Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
The first permanent settlement in Stephenson County was made by William Waddams, in West Point Township, at Waddams Grove, in the summer of 1833, Brewster’s Ferry was established in the spring of 1834 by Lyman Brewster, near Winslow. In the spring of 1835, James Timms (Sr) and family settled in the cabins at Kellog’s Grove. In 1835, Miller Preston, who had evidently prospected in the county in 1833, brought a drove of cattle through from Galliopolis, Ohio, and settled in what is now Harlem Township, on section 22 near the old Galena stage road. Benjamin Goddard and family settled between Freeport and Cedarville in December, 1835, and December 19, that year, William Baker came to the present site of Freeport and built a cabin before the close of the year on the Pecatonica near the present location of the Illinois Central Railroad station.
The first settlers came from the west. The attraction of lead mining was too strong for the time for the simple agricultural and trading life that might be offered in Stephenson County. The tide of settler pioneers swept around or through this county, and went on to Apple River, Galena, Gratiot Grove or Mineral Point.
The first man to build a cabin in Stephenson County was a man named Kirker. It appears that he left St. Louis in 1826 and went to the lead mine regions about Galena. Here he was in the employment of Colonel Gratiot for a year. Then in 1827, he came into Stephenson County and built a cabin at Buffalo Grove. His idea was to establish a trading station there. Nothing is known of Kirker after that. He remained in his cabin less than a year and it is very probable that he left because of impending trouble with the Indians.
As far as the definite records go, the first white man to cross Stephenson County was Colonel E. H. Gratiot. His father had come to the lead mine district soon after the discovery of lead there. In the fall of 1827, Colonel Gratiot with a single companion, traveled on horseback from Jacksonville, Illinois, to Gratiot’s Grove in Wisconsin. After leaving Peoria, Colonel Gratiot and his camp did not see a white man until they reached the Apple River district. There was no ferry at Dixon, and they forded the Rock River at that place. They rode on through Stephenson County by way of Kellog’s Grove.
The outlying settlements of advancing civilization were approaching Stephenson County in all directions from 1825 to 1830. Peoria and Ottawa were settled and the lead mine regions were overflowed from 1824 to 1832. It is believed that there were from seven to ten thousand people in that district in the summer of 1827. Dixon was settled in 1827; Polo in 1831; Rockford in 1835; and Chicago in 1830.
In 1827 several men, including William Baker and the Prestons, came into the county. Their stay was only temporary, but Baker in passing what is now Freeport, was impressed with the value of the point as an Indian trading station. From the discovery of lead about Galena, no doubt, many traders and adventurers crossed the county. It is no more than likely that at times the county was visited by those traders and trappers, a kind of Courier de bois, which formed the skirmish line of advancing civilization. They took no permanent possession of the land. They lived in simple log cabins and only to a very small extent engaged in agriculture. They depended mainly on fish and game and the Indians for a living. These were men of a peculiar type; men who were here to enjoy the solitude of the prairie and the forest, and were not cordial to the first permanent settlers who came near their cabins. In fact, they were more antagonistic to the advance of civilization than the Indians themselves. They were silent men, anti-social, by nature constituted in such a way that they preferred life just beyond the frontier settlements, between the Indian and civilization. As the line of permanent settlements closed about him, he became restless and suspicious and suddenly and quietly, he gathered together his few simple household effects and moved out into the wilds, away from what was to him the monotonous life of permanent civilization. The rule with them was, “When you hear the shot of your neighbor’s gun, it is time to move on west.”
George Flower, in his “History of the English Settlements in Edwards County, Illinois,” gives us the best description of the home of one of these men who was blazing the way for the advance guard of permanent settlements. “Following a trail through a dense grove, I came suddenly on a worm fence enclosing a small field of fine corn, but I could see no dwelling. Looking closely I observed between two rows of corn a narrow path. In twenty steps, I came in sight of a cabin. Looking in the direction of a voice calling back a savage dog about to attack me, I saw a naked man fanning himself with a branch of a tree. What surprised me as I approached him was the calm, self-possession of the man. There was no surprise, no flutter, no hasty movements. He quietly said, he had just come from mill 35 miles away and was cooling himself.
His cabin was 14 feet long, 12 feet wide and 7 feet high. The floor was of earth. There was a bedstead made by driving four posts in the ground. The posts were sprouting and had buds, branches and leaves growing upon them. A small three-legged stool and a rickety clapboard table were the only other furniture. Two heavy puncheons made up the door. The culinary apparatus for this family of seven, consisted of a rim of an old wire sieve furnished with a piece of buckskin, with holes punched through it for sifting the corn meal, a skillet and a coffee pot. There was an axe at the door and a rifle leaned against the wall. The man and his boys wore suits of buckskin and the wife and her three daughters wore dresses of flimsy calico, sufficiently soiled and not without rents. The wife was a dame of some thirty years, square built and squat, sallow and smoke-dried, with bare legs and feet. Her pride was in her two long braids of shining black hair which hung far down her back. Two or three slices of half dried haunch and a few corn pones made us a relishing supper. As night advanced, my host, Captain Birk, reached up among the clapboards and pulled down a dried hogskin for my especial comfort and repose. The entire family of seven slept in the one bed and I lay my hogskin upon the floor and myself upon it.”
Such was the type of home life among these peculiar men who lived always just beyond the borders of our civilization. Yet they served a purpose. They broke out the trails. They were experts with the axe and aided the settlers to build their cabins. Then, when the settlements crowded about them, they moved on to live alone, without neighbors, without law and beyond the irksome restraints of law and civil government. Yet in our midst we have after types of these men, who yield grudgingly, small pittances to public good, unsocial to the end.
The close of the War of 1812 and the crushing defeat of Tecumseh in 1811i had paved the way for the great advance. The Winnebago scare gave a slight check to the advancing tide, and the Black Hawk’s “bad heart,” threats of war, and the war itself kept back the would-be immigrants. The removal of Keokuk and the peaceful Sacs and Foxes into Iowa and the final defeat of Black Hawk and the restriction of his power at the battle of the Bad Axe, August 2, 1832, removed the last formidable barriers to the permanent occupation of Stephenson County. The settlements followed closely on the defeat of Black Hawk. He was defeated August 2, 1832, and in the fall of that year, William Waddams came into the county and selected the site at Waddams Grove as a good place to settle. In the spring of the next year, 1833, as stated above, he built his house and brought his family. William Waddams moved from Jo Daviess County into Stephenson County. He had first lived down on the Ohio River, then in southern Indiana, then near Peoria, Illinois, then in Galena when he built the first water mill, Shullsburg, Wisconsin, Apple River, and White Oak Springs. He was evidently pleased with the country at Waddams, for here he remained till death.
