Contributed by Karen Holt
Dixon in 1832
Dixon in 1832
In 1828 a Canadian half breed, named Joseph Ogee, built a log cabin and established a ferry across Rock River at the present site of Dixon. John Dixon had, at this time, a contracy for Carrying the mail between Gelena and Peoria, and induced Ogee to establish the ferry here on the mail route between the two points. There is authority for the statement that license was granted Ogee by Jo Daviess County which then embraced Lee County to keep this ferry, while there is credible authority stating that the ferry was unlicensed.
The banks of the river then sloped gently to the water’s edge, instead of being abrupt as at present. This, it is said, was at that time the only crossing below Rockford, and the few settlers in that vicinity had to come to Ogee’s or Dixon’s Ferry for their mail.
In 1829 a postoffice was established at the ferry, and a man by the name of Gay appointed postmaster.
April 11, 1830, John Dixon, with his wife and family of five Children, came tp Dixon, bought Ogee’s claim and ran the ferry, and in 1834 the name of the postoffice was changed from Ogee’s Ferry to Dixon’s Ferry.
Between the years 1832 and 1836 a plat of a town called Burlington was laid out on a part of the land now included in Adelheid Park. In the latter year, it had three log houses. Some years ago John K. Robinson wrote that, in 1834, “a Mr. Kirkpatrick attempted to start a town one and a quarter miles below Dixon, on the place now known as Dr. Everett’s farm,” and tried to establish a ferry, but beth town and ferry failed. Some time prior to 1840, the “Town of Oporto” was platted. Its location is not definitely ascertained; but from allusions to it found in early conveyances, it was probably a small piece of ground on the north side of the river, included in the triangular piece between Everett and Fellows Streets in Parson’s Addition. Recently the plat of Oporto was discovered among ancient papers in the Recorder’s Office at Galena, but was so poorly prepared that it gave no assurance of the exact ground it was designed to fit.
It must be remembered that, prior to 1840, all plats, including the original plat of the town of Dixon, were recorded at Galena, then, as now, the county seat of Jo Daviess County. The first plat of the Town of Dixon to be recorded in the Recorder’s Office of Lee County, is found in Book “A” of Deeds, page 62. It was made by Joseph Crawford, October 28, 1840, for John Dixon, Smith Gilbraith, William Wilkinson, and Bowman and Lane. On the margin of this plat is a note reading: “Numbers of lots in red ink, are the same as those upon the original plat recorded in Jo Daviess County." The "red figures" indicate that boundaries of the two plats were alike.
North Dixon was platted as "Town of North Dixon," April 22, 1842, by Joseph Crawford, for and under the direction of John Dixon.
For his first dwelling, Father Dixon occupied a log cabin partly built by Ogee and extended by himself, standing at the northwest corner of what is now First and Peoria Streets. It was ninety feet long. The site is appropriately marked by a bronze tablet, placed in the wall of the building standing on this corner by the Dixon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The original dwelling was torn down in 1845.
In the spring of 1836, the first store was started by Chapman & Hamilton in an addition to Father Dixon's log house. Prior to this, however, in 1833-4, a man by the name of Martin kept a small stock in the block house forming a part of the fort on north side of the river. Father Dixon also carried on quite a business, largely with the Indians, in the principal con4modities in use in frontier life. In 1837 a dry goods store was opened by S. M. Bowman & Co. on the corner of River and Galena Streets.
Joseph Crawford came to Dixon in the spring of 1835 and located on a farm in the "bend" near Grand Detour.
Dr. Oliver Everett reached Dixon September 3, 1836, which then consisted of four log houses, a frame house, a blacksmith shop and two or three houses in course of erection.
At the Presidential election in 1836, polls were opened in Dixon for Rock River precinct of Jo Daviess County, Ogle County not yet having been set off.
In the fall of 1840 the Government Land Office was moved here from Galena. John Dement was made Receiver and Major Hackelton Register. D. G. Garnsey became Receiver soon after, and John Hogan Register.
In 1841 a small stone two story building was erected on the northwest corner of Ottawa and Second Streets, and for four years was occupied as the Government Land Office. The office was then moved to a grout two story building standing at No. 115, Hennepin Avenue. It was taken down about two years ago to give place to the brick building now occupying the ground. The Land Office remained in that building as long as it was continued in Dixon.
In the winter of 1839-40, J. P. Little and S. G. D. Howard opened a dry goods store on the corner of River and Hennepin Streets.
In June, 1841, William Cullen Bryant, the poet, visited Dixon and, on his return to his brother's home at Princeton, Ill., wrote of the place, in part, as follows: "Five years ago, two cabins only stood on the solitary shore, and now it is a considerable village with many neat dwellings, a commodious Court House, several places of worship for the good people, and a jail for the rogues, built with a triple wall of massive logs, but I was glad to see that it had no inmates."
In 1841 the now quite dilapidated old frame building on River Street, used as a livery stable (No. 114-116), was built by J. T. Little and occupied by Little & Brooks as a dry goods store for a number of years, and afterwards by Webb, Rogers & Woodruff. It was in this store that P. M. Alexander took employment when he first came to the town, and where he continued to clerk until he embarked in business for himself.
March 20, 1843, an election was held on the question of village incorporation. Forty four votes were cast, all in the affirmative.
A business roll call of the town of Dixon, In the summer of 1845, would have shown: 6 lawyers, 3 physicians, 5 dry goods and 3 grocery stores, 4 blacksmith and 3 wagon shops, 3 tailors, 2 shoe makers, 1 painter, 2 cabinetmakers, 2 harness shops, 1 bakery, 2 hotels.
In the first issue of the "Dixon Telegraph and Lee County Herald," May 1, 1851, the dam is referred to, and it is said that "a saw mill is already in operation on the north bank, and a large flouring mill is about to be erected on the other. A rope ferry is the means of crossing the river, which is in operation night and day. The stages meet here from almost every direction." A time table of the "Chicago & Galena Railroad," published in the same issue, closes with, "stages will connect at Aurora and St. Charles, for Dixon, Albany and Rock Island."
As early as 1845 Dixon boasted of a "Young Men's Lyceum." July 29, 1851, a brass band of eleven members was organized, H. T. Noble, H. P. Wickes, B. F. Shaw, Andrew J. Brubaker, Henry Brookner, O. F. Herrick, T. H. Eustace and A. B. Judd being members.
