A Visit to Whitefield, Saratoga and La Prairie Townships
Taken From the Henry Republican
Out In The Country - Letter Number III
Large farming is one of the element characteristic of Whitefield, Saratoga and La Prairie through which we have passed during the three weeks of this genial month. Upon every hand are 160 acre farms, with large residences, barns and cribs, and these are supplied with large families, extensive herds and immense grain crops. The largest we have met with so far is that of Robert Monier & Brothers’ in Saratoga, who own some 1800 acres, and who do their work upon an extensive scale. A very large barn holds a large number of work horses, and pens holding a very extensive herd of hogs from year to year. Mr. Monier is the moving spirit, and they are accumulating no inconsiderable possessions. A brother of the family is now in Iowa, looking at the country, with a view of further investment in land for farm use. Their pork receipts last fall exceeded $3000.
Eighty acre farms are common, but those containing 160 are quite as common, and a great many cultivate 200 and over. Joel Carson has a fine farm, and is a successful agriculturist - in other words, he makes farming pay. And this might be said of a host of others who settled in this region many years ago, and who have got through the struggle of “commencement”, and are now reaping their reward. Another successful man in this township is John Hatfield, who has an extensive field of corn, and who is rushing on to “betterment’s” as fast as the good fortune of the times will permit. And we might continue to note the prosperity of farmers of Saratoga, and shall do so at a future time.
In Whitefield a beautiful residence surplants the cabin of Eddy Ketchum, and the family are enjoying life with modern conveniences. The sewing machine having found a useful place in the setting room, and the croquet quarters upon the green in the yard, with the comforts innumerable all over the house. A Mr. Reed occupies the Stewart brick, which shines with the painter’s touch, both inside and out, and which is actually a beautiful residence. The grounds too are properly adorned, and he is making a fair beginning, replete with beauty and elegance. Kerly Ward too, in this township, has a beautiful place, who has endeavored, as fast as his means would permit, to render it every way charming. We spent one night in his pleasant family, and was very agreeably entertained. One or two of the daughters are absent at school in distant states.
The Chamber’s orchard and farm has only one drawback to it, a place worth living on, and that is a road to get at it. This removing two, three or four pairs of bars to get on to the place is inconvenient, and so troublesome that “pressing” business only will bring people to it. The road to it from the south is incomplete, and its extension from the bars that enter his grounds to the road north, on which the center school house is situated should either be fenced up or bridged and made passable for man and beast. Not is neither. It is a shame to the town instead, and should be put in passable shape. Mr. Chambers is beautifying his house, and we found two of our Henry plasterers engaged in the second story, giving it the firs coat of lime and hair. He takes a great deal of interest in fruit and has a first rate fruit farm.
Wm. Sample, who dwells in peace and contentment, in the coal hollow, spread the cloth of hospitality to us at dinner hour, and his pleasant assistant, who jointed him with her children only a few weeks before, donned the honors of the occasion with a repast that we relished with a keen appetite. Coal digging goes slow in summer, though the dam is requiring a considerable amount just now. Through coal hollow No. 2 were found Byer, Horrocks, Temple, etc., all busy at work mining, living in little houses, blessed with peace, contentment and clear consciences (especially as regards their paper).
In the southwest end of Saratoga the Catholics have a good looking church, which is adorned with a high steeple, and so prominently situated upon a hill that it can be seen for many miles. The Catholic priest of Lacon officiates here once in two weeks. About it is an Irish settlement, consisting of a large number of families, and more are coming. But few American farmers seem to be among them, and those upon the outskirts are selling to accommodate them with places near the church.
Saratoga has also a M. E. church, and is accommodated with churches of other, denominations by buildings located near the line in Whitefield and La Prairie townships. Whitefield is the only town where the churches are huddled into one corner of the town and hardly accommodate anybody, an compel nearly all the church goers to go long distances to church.
The crops need rain in this region. The small grain has suffered very much from the drought, and so has the grass. The corn looks well yet, but whether it will continue its present green under the scorching sun we have had for a few days past is a question of doubt. The farmers are united in their prayers for rain and mush suffering will be the result if their crops fail again this year.
At the Catholic church in Saratoga, on Sunday week prayers were offered for rain for the crops, with much unanimity of sentiment. A heavy rain would be a great blessing to the people of Illinois. Unless we have a corn crop this fall bankruptcy will result in a great many cases.
Taken From the Henry Republican
On invitation of Mr. Ed. Krenz, of the firm of Kleinhenz & Krenz, we accompanied him on Friday last, behind one of G. F. Paskell's best livery span, through Whitefield and Saratoga townships. It was a pleasant day, the most genial and sunny of our spring weather, and possessing those elements of freshness and warmth that always dispose one to enjoy riding.
