|Our Town.—Toulon— Wyoming—Lafayette—Bradford— Castleton —Duncan—Their
Past History and Present Prosperity.
Mr. Ford, in
his little work on Putnam and adjoining counties, gives the following statement:
"Stark obtained its full share of towns during the speculating mania of 1836-7.
"Wyoming was the first laid off, in May 1836, Osceola
was situated on a large piece of ground eleven miles north of Wyoming, with a
fine 'Washington square' in the centre. It was surveyed July 7th, 1836, for
Robert Moore, James C. Armstrong, Thomas J. Hurd, D. C. Enos and Edward
"Moulton, three miles west of Wyoming, was laid off in
August, 1836, by Robert Schuyler, Russell H. Nevins, William Couch, Abijah
Fisher, and David Lee.
"Massillon was situated seven miles nearly due south of
the present town of Toulon, not far from the southern boundary of the county.
Its projector and proprietor was Mr. Stephen Trickle. Date of survey, April,
"Lafayette, on the western borders of the county, was
laid out in July, 1836. Of this list, Lafayette and Wyoming are the only
survivors; Osceola town plat was vacated by legislative enactment in February,
1855; and as we believe never had a house upon it. Moulton and Massillon are no
But of those towns that have survived the changes of
thirty or forty years, and proved their right to live by taking on of late a
more vigorous growth, we propose to give a somewhat extended notice.
An act of the legislature of the state of Illinois, to
locate the county seat of Stark county, was passed February 27th, 1841.
It was also enacted that John Dawson, Peter Van Bergen
and William F. Elkin, all of the county of Sangamon, be the commissioners to
locate said town. And on the 17th day of May, 1841, the above mentioned
commissioners mot at the house of Colonel William H. Henderson, and took an oath
to faithfully discharge the duties of their office, viz: to fairly consider the
prospects and interests of all parts of the county and to locate the county seat
us near the geographical centre thereof, as the nature of the land and other
relevant circumstances permitted. After due consideration of all claims and
interests, as presented to them, they proceeded to locate said county seat on
ninety rods (90 rods) square of land, owned and afterwards deeded to the county
by John Miller and his wife Charlotte Miller, being part of the southwest
quarter of section 19, in township 13 north, range 6 east of the 4th principal
meridian, now Toulon township. The name of our town was also decided on at the
time of its location, no doubt through the influence of Colonel Henderson.
When Mr. Miller donated to the county this ninety rods
of choice land, on condition it should be made the shire town or county seat, he
reserved on the south and west sides thereof certain squares to be sold for his
own benefit, also the privilege of removing all standing timber on the town
plot, unless it should be afterwards purchased of him. And there were on, or
near, our public square a number of fine native oaks, and other trees growing
for years after the location and platting of the town, and some of our more
sensible and public spirited citizens made strenuous efforts to induce our
county commissioners to purchase these trees and preserve them as a public
benefit as well as an adornment to our square and streets. But, unfortunately
they were unsuccessful, and were compelled to see them chopped down and applied
to "base uses." And although later efforts have done much to protect and
beautify our square, yet another centennial period must elapse ere such giant
oaks as were then sacrificed can by any means be induced to spread their
sheltering arms above our descendants. It has been said "whoever plants a tree
is a public benefactor;" we almost think whoever cuts one down, except when they
stand in the way of necessary improvements ought to be set down as an enemy to
the interests of his race, particularly in a region naturally as nearly treeless
The first sale of lots in Toulon, took place on the
14th and 15th days of September, 1841—and when lately looking over the list of
the one hundred and twenty-two purchasers we felt tempted to insert the whole
roll of names just as they stand on the old record. They would make a good
representation of our early settlers. But when we reflect that but few eyes will
ever meet these pages that would see in them anything but names, we forbear;
although to the few, the utterance of each would call up a once familiar figure
from the recesses of the shadowy past, and with most would come bright memories
of pioneer days "when we were young and life was fair," and to these visions are
often linked recollections of "little deeds of kindness," gleams of
the friendliness of yore! But enough of this, we are surely revealing the fact
that we stand on life's hill top and the fairer scenes are all behind.
To proceed with the business of these first sales, we
are struck with the small amount paid for lots that have since brought much
larger sums. The old home of Mr. Turner, north of Dr. Chamberlain's drug store,
and west of the square, was originally purchased for $45.00, while lot one, in
block fourteen, (the site of the 1st Baptist Church) considered to be very
choice was bought by a Knox county man, Z. Cooley, for $70.75. To. Mr. Theodore
F. Hurd has the honor of investing the largest sum in any one lot at the first
sales, he having paid $75, for lot six, in block nine. Very many went for $10 or
$20 apiece, that are now worth hundreds, if not thousands.
The second sale of lots was ordered to take place April
2d, 1849. There were but thirty-two lots sold on this occasion, the highest
price, $60, being paid by Simon Heller for lot 6, in block 5, the present
residence of Rev. R. L. McCord.
Owing as we suppose to the munificence of the County
Commissioners, a number of lots were reserved at the date of these general
sales, for church and school purposes, and lot 10, in block three, at the corner
of Vine and Washington streets, was set apart distinctively for "a female
seminary." And the county accordingly erected the building that still occupies
that site, and for a time attempts were made to sustain a seminary, modifying
the regulations so as to admit both sexes. But it was soon discovered nothing of
this kind could supersede the public schools in a town of small size, and
application was made to the legislature for an act legalizing the sale of this
property to the school trustees to be thereafter used for common school
purposes—which act passed February, 1867.
There seem to have been three different acts of
incorporation endorsed by the town of Toulon. The first, under some general
provisions, took place in October, 1857, the vote standing thirty-four against
two. The first board of officers were Oliver Whitaker, Miles A. Fuller, William
Lowman, Isaac C. Reed; E. L. Emery, president. This Board decided what should be
the corporate limits of said town, passed the usual code of ordinances; but the
provisions under which they worked do not seem to have met the wishes of the
citizens, generally, for in 1857 a special charter was obtained and new
regulations entered into. Then after the change in the state constitution in
1870, they again revised their organization making it comply with the general
incorporation law, enacted at that time.
The town consisted at first of sixteen blocks, or
fifteen besides the court house square, but has received several large
additions, Whitaker and Henderson's, lying north and east of original plat,
through which runs the line of the Peoria and Rock Island Railway, and two large
additions by Mr. Culbertson, known respectively as Culbertson's eastern and
western additions to the town of Toulon. These additions far exceed in space the
original site, donated by Mr. Miller, and are most of them, under good
improvement. Mr. Rhodes has also surveyed off some good building lots in the
grove to the south-west, and Mr. Turner is proprietor of the inviting sites that
lie to the south and south-east. But the latter gentleman has always declined to
sever his broad acres into small suburban building lots.