At the Presidential election November 2, 1852, 327 votes were cast in the precinct, of which Pierce received 185 and Scott 138.
December 18, 1852, the first flour mill on the water power was completed. It was built by Brooks & Daley at a cost of $15,000.
March 7, 1853, Dixon was incorporated as a town (not city). The first Trustees were John Dixon, A. L. Porter, P. M. Alexander, Lorenso Wood and L. Wynkoop.
April 16, 1853, the local paper notes that, after the murder of the Mormon high priest, Joseph Smith, his brother William, with a small band of followers, took up their residence about twelve miles south of town, where they have kept up their organization and meetings, and that, at the April term of the Circuit Court of that year, William's suit against his wife for divorce came on and the jury found in favor of the wifC May 4, 1854, he was in jail for "jumping bail." The "residence" referred to was Palestine Grove, where Mormonism gained quite a foothold. (See Amboy.)
May 21, 1853, "The Telegraph" records the advent of a milk wagon and dray.
The pioneer "strike" of the community occurred in March, 1854, during the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad through the town. The hands employed on the work struck for $1.25 a day. Frequent rows and knockdowns were the accompaniments.
In 1846 the first brick building in the town was erected. It is still standing as Nos. 109 and 111 First Street. The west half was erected by James and Horace Benjamin, and the east half by A. T. Murphy.
In 1854 one of the buildings which formed the nucleus of the present Grand Detour Plow Works, was erected by John Dement for manufacturing purposes. In this same year Exchange Block (Nos. 102 and 104 Galena Avenue) was erected by Stiles, Eustace & Webb, and Nos. 84 and 86 Galena Avenue, were built by P. M. Alexander and J. B. Brooks.
One hundred and thirty buildings were erected in 1855, among which were the brick building, corner of First and Hennepin (No. 124 First Street), erected by Davis Bros.; "Union Block" (Nos. 105-107 First Street), erected by Nash & Noble. This was originally four stories high, but in April, 1862, the fourth story being considered unsafe, was removed. The threestory brick building on the north side of First Street (No. 115) was erected in the fall of 1856.
In the fall of 1858 C. Godfrey & Sons, who then owned the Brooks & Dailey mill on the water power, completed the "Farmers' Mill," located on present site of electric power house, lots 2 and 3, Mill Block.
The year 1854 was a very eventful one in the annals of Dixon, not only in matters of growth and development, but on account of the cholera scourge which afflicted it. There had been a few deaths from the disease prior to July 21, including those of Mrs. Alanson Smith and a few railroad hands; but on the 21st it became epidemic, breaking out in full force on Saturday the 22d. During that night many of the inhabitants fled into the country. The next day, Sunday, fourteen victims lay dead in the town. The total number of deaths from July 20th to August 7th by cholera was 34. Doctors Everett and Abbott, who were in attendance, give the following as the death roll: Mrs. Patrick Duffee and child, Michael Harris, Mrs. Jacob Craver, Wm. Lahee, Daniel Brookner and wife and Daniel Brookner, Jr., John Finley, Joseph Cleaver (Postmaster) and cousin of same name, John Keenan, Mrs. Cooley, Marsh, Mrs. Owen's child, John connels, John Barnes, Elijah Dixon, Wm. Patrick, Benj. Vann, Mrs. Scheer, Cyrus Kimball and wife, Israel Evans, Mrs. Catherine Dailey, Mr. Peck, Edward Hamlin, Roderick McKenzie and wife, Mrs. Huff, Mr. Jones, Mr. C. Johnson, Owen Gallinger and E. Boswick.
October 12, 1854, Mr. Ferris Finch was occupied in the painting of the fine portrait of Father Dixon, which for many years hung in the Court House, and is now in the Public Library.
At an auction sale of town lots, made March 15, 1856, by Brooks, Eddy and Wood, the average price obtained was $52 a front foot for business property. A corner lot on First and Galena Streets (not stated which corner) brought $72 a foot. Property bought in 1848 for $225 sold for $3,000.
At the first election under the city charter 298 votes were cast against licensing the sale of liquor, and 170 votes in favor.
June 6, 1855, the Maine Prohibitory Liquor Law was submitted to popular vote and received 318 votes for to 38 against
February 20, 1856, the "Nameless Minstrels" gave a concert, "the proceeds to go towards purchasing a fire engine for the corporate town of Dixon." The names of J. C. Ayres and H. T. Noble appear among the "talent"
In 1856 the excitement over the Kansas-Nebraska issue ran high and $1,000 was raised to aid bona fide emigrants to Kansas to assist in making it free territory.
July 14, 1858, the Lee County Agricultural Society was organized and held its first fair on fair grounds near the cemetery, in October of that year. A similar society had been organized February 6, 1854.
July 30, 1858, thern steamer "Rockford" arrived on its first trip up the Rock River.
December 4, 1858, the proposed city charter was submitted to vote of the citizens and by them indorsed. It was passed by the General Assembly and approved February 19, 1859. Two previous efforts to incorporate had been defeated at the polls.
August 10, 1859, the North Dixon depot of the Illinois Central Railroad was opened, with George L. Herrick as agent.
April 5, 1860, the "Dixon Improvement Association" was formed for the purpose of improving and beautifying the city by planting trees, etc.
In the fail of 1862 the Illinois Central Railroad replaced its wooden bridge with an iron one, on the same piers.
The "Quaker City" building (No. 209 First Street) was erected by Isaac Jones in the summer of 1862.
June 22, 1863, a "Society of Vigilance" was organized for the purpose of detecting and bringing thieves to justice, and reclaiming stolen property.
June 24, 1870, the Dixon Hose Company, No. 1, was organized with about thirty members, H. S. Dey, Foreman and a week later, the Monitor Hook & Ladder Company was organized with W. N. Johnson as foreman.
June 2, 1870, the Dixon Park Association was formed, and held its first fair that summer on its grounds west of the city, now included in Maple Park.
January 12, 1871, the City Hall building, (frame) at the corner of Second and Henne.pin Streets, was completed for use of the fire department
November 30, 1876, the Opera House, erected by H. J. Stevens, F. A. Truman, J. D. Crabtree and W. D. Stevens, was opened.
