Public Enterprises—Religion, Educational,
Benevolent, Military and Business.
Of the public enterprises of our citizens, perhaps
the religious are of the first importance, as shaping in a great degree the
morals of community. And to them, Stark county has ever given a liberal
support, although it has always embraced within its limits a strong infusion of
what may be termed sceptical or rationalistic sentiment, as the best informed
ministers of whatever faith will readily admit. Still, not a neighborhood now,
but has its church organizations, and hardly one but has its comfortable house
or houses of worship.
It has been the aim of the writer to gather the leading facts of all these
bodies; but with the means at hand it has only seemed possible to attain a
partial success, and this principally confined to town churches. From the
country few reports have come in; and while this is much regretted, we can but
proceed to record such facts as we have been able to gather from reliable
sources; these mainly refer to the earliest organizations in the county.
Rev. Wm. C. Cummings writes: "In 1835 I was appointed
by Bishop Roberts from the Illinois conference of the M. E. church to (what was
then) Peoria mission. It extended over a large territory—nearly all embraced
now, in Peoria and Kewanee districts, being parts of the following named
counties, viz: Peoria, Fulton, Knox, Stark and Marshall. I preached at Father
Fraker's, whose name is of precious memory in the churches, and rode from there
over the ground where Toulon and Lafayette now stand, though they probably had
not then been thought of. Not far from the present site of Toulon, lived Adam
Perry whom I appointed class leader of a small society in the Essex settlement,
and where we held a quarterly meeting in 1835, at which W. B. Mack and Stephen
B. Beggs were present. My next appointment in Stark (probably in 1836) was at
the house of Gen. Samuel Thomas at Wyoming, where I organized a society that so
far as I know, has been kept up to the present day. I then went to Dexter Wall's
and formed a class of which I made William Hall leader." From memoranda
furnished us by those who took part in these movements, we can still decide who
constituted these pioneer classes. The one of 1835, of which Adam Perry was
leader for a short time and afterwards Rev. J. W. Agard, had for members Gen.
Samuel Thomas and wife, James Holgate and wife, J. W. Agard and wife, George
Sparr, Adam Day, Mrs. Perry, Elizabeth Essex and Ann Carney; possibly some
others not remembered. The class of Dexter Wall's, formed in 1836, consisted of
Mr. and Mrs. Holgate (doubtless transferred from the class in Essex because more
convenient of access) Mr. and Mrs. Phenix, Mrs. Wall, her sister Mrs. Asher
Smith, Miss Mary Hall, and Mrs. William Hall; Mr. Hall being the leader for ten
Mr. Cummings was undoubtedly the first preacher of
Christianity that ever had stated appointments through this part of the country,
although a Mr. Heath, a Methodist from St. Louis (father of Jesse Heath, one of
our first merchants and teachers) preached a time or two when on a visit to his
son, about the time Mr. Cummings commenced his labors here.
Two Baptist ministers—Elders Silliman and Chenoweth—were also early on the
ground; and Zadoc Hall and Leander C. Walker were indefatigable in their
endeavors to advance the interests of the M. E. church among the early settlers.
The first camp meeting ever holden in this county was
in 1840 at Wyoming, on or near the very ground recently purchased by the church
for a permanent possession; the same spring furnishing water for the thirsty
multitudes, that supplied the monster meeting of 1875. Newton G. Berryman
(referred to by a correspondent as "a sweet spirited Kentuckian,") was the
presiding elder in 1840. Indeed, many of the old settlers still hold the memory
of this man in reverence. He was assisted at the meeting by the two "preachers
in charge "—Enos Thompson and Wilson Pitner—the latter being the man who on this
occasion asserted he was going to put the devil out of Wyoming, and make him
The second camp meeting was near Lafayette; probably in
Fraker's grove, in 1842, A. E. Phelps, P. E. The third again at Wyoming, John
Morey, P. E. Hector J. Humphrey, preacher in charge ; the latter gentleman
becoming during the late war, a chaplain in the federal army. So much for the
introduction of Methodism in Stark county.
The Mormons figured quite conspicuously in our early
history; say from 1840 to 1846, or 1847; Mormon elders and apostles perambulated
every nook and corner of our territory, and in every school house and dwelling
where they were allowed access, unvailed the mysteries of their creed and told
the strange story or the lost tribes, as found on the golden plates revealed to
the prophet Joseph! Nor were they wanting in success, but found converts in
quarters where it was least expected; some of them selling all that they had and
following the fortunes of the "saints." These were most numerous in the southern
and western parts of our county, their influence being distinctly felt at the
county seat. But Walnut creek is referred to in the journal of S. G. Wright, as
being "the very heart of the Mormon settlement." Their elders waxed bold, and
openly baptized their converts with new and strange ceremonies, challenging the
best preachers of other faiths to open discussion of their differences. One of
these debates, at least, was held in the old court house, but ended rather
ignominiously for the Mormons, their champions failing to meet their agreements.
It may be remarked in passing, that the man who had the contract for building
the old court house, was known as "Deacon Mott," in deference to his position in
the Mormon church. However, the tragic death of Joseph Smith and the violent
expulsion of the "saints" from their temple and shrines at Nauvoo, transferred
their base of operations so far west, that we have only read of them and their
strange doings of late years, as of the habits of a foreign people. It Is a
source of satisfaction to many to know that the "powers that be" have decided
that if they continue to reside within the territory of the United States,, they
must obey the law thereof, and cease outraging the moral sense of humanity. And
as their famous leader and acknowledged head, Brigham Young, is supposed to be
near unto death, it is highly probable that fresh mutations and dissensions
await this wonderful community, the origin and growth of which furnishes as
strange a problem for the student of history as the sway of Mahomet.
Next in the order of time was a regular Baptist church,
organized in the house of Elder Jonathan Miner, June 15th. 1837, generally now
recalled as the "old Fahrenheit church," though why so named, tradition sayeth
not. This gentleman, himself a minister of the faith he professed, was a native
of New London, Connecticut, from which place he removed in 1887, locating in
township 13 north, range 5 east, then Knox county. Here he convened a council,
of which Rev. Edwin Otis, of Wethersfield, was a member, and a church was duly
formed according to Baptist usages, which continued to hold regular meetings at
his house as long as he lived, or up to 1844, and afterwards at the house of his
widow, Eunice Miner. This was on the direct road from Toulon to Lafayette, about
midway between the two places; and it was finally thought best to hold the
regular meetings of the church at Lafayette, and here Mrs. Miner built a house
to serve as a place of worship, and the church occupied the building for the
first time on the first Sabbath in April, 1850.
Previous to 1844, Elder Miner had appointments at
Fraker's grove, Wethersfield, Franklin, (that is on Spoon river near what was
known as Wall's school house) and at Rochester; and at most, if not all of these
points churches were founded at an early day.
The next " regular Baptist church " was at Toulon. Of
this we shall speak more fully when treating of the town. But at quite as early
a date there must have been a body of believers organized on Spoon river,
perhaps in or near the Sturms settlement, known as "Freewill Baptist." Of these
we have no particulars. And, not far from there another variety, familiarly
called "Hard shell," had their headquarters. But these never seemed to take deep
root in prairie soil, and the few specimens left us appear fossilized, and
remind one of the production of a bygone age.
The first Presbyterian church in the county, was
planted at Osceola, June 8th, 1889. The record states that "John Davis, a
regularly ordained Elder from Providence church, Tennessee, presided, and
received into fellowship Polly Davis his wife, Margaret, Frances and Rosanna
Davis his daughters, also Helen Brydon, Thomas Oliver and Margaret his wife,
Robert Turnbull and Margaret his wife, John Turnbull and Margaret his wife,
Calvin Winslow and Betsey his wife, William Parks and Agnes his wife, Mary
Wiseman, Sarah Spencer, Hannah Pike, Hannah Fuller, Margaret Moore, and Adam
Oliver, all on certificate."
We doubt if any other religious organization within our
borders sprang into life with such an array of names as this; and we here mean
no play upon the frequent recurrence of the name Margaret, although that is
singular; but whether considered numerically, or as to character and standing,
it was a strong church for the time when it was formed; and it was no child's
play, but a solemn compact of mature men and women to make their influence felt
for good in forming the opinions and habits of this new county. And the record
farther says that "William Parks, who had been an ordained Elder in Virginia,
was duly elected with John Davis, ruling Elders in this church; that they
declared their acceptance of the office, and covenanted to discharge the duties
thereof, according to the rules laid down in The Confession of Faith and Book of
Discipline of the Presbyterian church in the United Skates. William Parks was
also elected clerk of session. October 27th, 1839, Liberty Stone and Julia his
wife were baptised and received into the communion of the church, and November,
1841, Betsey Oliver, Charlotte Oliver, Eliza Parks and Rebecca Currier were
added to the number. Thus did this "church in the wilderness" continue to draw
to itself elements of strength, until its membership numbered more than forty
They seem never to have had a resident pastor. The
names of R. B. Dobbins and W. J. Frazer appear as moderators in some of the
first entries; later, E. Scudder High seems to have presided at their business
meetings, and conducted the services on the Sabbath. But none of these gentlemen
ever resided in our county for any length of time. Mr. Frazer was from
Knoxville, a man of good ability, and well informed; he was an unrelenting
opponent of abolitionism, which he "smote hip and thigh," on many memorable
occasions. He must have met with some support among his hearers, yet his
sentiments could not fail of offending many of those who constituted this old
Rev. E. Scudder High resided in or near Tiskilwa, was
of bachelor proclivities, and many amusing reminiscences of him are still
preserved among the old settlers. Coming a long distance to minister to them, he
naturally made long visits, and preached long sermons. One benevolent old
gentleman, at another point in the county, was so moved by the evident weariness
and discomfort of the little folks on these occasions, that he provided himself
with a large pan of "doughnuts," which he passed round about noon to the great
relief of the hungry children, and apparently without in the least attracting
the attention of the reverend
speaker, or breaking the thread of his discourse.
Mr. Vail, a minister from Wethersfield, and long time a
missionary to the western Indians, labored at Osceola as early as the winter of
1837. His first appointments were at the house of William Hall, and afterwards
at the school house on the state road, where this church was organized; but as
the name of Vail does not appear on the records, he evidently was not employed
by them, although they must have formed part of his congregation for years. He
was probably supported in part, by "The Home Missionary Society," and was a
Congregationalist, while this Osceola church was " true blue Presbyterian."
These differences were just making themselves felt here in those days, and
later, cut quite a figure in religious circles. However this body continued to
flourish for some years, to hold its "sessions " and was regularly represented
in Presbytery and Synod up to 1850. This was one of the points where Rev. S. G.
Wright labored during the first part of his ministrations in Stark county. But
owing principally to changes of residence among its members the organization has
of late years disbanded. Death, too, claimed his own among them as elsewhere.
The funeral of Mr. John Davis, their first elder, took place in less than a year
after the formation of the church, August, 1840, and was one of the first, if
not the first funeral of an adult witnessed in the infant settlement. The Scotch
element withdrew to form a church more peculiarly their own, on the prairie west
of the river, and others have been transferred to the church at Toulon. Thus has
the old body been disintegrated by natural causes, and not ceased to exist
because her founders forgot their trust or forsook their colors; most of them
have long since "joined the hosts across the flood."
The Congregational church at Toulon was probably the
second or third organized by that denomination in our county; but is the oldest
now in existence. There was a small body of this sort near our south county
line, when S. G. Wright resided there, whose formation, doubtless antedates this
at Toulon; and about the same date we find mention of one at Lafayette, say 1841
or 1842. But of these we have been able to learn little more than the fact of
their existence, and as "their candlesticks have been long since removed out of
their places," perchance their history will forever remain unwritten.
The first " Christian church," was also near the south
county line, in the Pratz neighborhood, under the pastoral care of Rev. Milton
King, the same who subsequently helped form churches of that faith in Toulon and
Lafayette. These are pretty much all the facts we have been able to gather
regarding the pioneer churches of our county exclusive of the towns. Of those
that have sprung up at a later date, we have to record a few items, relative to
the churches in Elmira, furnished us by Rev. J. M. Henderson, pastor of the
United Presbyterian church of that place. Restates: "this organization, (the
United Presbyterian) was first organized June 15th, 1850, by Rev. N. C. Weede,
then of Marshall county, with a membership of eighteen persons, mostly drawn
from the 'Old School Presbyterian ' congregation in the neighborhood." Here we
understand reference is made to the mother church at Osceola, of which we have
given an account.
This church was originally known as "The Associate
Reformed Congregation of Osceola," changed in 1852 from Osceola to Elmira to
correspond with the name of the nearest post office. And the Associate, and
Associate Reform churches, of the United States being formally united in May,
1858, the congregation became by that union "The United Presbyterian
congregation of Elmira," by which name it is still recognized. From its
formation till 1857 it was under the pastoral care of Rev. N. C. Weede. From
April, 1857, till September, 1865, Rev. John M. Graham, formerly of New York,
took charge of its spiritual interests, and was succeeded by Rev. J. H.
Montgomery until 1873, since which date Rev. J. M. Henderson, formerly of
Monmouth, has been its pastor. The membership never has been very large,
although a steady increase is noticeable. Whole number enrolled thus far is two
hundred and six, present strength, seventy.
In the spring of 1864 a considerable number left this
congregation to constitute the "Knox Church of Elmira," which is in connection
with the Canada Presbyterian church. Much interest attaches to this Knox church,
partly because its communicants are mainly Scotch Highlanders, or Gaelic people,
and services have usually been performed in the Gaelic tongue. We are sorry we
can give our readers so little information concerning it. The United
Presbyterian church, as her pastor states, is "Presbyterian in polity,
Calvinistic in doctrine, restricted, though not close in communion, uses
exclusively the Psalms of scripture in worship, is opposed to all secret
societies, especially Free Masonry, has always been strongly opposed to slavery,
and is in general disposed to be decidedly radical in some things, and decidedly
conservative in others."
The most encouraging thing in the present condition of
the congregation is "that it is greatly blessed with peace." In common with the
Knox church it is largely composed of Scotch people; although there has always
been some of native stock enrolled upon its books, yet the names of Turnbull,
Oliver and Murray recur the most frequently.
