Much of Hopewell township was heavily wooded hills and head-high grasses. It was an ideal landscape for all kinds of game, deer, turkey, rabbits, raccoons, wolves, milk and waterfowl and was a hunters paradise. Even after the county was well settled, it still retained much of its early attraction for hunters.
George Wagner was the first settler, arriving in 1830. Other early settlers were Feazel, Hall, Forbes, Bullman, Russell, Sawyer, Antrim, Broaddus and Wier. Forbes raised Short-Durham cattle. The Sawyers raised Poland China swine. The Jesse Sawyer cabin was one where Indians liked to visit. In return for meals, they would bring game and wild honey.
The first grinding mill in Marshall county was set up in Hopewell township in 1830. It was an outdoor affair consisting of home-made millstones set on a stump. It did little more than crack the corn, but was better than stomping the grain by hand in a hollow stump.
Hopewell township has no towns. However, it once had a hamlet called Held that was situated on the Chicago and Alton railroad five miles east of Lacon. It had a small store, an elevator, stockyard, blacksmith shop and a lumber yard. Conrad John Held helped form the Hopewell Grain and Coal Company and the elevator was built about 1902. He built the general store on his property in 1904. John Fehring operated the elevator and Fred Folken managed the store.
In 1921, Fehring sold the elevator to L.A. Peteres and his son Harold of Lacon. They built a shed beside the elevator where they sold lumber, nails, woven wire and some livestock feed. The Folkens gave up the general store in 1929 and the building was torn down. The Peters changed the elevator office and sold groceries there. In 1944, the Peteres discontinued their bunsiness and the elevator was taken down. The buildings are now gone. All that is left of Held is a historical marker where Held used to be.
Held News Items
February 18, 1904
Taken From the Henry Republican
The latest from Held is that the town is sure to boom in the spring. A distillery, not satisfied with Peoria, will move to Held - in some farmer's coat pocket. A packing house is coming sure. Armour & Co. will soon be out of business. A pearl button factory, which we sniped away from "Budd" Ong on Wenona, will come. A paper mill will use all the straw raised in these diggings. And why not? Held has had, too, an increase in population. A few days ago the old cat brought in four measly little young ones by the scruff of the neck and deposited them in a bushel basket. John Fehring is overjoyed.
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