The first Court House, a plain wooden structure built
to meet present wants, was completed in 1842, and served many important purposes
for the county and town, not only as a seat of justice, but sometimes as church
and school house too. The old jail was built a year or so later, perhaps, in
1814, by Ira Ward, jr.; a man from Knox county by the name of Hammond, doing the
mason work. This, still serves to hold rather insecurely, however, Stark county
criminals, and it can hardly be said that its accommodations or management,
reflect any great credit upon the county officials who control this matter. The
present court house is a substantial and well proportioned brick edifice, with
airy and convenient offices on the first floor. Standing as it does on a square
shaded by a fine growth of young trees, it is a pleasant and comely picture for
the eye to rest upon; one for which a good many of our citizens would be willing
to fight valiantly should its possession ever be seriously disputed—as some see
fit to predict. It was erected in 1856 at a cost to the county of $12,000.
The first school in Toulon, was taught by Miss
Elizabeth Buswell of Osceola, in an upper room of the old court house, in 1843.
Miss Susan Gill, who afterwards became the first wife of Stephen W. Eastman,
also taught a select school in the same or an adjoining room. Miss Booth also
conducted a good school here before any school house was built, in a room
belonging to Mr. Royal Arnold, on the premises now owned by Mrs. Emily
Culbertson, directly west of Mr. Whitaker's residence. And W. W. Drummond one in
his own house.
The first school house built in the place, was the "old
brick" near the western line of the town, facing Jefferson street. This was a
one story affair, built under a contract with Ira Ward, jr., at an expense to
the new district, it is said, of $600. Brick was burned specially for this
edifice by W. B. Sweet, and the lumber had to be hauled from the Illinois river.
T. J. Henderson was the first teacher who occupied the
building, and Miss Booth followed him during the summer of 1840. Miss Boyce had
an independent school in Masonic Hall when that stood near the M. E. Church,
facing Henderson street, and N. F. Atkins and wife were the first teachers in
the seminary, They occupied it under contract, or permission from the
But as has been remarked, these schools although good
of their kind, and certainly possessing some advantages over the common schools,
could not be made self-supporting. So measures were taken to secure the seminary
for the use of the district schools, as before stated, the grammar and high
school departments occupying it for about twenty years, and thus with the "old
brick" for the primary department, the wants of the people were met for a time.
But in 1860 two new frame buildings were erected in the northern and eastern
borders of the town, to accommodate the growing numbers of primary scholars in
those divisions. This arrangement sufficed until the beginning of the present
decade, when the project of a new and improved school house, large enough to
accommodate all grades under one roof and one principal, began to claim
It required some time and patient labor on the part of
our school board to settle all the details of this transaction satisfactorily to
the people in the various sections of the town.
Attempts were made to locate the proposed building by vote of the citizens, but
this was found impracticable, and after much consideration the board decided to
purchase the lots now occupied by the structure, from Mrs. S. A. Dunn.
The contract for building was taken by Hiram H. Pierce
of Peoria; ground was broken in June 1874, and the structure ready for
occupation the February following.
It is built of brick, is two stories high. Main
building 66x57, with an addition in the rear 35x21. Both stories have halls 11
feet wide, running lengthwise of the building, the lower story an additional
hall 10 feet wide, running from main front entrance and joining the other hall.
There are three rooms below, 32x26, each, four rooms
above, one for grammar school 32x26, the same dimensions for high school room.
Recitation and Library rooms, each 26x16. All these rooms have attached to them
suitable cloak rooms. The height of the lower story is 14 feet, the upper, 14
12/2. The whole height of building from ground to ridge, 50 feet. Surmounted by
a cupola 27 feet high, making a total of 77 feet. The building is warmed by two
of Lotye's hot air furnaces. The furniture is mostly new, manufactured by the
Sterling school furniture company and is giving good satisfaction. This house
will comfortably seat three hundred pupils, and requires the services of five or
six teachers. The cost of building, including grounds, furniture, out buildings,
with et ceteras, was about $20,000.
This expense was met by a district tax, levied by the
voters of the district.
The teachers who presided over the various departments
during the year closing in June, 1876, were as follows:
Mr. Frank Mathews, principal; Mr. Manning Hall, in the
grammar school; Miss Sarah Berfield, in the intermediate; and Misses Pauline
Shallenberger and Kate Keffer, in the primary departments.
The board of directors for the same year, were Mr.
Benjamin Turner, Dr. Bacmeister? and Mr. John Berfield. The two former
associated with Captain Brown were the board under whose direction, the fine
school house described, was planned and completed for use.
Toulon cannot compete of late years in the line of expensive building with her
sister town Wyoming, which latter claims on good authority to have invested
$292,529 in building since the completion of their first railroad, some six
We suppose it is possible for a town to over build, as
well as under build, for the general good; we may at least claim that Toulon has
not committed the former mistake.
The residents of this town are wont to reflect that
their capitalists, are not as public spirited as they might be, or they could
show churches and hotels befitting the county seat, and reflecting credit upon
the taste and liberality of its inhabitants. But in an age and land so prone to
extravagant expenditure, perchance such prudence should be commended.
Had Mr. Culbertson lived to dispose of the large estate
he had acquired, Toulon would have doubtless reaped an enduring advantage. It
was a favorite remark of his that "he had made his money in Stark County and he
intended to spend it here." Many plans for improving the town, were rife in his
active mind during the closing years of his life. The grist and woolen mills
were his first attempt in this direction, and while he never expected to reap
great profits himself from this investment, he did hope to make these mills a
public benefit, and link his name with home enterprises and industries.
But as it is, if our churches and business houses are
as a rule plain and unpretending, they are owned by the parties occupying them,
and are not encumbered with mortgages.
The brick block occupied by B. C. Follett, is fully up
to the times, as is the banking house of Sam'l Burge & Co., and a still larger
block is now being erected, the lower story to be; the store of Nowlan and
Rhodes, the upper to be built by the town for a public hall.
And if our growth as a town has been slow compared with
some others, it has been healthy and permanent. There has been no going
backward, no mushroom or gourd like excrescences springing up in a night to be
blighted on the morrow, to the ruin and mortification of their projectors. Even
the opening of the long desired railroad brought with it no mad speculation,
such as was rife in other places. The Toulonites rejoiced at the music of the
whistle, but they rejoiced soberly and with discretion; thus month by month and
year by year, business has increased as the facilities for it have multiplied,
and this centennial year would make a highly creditable showing, could we
command the exact figures which we cannot, therefore must content ourselves with
the estimate made for us, at an expense of considerable time and trouble, of the
business of 1874, although that was hardly an average business year in the west.
The character of Toulon society, has somehow, generally
harmonized with this steady flow of events. We have in no sense been a "fast
people." But our habits have more resembled those of the older eastern towns. A
few people of culture easily gave tone to the social life of the place, when
this life was in its infancy, and perhaps it is not too much to say, it has
never lost this bent, as may be seen by the fine literary societies that have
usually flourished here, some of which would have done no discredit to the taste
and acquirements of large cities.
The first of the secret benevolent societies,
organized in Toulon, was "Toulon Lodge" Number 93, A. F. & A. M., which was
chartered October 20th, 1850.