December 4, 1879, trains commenced running on switch track connecting depots with water power. This track was paid for by citizens of Dixon with funds raised by subscription.
In 1892 a new frame passenger depot was built by the Illinois Central Railroad Company, about two blocks south of the old one. The latter, a small brick building, was the first to be occupied by the company and was permitted to hold its ground until the summer of 1903, when it was demolished.
Old $ettlers.- It is well nigh impossible to give anything like a complete list of the early settlers of Dixon and immediate vicinity, but the following is offered as a partial roll of arrivals prior to 1850: John Dixon, 1$30; Joseph Crawford, 1835; Dr. J. B. Nash, 1838; J. H. Moore, 1847; J. V. Eustace, 1843; Isanc S. Boardman, 1837; Oliver Everett, 1836; Joseph T. Little (who died this summer), 1839; Sally Herrick, who recently died at an advanced age, sister of Dr. Nash, 1840; Mrs. N. G. H. Morrill, who also died recently, 1838; John Richards and daughter Sarah, September 1, 1836; John L. Lord, 1838; Noah Beede and son, A. A. Beede, 1836; A. T. Murphy, 1840; Reuben Eastwood and son Sumner D., 1837; John Dement, 1840; W. W. Heaton, about 1840; Alexanander Charters and son James, 1838; John Clute, 1840; Philip M. Alexander, 1838; Hiram Hetler and parents, 1837; David H. Law and parents, 1839; Daniel McKinney and parents, 1846; Andrew J. Brubaker, 1848; John H. Page, 1834; Joseph B. Brooks, prior to May 15, 1844. Mrs. E. B. Baker (Ann Elizabeth Kellogg) passed through here in 1828 with her father's family; they settled at Buffalo's Grove (Polo) and she became a permanent settler of Dixon in 1846; Stephen Fuller arrived in 1836; Joseph Brierton and son Sylvester, 1838. (Wm. S., the son cf Joseph, was born the next year.) Of these all but the following have passed to the "great beyond:" Mr. Moore, Miss Sarah Richards, Mrs. Murphy, S. D. Eastwood, Mr. Clute, Hiram Hetler, Dr. D. H. Law, Mr. Brubaker, Mrs. Baker, Mr. Fuller, Sylvester and W. S. Brierton.
Fires.- In 1846 the first recorded fire visited the town, consuming the Phoenix Hotel, Stiles & Eddy's Store (Bowman's old stand), corner of Galena and River Streets.
October 14, 1859, a disastrous fire occurred extending on both sides of First Street from Hennepin west Seventeen buildings were destroyed. The estimiated loss was over $50,000; insurance, $10,200.
January 29, 1860, John Dement's machine shop, opposite the Mills on Water Street, was burned out, ruining the machinery, loss $25,000; no insurance.
March 7, 1861, three buildings on or near the northwest corner of First and Galena Streets were destroyed by fire.
March 3, 1871, three buildings in center of the block on north side of First Street, between Hennepin and Peoria, were destroyed by fire loss $4,000.
November 30, 1871, St. James Hotel (formerly Shabbona House) was buraed to the ground.
March 12, 1873, the Western Knitting Mills were entirely destroyed by fire loss $20,000. The Flax Factory adjoining was damaged to the extent of $5,000.
December 7, 1875, a fire broke out in the upper story of Becker & Underwood's Flouring Mill, resulting in a loss of $13,000. The main building of the Dixon Power & Lighting Company now occupies the ground.
April 8, 1880, the most disastrous fire that ever visited Dixon broke out at one o'clock in the morning, at the water power. In an hour all the buildings on the north side of the race, were consumed. They consisted of the double stone building, one half of which was owned by Caleb Clapp and the other half by John Dement - Thompson's Flouring Mill and that of Becker & Upderwood. The only pumps affording fire protection were on the race in front of these mills, and they were soon disabled. The Amboy Pire Company, with its engine, was sent for and its timely arrival and efficient work saved the buildings on the opposite side of the street. When the flames reached the Becker & Underwood Mill there was a terrific explosion, cause, it was supposed, by the combustion of flour dust. Men were in the building at the time striving to check the fire, two of whom, Ezra Becker and William Schum, were killed, while ten others were wounded more or less seriously. The total loss was $190,000; insurance, $66,900.
The interior of the Catholic Church was entirely destroyed by fire May 7, 1887:
On the morning of June 3, 1903, all of the Opera House above the first floor within walls, was destroyed by fire; insurance paid, $12,000.
Biographical Sketch of Father Dixon.- John Dixon was born in the Village of Rye, Westchester County, N. Y., October 9, 1784. On reaching his majority he moved to New York City where, for fifteen years, he was the proprietor of a clothing store and merchant tailoring establishment. He was actively interested in the temperance cause and religious matters, and became one of the directors of the "Young Men's Bible Society of the City of New York," organized February 11, 1809. It was the first Bible Society established in the United States, and developed into the American Bible Society of the present day. When Fulton took his first steamboat on its trial trip up the Hudson, Mr. Dixon was a passenger and insisted on paying fare against the inventor's protest. He thus came by the distinction, not only of riding on the first steamboat, but of paying the first fare for such a ride.
Being threatened with pulmonary disease, he left New York in 1820 for the West 'with his wife and children, the means of transportation being a covered wagon drawn by a single team. On reaching Pittsburg a flatboat was purchased on which they embarked with their team and belongings, and floated down the Ohio to Shawaeetown, Ill., where they disembarked and proceeded with their wagon across the trackless prairies to the locality where Springfield now stands. On Fancy Creek, nine miles from the site of the future capital, he located after over seventy days' journey. Early the next year Sangamon County was organized. At the first session of Court in the new county, John Dixon was foreman of the grand jury. In 1825 he was appointed Clerk of the Circuit Court and Recorder of Deeds for Peoria County, necessitating his removal to Peoria, then also known as Fort Clark. Northern Illinois was not then divided into counties and, within the territory attached to Peoria County were the voting precincts of Galena and Chicago. This whole region which now embraces thirty counties, then had but 1,236 inhabitants.
