Putnam County, Illinois History and Genealogy
Magnolia and Magnolia Township News

1841 Sketch of Magnolia

Illinois Free Trader, Ottawa Ill., April 16, 1841
Magnolia, Putnam Co., Ills.

We had intended for some time to give a full account of the location, advantages, &c., of this pleasant village and a friend there had promised to furnish us with the particulars; but as these have not yet come to hand we have hitherto been prevented from doing so. But having several times passed through the place we can from our own observation bear full testimony as to the beauty of its location and appearance.

It is situated in a fine large grove, surrounded by many as beautiful farms as we have ever seen. It lies about twenty-five south of this place on the road to Springfield, sixteen miles from Peru and six miles east of the Illinois river. The population is now about 300, and, we are informed, rapidly increasing. There is one steam saw mill in operation in the place and it has three or four stores and one public house of entertainment. This last is kept by our friend Dr. J. C. Morrill, whom, were it necessary, we could freely recommend as one of very finest kind of landlords.

The Doctor is a native of New Hampshire, but moved to this state from Danville, Vermont, where he had repeatedly been sent to the legislature, of which he was an active and influential member. His friendly treatment of all travelers who sojourn with him, have made his house a favorite place, and we would take this occasion to advise all traveling the road by all means not to pass by without giving the Doctor a call. After being once accommodated by him, they will no longer submit to the shameful imposition of a large portion of the stage houses between Peru and Springfield, whilst within half a day's ride of Magnolia. If they do, they think less of their money and of good accommodations than we do, that's all.

The Explosion of Beck's Sawmill

The Putnam Standard
Friday, April 20, 1860

Sad Calamity

Between 2 and 3 o'clock on Friday last, the boiler in Beck's sawmill near Magnolia in this county exploded making a perfect wreck of the building and mortally wounded Henry Hill, the engineer, and severely scalding Lewis Beck, the proprietor and his son, Harrison Beck.

The face of Hill was burned to a crisp and from his neck, arms and body; the skin came off as the clothing was removed. In the left temple there was a wound apparently produced by a sharp missile penetrating the brain. He was entirely unconscious from the time he was removed from the ruins of the mill until the time of his death at 11 o'clock next day.

Lewis Beck is severely scalded but we think there is but little doubt of his recovery. Harrison Beck has some severe scalds but none threatening any danger. A little son of Mr. Werts was slightly injured. He was playing near the mill at the time.

But some ten minutes before the explosion, 5 or 6 children were in the mill. The explosion reversed the engine and blowed Beck's son through the roof of the mill about 30 feet up on the side of the hill. Mr. Hill, the engineer was buried on Sunday last with Masonic honors.

Miscellaneous News Items From Magnolia Illinois

April 8, 1875
Taken  From the Henry Republican


Last Saturday a straight democratic ticket was put in the field and elected without opposition. Wm. Haws Jr., elected school director. The election tomorrow will probably case more excitement.

Mr. Beem, of the firm of Fisk & Beem, Ottawa, has been here recently and received a number of ordes of suits of slothing.

Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Mr. Fawcett of Princeton, lectured both day and night time to the Free Masons.

H. K. Smith of the Magnolia News, has finished a crayon likeness of Joseph Railey for the Masons. It is indeed life-like and finely executed. Henry’s artistic tastes are so strong that we hazard the opionion, he will finally be compelled to aboandon the plow and follow his natural aesthetic inclinations.

Mrs. Joel Haws is lying in very critical condition with lung disease. Miss Mattie Evans has been suffering severely for a week with inflammatory rheumatism. Over this way we think that never before was there so much rheumatism as prevails now.

Last Tuesday was so warm that Mose Dugan brought Jennie over for a few hours. We hope that pleasant weather will bring back her usual health.

June 1, 1882
Taken  From the Henry Republican

Local Correspondence - Magnolia

Although three weeks have passed since our last writing, yet locals are scarce and hard to pick up.

Last Wednesday, Capt. Haws, accompanied by Dr. Gaylord, went to Chicago for the purpose of having a cataract removed from each of his eyes. He returned home the following Saturday, apparently benefitted by the operation. His eyes are are yet sore and tender from the surgeon's instrument, but he says that he can see better than before. The shock on the system was not enough to prostrate him. He did not take anything to benumb the senses, but set in the chair while Dr. Jones performed the work. Pretty good for 82 years of age.

