History of Harmon Twp.

Pre-historic Harmon Township was a whole lot different than it is today. We can't realize that less than 150 years ago, this section was just a trackless Prairie , a vast pasture, a wilderness, occupied by the Indian, the Red Skin, the Bison and the Deer and the antelope and all the other species of animals and birds of all description.

There were no houses, no other buildings and fences. Just a vast meadow, a gigantic pasture, dotted and hyphenated with Pines, Oaks, Hickorys, Ash and Elders and Brush and Chapperrial. Poisonous snakes of many varieties were numerous. Birds of all kinds flocked to this Paradise of Prairie land which later on became Harmon and its environs.

The first supposedly human beings, yes, you guessed it, the Red Skin the Indian. He warhooped and hollered and screeched his ire but to no avail. He was having his domain rudely and unjustly taken over by the white man, the Pale Face. The Red Skins were scattered all over Harmon Township. Indian relics of all shapes and descriptions of all kinds have been found all over this town of Harmon. They killed the Bison, the Deer and the antalope, Pluto the wolf and Reynard the Fox, the muskrat and the coon, the Beaver and the Otter and oh, just oodles and oodles of other small animal species. The Indian killed his game with the bow and arrow and stone axes. Early settlers found arrow heads, flints, spears, arrow points, and axes in almost incredible nubers, A large camp site in Harmon was on the farm now owned by John W. Ryan. Here more than 60 years ago, was found a great variety of flint and pottery and implements. The quanity of beautiful flint chips covering the hill side was evidence that much flaking had been done there, adjoining farms, Jacobs, Clathworthy, Geldian, Dietz, have yielded up many interesting specimens. William Dietz, possess' a fine stone ax, the best we have seen in and around Harmon.

Much of the following early history of Harmon Township has been taken from the late John L. Porters most excellent book published in l9l9. Many of the facts and stores by the author we have given word for word. We have paraphrased some and condensed a lot. We are also indebted to Mrs. Coca Tradsworth of Dixon and George Long of Harmon for some material. It appears from the record of the Rosebrook, Perkins, Tuttle and Sutton families were the first settlers in the Harmon township locating here in l853 and in l854. John D. Roebrook with three sons settled at Lake, a clear body of water covering something like 40 acres of land. In what is known as section 25, where Ray Dimmig lives. The few remaining Evergreen trees were set out by the Perkins and Tuttle families, located in what is now section 23, in 1854.

Robert Tuttle died of typhoid fever leaving a wife and five children. The widow Louisa Tuttle directed the building of the first permanent log cabin in 1854, which the logs were hauled from Mendota. John L. Porter wrote, "I.H Perkins and Henry Stoors were the builders and the cabin stands yet today, looking much as it did when it was the scene of so many of Harmons Ear1y Festivities." Glen Trotzell now lives in his house. John L. Porter records that the first election was held here April 7,1857. The following officers were elected, Supervisors, Isaac McManue, Town Clerk, L.M. Rosebrook; Assessor, William L. Smith, Sutton and Lewis Hullinger, Constables, John S Tuttle and Lyman Rosebrook, Justice of the Peace, L.M. Rosebrook ane William L. Smith Overseer of the Poor, George G. Rosebrook, Postmasters, A. Van Horn and William L. Smith.

In the winter of l856 and l857, Miss Viana Tuttle taught the first school (a private one) in her mothers large house. In l857, a public school house was built, without windows or doors, though wooden blinds movable were used to keep out the rains. The first teacher was Miss Jane M. Putnam. After 1861 other school districts were organized. The first marriage in Harmon was that of Eliza Lane Perkins to John S. Tuttle in 1857. The first birth was Emma Rosebrook in l856. The first birth after the township was organized was Ella Tuttle in 1858. The following is transcribed from John Porters History, "L.M. Rosebrook occupied the large square room in Mrs. Tuttles house while he was building his own house where Lynne Parker lives now."

Mr. Perkins had built his house the same spring and it was located a mile east of Harmon.

John D. Rosebrook who settled in Harmon in l854 on the west side of what was called Rosebrooks, Porters or Silver Lake, at that time a beautiful body of water, was the first resident of the township. He built a house, having lived previously in his Granary.

