HISTORY OF HAHNAMAN TOWNSHIP
[Source: Whiteside County, Illinois, From Its First Settlement To The Present Time; by Charles Bent; Page 232 - 236; pub. 1877]
The township now known as Hahnaman was originally a part of Portland Precinct, then of Rapids Precinct, and so remained up to 1852, when its boundaries were defined and name given by the Commissioners appointed by the County Commissioners Court, but owing to the small number of inhabitants was attached to Hopkins township for judicial purposes until 1859, when the organization became fully complete. The town is largely made up of what is known as swamp lands, fully four-fifths of the area being such lands. Efforts were early made in the history of the township to have these lands drained, as the soil was found to be exceedingly rich and fertile wherever it could be cultivated. Finally the county, in 1863-64, resolved to drain the swamp lands in all the towns where they were situated by proper ditching. Previous to this action, however, the county had thrown these lands upon the market, and had realized from Hahnaman alone about $26,000. The county ditch in this town commences about two miles from the east line of the town, and runs about four miles, where it strikes the east line of Tampico. It has not proved a success as yet, as far as Hahnaman is concerned, although by being deepened, and having branch ditches running into it, as is now proposed, it is thought that every acre of the original swamp lands can be reclaimed and brought under a good state of cultivation. At present over one-half of these lands remain unimproved. The balance of the town is rolling, and of good soil, with the exception of a few sand ridges. On one of these, a short distance north of the residence of Mr. Amos Reeves, is what is called the "little blow out" a basin scooped out of the sand. A description of these "blow outs" is briefly given in the history of Tampico. The crops raised in this town are those usually found in all the towns of the county.
The earliest settlers in Hahnaman were William Renner and family, who came from PA in 1841, and settled at Deer Grove. Mr Renner died in 1859, at the age of 51 and was buried in Bureau County. He left 8 children, 5 boys and 3 girls. Two of the former died while soldiers in the Union Army. Lemuel Scott, a pensioner of the war of 1812, came next in 1845. He came from VT, and also settled at Deer Grove and died at the house of Mr. Renner in 1849. The widow Renner is still living in Hahnaman, a neighbor of Mr. Reeves. In 1854 the widow Ryder, with several sons settled in the township and in 1855 came W. M. Halsted, James Chandler, Benj. Ackland and Martin Clark from IN; William Johnson from NY, and William Humphrey from LaSalle County, in this State. In the following year, 1856, came John Van Valkenburgh, from NY, William Brakey, George Brakey and William McNickle from PA; Peter Ford and Thomas Langan, from Ireland and in 1857, Amos Reeves from NY, and Reuben Davis from OH. Dr. Davis originally settled in Montmorency township as will be seen in the history of that township. During that year what is known as "Paddy's Island" located in the eastern part of the town, was also pretty well settled. In 1858 a large number came and settled in the town.
The first house, or rather cabin, was built of logs at Deer Grove, by William Renner in 1841, and the few that were built previous to 1857 were of that material, or as near to it as could be had. In 1857 the first frame building were erected.
The first school house was built in 1857 in what is known as Brakey's settlement. It was sixteen feet square and seven feet high. Mr. Amos Reeves, the present Supervisor of the town taught school there in the winter of 1857-58 and was consequently the first school teacher in the town. He had an attendance of 22 scholars during that winter , some of them coming a distance of 5 miles. Now there are 5 school districts in the town, each having a good school house, with an average of 45 scholars.
The first white child born in the town was a son of DeWitt and Catharine Ryder in the fall of 1855. His name is Isaiah Ryder, and he is now a resident of KS. The first wedding was that of H. V. Hinman to Miss Jane L. Brakey, the happy event occurring in 1859. The wedded pair are now living in KS. The first death was that of the widow Ryder, which occurred in 1855. She was 53 years of age and was buried in a private burial place now on the farm of Cornelius Cunningham. No regular religious services were held in the town until about a year ago, when a preaching place was established by the Methodists at Deer Grove, services being held in the school house at that place. There being no meeting houses in the town, members of the different denominations attend church either at Tampico, Sterling or Rock Falls.
