La Salle County IL


 The History of Leland, LaSalle County, Illinois

Contributed by Charles Brummel

Charles writes: "The following is from the EARLVILLE LEADER, 13 June 1902. It is in a section called THE LELAND NEWS, Leland, Ill., June 13, 1902. Henry and Christopher Feuerborn were my great great great uncles. Both moved on to Scipio,  Anderson County, KS. In 1875 Henry was thrown from a hay wagon and killed.  Christopher at some point moved on to Nevada where he was killed by Indians."

Early Leland History

The following interesting historical sketch was furnished by a former  resident and published in the Leland Times some weeks ago, from which source it is reproduced here.

According to the accounts which we have been able to find Leland was originally planned by Christopher Fuerborn (sic). Mr. Fuerborn was one of the first men who located in the northern part of LaSalle county. He came from the east in 1837, driving overland by way of Fort Dearborn. Shortly after arriving he conceived the plan of making Leland a central point for a market for southern DeKalb and northern LaSalle counties.

The Chicago Burlington and Quincy route had not yet been laid out. Produce had to be hauled to Chicago for a great many years. Many farmers living in the present time can remember when they hauled dead hogs and bags of wheat in their wagons to the present great city. The old route used to be by way of Naperville, a town about midway between Leland and Chicago. This town was the first night's stopping place, the next day taking them to the city, which was then a few houses clustered around Fort Dearborn. After a while the Illinois and Michigan canal was dug. This afforded a means of communication and transport. Grain was hauled to Ottawa and shipped from there eastward.

There seemed then no prospect of a railroad ever being constructed through this section. Perhaps some men told Mr. Fuerborn that such would be the case, and his idea was that a fine farming territory like this should have a central point for a market. However this may be, he conceived the idea, and laid his plans before his brother Henry, who also owned a farm on the north side of the railroad track. Two other gentlemen, Alonzo and Lorenzo Whitmore, also owned farms adjoining the Feurborns, and they readily fell in with the plan.

Accordingly one fine morning these four pioneers began laying out the town. They had no other way of measuring the town than by the old fashioned method of pacing it off, or with a clothes line and a ten-foot pole, adopting the "six, eight and ten" rule. The town as surveyed by them, as we find it afterwards recorded in the town books, and adopted by an ordinance, approved March 19, 1865, was as follows: "The corporation was to include a square mile, made up of the south half of the south half of section 5, the north half of section 8, and the north half of the south half of section 8." A diagram of the town we also find, drawn in nice shape by J. Iver Montgomery.

After this much of the business was done, the next important particular was the name. This was in 1839 or '40 as near as we learn from subsequent chronicles. The scene can be imagined of the four men standing out upon the grassy prairies on a summer morning with four little cabins appearing on the prairies. We can imagine of the four men deliberating on the future town and disputing on the name that it should be known by. Many names were proposed, but the name Whitfield suggested a name for the town and accordingly it was named Whitfield; many of the farmers were settled around here, and here and there little houses could be seen standing out upon the prairie land.

A few people soon began to settle on the designated spot. Abram Skinner (the grandfather of a young man in town at one time of that name,) built and opened the first store. Other business houses were erected afterwards. We can imagine the evening scenes in these primitive business houses. The genial proprietor standing behind the counter talking and smiling to his customers in the most patronizing manner; while sunburned farmers, told their stories, lit their pipes, and advised their oldest boys not to smoke. Busy housewives traded the butter and eggs for tea and sugar, and perhaps it might been (sic) as Goldsmith says: The village statesman talked with looks profound/ While news much older than their ale went round.


The village having now been planned out and the first institutions founded, it now remained to incorporate the village, but before we proceed to this matter it may not be amiss to relate a few other particulars. The first school was taught by Miss Nancy Gould (now Mrs. Harry Merwin) in the winter of 1854-5, over Mr. Whittemore's store. A few years afterwards E. M. Kinnie and few others managed to borrow enough money to build a schoolhouse, and thus the educational matter was settled. In 1853 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad was laid, and the company named the little village Waverly.

This occasioned a little difficulty because there was another postoffice by the same name in Morgan county. Thenb to have the station named Waverly and the postoffice Whitfield would be ridiculous. Things went on this way for a few years when a new name was suggested. John Leland Adams was the first postmaster at Waverly, and some one suggested that the town be called Adams. This name was rejected by the postoffice department. Not to be balked out of a name the people took Mr. Adams' middle name and called the postoffice Leland - a name which it bears to this day. We have not been able to learn the date of this occurrence. As for the incorporation, it is called Leland, but we cannot find any place in the corporation records where they have changed the name Whitmore and adopted that of Leland. This is quite a conglomeration of names, the name Leland answers every purpose.

The town of Whitfield was organized, as the records inform us, on the 29th of November, 1859. The meeting was held in the school house, according to notices posted ten days previously as prescribed by statute. At this meeting J. J. Millay presided, and Dr. Hinkley acted as scribe. The vote for corporation was 37, and 18 against. This vote shows that the village was well settled by that time.

At the second meeting held December 8, five trustees were elected - E. T. Satter, D. Hinkley, A. Satter, A. Klove and J. J. Millay. This board we may suppose, were instructed in regard to the course they should pursue as to the government of the town; they were to hold monthly meetings, and were to have the power to grant or withhold licenses to sell intoxicating liquors in the corporation. J. J. Millay was chosen chairman of the board.

The first license was granted to James Mackin for one year. The board required $50 per year, payable quarterly in advance and from that time (1860) to 1878, licenses were granted by the trustees. The board commenced business by enacting the following law: For to notify all business men of said town to provide and set out on their premises hitching posts sufficient to so commodate (sic) the public at large and if any fail to comply with this requirement, at the next meeting a tax will be levied on such persons to pay expenses for doing the same.

N. J. Whitney was appointed police constable April 24, 1860. This was the first office of the kind ever held in Leland. At the same time the office of pound master was created and James Mackin was the officeholder. A short time after $40 was levied as a tax on the people for the purpose of building a pound and a notice was ordered to be posted up at the same time to the effect that all cattle running at large from sunset until the rising of the same, should be taken up and impounded.

History of Leland

Contributed by Charles Brummel

Charles writes: "This is a letter appearing in the EARLVILLE GAZETTE on 5 February 1869. It  is headed: History of Leland. The end of the letter promises another letter, which I do not have."

The oldest settler was a man by the name of Bartholomew, residing on the banks of the Little Indian. In June, 1846, I visited the place together with Wm. Munson and J. Roberts, Esq.; it was then a vast garden of flowers as far as the eye could reach.

In 1847, Abram Skinner settled west of the Grove; he was from Pennsylvania.

South of the Grove reisded M S. Pierce, from Mass, -- second cousin to Ex. President Pierce -- the wealthiest man in the township; he arose from mere poverty by hard labor, economy, and sterling honesty to his present respectable and honorable position.

In 1853 the railroad was built thru the place.

The first store was built by A. Skinner, who also built a tavern.

Darnell & Whitmore afterwards went into trade, but soon after went to Kansas.

The town plat was owned th the Fireburns, and afterwards by Mallory; it remained in status quo until 1862. The Rev. Frank Dale then purchased their entire interest, and being one of those men who live not for themselves, but for the good of others, by his liberal course induced capitalists to invest.

Watson & Ball, with a large capital, and Thompson & Klove, with others, gave an impetus to the business of the town. Dale purchasing the produce of the farmer, frequently paying more than he received in Chicago, made it a grain point second only to your town. Earl must ever hear the pain when such men as Signor control the market.

You may consider this as a presage, in my next I will give you more of the details. Respectfully,



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