While Mr. Dixon was thus engaged at Peoria, the Government established a mail route from that point to Galena, crossing Rock River at the present site of Dixon, mail to be carried once in two weeks on horseback. Mr. Dixon secured the contract. In order to effect safe passage of the mails over the river, he induced a French and Indian half breed by the name of Ogee to establish a ferry, which was later purchased by Mr. Dixon, who with his family moved to this point April 11, 1830, and the crossing was thereafter known as "Dixon's Ferry." Whether this is the same "Joseph Ogee" referred to in the treaty of Prairie du Chien, heretofore quoted, nowhere appears, but it is highly probable.
The Winnebago Indians were occupants of a large part of the country, and Mr. Dixon soon established business relations with them and secured their entire confidence which, on the return of the Sacs and Foxes in 1832, proved to be of great value to himself and family, and he reciprocated with services equally valuable to them. His unflinching integrity and strict temperance habits served often to protect his dusky friends from the exactions of unscrupulous traders. Owanico, or "Jahro," chief of the Winnebagoes, became an active disciple of temperance. Even at that early day, Mr. Dixon's hair was so white that he was known among the Indians as "Na-chu-sa" (the white haired.)
In 1838 Mr. Dixon was appointed by the Governor of the State one of the Commissioners to carry on the system of internal improvement then inaugurated, and later was elected to the position by the Legislature. Although the movement was ill conceived and resulted in ridiculous failure, no fault was ever attached to the Commissioners.
The acquaintance which Abraham Lincoln made with Father Dixon, during the Black Hawk War, was never forgotten by Mr. Lincoln; and when the great man had been elected President, and before his departure from Springfield to assume the office, Father Dixon called on him. Mr. Lincoln eagerly recalled the early friendship and volunteered a promise, unsolicited on Mr. Dixon's part, that he would see, that his old friend was made Postmaster of the city he had founded; but when the time for the change came, another secured the post. By some political trick the commission had been obtained without Mr. Lincoln's knowledge. On being apprised of it, the President was indignant and mortified, "for," he said, "he had promised it to Mr. Dixon." This incident is 'couched for by unquestionable authority.
In 1840 Mr. Dixon visited Washington, his mission being to procure the removal of the Government Land Office from Galena to Dixon. It is needless to say that he succeeded. He enlisted the interest of General Scott, who had made his acquaintance while serving in the Black Hawk War, and thus reached President Van Buren, who promptly caused the desired order to be made.
Mrs. Dixon was a woman of superior attainments, who exerted an active moral and religious influence in the community, and was a worthy companion for so exemplary a man.
Mr. Dixon died at his home in North Dixon, July 6th, 1876, universally respected and beloved, having nearly attained his ninety second year. His wife and ten children had all departed before him, but grandchildren and other family connections were about him and tenderly ministered to him to the last. Though he had once owned the tract on which the city which bears his name now stands, and had been afforded many opportunities to accumulate a fortune, he died a poor man. The prevalent craze for speculation seems to have passed him by. He was modest, gentle and retiring by nature, a great reader and a man of large intelligence. Current events and the affairs of the nation and the world at large were of absorbing interest to him up to a short time before he was taken. His generosity and public spirit are well indicated by the fact that, in platting the town of North Dixon, he dedicated Oak Park to public use, and in laying out the town of Dixon south of the river, he gave Market Square to the public, and donated to the county the Public Square on which the Court House now stands. It is generally understood that he also donated 80, acres of land adjacent to Dixon to aid in the erection of the first Court House.
His funeral was the occasion of a demonstration seldom accorded a modest, private citizen having no official claims to distinction. It occurred on Sunday following his death. From all the surrounding towns came delegations and societies to pay their last respects to his memory. Business houses and public buildings were draped in mourning. The body lay in state at the Court House under guard of Sir Knights Templar, and for hours the people streamed by to take a last look at the venerable founder of the town. At a meeting of citizens, held the Friday evening before his buriai, a touching memorial was adopted, in which the rare tribute was pronounced that he was a man of great strength of mind, force of character and determination of purpose; yet he had lived and died without an enemy. Forgetful of himself, he lived for others a pure and unselfish life. He was that "noblest work of God" - "an honest man" No life admits of a higher encomium, nor can any city boast of a name which should carry with it, into all the arteries of municipal life, more of manly virtue and civic righteousness than the one which this noble pioneer gave to the town he founded, and on whose infant life he impressed the seal of his fine personality. A monument to his memory was erected and dedicated in 1892, in Oakwood Cemetery, by popular subscription, at a cost of $1,000.
Distinguished Visitors.- Dixonites, like all the rest of creation, recall with satisfaction the distinguished personages who have tarried within their borders. Abraham Lincoln, the Immortal, heads their list. He was first here as a Captain of Militia during the Black Hawk War, and again as private on a second and third enlistment. Lieut. Jefferson Davis, of the regular army, who became President of the Southern Confedercy, and Lieut. Robt. Anderson, also of the regular army, who in April, 1861, defended Fort Sumter against the Confederacy's rebellious assault, were also here at the same time. That Davis was here has been questioned, but no longer admits of doubt. Lieut. Col. Zachary Taylor, afterwards President of the United States, and Gen. Winfield Scott were also of the number. It has often been asserted, and generally believed, that Lincoln was first mustered into the service of the Government at Dixon's Ferry, and that, as a part of the procedure, Lieut. Davis administered the oath of allegiance to him. Father Dixon and Col. John Dement so understood it, and it is said upon creditable authority that Mr. Lincoln so stated. But it may not be true. Mr. Frank E. Stevens, who, by the way, was Dixon born and bred, in his recently issued exhaustive work on the Black Hawk War, reproduces a letter from Maj. Buckmaster, under whom Captain Lincoln's company was serving, dated May 9, 1832, at mouth of Rock River, in which he writes that they were mustered into the service of the United States the day before by Gen. Atkinson; and the author submits this as conclusive proof of the fallacy of what has been so long and fondly entertained as true.