The first permanent home built in Stephenson County was the typical frontier log cabin. It was, in fact, hewed out of the forest. The trees were selected, cut down and shaped into logs, notched near the ends. The rafters and joints were cut and split out of the green saplings. The puncheon floor was of the usual order. The boards were rived on the ground and the window frames were smoothed up by use of a jack-knife. The great fireplace occupied almost all of one end of the house. Such a house could be built, as many of them were, with no other tools but an axe and an auger. A thatched roof log barn was quickly built and afforded protection for grain and stock. Mr. Waddams was a native of the State of New York and Mrs. Waddams of the State of Vermont. There were no schools in the first years of Mr. Waddams life in Illinois but, being interested in the education of his children, he procured the services of a private teacher for his children. He was forty-seven years old when he built the first permanent residence in this county on section 13, in West Point Township. He was a man of decided opinions and in politics was first a whig and then a republican. Mr. Waddams was the pilot who led the way for many a family into Stephenson County. Many a settler partook of his hospitality while on his way to select a claim here. Frequently he hitched his team to the end of the newcomer’s wagon tongue and pulled him through mud holes or across the fords on the Pecatonica. He was for a long timr justice of the peace, and earned the title of Squire Waddams.
One of his specialties as justice was marriages. On such occasions, joy was unrestrained and rule was “to let melody flow,” and “all was as happy as the marriage bells.” The “fiddle” played an important part, and the old time “fiddler” who knew not one note from another sawed to hearts content way into the morning hours on “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” “The Devil Lookin’ up the Lane,” “Dan Tucker,” “The Squawking Hen,” etc. The dancing if not as finely polished as today was quite as full of glee and vigorous enthusiasm.
In the fall of 1834 the Robeys came to Stephenson County. Levi settled in Waddams Township, February 14, 1835, and his father took up a claim near Cedarville. Of the Robeys there were, Wm. Robey and wife, Levi Robey and wife and John, Wm. W., Thomas L., Frances L., Elizabeth and Mary, all children of Wm. Robey. Levi Robey’s grandfather was in George Rogers Clarke’s army when it conquered the Northwest Territory in 1778-9.
With an axe and a jack-knife, Levi Robey built a log house on his claim in 1835. With a yoke of steers, he hauled the logs over the river on the ice. The logs were with great difficulty placed in position, but he persevered until he had completed his frontier home.
George W. Lott had settled in a cabin between Winslow and Oneco. It is claimed that a son was born in the Lott family in 1835. If true, this was the first white child born in the county. Others claim that the first white child born in the township was Amanda Waddams, born at the Waddams home in February, 1836. Lucy, the daughter of Dr. Bankson, was also born early in 1836, and the honor of being the first white child born in the county is also claimed for her.
In 1835, James Timms and family moved from Jo Daviess County into Stephenson County and settled at Kellog’s Grove. Mr. Timms bought the old Kellog site from a man named Green, who got his title from Lafayette, a French adventurer who was the next in possession after Kellog. Lafayette left at the opening of the Black Hawk War. The old house stood till 1862, when a new house was built on the site.
Mr. Timms was a native of South Carolina and his wife a native of New York. He was a soldier in the Black Hawk War and his family was protected in Funk’s Fort and in the Apple River Fort during the war. One son, James B. Timms, living at Kellog’s Grove, was then a boy four years old.
Many settlers came into Stephenson County in the year of 1835. Benjamin Goddard settled north of Freeport, stopping first with Mr. Robey. Luman and Rodney Montague and William Tucker settled near Waddams Grove. Hubb and Graves built a cabin near that of Levi Robey in Waddams Township. Richard Parriott, Sr., George Trotter, Henry and William Hollenbeck located in Buckeye Township. Nelson Waite, Charles Gappen, Alijah Warson, John and Thomas Baker and William Willis settled in Waddams. In Winslow Township settled Alvah Denton, Lemuel Streator, Hector W. Kneeland, and James and W. H. Eels, Jefferson and Louis Van Metre settled in Oneco. John B. Kaufmann in Erin; Miller Preston, to Harlem; Jesse Willett, Calvin and Jabez Giddings, to Kent; Albert Alberson and Eli Frankenberger, and Josiah Blackmore to Rock Grove; Thomas Crain and family to Silver Creek; Conrad Van Brocklin and Mason Dimmick and Otis Love and family to Florence. Thomson Wilcoxen spent part of the year in the county and settled permanently in Harlem the next year. Harvey P. Waters and Lyman Bennett spent the winter near the mouth of Yellow Creek and in the spring settled in Ridott township, where they were joined by A. J. Niles.
Probably the most important settlement in some ways in 1835, was that of William Baker, who built a trading post and established his family in a cabin on the banks of the Pecatonica River at the foot of Stephenson Street in the city of Freeport. Baker had picked out the site earlier and in 1835, with his son, Frederick, and his family, began the history of Freeport.
William Baker came from Orange County, Indiana. He first moved to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1823, and in the spring of 1827 came to the lead mine region in Jo Daviess County. In 1829, they went back to Peoria, and in 1852 went to the lead mine country in Lafayette County, Wisconsin. The Bakers had come north just in time to get into the thick of the Black Hawk War. To escape the dangers from Indians, the family “forted” in Fort Defiance. Baker and his son, Fred, returned to this county and December 19, 1835, built the cabin above mentioned which was the first house built in the city of Freeport. Mrs. Baker came the following February. Having completed a hewn log home, Baker and Benjamin Goddard with an ox team and wagon drove into Wisconsin to bring the family to the new home. It was a long and tedious journey, over unbroken, February roads. But through all the difficulties and dangers, there was the inspiration that lifts up every family as it moves into a new home. In due time the ox team was back again, and Mrs.
