Lyndon Township

Whiteside County IL

From Bent-Wilson 1877

Photo contributed by Lyndon Historical Society - Main street 1910

The territory now comprising the township of Lyndon originally formed a part of Crow Creek Precinct, then became connected with Little Rock Precinct, and afterwards, together with a portion of the present township of Fenton, form­ed a Precinct called Lyndon, and so remained until the boundaries of the township were defined, and name given, by the Commissioners appointed by the County Commissioners Court, in 1852. The township is composed of all that part of Congressional township 20 north, range 5 east, as lies north of Rock river, and also sections 5 and 6, and fractional parts of sections 4, 7, 8, 9 and 16 of township 20 north, range 6 east, as lies north of Rock river. It contains 16,799 acres, the land being rolling prairie back of the river, and mostly bottom land, along the river. Out of the 16,799 acres of land in Lyndon, only 409 acres remain unimproved, showing the fine location, and fertility of the soil, of the township. The township is watered by Rock river which flows on a part of its eastern and the whole of its southern border, and by a small stream rising on section 2, and flowing in a direction a little west of south until it empties into Rock river on section 15. The wells of the township are abundant, and the water mainly of excellent quality. There are also several good springs. A fine grove, known as Hamilton's Grove, is situated on sections 19 and 20 on the west side of the township, and Fitch's Grove on section 30 in the southwest part. There is a belt of timber also along Rock river. Besides this timber land, a large num­ber of shade trees have been planted throughout the township, most of which are now of large size.

Lyndon was one of the earliest settled towns in the county, parties beginning to come in as early as 1835. Among those who came that year were Chauncy G. Woodruff and family, Adam R. Hamilton and family, William D. Dudley and family, Liberty Walker, and Ephraim H. Hubbard. The Woodruff, Hamilton, and Dudley families came together from New York State, travelling about a thousand miles with teams, and were thirty days on the road. After arriving at Lyndon they were compelled to camp out until their cabins were built, sleeping on the ground, and in addition to other discomforts and annoyances had the prairie rattlesnakes, called by the Indians Massasaugas, for neighbors. These reptiles, however, always gave notice of an attack, by rattling, and thus could be avoided or killed; still their companionship was not at all agreeable. Previous to their departure from New York, Mr. Dudley had taken the precaution to forward a cask of pork, which in addition to the flour and corn meal obtained in Chicago, constituted their commissary stores during the summer and part of the fall at their prairie homes. The party arrived at Lyndon, August 5, 1835.

Mr. Woodruff made his claim just west of the Amos Cady place, where he put up a cabin, covered it with hay, and remained in it until the following year. The improvised roof afforded but little protection when it rained, the water running through and wetting every article in the cabin. When the sun came out the clothing and bedding had to be removed to the open air and dried.

He sold out to Amos Cady, in 1836, and settled on the claim where he afterwards resided. Upon this land he built a frame house, siding it with oak lumber costing $2.50 per hundred feet. The ground was used for a floor for the first six months. In 1838 he broke twenty-three acres of ground, using oxen and raised a good crop of grain. Mr. Dudley built a log cabin 12 by 12 feet in size, and covered it with bark, where he kept a boarder besides his family of four persons. The cabin was also used occasionally as a church, and for the entertainment of travelers when they came through that vicinity. His next cabin was 16 by 24 feet in size, the ground and chamber floors being made of Puncheons hewn out with a broad ax. This cabin was roomy and comfortable. Liberty Walker was a bachelor, and made a large claim on the river below Lyndon, wnere he raised a crop of sod grain in 1836. He died April 29, 1837, and was buried on a mound near the present farm of Mr. P. A. Brooks. Adam R. Hamilton died August 28, 1865. He was well known throughout the county during his lifetime, and his death was universally mourned. Ephraim H. Hubbard remained only a short time, when he moved away, and died in March, 1842.