Certain it is, that this letter casts another shadow over the subject. If Mr. Lincoln was sworn into the service at Dixon, it is of course possible that Lieut. Davis was the mustering officer, but rather more probable that Lieutenant Anderson performed that function. We have said in our notice of the Black Hawk War that Lincoln entered the service three times before the war terminated. He was discharged from the first company at the mouth of Fox River, and there re enlisted for twenty days as a private in Capt Iles' Company, Lieut. Anderson being the officer who then mustered the company in. At the expiration of the twenty days, these men returned and were mustered out at Fort Wilbourn, located between LaSalle and Peru. On the following day Lincoln was mustered in as a private in Capt. Early's Company, this being his third enlistment. June 21st the company reached Dixon's Ferry, and thence moved north to Whitewater River, where it was mustered out July 10, 1832, the men returning homeward by way of Dixon's Ferry.
It follows, therefore, that there was only one opportunity for Mr. Lincoln to have been mustered in at Dixon, and that was when his command reached here on its march from the mouth of Rock River, where Major Buckmaster writes the troops were sworn into the service. But it must be looked upon as little less than marvelous, that Father Dixon and John Dement, both of whom were active participants in the war and were brought in constant contact with both Lieut. Anderson and Lieut. Davis, and became well acquainted with Mr. Lincoln, should be mistaken; and it is still more remarkable that Mr. Lincoln himself should state that he was sworn in here, if, in fact, it occurred at the mouth of the river, as deduced from the letter from Maj. Buckmaster. It is possible, of course, that, for some reason, Lincoln may not have been with his company at the time of the muster referred to by the Major.
There is no question but what Lincoln was at Dixon on other occasions. He had became well acquainted with Joseph Crawford, who had served with him in the Legislature, and who, being a brother Whig, was a great admirer of Mr. Lincoln. Lincoln is remembered to have visited Dixon at one time, when he sought out Mr. Crawford, if indeed he was not actually entertained at the Crawford home. He also knew Judge J. V. Eustace, whose acquaintance he had formed at Springfield, and on one of his visits here called on the Judge. One occasion was when he spoke in Court House square, September 8, 1856, in the Presidential campaign of that year. The probable spot where he addressed the people has been recently marked by a large boulder, placed there by the Dixon Post G. A. R., bearing an inscription commemorative of the event. A number of citizens still living were present. A communication from one of the audience whose identity is not revealed, is referred to in "Scribner's Magazine" for April, 1878, p. 884, in which the writer says: "Lincoln spoke in the grove in the Court House square, Dixon, Ill. I think you (Noah Brooks, to whom the letter was addressed) and I sat together and made a little fun of his excessively homely appearance. He was dressed in an awkwardly fitting linen suit, evidently bought ready made at a country store, and intended for a man at least five inches less in stature than he was, the vest and trousers not meeting by at least an inch and a half, and the last named garment being short at the feet. Lincoln made, on that occasion, his second speech on a Republican or FreeSoil platform. No other speech I have ever heard made such a lasting impression on my mind."
In Herndon's "Life of Lincoln," it is stated on authority of Mr. Horace White, then correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, who later became its editor, that Mr. N. B. Judd and Dr. C. H. Ray, then editor of the Tribune, met Mr. Lincoln at Dixon in conference the day before his memorable debate with Douglas at Freeport. It is known by those intimately associated with Mr. Lincoln at this time, that in the debate he contemplated putting to Douglas the following question: "Can the people of a United States territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a State constitution?" The politicians close to Mr. Lincoln feared the consequences which would follow, and endeavored to persuade Mr. Lincoln to desist. Mr. White writes that this was the purpose of the conference at Dixon.
We are able to state, on authority of Mr. B. F. Shaw of Dixon, who was then conducting a Republican paper (The Telegraph) here nnd was deeply interested in current events. as well as a great admirer of Mr. Lincoln and a stanch champion of the cause he advocated, that this reported interview never, in fact, took place. One thing is practically certain; that if such a gathering occurred, he would have known of it. On the contrary, he was at the Illinois Central depot when the large excursion train, with Mr. Lincoln aboard, passed through Dixon on its way to Freeport on the day of the great debate, and on a regular train, a few hours later, he himself reached Freeport in time to hear the discussion. It might be added that he found on the train Owen Lovejoy, with whom he was acquainted, who was likewise on his way to Freeport. Mr. Lovejoy was very much disturhed over certain references which Mr. Douglas had made to him in his speech at Ottawa; and, after the debate was over, Mr. Shaw was a prime mover in bringing Mr. Lovejoy before the assembled crowd where, standing on a dry goods box in front of the Brewster House. he delivered one of the most eloquent, as well as fiery, philippics ever heard. In this connection the writer may say that, in conversation he heard Gen. S. D. Atkins, of Freeport, relate that he was present in Lincoln's room in the Brewster House on that eventful day, when several intimate friends of Mr. Lincoln were laboring with him to withhold the question above quoted, which he still expected to propound to Mr. Douglas; that Mr. Lincoln patientiy listened to all that was said, and after reflecting some time without speaking, announced his determination to stand by the question, saying that while it might defeat him as a Senator, it would prevent Douglas from ever becoming President. The question was put and the predicted result followed.
Albert Sidney Johnson and Joseph E. Johnson, both of whom became leading Generals on the Confederate side in the War of the Rebellion, Col. Nathan Boone. a son of Daniel Boone, John Reynolds, Governor of the State, and Gen. E. D. Baker, one of the brilliant orators of the then future, who was killed early in the war of the Rebellion at Ball's Bluff - these, with many other notables, made the acquaintance of Father Dixon at Dixon's Ferry. Father Dixon's account book of those days shows a loan to Gen. Scott of $6.50. for which Scott gave his note.
In 1843 Margaret Fuller, a talented writer and one of the literary circle of Boston and Concord, which included Emerson, Channing, Alcott, Hawthorne and others who became eminent, passed through Lee County in what was doubtless an emigrant wagon or "prairie schooner," en route from Chicago to Oregon, Ogle County. In her book, "At Home and Abroad," she speaks of a night spent in a tavern at Paw Paw. The ladies of the party slept in the bar room, from which its drinking visitors had been ejected at a late hour, the supper table serving, as Miss Fufler's couch and the doors, of course, remaining unlocked. They crossed Rock River at Dixon's Ferry and spent three days at Hazelwood, "place chosen." she writes, "by an Irish gentleman ('Gov.' Charters), whose absenteeship seems to be of the wisest kind." "If you descended a ravine at the side to the water's edge, you found there a long walk on the narrow shore, with a wall above of the richest hanging wood, in which they said the deer lay hid." Reference .is made to the commodious dwelling and the log cabin, the latter being at this writing still standing on the spot. Dwelling on the beauty of the surroundings, she adds: "It seems not necessary to have any better heaven, or fuller expression of love and freedom, than in the mood of Nature here." On parting she left a poem entitled, "The Western Eden," which would be quoted here but for lack of space.