Passing by the Lombard (Durham) farm, the farmers generally were busy in their fields, some plowing, others cutting stalks, and preparing generally for corn and potato planting. At Crow creek, Mr. Emerick has erected a blacksmith shop for a Mr. Teagarden who is a neighbor and a good workman.
The Union school house across the creek is dilapidated, wanting some repairs, and a coat of paint would give it a more inviting appearance. The Wikoff farm in Whitefield has been improved with new fences and general impreovement in brushing up, showing that granger Wikoff means business. Lyman Hunt and W. G. Barnes have new two-story residences, spacious, and comfortable, just such as farmers want. The Red school house is a land-mark, and its name will probably preclude a change of color, though not on the whole desirable or admirable.
Our first stopping place was at the stables of J. D. McVicker, where the imported Norman horses are kept, and other blooded stock horses. "Worth" was at home, who kindly escorted us to the several stables. He has a large number of fine animals, one of which was a Norman colt likely to make a splendid horse. The stables were filled with all grades of horses from the giant Norman "Rousen," "Denmark," and "Gen. Steele", down to the handsome matched carriage span, for family use. McVicker has a fine residence, and a very elegant farm, and with his interest and devotion to imported and raising of blooded horses, is doing first rate and we take pleasure in noting his deserved prosperity. His tow Normans, "Rouen" and "Gen. Steele" will appear in town next Monday, when all who want to inspect these French horses will have an opportunity to see them in their "best estate."
Geo. Scholes is another well to do farmer, with a beautiful home and ground, large barn, and ample improvements incident to a thrifty farmer. The new town houe is well furnished, inclesed with a high board fence, and evinces that no pains were spared to make it a creditable building. This school district has also a school house that does it honor. Next the town house lives the supervisor elect, M. G. Cotney, happy in the honor thus conferred.
In this vicinity we passed the farms of Robert and David McDonough, whose handsome, commodious, two story residences and grounds make a fine appearance, and do not suggest muchly "lo, the poor granger!"
The goose lake has its compliment of water and marsh, and here is located the well where William Becker, weary of life, drowned himself not long since. The road in this vicinity is wet, made so by promimity to this pond. Could this march be drained, a considerable scope of prairie could be brought under the plow.
Passing down the county line, we met Mr. Bocock, one of the sturdy yeomanry of this section, with whom we exchanged cordial greetings. Turning in on the "Danley road," we found ourselves with keen appetites, accepting an invitation from Mrs. A. P. Webber, who set before us a very acceptable repast, the only singular feature being the absence of potaotes, which crop in common with their neighbors was a failure last year on this farm. Mr. Webber was absent, experimenting with his "Plow Fender" which has proved a success, but which he is thinking may be improved in some respects. Mr. Webber has a very comfortable home, stored with books, a parlor organ, and a pleasant family, with enough of the "wherewithal" to make life, it seems to us, very satisfactory and desirable.
Next was a business call of our companion Krenz at Mr. James Jones, where he had left a Singer machine on trial against a Wilson shuttle. Both agents had made several visits, and the contest was a sharp one, the the Wilson agent had so far improved his chances during a late visit as to get $20 in money payment for his, and it rather looked as if a preference had been made. A sharp interview was the result, and while we accord our friend Krenz the first rank as a sewing machine agent, Mrs. Jones is one of those clear headed, independent ladies that "gives a reason for the hope" that she possesses, and the cross-firing, merits and demerits of both machines, were pretty well ventilated. To several spectators the interview was one of much amusement, and left the impression upon the writer, the lesson, that if you want to "hold" the sale of a sewing machine, get $20 down. We rather think the Wilson shuttle gat the best side of that contest. Mr. Jones has the Jones homestead, containing 200 acres, some of it leased, the remainder of which he is cultivating. When the improvements are made, whih are in contemplation, it will be one of the best places in the township.
We passed Joseph Ray's without stopping, but expect he will give us a blessing when he finds it out. In this district is as fine a school house as there is in the town. H. G. Breese has a large and elegant home. Jonas Divilbiss is snugly fixed, and here we halted just a moment, and shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. D., tasting of as clear a glass of well water as we ever put eyes upon. Samuel, his brother, lives below, and is also well situated to enjoy this life. Tom. Eagleston would make us see his stallion colt, and indeed it is a splendid animal. No wonder Tom is proud.
And so we might speak of all the farmers along our line of travel, most of whom are thrifty and prosperous. Our trip took us over so much ground that we made few stoppages, and though we started early in the day, we got home late at night but much pleased with our ride and grateful to our friend Krenz for the day's jaunt and pleasure.