Another Pioneer of Harmon was Thomas Sutton with his family, he arrived in Harmon on Oct. 10, 1854. With him came his father Joseph Sutton and his brother William Sutton. Two years later his brother-in-law, Patrick Grogan also moved to Harmon. The Suttons purchased land and settled about one mile south of "Lake", near where Albert Allen lives today. "Their first dwellings were made partly of logs, and lumber of which was hauled from LaSalle. It was said of Sutton that there were 19 children in his family and often he lamented because there were not 20. 0 Among other early settlers here one finds the names of Henry Brill, Siefkin, William Smith, Lewis Huffinger, John D. Long, James Porter Jr, A.T.Curtis, Joseph B. Smith, Austin Batch, Solomon McKeel, W. H. Kimbal and the Frizzell Frizzells. John B. Rosebrook driving a string of oxen did the first breaking of the turf, Prairie sod in Harmon. L.D. Rosebrook had the honor of naming the town Harmon after the name of a friend.

In 1856, the first Sunday school was held in John D. Rosebrooks Granery. L.M.Rosebrook was the Superintendent. This building was later moved to section 23 and now makes part of a chicken brooder house on the L.P. Parker premises.

The vast expanse of Prairie furnished summer grazing for thousands of cattle and sheep in early Harmon Days. The record contains at least 15 names of professional herders. A few of these were, Rogers, Porter, and Sheihamer, Curtis, Woodard, Smith and McKeel. The "Herding Grounds were not confined to Harmon, but extended to the south, east and west, to the Green River Country. The practice was to round up the animals from different farmers, in-the spring time, herd and care for them and to return them in the fall, a small charge being made for the service.

The records read, "In 1872, trains began to run and business houses to muitiply, George P. Weeks was first town treasurer in 1857. In 1854 I.H. Perkins was the first carpenter and in l858 I.H. Perkins, J.S. Tuttle,and George Stillings were the first Treasurers. J.L. Porter ran the first Sorghum mill in 1863 and in 1864 L.M, Rosebrook opened the first Blacksmith shop. The site was on the east side of the road opposite the first postmaster, and also had a shoe and boat repair shop. C.K. Shelhamer was Station Agent, Buttler and Edson handled a hardware, lumber and paints, C.K. Shelhamer also dealt in implements and coal. E.W. Cusher ran the grain elevator and Doctor F.W. Lee was the Physician end surgeon.

In 1881 Swan and Berling established a creamery in Harmon and in 189l, it was taken over by the Kugler Brothers as much land was undrained, dairying was a profitable enterprise end great quanities of milk was hauled into Harmon each day and processed, separated and the cream churned into butter. In the l89O's drainage districts were organized and the dredging machines soon made outlets for tile drains. Prairie Grass, Bullrushes flags and other marsh plants were plowed under giving place to cornfields and grains.

The first settler planted trees to break the terrific gales as the wine swept across the Prairie and also to serve as fences. They discovered that green willow branches stuck into the ground would soon become trees. Some years later, farmers were cutting down the miles of Willows as they interfered with tile drainage. Many trees were sawed and cut into stove lengths for a summer burning in the cook stoves. Today no self respecting farmer would waste his time and energy cutting Willows for stove burning.

Town elections here 50 years ago were much more interesting than they are today. We recall one election when there was a high spirited contest. That evening following the election, the successful candidate put on a liquid refeshment. The liquid refreshments flowed quite freely and the boys became quite happy about it all. In their exuberence of joy, they commenced wrestling in the streets. This happened before the streets were paved and the ground was wet and muddy. Onlookers became excited fearing the contest was too rough and entered the fray as "Peace Makers" only to be misunderstood. When the amusing affair ended, not one of the participants had been injured, not even a bite, not even a scratch, but they were all covered with the mud of the rich Harmon soil. As a leading successful candidate passed the gay celebration at its height, a lady implored him to stop the fight. He replied "I have been fighting all day and I am not equal to the occasion."

Today there are few contests for office and with the gals, voting, the election is a pleasant social affair. At present in the Department of Politics, Hubert D. Considine is our Representative in the General Assembly, Harmon Supervisors, William J. Kranov, Assessor, Thomas Drew, Town Clerk, Charles McCarter, Commissioner of Hiways, Edward Garland Jr. Harmon Village was incorprated in 1901. Todays Chief Executive Officers are; Mayor David Butler, City Clerk, Emmit Drew, Treasurer Roy Swab, Alderman, Owen Blackbrun, Wayne Stonesifer, Lester Wilstead, Charles McCarter and Carle Boehle.