In the days when the lecture platform attracted the ablest and most talented men of the country to appear before the people, several whose names deserve to be mentioned addressed Dixon audiences. Among these were Horace Greeley, who was here twice: T. Starr King, who later moved to California, and was one of the great forces in that State for patriotism in the days of the Civil War. Here also lectured Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Bayard Taylor, Henry Ward Beecher, Joshua R. Giddings, Horace Mann, John G. Saxe and others of less note.
That most charming poet, William Cullen Bryant, who wrote so sweetly of nature, visited Dixon, as indicated by letter already quoted, and was the guest of his brother-in-law, Dr. Oliver Everett, when this entire country was a vast field of virgin prairie, covered with wild flowers, and its lakes and river frequented by birds of gorgeous plumage unharassed by the sportsman's gun. It was on that visit that Mr. Bryant was inspired to pen that most beautiful of his poems, "To a Waterfowl," in which this verse appears:
Churches.-The first sermon preached in Dixon was in the fall of 1834 by a Methodist missionary named Segg. His field of labor extended from Apple River, in Jo Daviess County, to Prophetstown, in Whiteside County, and he made the circuit once in four weeks.
In 1837 a Methodist class was formed with S. M. Bowman, E. A. Bowman, Maria Mcclure, John Richards, Ann Richards, Caleb Talimage and Amanda Tailmage as members, and in 1839 T. D. Boardman, Mr. and Mrs. Perry, Mr. and Mrs. O. F. Ayres were added. Preaching services were held at intervals of six weeks over Bowman's store. The circuit preachers conducting services were Robert Dunlap, Barton Cartwright, Isaac Pool, Riley Hill, Luke Hitchcock, Richard Blanchard, Philo Judson and W. H. Cooley. W. Wilcox was appointed to Dixon in 1843; David Brooks in July, 1844; S. P. Keyes, August, 1845; Milton Hawey and R. W. H. Brent, August, 1846; R. P. Lawton, 1847; William Palmer, 1848; Thomas North, 1850; James Baume (father of Judge Baume of our Circuit Court), September, 1852; J. W. Agard, 1854; Wilbur McKaig, September, 1855; N. P. Heath, 1857; L. A. Sanford, August, 1858; S. G. Lathrop, 1859; O. B. Thayer, September, 1862; W. H. Smith, March, 1864; G. L. Stuff, 1864; T. C. Clendenning, 1865; George E. Strobridge, 1867; J. H. Brown, 1869; John Williamson, 1871; Isaac Linebarger, 1874; G. R. Van Horn, 1876; A. W. Patton, 1879-80; F. P. Cleveland, 1880-81; O. F. Mattison, 1881-84; M. E. Cady, 1884-87; F. H. Sheets, 1887-88; C. A. Bunker, 1889-90; S. Earngey, 1890-93; O. H. Cessna, 1893-98; J. D. Leek, 1898-1900; William Phillips, 1900-02; William Craven, 1902, present incumbent. (Beginning with 1864, the term of service of each circuit rider began uniformly in October, immediately after the adjournment of the Annual Conference.)
In the summer of 1843 the first Methodist church building was completed. It was a brick structure and is still standing in good state of preservation, at No. 117 Second Street, opposite the Court House. It was dedicated that summer by Presiding Elder John T. Mitchell. The board of trustees consisted of J. P. Dixon, E. Edson, O. F. Ayres, L. G. Wynkoop, Thomas McCabe, Joseph Brierton apd S. M. Bowman. A Union Sunday School was organized which, on July 15th of that year, had eight teachers, sixty scholars and a library of ninety volumes. O. F. Ayres was Superintendent; T. D. Boardman, Secretary; J. W. Clute, Librarian.
In 1854 a Methodist church was built where the present one stands, corner of Second Street and Peoria Avenue. March 1, 1855, it was dedicated by Rev. Wm. McKaig. The cost of the building, including furnishings, etc., was about $15,000. August 31, 1876, it was rededicated after extensive repairs had been made. This building was torn down to make room for the present structure, which was completed in December, 1892, at a cost of $30,000. The next year a parsonage was built adjacent to the church, at a cost of $3,500.
May 28, 1838, the "First Regular Baptist Church of Dixon and Buffalo Grove" was organized at Buffalo Grove (now Polo.) Elder Thomas Powell, a missionary, was Moderator of the meeting. The original members were: Houland Bicknell, Rebecca Dixon, Elizabeth Bellows, Jerusha Hammond, Sarah Kellogg, Martha Parks and Ann Clarley. At the end of four years there were seventy two names on the membership roll.
January 13, 1841, the present corporate organization of the Baptist Church was effected under the name of the "First Baptist Church of Dixon." April 16, 1842, the congregation was divided into two churches, Buffalo Grove and Dixon. The former has since become extinct. Pastors since the organization have been: B. B. Carpenter, June, 1840, to October, 1844; Burton Carpenter, December, 1844, to March, i845. William Gates filled the pulpit occasionally, and William Walker about four months between March, 1844, and April, 1847, when E. T. Manning became pastor for one year. S. S. Martin was pastor for one year in 1849. G. W. Benton supplied the pulpit for about six months between Martin's pastorate and August, 1851, when John E. Ball became pastor and remained about four years. Anson Tucker served eleven months from May, 1855. W. R. Webb came in June, 1856, and continued over four years. William G. Pratt served one year beginning in March, 1861. W. S. Goodno came in September, 1862, serving two years. J. H. Pratt became pastor in October, 1864, and continued nine years. D. F. Carnahan followed in August, 1874, and 0. P. Bestor in August, 1877, who remained until October, 1882; Rev. W. H. Parker from January, 1883, to September, 1886: John F. Howard, October 10, 1886, to September 1, 1890; William D. Fuller, March 4, 1891, to May 24, 1892; Hector C. Leland, from September, 1892, to February 1, 1899; Wm. C. Spencer, the present incumbent, came March, 1899.