Among those who came in 1836 were William Farrington, father of Addison Farrington the present Circuit Clerk of Whiteside county, P. L. Jeffers, Rev. Elisha Hazard, Erastus Fitch, Augustus Rice, Dr. Augustin Smith, W. W. Gilbert, Geo. Dennis in 1837, Draper B. Reynolds, Capt. Harry Smith, D. F. Millikan, A. I. Maxwell, David Hazard, Benj. Coburn, Sr., and family, Wesley Anderson, Will D. Dudley, George Higley, P. Daggett, Brainard Orton, Amos Cady, John C. Pratt, Robert G. Clendenin, Thomas C. Gould and Pardon A. Brooks; in 1838, James M. Goodhue, Timothy Dudley, Marcus Sperry, A. W. Newhall, Lyman Reynolds, Smith Chambers, and John M. Scott in 1839, Charles R. Deming, John Roy, Jared D. Conyne, Ferdinand B. Hubbard, Solomon Hubbard, Alexis Hubbard.

David Hazard was originally a New Yorker, but had resided in Pennsylvania some years before he came West. Like some of the other Lyndon people he brought his family and goods all the way, a distance of nine hundred miles, by team, his journey taking twenty-eight days. On the other hand Draper B. Reynolds preferred the water route, and came from New York State by the way of the Alleghany, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers, and landed at Fulton, and, from thence to Lyndon by team. When D. F. Millikan first came he domiciled in a cabin near where W. O. Dudley now resides. It was covered with bark, and when it rained the water came through the roof as freely as it did through Mr. Woodruff's hay roof. One night during a severe rain storm, Mrs. Millikan sought to protect her husband and children from getting wet in their beds, by placing an umbrella over the bed of the latter, on the floor, and a tin basin on Mr. Millikan's breast, so as to catch the water as it came through the barkroof to where he lay. He soon sank into a sleep, as did all the family, and when the basin was well filled unconsciously turned over, throwing the water upun Mrs. Millikan. The scene that followed can be better imagined than described. In the winter of 1839-40, Mr. Millikan went to Knox's mill, in Elkhorn Grove, with a horse and pung, taking a grist to be ground. The mill, like that of the gods, ground very slow, and he was compelled to stay all night before he could get his grist. During the night, one of those terrible snow storms, so famIlIar to all the old settlers of this country, set in, the wind coming from the northwest, almost like a tornado. In the morning there being no appearance of its abating he determined to start for home taking the wind as a guide, as the air was so filled with snow that seeing was out of the question. In the afternqon he reached Hickory Grove, where he found an unoccupied cabin, and being nearly frozen, attempted to light a fire, but failed. This necessitated a renewal of the journey, and striking out again in the storm he reached home a little after dark, angry, and chilled through with the cold. Old settlers can readily comprehend the situation. He has yet in his possession an old fashioned cord bed­stead, which he brought from Ohio. The side rails were used on the trip West as levers to pry the wagon out of the mud, when it got sloughed. Lyman Reynolds was one of the eccentric men of that day, and was known, at his own suggestion, by the soubriquet of the Duke of Bulgerorum. He had his cabin where Hiram Austin now lives, and named it Bulgerorum ranch. He died about twenty-five years ago, near Geneseo, Illinois, was found dead in his bed. Samuel and George Higley were the tall men of the Lyndon settlement, the former being six feet and six inches in his stocking feet, and the latter six feet and four inches. John C. Pratt first visited Whiteside county in 1835, travel­ing most of the way on foot. Returning to New York, he engaged the services of James Knox, who afterwards settled where Morrison now stands, Lyman Bennett, at present a resident of Albany, and William Farrington, to open up a large farm on the bend of the river, opposite Prophetstown, called the Oxbow Bend, and also one on section 36, in Fenton township, opposite Portland, furnish­ing them with oxen, yokes, chains, etc., agreeing to pay them three dollars per acre for breaking prairie, and one dollar per hundred for splitting rails and putying them into a fence.

