafter, I heard a skirmish between the Indians, whose scarred warriors fell on both sides.

The grindstone that the Indians used was a Nova Scotia stone, that I had shipped into this country. I have a small part of it left yet, which ought to be put in the museum as a relic. Settlers came ten or twelve miles to grind upon it, brought all their tools and ground all day - it being the only grindstone thee was in this section of the country.

When we left Boston, we took care to bring with us the writings of some eminent divines, so that in case we had no one to preach to us, we could read a service in our own families, and this we occasionally did. On one occasion there were two or three families met together for worship in this way. There happened to be a little live hoosier from the Wabash in the meeting, by the name of Cole: as he worked around among us, he went by the soubriquet of "Little Cole"; we often heard him singing over the pieces, his loud hosannah, and thought him rather religiously inclined, and at the close of the service we called upon him to make the closing prayer. He rose up and said, "Brethren, I can't pray very well, but will pray as well as I know how." We told him to go on. I have often thought of the apparent sincerity with which he prayed; it is true his prayer did not savor much of rhetoric, but nevertheless he prayed as well as he knew how; and thee would be but little trouble in this world if all were disposed to do as well as they know how, as "Little Cole" did in his prayer.

The Rev. Mr. Bages was the first minister on this circuit; he preached here occasionally at the residence of the settlers; the country was sparsely settled, and his circuit was very large. I am inclined to think he solemnized the first marriage here. He belonged to the Methodist church. In 1836 Elder Batcheler settled at Harding, he preached to us occasionally. Since then, up to 1850, we have had ministers with us of various denominations.

For the medical attendance for the first few years we were dependent upon Ottawa and Princeton - Doctors Heaviland and Hurlbut of Ottawa, and Chamberlin of Princeton. There was considerable sickness during the first few years, owing to exposure, mostly of a bilious nature. Dr. Blish practiced here a short time, I think in 1844, and was very successful in the treatment of diseases of the country. He died soon after, in 1845 or '46 in Ottawa.

About this time one Dr. Youngman settled at Harding or Munsontown; he practiced considerable in this vicinity; he was very well received, but when mounted upon his sorrel horse he moved with a good deal of caution in going to see his patients, lest there should be too much speed, and when once arrived at the residence of his patient, who might be suffering severely, before he would attempt to minister to his patient, he would give you a history of all his woes, with his toes protruding through his boots, and his elbows through his coat. In time we got Youngman disposed of and on his way to California, where I believe he met his death. Dr. Hinksley took Youngman's place, and was a very good physician; he practised in my family considerably. Dr. Wiley, as soon as he was through his studies, settled with us, and we got along very well then, so far as medical attendance was concerned.

The first two winters here it was very difficult to get grinding. Green's mill at Dayton, being the only one within fifty or one hundred miles, and this mill occasionally froze up in winter; the mill would be so crowded sometimes in the winter, that parties going to the mill would have to wait sometimes two or three days for their grist. I have lain by my hopper some two nights in succession, in the coldest weather, waiting for my turn. If you left your post, someone might slip a grist in ahead of yours; but that was soon remedied by the erection of mills on the Big Vermillion, and Dr. Woodworth's at Marseilles.

In 1835 my name was brought forward as a candidate for county commissioner; my election was lost by one vote. About this time we were pretty severely taxed by having to serve on jury at every term of the circuit court, and received 75 cents per day in county orders worth 50 cents on the dollar, which would not pay our board bill. Our court cases in these early days should be allowed considerable latitude, as the settlers were mostly from different state of the Union; almost everyone could tell what the law was in the state that he came from, but did not know what the law was in the State of Illinois.

Upon one occasion when I was empaneled on the jury box, the counsel all being seated within a small railing, immediately in front of the court, the Hon. Jesse B. Thomas on the bench, and Alson Woodruff as sheriff, Mr. Hase of Peru (and at the time the only settler at that place, being styled the mayor of Peru) came within the bar, and in a rather boisterous manner, went to his counsel, one James M. Strode, with hat on and talking rather loud. His honor looked round to the sheriff and remarked: "Keep order, Mr. Sheriff." That officer admonished Mr. Hase to be quiet. It was not long before Mr. Hase was more jubilant than ever; his honor again said rather sharply, "Keep order, Mr. Sheriff." The Sheriff then took Mr. Hase by the arm and told him to sit down and keep quiet. Mr. Hase soon forgot this admonition, and directly became uproarious again. His honor then looked to the clerk; said he, "Mr. Clerk, enter up a fine of twenty dollars against Mr. Hase." The mayor of Peru looked at the judge; said he, "That is the time you done it, Judge."