As with all these topics we design to begin at the
beginning, if we can find it, an account of the educational interests of Stark
county must go back for a starting point to the old log school house in the
Essex, settlement; and as Mr. Clifford gives quite a circumstantial and correct
account of this structure, and its first inmates, we shall reproduce it in his
"As early as 1833, the neighborhood organized a school
district, and in November of that year, Greenleaf Smith, Sylvanus Moore and
Benjamin Smith were elected trustees of schools for township 12 north and 6
east. The following season they commenced the erection of a school house, and on
the 4th day of July, 1834, was raised the first school house in Stark county. It
was built in the timber not far from where Josiah Moffitt lives. It was a log
building; the writing desks were boards laid upon pegs or pins let into the logs
by auger holes; the roof was made of clapboards; not what were called clapboards
in the east, they were strips split about four feet long and six or eight inches
wide; these were secured on poles stretching from end to end of the cabin; the
chimney was formed by a crib built up at the end, topped out with mud and
sticks; the fire place was made of clay packed in by a primitive process; the
floor was of puncheons, and probably not a nail was used in constructing the
entire building. It rained on the day of raising for the last time that year
until the snow fell in the early part of winter. Adam Perry taught the first
school in that edifice, and it is supposed that that was the first school taught
in the county. Jesse Heath, a man of very fair education, taught there
afterwards; he was from St. Louis, a 'good fellow' out of school, but a rigid
disciplinarian within; he seemed to regard the scholars as blockheads and dolts,
because they were so backward; he frightened one of the boys so much that the
little fellow staid at home two weeks in bed, feigning sickness to avoid going
to school. Heath was, as one of his scholars says, 'a good enough sort of a
fellow,' but as a school master was terrible to contemplate. A school was
something new, and children in those days were probably instructed to believe
that the teacher was something short of a god, and had unlimited power over the
persons of the pupils. Teachers in those days were 'looked up to' as superior,
and were consulted in all matters of law, physic, and religion; they were
supposed to know most everything. The opposite extreme now prevails to some
extent, and they have come to be regarded by parents and pupils something like
menials, so that insubordination and a want of proper respect on the part of
children have now become a just cause of complaint. Mrs. Chatfield, now the wife
of Mr. Benjamin Hillard of Goshen, was also one of the first teachers in that
Following this extract are a number of items furnished
us through the courtesy of our present superintendent of schools,— Mr. Alonzo
Abbott—drawn from official records in his possession. We have tried to arrange
them somewhat in the order of their dates, and think they show satisfactorily
the increase in our educational advantages.
By a special act of the legislature, in force March 1st, 1833, Isaac B. Essex
was authorized to sell the 16th section in township 12-6, and was appointed
commissioner of the school fund in that township.
The school section was sold February 4th, 1834, for
$968.70, the purchase money that remained unpaid drawing twelve per cent,
The first election of school trustees within the limits
of what is now known as Stark county, of which I find any record, was held at
the house of Mr. Essex, February 3rd, 1834. Sylvanus Moore, Greenleaf Smith and
Benjamin Smith were elected trustees.
An election was held at the school house in township
12-6, November 14th, 1835, at which eleven votes were cast, and Moses Boardman
was unanimously elected school commissioner of that township.
The following is a copy of the bill of Mr. Essex for
his services as commissioner of the school fund:
Going to Hennepin to get bond approved by county commissioner, two days at 50
cents per day: $1.00
Bill of expenses at Hennepin: $1.31 1/2
Two days surveying 16th section, at 75 cents per day: $1.50
One-half quire of paper: 16 cents
February 4th, one day selling 16th section:75 cents
One day detained at Hennepin, loaning money: $1.00
April 3, one day detained from labor by loaning money: $1.00
Total: $6.72 1/2
(Copy of receipt) March 15th, 1835.
Received of Isaac B. Essex, fifty-five dollars and fifty cents, in full for
teaching a school three months in town 12 N. 6 E., which school ended this day.
Received of Isaac B. Essex the sum of thirteen dollars in full for teaching
school three months in town 12 N. 6 E., which ended on the 7th instant. July,
8th, 1835. Sabrina Chatfield.
Received of Isaac B. Essex six dollars and thirty-one and a fourth cents in
full for teaching a school six weeks and two days in Town 12 N. 6 E. November
3rd, 1835. Mary Lake.
June 30th, 1840, an election was held at the school
house in township 12-6, when twenty-three votes were cast in favor of organizing
for school purposes, and none against.
No reports are on file showing the number of scholars in 12-6 previous to 1841;
in that year the number is stated at 239. The number of schools is not given.
At a special term of the county commissioner's
court, April 6th, 1839, Luther Driscoll, C. H. Miner and Samuel Parish were
appointed school trustees of township 13-5.
Goshen was incorporated for school purposes by vote of
October 14th, 1840—Poll book of election returned to
James Holgate, school commissioner.
September 5th, 1845—A petition signed by seventy-five
legal voters was presented to the school commissioner asking for the sale of the
school lands of township 13-5.
In 1841 the number of scholars in Goshen was reported
at two hundred and thirty. There were three school districts.
In 1849 there were seven districts and five hundred and
At an election held at the house of Robert Moore in
Osceola precinct, Putnam county, on the 10th day of January, 1838, the vote was
unanimous in favor of incorporating township 14-6 for school purposes. Ten votes
Robert Moore, Mathias Sturms, Robert Hall, Thomas
Watts, M. G. Brace and James Buswell were elected school trustees. No report was
made as to the number of schools in the township. In 1845 a petition was
presented to the school commissioner, James B. Lewis, signed by forty-nine legal
voters, asking that the school lands of that township be sold.
The number of legal voters in Elmira township at that
time was between sixty and seventy.
The number of scholars reported in 1841, was one
hundred and forty-eight, under twenty-one years of age.
April 5th, 1842. An election was held at the house
of Philander Arnold, township 12-5, for the purpose of voting for or against
incorporating for school purposes. Twenty-two votes were cast for, and none
In 1845, one hundred and six children and two districts
September 16th, 1845, petition for the sale of school
lands presented to William B. Lewis, school commissioner.
October 4th, 1847. Twenty-one children and one
school district reported from Osceola.
October 23rd, 1849. Sixty-four children and two school
districts reported from Osceola. Riley Chamberlain, treasurer.
January 22nd, 1850, petition for the sale of the 16th
section, township 14-7, presented to S. G. Wright, school commissioner. Petition
signed by forty legal voters. Fifty white male inhabitants in the township.
The first election of school trustees in township 14-7
was held at the house of John Shawls, May 17th, 1845. Fourteen votes were cast.
Liberty Stone, Isaac W. Searle and Zebulon A very were elected school trustees.
At the December term, 1843, of the county
commissioner's court, John Henderson, E. Gill and Oren Maxfield were appointed
trustees of school lands in township 13-6.
December 30th, 1843, the trustees above named call an
election at the court house in Toulon when twenty-six votes were cast in favor
of organizing the township for school purposes, none against.
At the same time Thomas Hall, Oren Maxfield, William H.
Henderson, Caleb P. Flint and Elisha Gill were elected trustees of schools.
In 1844 there were one hundred and forty-one white
children, and forty-eight legal voters in Toulon township.
To James B. Lewis, school commissioner, Stark county,
Illinois —Sir:—The number of scholars under the age of twenty years in
township 13 N. range 6 E. in said county is two hundred. There are two school
houses in said township built at the public expense. The amount voted to be
raised in said township is two hundred and fifty dollars, for the year 1847.
Oliver Whitaker, Treasurer.
September 15th, 1851, the school lands of Toulon
township were advertised for sale by S. G. Wright, school commissioner. James
Holgate was school commissioner of Stark county in 1840 and held the office till
1843, when he was succeeded by Charles H. Miner.
In 1845, James B. Lewis was elected school
commissioner. In 1850 Rev. Samuel G. Wright was elected and continued in office
Rev. R. C. Dunn was elected in the fall of 1855.
N. F. Atkins was elected in 1861, and in the latter
part of 1864 or the beginning of 1865, Rev. John W. Agard was appointed to fill
the vacancy caused by the death of N. F. Atkins.
In 1865 B. G. Hall was elected county superintendent
and continued in office eight years.
In 1841 three townships reported to the school
commissioner. Essex reported 239 persons under twenty-one years of age; Goshen
230, and Elmira 148; making a total in the county in 1841 of 617.
In 1843, four townships reported. Elmira reported
174 persons under twenty-one years of age; Goshen, 255; Toulon, 141; Essex, 230;
making a total in the county in 1843 of 800.
First election of school trustees, July 17,1847, at the
house of David Rouse. Five votes cast. David Rouse, Wm. Cummings and Z. G. Bliss
In 1847, forty-one children and nine families, reported
In 1849, twenty-six children were reported.
In 1851, a petition was presented to S. G. Wright,
School Commissioner, asking for the sale of the school section. The petition
had 23 signers. There were 27 voters in the township at that time.
In 1853 there were 105 children and two school
The first election of school trustees of which I
find any record, was in 1846 at the house of Lemuel S. Dorrance. Henry Breese,
Nehemiah Merritt and John Todd were elected. Twenty-two votes cast.
Petition asking for the sale of school land, signed by
33 legal voters, presented to Wm. B. Lewis in 1849.
Forty white inhabitants in Penn in 1849, according to
the certificate on the back of the petition.
The first report from Penn of the number of children in
that township on record was in 1847, when 114 were reported under 21 years of
age. In 1847 there were 387 children and 9 school districts.
The following is an extract from the clerk's books
showing the ad valorem tax for 1850, in each district:
Union District, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $66.24
District number 2,13-5, . . . . . . . . 85.26
Centre 12-5, . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 50.68
Wyoming, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500.00
District number 2, 14-7. . . . . . . . 57.83
District number 3,14-6, . . . . . . . 100.00
District number 1,14-7, . . . . . . . 45.10
District number north 14-6, . . . . 300.00
District number number 2,14-6, .63.54
District number 1, 12-7, . . . . . . 500.00
District number 2, 12-7, . . . . . 300.00
Middle District, 13-6, . . . . . . . .62.98
District number 3, 13-7, . . . . . . 145.96
District number 2, 13-7, . . . . . . 45.12
District number 5, 12-6, . . . . . . 44.49
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$2367.12
S. G. Wright, School Commissioner.
In 1853, S. G. Wright reported that the Eclectic series
of Readers was in use in most of the schools. Colburn's Intellectual and Adams'
Written Arithmetics, Butler's Grammar, Mitchell's Geography. Clark's Grammar had
of late been recommended.
September 24,1847, H. D. Palmer made a donation to the
county of eighty dollars to be divided between the different townships and
loaned as part of the township school funds.
Report of Rev. S. G. Wright, School Commissioner, of
the condition of common schools for Stark county for the years 1851 and 1852, to
David L. Gregg, Secretary of State and ex-officio Superintendent of Common
Number of schools in the county
Number of schools taught hy males
Number of schools taught by females
Number in which males and females are employed
Number in which both are employed different times
Number of children taught
Number of white persons under 21 years
Average number of months schools taught
Quantity of unsold school lands, acres
Number organized districts and parts of districts
Number of school houses
Number of district libraries
Average monthly pay of male, winter term
Average monthly pay, female, winter term
Amount raised by ad valorem tax for schools
Total amount of township funds
In 1845, five townships reported. Goshen reported 278
persons under twenty-one years of age; Toulon, 209; Essex, 282; Elmira, 178;
West Jersey, 106; making a total in the county in 1845, of 1053.
In 1847, all the townships reported.
Share school money.
Goshen reported 430 persons und. 21 yrs.$58.17
Toulon, 200: 27.06
Essex, 281: 38.01
Elmira, 179: 24.21
West Jersey, 237:
Valley, 41: 54
Penn, 114: 15.42
Total in the county in 1847, 1503: $204.31
March 3rd, 1875, Toulon reported 1340 persons under 21, $1020.20
Valley, 556, . . . . . . 423.30
Essex, 709, . . . . . . .539.80
West Jersey, 600, . 456.80
Goshen, 470, . . . . . 492.59
Penn, 620, . . . . . . . 472.03
Osceola, 750, . . . . 571.00
Elmira, 518, . . . . . .394.37
Total number in county, 5740. Total amount of money,
$43701.13 The year ending September 30th, 1874.
||# under 21
||# of schools
||# m'ts school
||# school houses
||total amt rec'd in year
||total amt paid for school
This shows the total amount received for the support of
schools in the county from August 31st, 1873 to September 1st, 1874.
Reports to the county superintendent for the year
ending September 30th, 1875, show the number of persons under twenty-one years
of age, residing in the county, to be 6192.
Between the ages of six and twenty-one years, 4213.
The whole number of school districts, 79.
The average number of months that schools were
The whole number of pupils enrolled, 3520.
Total number of teachers employed, 169.
Total number of school houses in the county, 81.
Whole number of volumes in district libraries, 576.
Total amount received for the support of schools,
Total amount paid out for schools, $43830.47.
The townships have school funds amounting to $12587.06.
Highest wages paid any male teacher per month, $111.00.
Highest wages paid any female teacher per month,
In continuation of this topic, it is but just to add
to the information derived from these official statements, that at the present
time our schools enjoy the services of a very efficient corps of teachers. The
standard of scholarship having been generally advanced as educational interests
have prospered. Of those holding state certificates, who are or have been very
recently employed in our schools, are Mr. B. G. Hall, late county
superintendent; Mr. Frank Mathews, principal of the Toulon high school; S. S.
Wood and W. R. Sandham, principals of the north and south Wyoming schools; Mr.
Livingston of Lafayette and Mr. James W. Smith of the Lombard School. And there
may be others of equal standing, of whose qualifications we have not been
informed. But we have at least five graded schools, and four first-class school
houses in Stark. The house at Lafayette is past its best and will probably soon
give place to a new one.
But while remembering our present educators and our
present advantages, we would not forget those who served us well in the days
gone by. Twenty years ago Mr. and Mrs. Atkins taught a school for advanced
pupils in the "old seminary" at Toulon, and many men and women now holding good
positions in social and business circles throughout our county, owe them much
for the culture so carefully bestowed. This couple although worthy, could not be
called fortunate in life, and they both died while comparatively young. Mrs.
Atkins in New England, Mr. Atkins at Toulon; and we are glad to know that there
is a movement on foot among his former pupils to erect a monument to his memory,
in the Toulon Cemetery.
But there are few who still remember that before the
seminary was built, and before the Atkins came to our county, that Miss Booth,
Miss Boyce and Miss Goodel, taught large and popular schools at Toulon, perhaps
embracing in the curriculum of study a wider range than is admitted in any of
our graded schools at the present date. These were eastern ladies "Yankee school
in arms " some called them in derision, but no prejudice could obscure merits so
conspicuous, or defeat effort so earnest and well directed. They did their work,
and "made their mark," which can be distinctly traced through a quarter of a
And in recalling our past educational history, the names of S. O. Wright and R.
