MOUNT MORRIS TOWNSHIP

 

In the Summer of 1836, Samuel M. Hitt and Nathaniel Swingley came to the site of Mt. Morris and made several claims, including the present village site. They returned to Maryland in the Autumn of that year to make preparations for removing to this country. Early in the Spring of the following year, they arrived at a vacant cabin in Fridley's Grove, which had been occupied by Judge Ford. They brought Eli Householder, Daniel Stover, William McDaniel and Mrs. Elizabeth Ankeny, with their families, also Frederick Finkbohnar, Adam and John Stover, Balka Niehoff, and a few others.
This did not constitute the main portion of the Maryland colony proper, which arrived one or two years later.
When they came, in the Spring of 1837, John Phelps, who was the original pioneer of this vicinity, lived on his old farm, about two and a half miles east; Mr. Baker had a cabin and claim about four miles south by east, now owned by Daniel Price; David Worden lived a mile and one-half southwest of the village site, and one or two other settlers skirted the edges of the woods, but leaving the broad prairie free from the encroachment of civilization.
The first Maryland colony remained in the " Ford " cabin for two weeks, cooking on a stove which had been brought by Mrs. Ankeny (who was a sister of Nathaniel Swingley), and sleeping on "wagoner beds," which consisted of plain mattresses, rolled up during the day and spread over the upper or garret floor at night.
As soon as possible, these pioneers began the erection of their cabins. The first one to be built was a double log cabin, about three-quarters of a mile south by west of the present village, on the claim of Mrs. Ankeny. In this lived the families of Mrs. Ankeny and Mr. Householder, in one part, and Messrs. Stover and McDaniel in the other.

As soon as possible, these pioneers began the erection of their cabins. The first one to be built was a double log cabin, about three-quarters of a mile south by west of the present village, on the claim of Mrs. Ankeny. In this lived the families of Mrs. Ankeny and Mr. Householder, in one part, and Messrs. Stover and McDaniel in the other.
The former half of this house is still standing on the land of William Watts, near its original location, while the other portion was afterward moved down in the grove near a spring, but has since been torn away.
After remaining here for two years, Mr. Householder moved about six miles south of Mt. Morris, to the farm, where he still resides. Messrs. Daniel Stover and William McDaniel lived in the cabin referred to until the Fall of that year, when they moved to their claims. Mr. Stover afterward died in this vicinity, and Mr. McDaniel still lives on his farm near Pine Creek.

Mr. Finkbohnar moved north, to Adeline. 'Squire Samuel M. Hitt settled about three miles west of Mount Morris with his family, including Margaret, Andrew, Robert, George, John W. and Joseph.
Squire Hitt died on his original farm in 1859. His sons Joseph and John W. now reside in Mount Morris.
Captain Nathaniel Swingley took up the claim of the farm now owned by Jacob Keedy, and resided there until, in 1850, he went to California, where he remained three years; he then returned and located at Creston, Dement Township, where he still resides.
Solon Crowell was, at the time of their arrival, on the farm a mile north, now occupied by Franklin Stonebraker.
September 3, 1836, Jacob Rice, Sr., and family left Washington County, Maryland, to seek a home in the West. He wintered in Ohio with his brother-in-law, John Wagner, who in the following Spring accompanied him on horseback to look up a location. Claims were made within three miles of Mount Morris, and their families, consisting of twelve children each, brought on that Summer, July, 1837. Both of these pioneers died on the farms they had made, which are now owned respectively by Isaac Rice and Reuben Wagner, their sons. Many of their descendants are still residents in this vicinity.
In the Fall of 1837, Rev. T. S. Hitt and wife left Ohio in a carriage, to examine the new country of which Samuel M. Hitt, a brother, had written such a favorable description. Mr. Hitt was a Methodist minister, and had in view the continuance of that work. On arrival here, in September, Mr. Hitt went into the house which Martin Reynolds, a brother-in-law, was then completing, on the site of Professor Pinekney's present residence. Mr. Hitt soon purchased a claim of 1,000 acres, 100 of which were broken, for $2,500, of a Mr. Painter, two and a half miles south. He, however, soon moved to the claim which his brother, Samuel, had reserved for him, and where he lived until his death, September 23, 1872. Mrs. Emily Hitt now resides on the same farm, a portion of which is included in the village.

In the following Spring, John Wallace, Sr., built a cabin on his claim, a mile north of Mr. Reynolds'. Messrs. Reynolds and Wallace married sisters of the Hitts, and came from Ohio, stopping for a time at Ottawa. Mr. Worden returned to New York, his former home, after a few years, and Mr. Reynolds also removed to La Salle County, Illinois. Mr. Wallace lived a half mile north of town until the time of his death.
In the Spring of 1838, at the solicitation of "'Squire" Samuel Hitt and "Captain" Nathaniel Swingley, who had returned for their families, a large number of families, known as the Maryland Colony, came to this vicinity. They soon separated, some going to Carroll County and other places. Among these families were the Hers, Etnyres, Sprechers, Michael Bovey, John Smith.
May 24, 1838, A. Q. Allen, Philip Sprecher and John S. Miller arrived, overland in a carriage, from Maryland. Others came in 1838 and later, and many of their names cannot now be recalled. Among them came John Coffman and family, Henry Artz, Michael Brantner, Solomon Nalley and family, Henry Sharer and others. Mr. and Mrs. Philip Sprecher are still living in Mount Morris, upward of eighty years of age; Mr. Coffman still resides within two miles southwest of the village, on his old farm; Mr. Artz resides three and a half miles southeast of the village; Mr. Brantner lives four miles west of town; Mr. Nalley lives five miles north of town.
In September, 1837, John Fridley purchased Mr. Ford's cabin and claim for $1,000, where he continued to live until the time of his death. The farm is now owned by his sons.
Among other early settlers were Caleb Marshall, who came in 1888, and died on the farm where Reuben Marshall now resides.
John.McFarland, of the Maryland Colony, built one of the first houses in the village.
John Ankeny, who had settled at Elkhorn Grove soon after the Blackhawk war, moved here in order to educate his children, and built a house in town.
Dr. James J. Beatty, from Maryland, was the earliest physician. He died on the plains, while en route for California, in 1851.
Mr. Bond took up a claim near Oregon about 1837, but soon sold out to Eli Thomas, and moved to another location, north of Mount Morris.
Mr. Clement moved here, from Grand Detour, to educate his daughter.
As one old settler expressed it, "The Maryland people have never ceased coming."

In 1842, A. Q. Allen returned with his newly married wife, together with Henry A. Neff, Bartholomew and Benjamin MeNntt and Jacob Heistand, with their families and the mother and sister of the latter.

In 1845, came Frank Hamilton, Benjamin Swingley, Messrs. Sharer, Snively and others.

INCORPORATION VOTERS

TOWNSHIP OFFICERS

 

History of Ogle County-1878

 

© Wini Caudell and Contributors

All Rights Reserved

Illinois Ancestors