The History of Leland, La Salle County IL

Transcribed by Nancy Piper


Leland

The earliest settlements within the immediate vicinity of the village of Leland were made as early as 1837 or 38. There were , however, few persons located here prior to the opening of the railroad. This was due, in a great measure, to the flat, swampy condition of the country, which at that time, like almost all others throughout this part of the state, was originiated with the survey of the railroad. Its location is rather above the surrounding county and this fact coupled with the fact of the railroad, induced the owners of the land comprising the town site, to survey and lay out a town. These persons were Christopher Fuerborn, who owned south of the railroad, east of Main street; his brother Henry, who owned that quarter section immediately north of the railroad tracks; while west of both was the land of Lorenzo and Alonzo Whitmore. All these persons had entered their land, but only one, Christopher Fuerborn, was living on the land. He was the main one to move in the location of the town and the original site only comprises his and his brother's quarter section.

They had come here some time during the year 1852, and Lorenzo was occupying a house - the only one on the town site when the plat was made. The survey was made by J. H. Wagner and is recored June 24, 1853. The town was then called Whitfield and to it the Whitmore brothers made their addition soon after its survey. When the railroad company erected their freight and passenger houses, they names the station Waverly Station and under that name a post office was established.

There was, however, another office by that name in Morgan county and mail matter for these offices would often get mixed and go to the wrong office. This led to a petition from the residents about Waverly Station asking the authorities for a change of name. The postmaster at Waverly Station was John Leland Adams. It was proposed to call the town and office "Adams" in compliment to Mr. Adams. There was another office by this name in Illinois and the name was refused by the department. Not to be frustrated in their wishes, the name "Leland" was proposed and accepted and the town and office is now known by that name.

The first store in the village was opened in 1853, by Abraham Skinner. It stood immediately south of the railroad, on Main street, near the present carpenter shop of J. A. Newell. Mr. Skinner remained here until 1855, when his death occurred.

The first mechanic in town was Elias Hanson, who opened a blacksmith shop in 1854. The same year, Joseph Frost, Whitfield's first post-master, erected the second store of the town and remained in trade some time.

The railroad company erected the first grain warehouse. This was ready for use in the summer of 1853 and was used largely by farmers to store grain for autumn shipments. The lower part was used as the freight depot and this structure was the only receptacle for grain for several years. About 1864, Thomas Thompson erected his elevator and shortly after, the Richardson brothers theirs.

From the opening of the railroad until 1860, the growth of the town was very slow. That year, however, a good trade in grain sprang up and the war coming on a year or two after, until the disastrous fire of 1868, an excellent trade was maintained and Leland grew with surprising rapidity. The fire burned all the business part of the town and case a damper on its progress, from which it has not yet recovered. Its merchants suffered a blow from which many of them have not recovered and the town is now hardly as active as during the interval mentioned. To this calamity may be added two other fires, which destroyed much property, and left the owners of the goods and property well nigh bankrupt.

Leland now (1877) contains several good stores, quite a number of shops, two good elevators, several saloons and one or two hotels. The population is about eight hundred.

Religious and Educational Interests

Leland contains five churches: The Lutherans (Norwegian) and Norwegian M. E., the M. E., the Baptists and the Catholic.

The first of these is the oldest organization in town. It was organized in 1847, about one mile south of town, but in 1866 the removed the church edifice to Leland, where they have since worshipped. They have now a strong church and support a regular ministry.

Shortly after the organization of this congregation, the Methodists established a church among the Norwegians, and erected a house of worship near that of the Lutherans. They removed to town some four years prior to their neighbors, however, where they still continue to worship.

In 1867 a Baptist church was organized here with a small membership. The next year they rected a comfortable house of worship and are now quite prosperous. The M. E. Society is one of the earliest formed in this community. They were not able, however, to erect a church until 1867 when they built their present structure. Until this time they worshipped in private houses, in the school house and in the Norwegian M. E. church. The Catholic church, was organized and a house of worship erected in 1864. Their membership embraces a wide scope of territory and the church is quite strong.

The pioneer school of Leland was taught in the winter of 1854-55, by Nancy Merwin in a room over Whitmore's store. This was used two years. In 1856, E. M. Kinney and others borrowed money, having secured a school district and erected a small frame house which was used until the erection of their present building about 1864.

Now three teachers are employed and an attendance of over two hundred pupils is steadily maintained.

Leland was incorporated in 1859. The present (1877) town board consists of the following gentlemen: J. C. Jacobson, president; David Evans, O. Simonson, C. Rempe, A. H. Dale and T. Thompson. The clerk is F. G. Brown.

Societies

Leland Lodge, No. 353, I.O.O.F. - Instituted Sept. 3d, 1867. Eighteen members. Meets on each Saturday evening. Officers - D. E. Harper, N. G.; A. G. Harper, V.G.; T. F. Rolfe, Sec'y; D. Evans, Treas.