William Baker was the first white woman to live in the limits of the present city of Freeport. Mr. William Baker then entered and owned the land on which the city of Freeport now stands. Before his wife arrived Baker, assisted by Benjamin Goddard and George Whiteman, erected another log mansion near the first. They were assisted in raising it by Fred Baker, Miller Preston and Jos. Van Sevit. Baker was favorably impressed with the location and decided to establish an Indian trading post and a hotel. A tribe of Winnebagoes was still in the community and the tavern would be able to earn something from immigrants who were sure to be coming through to the west. He also established a ferry, and did a fair business bringing people across the Pecatonica. Mr. Baker was not here long before he became convinced that here was a desirable location for a village. That is why he laid claim to all the land of the present city. Besides, it cost him only the fee at the Dixon land office. The next move was to organize a land company and Baker secured as partners, William Kirkpatrick and W. T. Gaibraith. This was the first organization in Freeport, a real estate firm, under the title of Baker, Kirkpatrick, Gaibraith & Co. The purpose of this company was to offer inducements to immigrants.
They anticipated a large increase in westward bound settlers and were prepared to exploit the advantages and prospects of the village to be. The town was laid out early in 1836, in the north part of the northeast portion of section 31. This was later removed because the Indians, when they had sold their lands, had reserved certain tracts to the half-breeds, to be selected in any part of the territory they might choose. As soon as it became known that Baker, Kirkpatrick & Co. had laid out a town, Mary Myott located her claim on this section and the town builders moved their stakes farther west. Later, John A. Clark obtained title to this section and calling it Winneshiek Addition, opened it to settlement.
In 1836, Baker & Co. put up two log cabins, one at the corner of Galena and Chicago Streets, and One opposite the monument on Stephenson Street. Mr. L. 0. Crocker built a small hut on the banks of the river and in the fall occupied it as a store. The real estate visions of the company seemed to brighten in 1836. During the year 0. H. Wright, Joel Dodds, Hiram Eads, Jacob Goodheart, John Hinkle, James Burns, William, Samuel and Robert Smith, John Brown, Benjamin R. Wilrnot and several others came in, so that when winter arrived there was quite a colony in the new location. F. D. Bulkley came but settled on Silver Creek township and E. H. D. Sanborn settled in Harlem.
A few points of interest have been preserved in regard to these earliest settlers. Luman Montague, above mentioned, was of English descent. He was a native of Bennington, Vermont. He married Miss Elmira Clark in Massachusetts and, soon after, with his young bride set out on a marvelous honeymoon trip. With an ox team and wagon in 1835, they drove the entire 1000 miles from Northampton, Massachusetts, to Stephenson County, and settled on section 18 in West Point Township. The first Montague to come to America was Richard, who settled in Hadley, Massachusetts 1660. With an ax alone, Luman Montague built his log home in this county. He set out the first nursery and one time had an orchard of 1000 trees.
Hubbard Graves had learned the stone cutter’s trade on the Scioto, in Ohio. He married and came first to Hennepin, Illinois. He settled in Waddams Township, 1835, and built his cabin before the land was surveyed. He sold this claim and took two others in Rock Grove Township. He was the first sheriff of Stephenson County and was a member of the legislature from 1842-1844.
Richard Parriott, Sr., was a native of Tyler County, West Virginia. He came to southern Illinois in 1826, settled in Indiana a short time, and then through Stephenson County to Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1835, and not finding anything to suit him returned to this county and settled in Buckeye township. George Trotter, also an early settler in Buckeye was a native of Bourbon County, Kentucky, and first came with his father’s family to Springfield, Illinois. He walked from Springfield to the lead mine region and secured employment in a smelter at $16 a month. He enlisted for the Black Hawk War and was in the battle of the Wisconsin River and the Bad Axe. After the war, with his wife and two children, two horses, two oxen and a wagon, he drove to Honey Creek, Wisconsin, but not being pleased there, returned to this county and settled in Buckeye Township, 1835. Not having money to enter his land, he held it as a claim till he secured a title. James and W. H. Eels drove from
New York to LaSalle County, Illinois, and in 1835 came on to Stephenson County, settling in Winslow township and built a double hewed log house. In 1836, they moved to Ransomberg and built another log house and made it into a tavern, where was held the first election that occurred in that section. The nearest mill in 1835 was at Gratiot, Wisconsin, and it was a poor corn cracker. Galena was the nearest place for supplies and the nearest post office. It often cost 25 cents to get a letter out of the office and this the settlers did not always have, as coin was a scarce article. But a letter from the home folks way down east was highly prized, and the good natured postmaster frequently let the pioneers have the letters on “tick.” At the age of 17, W. H. Eels purchased his “time” from his father for $250. He then worked for $i6 a month on a farm and in 1838 bought a yoke of oxen. Later he bought a claim of 16o acres in Winslow Township and married in 1841. He owned the first threshing machine in that section. He was a great reader, and was admitted to the bar in 1872. T. J. Van Metre came west as a boy from Ohio to the lead mines. He served in the Black Hawk War, and in 1836 came to Oneco, paying $100 for a claim of 150 acres. In 1837 he made a horseback trip to Cincinnati.
Thus were laid the foundations for the history of Stephenson County. It had its beginning with one family, that of William Waddams in 1833, at Waddams Grove, 77 years ago. The next year, 1834, saw several new settlements. The year 1835 closed with a large number of additional settlers of high quality. These settlements formed centers scattered in every direction, around which the county was to be built up. In addition to the those mentioned above, there were many others whose names have not been preserved. While the population was yet small and the settlements isolated, yet the tide of immigration had set in strong, and the rapid occupation of the county was assured. The settlers were pleased with the outlook and sent back east glowing reports of the climate and the resources of the county, telling in words of praise of “The beautiful land, with her broad, billowy prairies, replete with buds and blossoms, with her wooded fastnesses, in which the deer and smaller game roamed at pleasure; of the water power that the streams would afford, and many other items of interest which conspired to render the country not only fascinating to the traveler, but productive under the horny hand of toil.”
The following letter written in 1837 from Damascus to New York, affords a good description of the county and the favor with which the new country was looked upon by the early settlers. It was written by Nelson Martin, who rode through from New York to Damascus on horseback. It was written to Norman Phillips, who later that same year settled at Damascus.
Pekatonica River, Jan. 15, 1837.