The first election for town officers was held at the school house in District No 2 on the 3rd of April 1860. Reuben Davis was chosen Moderator, and Amos Reeves, Clerk. 26 Votes were polled. At the second town meeting held at the school house in District 1 on the 2nd of April 1861 a tax of $125 was voted to defray town expenses. Thirty cents on the one hundred dollars was also voted to be raised for road purposes. 36 votes were polled at that election.
SUPERVISORS: 1860 Wm. M. Halsted; 1861 O. H. McNickle; Mr. McNickle resigned in September and Wm Johnson was appointed to fill the vacancy; 1862 Wm. Johnson; 1863 M. A. Myers 1864-65 Reuben Davis; 1866 Amos Reeves; 1867-68 Reuben Davis 1869 -72 Edward Perkinson; 1873 John Conlon; 1874-75 John McCabe; 1876-77 Amos Reeves.
TOWN CLERKS: 1861 Amos Reeves; Mr. Reeves resigned in 1861 to go to war and Wm M Halsted was appointed; 1862-65 Wm. M.Halsted; 1866 O H McNickle; 1867 J C Brakey; 1868 Wm. M. Halsted; 1869-75 Amos Reeves; 1876-77 E L Halsted.
ASSESSORS: 1860 Geo. S. Brakey; 1861 Thomas McCormick; 1862-63 Reuben Davis; 1864-65 Thomas McCormick; 1866 Geo S Brakey; 1867 J C Reeves; 1868 Thomas McCormick; 1869 Geo. Dee; 1870 Wm Caughey; 1871-73 Geo. Dee; 1874 John Cooney; 1875 W K Caughey; 1876-77 John Conlon.
COLLECTORS: 1860 Reuben David; 1861 W. E. Walter; 1862 Henry Humphrey; 1863 W J Humphrey; 1864 Wm M Halsted; 1865 John McCabe; 1866 H V Hinman; 1867-69 A S Fee; 1870-71 W K Caughey; 1872-73 John H Conlon; 1874 Patrick Fahey; 1875 John H Conlon; 1876-77 John Conlon.
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: 1860 Reuben David, Geo. S Brakey; 1861 Geo S. Brakey; 1862 Thos. McCormick; 1863 M. A. Myers; 1864-68 John McCabe; 1872 Thos. Higgins; 1873 Amos Reeves, John McCabe; 1876 C L Dewey; 1877 Amos Reeves C J Burgess.
The annual election held in April was declared void by reason of alleged illegal votes being polled. For that reason many of the officers then declared elected did not qualify and those who did soon afterwards resigned, thus leaving the town without officers. A special election was therefore called, and held on the 21 of May following and resulted in the re-election mainly of the officers chosen at the April election.
A special election was held on the 17th of Feb 1877 to elect a committee of 3 to investigate the legality of the action of the Board of Supervisors of the county in turning the unexpended part of the swamp land fund of the county into the school fund, the committee to employ counsel and take such other steps as may be necessary to obtain information regarding such action and make a report at the next annual town meeting. Amos Reeves, Manson Robbins and A S Fee were elected the committee and they reported at the appointed time that according to the best legal authority they could obtain, the county had illegally transferred the swamp land fund to the school fund before completing the draining of the swamp land under the act contemplating the drainage of the land.
One thing is due to the town of Hahnaman, and should be favorably mentioned. Soon after the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion, the majority of the young men of the town enlisted as soldiers in the Union service. The town was young then and sparsely populated, yet the inhabitants felt that they must bear their share of the burden demanded by the crisis to maintain the unity of the States. Ten of these young men enlisted with the Yates Sharpshooters in October 1861, viz; O. H. McNickle, H. P. Hinman, Thomas Harvey, Amos Reeves, William Humphrey, Mahlon Humphrey, Crosby Ryder, H. D. Ryder, Henry May and one other. Hinman became afterwards 2nd LT. Henry May was killed at the battle of Atlanta in 1864. Mahlon Humphrey died at Cairo in 1862 of fever. Lt. Hinman was wounded in the knee while on skirmish duty in front of Atlanta in 1864. John Renner enlisted in the 57th IL Reg. and was taken prisoner near Corinth in 1863 and confined at Andersonville for 4 months. His sufferings were so severe that he has not been a well man since. E. L. Halsted enlisted in one of the Chicago batteries in 1862. Henry Fluck and Henry Pott enlisted in the 75th IL Vol. Pott lost an eye in the service. Patrick Fahey also afterwards enlisted in the same regiment. J. C. Reeves joined the 9th NY Cav. Reg. in 1861. James Renner, Walter Johnson, T. B. Davis, John Chambers, Albert McNickle, H. S. Humphrey and some others enlisted in different IL Regiments, the names of which we could not ascertain. With the exception of Henry May and Mahlon Humphrey it is believed that all came back at the close of the war.