The first recorded meeting of the Masonic fraternity
was on the 25th of March, 1850, being a meeting held to consider the project of
organizing a lodge. The names upon the charter are: Oren Maxfield, William Rose,
W. W. Drummond, Ellison Annis, Captain Henry Butler, "William A. Reed, and
General Samuel Thomas. From these the Grand Master C. G. Y. Taylor, appointed W.
W. Drummond, W. M.; William Rose, S. W., and Oren Maxfield, J. W.
On the 19th of November, 1850, the lodge held its first
election with the following result: William F. Thomas, Treasurer; T. J.
Henderson, Secretary; William A. Reed, S. D.; General Samuel Thomas, J. D.;
Simon S. Heller, S. S.; Thomas J. Wright, J. S.; C. F. White, Tyler.
This lodge has always been prosperous and harmonious.
For many years it was the only lodge between Peoria and Cambridge, and is the
parent of all the lodges in the county. From it was formed Stark lodge, Number
501, at Lafayette, in 1865; Wyoming lodge, Number 479, in 1866, and Bradford
lodge number 514 in the same year.
At the present writing, Toulon lodge numbers sixty-four
resident members, with the following officers: George A. Lowman, W. M.; T. M.
Shallenberger, S. W.; Levi Silliman, J. W.; Benjamin Turner, Treasurer; David
Tinlin, Secretary; George White, S. D.; James Dexter, J. D.; Samuel Thomas,
The total number of those who have been connected with
the lodge in the past twenty-five years is one hundred and seventy-six. Of this
number, as far as known, but sixteen are dead, four of whom lost their lives in
the late war.
The following named persons have filled the "Master's"
chair and rank as such in the order named: W. W. Drummond, William B. Smith,
Alexander Moncrief, Thomas J. Henderson, James A. Henderson, Elisha Greenfield.
George Bradley, Martin Shallenbeger and G. A. Lowman.
The lodge owns "Masonic Hall" and the ground upon which
it stands; is out of debt and has a healthy treasury.
On the 8th day of November, 1851, Stark lodge,
number 96, I. O. O. F., was organized at Toulon, by the officers and brothers of
Marshall lodge, number 63, at Henry, Illinois, under a charter from the grand
lodge of the state of Illinois, dated October 17th, 1851.
The charter members were Amos P. Gill, Alexander
Moncrief, Oliver Whitaker, Thomas J. Wright, and William Clark.
The lodge continued to increase in numbers and did much
good in the way of relief to the members and their families up to the time of
the breaking out of the war in 1861, when by an order of the grand lodge in
1862, this lodge was suspended.
It remained suspended until April, 1866, at which time
it was resuscitated and ever since has done good work. The lodge has always been
progressive and enterprising, and in the summer of 1875 erected one of the
finest lodge rooms in the county, over the bank of Sam'l Burge & Co., at an
expense, with furniture of two thousand two hundred dollars. At this present
date, (May, 1876) the lodge numbers sixty-four members, and increasing very
fast. The first officers of this lodge were Alexander Moncrief, N. G.; Amos P.
Gill, V. G.; Thomas J. Wright, T., and Oliver Whitaker, B. S.
The present, (1876) William W. Rhodes, X. G.; William
Lowman, V. G.; William Chamberlain, T.; Stacy Cowperthwait, R. S.; Oliver
Whitaker, P. S.; John M. Brown, D. G. M.; Daniel S. Hewitt, G. E.
On the 17th day of February, 1871, Toulon Chapter,
number 63 of the Eastern Star, was organized by Mr. Thomson. This organization
has not flourished as it should have done, and as it no doubt will do. At
present it numbers fifty-four members, enough to make it a perfect success was
the proper spirit infused in the fifty-four.
The first officers were William Lowman, W. P.; Mrs. E.
Lowman, W. M.; Mrs. B. A. Turner, A. M.; Charles Myers, Secretary ; Mrs. S.
Guyre, Treasurer; Mrs. M. Myers, Conductress, and Mrs. A. Thomas, A. C.
The present officers are James K. P. Lowman, W. P.;
Mrs. R. A. Turner, W. M.; Mrs. G. S. Lawrence, A. M.; Mr. George Bradley,
Secretary; Miss S. H. Turner, Treasurer; Mrs. A. Thomas, Conductress, and Mrs.
S. Keffer, A. C
The Toulonites first organized for work in the
direction of the temperance reformation, on the Washingtonian plan. This was as
early as 1845.
SONS OP TEMPERANCE.
The second temperance society organized in Toulon,
was a division of the Sons of Temperance. Composed as it was entirely of men,
and nearly all of them men of ability, it flourished as no other temperance
organization ever did in the county. They were at the formation of the order
nearly all middle aged men, yet in the lapse of 28 years there has been but one
death among the charter members (Ira Ward, sen.) The back sliding has been
rather more marked. Probably no charter ever granted in the county to any order
bore names of as many men of note as did this one granted in February, 1848.
These are John W. Henderson, Martin Shallenberger, Benjamin Turner, Patrick M.
Blair, Thomas J. Henderson, Ira Ward, senior, Wheeler B. Sweet, Oliver Whitaker,
W. W. Drummond, Simon S. Heller, John A. Williams, Ira Ward jr., and Samuel G.
Nearly all these names will be familiar to our
politicians, as almost every office from W. W. Drummond as constable, to T. J.
Henderson, member of congress, within the gift of the people has been filled by
them. The state senate, legislature, constitutional convention, judge, circuit
clerk, sheriff, county treasurer, county clerk, and perhaps others that do not
occur to us now. Under the guidance of such men as these the Sons of Temperance
flourished and had a wide spread and much felt influence. They built the
building now known as "Masonic Hall," just north of the M. E. church, from which
place it was moved when purchased by the Masons. This was, at the time of
building, quite a hall for Toulon. One by one these men left the town, or the
lodge at least, and it passed into history.
From the decease of the "old Sons of Temperance,"
until 1863, Toulon remained without any temperance society. In October of 10 of
this year was instituted Arthur lodge, number 454, Independent order of Good
Templars. Charter members, A. C. Price, William Lowman, S. S. Kaysbier, John D.
Walker, M. A. Fuller, Samuel Burge, Charles Myers, Amos P. Gill, Patrick Nowlan,
Mary P. Nowlan, Dell Whitaker, Mary E. Beatty, Mrs. M. A. Myers, and Mrs. E. S.
This society so long as it remained under the control
of such persons as the names here recorded, did an excellent work and flourished
and grew. But here was the cause of its death also. Not enough care was
exercised in choice of members, and it was very soon evident that the "young
folks" were going to "run the machine."
Several attempts have been made to organize for a
thorough temperance work in Toulon. Some of these budded and promised fair, but
none seemed able to withstand the elements with which they had to contend. Much
good was accomplished by these societies, but they seemed to lack the vigor
necessary to give them permanence. To supply this defect it was determined to
try once more a secret society; so on the 17th day of March, 1875, Toulon
division number 3, S. O. T. was organized with the following officers: Levi
Silliman, W. P.; Oliver Whitaker, P. W. P.; Mrs. Mary Merriman, W. A.; Oliver
White, F. S.; Frank Eastman, R. S.; H. Y. Godfrey, T.