Agreeable to my promise last fall I will atempt to inform you of our journey, healths, and situation. I believe I gave you the outlines of our journey as far as Chicago, while I was there, we left there about the first of Dec.; the ground was froze just enough to make good wheeling, and we should have got here in four days, but Rock River was impassable which detained us about four days longer, but the journey was pleasant all the way through and we saw a great many pleasant looking places, but I saw no place on the way that fills my eye equal to this. I think Father has made the best choice there is on the river for twenty miles. The land lies just as you could wish it, there is a rise of land on the south side of the river (or rather on the west for the river runs nearly north and south here). It extends up and down the river nearly half a mile back fom the river, and between the river and this rise is about three hundred acres of what is called River Bottom as beautiful as you ever saw. Then across the river from this is the timber, but back of this rise I mentioned is beautiful rolling prairie as you would wish to see and it’s well watered. There is some timber on this side of the river, and three or four miles back from us is a grove of timber that almost surrounds us. This grove breaks off the north and west winds and makes it quite pleasant. The timber land lies the opposite side of the river, I think we have the best lot of timber here that I have seen since I left York State. The timber land lies beautiful, not only so, but we have two as good mill sites as there is in the country. I should like it much if we had a good sawmill in operation. Lumber is very high and hard to be got, almost the whole country south of us depends on this river for lumber, but we don’t think of that at present.
We are getting our Rail Stuff across to do our fencing, we calculate to fence about two hundred acres next spring, we have between 20 and 25 acres broke ready for corn and team enough to break as much as we can work. Mr. Phillips, I wish you was here to help us till this beautiful land, it looks to me as if it would work as easy as a bed of ashes and they tell me it produces like a garden, the whole of it, I think you can’t help but like it. I have been over the place a great deal, and the more I see of it the better I like it. If you come here next summer you will of course come by water to Chicago, to this place it is one hundred and twenty miles from Chicago. There is a new road laid out from Chicago to Galena. It’s much nearer than the old road. Father thinks to meet you at Chicago if we get some more teams, if not it would be difficult, as we shall have to make use of all we have at that season on the farm. Write at all events what time you will be there. Phebe Ann, I think if you come out here in less than six months you will be as healthy as ever you was. The climate and water here is peculiarly adapted to constitutions like yours. It never has failed to cure yet and I have heard of a number of cases of the kind and I think you will like our neighbors. We have but a few of them but what there is is York State People and they are very fine respectable obliging neighbors and I am well pleased with them and I think you must be. Tell William we have a claim for him and I think he will be pleased with it. It lies handsome and it’s well watered. Josephine was so pleased with the place that we had to mark a claim for her about the first thing. Tell William Stewart if he wants a farm here is the place. There is good chances yet but the country is selling so fast that I think it will be all taken up in less than a year where there is any chance for timber.” Respects to all.
About 1840 a newspaper man passing through the county gave the following description in the Madison Express: “Since I have been here I have been about the county considerably, and am well convinced that it is well deserving of the high reputation it has attained. From Rockford to Freeport the road passes through one continuous prairie, with the exception of a grove about a mile in length. The prairie is quite rolling, in many places amounting to hills with an uncommonly rich and fertile soil. There is in this county less waste land on account of sloughs and marshy places than in most prairie countries with which I am acquainted. Yet the land is admirably well watered, there being a clear creek nearly every mile, wending its way through the prairie to the Pecatonica River. These, I am told, originate in springs, the water always being clear and pure and the streams never dry. The banks of the creeks are usually high and the land on either side of the water’s edge, is perfectly dry. A heavy body of timber is to be found on the north side of the Pecatonica River, the best growth I have ever found in the state. It is mainly oak, and in many places we find a variety of timber.”
Many of the early settlers came from two sources. One was from the men who were attracted to the lead mine regions. Many of these men passed through Stephenson County by way of the old Kellog trail. They were impressed by the beauty and the wealth of the agricultural resources of the county and, in due time, when fortunes did not hastily develop in the lead regions, they thought of necessity to return to the slower but surer road to competence — agriculture. Remembering what they had seen of this county and its opportunities, they turned back to the eastward along the old trail and from Waddams and Kellog’s Groves, they took up claims along the valleys of Yellow Creek and the Pecatonica.
Another source of settlement was the soldiers of Black Hawk’s War. They too had crossed and recrossed the county and had not failed to be impressed by its opportunities and resources. The Indians were driven out and many of the veterans of the war, returned here with their families to take up claims. The land down the state was well taken and prices had advanced. But here, they could own a quarter section, for a small payment to the land office at Dixon. For the most part, they were progressive and courageous men and good citizens, who were not afraid to leave a settled community to find larger opportunities amidst the dangers and privations of life on the front wave of civilization.
Naturally a few worthless characters drifted into the county. They had been undesirable citizens in the east and in the older communities, and had been compelled to go towards the west. But here they found too many people of the better class and many of them soon moved on to the farther west. The settlers here were devoted to industry and to orderly civil government. It was not an enticing place for the idle or the outlaw.
Mr. Lyman Brewster settled in the county and built a ferry near Winslow in the spring of 1834. Lyman Brewster was a native of Vermont. He settled first in Tennessee. From Tennessee he moved his family to Peru, Illinois, and in’ 1834 settled in Winslow township where he entered a claim, built a cabin, cleared 8o acres of ground and opened Brewster’s Ferry, the first on the Pecatonica. He soon thereafter rented the ferry to William Robey and returned to Peru. In 1835, Lemuel W. Streator purchased the Brewster property, the ferry and 640 acres for $4,000, which was paid to the Brewster heirs, Lyman Brewster having died at Peru. In 1836, Stewart and McDavel opened a store in Ransomberg. Later they moved to Oneco. George Payne also stopped at Brewster’s Ferry that year, and George W. Lott built a shanty in the present limits of Winslow. Others who settled near Winslow were Harry and Jerry Waters and A. C. Ransom.
Mr. Ransom was a real-estate man, a promoter with a powerful imagination. He has the honor of having laid out the first town in Stephenson County. Of course, it was a paper town, located about 13/2 miles below Brewster’s Ferry. At this time, 1834, speculation in western lands was quite general throughout the east. The good times dating from 1825 had caused a great boom all over the United States. Abundant issues of paper money and wildcat banking schemes and lotteries filled the public mind with a spirit of speculation. Towns were platted in the wilderness of the west and although the location was indefinite, the circulars were so attractive and the spirit of speculation so high that many men bought corner lots in these paper cities at unwarranted prices. The country was passing through a period of feverish excitement.