The Assessors books of the town for 1877 shows 10,781 acres of improved land and 12,040 unimproved. The total assessed value of the lands is $132,350. Number of improved lots, 8; unimproved 24, number of horses, 518; cattle 1,434; mules and asses 6; sheep 16; hogs 1825; carriages and wagons 154; sewing and knitting machines 43; melodeons and organs 8; value of personal property $23,840; railroad property $26,814; assessed value of all property $183,112.
The Population of Hahnaman in 1870 was 624, of which 423 were of native and 201 of foreign birth. The estimated population of the town in 1877 is 800. Popular vote in November 1876 - 99.
[Source: Whiteside County, Illinois, From Its First Settlement To The Present Time; by Charles Bent; Page 232 - 236; pub. 1877]
The village of Deer Grove is a small farming community in the southeastern corner of Whiteside County. The first settler was Willaim Renner who came from the state of Pennsylvania. In 1872, Geroge Burton came in a covered wagon from Troy Ohio. He purchased three farms at the time, one of which is still in the family. (Franks' brothers farm east of Deer Grove along the C.B. & I. tracks). At the time there were groves of trees in the village and country area which were thickly inhabited with deer, consequently the name "Deer Grove" came about.
The community finally took shape when the first post office was established in 1873, about two years after the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad was laid. W.H. Wheeler opened a general store and was commissioned the first postmaster. Wheeler sold this two years later to Charles L. Dewey who then became postmaster. Dewey was not only postmaster, but also a public official, merchant, buyer and shipper of livestock, grain and produce. He furnished the farmers with a good market and paid the same prices as Sterling.
The original platted section of Deer Grove was a triangular track bounded by the railroad right of way and the center line of section 27. It was re-named Deer Grove City and a new Deer Grove was laid out, northwest of the original plat. Later an addition named Mosher's was added. The original Deer Grove had nine lots, the second one had 46 and the Mosher's Addition had nine. The entire platted area was platted by John Mosher, part of the village is still referred as the Mosher Addition. Mosher ran a general store in the early 1900's. Around the same time, Johnny and Kate Ford ran a rooming house and livery stable.
Peter Ford may have been Whiteside County's oldest citizen. He was born in Ireland in 1802 and arrived in Whiteside County in 1857. Mr. Ford died at the home of his daughter in Deer Grove on May 17, 1907. He farmed from about 1857 to 1887 when he moved to Tampico. He liver there until the death of his wife in 1895. There were numerous anedotes about the long-lived Hahnamenian and one of them was about the low ceilings in his home. Tall visitors were obliged to stoop and duck to avoid disaster - but they received no sympathy from Mr. Ford who explained that he would not build a cottage for anyone taller than he.
In 1916 the old Mosher store burned down. The following spring, John McCormick bought a building and ran a general store. McCormick became the first rural mail carrier. He kept the post until 1920 when Hubert Schauff took over andk ept the post until 1962. Darby Callahan and Joe Molls both ran taverns and pool halls. At one time there was a barber shop here ran by a man named Webb, after he left, John Kolb came over from Tampico and took over the business. there were two blacksmith shops, one of which was run by Herman Linden for a good many years. This shop is still standing.