C. Dunn must ever come to mind. The former from his first residence here in
1841, always interested himself in procuring competent teachers, and boarded
many of them in his own family at rates to suit the pitiably small salaries
their labor commanded in those days. He was elected school commissioner in 1850,
and held the office for five years. During this term he convened the first
"teachers' institute" ever convened in our county, and introduced a regular
system of visiting and reporting schools, with good result.
Mr. Wright leaving the county in 1855, Mr. Dunn was
chosen as his successor in office, and took up the work with his customary
energy—perfecting the plan of our institutes, often presiding at their sessions,
taking part in their exercises, and drawing to them whatever talent he could
invite from adjoining counties.
When a member of the house of representatives, in 1864,
he found opportunity to advance his favorite educational projects. We clip from
an old file of " Stark County News " the following:
"THE MEMBER FROM STARK.—Mr. Bateman, state
superintendent of public instruction has an excellent article in the ' eacher '
for March, on the subject of common schools and the amended school law, in which
we find one of our townsmen mentioned in no equivocal or uncertain terms of
praise. He says: 'Both committees on education were wisely constituted. That of
the house of representatives was presided over with signal ability and tact by
Hon. Richard C. Dunn, of Stark county, to whose liberal views, practical
knowledge, and unceasing industry and vigilance we are largely indebted for the
success in the house, not only of the amendatory school act, but of other
important measures. This well deserved compliment is from a high source, and the
people of Stark have reason to be proud of it. The school law was greatly in
need of repair."
But when taking into consideration the present status
of our principal schools, as given somewhat in detail in connection with the
history of our towns, we have perhaps devoted space enough to the general view
of this interest, all important as it is. And if Stark county has done well in
the past, may we not hope that with increasing wealth and facilities it may do
better in the future, and by a wise and enlightened policy, not only place a
good education within reach of every child within our bounds, but by employing
teachers of superior attainments win for our county a proud fame in the
educational annals of our state.
To the cries of the unfortunate, whether near or
far, the people of Stark have always lent sympathizing ears, and held forth for
their relief generous hands.
So in the winter of 1860-61, when appeals from the
Kansas sufferers reached us, every neighborhood was alert to aid according to
their means, those whom adverse circumstances had so sadly smitten. "We cannot
go into the particulars of gathering grain and vegetables, money and clothes,
but that all these were sent, is a matter of history.
Jonathan Hodgeson, one of our first county
commissioners, then a resident of Kansas, came on to ask aid, doubtless, feeling
sure he should receive it among the people he had known here— and he did not go
away empty handed. We will give one extract from the "Stark County News" of that
date, relative to the effort:—
Many persons in this county who donated money to the
Kansas Relief Committees, were apprehensive that it would not reach its
destination, or would be appropriated for other uses. To quiet such
apprehensions we give place to the following letter acknowledging the receipt of
money sent from this county:
Atchison, Kansas, Feb. 25,1861. Mr. John Finley, Toulon, Stark co., Ill:
Dear sir :—We received and have used, this day, towards paying freight on relief
goods, your opportune draft of 115.60 for which we have reason to express the
sincere and heartfelt
thanks and gratitude of the many thousands dependent upon us for food, clothing
and seed. We. have this day loaded about 150 teams, mostly for southern Kansas,
with supplies. Sincerely grateful for your kindness and sympathy, I have the
honor to remain, Yours truly,
S. C. Pomeroy, Chairman Kansas Relief Committee.
And the great Chicago fire of 1871 is still fresh in
the minds of our citizens. How, as the sickening record of acres; devastated in
the heart of a populous city, flashed over the telegraphic wires, and news of
thousands upon thousands rendered homeless and penniless by the disaster, was
borne in upon the mind, the people flocked to the depots and stations, loading
cars with everything the needy would require so far as they would go; food and
clothing, beds and bedding, necessaries and delicacies freely given, a
spontaneous outpouring of an almost universal sympathy.
And during the cruel years of the war, the local papers
were crammed with notices of "Soldiers' Aid Societies" "Sanitary Fairs,"
and "Festivals for the benefit of soldiers' widows and orphans."
By these means large sums of money were raised to
supply the sick and wounded with such comforts and delicacies as their situation
demanded, and to relieve in some degree the bereaved and stricken ones from the
pressure of immediate want.
Here again our women found a field of usefulness
peculiarly suited to their powers, and nobly did they exert themselves in behalf
of the sufferers on the field or in the hospital.
Scarcely an issue of our county paper during these
trying times but contained thank offerings from soldiers to friends at home for
some unexpected but welcome remembrance. Lint and bandages, choice wines and
nourishing food, cooling fruits and cheering flowers, found their way to the
front and to the cots of the soldiers, with surprising rapidity.
And later, when the people in the more western states
have suffered severely from grasshopper swarms, and "hot winds" annihilating
their crops, and crippling all their business energies, not a season passes but
large quantities of grain and seeds, and young fruit trees, not to mention
supplies of food and clothes for immediate use, are shipped from this county to
these less favored regions. This is by no means always the result of public
charity, but is often clone quietly by private parties, inspired by the purest
impulses of philanthropy.
Then, the children of the poor freedmen are not
entirely overlooked. Benevolent ladies in various localities, collect large
boxes of comfortable clothing, and in the fall when the weather renders such
particularly desirable, send them to points where they know they can be
distributed advantageously to the suffering blacks.
We speak of these things, although some may pronounce
them unworthy of mention, because we consider them creditable to our humanity;
in fact, these are the kind of missionary enterprises we enjoy rather than
spending money, to send theologians to dispute the teachings of Confucius or the
Of her own poor, "Molly Stark" has not been unmindful;
almost from her organization has she looked kindly after their comfort.
The first county poor house was located a little
north-east of Toulon, on what was long familiarly known as "Adam Perry's place;"
indeed, the house was but the old residence enlarged, and adapted in various
ways to its new duties. But this being deemed insufficient to meet the demands
liable to be made by the increase of paupers as the county grew in years and
numbers, it was decided in 1868 to buy a larger farm, farther from town, and to
erect upon it a good, substantial and commodious poor house. Accordingly a tract
of land described as the north-east quarter of section 12, in township 12 north,
range 5 east, in Stark county, was purchased from Mr. Davis Lowman, at a cost of
about $8,000, and early in the following year preparations for building began—
the committee in charge being C. M. S. Lyons, J. H. Quinn, and H. Shivvers.
The old buildings were sold, the old farm platted and
sold in small lots, and the contract for the new building let to William Caverly
for the sum of $16,000.
This was considered by some an unnecessary expense,
considering the small number of our paupers, and the project met with some
opposition and a good deal of ridicule.
At one meeting of the supervisors in 1869, it was
ordered that a "landscape gardener be employed to beautify the grounds of this
establishment," which was understood to be a lampoon for a certain gentleman who
had commented severely through the press upon what he conceived to be a too
lavish expenditure of the public funds.
Judging from the reports of the supervisors from year
to year, the management of this institution has been generally satisfactory—all
concurring in giving special commendation to the matron thereof. But when we
read that in 1870 our paupers, babies and all, only number ten, we conclude they
could be provided for suitably in a smaller, cheaper building, and the surplus
money turned to better uses.
Going back into the shades of the past to find the
origin of our military spirit, we shall reproduce for the amusement of our
readers, Mr. Clifford's account of the first war like preparations among the
Spoon river men:
"The 'Black Hawk War,' as the little hostile flourish
with a few disaffected Indians on Rock River, is called, naturally awakened a
military spirit in the neighborhood of the disturbances, and before this 'rim visaged' creature had smoothed his wrinkled front' and northern Illinois had
subsided into a 'weak piping time of peace,' what is now known as Stark county,
was put upon a war footing. A military company was organized in Spoon river
precinct. As nigh as we can ascertain at this remote period of time, this
company numbered in 'rank and file,' twenty to twenty-five members, mostly
officers. Their arms (shooting-irons) consisted of rifles, blunderbusses,
muskets, shot guns, etc., of all makes, styles, finish, and conditions—some of
them without lock, cock, stock or barrel. Their uniform was not such as is now
required in the regular army of the United States service, but the ordinary
dress of frontiersmen, colors variegated by the patches only. As our
information, which is rather vague upon this point tells us, James McClennahan
was captain; Peter Miner, lieutenant. As we understand, this company was
enrolled, and consisted of all able bodied men, liable to military duty in the
Spoon river district. In 1833, or spring of 1834, (our researches do not carry
us back of that time) the company was called out for drill (training) near
Wyoming. Some twelve or fifteen persons responded to the roll call. Nothing of
interest occurred at this training as we can learn; our informant who was
present says it was a 'dry affair,' by which we understand him to mean that
there was so little interest taken in military tactics, it was considered a
'bore.' There was the following summer a battalion muster at Boyd's Grove, at
which time there was an inspection. Part of the Spoon river company, moved by a
love of adventure or the fear of court martials and fines, attended. The
commanding officer formed his battalion in line for inspection, and dismounting
his 'war horse,' commenced his inspection at the head of a column; his orderly
sergeant, clerk, or whatever he was, attended him with pencil and paper to take
minutes for such subsequent proceedings as might be required by law against
those who were not 'armed and equipped as the law directs.' The question
generally asked a soldier who was not armed was, 'have you any gun at home,
sir?' Where he answered in The affirmative, he was then asked 'why didn't you
bring it?' If no good reason was given, the clerk was told to 'mark him down and
have him fined.' In due progress of inspection they came to 'Weezner' Leek, who
talked through his nose. Officer.—'Have you a gun at home?' Weezner, (through
his nose.)—'Yes, got a kind of one.' Officer.—'How far will it kill an Indian?'
Weezner.— 'Don't know, never tried it.' Officer.—'What kind of a gun is it?'
Weezner, (by way of his nasal conduit)—'Stock's broke— hain't no ramrod—half the
lock is lost.' Officer—Is that the best you've got?' Weezner.—'Yes, that's all
the gun I've got.' Officer.—'Haven't some of your folks a gun; couldn't you have
borrowed one?' Weezner.—'Yes, 'spose I could if I'd tried.'
Officer.—'Well, I guess I'll have to fine you.' Weezner, (through his nose)—'
Fine an' be d—d.'
"The next movement of troops was a general muster at
Hennepin. The Spoon river company ' mustered the following officers and
privates:—John Dodge, Captain; Peter Miner, first lieutenant, and Sylvanus
Moore, private; three all told. Colonel Strawn was in command of the regiment.
When the Spoon river company was called, Captain Dodge and his lieutenant,
Miner, formed private Moore in a line—one deep. Colonel Strawn seeing so small a
representation of the Spoon river militia present, requested Captain Dodge to
fall into the ranks of the other companies with his two men. Dodge had no idea
of being degraded from the rank of captain of the valorous and formidable Spoon
river company to a simple private in the rag-tag and bob-tail of any other
company upon the grounds; not he. Fresh laurels and victorious wreaths were not
to be so ruthlessly and ignoblv torn from his brow; he was Captain of the Spoon
river company of the Illinois militia, and as such he gave Colonel Strawn to
understand at the start, that he, Captain Dodge, would be d—d if he would do
anything of the kind, requested by him, Colonel Strawn; he'd see him in h—11
first. He would command his own company. Colonel Strawn had to yield. Captain
Dodge then formed his company in the streets of Hennepin, Lieut. Miner
assisting, and private Moore was formed in a long line. The orders, eyes right!
dress! attention ! were executed by the Spoon river company, (Sylvanus Moore) in
a style worthy of that crack company. Captain Dodge now addressed his command in
a lengthy speech. He complimented them (Miner and Moore) for their fine and
soldierlike appearance, for mustering so strong; (two); he spoke of the
merciless savages, Black Hawk in particular; how easily they had been 'wiped
out' if the Spoon river company had only been detailed for that service; how
that distinguished chief had subsided at the very apprehension that the Spoon
river men would soon be on his trail. He defied the roar of the British lion;
the paw of the Russian bear: all the old world; just one 'screech' of the
American Eagle through the Spoon river company would put the whole caboodle of 'em
to flight. Spoon river was patriotic, Spoon river was brave, Spoon river was the
'strong arm' of government, and so long as the Spoon river company was in the
field, our country was safe and its institutions secure; it would go forth
conquering and to conquer. Captain Dodge's speech was a spontaneous effort; it
was inspired and inspiriting; he had brought the inspiration from Moulton, on
Spoon river, in a jug. There was no reporter present, so the above speech is but
traditionary. We regret that it has not been preserved in its original purity,
as no language at our command can do it justice. He spoke very loud, so that his
voice could be heard distinctly along the whole line of his company. After this
address, of which we have given a very brief synopsis, he had his company go
through some of the most startling and brilliant military evolutions. The Zouave
tactics were not then known, but they had a style of their own, a Spoon river
style, that would astonish even the Zouaves themselves. During the whole muster,
this valiant company marched in order, and as a distinct and distinguished
company. After the general muster was over at the parade grounds, Captain Dodge
marched his men to the edge of the city of Hennepin and halted. He then made
them another speech; he rallied them on their courage; he told them what he was
about to do; he was going to take the city of Hennepin by a grand coup de
guerre, (we have put his words into military language, as we design our history
to be somewhat classical,) his words were: 'We are strong enough to surround and
take Hennepin, and I'll be d—d if we don't do it.' He said he would divide his
company into four platoons ; one of which should enter the city from the north,
another from the south, the third from the east, and the fourth from the west.
He was not going to destroy it, but was going to take it home for a plaything
for his children. The next that is seen of his men they had formed a junction at
a grocery where they imbibed freely of patriotism, drawn out of a barrel
labelled 'whiskey,' whence they returned to Spoon river, performing some of the
movements that the 'wide awakes' incorporated into their drill last summer,
(1860) called the 'rail-fence movement.'
"Some time after this, Captain Dodge was on his way to
Hennepin, when he met a constable on his way to Spoon river to collect military
fines incurred by those who had failed to attend the muster at Hennepin. Captain
Dodge asked his business, and upon being informed of the nature of his
constabulary visit, the captain told him he had better put right back home and
never show his head on Spoon river; that the Spoon river men were a desperate
set of fellows when aroused, and that if they once got their hands on him it
would be the last of him ; they would certainly kill him. The constable turned
his horse's head towards home, took a straight shoot for Hennepin, impressed
with the idea that by his prompt retreat he had saved his valuable life. Neither
he nor any other person ever ventured to collect those military fines."