May 5, 1849, the Baptist congregation dedicated their first house of worship, Rev. Jacob Knapp preaching the sermon. It was a brick building, situated on the west side of Ottawa Street at corner of the alley next north of First Street. It was abandoned as a church when the present edifice was completed, but was used in connection with a lumber yard until spring of 1899, when it was torn down.
October 1, 1869, the corner stone of the present Baptist church was laid with appropriate ceremonies, and the building was dedicated in August, 1872, Rev. Mr. Ravlin delivering the morning sermon and Rev. J. A. Smith the evening sermon. June 23, 1878, the fortieth anniversary exercises of the Dixon Baptist Church were held in its house of worship.
A correspondent, writing from Dixon to a Rockford paper in summer of 1845, says the place then had "four congregations: Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal and Congregational, and one church structure, that of the Methodist"
"The First Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Lee County" was organized August 20, 1848, in the barn of J. N. Burket, east of Dixon, by Rev. Jacob Burket. The name was changed November 12, 1853, to "St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church." The pastors have been: Jacob H. Burket, who continued in charge until August, 1850; Ephraim Miller, May, 1851, to April, 1852; Charles Young, May, 1852, to August, 1853; William Uhl, September, 1853, to 1855; D. Harbaugh, July, 1855, to July, 1856; William Uhl, September, 1856, to July, 1858; J. L. Guard, July, 1858, to 1861; J. R. Keiser, September, 1861, to October, 1864; A. A. Trimper, spring of 1865 to 1870; N. W. Lilly, October, 1870, to 1874; 5. 5. Waltz, September, 1874, to April, 1879; L. L. Lipe, October, 1879, to 1885; J. M. Ruthrauff, 1885, to 1895; T. F. Dornblazer, fall of 1895, present incumbent. In December, 1856, the German portion of the congregation withdrew and organized a separate congregation, but were united again under the pastorate of Rev. Trimper.
A Lutheran church was in process of erection in September, 1854, and was dedicated September 30, 1855. It was a brick building with basement and spire, located on or near No. 309 Crawford Avenue. It was demolished in 1879 to make room for residences. In 1868 the present Lutheran church was built at a cost of $14,664.81, and was dedicated February 14, 1869. Extensive additions were made and the whole interior remodeled and equipped with an organ in the summer of 1898, at a cost, including organ, of about $7,000. A semi centennial and rededication of the improved church was celebitted December 16-19, 1898.
The Evangelical Lutheran Emanuel Church was organized March 23, 1891, by Rev. H. Staufenberg. The church building was erected the same year and in 1899 the parsonage was built, the cost of the entire property being $5,000. The pastors have been H. Staufenberg, who served until October 14, 1894, L. Lentz from 1894 to 1897. H. F. Schmidt, the present pastor, took charge November, 20, 1897.
The local paper of June 22, 1851, has this item: "Some Presbyterians, wishing to have worship in accordance with their own views and customs," have preaching in the district school house. January 29, 1853, the Presbyterian Church was organized and held public service in the stone school house. The original members were: George Sharer, Nancy Sharer, James Means, Isabella Means, John Beatty, Nancy Beatty, Mary Richardson, Robert McBride, Mrs. Jane Smith and Mrs. Jane Little. W. W. Harsha served as first pastor, being succeeded in December, 1862, by E. C. Sickels, who continued in the pastorate until July 7, 1895, when failing health necessitated his resignation. He was followed by A. R. Bickenback from September 16, 1895, to September 30, 1899. January 1, 1900, S. S. Cryor, the present incumhent, took charge.
February 17, 1856, the first Presbyterian church building was dedicated. It was a grout structure, 28 by 42 feet, standing on a portion of the present site, now partly occupied by a chapel addition, The main part of the present church, which cost about $16,000, was dedicated in October, 1860. In 1898 the chapel additicu was built at a cost of about $3,000 and, in 1902, the main church was redecorated, reseated and refurnished throughout, and the first pipe organ installed. The total outlay (including organ, $3,000) was between $5,000 and $6,000.
In 1854 the Catholic Church was organized under the labors of Father Mark Anthony, with about twenty five members. They worshipped in the Court House until the completion of a frame church building the same year, on the west side of Highland Avenue near the southwest corner of that street and Fifth Street.
The pastors in charge since Father Anthony have been, in the order named: Father James Fitzgerald, succeeded by T. Kennedy in 1856; M. Ford, 1859; James Power, 1862; H. Koehne, 1863; Louis Lightner, July, 1863; M. McDermott, J. P. Hodnett, Gray, Tracy, and the present incumbent, Father Michael Foley, who took charge in June, 1892.
June 23, 1873, the corner stone of the present Catholic church was laid, Rt. Rev. Bishop Foley of Chicago officiating, and it was dedicated by him the second day of the following November. The foundation was laid during the pastorate of Father Lightner, and the edifice completed during the pastorate of Father McDermott at a cost of $30,000. The entire inside of the building, including organ, crucifix and altar vases, were consumed by fire Saturday, May 7, 1887. Father Tracy held services the following Sunday in the front yard of the parsonage. A contract was immediately let to Contractor W. J. MeAlpine to rebuild the edifice for $12,000. The insurance was $7,000.