By the year, l946, the Greenwood Cemetery where many early settlers were buried had degenerated into the semblance of a deserted country grave yard. Fence enclosures were down, allowing livestock to invade the yead and damage monuments in some cases. During wet periods the roadway to the cemetery from the hiway was muddy and almost impassable. A group of interested people and citizens led by Mr. and Mrs. I.H. Perkins, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Rhodenhuagh, Mrs. Hettie McKeel, Mr. and Mrs. William Dietz, Del Eakle, Charles Parker and John Siebens. They got busy and the transformation was amazing. Undesirable trees were cut and burned and a tool house was constructed. The lawn was trimmed and unsightly brushes were eradicated and a strong durable, wire fence was built around the cemetery. Now My Dear People, and readers, now can't you see what some people can, will and must do, to make their city, village and town more beautiful, more respected, more loved by the county. Mrs. Hattie McKeel set out some Evergreen trees, and the lane was graveled from the hiway to the cemetery. These dedicated grounds are now very attractive. May their Souls and all the Souls of the faithful departed rest in Eternal Happiness, and may Perpetual Light shine upon them forever.

The most outstanding and beautiful landscape in Harmon in l853 was the previously mentioned lake on the shore of which John D. Rosebrook settled. Ice was made there each winter by the settlers for their summer use. Everyone had their individual ice house. It was a most delightful spot for entertainment. It was boating, swimming, skating, hunting and fishing were enjoyed by the young and the aged. The lake was the scene of many religious baptismal services. John L. Porter wrote, "Baptismal by immersion in the lake were as follows in the winter of 1858 - 1859 , Mr. and Mrs. Isaac J. Curtis, Mr. and Mrs. William Woodard, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Woodard, with the Reverend Francis Smith minister of Harmon officiating. In October 1884, Mary Hettie Druzilla and Carrie Mechem, Emma Clotworthy, Sarah Russell and Mrs. Joseph Keiffer with the Reverend Amos Miller, M.E. Minister of Rock Falls officiating.

This body of water was removed by the tile drainage about l896, and the land now produces grain crops.

There are many descendents of Harmon. Pioneers still living today who have helped make this locality the friendly town it is. Among these are Charlotte Porter Ross, daughter of the late John L. Porter, George Long, descendent of John D. Long Sr., Hettie McKeel, wife of Arthur McKeel, Juluis McKeel, great grandson of Solomon McKeel.

According to the late J.L. Porters recording, the first regular Protestant Church services were held under the Wesleyan Methodist organization. First meeting were held in "Old Lake School House". Later the division known as the Como Circuit was formed and at that time this was recognized as including Palestine Grove, Harmon, Montmorency, Hume, and Fairfield. In l87O, however, Harmon was set off by itself and the Reverend John Pinckney was named the first Pastor in Harmon. In 1868 a movement was started for a new church building. In l869 the cornerstone was laid by the Reverend Francis Smith. The first preacher was Mrs., H. E. Hayden. This building was not fully paid for and was soon to be sold. For many years it was known as the old Woodmen Hall.

We owe the following story to Mrs. Cora Wadsworth of Dixon. All the children in the Pioneer Vroman family were fine singera. They, as well as Gertrude Hill, daughter of the late George Hill, Jennie Porter, daughter of the late J.L. Porter, historian, and Cora Swan Wadsworth, descendent of John Swan, made a fine choir. They sang for both sacred and secular meetings and entertainment, the funds going for constuction of a new church. One evening one of these noteworthy entertainments was being held, a popular musical number for the times was "Boots", and these lively young women put different sizes of boots on their hands and when they came to the chorus, they would duck down and hold up their hands, so that it looked like they were standing on their heads. On the last verse, the stage wire broke and the curtain fell leaving that old building at the unexpected finale.

Amoung the men in the old church choir, was the late George Hill, the Parsons Boys and other sons of early Pioneers, whose voices harmonized beautifully. Later in the now standing Methodist Church, came George Ross, Elmer Hill, Henry Vroman and Alf Parsons, all grandsons of those same Pioneers. People who had done so much to establish and keep alive the spark of Methodism which is in Harmon today. The present building was erected in 1881, and servcies have been held continuously since then. The present Pastor is the Reverend J. Frank Anderson.

One very noteworthy event in the history of the Methodist Church occured a few months before A.B. Clothsworthys death. He and Mrs. Clothsworthy gave the lovely Communion Table in the name of his minister, father and mother, the late A.B. Clothsworthy Sr. The dedication services occurred during the Pastorate of the Reverend Webster Hobb.