Now, although we suspect there is more humor than
history in the foregoing extract, it has facts for its outline, and as a whole
furnishes a characteristic picture of the rough side of frontier life. The men
mentioned were all bona fide settlers in this region at the date implied, and
"Captain Dodge," was wont to conduct himself very much as he is represented to
have done at Hennepin.
He was one of the few really "hard cases" who made
their home here in those days. He was an inveterate horse racer and a hard
drinker, determined to carry his points at all risks. If he could not win the
stakes by fair means, he would by foul, and many are the tales told of his
recklessness, which culminated at last in murder, at the city of Rock Island.
A horse race for heavy stakes was advertised to come
off near that place, and Dodge had a swift mare which he was training for the
occasion. He went, sure of his customary success, but despite the most frantic
efforts to defeat his competitors, he was foiled—a rawboned Kentuckian pocketed
the purse of gold.
Next morning, as the stranger was standing on the porch
of a hotel, Dodge came up leading his mare, and assailing him with abusive
epithets freely mingled with oaths, demanded that the race should be renewed,
swearing that the decision and awards were unfair, saying, " look at my mare;
you know she is a better animal than yours," etc. "Any horseman will say so.
Now, I ask once more will you consent to try this over to-day?" The Kentuckian
turned on his heel with a muttered negative on his lips, which was never
uttered, for instantly a report from a pistol was heard through the house, and
the winner of yesterday's race was a corpse. Dodge sprang upon the back of his
vaunted mare and tried her speed as he had never tried it on the race course.
Before the people around the dead man realized the position of affairs, he was
swimming the Mississippi, and was soon dashing across the state of Iowa,
distancing all pursuers. Years afterwards, his wife's family learned that he was
living amidst the wilds of Texas still unwhipped of justice; but, not caring
after so long a time to re-open wounds, that had partly healed at least, they
paid no heed to the intelligence. Such was the sad career of "Captain Dodge,"
whether yet closed, or how, is not ours to record; his end is wrapped in
obscurity, or left to imagination.
But the time came when "levying contributions of war "
was no joke in the Spoon river country; and the raising of volunteer companies
became a business so serious, that even its memory throws a shadow of sadness
over most Stark county homes today. We refer of course to the outbreak of our
civil war in 1861, when the cannon turned on Fort Sumpter jarred every
hearthstone in our land, and when the President's calls for 75,000, 500,000
300,000 men," in quick succession reverberated across the continent, making the
stoutest hearts almost hush their throbbings, and demanding in response partings
and heart breakings, such as we hope never to witness again. Nobly did " Molly
Stark " stand the shock, and sent off her bravest and clearest to defend the old
flag: and how best to preserve a record of those days, that shall show to our
descendants what she did and what she suffered, has been the subject of much
We append to this work as complete a list as we could
obtain, of Stark county soldiers, with a brief official record. But this is
insufficient to give any idea of the spirit that animated all classes of society
and the efforts that were put forth, and the sacrifices made, ere these men "
went forth to do, or die."
It is true there were at first painful differences of
opinion, and a few determined spirits, here and there, who opposed the "
vigorous prosecution of the war;" and this only added to the difficulties of the
situation. People felt there was danger of collisions here at home, that would
result in bloodshed—such as we read of in many parts of the country. And,
although the union sentiment was overwhelming, as the military record and
popular vote abundantly prove, yet there was a feeling of gloom and insecurity
in the minds of many; and when the news of reverses to our arms at the battle of
Bull run, and at Harper's Ferry readied us, some anxiously inquired, "what shall
the end of these things be?" The best that can be written now, seems tame in
comparion with the real history of this great struggle as it was recorded by
the actors and sufferers, in the form of letters, or communications to
contemporary papers, as the years of the war unfolded themselves. As files of
these papers then current, have been kindly placed at our disposal by their
publishers, we shall draw from them at some length articles pertaining to the
getting up of Stark county companies, and letters, showing the conduct of our
men on the march and in the field ; believing we can in this way best serve the
interests of our readers, and preserve much that is valuable in our local
The first extract relative to the "Elmira Rifles,"
organized in the spring of 1861, serves to show not only how this company was
called into existence, but to illustrate the spirit that prevailed throughout
the county and led to the rapid formation of the " Lafayette Rifles," and other
companies and "squads" from time to time, the particulars of which can now
hardly be gathered; at least many of them have eluded our diligence.
The Officers of The Company — The Men — History
of the Organization of the Company— The Call — The Response — The Departure — In
camp — Personal Sketches.
Commissioned Officers: — Captain, Charles Stuart; 1st Lieutenant, Stephen M.
Hill; 2nd Lieutenant Alex. Murchison.
Non-commissioned Officers: — 1st Orderly Sergeant, John S. Pashly; 2d Orderly
Sergeant, Wm. Jackson; 3d Orderly Sergeant, John H. Hunter 4th Orderly
Sergeant, James G. Boardman; 1st Corporal, James Jackson; 2d Corporal, James
Montooth; 3d Corporal, Charles H. Brace; 4th Corporal, Robert A. Turnbull.
Privates. — Joseph Blanchard, D. W. Aldrich, Joseph C. Meigs, J. G. Duncan,
Alfred S. Hemmant, James Cinnamon, Isaac Bannister, Henry F. Davidson, A.
Vinson, John Bourke, William H. Flemming, John O. Spalding, Mason Jordan, Adam
Fell, Thomas Turnbull, George P. Richer, Robert T. Scott, Samuel Montooth,
Comfort Morgan, L. C. Drawyer, Henry C. Hall, Aaron T. Currier, John Q. Adams,
Walter Clark, Chas. W. Lesan, George Crowden, William Douglas jr., Henry
Burrows, George Dugan, F. P. Bloom, George Sharrer, John Blackburn, Charles
Blackwell, Alonzo Luce, George W. Ryerson, Chester P. Harsh, William Ingalls,
John Douglass, John G. Lamper, Daniel J. Moon, Joseph W. Pask, William A. Cade.
John McLanay, Louis "Williams, John Webber, John L. Kennedy, James Huckings, J.
O. Ives, Isaac Kinyon, Henry C. Shull. De Forest Chamberlain, James Merrill,
Owen Carlin, Thomas Robinson, William N. Nelson, Thomas Rynick, A. W. Wemper, J.
A. Case, David Allen, Edward Erwin, J. M. Lamper, Frank A. Crowder, Jolin
Thornton, E. W. Goodsel, Thomas Robison, Philip Galley, Isaiah Bates, William
Johnson, James L. Atherton, George Miller. George Stone, Springer Galley, Marvin
Spencer, George Hutchinson J. Drewry, William Newcomer. George Greenfield.
Drummed out.—James Yuly, John Wood. John Sherry, Derrington Good, John Maher.
Captain Charles Stuart, not Stewart, as generally
spelled, is from the Green Mountains of Vermont, a preeminently fit place for
breeding military commanders. The climate healthy, bracing and vigorous; the
landscape bold, rough, mountainous and sublime, make the best cradle for
incipient heroes; besides the moral tone of the people gives them strength and
force of character quite as necessary as hardy constitutions in the held. Men
got in sickly swamps of ague shaking parents, nursed on malarious effluvia, and
reared in moral and mental ignorance, may mope through the world half asleep,
and may have bile enough to be venomous enemies, but never to be great military
commanders. Nature always imparts to animal beings and vegetable life its local
character. Bold, rugged, dashing, sublime scenery favors the growth of bold,
dashing, sublime men, and vice versa. Men whose boyhood and youth have been
passed in mountain scenery, come upon the field of life with strong, hardy
constitutions and invigorated intellects—sound mind in sound bodies. Vermont is
famous for good horses and stalwart men. Though Stuart is not one of the Vermont
"six footers," yet the material for such a man is compressed and refined into
his organization of five feet six.
Captain Stuart is not the birth of the present war excitement; he long ago
showed a talent for military command, a strong penchant for a soldier's life,
even in the most piping times of peace. Everything pertaining to the camp or
field in history, or in the commotions of the old world was always seized upon
by him. as the choicest reading or news. Over a year ago he had so infused his
military ardor into the quiet, orderly and unexcitable Scotch settlement of
Elmira as to set on foot the organization of a rifle company, and in May, 1860,
the company was organized under the old militia law. Stuart was elected captain
by unanimous vote of the company. Stephen W. Hill at the same time was elected
1st. Lieutenant, and Alexander Murchison, jr., 2d Lieutenant. He found in the
settlement just the material for his company ; the Scotch in their characters
are not dissimilar to the Vermont mountaineers. The company advanced as far as
they could, but were unable to obtain arms from the state, probably for the very
good reason that the state hadn't any.
So matters remained until the bombardment of Sumpter.
No sooner had the news reached Elmira. than Stuart set about filling up his
company to tender them as volunteers. "With his officers and part of the old
company as a nucleus, he drummed for recruits in different parts of the county;
he found no difficulty, only that most wanted to enlist as officers if he and
his fellows would throw up their old commissions. His company was filled and
tendered to the government, but was not accepted, though he spared no effort to
get them in, and the company was disbanded and the brave volunteers reluctantly
gave up all hope of getting into service.
Afterwards a special town meeting was called which was attended by the people.
The tax payers of Elmira township turned out generally; unlike the board of
supervisors they didn't stop to find out impediments in the way of being
patriotic, but with unanimity and hearty zeal they voted a tax upon themselves
of $700, for the purpose of uniforming volunteers; and responsible individuals
on the spot subscribed over $1980 for the support of families of volunteers in
service—near twice the amount appropriated by the whole of Stark county for the
same purpose. Individuals, sound and prompt, subscribed as high as $200 each. A
new company was reorganized under the amended militia laws. Captain Stuart and
the commissioned officers of the old Rifles joined it, and unsolicited, threw up
their commissions, but upon a new election they were all re-elected to their
former rank, and the company reported to headquarters. The members were
scattered over considerable territory, and could not well be got together for
drill oftener than once a week. Seeing no immediate prospect of being called
into service they went about their ordinary pursuits, putting in crops, making
brick or whatever else they would have done if the country was at peace. What
followed is best related by a correspondent of the Chicago Tribune of the 18th,
which we copy:
"The Chicago Tribune of the 8th inst., announced the
fact that the Elmira Rifles, Captain Stuart's company, had been accepted, and
were required to be in Springfield on Thursday the 13th inst. Of course such
intelligence created no small stir in our midst, and not only the company, but
the whole community were thrown into some degree of consternation.
"And what seemed to add to the difficulties in the way of being snatched off so
suddenly, was the fact that Captain Stuart, who is a minute man, always so
active, energetic and indomitable, was at the time in the east, and no one here
knew very well where. In removing this difficulty, the other officers deserve
much praise for the promptitude with which they acted. Lieutenant Hill took the
lead, as was fitting he should, and Lieutenant Murchison worked up to all just
expectations, and all seemed determined to let no obstructions prevent them from
coming up and responding to the demand. On Monday, the 10th, a very large
meeting, consisting of the volunteers and citizens of the townships of Elmira
and Osceola, was held to make some arrangements for the departure of the
volunteers. At this meeting difficulties seemed to increase by a dispatch
arriving from the Adjutant General from Springfield, stating that none would be
received enlisting for a shorter term than three years. At that time the
company's roll contained 59 names, and in two days after this, between 80 and 90
started en route for the service of their country. At the meeting on Monday, a
committee was appointed to canvass the adjoining county, which committee
reported at an adjourned meeting held on Tuesday evening, that between 100 and
200 men had pledged their sacred honor and their every means for the support of
the families of volunteers during their absence. At this meeting, also
arrangements were made for the departure of the soldiers on Wednesday, at 12 m.
The ladies, who are always so ready to work, were busily employed, and prepared
and set a most excellent and sumptuous dinner before the volunteers, and some
1200 citizens. In the village of Osceola, the volunteers were met by two
military companies—a horse company, commanded by Captain Palmer Blanchard, and a
foot company by Captain Merrill. Three martial bands were in attendance—
Dalrymple's band with our volunteers, and the other companies each had a band.
The whole multitude assembled on the west side of the church, and after prayer,
we had a spirited, patriotic stirring farewell address from George Clifford,
Esq., of Toulon. The departing volunteers and other military companies present,
were then marched into the church, where four tables, the whole length of the
building, were groaning under the burden of good things which they supported;
but though these were so temptingly displayed, prepared with so much care by the
willing hands of the kind hearted ladies, yet the soldiers seemed to have little
desire to partake of the food; their hearts seemed to be so enlarged that the
stomach had no room left in which to perform its functions. It is a good thing
to know that soldiers have hearts. After partaking of the dinner inside of the
church, and the great multitude outside, the order was issued to fall into
procession and march to Kewanee, the place of embarking on the cars for Chicago.
The whole was under the direction of the marshal of the day, Captain Mark
Blanchard, of Osceola, assisted by George Gray, Esq. The procession consisted of
between one and two hundred conveyances of various kinds. A number of four-horse
vehicles were loaded to their utmost capacity. Arriving at Kewanee, and being
kindly received by the citizens of that place, the volunteers were marched up in
front of the Kewanee House, where a few parting words were addressed to them by
Rev. J. M. Graham of Elmira, and Rev. Mr. R. C. Dunn of Toulon. Captain P.
Blanchard of Bureau county, proposed that a collection be taken up for a little
pocket money to bestow upon the volunteers. This being done, it amounted to
something short of $100. It is proper here to say that every mark of kindness
and respect were shown by the citizens of Kewanee to the company about to leave,
and to their many friends who attended them to this point. Supper was furnished
to the company, and all others so far as was known by the writer, were pressed
by various persons to take tea at different places. The multitude which
assembled in front of the Kewanee House at the time the words of farewell were
being addressed to the soldiers, has been variously estimated at from, 2,000 to
4,000. All we know about it is, that it was an immense crowd; and all seemed to
enter into the spirit of the occasion, and feel that it was an occasion of
importance, such as never before was witnessed by most of those present.
