History of Montmorency Township
[Source: Whiteside County, Illinois, From Its First Settlement To The Present Time; by Charles Bent; pub. 1877]
The township of Montmorency, like all those on the south side of Rock river, was originally a part of Portland Precinct, and afterwards of Rapids Precinct, of which it remained a part until 1852, when it received its name and boundaries from the Commissioners appointed by the County Commissioners’ Court for that purpose. It did not receive its complete organization, however, until 1859, remaining from 1852 up to that time attached to Coloma township for judicial purposes. It comprises township 20 north, range 7 east of 4th Principal Meridian. This township is admirably adapted for agricultural purposes, and the lands are now nearly all improved. The soil, with few exceptions, is of the deep black loam of the prairie, and the surface suffciently undulating in most parts to render it tillable every season. The low lands are drained by the county ditch, a part of which commences in the town. The northwest corner is crossed by a spring creek running into Rock river, but the whole town is well watered by abundant wells, the water being of excellent quality. A piece of low land, known as Swan Lake, and formerly covered for most of the year with water, remains unbroken. It is now drained by one part of the county ditch, but the depth of the ditch is not sufficient at present to allow a full reclamation of the land.
The farmers of the town have been turning their attention of late years to the raising of stock and hogs of the best breeds, several of them having full bloods of these breeds, notably among them being Adelburt A. Church, Hon. Tyler McWhorter, and others. There is probably no town in the county where finer stock and hogs can be seen than in Montmorency. For a comparatively new town the dwellings and barns in Montmorency are of a superior kind. The hay barn and cattle stables of Alonzo Golder are particulary noticeable for size and convenience of arrangement. The dairy interest is also well represented in the town, Mr. Clinton C. Buell, the present Supervisor being the pioneer. Mr. Buell has devoted a great deal of time and attention to this branch of industry.
A branch of the C.B.& Q. Railroad, running from Amboy to Rock Falls, formerly known as the Chicago & Rock River Railroad, passes through the northeast corner of the town. The first settler in what is now Montmorency was Asa Scott, who came with his father, Jesse Scott, from Morgan county, Ohio, and landed at Como, June 1, 1839. He remained at Como until 1847, when he selected a farm in section 7, township 20, range 7 east of the 4th Principal Meridian, now the township of Montmorency. For nearly five years he was the only settler between Rock and Green rivers in that part of Whiteside county. In 1852, S. Russell settled on the south half of section 7, in the same township. Edwin Scott followed in 1853, and settled on the northeast quarter of section 12. Both came from Ohio. Tyler McWhorther, J. G. Banes and George Murray, from Indiana, Herman Sturtz, from Pennsylvania, and two Englishmen, named Robert Adams and Robert Clay, came in 1854. Joel Wood, from Ohio, two brothers named Van Buren, from New York, and Dr. Reuben Davis, from Ohio, 1855, and Alonzo Golder, and Joseph Golder, from New York. William Hall, an Englishman, and several others, came in 1856. After that year settlers came in more rapidly.
Asa Scott built the first house in the town. It still stands on his present farm.
The first child born in the town was Addie B., daughter of Asa and Elizabeth Scott, was born on the 6th of August, 1848. She is now the wife of Nathaniel Wood, and lives in Crawford county, Iowa.
George C. Calkins and Mary T. Scott were the first parties to enter into the bonds of matrimony in the town. The marriage took place at the house of Asa Scott, the father of the bride, Mr. and Mrs. Calkins are now residents of Adams County Iowa.
The first death was that of John Scott, a son of Asa Scott, and occurred on the 26th of February, 1856. He was not quite a year old when he died, and was buried at Como.
The first town election after the complete organization of the township, was held at the school house in Distrct No. 2, on the 5th of April, 1859. Joel G Wood was chosen Moderator, and A. L. Burdett, Clerk. Twenty votes were cast. At that meeting it was voted, among other things, that every householder be empowered to act as Pound Master. It was also voted that the name of the township be changed from Montmorency to Arcade. This change did not, however, seem popular with the people, many refusing to accept it at all, and at the next town meeting the vote was rescinded, and Montmorency retained its name.