In the winter of 1835-'36 about two thousand Indians were encamped in the timber between Prophetstown and Lyndon, and many of them remained hrough the whole of the year 1836. In the fall of that year, while Mr. W ood­ruff was engaged in repairing a boat on Rock river, a large party of these Indians came to the bank near where he was at work. They had killed a fine buck, and as soon as they had halted, built a fire, cut the deer in two in the middle, and without removing the skin put the part with the head on into a kettle and cooked it without salt or other seasoning. After it was cooked to their notion the part was taken out and placed ready for those who were to partake of the beast, a chop stick being the ticket to dinner. During the time this was being done, a party of young Indians in a tent near by, kept up a continual chant, and a little at one side, a squaw sat on the river bank and wailed incessantly. Mr. Woodruff afterwards ascertained that this chanting and wailing was caused by the death of the squaw's child. The young Indians and the squaw were not invited to the feast. The howling of the choir in the tent, and the wailing of the bereaved mother, were of the most approved style of Indian funereal ceremo­nies. When the work on the boat was completed an effort was made to secure the services of the Indians in assisting to turn the boat over, and launching it, and they could only be induced to do so upon the promise of Asa Crook, who was then present, to treat them well with whiskey for the service. Being naturally intemperate they went to work, and the boat was soon in the stream. On second thought Mr. Crook wisely concluded it would not be safe to let the savages have the firewater, as they never failed to get intoxicated, and refused to redeem his promise. This so maddened the Indians that they went to the neiighboring corn field, loaded their canoes with corn and pumpkins, and with the booty went down the river. In 1839 a company consisting of Messrs. Ray, Harmon, Spencer, and Dix, contracted to extend the mill race at Lyndon from a point on the river just below the town, under the bluffs, and have it enter the river below Portland, In the north, near Squaw Point or Portland ferry. The intention was to put up mills and manufacturing establishments at the outlet. The race had been excavated in 1838, and a saw mill upon a large and substantial plan erected, at which about two hundred feet of hard wood lumber had been sawed; but the race was not deep enough to be of any practical use, and hence the project to increase its size and length. Under the contract it was made ten feet wide at the bottom, and so far finished as to let the water through, but the power Was not sufficient to make it a success. Hard times had come; money was scarce and there was no market but the home demand. All the money had to be kept to enter the lands when they came into market. Contracts for commodities were therefore made to be liquidated in corn, wheat, pork, potatoes, turnips cows, horses, in fact anything that could be bartered. The contractors, unde: such a state of things, were unable to fully complete their work, and lost heavily, Mr. Rayalone losing six thousand dollars, a very large sum of money in those days. This embarassed him for a time, but he eventually recovered from it. Mr. Harmon never really got over his loss; he went farther West some twenty years ago, and when last heard from was in the mining regions of the Rocky Mountains. Spencer and Dix never lived permanently in the West.

Under the act of the General Assembly of the State, passed in 1839 Messrs. Chauncy G. Woodruff and Adam R. Hamilton were appointed Commissioners to superintend. an election for a place to be the county seat of Whiteside county. The first election under this act was held in May, 1839, at which votes were cast for Lyndon, Sterling, Prophetstown, Albany, Fulton, and Union Grove, and resulted in no choice being made. The act pro­vided that an election should be held every four weeks until a majority of votes was given for one place, and finally at the September election the Commission­ers decided that Lyndon had received a majority of all the votes polled, and it was duly declared the country seat. A full 'history of county seat mattersis given in chapter IV, of this volume, pages 71-76. The first meeting of the County Commissioners' Court was held at the house of Wm. D. Dudley, in Lyndon, in 1839, the Commissioners being John B. Dodge, Nathaniel G. Reynolds, and Elijah Worthington. Mr. Worthington died in the winter of 1839-'40; Mr. Dodge was killed by a desperado at Hazel Green, a few miles northeast of Galena, and Mr. Reynolds died in the winter of 1865-'66. The first Circuit Court was held in Lyndon in April, 1840, in an unfinished house then owned by' T. C. Gould. Hon. Daniel Stone was Circuit Judge, Robert L. Wilson, Clerk of the Court, James C. Woodburn, Sheriff, and J. W. McLemore, Deputy Sheriff. The following incident occurred at the time of holding the first Circuit Court at Lyndon. Two of the members of the bar having business before the Court were from Dixon, and immediately upon their itrrival in town called at the store of Smith Chambers, and wanted some whiskey, as that article was then included and generally kept under the head of groceries, but were informed by him that whiskey formed no part of his invoice of groceries, and that none could be found in Lyndon. Seized with disappointmerit and despair they ejaculated, "No whiskey? What a hell of a place this is to hold Court in!" At that early time an unlimited capacity for stimulants and a small amount of legal knowledge constituted the necessary qualifications of many attorneys.