Mr. A. C. Ransom’s makeup was such that he was caught up in the wild speculation enthusiasm of the day. He entered a tract of land below Brewster’s Ferry and set his imagination to work building up a modern town in the wilderness. The land was surveyed and platted. Charts and maps were drawn up such as would induce the investor to part with his money. The map of the proposed city was illustrated in attractive colors, and showed streets and avenues in beautiful and regular arrangement. The map showed beautiful parks, made attractive by shrubbery, fountains and statuary. Wharves extended into the Pecatonica were shown, and on the painted river, a painted steamboat gave signs of the commercial advantages of the wilderness. Mr. Ransom added a touch of reality to the game by establishing a store in his city. Land agents, however, failed to make many sales at fabulous prises, regardless of the great inducements offered. The people were too unimaginative and too conservative, for they seemed to invest real money in real values. Yet, it is maintained that Mr. Ransom sold a corner lot to an eager buyer in St. Louis for $500. The scheme failed and Mr. Ransom, disappointed, went to Texas, and a plain, unadorned cornfield occupies the site of the once beautifully illustrated paper city of Ransomberg.
Simon Davis, Andrew Clarno and John M. Curtis settled in Oneco township in 1834. Some claim an earlier date but this is not certain. Clarno settled on Honey Creek and Davis near Oneco. In 1835, Lorin and Fred Remay opened farms in the same section as did also Ralph Hildebrand and Jonas Strohm. In the spring of 1835, John Goddard settled in Buckeye township, and Jones and Lucas came in the fall. Andrew St. John, Ira, Job and Daniel Holley in 1836. The next year besides those mentioned elsewhere, G. W. Clingman, J. Tharp, Jackson Richart, Lazarus Snyder, Jacob Brown and Joseph Green opened farms in Buckeye. In 1836, Andrew Jackson and Jefferson Niles built a shanty on the east bank of the Pecatonica in Ridott Township. Others who settled in Ridott that year were Sawyer Forbes, Daniel Wooten, Horace Colburn, Mr. Wickham, John Reed. The Ridott settlement was strengthened in 1837 by the arrival of Caleb Thompkins, G. A. Seth, Isaac and Eldridge Farwell, Garrett Floyd, Norman, Levi, Isaac and Orsemus Brace. In 1835, in the fall, Jesse Willet opened a farm near that of James Timms in Kent. Four miles north, Calvin and Jabez Giddings settled; Gilbert Osbern joined the Kent colony in the fall of 1836.
Levi Wilcoxen built a mill on Richard Creek on the present site of Sciota Mills in 1836. John Lewis put in the water wheel and Mr. Wilcoxen was assisted by the following: John Edwards, George Cockerell, William Goddard, Alpheus Goddard, Peter Smith, Wesley Bradford, Homer Graves and John Ascomb. The mill began work in August of 1836. William Kirkpatrick, it is believed by many, built a mill on Yellow Creek at Mill Grove, Loran township in 1836. Some say the date is 1839. Kirkpatrick was a member of the Freeport firm of Baker, Kirkpatrick, Gaibraith & Co.
Benson Mcllhenny settled near Hickory Grove, Dakota township, in 1836. Albert Alberson and Jonathan Corey settled at Rock Grove in 1836. Eli Frankenberger came the same year, and Louisa Frankenberger was the first white child born in Rock Grove Township.
The year 1837 stands as a milestone in the history of Stephenson County. This year, the county was organized and civil government was established within its present boundaries. Up to this time the settlers had been under the jurisdiction of Jo Daviess County. The seat of government at Galena, however, was so far away that as an old settler put it, “but few of the people of Stephenson County knew they were under the government of Jo Daviess County.” In fact, from the settlement of William Waddams, at Waddams in 1833 till 1837, there was no real civil government in Stephenson County.
That does not mean, however, that there was no government. There was little lawlessness and anarchy did not prevail. The people who came into the county did what the English settlers have always done. They observed a certain “unwritten” law, and when necessary organized to protect their interests and rights. During this period, undesirables were piloted beyond the settlements and warned not to return.
The State Legislature in session at Vandalia, on March 4th, 1837, passed an act providing for the organization of Stephenson County. The act is as follows:
“Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, that all that tract of country within the following boundaries, to-wit: Commencing on the northern boundary of the state, where the section line between sections three and four, in town 29 North, Range 5, east of the principal meridian, strikes said line, and thence east on the northern boundary line of the state, to the range line between Ranges 9 and 10 East, thence south on said range line to the northern boundary of Ogle County, thence west on the northern boundary of Ogle County to and passing the northeast corner of the county to the line between sections 33 and 34, in Township 26 North. Range 5, east to the place of beginning, shall form a county to be called Stephenson as a tribute of respect to the late Colonel Benjamin Stephenson.
Section 2. An election shall be held at the house of William Baker, in said county on the first Monday of May next, for one sheriff, one coroner, one recorder, one county surveyor, three county commissioners, and one clerk of the county commissioners court, who shall hold their offices till the next succeeding general elections, and until their successors are elected and qualified; which said election shall be conducted in all respects agreeable to the law regulating elections. Provided that the qualified voters present may elect from their own number three qualified voters to act as judges of said election, who shall appoint two qualified voters to act as clerks.”
THE FIRST ELECTION
There was great rejoicing in the county over this act of the State Legislature. It meant much to the few struggling settlements. The fact that the county was to be organized as a separate political unit, with a county seat and county officials would be a big advertisement for the county in the east. That would mean that Stephenson County would get her share of immigrants who were sure to be coming west. The next step was the election.
The Legislature had set the first Monday of May as election day and had designated the house of William Baker as the voting place. The men selected to act as judges of the election were Orleans Daggett, James W. Fowler and Thomas J. Turner. They selected Benjamin Goddard and John C. Wickham’ to act as clerks. The election passed off without excitement. It was too early for factions and party organizations to be formed. The number of votes cast was 121. William Kirkpatrick was elected sheriff; Lorenzo Lee, coroner; Orestes H. Wright, commissioner’s clerk and recorder; Lemuel W. Streator, Isaac S. Forbes and Julius Smith, commissioners; and Frederick D. Bukley, county surveyor. These officials were duly qualified and took up their respective duties.
May 8, 1837, the county commissioners court held its first meeting, according to law, and the officials previously elected were qualified. The first session, it is maintained, was held in the residence of 0. H. Wright. The court then laid off the county in election precincts, as follows:
Freeport precinct began at the southeast corner of Central precinct, south to the south line of the county, west to the east line of Waddams precinct, north to the south line of Central precinct and east to he place of beginning. Seth Scott, A. 0. Preston and L. 0. Crocker were appointed judges of election.