Wm. Moffitt, who is attending commercial school in Chicago, is home for a short time.

Miss Mary Curtis of Onarga is visiting at Dr. Taylor's and other friends in Magnolia.

Miss mcGinnis will close her department of the Magnolia school next Tuesday, Decoration day.

John C. Rolley started for England week before last. He left his grocery store in charge of Miss Lou Ellis.

Orlando Dent is expected home in a few days.

Miss Hattie Fyffe is expected in June, borth from California.

Mrs. Hubbard is replenishing her stock of millinery and Jim Mitchell his groceries.

Ed. McCabe and wife have settled down in Magnolia; he is blacksmithing at his father's old stand.

Josiah Spencer and his daughter May of Great Bend, Kan. Are here to stay through the summer.

Mrs. Poe has returned after visiting several months in St Louis.


June 16, 1881 - Magnolia
Taken From the Henry Republican

The first steam train passed through Magnolia one day last week. David L. Travis was conductor and well as proprietor. In passing through it created quite a sensation and stir among the natives. It was destined for D. F. Griffin's timber where a large lot of saw logs had been hauled together awaiting the arrival of David's iron horse.

The Henry Republican, Henry Illinois, March 29 1883
Two weeks more and our school closes, except the primary department, which will be continued two months by Miss McGinnis, teacher.
Johnson J. Coe is in very poor health.
Hon. J. T. Thornton came home last Saturday from Springfield, for the first time this winter. He is doing all he can to get up a road law, and the law on drainage, but he has but little hopes of accomplishing anything like a change from the present laws.
Dr. Taylor's brother Eben of Jacksonville is a caller this week.
S. W. Cook was suddenly called to Bloomington to the sick bed of his son Frank.
Wm. Haws and T. J. Stainbrook are making maple sugar and syrup these days.
Charley Stainbrook, the artist of Chicago is here on a visit.
The Hartsock saw mill is about to be moved from here and set up near where the Kester mill once stood.

Magnolia News
The Henry Republican, April 26, 1883
Our school election for one director to serve three years came off last Saturday; Edward Spencer is the lucky man.
Last Friday, Benj. Turner of Evans township lost his youngest daughter with scarlet fever.
Last Saturday morning John Haws got his arm broke while handling a colt.
Last Wednesday evening Miss Mary Spencer was married to a young man from Great Bend, Kan.
Mrs. Beatrice McIntosh, daughter of Mr. D. P. Fyffe, has been under the care of Dr. Gaylord for the past few days, but is now improving.
It looks now as if there might be a big time over the estate of the late Moses Dugan.

Henry Republican, Henry IL, May 10, 1883
This Monday morning J. C. Gurnea, wife, wife's mother, Mrs. Zillah Fyffe and little daughter, took train at La Sale for Greenfield and St. Joe, Mo., Council Bluffs, Iowa and Waymour, Dakota. They expect to be gone about two months.
Jessie Ong of Chicago has been visiting among old acquaintances in Magnolia the past week.
T. J. Stainbrook went to Chicago last week with a carload of cattle.
Johnson J. Coe's health is in a very feeble condition.
The heirs of John Van Horn, have shown great respect to their deceased father by placing a monument at his grave, costing about $400. It is the finest monument in the Magnolia cemetery.
Josiah Spencer had his coat stolen by a tramp while working n Abner Boyle's barn at Lostant. Mr. S. had to walk over to the clothing store to make himself comfortable.
Miss Emma Gurnea commenced teaching the Theirry district Monday morning.
T. F. Lash is building a large addition to his store. Now, if someone would bring in a good stock, it would be better for both, than it is now for one.
Samuel Van Horne contemplates starting for the far west about next Monday.