The history of Harmons Catholic church begins with the establishment of the Parish of St. Flannens on Oct. 5, l9O8. The Reverend D.E. McGrath was the first Resident Priest. Previously, Harmon had been known as a mission of St. Patricks of Dixon. The first church building was erected in 1871 and the Rectory in 1898. Both were burned to the ground, December 25, 1911. A Building Committee was appointed right away to devise plans for a new church building. Money was finally raised and the present site was obtained. In August of 1912, excavation was begun and on September 4, of the same year, the cornerstone was laid by the Right Reverend P.J. Muldoon, Bishop of Rockford. Father P.H. McKeown was appointed Priest and took immediate charge. In the fall of the same year, the Rectory was started and was completed April 1, 1913.

St. Flannens Catholic Church and Rectory are of brick and modern in every respect. They were dedicated May 26, 1914. The present membership is over 400. In October 1907, the church was established as well as Holy Cross Cemetery. The Reverend Father D.A. Murphy is the present Priest.

So, I will say my farewell to Harmon, part of the Red Skins Paradise.

Source: Pioneers of Dixon, Lee County & Vicinity by Bill M. Tyne

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The Township of Harmon was set off from Marion by resolution of the Board of Supervisors, at its March meeting, 1867. The petition asked to have tbe town named Dayton, but the Board took the responsibility of substituting the present name. The writer has been informed, by one who ought to know, that this name was given the township in honor of Harmon Wasson, the son of Benjamin Wasson of Amboy Township.

In 1853 John D. Rosbrook, with three sons. settled at the lake, a clear body of water covering nearly forty acres on the northwest quarin the village was built by J. M. Ja ter of Section 25. There was no other dwelling nearer than eight miles The following spring the two remaining sons came. In 1854 Mrs. Robert Tuttle, a widowed sister of Mitchell Rosbrook, with her family of five children, settied in the township. During the same year came Thomas Sutton and settled with his large family one mile south of the lake. This family eventually, including nineteen children, became conspicuous in that part of the country, not only for their number but for their rugged and boisterous methods. In 1854 Mitchell Rosbrook, with his wife and five children, joined the settlement. To him is credited the founding of the first Sunday school in Harmon, it being very successfully conducted in John D. Rosbrook’s granary.

The first two elections in the township were held at the house of Mitchell Rosbrook. James McManus was elected Supervisor; Rosbrook, Town Clerk; and George Stillings, Constable. In the winter of 1856-7, Austin Balch came with his wife and two children. About this time the Brills reached the settlement, and also Patrick Grogan. The years 1856 and ‘57 witnessed large accessions. Joseph Julien, a brother of Anton and John; E. A. Balch, C. H. Seifken, Israel Perkins, James Porter, George Stillings and Charles Craby were among the early settlers. In 1855 Lewis Hullinger settled on the southwest quarter of Section 7.

In Harmon in pioneer days wild game abounded. We have it on good authority that one hunter brought down one hundred geese in a single day, and that another shot sixty six mallard ducks at one discharge, a drove of thirteen deer were chased by men on horseback past the Rosbrook place, and five were killed after pursuit of several miles. These statements seem a little incredible now, but are well authenticated. One of the early settlers ventures to say that it was not an uncommon sight to see a thousand acres covered with sandhill cranes a bird which has now almost disappeared.

In 1856 a drove of 5,000 Texas steers were driven through Harmon on their way to Chicago. The summer had been consumed on the drive. In 1857, 2,000 very large, fat hogs were also driven through the town, but headed westward.

Village of Harmon— The village of Harmon was platted, March 15, 1872, for Joel H. Wicker, Charles G. Wicker, Jonas S. Meekling and Alonzo Kinyon. The first elevator ques & Bro., and is now operated by the Neola Elevator Company. The second elevator was built by O. E. McIntyre and is now operated by the Atlas Elevator Company. The third was built, and is now operated by Frank Hettinger.

The Wesleyan Methodist Church was organized, September 20, 1862, Rev. J. Pinkney being the first pastor. The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1871, Rev. Rive being the first pastor, The Catholic church was built about 1874, and has been recently remodeled and repaired. It had no resident priest until it was made an independent parish about four years ago, under the pastorate of Father McGrath. Father Ryan was his successor and is now in charge. Prior to the establishment of the village the Wesleyan Methodists had a church building which is now used, for a town hall. In 1882 the Methodist Episcopal Society erected their present church.

Sam Boyer, now of Dixon, started the first store in the new town, and Hempstead & Van Alstine the second general store. The first school house to be built after the village was platted was located where the present one stands. This was followed by a larger frame building, which was consumed by fire in the early part of the winter of 1899. In its place was erected, in the summer of 1900, the present brick structure, which does credit to the community.

The population of the entire township was 840 in 1890, and 936 in 1900, as shown by the Government census.

Transcribed by Rays Place
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell. Munsell Publishing Company Chicago 1904.

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