The first and only resident lawyer in Lyndon, at the holding of the first Circuit Court at that place, was James M. Goodhue. He was a fine scholar and well read attorney, although nervous and excitable as a man. The latter qualities sometimes precipitated him into difficulties about unimportant matters and made himself trouble which he afterwards avoided. On one occasion while the Circuit Court was in session, he got into one of these little difficulties an I the street with an old settler greatly his senior, and in the melee received a blow. This so incensed him that he hurriedly went into open court and demanded that the assailant be brought in and punished for committing an assault and battery upon an attorney of record and ex-official officer of the Court, but was blandly informed by Judge Stone that as he had ventured beyond the jurisdiction of the Court it could give him no redress, and that his remedy was an action for asault and battery before a Justice of the Peace. Mr. Goodhue afterwards went north and settled in Minnesota, where he held important public positions. Goodhue county, in that State, was named after him. He died a number of years ago.

The first child born in Lyndon was to Dr. Augustin and Mary A. Smith, whose life was of short duration. This was in 1836. The second child was Elisha son of David and Leonora Hazard, born December 8, 1837.

The first parties to enter into wedlock were Theron Crook and Miss Nancy A. Hamilton, daughter of Adam R. Hamilton, the ceremony being performed on the 3d of March, 1836. This was one of the first marriages in Whiteside connty. Mr. Crook is a resident of Oregon. Mrs. Crook has been dead for many years.

The first death was that of Liberty Walker, which occurred on the 29th of April, 1837. The first female who died in the township was Mrs. Mary A. Smith, wife of Dr. Augustm Smith, her death occurrmg July 16, 1837. Mrs. Lydia A., wife of B. Coburn, whose death occurred July 31, 1837, was the first person buried in the Lyndon cemetery.

The early settlers of Lyndon had been well educated at their eastern homes, and brought a strong love of knowledge with them when they came West. The privileges they had received they determined should be extended to their children, so far as the circumstances of their new situation would admit. Teachers were at hand, but school houses had to be built, and school books procured, and to do either was no easy task. It was as much as they were able to do to erect rude cabins to shelter them from the night air and the storms, and whatever money they made from their crops was needed for the purchase of their claims when they were placed into market by the Government, and for actual necessaries for the household. Yet their determination was strong to conquer all impediments in the way of furnishing at least a rudimental education for their children. When a school house could not be built, the cabin of the settler was thrown open to the teaeher and the scholar, and the few text books made to do double and sometimes quadruple duty. The first teacher in what is now the township of Lyndon was Miss Lovica B. Hamilton, now Mrs. J. W. Olds, and the school taught in the back room of Deacon Hamilton's house, in the summer of 1836. The next year a log school house was built near Mr. Hamilton's, and Alexis Hubbard employed as the first teach­er. The first male teacher in the town, however, was Mr. Knowlton, who taught in the winter of 1836-'37 in the same room in Mr. Hamilton's house that Miss Hamilton had used the summer previous. Now there are eight dis­tricts In the township, and each has a good school building.