The Henry Republican, Henry Illinois, June 14, 1883
Thomas Haws had a serious time with the roof off of his house through a protracted rain. However it is all right now. He will have a fine house when it is finished.
T. J. Stainbrook has bought a car load of cattle to send to his farm in Kansas.
Mr. Johnson is very poorly. His brother Oliver of Missouri is here with him.
Hon. J. T. Thornton was home a few days on sick furlough. He has returned to his post at Springfield.
The 30th ult., the graves of our dead heroes were decorated. Every person that stepped outside, though living, were decorated with water from the clouds. Rev. H. Brink and wife were here from Cornell. Mr. Brink gave a soul stirring address at the church on the occasion.
The Mills tile factory is doing good work.
Mrs. Hubbard is doing more business in her millinery shop, than any season for some time.
Last Saturday, 9th inst., the executive committee on reunion of the teachers and pupils of olden times, for the school district of Magnolia, Putnam County, Ill., met at the hall and appointed John Swaney chairman and O. F. Taylor secretary. George Monier, one of the old notable teachers, had been written to inviting him to be the speaker on that occasion, which was answered favorably. It is expected that many other short speeches will be made by distinguished parties. A special invitation is given to all teachers and pupils who ever taught or attended the Magnolia school. A general invitation is given to everybody old and young, far and near. One of the old pupils Mrs. E. Frazee, daughter of Thomas Patterson deceased, living in Concordis, Kansas, reported in person last fourth of July; hope she will this time. This feeble article is intended as a notice to the reader and a direct invitation to attend with all their friends and neighbors, this grand reunion. It is to be a basket picnic, on the same spot of lsat years. It is to be held at Magnolia, July 4, 1883. A free bus will be run from the grounds to the hotel for the accommodation of those wishing to patronize the same.
Wish it understood that we insure property against fire, lightning, wind storm and tornado. Mason Wilson received $80 for his cow killed by lightning the other day in his pasture.
Mr. J. J. Coe is still very poorly. Thos. Oldham is also on the sick list.
Mr. Elias Wright of Henry is calling on old acquaintances here. Mr. Wright came to Magnolia in 1839. His first work was helping build the Magnolia hotel.

The Henry Republican, Henry IL, June 28, 1883

Thomas Oldham is laying in a very critical condition, with no hopes of recovery.
Last Tuesday night, the store of T.F. Lash in which the Magnolia post office is kept, was entered by burglars, about $50 was taken. The mail matter in the office was badly torn up and scattered. Some of the contents of the safe were found under a small bridge about half mile out. No clue to the robbery yet heard from. They took tools from Geo. W. Kellers shop to operate with. Mr. Keller thinks they were very man or they would have furnished their own tools and not taken his.
Tomorrow J. C. Gurnea will leave for his farm in Kansas, with two car load of cattle, one for himself and the other for T. J. Stainbrook.

The Henry Republican, Henry IL, July 5, 1883

As we understand, while Dr. Penelton was coming in from the country last Saturday, he raised an umbrella behind his beautiful white horse, which caused it to run throwing the doctor out cutting a bad gash near his eye. The horse having things its own way, overtook Mr. Park on a bridge near the termini of the British lane, smashed up Mr P's buggy, causing two teams belonging to Geo. Everett to run away and one team belonging to James Fyffe. The three teams were working in the cornfield. The doctor finding it necessary to have his wound stitched, his partner Dr. Gaylord being on a visit at Pontiac, and there being no physician here except Dr. Taylor, he was compelled to go to a woman and get his wound stitched.
Rev. R. N. Morse preached the funeral of Mr. Joel Haws. It was the largest attendance we have ever seen in the county.
Mr. Johnson Coe is still growing weaker. The same with Thomas Oldham, with no hopes of recovery.
Capt. Haws is quite weak and feeble, does not get out of the yard any more.
T. J. Stainbrook has legally adopted a little girl.
Mr. Morrille and family have gone to the northwest, except Ella, she has gone to Canada.
Since writing the above, Mr. J. J. Coe passed from earth about 10 a.m., July 2d; was buried the 3d at 2 p.m.

The Henry Republican, Henry, IL, July 12, 1883

A funny little thing to one who saw it. An old lady called to see Mr. Morrelle. He took her out in the yard to see his fine Jersey calf that was tied with a long rope. The calf seemed to think it had stood long enough, started to run around a circle, and Mr. Morrille and the lady happening to be on the wrong side of the rope, were both piled up on the grass together. The first thing after getting up they looked around to see if anyone saw them. They went in the house and suppose they told Mrs. Morille that the calf done it.
About the 25th of June last, Mr. S. B. Mitchell received $4468.50 from the Mason's benevolent society, located at Princeton, for the benefit of the surviving heirs of Orlando Dent, deceased.