The following have been the principal officers of the town since its organization: Supervisors:-1859-’64, Joseph Golder; 1865-’67, George M. Sawyer; 1868-‘74, Tyler MeWhorter; 1875-’77, C. C. Buell. Town Clerks:-1859, A. L. Burdett; 1860-’64, George M. Sawyer 1865, W.A. Golder; 1866-’67, P. C. Woods; 1868-’72, George M. Sawyer; 1873-”77, A.A.. Church. Assesors:-1859-’60, Asa Scott; 1861-’65, Nathan Williams; 1866, Tyler McWhorter; 1867, Nathan Williams; 1868-’70, George C. Calkins; 1871-’74, Herman Sterling; 1875, Rudolph Kauffman; 1876-’77, Henry M. Barnum. Collectors:-1859, Win. C. Payson; 1860, James Currier; 1861-’67, J. W. Scott; 1868-’71, John W. Niles; 1872-’73, James Frank; 1874-’75, Henry M. Barnum; 1876-’77, Freeman Clemons. Justices of the Peace:.-1859, Alonzo Golder, Benjamin Cushing; 1860, Alonzo Golder, W. E. Lawrence; 1861, J. G. Banes; 1862, Levi Macomber; 1864, Alonso Golder, George C. Calkins; 1865, Peter C. Woods; 1869, Artemus Church; 1870, Nathan Williams; 1871, Herman Sturtz; 1872, Alonzo Golder, P.C. Woods; 1876, P. C. Woods, C. C. Buell; 1877, Nathan Williams, P. C. Woods.
A special town meeting was held at the school house in District No.2, on the 8th of August, 1869, for the purpose of voting for or against the town subscribing the sum of $50,000 to the capital stock of the first division of the Chicago & Rock River Railroad Company, the form of the tickets being “For Subscription,” and “Against Subscription.” Forty-three votes were cast for subscription, and thirty-four against it. Bonds were to be issued for the the payment of the stock in such form as would entitle them to be registered under the act of the General Assembly, in force April 16, 1869. Notwithstanding the election in favor of subscribing to the stock of the company, the town did not do so. Soon after the election the Company applied to Hon. Tyler McWhorter, who was then Supervisor, to subscribe in behalf of the town, but he declined, and in this action was sustained by the people of the town. Application was then made to Judge Heaton, of the Circuit Court, for a writ of mandamus to compel him to do so, but the Judge refused to grant the writ. This ended proceedings until the road was completed, when application was again made to Supervisor McWhorter to subscribe to the stock and issue bonds, and he again refused. Application for a writ of mandamus was then made to Judge Pleasants, of the Rock Island Circuit Court, and granted. From this the town appealed to the Supreme Court, upon the ground, among others, that the election on the 28th of August, 1869, was not legal, inasmuch as the majority at that election in favor of subscribing to the stock, was not a majority of all the legal voters residing in the town, as required by the statute. The Supreme Court held with the appellant, and the writ was dismissed. The town therefore never subscribed to the stock nor issued any bonds. The contest over this matter was long and spirited, but the town won.
The earliest traveled road in the town was the old trail leading from Dixon to Green River bridge. This road enters the town near the northeast corner, running in a southwesterly direction, and passes out a little west of the center of the south line. The other early traveled road was the old stage route from Dixon to Rock Island. It was over this route that the murderers of Col. Davenport were taken in 1846. A prominent object on the line of this road in this town was the lone tree, which was known far and wide throughout this section of the country. It was of the species known as the honey locust. It was also known as the “grocery tree,” because of the bottle of liquor the stage drivers used to keep hid under it, and from which they drew inspiration as they passed, going to and returning from Rock Island. The earliest road laid out was in 1854, and runs east and west through the town. The second was laid out in 1864, and runs north and south through the center of the town.