"We read here with a degree of mortification that the
Elmira Rifles, citizens of our county, bound to us by every tie of citizenship,
going forth from 'Molly Stark' to fight our battles, tearing themselves from
home and friends, many probably never to return to us, were compelled to accept
an escort from strangers from a foreign county. As much painful feeling exists
upon the part of our Elmira and Osceola friends because the Home Guards from
Toulon did not do this duty, we have this apology to offer for them: First, that
the sudden departure of the Elmira Rifles was not generally known to them, as it
was expected they were not to leave before Friday, the Chicago Tribune
announcing they were to report themselves at Springfield on the 15th, and not
the 13th as stated in the above correspondence. Second, and principally, because
the treatment received by them at the hands of the board of supervisors was such
as to dishearten and discourage the Guards to such a degree that it was
impossible to rally them for any purpose. The just blame should rest on those
who produced that state of feeling, and not upon the community here, except that
portion of them who would gladly break up all volunteer companies and freeze out
the life blood of patriotism in our county; men who discourage the formation of
volunteer companies. We can assure our Elmira and Osceola friends that in spite
of officials we shall do our duty hereafter. Right here we have an anecdote
which ought to be saved to history. On the second day of the meeting of the
board of supervisors when. 'our member' of the board had moved a reconsideration
of the vote appropriating six dollars to each volunteer for uniforming purposes,
and the matter was engaging discussion before the board, one said he thought the
volunteers could drill without uniforms, and was opposed to giving them the
first cent before called into service, and another had drilled many years in
Ohio at his own cost. A pious, devout member of the Elmira Rifles, was in town
bidding adieu to his friends. He is a prominent member or Mr. Dunn's church, and
a very quiet unexcitable man—J. B. are his initials. He was at dinner with the
family of the orderly of the Home Guards. Now said sergeant can, good naturedly,
and we think not very wickedly, do a good business at swearing; in fact he is
rather voluble in the emission of some naughty words which church, goers call
swearing. J. B. saying to him that the board of supervisors had reconsidered
their vote and he was afraid they were going to defeat the volunteers, he
clinched his indignation against the board as follows: 'Mr. W., you know I can't
swear; I wish you would go down and attend to those supervisors. W. replied, 'I
don't believe I can do the subject justice, but I'll go down town and see if I
can't get T , who can swear them to h—1 and gone.'
"To return to the Rifles. Captain Stuart has a wife and
two children. He is a farmer and well respected in the community where he lives.
He is in stature of medium size and put together for action rather than bulk. He
is quick of perception, being of quick temperament, and will at a glance decide
the best position for his command, and will as quick execute his movements. A
man of quick perceptions is as necessary upon the battle field as a man of
courage, providing he does not lose self-control by too great an excitability.
He is a man of warm heart, and will endear his company to him. We predict a
brilliant career for Captain Stuart. The responsibility of a commander is great;
the wives, families, friends and people of Stark county have committed to
Captain Stuart the gravest responsibility, the lives, the honor of their
husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, and the good fame of the county itself,
and we shall hold him. to a faithful account of his Stuart (Steward) ship.
"First Lieutenant, Stephen M. Hill, is not unlike
Stuart in his make and 'git up.' He leaves at homo a family—a wife, and we
believe eight children. He is highly esteemed at home, and we have no doubt he
will fill his post with honor and credit to himself, his company and county. He
is a native of the state of New York as we are informed.
"Second Lieutenant. Alexander Murchison, jr., is a
young, unmarried man; by birth a Scotchman, but in America one of the warmest
friends of the constitution, the union, and the free institutions of our
"First Orderly Sergeant, John S. Pashley, evidently put
up for the very purpose of being an orderly sergeant of just such a company as
the Elmira Rifles. He is a young man, married however, of the highest order on
natural qualifications for an official position in the army. He will come out
raised in rank. His manners are agreeable and he is bound to have warm friends.
" Second Orderly Sergeant, William Jackson is a young,
unmarried man, eminently qualified for his post. He is a Scotchman, too.
"Third Orderly Sergeant, J. H. Hunter is a married man.
and leaves a wife and several children. He is very highly spoken of.
" Fourth Orderly Sergeant, Jas. G. Boardman is a young
man, brother to Dr. Boardman, so well and favorably known in Stark county. He
has been a medical student and just come home from his second course of
lectures. He is said to be every way worthy, and will make an excellent officer.
" First Corporal, James Jackson is a young Scotchman,
brother of William Jackson. Every way worthy.
" Second Corporal, James Montooth is every inch a man.
We would caution the enemy not to get in striking distance of 'Jim.' He's pluck
to the back bone; he's game to the last. If you don't believe it, ask that
volunteer who stayed in Chicago drunk and didn't go down to the camp to be sworn
in. Jim met him in the street and just took him out of his shirt and brought the
shirt back to camp.
" Third Corporal, Charles H. Brace is a young man, son
of Myrtle G. Brace, Esq., of Elmira. 'Charlie' will give a good account of
" Fourth Corporal, Robert A. Turnbull is a young man, a
nephew of 'Uncle John,' which is a sufficient guaranty that he is all right.
"Had we space and time it would afford us pleasure to
speak more at length of all the officers and privates. We do say that the
officers seem to be exactly qualified for their respective posts, and that they
have been placed in their positions with a single view to their qualifications.
The privates include some of the best men of our county, and we are not
surprised to notice that the company ranks the best in the service of the state,
best in orderly, sober materials for a company. Chicago papers and people so
regard them, and justly, too.
"We have been permitted to peruse a large number of letters received from our
volunteers in camp. Some of them we would like to publish at length, as they
contain matters of interest and are written in a style of epistolary elegance
and simplicity that would do credit to the best of letter writers. We give below
extracts from letters written by one of the privates to his wife in Elmira, and
not designed for publication. We give the dates as a kind of journal of the
"June 13th.—* * * We are praised greatly for the extra
fine appearance of our men. We are told repeatedly by Chicago men that our
company is worth more than the entire Zouave regiment for hard work or effective
service. * * * We feel like loving every man of them we have seen yet, for they
are as kind as they can be. * * * How long we will be here is of course a
mystery. Some say we will not stay here more than two weeks, but we do not know
anything about it. * * * Captain Stuart's family are here, and will stay while
the company remain in Chicago.
" June 14th.—We started today from the city to the
camp, six miles below the city. Arrived all right after a warm march through the
sand. * * * We have a very pleasant camp indeed.
June 15th.— * * * Today for the first time, I took my
rations in cramp. I came down this morning; my furlough having expired, I was
obliged to report. I have been on furlough since the company came into camp. * *
* Our company was sworn in yesterday, but as I was not here, I did not get sworn
in; but should I not take the oath at all I am bound by all that is sacred to my
duty, and by the help of your prayers and my own I hope to be able to do my duty
with honor to myself, my dearly beloved wife and child, and all dear friends and
relations left behind. We are the model for the regiment, and all strive to do
their best to merit the esteem of everybody in the world, and Elmira in
particular. Everybody speaks highly of us, and say our boys do their duty 'tip
top.' Yesterday, when our boys were sworn in, John Sherry, his brother, and a
man from Kewanee, refused to take the oath. They were dealt with as follows: Our
boys were not at liberty to catch them, but the Zouave boys caught John and held
him until our boys were at liberty, when they concluded to part with him in good
style, and rather than see the poor devil walk so far they proposed to provide
him with a conveyance. A rail was found, whereupon they invited the gentleman to
mount, and mount he did, with their assistance, and they gave him a huge ride,
which privilege they enjoyed hugely, and after stripping the uniform from him
and pulling him around awhile, let him go. His brother deserted in the city, or
rather got drunk and we left him lying in an alley. We saved his shirt, however;
James Montooth met him in the street and stripped it off him. We expect hourly
to be ordered to Quincy.
"June 16th.—We had a fine supper and well cooked. Our
young friend Lamper does our cooking, and we do his guard duty. We had meat,
dried apples, coffee, bread and cake. Our meat so far has been fresh, and the
cake was some that Mr. Blanchard brought from home. Since the order was issued
to allow no one to leave the camp, one guard allowed a captain to cross and was
arrested immediately and placed under guard. * * * Since I began this we
assembled for prayers. Lieutenant Hill read a chapter and made an excellent
prayer; every man in the company on their knees with head uncovered. It was a
solemn sight to see the feeling manifested by our men, brave, good, and true.
God bless them.
"June 17th.—Tell the Elmira folks that every man in
camp did really suffer from cold last night, it was awful cold. Order of the
day: 5 A. M., reveille; 5 1/2, roll call; 6, breakfast; 8 1/2, turn out guard;
9, guard mount; 9 1/2 to 11, company drill; 12, dinner; 6, supper; 9 1/2, tattoo
to quarters; 10, taps, lights out and all quiet. Here we have a great deal of
excitement and enjoy ourselves hugely. The boys of our mess, except Dr. Lamper,
my good friend, and myself, are out playing round the camp, but we feeling it
our duty to devote our leisure moments to our dear wives are in our tents
writing to you.
"June 17th.—You must excuse me if I do not write long
letters, as our duties are very arduous at present while getting ready to march.
We will more than likely move on Thursday or Friday of this week; where, God
only knows, and 1 would not care if I had my watch and some money."
This organization, which became after they were
mustered into service, company B, 19th regiment. United States volunteers, was
the first to leave our county for the defence of the union; and the next we
think was the "Lafayette Rifles," known after enlistment as company B, 37th
regiment United States volunteers.
The first named were sworn into the service of the
United States, in June, l861; the second in August of the same year.
"The Lafayette Rifles" were commanded by Captain
Charles Dickinson, a man who would perhaps bear "lionizing" as well as Captain.
Stuart of the Elmira company, but penned in the cooler atmosphere of 1876 such,
gushing tributes would appear overwrought. So, we leave Captain Dickinson to be
praised by his honorable record, and that of his company. They rendezvoused near
Chicago, at a place named Camp Webb; in honor of their Colonel.
They were at Vicksburg from the 11th of June, 1862,
till the surrender, July 4th, 1863. Then went to Yazoo City, had a skirmish
there, then to New Orleans, and Brownville, in at the capture of the latter.
This about concluded their first term of service, and they were permitted to
come home on "veteran furlough " and to vote for President Lincoln, but with
ranks sadly thinned by the risks of battle and the diseases incident to camp
life. During the summer of 1865 they were on garrison duty nearly all the time,
along the Mississippi river, were present at the surrender of Mobile, and helped
storm the works at Fort Blakely. Yet Captain Dickinson says their regiment was
more famous for marching than fighting. During the first two years of their
service they marched over 7500 miles after Price and other rebel leaders. As an
amusing incident in the midst of many painful ones, he recalls, how as they were
approaching Brownville with all possible circumspection, expecting to have a
hard fight and perhaps to capture a large amount of cotton, they were met by a
Mexican general and staff, well mounted, and richly caparisoned, who
congratulated them upon their arrival, and bade them welcome to the town, which
they afterwards found emptied of men and cotton to their great disappointment
Three companies of the 112th, one to the 47th regiment,
and squads to many others were early in the service, until in 1864, when Mr.
Fuller was sent to Springfield to examine the records, mid found us represented
in no less than thirty regiments, including infantry, cavalry and artillery
Of the "three months men," included mostly in the 139th
regiment, we can give but little account. For one reason, although more than a
full company as to numbers, was raised in Stark, they did not unite as such, but
squads went to Henry and Bureau county regiments.
Mr. Kaysbier and Rev. A. J. Wright labored hard to recruit and unite these men
that they might serve under their own offiers, but were only partially
The 139th did garrison duty for a time at Cairo, and
saw something of more active service in Missouri, guarding bridges and cutting
off supplies designed for the enemy, thus letting veterans go to the front. Not
having had a surfeit of such scenes, our "hundred days men" probably count the
period passed in the employ of "Uncle Sam," as furnishing as many pleasant
and amusing reminiscences as any three months of their past life. They were
mostly enlisted in May, 1864, sworn into the service the month following and lay
in camp at Peoria till after the 4th of July, and then mustered out October
28th. So their term of service was through the warm autumn months, when out door
life, of itself, was no hardship.
Yet after all these men had left, making a grand total
of over eight hundred volunteers from our small county, it was claimed that
there was still a deficit in our quota of something over one hundred and fifty.
And as by 1864 and 1865 all the horrors of the battle field, the prison pens and
hospitals were fully understood, it was almost impossible to induce further
volunteering; and then the dreaded " draft" must swoop down upon us, carrying
men off, whether they would or no. There were some whose patriotism was equal to
this emergency who argued it was a necessary measure, let it come! and, if the
lot fell on them they were ready to go; and some we know who thus did go,
willingly, yet drafted.
But this temper was not common. Compulsory obedience is
so repugnant to the American mind, that submission to military rule was never
very heartfelt or graceful—especially among westrn men. They were willing to be
soldiers usually, but they wanted to be volunteers—there was an odium attached
to the idea of being drafted. Therefore, the most strenuous exertions were made
to avoid the necessity of a draft. Funds were raised in all or nearly all the
townships of our county, by self-imposed taxes, in order to hire recruits and
pay bounties to volunteers. Yet a few were, after all, caught by the "drafting
machine," as the boys called it, and had to pay as high as a thousand dollars
apiece for "substitutes." In order to know how many men were justly subject to
draft from this county, Mr. Miles Fuller was dispatched to Springfield to
examine the muster rolls in the office of the Adjutant General, in the fall of
1864, and on his return made the following report to the board of supervisors:
To the Board of Supervisors of Stark County:
The undersigned, having at the solicitation of persons interested therein,
visited Springfield for the purpose of ascertaining the quota of Stark County in
the coming draft, and also to ascertain whether any mistakes have been made in
the credits for men from, this county who have volunteered into the military
service of the United States, would make the following report:
The whole number of men required to fill all calls to the present time is 964
Whole number of credits up to October 1st, 1863, was 689 From October 1st, 1863,
to September, 1864, is: 121
Total credits: 810
Total deficit of county: 154
Of this number there is due from the several subdistricts of this county as
Subdistrict 72, Essex and Toulon, 34
Subdistrict 73, Elmira and Osceola, 36
Subdistrict 74, Valley and Penn, 53
Subdistrict 75, Goshen and West Jersey, 31
The undersigned would further report the credits allowed up to October 1st,
1863, are distributed among the different regiments of this state, as follows,
12th Regiment Illinois Infantry, 1 ; 16th, 1 ; 17th, 2 ; 19th, 107; 33d, 19;
37th, 58; 38th, 1; 46th, 6; 47th, 81; 51st, 10 ; 56th, 2 ; 57th, 5 ; 64th, 1;
65th 39 ; 67th, 1; 83d, 1 ; 86th, 22; 93d, 9; 112th, 268; 124th, 4; 127th, 5;
Fusileers, 1; 3d, Cavalry, 6; 9th, 16; 11th, 2; 13th, 1; 14th, 2; 1st Artillery,
4; 2d, 9; Missouri regiments, 5—685.
Credits allowed from October 1st, 1863, to July 1st.
1864, one hundred and twenty-one men. I was unable in my brief stay to ascertain
in what regiments these last named have enlisted.