H. T. Fairchild of Magnolia Mail Sub-contractor
The Henry Republican, Henry, IL, July 26, 1883
Mr. H. T. Fairchild of Magnolia, is the sub-contractor for another four years of the mail routes between Henry and Tonica. He has employed J. T. Ellis by the month as driver of the hack between Henry and Magnolia. He is a trusty man and messages and consignments will be faithfully attended to. Passengers will be carried between the points at reasonable rates.

The Henry Republican, Henry IL, August 2, 1883

Dr. McIntosh and wife are very busy packing to start next Monday for Hastings, Neb.
About all the farmers are cutting their oats.
L. C. Morrille, J. R. Mitchel and Ira Coe left yesterday morning for Sheldon, Iowa.
The country is exceedingly healthy, yet Dr. Taylor is exceedingly busy at times.

Taken From the Putnam Record
April 13, 1899
Magnolia - April 10

Mrs. Will Moffitt and sons are visiting relatives in Washburn.

Mrs. Johnson has moved into the house with Miss Lizzie Keller.

Mr. Tomlin of Clear Creek visited in town a day or two last week.

Dr. Fred Taylor and wife, of Florid spent Sunday with Dr. Taylor, Sr.

Mrs. Dr. Taylor and Cora Dent were trading in Henry last Wednesday.

Miss Gertrude Ramsey spent Saturday with Will Brenn and family at Oxbow.

Mr. and Mrs. James Harville contemplate going to housekeeping in the near future.

Taken From the Putnam Record
April 20 1899

Magnolia - April 17

T. F. Lash is very much improved at present.

H. B. Ramage visited in Wenona last Monday

Miss Phoebe Bowers of Henry is sewing at Dr. Taylors this week.

Mr. and Mrs. James Harville have gone to housekeeping in the Defenbaugh house.

L. C. Hinckle of Peoria, visted Magnolia and vicinity a few days last week.

The date of the Commencement exercise has been changed from May 5 to 4.

The Epworth league will give a social at the home of R. W. Spencer next Friday evening.

Mrs. Eads who has been visiting he mother, Mrs. Bowers, the past few weeks returned to her home in Missouri.

The teacher's institute was held Friday and Saturday.  A pleasant and profitable time was spend.  Attendance was good.  Rev. Evans of Granville, gave a very interesting discourse Friday evening on the subject: What We Should Read.

Putnam Record, Hennepin, Illinois
May 18, 1899

Magnolia - May 8

Miss Cora Dent is visiting in Lostant a few days.

Mrs. Clifford and Joe Haws were in town on business last week.

Mrs. Dent and daughter Cora, Miss Gertrude Ramsey and Mrs. Taylor visited Florid last week.

Mrs. Bobbitt and daughter, Mrs. R. W. Spender and Bessie Roberts started for Iowa Monday to make a short visit.

Putnam Record, Hennepin, Illinois
October 5, 1899

Magnolia - Oct. 2

John Davidson spent last Sunday in town.

Mrs. T. F. Lash visited with friends in Toluca last week.

Mr. and Mrs. James Thornton attended the state fair last week.

Mr. J. D. Fyffe, wife and niece of Chicago, spent last Thursday with friends in town.

Mr. Foster, of Wenona, and a gentleman from New York, were in town Saturday.

The Zebley twins have been quite sick the past few days, but are improving at present.

Mr. Wm. Paxson and wife of Great Bend, Kansas, are visiting Mr. Paxson's parents.

Mrs. Geo. Kellar and daughters, Bessie and Mary, and Messrs., Harry Kellar and Otto Rogers, spent last Saturday with friends in Magnolia.