Central precinct commenced at the northwest corner of Silver Creek precinct, south five miles, west 13 miles, north to the southwest corner of Brewster precinct, thence east to the place of beginning. Ira Jones, Levi Lucas and Alpheus Goddard were appointed judges.
Brewster precinct commenced at the northwest corner of Rock Grove precinct, running south 6 miles, west 11 miles, north to the state line and east to the place of beginning. L. R. Hull, John M. Curtiss were appointed judges.
Rock Grove precinct began at the northeastern corner of the county and ran south 6 miles, thence west 9 miles, thence north to the state line, thence east to point of starting. J. R. Blackmore, Johnathan Cora and Eli Frankenberger were appointed judges.
Waddams precinct began at the northwest corner of Brewster precinct, south to the south line of the county, west on the county line to the west line of the county, north to the north line of the county, and east to the point of starting. William Waddams, Othmiel Preston and John Garner were appointed judges of election.
Silver Creek precinct commenced at the southeast corner of Rock Grove precinct, south to the south line of the county, 7 miles west, north to the line of Rock Grove precinct, thence east to place of beginning.
In this manner, the county commissioners laid off the county in six large precincts. Each one, however, contained only a small number of straggling settlers. This act paved the way for local government in the subdivisions of the county.
While this first court was in session, a man who had ithbibed too freely of “Corn juice” became boisterous and started out to paint the town red. The fellow was arrested by the newly elected sheriff, Kirkpatrick, and locked up in William Baker’s root house till he sobered off. He was then released without fine or trial. There was, as yet, no jail. Prior to county organization, undesirables were shown the way out of the settlement, which was less expensive, at least, than boarding them in the county bastile. Besides, in those days there was an excellent spirit of fair play and there was little necessity for police because every man in those frontier settlements was amply able to take care of himself. Otherwise, he would have remained east.
The commissioners evidently were “insurgents.” Today they would not hesitate to pass laws regulating railroads and other corporations. At their first session they undertook to regulate, in the interest of public welfare, the only public service institution there doing business, the hotels. The court passed an ordinance, prohibiting inn-keepers from charging more than 37 1/2 cents for a meal, 12 1/2 cents for a night’s lodging and 25 cents for a measure of oats and the same price for a horse to hay over night.
LOCATING THE COUNTY SEAT
The State Legislature had appointed three men, Vance L. Davidson, Isaac Chambers and Miner York, to locate the county seat. This kept up considerable excitement among the settlers till the location was agreed upon. Propositions and petitions came in from all parts of the county where any considerable settlement had been made. Each section set forth as particular claims and pressed them with great persistence. The two strongest contenders were Cedarville and Freeport. Cedarville’s claim was that it was near the center of the county. Its claims were pushed by Thompson and Rezin Wilcoxen. But it was a case of an argument of real town against a “paper” town. Cedarville, as a village, was yet to be built. It was not surveyed or laid out. Freeport had been surveyed and laid out, contained a half dozen houses, a store, a hotel, trading post, a kind of ferry and a saloon. Besides, it seems, the business men of Freeport got busy. The land company that had laid out the town, offered to give $6,500 for the erection of county buildings and William Baker, merchant, real-estate dealer and promoter, offered the additional argument that besides donating the lot for the county buildings each of the commissioners should receive a lot. Many, including the Rev. F. C. Winslow, claimed that these “inducements” influenced the judgment of the three commissioners and prejudiced their decision in locating the county seat. Whatever the truth may be, in June, 1837, the commissioners set forth the following proclamation: We, the commissioners appointed by the Legislature of the State of Illinois, to locate the county seat of Stephenson County and state aforesaid, have located said Seat of Justice, on the northwest quarter of section 31, in Township 27, North, Range 8, east of the fourth principal Meridian, now occupied and claimed by William Kirkpatrick & Co., William Baker and Smith Gaibraith. Whereunto we have set our hands and seals this 12th day of June, A. D. 1837. (Signed.)
The real town of houses and business had won out against the theoretical. Whatever the inducements may have been, if there were any at all, there have been few people to criticise the judgment of the commissioners in locating the county seat at Freeport.
THE NAME FREEPORT
Until 1836 the settlement at Freeport was called “Winneshiek,” after the Winnebago chief of that name who had his village where the Illinois Central station now stands. It is not known who named it "Winneshiek" , it probably being taken up by consent. The following origin of the name “Freeport” has been handed down by tradition and may be true. William Baker, as belore related, had established a tavern on the river front. Baker was a hospitable gentlemen, largely by natural disposition, and in part because he was our first real-estate agent. Newcomers were given the glad hand in true frontier fashion, and the latchstring was always out at Baker’s. Many of these strangers were entertained by Baker without charge. This process levied heavily upon the stock of provisions at Baker’s and kept Mrs. Baker hard at work. Mrs. Baker finally becoming tired of the business and annoyed by Baker’s reckless hospitality, gave vent to her feelings one morning at breakfast and announced that henceforth the place should be called free port. The incident spread immediately over the community and the citizens thereafter called the town Freeport.
A post-office was established in 1837 in a small room on Galena Street and B. R. Wilmot was appointed postmaster, the first in the county. Previous to that time, Thomas Crain of Crain’s Grove had received mail for Freeport and carried it to the settlers, collecting the dues from the recipients of letters. He got the mail from the Funk stages. Postage on a letter ran from 18 3/4 to 25 cents. Wilmot was postmaster till 1840.
The county had now been organized, named, the county seat located and named, and officials had been elected. Much county history had been made from the time that William Waddams made the first permanent settlement in 1833 to the first county election in 1837. Stephenson County had passed from the “inter-regnum” of rule without law into an organized civil government.
The land company had made considerable improvements in Freeport in 1837, reaching to Stephenson Street. Wilmot and the Hollenbecks had built cabins.
An occasional circuit rider may have held a few meetings in the county and in 1836 it is claimed that Father McKean preached the first sermon in Freeport. The son of Lemuel Streator died in Winslow township. In 1836 Amanda Waddams was born at Waddams.