Leland Lodge, No. 558, A.F. and A.M. - Instituted 1867. Thirty members. Meets first and third Wednesdays of each month. Officers - S. B. Bathurch, W.M.; I. W. Blood, S. W.; D. M. Dale, J.W.; A. H. Davle, Sec'y; L. C. Ball, Treas.; W. G. Cover, S.D.; Wm. T. Boston, J.D.

[The Past and present of La Salle County, Illinois : containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of its citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, general and local statistics, map of La Salle County, history of Illinois, Constitution of the United States, miscellaneous matters, etc, etc.. Chicago: H.F. Kett & Co., Ottaway & Colbert, printers), 1877. Page 342-344]


VILLAGE OF LELAND

The earliest settlements within the immediate vicinity of the village of Leland were made as early as 1837 or '38. There were, however, few persons located here prior to the opening of the railroad. This was due, in a great measure, to the flat, swampy condition of the country, which at that time, owing to the absence of drainage, was often under water. The town, like almost all others throughout this part of the State, was originated with the survey of the railroad. Its location is rather above the surrounding country, and this fact, coupled with the fact of the railroad, induced the owners of the land comprising- the town site to survey and lay out a town. These persons were Christopher Fuerborn, who owned south ot the railroad, east of Main street; his brother Henry, who owned that quarter-section immediately north of the railroad tracks; while west of both was the land of Lorenzo and Alonzo Whitmore. All these persons had entered their land, but only one, Christopher Fuerborn, was living on the land. He was the main one to move in the location of the town, and the original site only comprises his and his brother's quarter-section.

They had come here some time during the year 1852, and Lorenzo was occupying a house - the only one on the town site when the plat was made. The survey was made by J. H. Wagner, and is recorded June 24, 1853. The town was then called Whitfield, and to it the Whitmore brothers made their addition soon after its survey. When the railroad company erected their freight and passenger houses, they named the station Waverly and under that name a post office was established. There was, however, another office by that name in Morgan County, and mail matter for these offices would often get mixed, and go to the wrong office. This led to a petition from the residents about Waverly station, asking the authorities for a change of name. The postmaster at Waverly was John Leland Adams. It was proposed to call the town post office "Adams," in compliment to Mr. Adams. There was another office by this name in Illinois, and the name was refused by the department, Not to be frustrated in their wishes, the name "Leland" was proposed and accepted, and the town and office is now known by that name.

The first store in the village was opened in 1853, by Abraham Skinner. It stood immediately south of the railroad, on Main street, near the present carpenter shop of J. A. Newell. Mr. Skinner remained here until 1855, when his death occurred. The first mechanic in town was Elias Hanson, who opened a blacksmith shop in 1854. The same year Joseph Frost, Whitfield's first postmaster, erected the second store of the town, and remained in trade some time.

A notice was given Nov. 16, 1859, that an election would be held on the 26th day of November for the purpose of voting on the proposition to incorporate Whitfield as a .village; when the day arrived the vote resulted in thirty-seven for and thirteen against incorporation. On the 3d of the following month (December) an election was held at which the following were elected Trustees: Ole T. Satter, D. Hinkley, A. Potter, A. A. Kleve and J J. Millay. The Trustees elected in 1885 were: Hiram Severy, G. W. Montague and M. Parks; Police Magistrate, Henry W. Johnson; Clerk, A. A. Bjilland. The village took the name of Leland about 1864.

From the opening of the railroad in 1853 until 1860 the growth of the town was very slow. That year, however, a good trade in grain sprang up, and the war coming on a year .or two after, until the disastrous fire of 1868 an excellent trade was maintained, and Leland grew with surprising' rapidity. The fire burned all the business part of the town, and cast a damper on its progress, from which it has not yet recovered. Its merchants suffered a blow from which many of them never recovered, and the town is now hardly as active as during the interval mentioned. To this calamity may be added two other fires, which destroyed much property, and left the owners of the good s and property well nigh bankrupt. .

Of late years the village has made some improvements. Two new brick stores have been recently erected and it is to be hoped that the place may again recover and attain its former prosperity.

BUSINESS INTERESTS.

The railroad company erected the first grain warehouse. This was ready for use in the summer of 1853, and was used largely by farmers to store grain for autumn shipments. The lower part was used as the freight depot, and this structure was the only receptacle for grain for several years. The next elevator was built by Thompson & Iverson. It is now owned by Thompson & Anderson, who also operate the elevator, built by the company but is owned by J. H. Dale. About 1864 the Richoldson Bros. built what is now the West elevator, which is owned by I. N. Graff. Formerly Leland was a great shipping point, but now it is Dot so good. However, about 500,000 bushels are annually shipped and also considerable stock.

1886 Business Interests:

THE PRESS.

The Leland Comet was established Nov. 3,1880, by F. M. McHale and was discontinued at the close of 1883. In January, 1885, the Leland Express was established by O. Hagist and H. W. Johnson, and is still continued by them.