The first school house was built on section 9, on the corner almost opposite Alonzo Golder’s residence, in the fall of 1856. It was a small frame building, and was used for school purposes uxitil it was blown into fragments by the great tornado of June 3 1860. The first school in the town was taught in this diminutive building by Mr. Alfred Snell, in the winter of 1856-’57. Its site is now covered by a large and well-arranged school building. The second school house was built in what is known as the Banes district, and the third in the McWhorter district. In the latter school house Capt. W. C. Robinson, at present one of the Aldermen and Supervisors of Sterling, taught school in the winter of 1859-’60. There are now six good, commodious school houses in the town, and the number of children attending school during the past year (1876), was 364. Four of the districts in the town are union districts. The school fund of the town amounts to $16,000.
No churches as yet have been erected in the town, and the people attend stated services either at Rock Falls, Sterling, or Tampico, as their religious belief inclines them. The first sermon preached in the town, of which we have any account, was by Elder Zadoc Paddock, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the McWhorter school house, in the spring of 1860. The first Sunday School was taught by Miss Sarah Robinson, in the same school house, in the summer of 1860. Miss Robinson was teaching the public school there at that time.
Owing to the large number of men who enlisted in the Union armies during the war of the Rebellion, from the town, taking the population at that period into consideration, and the tax raised to supply any deficiency in the quotas under the different calls of the President for troops, Montmorency was not subject to a draft. Of the men who went from the town, Wm. Macomber became one of McClellan’s staff, Alonzo Golder, a son of Joseph Golder, died in the service . and a son of Asa Scott died after his arrival home, of disease contacted in the service.
The township of Montmorency contains 21,921 acres of improved land, and 1,160 of unimproved, as is shown by the Assessor’s books for 1877. From the same source we find that the number of horses in the township at the time of the assessment, was 488; number of cattle, 1,657; mules and asses, 32; sheeps and hogs, 2,323; carriages and wagons, 217; sewing and knitting machines 68; melodeons and organs, 21. The total value of lands, lots and personal property in 1877, amounts to $379,730; value of railroad property, $5,002; total assessed value of all property in 1877, $384,732.
The population of the township in 1870, according to the Federal census of that year, was 668, of which 543 were of native birth, and 125 of foreign birth. In 1860 the population of the township was 278. it is now estimated population is over 1,000. [Source: Whiteside County, Illinois, From Its First Settlement To The Present Time; by Charles Bent; pub. 1877]
Montmorency Township History
[History of Whiteside County by Davis 1907, transcribed by Christine Walters
(NOTE: THERE ARE NUMEROUS TYPOS in this. We've corrected some of the most obvious ones, but we'd love to have this retyped]
This is one of our purely inland townships, no river, no railroad, but one wide stretch of farms and cottages. How did it get its name? Ustick, for instance, is after an early settler, Erie from the lake, lit. Pleasant for its situation, but Montmorency is French, and the first emigrants were Yankees. It certainly has one merit, it is musical, which cannot be said of Oshkosh. The main road from Rock Falls southward is known as the Golder road from Alonzo Golder, who opened a large farm in 1850, and became a representativc Citizen, but in later years retiring to Sterling. Here was the seeond school building called the Banes schoolhouse. a central place for meetings of various kinds and religious services. In the third schoolhouse in the McWhorter district, Capt. W. C. Robinson, afterwards in the war, taught in the winter of 1850.
Two early roads. One a trail from Dixon to Green river, northeast to southwest. The other was the stage route from Dixon to Rock Island. A familiar landmark was the "Lone Tree," ' a honey locust, blown down in Camanche tornado of 1860. The first regular rail, laid out in 1851, runs east and west through the town.
On this Golder road is a small white frame structure with the inscription above the door, M. W. A. Camp 1912, 1S90. North of this you come to the cemetery.