The first marriage is a question of doubt. This distinction is claimed for a Mr. Gage and Malindy Eels at Ransomberg in 1836, and by Dr. W. G. Bankson and Phoebe McComber in the fall of 1836. Both, it is claimed, were married by Squire William Waddams. There is absolute evidence of the latter. The first marriage after the organization of the county was that of Eunice Waddams, daughter of William Waddams, to George Place, July 4, 1837. Squire Levi Robey performed the ceremony. The wedding was a quiet affair. Mrs. Place lived for years in the house built by her father in 1833. July 24, 1837, James Blain and Kate Marsh were married at the home of James Timms at Kellog’s Grove. May 24. 1837, Harvey M. Timms was born at Kellog’s Grove, being one of the earliest births recorded in the county’s history. Emma Eads died in Freeport in 1836 in a two-story frame building used as a tavern at the foot of Stephenson Street.
Thomas Milburn and a man named Reed lost their lives in the Pecatonica in 1837, a short distance west of Ridott. The men crossed the river in a dugout, on their way to work. One morning accompanied by a Mr. Wooten, a stepson of Thomas Crain, they started forth in the dugout to cross the river. The current was swift and the clumsy boat upset. Reed and Milburn were unable to swim and after making vain efforts to cling to the boat, both were drowned. Wooten was a fair swimmer and after a desperate struggle, reached the opposite shore. The settlers near by were aroused by Wooten, the river was dragged and after many laborious hours the bodies were brought to the shore. A large emigrant wagon served as a hearse and the men were buried on a hillside. After the grave was dug, the bodies were laid in and covered with hazel brush, and the grave filled up with dirt. It was a simple, plain burial, but in those days lumber for boxes or rude caskets was not easily obtained. Such a grave was not secure. A few days later a man passing by found that the wolves had dug into the grave and the fustian trousers of one of the men were exposed. The passerby threw in some dirt and securing a large block of wood, drove it into the opening. The grave was not molested thereafter and the place was a point of interest for years.
The winter of 1836-7 was an exceedingly hard one. The small and scattered settlements in the county suffered not less than the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in 1620. The cold was intense and the cabins built without foundations, and left with many “chinks,” were more readily ventilated than heated. It is difficult to realize the hardships of the early settlers, and an insight into their primitive lives is bound to fill this generation with pride for the courage and perseverance of those who first settled here.
It is hardly conceivable that a person who settled in this county as one of the pioneers in 1837 would be living today, active and vigorous, and in the full possession of the mental faculties. Yet, it is true. In Cedarville there lives probably the most remarkable resident of the county, Mrs. Maria Simpson Clingman. She was born in Scioto County, Ohio, December 12, 1809, being now in her 101st year. She lives in a pleasant home in Cedarville with her son, William Clingman, a veteran of the Civil War. When the writer called to see her, August 2, 1910, he found her cheerfully pulling a few weeds in the garden. It was a rare privilege to sit and listen to her tell the story of early days and turn the pages of seventy-three years of history.
She married Josiah Clingman in 1830 and in 1835, with two children, the family moved first to Putnam and then to LaSalle County, Illinois. The family came by boat down the Ohio and up the Mississippi and the Illinois to LaSalle. Jack Ritchie drove the ox team and wagon across the country. Land was well settled up about LaSalle and in 1836, on horseback, Josiah Clingman came into Stephenson and selected a claim north of Cedarville. In 1837 he brought his family to settle on the claim. With a horse hitched on in front of his Ox team, Mr. Clingman, his wife and three children, George, Mary and Chester, the latter being born in LaSalle County, with the simple household goods stored in a hogshead, a cow and calf following behind, drove into Cedarville. Mrs. Clingman says that at that time, the only evidence of settlers in the present village was a little log shack and a mill claim. As they drove past the present mill site, Mr. Clingman remarked that a mill was to be built there. When asked why he knew that he pointed out two logs that had been cut and laid across each other near the rapids, he said it was the mark of a mill claim and that was respected on the frontier. The rule was that the man had the right of claim who did the first work. These logs had been placed by John Goddard, who sold his claim to Dr. Van Valzah that same year.
Josiah Clingman had begun a log house when he took up his claim the year before. While a roof was being put on the house, the family stayed with Levi Lucas, whose one room was small enough but whose hospitality was unlimited. The one-room log house was crowded and the men slept in a “potato hole,” dug out under the cabin.
When the roof was completed, the Clingmans moved into their own, just log walls, board roof and a dirt floor. A kind of shelf, made of a slab, laid on pins driven into the wall served as a table. While this was placed so that it would be the right height when a board floor could be laid, it was far too high to be convenient from the dirt floor. Mr. Clingman heard of a place on Yellow Creek where he could get boards for a floor, and after a laborious trip with ox-team, he returned with a load of black walnut lumber with which a floor was made.
In such a home housekeeping was simplified. Mrs. Clingman says she got along five or six years without a stove. The cooking was done on a fireplace. She had brought a few cooking utensils from Ohio, pots, skillets, spiders, etc. She made the clothing for the family. She made their hats and caps. She picked the wool, spun the yarn, which was fulled and made into cloth at Orangeyule, and made for her husband his first overcoat, colored, with two capes. All the clothing was home-made.
They had brought the cow and so had milk and butter. A bee tree was sooi~ found and Mrs. Clingman and her husband hived them in a barrel and always had honey thereafter. Flour could not always be had, as it was necessary to go to Galena or Wolf Creek. When out of flour or meal, corn was grated on a grater, and this coarse meal was made into “dodgers.” The first flour they got came from Galena and was made from spring wheat. Mrs. Clingman said it made good biscuits, but would not make loaf bread. The flour was brought to Brewster’s Ferry from Galena in a wagon drawn by an ox and a cow, and Mr. Clingman brought it from Brewster’s by ox-team. Other supplies were secured from Savannah. Mr. Clingman’s father and mother, Geo. W. and Polly Clingman, joined them in the new home before the floor was laid. They had left an elegant home in Ohio, but after looking around Cedarville and killing a deer, the elder Mr. Clingman said, “Polly, I would not go back to Ohio for anything,” but his wife not yet accustomed to frontier life, rebuked him for the enthusiastic expression. Besides a few deer there were quail, pheasants, prairie chicken, etc., which afforded a pleasing change from salt pork. But Mrs. Clingman is impressive in her earnestness when she tells of the generous hospitality of the earlier days. All were obliging and there was no envy and jealousy. A splendid spirit of cooperation prevailed. And however simple and plain the home and equipments; however arduous the trials and difficulties of the log .cabin days, the people were happy, she says, maybe happier than the present generation. Her children always had plenty to eat and wear and were well dressed. In closing the interview she said: “It was for the children that we left comfortable homes in Ohio in the midst of relatives and friends, to make a new home here in the wilds, where land was cheap. Here we could find homes and farms for the children and they have all done well.”