PROFESSIONAL MEN.

Darwin Hinkley was the pioneer physician of Leland; he commenced practicing in 1852 and is still holding forth at a good old age. He has been followed by Drs. Clark, G. W. Monroe, G. W. Hutchins, William Kennedy, D. F. Webb, C. D. Jones, Atherton and J. P. Martin. The resident physicians are: C. D. Jones, Darwin Hinkley, W. Kennedy and J. P. Martin.

SCHOOLS.

The pioneer school of Leland was taught in the winter of 1854-'5 by Nancy Merwin, in a room over Whitmore's store. This was used two years. In 1856 E. M. Kinney and others borrowed money, having secured a school district, and erected a small frame house, which was used until the erection of their present building, about 1864. It is a frame building, two stories in height, and contains four rooms. The school grounds cover about one acre. The attendance is about 250. C. R. Cross has been the principal for several years. He is at present assisted by Mamie W. Henry, Nelsie Anderson and Clara Knight. The present board is: O. Simonson, A. H. Dale and T. F. Thompson. A. H. Dale is President and O. Simonson Secretary of the board. The annual cost of the school is about $2,600. The school is above the average of villages of the size of Leland and the non-resident attendance in the highest room is very large.

CHURCHES

Leland contains seven church societies: Old and new Lutheran (Norwegian) and Norwegian Methodist Episcopal, the Methodist Episcopal, the Baptist, the Catholic and the German Lutheran.

The first of these is the oldest organization in town. It was organized in 1847, about one mile south of town, but in 1866 they removed the church edifice to Leland, where they have since worshiped. They have now a strong church and support a regular ministry.

Shortly after the organization of this congregation the Methodists established a church among the Norwegians and erected a house of worship near that of the Lutherans. They removed to town some four years prior to their neighbors, however, where they still continue to worship.

In 1867 a Baptist church was organized here with a small membership. The next year they erected a comfortable house of worship and are now quite prosperous. The Methodist Episcopal society is one of the earliest formed in this community. They were not able, however, to erect a church until 1867, when they built their present structure. Until this time they worshiped in private houses, in the school-house, and in the Norwegian Methodist Episcopal church. The Catholic church was organized and a house of worship erected in 1864. Their membership embraces a wide scope of territory, and the church is quite strong.

About ten years ago there was a division in the Lutheran church and a part withdrew and worshiped in various places until about two years ago, when a very fine brick church was erected at a cost of $3,100. It was dedicated by Rev. M. C. Browne. Rev. N. E. Boe supplies the pulpit at present. The German Lutherans have no church but meet in some of the other churches. The society is small and does not support a regular pastor.

LODGES AND ORGANIZA.TIONS.

Leland Lodge, No. 558, A. F. &: A.M., was chartered Oct. 1, 1867, with the following members: James S. Bishop, G. F. Watson, L. C. Ball, C. S. Hubbell, D. O. Miller, J. P. Lyons, G. Place, J. K. Mayo, G. J. Monroe, G. J. Herrick, Anson Potter, T. S. Terry, Horace George, P. Cornelle, J. H. Freeman and O. G. Thomas. The first officers were: James S. Bishop, W.M.; G. F. Watson, S. W.; C. S. Hubbell, J. W. The officers are: W. G. Cove, W. M.; C. R. Cross, S. W.; W. T. Roston, J. W.; L. P. Cassey, Secretary; Horace B. George, Treasurer. The lodge numbers about fifteen members and meets the first and third Wednesday evenings of each month, in hall over Jackson's store.

Leland Lodge, No. 352, L O. O. F., was chartered Oct. 9, 1867, with the following members : John M. Goodell, Robert S. Millay, Eli H. Lowe, Henry W. Decker, Abram Telsenthal and 'William Miller. The first officers were: .J. M. Goodell, N. G.; R. S. Millay, V. G.; A. Telsenthal, Sec.; H. W. Decker, Treas. The present officers are: C. D. Jones, N. G.; W. H. Parks, V. G.; T. H. Rolfe, Sec.; W. H. Harper, Treas. The body is at present only eleven strong and meets on the third Monday evening of each month in the same hall with the Masons.

The Leland Cornet Band was organized about seven years ago by W. G. Cove, P. G. Satten and others. It had sixteen members at first. It was reorganized in the autumn of 1884, with W. G. Cove as leader and instructor. It has now about thirteen members and is well organized, and is what would be called a fair country band.

[Source: History of La Salle County, Illinois : together with sketches of its cities, villages and towns, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history, portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens : also a condensed History of Illinois, embodying accounts of prehistoric races, aborigines, Winnebago and Black Hawk wars, and a brief review of its civil and political history.. Chicago: Inter-State Pub. Co., 1886.Page 15-19 - Transcribed by N. Piper]


Leland was incorporated in 1872; in 1900 the population was 634, in 1910 it was 545, which was increased to 588 in the following decade.

[History of La Salle County, Illinois. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1924.]


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