Most of the tombs bear dates since 1866. Among the older names are Cornelius Bachellor. 1829-1809. George Murray, 1815-1881. Elizabeth Murray, 1820-1892. Elizabeth Foster, 1798-1877. Alonzo Golder, 1807-1805. George W. Curtis, 1822-1902. (This name recalls the celebrated editor of Harper's Weekly.) Hullinger, 1820-1897. Then there are Doty, Fitch, Blancbanl, Stevens, Ward. Frank, Sawyer. Of the soldiers we noticed G. B. Reynolds, 1841-1887. Francis Brown. 1872. P. C. Woods, 1880, aged 59. Elijah T. Halsted, 1885, aged 42.
Within a generation the country has made a remarkable improvement. The primitive buildings have given way to modern dwellings with large barns, hay sheds, and all the smaller structures necessary to convenience and comfort. Some of our prosperous farms today look like a small village. Dwellings generally white, barns red, which is a durable color, warm in winter, and showy in appearance. Soil a black loam with here and there a mixture of sand, which makes heavy travel on the roads. This has been remedied in many places by gravel and embankment. Ditching has been of vast benefit to many sections of the township.
The common roads through Montmorency and Hume cross the feeder of the Hennepin canal by means of high steel bridges, approached by long embankments. They are visible afar, and make graceful landmarks. Corn is king. On both sides of the roads a sea of yellow stalks. Hogs and cattle in.the meadows, poultry in the barnyards.
The writer had an interview with Luman Kakeman. one of the last of Montmorency's pioneers. He came from the banks of the Hudson in 1854, buying land south of Asa Scot I in 1859, the only pioneer then in the township. The only Indian trail up and down the valley was traveled in the time of California gold excitement, and some days one hundred teams passed along. On the road between Sterling and Prophetstown, George Richmond is the last of the men of 1859. Where the busy town of Rock Falls now is, he could have bought the land at §15 per acre. Near that Lone Tree there was once a graveyard, called tho Lone Tree Cemetery, but the friends of the dead moved away, and the bodies were never removed. Tho laud in Hume south of his place was unoccupied for many years.
The most active secret order in the township is the Mystics. At the annual meeting in December, 1907, the following officers; were elected:
Prefix - Samuel May.
Secretary - Frank Ashling.
Banker - William Ashling.
Marshal - Mrs. John Schaff.
Warder - Theodore Frank.
Sentinel - Matthias Grcnnan.
Supervisor for three years - Cyrus Dellenteen.
One of the diversions occasionally is a poverty ball. In order to gain admittance it will 1m? necessary for all guests to be attired in rags and tags. Good clothes will not be tolerated.
To indicate the interest taken in the subject of transportation in these rural districts, this item clipped from a county paper is suggestive: Twenty-two farmers in the town of Montmorency have been hauling crushed rock for grading and making bard roads in their town. It is expensive as tho material has to be hauled several miles, but the campaign for good road is worth pushing.
LETTER FROM A LADY.
In reply to your request to furnish you with a few facts that exist in Montmorency, I will say that we have six public schools. The buildings are frame buildings, and are in good condition. We employ six teachers at an average of forty-five dollars per month. Each school has a library and such days as Arbor Day, Flag Day, Decoration Day, and Lincoln and Washington days are observed. From these schools are many of the prominent teachers of the county. We have at the present time a student at Urbana who is beading the Junior Class in Medical Science. There are two Sunday schools and a Home Department Class of twenty members. There is preaching at the Itancs Sunday school of tho Methodist Denomination. There is a Woodman Hall, and Camp No. 19 bold regular meetings. The Mystic Workers lodge, No. 104 also meet at this hall. This township has twenty-three steel bridges which span its drainage ditches, which have been the means of greatly advancing the value of the land in this township. There is a number of W. C. T. U. workers here, and a number of young people who have taken part in medal contests. Hoping some of these facts will be a benefit to you, I am,
Mrs. Eliza Frank.