Taken From the Henry Republican
A few days since, on invitation of Mr. W. G. Snyder, our cattle buyer, and with Mr. P. W. Wikoff, our next sheriff, for company, we rode out behind a spanking span of bays among the farmers in the country. The day was not what we should have live, nor the roads tempting, for they were muddy and rutty. The corn crop was just peeping above the ground. Most of the fields were clean, but the corn was uneven, and along the route we found several replanting. This was done by means of a sharp pointed stick, which punctured Mother Earth, into whose bosom two or three kernels were dropped wherever a hill seemed vacant.
Passing out the Danley road we stopped just a moment at the farm of Kerley Ward. Here he has 160 acres, a comely residence, good orchard, well of water, and general conveniences. A flock of sheep were in the fold, which assured us Mr. W. knew the value of sheep raising, and was finding them a profitable stock.
At the Thomas Drake place on the bluff, a horny handed farmer was grubbing and increasing the plow land of the place. He was getting away with the rooty job rapidly, having got the better of a large tract. No teams at work in the fields of C. W. Barnes and W. Keifer. Too wet of course, as the clay soil holds the late rains. Alfred Diehl had approaching completion a two story, comelty, handsomely constructed house. It had an ell on the west, and a kitchen on back. The windows were curved on top, with blinds a slate color. House not painted yet. He has a good barn and with a quarter section at command is on the road to substantial wealth. Deacon Dunlap had a year's crop of corn unsold. Peter Kline also had an array of cribs of corn that does a farmer's heart good when prices were buoyant. He doesn't feel so well now that the "cruel war is over."
At Homer Thompson's blacksmith shop we halted. Homer has just put in a new polisher for plows, run by horse power, which was doing good work, and would scour them up with the best of 'em. Here we shook hands with Dr. Reeder, Whitefield's skillful physician, Charles Brandenburg, who owns the H. Andrews homestead, and in one of the best farmers in this region; also Dr. Reeder's son, who is farming the Darter place, opposite Homer Thompson's. Homer's shop is like a village store, where everybody congregates, and talk over the news. Harvey Bell occupies the Fleming place, and makes it shine. He owns the Buchanan farm, but the house is tenantless. The Presbyterian church stands in a grove of maples, the trees hiding the church almost, and darkening its audience room with its shape. The yard has only a few graves, which betoken a healthy settlement. James Newman lives on the township line, possessing as rich a quarter as one would wish. The Divilbisses have good farms with clean years and improvements. Henry Breese has large house and plenty of outbuildings. Everything in capital order, and convenient - a thrifty farmer. David Holmes opposite is also doing well and had a pleasant home. Newton Ray has charge of the Zephaniah Bell place whose crops looks well.
We had to stop - we always do - on father Joseph Ray and his good wife. We found Mrs. R. feeding the 200 chickens she had raised this year. Uncle Joseph called us to his barn where he has a two year old stallion that is an admirable animal. It is an English draft hourse, well proportioned and handsome. He has refused $400 for him and says $500 wouldn't be a temptation. He has a good farm, a pleasant, hospitable home, is one of the best men in the township, and is one of the few you can tie to. Ed. Harney has an elegant home, and one of the best barns in the township. Here is no more thrifty farmer than Mr. H.
Our stopping place was at Frank Doyle's. Here two brothers reside having 320 acres between them. They keep three teams and are successful farmers. These boys only lack wives to complete their comforts, which we presume they will find in due time. Here Snyder invaded their pasture, found the animal he wanted, and a purchase was made. During a rain storm of a half hour the team was put out, and we found shelter in "their cottage home" but as it cleared away our horses were spoken for and we were again on the road.
The Saratoga M. E. church was erected in 1868, and in a plain, neat comely edifice, with cemetery in the back ground. Several fine monuments adorn the yard. We pass the place where Thomas Kelly was killed two years ago and observe with what industry and good management the wife and son John direct the farm operations. The stately residence of Mr. George Scholes is passed, whose improvements are hard to beat, and whose place is about the finest in that section. Then we pass Richard Terrell's tastily painted house and fien orchard, Charley Boslough's operations at the Cartmel farm; Festus Parson's residence at the Corners, opposite of which is Henry Applen's blacksmith shop, a very efficient skillful mechanic. Theodore Conover has an ample farm and is doing well, and find ourselves just at dinner time at the residence of Mr. Charles Lombard.