Taken From the Henry Republican
May 6, 1875

Magnolia is the oldest town in Putnam county, and for many years was one of the important points in the state. It’s first settler was Capt. William Haws, who opened a farm about a mile north of the town in 1826. John Knox was the first one to settle upon the town site some time after. The town was laid out by Thomas Patterson in May, 1836, the country being pretty well settled about it. Many old houses are still landmarks of ye olden time. The Morrille hotel was once a prominent institution, when a daily stage passed through, making Magnolia one of its important stopping places. It became an incorporated town in 1859, and Elias Wright of this city, was elected one of its first trustees. In the manufacture of agricultural implements Magnolia once done a good business, and it claims the credit of manufacturing the first reapers made in the state. But this glory has now departed and Magnolia is now a quiet abode of wealthy families and the trading point of farmers in the vicinity.

Its chief drug store is presided over by the Fyffe sisters, Miss Hattie being familiarly known to our readers as correspondent for The Republican, and one whose culture and enthusiasm will be usefully employed for our readers. These ladies are having a fine trade, and doing well. George Hulme is reducing his stock with a view of going to Barton county, Kansas, next fall, where he goes into merchandising. Dr. Wilcox, a partner of Dr. Gaylord, soon removed to Champaign. William Haws, Jr., lives in town, and has a fine residence and a good farm.

The farm of Hon. James T. Thornton (the Dr. Ashley place) lies contiguous to the village.  Here 300 acres lie in a body, well fenced and watered, with good orchard, pastures, and thoroughbred stock, which brings in to its owner a handsome income. A thoroughbred cow he values at the least figure $1000 and some young cattle in same ratio. In this particular branch Mr. Thornton takes great delight, and has every facility for stock raising.  He is a thrifty farmer and has things in shape to suit him. Dinner time brought us up at his hospital board. Mrs. Thornton done her part generously in the way of entertainment, setting before us one of those capital dinners hungry men can do justice to. Her home plants, of which she had a large collection, had been preserved from freezing, through our fearful winter, and blossoms were visible among them through the entire season.

Mr. Thornton accompanied us to the stately mansion of G. S. Parks, the millionaire, a mile north of town. Here lies 400 acres in a body; another large tract, he owns near Wenona, and two greater tracs still in Missouri and Texas. Mr. Parks is improving his house with a front addition which will be elegant when completed. Mrs. Parks had been an invalid for some years, but glad to find her improving. We found Mr. Parks engaged in a new orchard, setting out 1200 trees of some 120 varieties, superintending the details in person.  He has an orchard of 40 acres near by this one, and large orchards in the other states. He is a good manager, and has great physical strength and energy for his business. He is also a large stock raiser, as farmers generally are in this region. He was formerly a Kansas border man, had some hair breadth escapes in Texas, and being an editor in former times, and resting under the exploit of having a press mobbed and thrown into the Missouri river, has an experience that will be interesting for the biographer some day.

All along our route farmers were busy at their plows, making the necessary preparations for corn planting. Took supper with Mr. and Mrs. Henry K. Smith, the former, editor of the Magnolia news. Mr. Smith has a cottage home, and possesses a handsome farm of 160 acres, as well located as any in Putnam county. He has just erected a large barn, very convenient, and which he has long needed. he has a pleasant home, a library, and a wife and three children to complete his measure of happiness which is full. Opposite is G. M. West’s a substantial farmer.

Driving homeward, we “took down” Quaker lane, passing Carver Tomlinson, another thrifty, prosperous Quaker. He has a fine house. The Smith homestead is also adjoining.  The meeting house of the yearly meeting is also under contract, and is located on this lane. The foundations are being constructed, and the house is to be used only for the annual general meeting of the Friends. It being off from a railroad will necessitate transportation by teams of the delegates from the stations, and entertainment free, which the members here very freely offer. John and David Swaney, Mrs. Griffith, and others here are prosperous and well to do farmers. The Clear creek Quaker church is located near Mrs. Giffith’s and further east is the Clear creek Presbyterian church, both of which have flourishing societies. L. I. Beck ahs a spacious farm house near the latter church, and the Clear creek school is one of the best and stands as high as any in the county.

Putnam county is an old settled region, and its farmers are sterling men and prosperous.  Our visit was short with many of them, but it was agreeable and delightful, and we shall be glad to repeat it, and call upon those who we had to pass by this time.


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