This lodge has certainly grown very rapidly, and at the
present writing (August 22nd, 1876) has a membership of one hundred and thirty.
It is still in its infancy, yet it has accomplished great results, and much is
to be hoped for in the future.
The present officers are Orlando Brace, W. P.; Robert
H. Price, P. W. P.; Miss Bell Godfrey, W. A.; Miss Ida Ryder, F. S.; Manning
Hall, R. S.; H. Y. Godfrey, T.
The great hierarchy devised and established by the
Wesleys and their co-workers in England, about the middle of the last century,
and a few years later in America, by authority of which missionaries still go
forth to the uttermost parts of the earth," is so diverse in its nature and
operations from the little isolated bodies of believers we are wont to designate
pioneer churches, that it is difficult to fairly compare their respective
workings, or the legitimate results thereof.
That master organizer, John Wesley, designed to develop
a great central power that should be to the most distant "society," or obscure
"class" what the heart is to the human anatomy, sending life and activity to the
farthest extremity. And a hundred years of trial have but proved the wisdom of
his plan for utilizing all sorts of material, and planting on the outskirts of
civilization living centres of influence, wherever the intrepid itinerant could
force his way or man or woman be found to lead a class.
To the peculiar strength of this organization, then, we
may mainly attribute the fact that the Methodist is nearly always the pioneer
church; although the Roman Catholic is often close upon its heels, or even leads
the way, as their plans for missionary work are somewhat similar. But the
elements in any community that attract these two classes of laborers are as
distinct as their creeds; therefore their fields of labor seldom or never
conflict. But it is evidently one thing to sustain a "society" thus backed up by
a central power, which, with outstretching arms protects and fosters its
numerous offsprings, and quite another, to sustain in a new country, a religious
body independent of all assistance, or with the occasional assistance of some
Thus as early as 1835, twelve years before the first
attempt to found a resident church was made, Bishop Morris sent a missionary
with head quarters at Peoria, to traverse the length and breadth of our present
county, and finding a lodgement in the house of Adam Perry who then lived on
what constituted our first "Poor Farm," he made arrangements with him to gather
together and lead a class, to meet in the Essex settlement some seven or eight
And, although Mr. Perry became one of the first
trophies of Mormonism in this vicinity, yet a stauncher man was found to lead
the class, and Methodism has had an organized life among us from that date. But
it could not have been self-sustaining for many years judging from the official
records. The first quarterly meeting at which this neighborhood was represented
in the "Peoria circuit," the collections amounted to $5.25 and were disbursed in
the following manner:
John Brown, C. P., $3.39 quarterage; S. W. D. Chase, P.
E., 36 cents quarterage, and 75 cents traveling expenses; wine for sacrament, 75
cents; making the total $5.25.
At this time, the names of John W. Agard and David
Bristol appear as circuit stewards, and Calvin Powell as local preacher.
The first "class" formed nearer here than the Essex
school house, we infer from the records, was one led by Caleb P. Flint, and
probably met in his cabin about half a mile south of Toulon on property now
belonging to Mr. Turner.
At the date of this entry which is for the year ending
September, 1841, a great advance had been made in the matter of revenue for the
"Wyoming circuit," of which we then formed part, as the funds amounted to
$213.07, which were distributed as follows:
S. R. Beggs, $142.75 quarterage and $1.87 traveling
expenses; George Whitman, $59.32 quarterage and 50 cents traveling expenses; N.
G. Berryman, $16.13 quarterage and 81.75 traveling expenses; wine for sacrament,
75 cents; making a total of $213.07.
There was also $11.50 raised for the relief of the
poor, this year; who they were is not recorded, but as "Flint's class" only
reports 25 cents as their contribution at the quarterly meeting at Wall's school
house, this locality could not claim much honor in this, perhaps initiative
benevolent effort. But the reader must bear in mind, our town was yet but a
name, the scattered settlements around affording but small congregations, and
smaller contributions; for many in those days, had all they could do to supply
their families with the comforts absolutely necessary to life. However,
Methodist preaching was sustained regularly at Mr. Flint's cabin for a year or
more, but in the fall or 1842, the services were transferred to the house of
John Prior, which then stood on one of the lots since owned by M. Shallenberger.
This structure, which was of hewn logs, and but partly finished, never having
the loft more than half floored, was very serviceable to the first comers here,
serving them alternately as church and school house.
Mr. Prior was a chairmaker by trade, and not addicted
to luxury; all the furniture of his dwelling was of the most primitive sort.
The fireplace was rough and large, into which good
sized logs could be thrown when occasion required; a pole, the dimensions of a
common hand spike served as poker, or lever, and an old saw inverted, played
shovel. Then as a pointed illustration of the proverb, "shoemakers' wives always
go barefoot," there never was a whole chair seen in this establishment. A number
of frames with shingles laid on them accommodated the adult listeners, while a
turning lathe in the corner, afforded perching places for the little folks. Thus
the people gathered, the men wearing patches without shame, and the girls in
sunbonnets, and coarse shoes, or the little ones without any, and listened to
the Powells and Blakes, the Wilkinsons and Boyers of old; but what our memory
still retains of those meetings with peculiar pleasure, is, the rich full tenor
of Caleb Flint, which when wedded to some of Wesley's glowing lines, bore all
hearts aloft and made a sanctuary of the rough dwelling where we met.
"Brother Prior," too, was wont to sing with the spirit,
if not with the understanding, and we recall an occasion, after fashion, or more
thorough culture, had rendered the congregation a little fastidious as to its
music, and a "Brother Woollascroft" led well, both the circuit and singing, this
"Brother Prior" was cantering on, a measure or so in advance of his leader,
despite his earnest gestures to arrest his course. When human nature could
endure no more, Mr. Woollascroft said in his most decided tones "Brethren we
will commence that verse again, and not so fast, brother Prior." Not before 1846
does it appear on the records, that a quarterly, or official meeting, was holden
at Toulon. Then Mr. Beatty had appeared on the scene and the Toulon class was
rising into prominence. As we did not have access to this book of records when
we wrote on the churches of the county generally, we feel tempted to insert here
the names of those present in an official capacity at this first meeting in our
A. E. Phelps, Presiding Elder; John G. Whitcomb,
Preacher in charge; George C. Holmes, Circuit Preacher; W. C. Cummings, S. A. P.
Local preachers: John Cummings, Jonas J. Hedstrom,
Jonathan Hodgeson, Charles Bostwick, P. J. Anshutz.
Exhorters: A. Oziah, David Essex, Wesley Blake.
Class Leaders: Isaac Thomas, William Hall, Samuel
Halstead, J. Hazen, I. Berry; Secretary, William M. Pratt.