Here we fine "Moses," with whom we discuss the themes of the hour, and have an agreeable visit. Mr. Lombard is one of the leading men of the town, and its efficient assessor, an office he has held for eight years. His work for 1878 was accomplished, and he was now engaged in preparing his books for the county clerk. A sumptious dinner was set before us by Mrs. Lombard, and three hungry men done ample justice to the well ladened table, as well as spending an hour very pleasantly with Mr. and Mrs. L. Their family consists of three children living, five sons having been taken from them, four with diphtheria, who died within eight days of each other 15 years ago, and one, a noble son of 13 years of age, much beloved by his mother, about a year ago, whose loss was severely felt. The Lombard brothers Charles and George, have an undivided 320 acres tract here, which is a productive farm, well stocked and well watered. We know of no grangers who ought to prosper more than they.
On the way home by the county line road, the farms and farm houses all betoken prosperous and thrifty owners.
Royal Olmsted's new residence, located high, could be seen a long distance, and one of the finest in the township.
A. C. Blood was unloading hay on the Townsend farm. Clark Swift, Spencer Ketchem and Jacob Melick have excellent
farms. The latter has 300 sheep, and is a successful grower of wool and mutton. Sewell Townsend has a handsome
residence with all the modern comforts. F. M. Johnson had a two years crop of corn on hand, which he is holding
until the war takes place. He sold 50 fleeces of wool that day to Mr. J. H. Jones of Henry, that netted him $2
per sheep. He says wolves never trouble him, and that sheep raising is the most profitable of the domestic animals.
J. B. Mock has an elegant residence, and enjoys the best life can afford. He farms 90 acres. John Hufnagel and
W. F. Bettis have stores at Whitefield Corners. Mr. H. is about to open another at Boyd's Grove, leaving the one
at the Corners in charge of his son. We stopped a moment at Dr. Reeder's and feasted on some of his immense strawberries,
the Col. Cheney, the largest we have seen. Here he has an office and drug store, and has a wide practice over a
large range of country. Thomas and David Runnells, Elias Herr and Billy Stout have spacious handsome residences.
George Green has also a domicil as well proportioned, as conveniently arranged and as handsomely furnished as any
we know of in the section. Next is ex-sheriff Gregory's home, ample in residence, barn and a great farmer's outfit.
Mrs. Duffield, Henry Clift and John Clawson, old settlers and snug places. Mrs. Francis Gregory has added a kitchen
in her residence, convenient and roomy. John Spencer occupies the old homestead and continues to carry on the 240
farm. Flachtner is ailing with dropsy but is still able to keep an eye on his neighbors and be round. John Kapraun
was reviewing the progress of the new bridge being built near his place as we passed, and would see to it that
it was just what was wanted. Hiram Blossom was not at home, but his farm looked neat and thrifty, his orchard promising,
his crops coming up, and every indication that the harvest will be great. Mr. Snyder securing some dozen cattle
during his jaunt, for his market, and with a delightful as well as successful trip, we drove into town assured
that Illinois has the best farms, the best farmers, more of them, and the most agreeable and successful lot of
men in the country. Of all the vocations, those that tickle mother earth ought to be happy.
The Henry Republican, April 19, 1883
Fears are entertained as to Rev. Seamon ever being able to preach to us again, but we will still hope for the best.
Prof. Watt has gone to Chicago to school; his mother goes to Kansas, thinking a change of climate good for her health.
Mrs. Tom Clark who has been sick so long at her father's in Sparland, is better and has hopes of coming out home soon.
A great many are seriously sick with measles. Newton Maxwell caught cold, and it settled on his lungs, so his sufferings are intense.
J. Coulter is very sick, probably will not recover. The post mistress is also on the sick list.
The Henry Republican, Henry Illinois, June 14, 1883
John Monier took another fine carload of hogs to Chicago last week, also his brothers William and Thomas took a carload of hogs. It seems as though these Moniers know hot to gather in the dollars and make good use of them.
Everybody was glad to see Rev. Seamon looking so well and to welcome him in our midst again; also liked the appearance of the Evanston Colleglate, who is expected to occupy the pulpit until conference.
Some farmers are shelling their corn now and find it has not kep well; it was not matured when picked.
N. J. Webber and family were out ot the parental home Sunday.
The Henry Republican, Henry Illinois, July 19, 1883
Mr. Clarence Watt and student friend Mr. Spellman, took a week's vacation to visit friends. Lady friends, did you say? Yes, that's what we mean.
Mr. Darby and son James contemplate visiting Dakota after harvest with a view to buying land there if they are pleased with the country.
Rev. H. H. Houston has gone east to benefit his health. During his absence, Rev. Seaman occupies his pulpit.
Mrs. Wesley Doyle is quite sick with inflammatory rheumatism. Dr. Ora Thomas is attending her.