About one hundred men, (estimated) residents of this
county, have enlisted in different regiments and have been credited to other
counties. This has resulted from several causes. Sometimes from carelessness on
the part of the men enlisting in not giving their residence, and perhaps on the
part of recruiting officers, who were desirous to obtain credits for their own
counties, and sometimes from misrepresentation on the part of the men enlisting
in order to obtain the local bounties offered by other counties.
I was informed by Adjutant General Fuller that in every
case the men were credited to the counties where they actually resided at the
time of their enlistment whenever that could be ascertained; and from such
examinations as I was able to make while there. I am satisfied that his
statement is correct, and that no pains have been spared by him to do justice to
For instance, I was acquainted with several men in the
72d.and 55th regiments in which we have no credits, and on an examination of the
muster rolls of said regiments 1 found Robert Holmes, Scepter Harding, Darsie
Heath, Jacob Galley and Jasper Morris reported from Chicago, and Miles Avery
from Cook county, and Lester Coggswell, Joseph C. Hiner and George W. Eckley
from Bushnell, McDonough county, and George Witter, without any residence given.
So of other regiments. Our men have enlisted and are credited to other counties
in consequence of the errors of the muster roll.
My thanks are due to General Fuller, and to Hon. Newton
Bateman of the Provost Marshal's office, who extended to me every courtesy and
gave me all the assistance in their power.
I would recommend to the board that some time during
the coming winter, when the present press of business at the Adjutant General's
office shall be past, that an agent be sent to examine the records and get the
names of all persons who have enlisted from this county, the date of their
enlistment, their company and regiment, etc. And that the same may be made a
matter of record in this county. Let the brave men who have gone to the rescue
of our country be remembered. Let a roll of honor be kept. All of which is
Miles A. fuller.
This report of Mr. Fuller besides showing the exact
position of the county with regard to the quota of troops, shows another fact we
wish to impress upon the reader's mind, viz : the difficulty of making a full
and correct list of all Stark county soldiers.
We copy the following from the Stark County News of
about the same date:
On Sunday last, 23 men went down to Peoria from this
(Toulon) township to enlist, twenty of whom we learn were accepted and mustered
in. They received $500 apiece local bounty, which is about the top of the
market, from present appearances.
In this matter of raising bounties, our monied men and
some who are not noted for wealth, have done nobly. They have paid in some cases
as high as $150, and some who have subscribed thus liberally have worked with
unceasing vigilance in an enterprise which at first we considered as visionary
and hopeless as a voyage to the moon. Thus the township is doubtless out of the
draft with a large feather in her cap.
West Jersey has voted a bounty tax, and we believe will
let the matter rest at that; then when the draft comes on issue bonds to the
Penn made a contract with some firm to furnish her
twelve men at $390 apiece and supposed the whole thing was settled, but the
agents have returned the money, we are told, being unable to procure them.
Later.—Mr. Blair who has just returned from Peoria,
informs us that an agent is there from Penn, who has succeeded in procuring men
for that township. West Jersey had better use her money to procure recruits, as
substitutes can hardly be obtained at any price after the draft. But it is
"their own funeral."
We shall next introduce several very interesting
letters regarding the history of the 112th regiment. We regret we have so little
to offer concerning the 47th, in which Stark was well represented, but, it is
not our province to make history and none relative to this command has been
furnished us, so we must content ourselves with the report of the Adjutant
News from the One Hundred and Twelfth—They Participated in the Battle of
Resaca, Georgia.—The Casualties of Company F.
"The telegraph has already brought the news that the
gallant 112th was in the terrific battle of the 14th and 15th of May, at Resaca,
Georgia, and that Colonel Henderson is among the wounded. We are happy, however,
at being able to inform our readers that his wound, though painful, is not
dangerous. We are permitted to extract the following from a letter from the
Colonel to his brother, James A. Henderson, of this place, dated on the field,
"I was wounded in the fight of yesterday—shot through
the right thigh with a minnie ball; fortunately no bones were broken, as I
think; but the surgeons have, as yet, made no examination of the wound, and
therefore the wound cannot, in my opinion, be regarded as dangerous. The ball
made, however, an ugly hole through my thigh, and I am suffering much pain from
it. This morning my leg is so very sore I cannot move it without intense pain.
"The fighting yesterday was very severe; the position
we occupied at the time I was wounded, was a fearful one. We charged the enemy,
drove him from his first line of rifle pits, pursued until we reached the crest
of a bold hill previously cleared by the rebels, and within about fifty yards in
front of a second line of fortifications, when the enemy opened upon us with
grape and canister, with schrapnel and musketry, and the air was hissing hot
with deadly missiles.
"So far as I am now informed, our loss was eight killed
and thirty-five wounded. Captain Wright had his arm broken just below the
shoulder, and it was amputated last night. Levi Silliman was wounded in right
arm slightly. John Rhodes, was wounded in right wrist and the ball grazed his
left arm. Henry C. Hall had his left shoulder and arm taken off by a shell.
George Stone was shot in the mouth, severely. William T. Essex was wounded by a
ball passing through his left big toe. Thomas Shore, Henry C. Ackley and John
Haskins were slightly wounded. These are all in company F. Seeley Thurston and
Cyrus Snare, of company E, are wounded, but I think not dangerously. Company B
had none killed or wounded, except Lieutenant B. F. Thompson, acting adjutant,
who was slightly wounded in his foot. I have no room for other names today. No
other officers were wounded, except Captain Wright, Lieutenant Thompson, and
" The battle is still going on today, and while I am
writing, the steady roar of artillery is heard all around me. How indifferent
men become to scenes of blood and danger. I am surrounded with wounded and dying
— can hardly see a man but has the blood of battle upon him, and yet, in my own
condition, bloody and wounded myself, lying here in this dense woods, with a
blanket and a little straw upon the ground for a bed, a shelter (dog tent) for a
covering, how calmly I look upon it all."
Since writing the above, Mr. Henderson received a
dispatch from the Colonel and Captain, stating that their wounds are doing well,
and that they will be home soon. Nothing was said in this of any further
We have also been permitted to read a letter from Levi
Silliman, of the same date, written as he said, by proxy, to his father. He
gives nothing additional to the above. He regards H. C. Hall's wound as
dangerous. Mr. Hall is the last recruit we sent down while acting as recruiting
agent for this county. Ho lived at Osceola."
From the twenty-third Army Corps — Letter from a
member of the One Hundred and Twelfth.
Camp of the 112th Regiment Illinois Vol. Infantry near Kingston, N. C. March
To the Editor of thee Chicago Evening Journal:
Thinking that some of your patrons would like to hear
from the 112th Illinois, and having a few leisure moments, I thought that I
would write these few lines. "We have seen some of the confederacy.
Up to the first of February, `865, we had traveled over
six thousand miles, through the following states: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky;
Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia, touching Maryland. I have not my memorandum at
hand to show the exact number of miles in each state, or the number inarched on
foot, but it is a little over 3,000. We have been in twenty-six general
engagements, and one hundred and ten skirmishes with the enemy, and with one or
two exceptions we have been victorious. On the first of February we were at
Alexandria, Virginia on the fourth we left that place and arrived at Fort
Fisher, North Carolina, on the following Wednesday; since that time we have been
on the march most of the time. Our first skirmish was in approaching Fort
Anderson. The brigades of Henderson and Moore, of the 23d army corps, were in
the advance. After skirmishing all day, we (that is the skirmishers of the
112th) lay within four hundred yards of the fort. Before daylight the next
morning, we commenced creeping1 towards the fort, and soon found that it was
nearly evacuated, when we went forward with a yell of delight. Captain Colcord,
of the 112th Illinois, was the first officer in the fort, and the skirmishers of
our regiment were the first men in it. There were about fifty rebels that had
not got out that were captured. But no rest here. We pushed on and came up with
the rebels at night on Town creek, a small creek near the field of the
revolutionary battle of Old Town, which I think was fought between Greene and
Cornwallis. Marks are still there—the old fort, and also one gun, a piece of
artillery about three feet long, and weighing about one hundred and fifty
pounds. After fighting the rebels pretty hard nearly all day, they were
compelled to fall back, with a loss of over three hundred prisoners, besides the
killed and wounded, and two pieces of artillery. We did not come up with them
again until we got to Wilmington, North Carolina. Here they did not stop, but
gave up the place, leaving a large number of our prisoners that were not able to
move. Here we remained until the 6th of March, when we started for this place.
We have had one of the hardest marches that we have
ever, traveled, it being about one hundred miles, through swamps and wading
creeks. All of the way we have marched from twelve to twenty miles per day; but
we have come through all right. We are now in the third brigadier, third
division, and twenty-third corps, commanded by Brigade General T. J. Henderson,
formerly of the 112th Illinois—an officer in whom the men put the utmost
confidence. He has been abused at home by the Tribune and some of its friends,
but not by any who have seen him in the field. There is where a man has to show
just what he is.... A Soldier.
The one hundred and twelfth in Virginia. — All about the Regiment. — An
Interesting Letter from our own Correspondent. — Clinker among the Boys.
News:—Upon going over to the "National" the other day to pick my teeth after
dinner (5 o'clock p. m., Washington dinner hour) who should I discover in the
crowd of army officers, who there "most do congregate" but the gallant Colonel
Henderson, Acting Brigadier General of the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 23d Army
Corps, and it was not long before I was surrounded by a cordon of officers of
the old 112th Illinois. 80 unexpected, unheralded as its arrival in the
department was, for the once it seemed like a vision in a dream, and I was
carried back to little Molly Stark, to the fall of 1862, when Toulon had a
little touch of military fever and experience, as the boys were quartered there
for drill and awaiting orders. As soon as I could disengage the Colonel from
Governor Yates, I found out what it all meant. Schofield's brave corps was here
or hereabouts. If this is contraband news I offend ignorantly, and I shan't give
the enemy any kind of information as to its prospective movements, because if
for no other reason, I haven't the slightest idea myself. The 112th was at
Alexandria, on the "sacred soil" of Virginia, and Colonel Henderson had been
ordered to join his brigade here, and had come on for that purpose. I observed
that he received a very warm welcome back to his command, all of whom, officers
and men, seemed very much attached to him. All speak in high terms of him, both
as a gentleman and an officer. Colonel Henderson has the strongest kind of
recommendations for his promotion to a Brigadiership, a position he has long
been filling, but I apprehend his modesty alone will prevent it, as such
promotions seem to depend upon assurance and dogged perseverance, a kind of
brazen audacity, which the colonel is wanting in. The officers and men are far
as I could learn, were anxious for his promotion.
"Here comes Eldridge with a mail bag under his arm—you
would not mistake him; the service does not seem to have used him up 'muchly.'
He is brigade post master, and did you ever reflect what valuable loads of love
and friendship he daily comes laden with to camp, and what records of heart
throbs and hopes, and fears and anxieties and loves he daily takes to the post
office, which at the end reaches the dear ones at home? Ah, here is Captain
Armstrong of Company F., tough and hardy, and good natured. There was always
something good in the captain's countenance, an expression of honesty and
sincerity and truthfulness, and his army experiences have only served to bring
out and clearly define that expression. I see Bushrod ahead of me—1 can't
mistake his gait, but still there is a peculiar agility in his. motion now. I am
told he has just received his commission as 1st lieutenant of company F, and
that probably accounts for his unusual sprightliness. The fact is, Tapp feels
well, and he deserves to. I am glad of his promotion; he is a good soldier I am
told. He looks in the best of health and vigor. But I am getting a little ahead
of my story, and mixing up Washington and Alexandria.
"We, Fuller, Farrar and myself, were honored with an
invitation to visit the regiment, which we did not hesitate a bit to accept.
Having satisfied the provost marshal of Washington that we were not spies or
bounty jumpers, or disloyal subjects, and having subscribed an oath of
allegiance which his clerk said we might take when we got out of doors, we
obtained a pass to go to Alexandria and return, 'on business' the pass said.
Alexandria is not right across the river from Washington, as many suppose,, but
it is down and across about eight miles, more or less. We talked of skating
down, but it being Sunday and having no skates, and my companions being no
skaters, we thought best to take the cars, which we did. For thirty cents each
we had the privilege of standing up to Alexandria. Of course, our passes were
vised by a fierce looking fellow with a sharp bayonet. We were soon in the city
where the immortal Ellsworth fell at the beginning of the war, as he was
descending with a rebel flag from the Mansion House. The tragedy is fresh in all
our minds. We get track of the 112th boys, and are told it was that quiet, well
behaved regiment down by the river. The citizens speak thus of it as in contrast
with many others that had been quartered there during the war. The truth is,
that those men who went voluntarily into the service from motives of patriotism,
differ widely from substitutes, bounty jumpers and unwilling conscripts. The
western regiments raised in the days of patriotic love of country and hatred of
rebels, are the true soldiers of the republic, and none are truer than the 112th
boys. We meet the colonel, acting brigadier, and staff officers on their way to
brigade headquarters, and were warmly greeted by them. Thomas Milchrist,
adjutant, or something of that kind, I don't know what now, went back with us to
show us the way to the quarters. Aha! there comes a familiar countenance, on an
officer's horse—'as sure as shootin,' it is Charley McComsey, the hardiest,
heartiest looking fellow yet a hearty shake of the hand, and on we go to the
112th. And here we find the boys of company F and E, snugly stowed away and
piled up in the second story of the barracks, and in the loft, not a sickly
looking soldier among them. A general hand-shaking ensued. Some had got so fat
that I could hardly recognize them. William Ely was on hand, the most changed of
all, but still with his inevitable 'watch to trade.' William has improved
amazingly in all outward appearance. Here we find captain Otman, also
looking well, and yet I thought I could discern a shadow of sorrow upon his
countenance for the great bereavement he has sustained in the loss of his wife,
one of the noblest of her sex. I thought of bygone days when the captain held
the scales of justice in his hands in 'Old Stark, while now he was wielding the
sword of justice in the service of his country. The captain is evidently loved
by all his men, and I believe he well deserves it.