Stewards : William Hall, J. H. Wilbur, C. Yocum, I.
At this meeting the project of building a "meeting
house at Lafayette" seems to have been publicly broached for the first time, and
two names that have since been painfully connected, are associated on the
building committee, Wilbur and Anshutz. Indeed they are so often coupled, in
these early religious movements as to strike the reader strangely, if he knows
aught of the tragedy of 1866.
In 1854, the M. E. Church at Toulon was built. The
society also own a comfortable parsonage with pleasant grounds attached. It is
not so easy to arrive at the exact number who have been, sooner or later,
connected with this church, or to record the succession of pastors its itinerant
system has given it, during the membership as any denomination in the town. Its
pews are well filled on all occasions of public worship, and a large and
interesting sabbath school is sustained with commendable spirit. In the sabbath
school work Mr. Davis Lowman of this church has been for years a devoted and
successful laborer, not only in Toulon, but at various points in the county and
state, wherever there was work to be done.
CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH AT TOULON.
Some one has aptly remarked that in the beginning,
this church was decidedly a "Rhodes church" But in the fact that its fortunes
for a while seemed to be bound up with the fortunes of one family, it was in no
wise singular. Such has, in a greater or less degree, been the history of nearly
all these early organizations.
In accordance with a previous notice, given to a
faithful few at the cabin of Hugh Rhodes, Rev. L. H. Parker and S. G. Wright met
with a few brethren at the court house, in Toulon, November, 1846, and duly
organized a Congregational church, adopting a confession of faith covenant, the
charter members being Jonathan Rhodes and Hannah his wife, Hugh Rhodes and his
wife Julia, Giles C. Dana and his wife Mary, Mrs. Elizabeth Rhodes, S. Eliza
Rhodes and Franklin Rhodes.
March 13th, 1847, this little church met at the house
of Hugh Rhodes, where most of the members must have felt quite at home, and the
following additional persons were received into its communion: Robert Nickolson
and wife, John Pollock, and Mrs. Jane Bradley, from Presbyterian church in
Ireland, also Orrin Rhodes and wife, Mrs. Matilda Hall, and Miss Eliza Hall; and
S. Gr. Wright, who still resided in the southern part of West Jersey township,
was chosen pastor.
May 16th, 1847, it was decided to ask admission for
this church to the " Central Association," and Hugh Rhodes was chosen to
represent it before that body.
August 24th, 1849, the first effort was. made toward a
church building. A committee consisting of Hugh Rhodes, James Flint and Charles
F. White, was appointed to confer with the M. E. church as to co-operating in
building; but the plan did not find favor in their eyes, so it was decided that
each congregation should build themselves a house of worship, as fast as the
funds could possibly be raised for that purpose. The result was, the two plain
but comfortable edifices that have so long stood side by side on Henderson
In 1850, the trustees were instructed to give their
votes as "trustees of the first orthodox Congregational church of Toulon," and
to give their notes to the treasurer of the Church building committee for the
sum of $200.
In 1848, Rev. S. G. Wright became a citizen of Toulon,
and devoted himself more fully to the upbuilding of this little community,
having been led to choose this place for the scene of his labors, as he naively
remarks in his journal, because of the three places under consideration, he
thought "Toulon was the least religious, and yet it always gave him a good
congregation." From the date of his location here, the matter of building a
church was agitated but it was at the expense of no small self-denial, and
continuous efforts, that the project was finally brought so near completion, and
when in March, 1852, the congregation met in it, all unfinished though it was,
there was great rejoicing and congratulation. And although we Toulonites can
claim but little beauty for any of our church edifices, not as much perhaps as
circumstances would justify in 1876, yet our congregations have set an example
in this fast age that may teach a good lesson, whether to individuals or
communities, viz: build within your means!
Among other items, we find in looking over the records
of this church, that the fashion of "Donation Parties" was inaugurated here
January 1st, 1853, and the committee of arrangements were Mrs. N. Butler, Mrs.
Dr. Hall and Mrs. C. L. Eastman. New Year's day was for many years always
devoted by the membership of this church, to visiting their pastor—a pleasant
custom, and we regret the practice seems falling into disuse.
The policy of this organization has always been to take
advance ground in all matters of moral reform; upon the slavery and temperance
questions it was especially radical under the guidance of its first pastor.
Applicants for membership were questioned as closely as to their opinions on
these subjects, as upon their faith in holy writ. As an official decree they
proclaimed in 1854, "We deem American slavery wholly unjustifiable, and at war
with the plainest precepts of the New Testament; therefore, we feel bound to set
ourselves in all practical ways against it, and are resolved, first, we will not
knowingly allow any slaveholder or apologist for slavery, to occupy our pulpit
or dispense to us. the sacraments. Secondly, we will sustain no society, or
public print that we believe sanctions or apologizes for American slavery." Of
late years, these sentiments have become popular, but it cost something to avow
them in 1854, and something more in 1844, when but two anti-slavery votes were
cast in the county, and one of them by Rev. S. G. Wright!
The determination of this body to have a voice in
public matters, and make its influence felt at the ballot box, has called out
much criticism from some quarters, its enemies declaring it more a political
than a religious organization, and denouncing political preaching as a curse to
It comes not within the scope of our duties as a simple
chronicler of events, to determine, even were we competent to do so, the wisdom
or folly of either side in this controversy.
Still, we think no one who has carefully studied the current of human events,
will deny that when strongholds of error or vice are to be subdued, some one
must be found to lead the assault, to make the breach, regardless of ridicule,
odium or reproach.
So have the greatest reforms ever grown from small and
obscure beginnings, but usually at the expense of martyrdom, literal, or
otherwise, but still martyrdom—names execrated by one generation, to be
canonized by the next.
Thus, when "The Liberty Party" with Raines G. Birney as
its standard bearer, first threw its colors to the breeze in taking as its motto
" Liberty to the captive, and the bursting of prison doors to them that are
bound," it was a laughing stock and by-word in the land, its few adherents were
mobbed and insulted without mercy, whenever they attempted to proclaim their
Whigs and democrats combined to call this the "women's
and preacher's party," and we do not call it a misnomer, but give the women and
the preachers credit, if credit is the word, for sowing the seed, often in
ignominy and tears, that in the course of the next generation bore as its
ripened fruit, the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln!
And, as a lover of our kind, we can hardly suppress the
wish that the same forces may combine with equal firmness and fidelity to banish
yet other wrongs from our land. And whenever they are ready to march upon the
redoubts of intemperance, we heartily wish them a victory, whether the
Congregational church, or some other organization leads.
It cannot be disputed that this church, despite the
poverty and struggles that marked its early life, has long held a leading
position among the churches of our town; and this is due, not so much to the
number of its members, as to their character; their influence is plainly
discernible in our social life; and to the musical taste and culture of some of
the older members of its choir, must be attributed the proficiency that has been
made in the ''Divine art" among the young people of late year. More than three
hundred persons have at one time or another held membership in this church, its
present and average strength for a number of years being about one hundred and
fifty or sixty. In 1853, they raised with difficulty three hundred and fifty
dollars for the support of. their pastor. During the administration of Rev. R.