In the summer of 1838 an Episcopal Church was organized under labors of Rev. James Depuy, but on his moving away active work was suspended and all records up to 1855 were lost. The first record, "after suspension of active labors," proceeds: March 19, 1855, a meeting of the vestry of St. Luke's Episcopal Church was held at office of Robertson, Eastman & Co., Rev. Bentley presiding. Addison Rice, S. C. Bells and Geo. C. Chapman were elected members of vestry to fill vacancies caused by removals. Soon thereafter services were regularly held in Exchange Hall until 1856, when a frame church was built on the lot immediately north of the present one. First services were held in this building September 28, 1856. When the present edifice was erected, the first church was converted into a dwelling and still stands dn its original ground. Mr. Bentley was the first rector after this reorganization. Following him were: C. J. Todd, August, 1856; J. G. Downing, May, 1857; 3ohn Wilkison, August, 1858, to August, 1859; A. J. Warner took charge January, 1861, and was succeeded by C. C, Street, in April, 1862, and James W. Coe in May, 1863. who continued in charge until July. 1865: H. H. De Garmo was rector from March to September, 1866; D. W. Dresser. November, 1866, to November, 1867; H. W. Willarns, March 1868, to June, 1871; M. Byllesby. November, 1871, to April, 1873: Samuel Edson. May, 1873, to October. 1875: Joseph Cross, December, 1875. to October, 1876: W. H. Jones. November. 1876, untIl his death. April 26, 1878: W. W. Steel, September. 1878, to November 15. 1880: John Wilkison, as minister in charge May, 1881, to June, 1885, when he became rector. remaining until November 26, 1887: Louis A. Arthur, January 7. 1889, to F'ebruary 12, 1889: Henry C. Granger, November, 1889, as lay reader until January, 1890, when he became deacon In charge. On being ordained priest, he became rector, June 24, 1890, and continued until October 5, 1896: John C. Sage, October 16. 1896. to December 31, 1901: John Mark Ericsson, January 1, 1902. present incumbent.
September 7, 1871, the corner stone of the present stone edifice was laid. Rev. John Wilkison officiating. It was opened for services September 15, 1872. In 1900 a fine rectory was built next east of the church (between it and the public library), at. a cost of $4,200.
July 7, 1870, the Universalist Church was established. Services were first conducted in Union Hall. From there the society moved to Tillson's Hall. where services were continued until the church at the corner of Second Street and Hennepin Avenue was dedicated. August 10. 1873. H. V. Chase was the first pastor, continuing until December, 1876. when he was succeeded by B. F. Rogers who served one year. About the beginning of 1877 Mr. Chase was recalled and remained, three years. Then the pulpit remained vacant for several years with only an occasional service. Mr. Shilling conducted services one year and a Mr. Yates did the same about two years. Joseph F. Newton, now in charge, was regularly called and has entered on his third year.
September 29, 1854, a Congregational Church was organized in Exchange Hall where, and in the Court House. meetings were held until October, 1856. when the society moved to the brick church on Second Street built by the Methodists (No. 117), Rev. Illesly started it, and after two or three years was compelled to abandon it, moving to Roscoe. Ogle County. where soon after a brick dwelling in which the family lived was so undermined by a flood, that it was precipitated into the river, and his wife and seven or eight children were drowned, he alone escaping.
The West Side Congregational Church was organized. August 19. 1901. A church building was erected which, with lot and furnishings, cost about $4,400. J. G, Brooks was the first pastor, beginning his pastorate September 15. 1901. The society then consisted of sixty two members drawn from nine different denominations. At the end of the first year the membership was exactly doubled. and the society was out of debt. They next purchased a parsonage near by. which is also paid for.
July 25. 1855. the erection of a Unitarian Church was commenced in North Dixon. It was located on the north side of Boyd Street between Galena and Hennepin. and was dedicated April 9, 1856. Rev. Kelsey was the first and, as far as can be learned, the only pastor. It was torn down some time after 1863.
Grace United Evangelical Church is located at the northwest corner of East Fellows and Ottawa Streets. North Dixon. The society had Its inception in a Sabbath School, which started with twenty two members June 12, 1892, under the leadership of Mrs. I. Divan. The church was organized September 14. 1892. with thirteen charter members, by Rev. I. Divan. A lot on which to build was bought in 1892 and, in 1893 the building was erected. The present membership of the church is ninety. The pastors have been I. Divan, June. 1892. to April. 1897; J. H. Keagle. April, 1897, to April. 1898: J. G. Finkbeiner, April, 1898, to March, 1902: E. O. Rife. April, 1902. present incumbent.
Initial services which resulted in the founding of the Christian Church in Dixon. were commenced Sunday, September 1, 1895, in a tent at the southeast corner of First Street and Madison Avenue. under the leadership of Rev. T. A. Boyer, of Eureka. Ill. The tent was occupied seven weeks, when the services were moved to G. G. Rosbrook Hall. on Peoria Avenue. The original membership, which was small when the meetings began, was thus increased to 187. A committee from the congregation was selected by the District Board to act as an executive board until the society could be organized. C. E. Evans, of Walnut, Ill., was called November 1, 1895, services being conducted in Union Hall. The church was fully organized February 2, 1896. Mr. Evans closed his pastorate in January, 1897, and was succeeded the following May by S. H. Zendt, of Eureka, Ill., who continued until October 1, 1899. In the spring of 1896 a lot near the northeast corner of First Street and Madison Avenue had been purchased for $1,350 and, in the summer of 1897, the society erected its present building on this lot at a cost of about $3,500. It was dedicated June 29, 1897, J. H. Hardin, then President of Eureka College, delivering the sermon, it was under Mr. Zendt's labors not only that the building was secured, but that a mortgage on it was paid off and committed to the flames On the first Sunday of June, 1897. The next regular pastor was Finis Idleman, the present incumbent, who has served since June 1, 1900.
Young Men's Christian Association.- This institution is one of the leading influences in the community for good. It was organized in Dixon, June 24, 1889, with twenty eight members. During the last four years the membership has fluctuated between 285 and 400, the present membership being 317. The advantages include a gymnasium, baths, games, gospel meetings and bible classes, library of 140 volumes and a free reading room with fortyfive periodicals, including daily and religious papers. Baths have been availed of at an average rate of about 425 per month. Thus a wholesome resort is provided for young men with a nominal membership fee of $5.00 a year. The first Board of Trustees consisted of Albert Johnson, Ira W. Lewis, N. F. Swartout, F. E. Wright, A. P.. Armington, E. L. Kling, John T. Laing, E. E. Wingert and E. B. Raymond. The present officers and Board of Directors are: Ira W. Lewis, President; H. V. Baldwin, VicePresident; Jno. T. Laing, Secretary; W. B. Johnson, Treasurer; C. C. Kost, O. E. Clymer, E. B. Raymond, H. W. Morris, L. W. Dachsteiner, M. L. Christian, W. B. McMahon and R. M. Ayres. Mr. Lewis has been President from the first. The General Secretaries have been: Phil. Bevis, H. L. Sawyer, L. L. Everly from about July 1, 1897, to December, 1899, since which time the present Secretary, F. M. Smith, has filled the post.
Transcribed by Rays Place