Mrs. Clingman’s life in this county covers the period of 1837 to 1910; from the year of the organization of the county to the present day. She is now the idol of the community, always a source of inspiration to the young people who listen at her knee to the stories of long ago.
Norman Phillips and wife came to Stephenson County from New York by way of the Great Lakes in 1837. At Green Bay, Wisconsin, James Phillips was born. The Phillips family settled at Damascus and has been one of the prominent families in the county. The Phillips men have always maintained a reputation for great height, any of them shorter than 6 feet 2 inches being the exception. Norman Phillips’ wife was Mary Stout, of Maryland, whose ancestry runs backs to Holland and to England. Her mother was a Wolfe, in some way related to General James Wolfe, the conqueror of Quebec in 1859.
So far the “claims”, were respected only by the “unwritten law of the settlers themselves.” If a man selected a piece of land to his liking and “blazed” a tree around it, or cut a furrow around it, he was secure and guaranteed in its possession. The lands were not yet surveyed and not yet open to sale. The settler held his claim till the government put the land on the market, and then he alone could buy it. Many difficulties and disputes arose when the land oflice at Dixon opened the sale in 1843. In general, the rightful claimants won out. In the absence of law, claim societies were organized by the settlers to protect themselves against speculators and “claim jumpers.” Stringent measures were sometimes resorted to and strong hints given certain disturbers and undesirable citizens to move on to the west. In 1836 a “claim meeting” was organized. A president, secretary and board of directors were selected. The object of the organization was mutual protection and cooperation. If a member’s claim was encroached upon, his complaint was investigated by the officials. The trespasser would then be notified and warned to abandon the claim in five days. If he did not comply, he would be “carefully removed with his effects from the premises.” There was a general understanding that two sections, two miles square, should be the extreme limit claimed by heads of families.
A man named John Barker tested the sincerity of the “claims” organization. In 1839 he settled on one of Benjamin Goddard’s claims, now a part of Freeport, and refused to withdraw. He was brought before a committee of which William Baker, the founder, was chairman. The committee, after hearing the evidence decided that Barker was guilty and ordered him to vacate in a certain time or receive 30 lashes. Barker was a poor student of human nature and failed to leave on schedule time, taking a long chance with those stern frontier men. When his time had expired, he was seized, tied up by his thumbs and given the prescribed lashes. He had a change of heart and was willing to obey now, but he was escorted to the county line and advised to keep forever out of the county or he would be hanged. George Whitman had previously been driven out of the county by the citizens because he had been held guilty of stealing horses. This “unwritten law” had two very creditable features— it was prompt and effective.
It was believed that a big boom was coming in Illinois in 1836 and 1837. Settlers had been coming into the state in large numbers. Speculation was indulged in and laws were passed by the State Legislature, providing for a system of internal improvements, based on the faith and credit of the state. A bill was passed, providing for the construction of railroads, canals and improvement of rivers. Great results were expected to follow. Banks overreached their resources. People went heavily in debt. The whole structure, practically, fell down before it got started.
Hard times followed, not only in Illinois but all over the country. There had been too much flirting with paper money, loose banking and speculation. The bottom fell out. The hard times, no doubt, were felt here in this county, but the main result was the check given to prospective immigration.
The year 1836 was a big year in the settlement of this county. Reports had had time to get east and the encouraging letters to friends, telling of big and sure opportunities here, brought out a large number of settlers. Many of them were men of great ability and were destined to take high rank in state and nation. For the time being, however, they served well the immediate purpose of settling up the country and adding to its social, economic and political life.
Among the settlers this year were the following, many of whom brought their families: Thomas J. Turner, Pells Manny, Alford and Sanford Giddings, Washington Perkey, “Widow” Swanson and family, Thomas Flynn, E. Mullarkey, Henry Hulse, M. Welsh, William and Leonard Lee, Nathan Blackmore, Aaron Baker, John Pile, Ira Job, Daniel Holly, Lydia Wart and family, Thomas Julius Smith and B. Thatcher, he built a cabin home. His life here was not a little like that of Lincoln, for when not busy at his work in the mill, he was studying and laying the foundation of a self gained education.
Mr. Turner’s first visit to Freeport was in search of food. Provisions were scarce and he and his associates for days had nothing more to eat than boiled corn. This became too monotonous a diet and Turner set out for Galena for supplies. He traveled along the Pecatonica till he came to Baker’s cabin at Freeport. He attracted attention by the usual frontier shouts and soon a boy appeared and ferried him across the river in a canoe. Mr. Baker had gone on a trip to Peoria for supplies. Mrs. Baker and the family greeted him in true western manner and offered him the hospitality of the home. Having gone without his regulation diet of boiled corn, Turner was hungry and asked for food. But the larder was almost empty at the Baker home. Mrs. Baker freely offered him what was left—two small corn dodgers, and what was left of a catfish. Turner declined, hungry as he was, to finish the last of the family’s provisions and only on the assurance and insistence of Mrs. Baker that her husband would return during the night with provisions from Peoria, did he satisfy the gnawing of a long empty stomach. The barking of dogs during the night signalled the return of Baker and Turner slept well with the prospect of a good breakfast in sight. Next morning, after a hearty meal, he went on his way to Galena, impressed by the generous hospitality of Freeport. He worked a while at Galena and returned to the mill with supplies.
In 1841 Turner went to Freeport and his life was bound up in the history of that city till his death. Such was the early life of a man who built the first county courthouse, was justice of the peace, lawyer, states attorney, member of the State Legislature and a Constitutional Convention, a member of Congress, and a colonel in the United States army in the Civil War. If conditions were hard, they had, at least, fashioned a great character.
The county was making headway in 1836. Farms were opened up. These were small clearings around the cabins and that accounts for the small crops and the scanty supply of provisions. Blacksmith shops, rude affairs indeed, were set up. The people had come to stay. There were no roads, no bridges, few ferries, and it was a long journey to Peoria or Galena for supplies. Thomas Lott had begun the work of setting up a sawmill at Winslow, and William Kirkpatrick had begun one on Yellow Creek, while Turner had set one up in Rock Rin. There were no grist mills north of the Illinois River and Kirkpatrick set up a corn-cracking machine at his mill on Yellow Creek. It was a crude mill, doing coarse work cracking corn and wheat, but it had to serve the purpose for a time.
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