C. Dunn, which began in January, 1855, the largest amount paid was six hundred
dollars, while the present incumbent receives one thousand dollars per annum.
During its thirty years of organized life, this church
has had but three pastors, and the time has been divided not very unequally
among them, Rev. S. G. Wright officiating the first ten years, Rev. R. C. Dunn
the next twelve, or thereabouts, and the Rev. H. L. McCord must be in the ninth
year of his service. Of the two former gentlemen, further notice will be found
in the second part of this work, and of the last it may be remarked, he is just
making his history. Some future historian, must trace his foot prints among the
men and measures of this decade. An authority we reverence, says:
"Measure not the work till the day is out.
And then briny on your gauges."
A large sabbath school is also sustained, in connection with this church.
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH AT TOULON.
This church was organized May 13th, 1848, at the
house of Stephen W. Eastman, not two years after the Congregational had sprung
into existence in the family of Hugh Rhodes.
This started with eleven members while the other had
The record say : "The following named persons resolved
themselves into a church conference, calling Elder Elisha Gill to the chair and
appointing William M. Miner, clerk." Then followed the names, Elder Elisha Gill,
Elder James M. Stickney, Ozias Winter, Henry T. Ives, Abigail Gill, Cynthia
Stickney, Helen Winter, Hannah Parrish, Susan M. Eastman, Mrs. H. T. Ives, and
Mrs. Sarah A. Chamberlain.
They resolved to adopt the covenant and confession of
faith as found in the minutes of the Illinois River Association, for 1845. And,
as the "recognition" of an ecclesiastical council seems to be necessary to
constitute a "regular Baptist church," such council was convened in the town of
Toulon, June 25th, 1848, and the infant church was duly recognized, and
proceeded on its way, wafted by prayers, and freighted with hopes! And for a
time all went well, many were gathered within its fold; among others Mr.. John
Culbertson, who was while he lived, its generous patron and supporter.
Perhaps no church in our county, surely none in our
town, ever conducted series of revival meetings that attracted such general
attention, and were attended with such surprising results as this.
We learn from the records, that on October 21st, 1851,
Elder Barry, from Little Falls, New York, was first introduced to the church by
Elder Gross, its pastor. And Moody and Sankey with all the eclat derived from
their European tour, can hardly monopolize public attention more completely in
the large cities they visit, than did Elder Barry and his preaching, the
attention of our little town in 1851.
As the result of this meeting, about thirty persons,
all of mature age and high standing, were immersed and received into the
communion of the church, at one time, besides many more who followed soon after
the meeting had formally closed.
The devout clerk records, that he reckons a richer
treat was never enjoyed by American Christians !
And again in 1853, the church heId meetings at the old
court house every day from December 30th, until January, 29th, 1854, on which
day fourteen more were immersed, and in all twenty-one received. Thus this
church waxed rich and strong, and seemed to be favored by Heaven, above all her
contemporaries. She built the substantial brick edifice just south of the court
house square, and inscribed it as the "First Baptist Church of Toulon, erected
A. D. 1854."
These were the palmy days of her life wherein she
rejoiced, but storms were gathering, although the cloud at present seemed "no
bigger than a man's hand." Thereafter her history was to be a sort of travesty
on the "decline and fall of the Roman Empire." Abuses of power on the one hand,
and fierce resistance on the other, charges and counter charges, conflicts of
opinion, expulsions for heresy, impeachment and excommunication of one leader,
only to effect a change, not a redress of grievances, until after a bitter
experience with another so-called revivalist, Elder S. A. Estee, February, 1868,
it was finally "resolved, that whereas, the troubles and difficulties existing
in the first Baptist Church at Toulon have reached so great a magnitude, that we
can see no way of settling them so we can live in peace, and advance the cause
of Christ, therefore, resolved, that all the members of this church who
subscribe to this resolution, have the privilege of asking for letters of
dismission, and that the same be granted by the church."
Here now was revolution and secession all in a
nutshell; and a fiercer than political contest was waged by a few determined
spirits to prevent the dissolution of the old church; but the majority triumphed
and the vote to disband was cast February 29th, 1868. And "all the property of
the first Church, was to be surrendered to a committee, to be held for the
benefit of another Baptist church hereafter to be organized." This majority then
adjourned "to meet in Mr. Hiram Willett's store building the next Sunday morning
at 10 1/2 o'clock."
The pastors of this body since 1848, down to the
division in 1868, were, named in the order of time, Elders J. M. Stickney, A.
Gross C. Brinkerhoff, Myron H. Negus, William Leggett, A. J. Wright, E. P.
Barker, Dodge and S. A. Estee.
But Mr. Culbertson had made a deed of the church
property, only so long as it remained in possession of the first Baptist church
at Toulon, and in the event of that body ceasing to exist, the church building
would revert to his heirs. Therefore, the most strenuous efforts were put forth
by a few to sustain an organization that should comply with the conditions
necessary to hold the property.
They still continued to meet in the old church, and
although but a handful, proceeded to engage Rev. Brimhall as a pastor, and in
August, 1868, elected as trustees, John Culbertson, Owen Thomas, Jacob Wagner,
and Harlan Pierce. But like its great prototypes of antiquity, this church
failed to learn wisdom from the lessons of bitter experience, and as late as
October 8th, 1870, their ranks were again thinned by trials and expulsions for
heresy, alias differences of opinion.
Among those from whom the "hand of fellowship was
withdrawn " on this occasion, was Mrs. Martha Pierce, than whom a more
intelligent, devout, Christian lady could not be found in our community.
But she had come to believe the scriptures as taught by
the "Second Adventists," and although she had stood by this Baptist Church
during its darkest hours, and unflinchingly sustained it by her means and
influence, she was now an outcast from its doors, and went, henceforth to meet
with the little body of kindred faith, who for a time held religious services in
These people, although too few in numbers and poor in
circumstances to maintain an organization in the presence of so many strong
opposing influences, are still not to be overlooked in writing up the church
history of our town, for they are assuredly making an impression upon the
currents of religious thought.
But to return to the annals of the first Baptist church
we find it reduced to about half a dozen members, and asking Elder Stickney to
again minister to its spiritual wants, as he had done at the beginning. This for
a time he did, but the real leader of this little flock is the Elder's wife,
Mrs. Cynthia Stickney. One of the original members of this church, which really
drew its life from her father's family and her own, she has shared its fortunes
with unswerving fidelity; shrinking from no labor, however toilsome or
distasteful, sparing no expense, whatever the personal sacrifice, she today
sustains the remnant by her own indomitable will.
While we cannot share her convictions, or believe that
"the hand of the Lord" is discernible in the record we have been tracing, we can
stand in the outer court, in this era of apostasy and materialism, and admire a
faith and courage so sublime, qualities that in the by gone ages would have made
their possessor a saint or martyr, or perhaps both. But, a prophet is still
without honor among his own; and this lady walks humbly amongst us, claiming
little, and perchance receiving less.