"Here is Henry Perry, the very identical Henry. I
believe he is orderly sergeant of company F. Ah here is B. F. Thompson of
company B, the oracle of the regiment, and one of the writing mediums of it from
Stark. I forget just what he is, but he is an officer of some kind, and a
'bully' good show. Captain Armstrong and Lieutenant Tapp, seem as happy as
mortals can be, and more so than I would suppose men would feel with such
terrible reminiscences as they must have of the past, and such scenes as they
have before them yet. But they are true philosophers. Our stay at the
barracks was but a moment. I must go and see company B, who are aristocratically
quartered in a building by themselves. 'Brad' leads the way. We see here many
familiar faces from and about Bradford, and some we don't see. There were many
good fellows at Camp Lyon, Peoria, that we did not find here. Many whose lives
were equally promising and as full of hope as those who remain. They no longer
answer at roll call —God bless them—their memory is cherished by many mourning
friends. Here a roll call of the casualties of company B, was shown me, kept
neatly in a diary of one of the Bradford boys. I could see an unmistakable look
of sadness when he showed this record of casualties. I took out my pencil and
copied their names in short hand, which may account for some of its
inaccuracies. A thought here struck me that nothing which your paper could
contain, would be more interesting to your readers than a view of the Stark
county companies with their casualties. To read over these names will recall to
your readers many interesting reminiscences, and will be good for reflection.
"I am indebted to the officers of the respective
companies for the facilities afforded me to obtain the statistics I hastily
compiled from their books and otherwise, and which I send you as a part of this
hasty sketch. I think many inaccuracies will be found in them, though I
endeavored to copy them as well as I could for the hurry I was in.
"To give your readers some idea of the service done by
the 112th, I would say that they have been in twenty-five general engagements,
one hundred and ten skirmishes; have traveled 1565 miles on foot, 2500 miles on
horse back. 1564 miles on the cars, and 774 miles on steamboat, making a total
of six thousand four hundred and three miles.
"The regiment arrived at Alexandria on the 25th of
"The 112th Illinois, in which more of the hopes and
fears of the people of Stark county have been centered than in any other single
regiment, has been mustered out at last, and the men have returned home, except
such as will return no more. The regiment has seen more service, done more hard
marching and hard fighting, than almost any other of which we have any
knowledge. The history of this regiment, written out in detail, by a competent
hand, would be a very readable book for the friends of the regiment in Stark and
Henry counties. Who will undertake the enterprise?"—Stark County News.
As can be seen by the figures, our contribution to this
regiment was three companies, but they were the props of many homes.
In this centennial year, 1876, Stark county has but one
organized military company, that known as "The Elmira Zouaves," a few men,
principally those who had seen service in the 19th regiment Illinois volunteer
infantry, have rendezvoused for drill and parade on special occasions ever since
the close of the late war. Wearing the gay uniform of the Zouaves, and
practicing their somewhat unique exercises, they have always attracted a good
deal of attention, and have finally organized under the state militia law; and
reporting themselves at head quarters, the state has supplied them arms, and
they now meet regularly for drill at the county seat.
They are a sort of public pet at present, being the
only candidates for, or recipients of military honors in the county. The
citizens of Elmira and Toulon townships have recently presented them with a fine
banner, and other tokens of approval.
Of all the business interests or enterprises of
Stark county, agriculture — farming — in some of its branches, and stock
raising, must be considered of the first importance. But to give anything beyond
a general idea of their progress and magnitude is out of our power in a work of
A history in detail of the farming and fruit growing
operations of the last thirty or forty years, together with their results, and
an account of the implements and appliances used by our first farmers, compared
with those employed now, would form a small volume, and contain much amusing as
well as useful matter for farmers.
It would seem our agricultural society might develop
something of this kind, which would be valuable for future reference; we ought
to profit by the mistakes as well as the successes of the past.
But those of our readers who are curious about
statistics and exact statements we must refer to our brief table of agricultural
reports. We can only say here in general terms that the various branches of
tillage, fruit and wool gathering, stock raising, etc., all receive a large
share of attention and prosper accordingly.
Fruit is cultivated with varying success, the trees
being of rapid growth but subject to many diseases,—insects being their most
dangerous enemies. Some years, however, the fruit crop is enormous. Grapes
seldom fail, except when injured by a very severe winter.
Small grains do not make so full a requital for the
labor bestowed as in some other localities, consequently our farmers are
depending more and more on the "hog and corn crop," and seldom are they
disappointed. The fattening of beeves for market is considered a paying
investment, also sheep raising, and the breeding of fine varieties of blooded
stock and horses.
As a dealer in and importer of fine stock, Mr. Davis
Lowman of the Green Lawn farms in Toulon township, has probably been most
conspicuous. He having dealt extensively in the "Short-horns," importing at one
time direct from Scotland, for his own farms a herd of unquestionable pedigree.
Tiring however of the labor and responsibility this business imposes, he sold
out at the great cattle sales in Galesburg, April, 1876, his entire herd,
consisting of sixty-seven choice animals, many of which brought their owner over
a thousand dollars apiece, all going up pretty well into the hundreds—making a
total of $20,824. It is said Mr. W. Scott of Wyoming who bought several of Mr.
Lowman's famous herd, is going into this business on a large scale, and among
the prominent exhibitors at our agricultural fairs of fine blooded animals may
be named Mr. Thomas Dugan, Mr. Joseph Cox. and Mr. John Hepperly.
The Turnbull and Oliver families in Elmira township,
can never quite forsake their hereditary occupation of shepherds, and have done
much to keep up an interest in wool-growing, although some of them, at least,
have of late been more widely known as stock dealers. And Mr. Isaac Newman of
West Jersey township, has gone very extensively into raising of sheep, both for
wool and mutton.
There has been such a general interest felt in this
enterprise, and so many, not only of our farmers but business men of every grade
connected with it, that it is no easy matter to decide to whom it is mainly
indebted for its present prosperity. The old records state " That at a meeting
held in Toulon on the 29th day of October, A. D. 1853, for the purpose of
forming an agricultural society, the house was called to order by appointing
David McCance secretary, and Hugh Rhodes chairman, and the utility of such a
society was set forth in a neat little speech by Captain Butler."
"On motion, it was resolved that each individual, in
order to become a member of this society, shall pay the sum of one dollar,
whereupon the following gentlemen came forward, gave their names and pledged
each one dollar;"
Henry Butler, senior, John B. Atherton, William W.
Wright, senior, Hugh Rhodes, Benjamin Turner, Thomas J. Henderson, Jacob
Jamison, B. F. Boughn, S. M. Curtis, Bushrod Tapp, Joseph Cox and William
Chamberlain. General Thomas was appointed President; Captain Butler, Wm. W.
Wright, Jacob Jamison and David McCance were appointed a committee to draft a
constitution, which instrument was adopted by the society at its next meeting in
The first officers elected under the constitution were
H. Rhodes President; Martin Shallenberger and Jacob Jamison, Vice Presidents;
David McCance recording, Captain Butler corresponding secretaries, and John R.
Atherton, treasurer. The first annual report of finances shows a total of
$120.20 received, $105.75 paid out by the treasurer, leaving a balance in his
hands of 15.45, cheating himself to the amount of $1, contrary to present
practice. The first annual fair was to be holden in September, 1854, at Toulon.
Some still remember that first fair in 1854, when the
stock was quartered in Mr. Whitaker's yard, and exhibited on the public square,
while the products of the dairy, kitchen, and loom, were disposed of within the
old court house, the table containing a few fancy articles which a gentleman
lifted up, one by one, that they might be seen by the assemblage. Such will
involuntarily draw a contrast between those small beginnings and the present
exhibitions of the society with its fine grounds, ample accommodations and
abundant resources. But in one respect, at least, this little fair of 1854 was a
prototype of all its successors, viz: disappointed competitors for premiums felt
at liberty to vent their chagrin on or at the judges of the various departments,
whom they though had been instrumental in wounding their vanity.
The writer recalls that she was unfortunately a judge
of dairy products on this occasion, and being concerned in awarding the first
premium ever awarded in Stark county for butter, to Mrs. Ann Hartley, was
soundly berated before leaving the house by another competitor, who informed the
judges one and all, "that they couldn't know good butter when they saw it ;" but
they still think they did.
This society has continued to hold fairs annually since
its organization, with the exception of the year 1862, when owing to the
disturbed state of the country, and the great pressure both for men and money
brought upon the county by the war, it was deemed best to suspend all
proceedings of the society until called together by the President. After eight
months suspension, the society was convened again in April, 1863, and the ninth
annual fair was holden in September of that year.
Stark county people have had great reason to be proud
of the continued success of this society. Other counties larger and richer than
our own, have sustained agricultural fairs for a few years with great spirit,
but through recklessness or mismanagement of some kind, many societies have
become bankrupt and sunken into obscurity. Credit is due to those who have
husbanded the finances of ours to such general purpose, and to those who have
firmly resisted the pressure brought to bear upon them to allow our fairs to
degenerate into horse races. Such proceedings being against the moral sense of
the better class of the community, always end in embarrassment and ruin, however
they may swell the receipts for a time.
Among the earlier presidents of the society we notice,
after General Thomas, Hugh Rhodes, Jacob Jamison, Isaac Spencer, Charles Myers,
William W. Wright and James Holgate. Secretaries: D. McCance, G. A. Clifford,
Oliver Whitaker, W. H. Butler. Its treasurers were for many years Mr. Whitaker
and Mr. Davis Lowman. Among its early friends and supporters are many whose
names do not appear on the official board, although they were always at work on
committees or elsewhere. Among these are Liberty Stone, John Lackey, Benjamin
Boughn, Jedathan Hopkins, B. M. Jackson, Mark Blanchard, Hopkins Shivers, James
M. Rogers, Edward Trickle, Washington Trickle, Nathan Snare, Peter Fast, E. L.
Emery, William Collins, and others equally deserving of mention. Of the later
doings of the society we have no records at command, but know that it has been
guided along a career of singular usefulness and prosperity, and now is able to
offer its thousands in the way of premiums to encourage the useful arts and
industries of our people. We find for the fair of 1875 the amount divided among
the various classes as follows: Horses, $712; cattle, $667; farm and dairy,
$271; fancy department, $255; machinery, $233.50; sheep, $190.50; hogs, $174;
In a county like this, agriculture in some of its
branches must always be the chief pursuit of the people. The favorable
conditions of the atmosphere, and the inexhaustible resources of the soil
combining to make it the surest if not the shortest road to wealth. In the terse
and homely phrase "hog and hominy," we find the staples of our trade; out of
these our luxuries in must spring, if they spring at all. Manufactories are
remunerative only where large water power is available or where a surplus
population greatly cheapens human labor, neither of which conditions are met
here. Common saw and grist mills were tried by many at an early day, but with
indifferent success, although before the era of railroads the settlers were
dependent upon them to a great extent. Leek's mill was probably the pioneer,
built on Spoon river, not far from the bridge on the road from Toulon to
Wyoming, the same site Mr. Clifford refers to, as afterwards owned by Mr. Minott
Silliman. Sylvanus More tried one higher up the river. Dorrance one below the
east and west forks (now Fuller's mill.) Gen. Thomas and Enoch Cox experimented
in this line on Spoon river. Andrew Dray tried Indian Creek, Parker and
Bradford, Jack Creek, while Amsey Newman had a lathe turned by water power on
Cooper's Defeat, near by Asher Smith's, and the latter gentleman had a tannery
not far from this place. All these experiments were made as early as 1845 or
earlier, perhaps a few as early as 1835. Amsey Newman continued to make sale of
a good many split bottom chairs and spinning wheels to the new comers, but the
mill owners found our water courses but poorly suited to their purposes; they
would amuse themselves at one season of the year, by rising so rapidly as to
suddenly carry dams and other essentials to the regions of the unknown, and at
another time the diminished current barely served to keep the sluggish wheel in
motion, while the impatient farmers camped around, waiting for a grist, till the
days grew to weeks, and wife and children at home living on baked potatoes or
whatever other substitute for bread their scanty larders furnished. So no wonder
that water mills in Stark county came to be regarded as failure. As early as
1836 a hattery was established by the Dunbars at Lafayette, and sustained for
some time with commendable determination, but it finally succumbed to "hard
times." And a few years later, at the same place a joint stock company was
formed for the purpose of erecting a carding and woolen mill. The latter was a
complete failure, never even getting into operation, if we are correctly
informed. The former was soon abandoned as unremunerative. Old settlers will
recall the weather beaten skeleton of this building as it stood for years by the
road side, a monument of disappointed endeavor. Another pioneer carding mill was
owned at one time by Washington Trickle and Charles Yocum. This was located on
Walnut creek in West Jersey township, then generally known as "Massillon
It must have driven quite a thriving trade at an early
day when the women of our county spun, and wove most of the clothing the men
wore, as well as their own.
We remember, when not only large loads of "rolls
" from this establishment used to pass through Toulon; but occasionally a
runaway slave, picked up probably at "Nigger Point" and snugly stowed away among
the packages of wool, was carried on his way toward Canada and freedom, via
Osceola and Providence.
But times have changed with us since 1846. The carding
mill has gone to decay, the people no longer wear home-spun, and not a slave
sighs beneath the stars and stripes.
The most extensive and best directed investment in the
direction of a manufactory in Stark county, was made by Mr. John Culbertson in
1865, when he erected the Toulon flouring and woolen mills. And probably had Mr.
Culbertson lived to support this enterprise by his large capital and uncommon
business abilities, he would have succeeded in wringing success from the grasp
of adverse circumstances, and we in Toulon should have reaped the benefits of a
flourishing manufacturing establishment giving employment to many hands,
quickening the pulses of business life generally. But unfortunately for public
as well as private interests, a sudden death cut short his career, and closed
his enterprises in 1869; since which time his heirs and executors have found
this large and substantial structure, filled with complicated and expensive
machinery, but as an "elephant on their hands," .and have this year, 1870, sold
the mills with good house and lands adjoining to Messrs. Stauffer and Headley
for a small fraction of the original cost. These gentlemen have an extensive if
not an expensive experiment to try, and public spirited men will watch it with
interest and wish them an abundant success.
Cheese factories would seem to be such natural
outgrowths of agricultural and stock raising communities, that one might
conclude at once they would take root and prove "perpetuals " here. But the laws
of trade are capricious, or at least seem so to the uninitiated; and we
apprehend the stockholders of the Toulon cheese factory are too well informed,
to count on golden harvests for a year or two—they may come and they may not.
But the directors have built a plain and suitable structure, and furnished it
with all the appliances modern science demands for the making and keeping of
good cheese, employed a skilled overseer, and now propose to fight it out on
that line till it does pay.
We are told it has so far more than met their
expectations, disposing of 4,000 pounds pf milk per day during the first year of
its existence, and one or more other tanks are already to be added in order to
accommodate its new patrons. The cheese is of fine quality, competing favorably
in the home market with the best brands ever imported here, and is winning a
name in the trade— known as "Molly Stark."