Coeval with the establishment of schools with such people as the early settlers of Lyndon is the establishment of religious services. With them religion and education go hand in hand. A church edifice is no sooner erected than a schoolhouse stands by its side. But as it is in most cases impossible to erect these structures at once in a new settlement, other buildings must be used, and in Lyndon the cabin door was thrown as freely open to the man of God as it was to the man of letters. The 3d of March, 1836, saw the first religious meeting held at Lyndon, the place of gathering being the 12 by 12 cabin of Wm. D. Dudley. The cabin was covered with bark, but beneath that lowly roof the orisons of praIse were as sincerely made and were as acceptable to Him to whom they were addressed as though they had been sent up from an edifice equal in grandeur and magnificence to a Trinity, a St. Paul's, or a St. Peter's. On that occasion Deacon A. R. Hamilton officiated by reading a sermon, and leading the other services. The first sermon preached in the town was by Rev. Elish Hazard, in the same cabin, in June, 1836. The first church society was organized by the Congregationalists in 1836, and others afterwards followed.

The Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis Railroad, now owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Company, enters the township on section 6 of Congressional township 20 north, range 6 east, and runs in a southwesterly direc­tion through sections 1, 12, 11, 10, 15, 16, 21, 20, 19 and 30 of Congressional township 20 north, range 5 east, and passes out at the northwest corner of the latter section. The Mendota and Prophets town branch of the Ohicago Bur­lington & Quincy Railroad strikes the township at Rock river, in the southeast part of section 30, and running northwesterly passes out on the southwest cor­ner of section 19. The two roads intersect each other on the line between sec­tions 19 and 30.

The following is a list of the Supervisors, Town Clerks, Assessors and Collectors of the township of Lyndon from 1852 to 1877

Supervisors :-1852-'55, Robert G. Clendenin; 1856-'62, Justus Rew; 1863, Lucius E. Rice; 1864, John Whallon; 1865-'69, Henry Dudley; 1870-'72: John Whallon; 1873, Justus Rew; 1874-'77, John Whallon.

Town Clerks :-1852-'53, W. Andrews; 1854, C. A. Sperry; 1855, W. An­drews; 1856, A. A. Higley; 1857-'64, Henry Dudley; 1865, Samuel G. Scott; 1866, Homer Gillette; 1867, Charles C. Sweeney; 1868, Edward Ward; 1869, W. Andrews; 1870-'72, Moses Lathe; 1873-'76, E. B. Hazard; 1877, Ethan Allen.

Assessors :-1852, Justus Rew; 1853-'55, John Lathe; 1856, H. B. Free­man; 1857, Reuben King; 1858, John Lathe; 1859-'60, Alpheus Clark; 1861, Lucius E. Rice; 1862-'77, John Lathe.

Collectors :-1852, Amos Cady; 1853, O. Woodruff; 1854-'55, Amos Cady; 1856-'63, John Roberts; 1864-'67, SamuelG. Scott; 1868-'69, O. W. Richardson; 1870-'71, E. C. Sweeney; 1872-'75, Harry R.Smith; 1876, Joseph F. Wilkins; 1877, E. B. Hazard.

Justices of the Peace :-1852, David P. Moore; 1854, Joseph F. Wilkins, D. P. Moore; 1858, Wesley Anderson, Orange Woodruff; 1860, Wesley Anderson, O. Woodruff; 1864, Joseph F. Wilkins, W. Anderson; 1868, J. F. Wilkins, W. Anderson; 1872, J. F. Wilkins; 1873, Charles C. Sweeney; 1877, J. F. Wilkins, Moses Lathe.

Lyndon township contains 16,390 acres of improved lands and 409 acres unimproved; 174 improved lots, and 94 unimproved. According to the Assessor's book for 1877 there are in the township 618 horses, 1,926 cattle, 17 mules and asses, 658 sheep, 2,256 hogs, 2 billiard' tables, 170 carriages and wagons, 38 watches and clocks, 106 sewing and knitting machines, 5 piano-fortes, 33 melodeons and organs. Total assessed value of lands, lots and personal proper­ty, $407,012; railroad property, $27,295; total assessed value of all property in 1877, $434,307.

The population of the township of Lyndon in 1870, as shown by the ceni sus report of that year, was 1,039, of which 963 were of native birth, and 760 foreign birth. The estimated population in 1877 is 1,100.