Conway and Cunningham had a implement store and also sold coal. At one time there was a tailor shop, depot, stockyard, and even a doctor's office here, a Doctor Williams by name. The depot was run by Fred Goldren in the earlier days and by Abe Dowding the later years. The depot has been torn down several years ago. John Darby was the instigator for the rural telephone in the area. They called it the "Farmers Telephone Co." Delia Coleman operated a Central Exchange office in her home. She also operated a gneeral store and was postmaster for several years. In 1917 Schwamberger and Sneider ran a pool hall and sold soft drinks. This business was conducted in a small brick building and was the last business housed there. The Carlyle Devines ran the oil station and also had a small restaurant. The same station is in operation at the present by Laurin Dir. Deer Grove had a good baseball team in the good old days, people came from all around to see the games. Jerry Keefe was the umpire. It is told that the Reagans used to attend the games with their children.
There was a one-room school house, where all eight grades were taught in one room with one teacher. This was replaced with a new four rooms for classes, kitchen - all equipped, office, boatroom, large gym with a beautiful state at one end in 1957. It had three teachers to start with, first, second and third grades all together; fourth, fifth and sixth grades together and seventh and eighth and principalship together. It was known as the "Hahnaman Consolidated School." This was the first year they had their own graduation exercises. Before they had to go to the county seat in Morrison.
Early religious services may have been held in some of the other older school houses but the first regularly scheduled ones were conducted in the school house in Deer Grove settlement. In may of 1937 an election was held in the town hall for the purpose of voting on a proposition "For Village Organization under the general law" or "Against Village Organization under the General Law." This was the year that the village was incorporated. The election of officers was held July 6, 1937 and the following elected; John McCormick, Mayor; Robert McCormick, treasurer; Leo McCormick, village clerk; John J. Cooney, Harry Keefe, Tom Cooney, Lauran Dir, Hubert Schauff and Cecil Keefe, trustees. The present mayor of Deer Grove is John Joe Cooney, Lauran Dir has been a village officer for quite a few years and is currently the village treasurer. He also owns and runs the villages only gas station.
The residents of the township had their troubles and disappointments with the railroads. The story of their struggle is told in the history of the C.B. and I. Railroad Company, that had to have several elections to get the citizens and company to agree on terms. Finally in 1971 (should this be 1871?) the railroad was built through Deer Grove area. A grain elevator was built in 1875 by Stilson adn Forward of Tampico, on railroad property. In 1876 Charles Dewey purchased the elevator, at the time he was a store keeper and postmaster. Then in the 1900's the owner had the misfortune of the elevator burning. But it was rebuilt again. In 1901 the elevator, three cars on a siding, the water tank, windmill and 11,000 bushels of rye and oats were burned.
In 1920 Jack Cooney purchased the elevator from a Chicago firm (Neola Elevator Co). Bert Beech had been their manager, Harry E. Keefe sat in on the transaction thus came the name "Cooney and Keefe." in 1947 Cooney sold the elevator to Leslie H. and Lillie A. Ward O., Arlyn S., and Leslie D. (Joe) Cady. In 1950 a new Lumber a new lumber yard and shop was built enabling the construction of hog-houses, self feeders, utility sheds, dog houses and occassionally an "outhouse." Four grain storage buildings have been built, the first in 1951, ranging in size from 75,000 to 150,000 bushels. Drying of high-moisture grain is also done. These buildings are used primarily for soy beans and corn storage. The depot was discontinued in 1959 but the railroad serviced deer Grove through Tampico and Prophetstown agents.
In 1958 a feed mill was erected where buildings, rolling, cracking and blending of grains and feed were done. Farmers could have their own grain and have it mixed to their own particular needs or have it mixed and delivered to the self-feeders by bulk truck. Ward Cady sold his share of business in 1967 to the other stockholders. Arlyn adn Joe bought the remaining shares of the corporation in 1970. Joe manages the grain elevator and Arlyn manages the A.O. Smith Harvestore Co. in Yorktown, which they co-own. Due to the shortage of railroad cars and high cost they discontinued shipping grain to Chicago and Clinton. A semi-tractor and trailer was purchased enabling them to sell and haul the grain to Hennepin IL where it is shipped by barge on the IL river. April 19, 1974 a fire of unknown origin destroyed the elevator, causing a loss of 400 bushels of grain (mainly oats) and 26,000 bushels storage space.