The mayor Hase did not then pay his fine, and his honor ordered the sheriff to take Mr. Hase to the jail. The sheriff replied, "May it please your Honor, we have no jail." His Honor replied, "Drag him out and chain him to a post." So, his Honor, the so-called Mayor of Peru, was taken over to the Mansion House and locked up, until he could learn to be civil and pay his fine.

The winter of 1846 and '47 I attended the lobby of the Legislature, partly for the purpose of getting a law to authorize the location of a State road from Rockford to Ottawa. The bill was passed, and Mr. Fergeson of Rockford, Mr. Bennett of Ogle Co., and myself, of LaSalle Co., were appointed Commissioners to locate the road. My main object was to get a direct road to Ottawa from Earlville. In the fall of '47 the Commissioners met and located the road, the one that is now travelled direct to Ottawa via Harding. Subsequently the plank road was laid upon top of the state road, from Ottawa to Harding. Col. Barber, John H. Henderson, and myself located most of the roads in the north part of LaSalle Co. at an early date.


From the Earlville Leader, Thursday, November 28, 1912.

Contributed by Charles H. Brummel

Men Who Have Served Since Office Was Established in 1844.

Now that there is talk of new postmasters allover the land and Earlville is no exception, it will be of interest to know who has held the office in the past and how long each incumbent served. The office was established sixty-eight years ago and fifteen different men have held the position of postmaster. Charles H. Sutphen, the first postmaster, was twice appointed at widely separated periods. Sam Lynn was appointed three times at different periods, holding over twenty years altogether. L. W. Davison comes next with twelve years service. P. L. T. Ashton had the shortest term, holding only seventeen days. The list, with dates of appointment, is as follows:

  • Chas. H. Sutphen (established) August 24, 1844.
  • Wm. R. Wade, Dec. 7, 1848.
  • Ferdinand Carter, Sept. 6, 1853.
  • Geo. W. Norton, Jan. 8, 1855.
  • Phineas I. T. Ashton, Aug. 27, 1859.
  • Jacob Behel, Sept. 12, 1859.
  • Samuel Wiley, March 16, 1861.
  • Samuel Lynn, June 13, 1865.
  • Chas. H. Sutphen, Nov. 2, 1866.
  • Samuel Lynn, Dec. 7, 1866.
  • Millard Robinson, Mar. 19, 1874.
  • Samuel Lynn, Aug. 29, 1876.
  • Berkley G. Barratt, Feb. 22, 1887.
  • Wm. H. Norton, Aug. 29, 1889.
  • Clyde M. Snow, Apr 5, 1894.
  • Levi W. Davison, May 4, 1898.
  • Edward B. Tabor, Apr. 28, 1910.

The Boston Colony that made the First Settlement in Earlville

Taken From Earlville Gazette, July 16, 1880

(Contributed by Charles Brummel)

Note from Charles Brummel: The following people mentioned in this letter were brothers and sisters. Albert (Dow), J(oseph) W(arren) Dow, J(ohn) R. Dow, Mrs. C. H. Sutphen (Elizabeth Horton Dow), Mrs. D. C. Ballard (Josephine Dow)

Bank of Plymouth, Plymouth, Wis., July 7, 1880.
John Currier, Esq.

My Old Friend:

When in Chicago a short time since, Brother Albert gave me the within card, to be filled and sent to you. I enclose the 50c Old Settlers' fee. I would like well to be with you Oct. 2d and have a good time with the "Old Settlers"

You know our Colony, consisting of J. R. Dow, C. H. Sutphen, W. C. Briggs and myself, made the first settlement at Earlville. We left Boston the latter part of March, and landed at "Indian Creek" May 1st, 1834. We then each made claims, Sutphen taking the western portion, from the Run to the west line of the land he afterward sold Mr. Stilson, and on which EARLVILLE is now located; J. R. Dow and myself taking from the Run east to the west line of the farm since occupied by Joel Carter; and Briggs taking the piece of land on which is now Precinct Cemetery, and land which was occupied by Mr. Roginson and others.

Mr. Sutphen remained but a few days, went back to Boston, and returned the same Fall with Mr. D. C. Ballard. J. R. Dow remained thro' the summer, returned to Boston in the Fall, with a view of returning in the Spring; but did not come back again until many years later. (??) in the Winter of this year (unreadable line) Run fell into the hands of Messrs Sutphen and Ballard.

I would here state that about the time that we located, Messrs Ross and Perry Johnson made a settlement claiming lands on the morth side of the Grove, and I suppose covering the farm that you now occupy. While we endured many trials and hardships incident to the settlement of a new country, yet both myself and Wife look back to many pleasant associates. And we hold in kind remembrance all the old settlers.