The old building underwent thorough repairs last summer
through this woman's liberality, and is at this date, one of the pleasantest
places of worship in Toulon, Elder L. D. Gowan of Galva occupying its pulpit
every alternate Sabbath, and is usualy met by a good congregation; a sabbath
school and prayer meeting are also regularly sustained, so there is no immediate
prospect of the property reverting to the Culbertson heirs.
Since its organization this church has had upon its
records near three hundred names, and for a number of years its general strength
seems to have been over one hundred.
THE SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF TOULON.
This church, which was organized by the disaffected
members of the first Baptist church, dates its existence from March 4th, 1868,
and is still in its youth; although not claiming the same interest that attaches
to pioneer churches, yet the circumstances of Its formation being somewhat
peculiar, we give a summary of them as drawn from its records, together with the
names of those prominent in the movement at the beginning. These are: Hiram
Willett, Abram Bowers, S. W. Eastman, A. F. Stickney, L. Geer, L. Clark, O.
Dyer, J. Ives, H. Y. Godfrey, Benjamin Packer, Mrs. Packer, Mrs. C. Bowers, Mrs.
M. Eastman, Mrs. C. Lyon, Misses M. Henry, Eliza Eastman, Celestia Eastman,
Lettie Bowers, and Martha Bowers.
"A council was called in the Congregational church, to
take into consideration the propriety of recognizing as a regular Baptist
church, certain brethren and sisters, formerly belonging to the first Baptist
church of Toulon, said brethren and sisters having; organized themselves into a
regular Baptist church."
"Council called to order by Elder A. J. Wright, of
Saxon; on: motion, Elder K. W. Benton of Kewanee acted as moderator, and A. J.
Wright, also as clerk. The resolution of said Baptist church, in calling the
council was then read, and the names of the churches invited to send delegates,
were called, and the following responded through their delegates: Osceola, E. L,
Moore, and brother; Neponset, Elder E. L. Moore and brothers Lewis and Robb;
Kewanee, K. W. Benton and brother C. B. Miner; Saxon Elder A. J. Wright and
brothers James Dexter and Frank Williamson ; Wyoming, Elder J, M. Stickney and
brother O. C. Walker."
This council convened on the morning of the 18th of
March, 1808. In the afternoon of the same day, at the same place, the minutes of
the "first church," pertaining to the withdrawal of said brethren and sisters,
were read by the clerk of the first church.
"On motion, resolved, That the council now go into
private session, in order to consider the subject of "recognition."
"Next, resolved, That the church be requested, through
their delegates, to give a statement of their reasons for withdrawing from the
first church." A clear and satisfactory statement was made by parties cognizant
of the facts from the beginning, and the consequence was, a motion was made and
carried to recognize these brethren and sisters as constituting a regular
This motion was freely discussed. Their confession of
faith and covenant, scrutinized, and protests considered, after which it was
decided by the council to make their vote unanimous in favor of recognition. The
next month they began the work of erecting a new church building, reported the
sum of $2,025 on subscription, and elected as trustees, Benjamin Packer, Julius
Ives, Stephen W. Eastman, Hugh Y. Godfrey and Luther Geer; and voted to
constitute them also their building committee. Mr. Packer afterwards offered
"specifications," drawn up by W. P. Caverly, architect, which they decided to
adopt, the building to cost when completed, $2,372.
This structure was completed during the summer of 1868,
and although small, is well planned and neatly finished, and has a very pleasant
location at the crossing of Main and Olive streets. Elder W. A. Welsher, their
first pastor, was an able man and popular preacher, but probably being ambitious
of a larger field of labor he left, regretted by all, after about two years of
service here. He since resided for some years at Cambridge, from which place he
removed to Belvidere, to take charge of a large and flourishing congregation.
Since Welsher, their pastors have been successively, Elders Gowan, Negus and
Hart. Attempts have been set on foot of late to reunite these two churches again
in one; much can be said in favor of such a proposition, but so far, the
obstacles seem insurmountable, and no real progress has been made toward such a
Probably the generation that took part in the conflict
of 1868, must pass from the scene of action, ere all the old wounds will heal.
But we can hardly forbear to note in passing, that this body in two years after
its formation, gave proof of its legitimate descent, by withdrawing fellowship
from Mr. Hiram Willett, because " he could no longer conscientiously maintain
and endorse the articles of faith as interpreted by the church." Is there, or is
there not, a suggestion of that famous Procrustean bedstead of Attica, in such
There is no whisper of immorality against this man, no
charge of duty neglected; on the contrary, he was, until this change of opinion,
a pillar of the church. But he comes to believe "that the second coming of
Christ is near at hand, that the weight of evidence in the Scriptures represents
the dead in an unconscious state until the resurrection; also, that in the
judgment day the wicked shall be destroyed with an everlasting destruction, but
the righteous be received into life eternal." Consequently he is a heretic,
judged by Baptist standards, or the standards of many other orthodox churches.
And this may be all right; we but record it, as a scrap of church history for
1870. But were we ambitious of such distinction as was won by "mother Ann," or
Barbara Heck, or by many another leader of the opposite sex, we would ask no
better material out of which to mould a progressive religious organization, than
that which has been condemned by these two Baptist churches, as heretical in the
last twenty-five or thirty years.
CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF TOULON.
The Christian church, often opprobriously styled "Campbellite,"
was organized in Toulon, at the old court house, as their records say, "The
second Lord's day in July, 1849," with Milton P. King as pastor, and eight
members—only four of these being residents of Toulon. They were David McCance
and wife, Edward Wilson and wife, Elijah McClennahan and wife, Henry Sweet and
James Bates; the four first mentioned being residents here, the others coming,
some of them, many miles to attend the meeting.
But this little organization supplied by devotion and
zeal what it lacked of men and money, and it grew apace. Men of talent, mighty
in the scriptures, came from afar to aid their struggling brethren, and as they
presented the truths of scripture in a manner fundamentally unlike the so called
orthodox churches, they supplied, in those days at least, a new sensation, and
were proportionally successful, making frequent inroads on the neighboring
congregations, and many flocked to be "baptized for remission of sins," as in
the olden times.