A cyclone swept through Deer Grove June 21, 1974 and destroyed the feed mill. After a disastrous 1974, for the Cady's their tentative lans are to erect two steel holding tanks, pet, leg and driveway, making it again possible to dry and store grain. Bulk and bag feed is available. The selling and erecting of all steel (Butler) Buildings has been a new item added at Cady's in 1975. Ray Graham used to own and run a tavern here. It burned down one Thanksgiving night. Deer Grove under water, people fled for safety and stock drowned in 1901. A lake five miles wide, over 10 miles long and deep enough in places to float a Mississippi River steamer covers the corn and oat fields south and east of Deer Grove. Farmers have given up in despair at their supendous losses as they realized absolutely nothing from their crops that year. As far as the eye can see there is water south of Deer Grove, dotted her and there int he expanse are the farm houses with dejected, crestfallen farmers who see their all savagely devoured by water. Jerry Keefe of Deer Grove was the first man Tuesday to push through the flood and reach some of the farmers surrounded by water. He said that on the pike road in many places the water ame into the buggy box.
Deer Grove was established as a post office in 1873. In July of 1888 a postoffice was instituted about four miels north of Deer Grove, with William Davis appointed postmaster. That was election year and the Republicans were victorious at the polls. The small political plum was given as a reward. It was reported that no eligible Republican wanted the appointment and no self-respecting Democrat would accept it. This office was closed Nov. 20, 1888. later it was established in the McCormick store back in Deer Grove. After Hubert Schauff retired in 1964 his son, Leo Schauff took over the rural route. Leo was serving as Postmaster from January 1948, having taken the rural mail carrier ob, Mrs. Kathryn H. Keefe became acting postmaster and remained in this position until Oct. 1971 when she retired her position. The Deer Grove Post office had been a fourth class post office. In Oct. 1971 Mrs. Bernice Spears was appointed postmaster. The post office was fourth class up until Arco Farm Center (Now First Miss.) moved in. It has been third class for the past three years, and serves approximately 100 families. The First Miss. Plant, Cady's Grain Elevator, Dir Service Station, Deer Grove Grade School (Tampico District No. 4) and Arnie Johnson's "Happ Spot."
The rural carrier route has been consolidated with teh Tampico route. Tampico routes were cut down to two routes instead of the previously three. Deer Grove has a new post office building which was completed in the fall of 1975. THe general food store was run by Leo E. Schauff, which has been closed since 1966. Fred J. Heeren owned and operated a thresing machine and corn shelling business for quite a few years. After he passed away his wife went partnership with her son Frances for several years. She later sold out to her son and he ran the operation until he health began to fail, at which time he sold out and moved his family to Arizona in 1972.
Deer Grove has in the olden days seemed to have more business and more bustle and hustle. But today the village is showing more improvement. We have a nice grade school in place of the one room. Cady's Implement and Grain have replaced what they have lost in the tragic fire of 1974. They also built a new office more spacious than the old - and are going - gun ho. Arnie Johnson owner of the Happy Spot is in the progress of completing a 50 x 150 foot addition to his place to be used as a dance hall and is planning on getting good entertainment. After many years of housing the post office in grocery store, we finally have a new post office building. Its attractive both in and out. The landscaping hasn't been doen yet but is expected to be in the near future. An open house was held June 6, 1976.
The first settlers started migrating to Whiteside County as early as 1841. At that time it was largely swapland, but as the population grew, drainage ditches were effected. Result was a lush farming community. Some of the first homesteaders were the O'Neils.
The writers' knowledge of those days is somewhat limited, however, I will try to recall some of my earliest memories of Deer Grove. I know I always looked forward to riding in the wagon with my father to visit the Mosher Department Store. Part of my eagerness might be attributed to the fact that Mr. Mosher used to present me with a red, white and blue striped candy bag full of the various "goodies" on display in the candy case. While there, I was sometimes fitted with shoes or overshoes with buckles.
Further down the street was the blacksmith shop where my father tookt he horses to be shod. Wide-eyed with wonder and amazement I would gaze at the flaming forge and listen to the anvil ring. There was also Mrs. Ford's Boarding House. Each teacher who came to teach the village school boarded and roomed there.
