COLONA TOWNSHIP

 

Within the confines of this township with a curious name, is the spot of the first settlement of Henry County . Here it was Dr. Baker, impelled now by what we do not know, to direct his way to this particular place, drove his wagon and team, and looked out upon the fair and beautiful world that lay before him, halted, unhitched and went into camp; and then for the first time the smoke from an actual settler's camp-fire went curling and creeping through the tree- tops, and the frugal meal and the first supper of the first settler was prepared, and the little houseless household went to bed in the wagon, and slept in in­ nocent content after their long wandering.

It is fully told elsewhere how in a few days came Thomas and James Glenn and Anthony Hunt, and how they were simply following the wagon tracks of Dr. Baker. They had been to the "'lead mines " and come down to the mouth of the Rock River, and followed up its course until they found Baker. How they, too, looked upon the country and said " it is good enough " and concluded to tarry.

Then came George Brandenburg, and slowly his friends followed and founded the first town in the county, and for a long time Brandenburg's was the famed and wide-world known point to all who contemplated coming or did come to the new country.

It was from here Major Allan tells us he rode to Vandalia to secure the county organization by the Legislature at Vandalia. In the history of the early settlements and of the early settlers in preceding chapters all this is told of who these men were and what has become of them and their descendants.

The villages in the township are Dayton, the oldest town in the county, and Colona. Dayton served its day of usefulness or imperative necessity for existence as an important business center for commerce and business Of the county, and went into a quiet and unostentatious decay, a kind of slow forgetfulness among newcomers, and in 1853 Colona came into existence as a desirable place for a station on the railroad. Il was laid out in that year by Marcus Warren. The next year (1854) the railroad just then commencing to do business, J. A. Sawyer built a grain house and prepared to handle some of the great quantity of grain that the surrounding country was awaiting to ship.

Colona Township has more heavy timber growth in it than any other township in the county, and in addition to the grain to be shipped at this point, considerable timber and wood was transported away on the cars. M. Smith, the first settler in Colona, had a mill on the river near the town. A small depot building was erected by the railroad. The additions were slow. Lucy A. Sharp, who came with her father, Asa C. Sharp, and her sister, Sarah, to Colona, in 1856, remembers that at that time there were residences about as follows: A part of what is now the hotel, kept by Webster. There was no hotel in the place, and her family had to go to Brandenburg's until they could get a house. This building was occupied by John Baum, who died in Colona some ten or twelve years ago. Also was then standing the house in which Mr. McCullough now lives, at that time occupied by Jeff. Taylor.

The small house occupied by Mr. Sharp and daughters, situated near the present postoffice. Jake Smith's store (not the store and dwelling as now but the store proper) was then in existence, and there was a shanty near where Mr. J. Kime now lives. There was a store opposite the hotel, or where the hotel now stands. This building was destroyed in the great storm of May, 1859, which also destroyed the railroad bridge near town, and where the iron bridge now is. Norman Sharp built the hotel as it now stands in 1857. The first school-house was built between Colona and Dayton ; it was eventually moved down to Colona, and Miss Lucy A. Sharp taught the.first school in the place in the room she now uses for a postoffice, in 1863. She had about 30 pupils.The present two-story school building was erected in 1872. Three teachers are regularly employed

CHURCHES

The United Presbyterian Church of Colona was organized Dec. 22, 1866, in the town school-house. The petition for the organization was signed by Samuel H. Reed and twelve others. The Rev. Henry Wallace had preached in Colona in 1855, the second sermon ever preached in the place. Rev. J. F. Martin was assigned as a missionary to this charge in September, 1855, and he was succeeded by Revs. J. P. Finney and the present S. H. Reed, as licentiates, in 1866, and Revs. J. K. Blair and John Todd.

The names of the first members are: Andrew Stewart, Grace Moderwell, Christina Moderwell, Joseph Moderwell, James Moderwell, James Montgomery, Sr., Sarah Bell, William McGonagil, Sr., Elizabeth McGonagil, Mary Cochran, Barbara McFerren and Margaret McFall. Joseph Moderwell and Andrew Stewart were ordained Elders.

 

History of Henry County

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