This surely is an enterprise our fanners cannot afford
to let droop, making as it does a ready market for milk, otherwise of but little
value during the warm weather, as the manufacture and shipment of butter is
attended with much labor and less reward. Second in importance only to our
agricultural interests, must be considered.
SPOON RIVER COAL AND ITS MINING.
We shall introduce here an extract from an official
report of Professor Wilbur, an eminent geologist, on the extent and value of
Spoon river coal, much of which lies within our county lines, as the report
conveys more full and pointed information upon this subject than we have been
able to find in as small space elsewhere. He says: "We have applied the name of
Spoon river to the coal and also to the field or basin containing it, because
the river, with its tributaries, is co-extensive with it, and in its lower
portions cuts through the middle member of the coal series.
"The average thickness of this coal is four feet six
inches, and is divided into three portions or branches.
"The upper layer or branch is a very compact, black,
brittle and brilliant coal, eighteen to twenty-two inches in thickness. This is
uniform, and free from all impurities, and upon this portion depends the
reputation of what is called the 'Wyoming coal.' It is highly bituminous,
yielding a large per cent, of gas, for which it would take precedence in any
western market. It would yield eighty gallons of crude oil per ton of coal. So
rich in hydrocarbon or bitumen is it, that a local deposit of fine slate
overlaying it, at Princeville, has become cannel coal, and has been profitably
distilled into oil.
"This layer alone, contains more oil than the combined
products of all the oil wells and springs of the United States and Canada, and
will probably be resorted to for supplies, when these sources have failed. The
fortunate position of the Spoon river coal field gives us occasion to make a few
remarks as regards its future value. It is situated near the Mississippi river,
whose coal trade in barges northward will soon equal its lumber trade southward;
distributing these mining products at the depots of 15,000 miles of shore, on
either side. It is bounded on the north by the Silliman district, which occupies
17,000 square miles of northern Illinois, all of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and
northern Iowa. This vast area is entirely void of coal, depending solely upon
transportation from the nearest coal deposits.
"The limit of workable coal may be safely put at 80
miles north-west and south-east, 30 miles north-east and south-west, giving an
area of 2,400 square miles; and there are two veins of coal, having a combined
thickness of nine feet. To measure the amount in tons, we must take one cubic
yard, for every ton as a measuring unit.
"A stratum of coal three feet thick, would therefore
give a cubic yard or ton for every square yard of surface. Hence an acre of
three foot coal would contain 4,840 tons; but we have a combined thickness of
nine feet; an acre therefore, in this coal field must contain 14,520 tons."
"The aggregate of tons contained in the coal field
whose limit we have assumed as eighty by thirty miles is, 22,302,720,000 tons!!
Now if we distribute 1,000 tons per day, it will require 75,000 years to exhaust
the supply, allowing 300 working days per year."
If these conclusions be correct, and we see no reason
to question them, the subject of fuel for the Spoon river country, need not be a
matter of anxiety. Yet it was, to the first settlers who few, if any of them
dreamed of the wealth that slumbered beneath the "rough lands" they viewed with
such indifference, they burned wood exclusively for years, and much was thus
consumed that might have been used for better purposes.
Probably the very first coal in Stark county, was dug
about 1855; this was along Jack creek and Jug run; also on section 23, Toulon
township, by William and David Howard. About the same time or soon after, there
was some mining done on section 25, by John Robinson and Richard Howarth, the
latter best known among his neighbors by the sobriquet of "Shanty Dick."
"And coal was found 'ropping out' on the old Beckworth
property on Spoon river, and also in the timber then belonging to Mr. Culbertson
near Indian creek; but the latter is the small or two feet vein, classed as
number seven, by the state geologists."
So writes Mr. James Fraser, well known in Stark county
for years past, as a scientific and practical miner, to whom we are indebted
for the facts relative to the development and growth of this enterprise among
us. He is an Englishman by birth and education, came here in 1857 fresh from the
collieries of New Castle, and together with a fellow countryman, Thomas
Tunsall, leased part of section 14 from Elisha Dixon. The coal trade here was
still in its infancy, but they opened a mine and worked it systematically, and
by cleaning their coal of sulphur and slack made it more marketable, and better
adapted for cooking purposes, which advantages soon brought it into more general
In the spring of 1858 they bought part of section 23
and worked that, and sold about 1,000 tons that year. Mr. Fraser thinks that
represents at least one-fourth of the coal business for the county in. 1858, and
would put the amount now for one year, at 25,000 or 30,000 tons, not including
the Wyoming shaft, which probably furnishes as much more; but as we shall speak
of that more fully in connection with the town, we shall trace its history no
farther here. Thomas Timsall one of the pioneers in this branch of trade, died
in 1865, and is buried in the Toulon cemetery.
Every township in Stark is well supplied with coal, and
in all, mines have been worked to a greater or less extent. Our coal business
has been subject to but few fluctuations. Through the winter it regularly
affords work for large numbers of laborers, at profitable rates. Our dealers
have suffered from no "strikes " such as have spread panic through the eastern
states, and we have needed no "Molly Maguires" to regulate our prices; the
natural laws of supply and demand have been heeded, the rights of all parties,
in the main regarded, hence there have been no collisions, and it is to be hoped
our capitalists may be as wise for the future.
Our supply of stone is limited, the eastern part of the
county being best supplied with this useful commodity. In the vicinity of
Bradford the traveler is occasionally surprised by the vision of a stone house,
and it is said that the station in Valley, known as Wady Petra, received its
oriental name, on account of an unexpected discovery of rock by its late owner
Rev. Philander Chase; the term signifying in our tongue, a "rocky valley " or
valley of rock.
For many years Stark county suffered for want of
railroad facilities, not only as a matter of convenience to the traveling
public, but because the rich products of her fields and mines were seeking
outlet, and thus, Kewanee and Galva, both Henry county towns, reaped large
profits from a trade that should have enlivened our own streets, and brought
prosperity to our own business houses.
As early as 1850, enterprising men were at work to
change this state of affairs and secure for us home markets by means of
railways. A road over the present line of the Peoria & Rock Island, was first
talked of, and prominent men from the two cities made many journeys across the
intervening country, with this project in view. But it failed.
The next effort was to build " The Air Line Road,"
across our state, connecting the Illinois with the Mississippi river, and
touching at the principal towns in our county—Wyoming, Toulon and Lafayette, all
of which could be easily reached it was thought. Great interest was taken in
this movement, and a large amount of stock was subscribed.
In 1854 the county voted bonds to aid the enterprise to
the amount of $50,000. The same year the route was surveyed, and in the
following year the supervisors granted the bonds voted by the people. In
September, 1855, the "breaking ground " was celebrated at Toulon by a public
dinner on the square, and appropriate speeches. Great enthusiasm prevailed and a
good portion of the vast assemblage afterwards adjourned to the prairie east of
town to see the first shovelful of earth thrown up on the much desired road.
But all this ended in blank disappointment, as, after
grading the road in sections from river to river, the company in charge was
found to be irresponsible and no iron or "rolling stock " was ever obtained.
Our next hope seemed to be in a new "Peoria and Rock
Island Railway Company " which was incorporated March 7th, 1857. .
They proceeded to buy the right of way from the
"airline," and new subscriptions and bonds were voted to them. These bonds were
granted on certain conditions, one of which was that the road should run within
one-half mile of the centres of Toulon, Wyoming and Lafayette. These conditions
were never all complied with, but the new company built and equipped the road,
and the bonds are all being paid. The first train of cars on the Peoria and Rock
Island railroad, reached Toulon in June, 1871.
This was but a construction train, but it was a sure
harbinger of better things, and the citizens must be rather demonstrative in
their rejoicing. So another fine dinner was improvised, and not only residents,
but all the officers and employees of the road were bidden to the feast. Tables
were set in the grove, near Judge Ogle's, and all "went merry as a marriage
bell"—the " paddies "wishing they could get to Toulon for the first time,
The company that secured us this great advantage was
constituted of the following named gentlemen:
OFFICERS: William R. Hamilton, President; P. M. Blair, Vice President; H. N.
Wheeler, Treasurer; C. P. James, Secretary.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. William R. Hamilton, William H. Cruger and R, R. Cable.
FIRST BOARD OF DIRECTORS. William R. Hamilton, William H. Cruger, H. T. Baldwin
and Valentine Dewein, of Peoria: Patrick M. Blair, Toulon; William L. Wiley,
Galva; O. E. Page and Amos Gould, Cambridge, and Ransom R. Cable, of Rock
With regard to the country through which this road
runs, the committee appointed to investigate, report thus:
"The line of the Peoria and Rock Island railway passes
centrally through the counties of Peoria, Stark, Henry and Rock Island,, and
through the north-east corner of Knox county; and at least one-third of the four
first named counties will be tributary to it. This region of country is
unsurpassed by any portion of the United States, for fertility and
"There is almost no waste land along the entire line of
this road. The streams are only fringed with timber, and the rich undulations of
magnificent prairie, all under improvement, and teeming with population and
wealth, extend in every direction,. Far as the eye can reach."
Add to these agricultural resources the products of the
vast coal measures along its route, and we may well conclude that if the Peoria
and Rock Island railway does not, or has not paid a good percentage to
stockholders, we must look for the reason elsewhere.
But the Peoria and Rock Island Railway, is not the only
one Stark county is interested in. Over on the east side is what was called the
"Dixon, Peoria and Hannibal road." This road was in running order some time
prior to the completion of the P. & R. I. R. R. and was secured in great
measure, by the almost superhuman efforts of Dr. Alfred Castle. It is now
recognized as the "Buda branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy road," by
which it is controlled. It traverses three of our townships, Essex, where it
strikes the town of Wyoming, Penn, and Osceola. The other road accommodates
Valley, Essex, Toulon and Goshen, leaving but two without railroad facilities,
and very probably a few more years will see new lines devised, connecting other
points, whose routes will lie through West Jersey and Elmira.
INVENTIONS AND INVENTORS.
Although Stark county is small in area, among its
citizens are those who have produced some of the best and most widely used
inventions of the day. And in particular we would refer to James Armstrong, jr.,
of Elmira, who has done much, for a man of his age to lessen the fatigue and
labor of the tillers of the soil. To those who now use the "Armstrong" or
"Keystone " corn planter, with its adaptations so perfect in every respect, as
to be considered by many incapable of improvement, it will be interesting to
know that the first of these machines was invented, built and used by Mr.
Armstrong in the year 1860, when only a boy of fourteen years. True the planter
of that date was somewhat cumbersome and rough, but in it were embodied the main
features of the present machine, viz: perfect regulation of the depth of
planting and the visible throwing drop by which the seed is forcibly and with
positive certainty, deposited in the earth in view of the operator. With this
planter, built with the few tools he was able to gather together, the sky over
head for the roof of his shop, and the side of a corn crib for its wall; in that
year he planted 80 acres on his father's farm. The yield of corn was the largest
produced to that date. This was the first check row planter ever used on the
place, and no other planters than those of his own invention have ever since
been used on it. In 1882, the United States Patent office granted him his first
patent on his invention. The neighboring farmers hearing of his machine began to
want the planter that threw out the corn so as could see it when planting. He
made as many as he was able. In 1863 he took his machine to the trial of
agricultural implements, held by the state agricultural society at Decatur.
Illinois, where it was well received. In 1864, the government granted him
another patent for improvements. In 1865 at the Illinois State Fair held at
Chicago, his planter received the society's "recommendation for superior
qualities." But living as he was, about ten miles from railroads, and having to
get his castings from railroad towns, and part of his work done here and part
done there, and there being occasioned so much hauling of material, and extra
labor, it was impossible to supply all demands for his machines, which as they
became known, were the more called for.
It was whilst his planter was being exhibited at the
Iowa state fair in 1866, that it was noticed by Mr. Thomas A. Galt, then of the
firm of Galt & Tracy, Sterling, Illinois—now the excellent president of the
Keystone Manufacturing Company. Communications were entered into by the above
named gentleman, and Mr. Armstrong, and arrangements made whereby they undertook
the building of the "Armstrong,' now more widely known as the "Keystone Corn
Planter" In the spring of 1867 they built and sold fifty planters, but so rapid
and increasing has been the demand that although they had five thousand ready
for the spring of 1875, and had the capacity for turning out fifty machines per
day, the company were unable to supply all orders. It is believed the spring of
1876 will see more than twenty-five thousand of these machines in the hands of
the farmers. They are shipped from the factory in car loads, and their sales
extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Besides the above patents the
government has granted to Mr. Armstrong several other valuable ones on his
planter, among the last of which is for a gravitating "cut off," considered by
farmers and experts the most ingenious and perfect device for preventing the
cutting of corn ever invented.
Besides his planter, he is the inventor of the
Armstrong Patent riding corn cultivator, with its laterally and vertically
adjustable guard, of which he built as many as two hundred in one spring at
Elmira; but the demand becoming too great, the Sandwich manufacturing company of
Sandwich, Illinois, took hold of it and built by the thousand. It has of late
been built by the Eureka manufacturing company of Rock Falls, Illinois. In
company with his brother George, he also perfected a gang plow— each plow
adjustable to any required, depth, with patent rolling colters which are
adjustable, so as to raise and lower whilst the plow is in motion.
A goodly number of these have been used by our farmers, and all of them with
success. He also built a powerful wind-mill of his own invention capable of
running a circular saw, emery grinder, drill, lathe, etc.
A few years ago, when there was a furor for steamers
for "cooking feed," he tried his hand at that kind of invention, and succeeded
in producing one that worked to perfection, and on a principle different from
any known to him. But not wishing to continue in that line of invention he did
not pursue it further.
Being equally at home at the blacksmith's forge, the
carpenter's bench, or with the painter's brush—his machines which have been
exhibited annually at our county fairs for the last 12 years—many of them
constructed and finished wholly by himself—have been admired for their
symmetrical proportions and the artistic skill and finish which they exhibited,
no less than for perfect adaptation to the purposes for which they are intended.
He possesses in large measure originality of conception—the faculty of
discovering means to accomplish a desired result, and of bringing into practical
shape, with his own hands, whatever mechanical combination his fertile mind
works out. He is known to our farmers as a kind, accommodating and unpretending
young man, and has the respect, confidence, and esteem of all our citizens.
We regret to add that this noble young inventor has
passed from earth since the foregoing account was penned. He fell a victim to
lung disease, probably induced by the fatigues and exposures of the harvest of
His early demise will be deplored by all who knew the
rare and noble qualities of his nature. Yet, he lived to impress indelibly the
name of Armstrong upon the manufacturing and agricultural interests of
Illinois. Few will accomplish as much, though they live to bow beneath a weight