On one corner from Mrs. Ford's was a small grocery store and post office operated by Mrs. Colman. She too, wsa generous with her candy and hence was popular with the children across the way. Then there was the poolroom where many of the town males gathered for a game of pool or a corner game of poker.
Across fromt his place was a hardware store owned and operated by Conway and Cunningham. I vaguely remember that there was a dance hall on the second floor of a building. It was also used for county spelling bees and town meetings.
There was a lumber yard, grain elevator and depot next to the track. A passenger train used to stop in the evening. This was the highlight of the day as a substantial crowd always assembled to see who, if any, got off. The whole town knew who was getting out of town guests and it was not uncommon to receive invitation to entertain them. Togetherness was the keyword in those days, with no motorized transportation people leaned on each other for social functions.
Card parties were popular with "Pitch and Euchre" being the rage. There were no babysitters as such adn the kids were taken along for an evening at a neighbors. Before the evening was over, there would be four or five of us sleeping across the bed. We finally woke up to the smell of coffee percolating and a lunch of yummy sandwiches and cake.
A party line formed a strong center of communication. Everyone listened in unashamed and at times would join in the conversation. I believe that must have been the start of the conference calls of today. If the phone rang in the middle of the night, out of bed mother would get up to "rubber." "Somebody must be sick at Andersons - (or Nears of whoever") I believe she would have qualified for Florence Nightingdale of the Community. This happened many times during the influenza epidemic during WW I. Kitty O'Neil never turned her back on a neighbor in distress. Many times her path crossed that of Dr. Freibarger, a dedicated little man who held the medical fort for Tampico and community. She was known to many as "Aunt Kate".
There were square dances held at various homes in the vicinity. Music comprised a piano, a fiddler and the "Bone" shaken by the reigning barber whom my younger sister called "The Cobb" I can still hear the tune of the "Moon Shines Tonight on Pretty Red Wing." As usually we children were taken along and we and all the others played games in the adjoining room. A regular smorgasbord was set out a midnight. Most of the houses were unplumbed, with the usual Sears, Roebuck Palace located in the back a few rods away. Kerosene lamps furnished the illumination. A few fortunate ones had indoor bathroom and water systems and Delco Power Plants. Later came the red letter days. Car salesmen were abroad in the rural districts and we were thrilled to be taken for trial runs in those wonderful vehicles. Names that became familiar were Ford, Overland, Reo, Hupmobile, Essex, Buick and Studebaker to cite a few.
A dirt road was kept in fine shape by Jerry Keefe and his grader. Of course, when it rained, it became muddy and slippery but we learned to waltz our Model-T from one end of the ditch to the other managing to escape serious disaster. I believe the children today have missed something exciting and interesting by never having experienced the one-room school house. The pot-bellied stoves, the spellign bees, school programs and box socials - our sources of delight. Contrary to the opinion of certain educators, the many different classes were not distracting. When we finished our assignments we could listen in on the more advanced classes. By the time we moved into the next grade, we had the basic orientation of what to expect. The three R's were not neglected.
Another Big Deal wad the advent of the Medicine Shows. They usually stayed in town one week and were held in a tent pitched in the school yard each summer. They entertained the crowd with puppet shows and hypnotist acts. At intermission our host went through the audiences touting amagic elixir tha cured everything from dandruff to ingrown toenails. The exorbitant price was one dollar and it sold like mad. Many things crowd one's memory when he or she looks back in retrospect. However, lest my readers become bored with this litany of nostalgia, it perhaps would be apropos at this time to mention some of the old names of the inhabitants of Paddy's Island - Keefe, Welch, Devine, O'Neil, Pott, Flock, Anderson, Linden, Schauff, McCabe, Ford, Colman, Schwamberger, McCormick, McGuire, Hamblock, Leahy, Peterson, Renner, Near, Hardy - if I missed anyone, I offer my hublest apologies.. Amen! [Written by Kathryn Keefe "The Deer Grove I Remember" / Daily Gazette July 1, 1976]
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