As the writer's residence in Whiteside dates from 1850, he often met many of the early settlers on the street. Alonza Golder after coming to Sterling was dignified as Judge, he was a thick-set man, good-humored countenance, and plain in his manners. He formed partnership with his son in the lumber and coal trade. I lis daughter was married to Moses Dillon, long in the elevator business, now in New York. Tho Judge was a member of tho Congregational church, and an estimable citizen in all the relations of life. Another was Nathan Williams, who, when the writer first knew him, was engaged in a dry goods store, but after three years left Sterling, and devoted his energies to a large farm of 040 acres in Montmorency. In 1871 he was elected to the legislature as representative, serving two years. Faithful to his constituents. To him the writer is indebted for a completo sot of the Geological Survey of Illinois, under direction of A. II. Worthen. A third was C. C. Ruell, the best educated of all tho circle, valedictorian at University, New York. An illustrious record as professor, quartermaster in the Civil war, principal of Second Ward school in Sterling, influential as farmer and dairyman. Mr. Buell was a good writer, ready speaker, and well equipped for the intellectual or commercial affairs of the community.
Asa Scott, who made that peculiar boat trip from Ohio to Como in 1839, where he remained until 1847, when he purchased a farm in this township, had sixteen children, putting him in the class with Susanna Wesley, mother of the famous Methodist founder. Asa's early experience was full of all sorts of hardship. Tyler McWhorter's name was familiar to the citizens of the county, as he was supervisor and member of the legislature. He came in 1854 from Indiana. His widow resides in Sterling. A. A. Church is best known as a raiser of improved stock. Herman Sterling removed to Sterling, and then to California. Henry M. Itanium is now in Sterling. In fact, nearly all of Montmorency's older people arc gone. Another generation have taken up their work.
No cause has more loyal, efficient, untiring workers than the men and women in the Sunday school movement. A pure and disinterested service, so refreshing in this age of graft and selfishness. The children are the hope of the country, and they should be brought up in the ways of righteousness. When time-servers are forgotten, they that turn many to holiness, shall shine on the stars forever and ever.
The first County S. S. convention was held in Morrison, Dec. 11-12, 1876; Rev. D. E. Wells was chosen moderator, and Payson Trask. secretary. State Secretary, E. Payson Porter pave an address. Saving of the World. Fourteen townships of twenty-two were represented. D. J. Jenne, Sterling, president; Pay-on Trask, Fulton, secretary, H. C. Donaldson, Morrison, statistical secretary, were chosen for the ensuing year. The next convention met in Harwell Hall, Sterling. May 7, 1877. The report showed 52 schools, and 5,430 scholars. The next year the meeting was in the Presbyterian church, Fulton, May. 1878. April 29, 1879, saw the convention in the Presbyterian church at Morrison. Rev. E. Brown was one of the speak- ers. The next time in tho Congregational church. Sterling. May 4. 1880. The report gave 75 schools and 6,404 scholars. Fulton M. E. church bad the following session. Dec. 13, 1881. At the next convention in Morrison Baptist church, Dec. 7, 1882, there were 64 schools reported with a membership of 5,100.' Jennc. Trask, and Donaldson, after a faithful service of seven years retired, and C. W. Sholes, Morrison, president; Joseph B. Kearns, Garden Plain, sec; and G. P. Perry, Sterling, treasurer, succeeded. At the convention in M. E. church. Sterling, Oct. 31, 1883, W. B. Jacobs gave an address on The True, Object of Our Work, and How to Accomplish It. Forty dollars was