Wouldn't we like to take by the hand Sam. Carter, Allen & Andrew Brown, O. J. Wilson, Richardson, Stillson, Dan. Smith, the Cooks, and a host of others, with whom we have had such pleasant times. I trust you will have a large gathering, and I have no doubt this next meeting will be a very pleasant and profitable re-union. Please remember Mrs. Dow and myself kindly to your Wife and family, as well as to any and all of the above-named, and others with whom we have associated in Earlville.

Very truly yours,
J. W. Dow.

Earl Statistics - Record of the Departed

From the Earlville Gazette, 18 July 1873.

Contributed by Charles Brummel

That careful man, J. Denis Rogers, while Supervisor some years ago, deemed it prudent to keep an official record of the burial place of departed citizens. The date of a person's death sometimes unexpectedly becomes an important piece of evidence, involving someone's rights and happiness, years afterwards. The Precinct Cemetery was surveyed and platted; it was divided into a North and a South Division, each division staked out in ranges and these subdivided into family lots. A list of those already buried was searched out and recorded n a book provided; the cemetery was put in tidy repair, a tool house built, and the services of Uncle James McGregor, who lives near, secured as Sexton for $25 per year. He keeps a record of the names, date and place of burial: from time to time he brings his book to the Town Clerk, who "posts" its contents into a ledger arranged by families, kept among the archives of the Township.

Last week the worthy old Sexton brought in his book, being the first time since we posted it May 2d 1871. During the 2 years and 2 months, we find there have been 46 burials, an average of one in 17 days; Of these, 7 were men, 14 women and 25 children. To continue the cold-blooded figures a little farther, in the average one man has died in every 112 days, one woman every 61 days, one child every 33 days.

Below is the melancholy list for the past 26 months.


Date		Name					Lot	Range                                 
May 13,   	Elizabeth, Wife of Uriah Terry		83	15 South.
June 10,   	Child of Wm. Beagle Reinterd		75	13 S.
June 20,   	Mrs. Sarah Baker			92	9 North.
		Mary Alice Hyde				162	16
Sept. 12,	Joseph Lighthall			41	7 South.
Sept. 12,	Child of George Dumond			133	12 North.
Oct. 20,	Lavina, Wife of Humphrey B. Green	151	45 North.
   " 25,	Infant Child of Nicholas Burnham	16 	South.
Nov. 2,		Willie, Son of Jacob A. Dupee		43 	7 South.
Dec. 20,	Melvina, Daughter of Geo. W. Rodgers	25	4 South.
  "  31,	Rachel, Wife of C. S. Munson		141 	14 North.

Feb. 4,		Malvina, Wife of Charles Cady		135	13 North.
Mar. 13,    	Infant Child of Charles Cady		135	13 North
  "  19,	Zeralda, Wife of John Moore		61	10 South.
Apr. 2,		Joseph, Son of J. J. Pool		113	11 North.
  "  11,	Angeline, Wife of Edward Conick		154	16 North.
  "   "		Infant Child of Edward Conick		154	16 North.
  "  19,	Sarah, Wife of Asa Libby		133	12 N.
May 16,		Maud, Daughter Bertrand A. Munson	150	15 N.
  " 18,		Ferdinand Rinard			179	18 N.
June 10,   	Sarah, Wife of J. J. Pool		113	14 N.
July 14,	John McGilvray				160	16 N.
Aug. 9,		Child of B. G. Barrett			83	15 S.
  "  22,	Mary Dorothea, Wife of George Gray	177	18 N.
  "  " 		Son of Henry Myers,			33	3 N.
Sept. 4,	Nathan Sherman				37	6 N.
  "   7,	Infant of Geo. Boltz			170	17 N.
  "   9, 	Benjamin F. Reynolds			88	9 S.
  "   28,	Child of Lewellyn Winzlow		102	10 N.
  "   30,	Ellen, Wife of Solomon Cole		159	16 N.
Oct. 4,		Mrs. Sherwood				101	10 N.
  "  5,		Child of S. Edwin Stilson		49	8 S.
  "  7,		Eugenia Adele, Dau. Of Halle P. Hoxie	81	14 S.
  "  10,	Child of John H. Mills			23	3 N.
  "  17,	Child of F. M. & M. R. Bell		92	10 S.
Nov. 21,	Infant Child of George L. Clark		150	15 N.
  "  27,	John Leal				192	20 N.

Jan. 4,		Ellen, Wife of David L. Barnard		3	1 S.
Feb. 28,	Sarah, Wife of Sylvester Cook		18	3 S.
Mar. 1,		Child of David Evans			11	1 N.
  "  20,	Child of Samuel Ferguson		36	6 S.
  "  21,	Child of Jared Worrall			21	2 N.
Apr. 6,		Emma Gertrude, dau. Of W. H. Signor	86	8 N.
  "  16,	Child of Ed. Brailey			125	12 N.
  "  23,	------ Sharp				52	9 S.

There are no burials recorded for the past two months and a half.


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