appropriated for the state fund. Next in Morrison. Presbyterian church. Nov. 11, 1884. Erie had the next meeting, in M. E. church, Nov. 2, 1885, and the officers elected were: Pres., Dr. Donaldson; I. M. Phillips, v. pres.; G. P. Perry, treas; rec. sec, B. T. St. John.. Oct. 21, 1886, saw the convention in Fulton, Oct. 25,1887, in Cong, church. Rock Falls, Dec. 22, 1888, in Morrison, Nov. 21, 1889, in Fulton, Nov. 20, 1890, in Sterling, Nov. 19, 1891, in Mor- rison. Nov. 1, 1892, in Fulton, Sept. 20, 1893 in Piophetstown, Nov. 13, 1894, in Rock Falls, Oct. 1, 1895, Eric, Nov. 21, 1890, Morrison, Nov. 9, 1897, Sterling, Nov. 0, 1898, Prophetstown, Nov. 7,1899, Rock Falls, Nov. 20, 1900, Morrison. Rev. Henry Mosor, Mary Foster Bryner, and W. B. Jacobs were present. The silver anniversary was observed, 1876-1900, to commemorate the first convention, which was held also in Morrison. Among those present then were W. F. Eastman, Overholser, Tuttle, Payne, Mrs. Hamilton, R. Aldritt, L. E. Mathews, Mrs. Woodruff. At the meeting in Fulton, 1901, Nov. 12, I. M. Phillips was pres. and S. A. Maxwell, secretary. The convention met in Sterling, Nov. 11, 1902, in Oct. 29, 1903, at Erie, Nov. 3, 1904, Presbyterian church. Albany, Nov. 2, 1905, in M. E. church, Tampico, Sept, 20, 1906, in M. E. church, Rock Falls, Sept. 26, 1907, at Morrison.
COUNTY OFFICERS FOR NINETEEN HUNDRED AND EIGHT.
President, George W. Welch, Sterling.
Vice-President, C. E. Ackermnn. Morrison.
Recording Secretary, George A. Potter. Erie.
Statistical Secretary, Theodore Trmith. Sterling.
Treasurer, I. D. Woodford. Morrison.
Normal Superintendent. George P. Perry, Sterling.
Primary Superintendent. Miss Fanny Riggs, Morrison.
Temperance Secretary, Rev. J. Burrh, Fulton.
Home Dept. Secretary (Northern District), Mrs. Lizzie Detweiler, Sterling.
Illinois Dept. Secretary (Southern District), Mrs. Eliza Frank, Rock Falls.
District No. 1 - Hugh Miller, Sterling; Jordan, Sterling, Coloma. Genesee and Hopkins.
District No. 2 - Frank Milligan, Tumpico; Montmorency, Hohnamau, Hume and Tampico.
District No. 3 - M. I. Fadden, Lyndon; Clyde, Mt. Pleasant and Lyndon.
District No. 4 - W. W. Watson, Morrison, L'stick, Union Grove and Fenton.
District No. 5 - Dr. L. Barber, Fulton; Fulton, Garden Plain, Newton and Albany.
District No. 6 - Frank Cleaveland, Prophetstown; Erie, Prophetstown and Portland.
As will be noticed, the conventions have been changed in place every year so that an interest may be aroused in every section of the county. The plan has proved successful, and in every town the convention is the enthusiastic event of the week. Good singing, addresses by prominent educators, discussions that appeal to teachers and people. Today Whiteside has every township organized, and is the banner and star county in the state for S. S. work.
LARGEST SUNDAY SCHOOLS IN COUNTY.
Fourth St. M. E., Sterling.............482
St. John's Lutheran, Sterling..........412
Dutch Reformed, Fulton..............323
In the county the total:
Sunday School Enrollment...........8171
Home Department ................. 570
Cradle Roll ....................... 507
There are 936 officers and teachers, and the amount contributed for state work is $165.
Theodore Troutb, Sterling, statistical secretary, who has furnished much of the material for this sketch, and is himself a pioneer in the movement, has given tho writer a long list of the worthy men and women who freely gave their time and talents to the cause. Among the wheelhorses are James P. Overholser, I. M. Phillips, George P. Perry, G. W. Olmstead, H. K. Hostettor, J. K. Chester, N. G. Van Sant, Hugh Miller. For twenty years Pern* has conducted every winter a training class in Sterling, in which are presented the best methods of teacher training. [History of Whiteside County by Davis 1907]
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