In 1855 they succeeded in erecting a substantial brick
edifice on Washington street, and have for the most part ever since supported a
resident pastor. Although not so strong now as formerly, the trouble must be
looked for within, as in the days when outside opposition was the strongest they
gained their greatest strength. Their house of worship and grounds are worth
from $4,000 to $5,000, and their records show that more than four hundred
persons have at one time or another been gathered within their fold. During many
years their membership averaged one hundred reaching sometimes one hundred and
twenty-five. The present strength, however, is probably between seventy and
Their pastors named in the order of their service are
Milton P. King, Dr. Lucas, Charles Berry, Humphery, Aton, James Darsie, Beekman,
Lloyd and Ames. Of these, if we may hazard an opinion without offence, the most
remarkable were Rev. J. C. Berry and Rev. James Darsie. These men were both past
middle life when they came to Toulon, both had been educated Baptists, and had
taken their present stand after mature deliberation, and at no little personal
sacrifice, as we learn is also true of the present incumbent. They were both men
of profound biblical research, and Mr. Darsie was a fluent speaker. Being chosen
by the various churches of our town to deliver an address upon the death of
Lincoln, he displayed a power of thought and command of language that astonished
those who without knowing his ability had been wont to sneer at him as a "Campbellite
preacher." Right here, with the reader's permission, we will close our notice of
the Toulon Churches with an anecdote pf this man. He was of Scotch blood, warm
and impetuous by nature, but cool and self-controlled by habit, and made it a
point of conscience to avoid all political matters in his sabbath day
discourses; nevertheless he was at heart an ardent patriot, and believed in
preserving the union at any cost, but this was not quite the temper of all his
hearers. At one time the news came of the death of one of our 44 brave boys in
blue, on the ramparts at Franklin. This young man was a member of Mr. Darsie's
church, and of course it devolved him to preach the funeral discourse. A large
audience gathered, and breathless silence pervaded the house. Those who scanned
the minister's face closely, noticed evidence of unwonted excitement; there was
a flush on his cheek and a light in his eye not often there, and when he opened
the solemn services of the hour, his teeth seemed set more firmly than common.
He commenced his sermon, the text we do not now recall, but that is a matter of
indifference, as we think he soon forgot it himself. But as he warmed with his
subject, and at the recollection of all this attempt at secession had cost our
land, he poured out such a torrent of invective against those in the north who
apologized for the course of the south, or threw any obstacles in the way of a
vigorous prosecution of the war, as probably they had never heard before. It
caused many in his congregation to tremble, and their hair almost to stand on
end, so unexpected and violent were his denunciations, while those against whom
his bolts were supposed to be hurled were kept silent listeners by the
proprieties of so sad an occasion, and the presence of the sorrow stricken
Those were days of fierce excitement, and even in our
quiet village many felt as if walking daily on a powder magazine that a careless
spark might explode at any time; so it was with anxious hearts that people left
the Christian church that Sunday afternoon.
But after a night's sleep had cooled the fevered brain
of the preacher, he sought those whom he had reason to know would be offended at
his course, and said in effect, "I don't like political preaching, and never
intended to do any of it. These are my sentiments, but that was not the place to
promulgate them, but I couldn't help it—I couldn't help it. All I have to say
further is don't ask me to preach any more soldier's funerals, or I won't be
responsible for the consequences." And after all, the young man supposed killed,
came home again, surprised enough to learn what an excitement his funeral had
In the winter of 1855-6, John G. Hewitt—son of David
Hewitt, who is still among us—conceived the idea of a newspaper in Toulon. He
had been known in the place only as a dentist, but was supposed to have had
connection with the newspaper press somewhere, and in some capacity. He named
the project to a few of the "leading" men ; and it met their hearty approval, as
such propositions always do in a small town. So a subscription paper was
started, and about $300 raised, which was given as a "bonus" to start the
With this, Mr. Hewitt went down to Pekin, in this
state, and made an arrangement with John Smith of that place, to remove his old
office to Toulon. And an "old office" it was. The press was one of the
first—probably about the third one in Illinois. The type were completely worn
out, being just fit for what is called in the classic phrase of printers, the
"hell-box." The job type were scanty and worn out; and altogether the office
about worthless. But a co-partnership was formed under the name of Smith &
Hewitt, the office, such as it was, came on and was set up in what had been the
circuit clerk's office of the old court house; and on the first day of January,
1850, the first number of the "Prairie Advocate " made its appearance. The print
was simply intolerable, and it is not too much to say that the paper was a
disappointment to publishers and patrons. But it struggled along, and the next
summer the old reading matter type were thrown out and replaced by new. This
helped its appearance somewhat, and at least made it possible to read it.
The struggle for life of the Advocate, in the first
year of its existence need not be recorded, even if the details could now be
known. Suffice it to say that of course the paper did not pay. Mr. Smith who was
a man of some means, had already seen service enough in a printing office to
cure him of that ambition which would pursue the printing business for fun when
it was sinking his means, and he decided to get out.
But right at this point we must introduce a third
character, who, although he had nothing to do with the paper, began here a
course which has had much to do with Stark county and Illinois journalism.
Oliver White, then a young man, was teaching school in
Toulon, but was an extensive correspondent of the Advocate, under various
assumed names, and being an intimate friend of Hewitt spent much of his leisure
at the office. He began to set type for amusement, as well as to write, and
before the summer was ended had made considerable progress as a compositer. It
is due this individual to state that this natural dropping in among papers and
type was after all no accident. He had besieged his father, during all the years
of boyhood to find him a situation in a printing office, to learn the business.
This, his father had regarded as a boy's whim and gave it little consideration.
But now, the boy's whim must give color to the man's life; for after learning
another trade and attaining his majority, he was to enter upon his chosen
vocation, with everything to learn; when under favoring circumstances he should
have been a master instead of an apprentice. Overtures were made to him that
summer to drop everything else and enter regularly upon the business of
journalism, then and there; but he had already learned enough to know that the
Prairie Advocate office was not the proper school, and in the latter part of
that summer he made an engagement on the Henry County Dial, then edited by the
late General Howe, and printed by E. B. Chambers, one of the finest printers
then in the state.
Mr. Smith sold out his interest in the Advocate to Mr.
Hewitt, and bought him a farm, and the latter pursued the business with a lone
hand. But this did not last long. In the following winter a better business
prospect was developed in Princeton, and Mr. Hewitt decided to seize upon it if
he could dispose of the Advocate. He opened negotiations with Mr. White who was
then editing the Dial for another party, General Howe having retired, but did
not effect a sale. He sold, however, in the spring of 1857, to Rev. R. C. Dunn,
and it was then that the paper took the name of the Stark County News. But Mr.
Dunn found a very unproductive and not too congenial field of labor, and after a
few months he sold out the materials of the office to Henderson and Whitaker.
These gentlemen bought with a hope merely that they might be able to rent or
otherwise let it to some one who would keep the paper running, but without any
thought of entering the newspaper field, or even of speculation. The publication
was then continued by Dr. S. S. Kaysbier, who had already gained some knowledge
of the business during Mr. Dunn's administration.
The publication was thus continued with some degree of
regularity, but with no financial success, until the winter of 1860-61, when it
was abandoned, and for months the office stood idle.
In the fall of 1861, Mr. W. H. Butler of Wyoming, was
induced to take the office and start a paper. He was known to be a man of means
and ability; and of so much personal popularity that it was supposed the
community would rally around him, and give him a hearty support. He called his
paper the Stark County Union, and aimed to keep out of the political caldron. Of
course he printed it well and conducted it with dignity; but suffice it to say
it did not pay; and after a few months' effort to place it on a paying basis, he
abandoned the attempt and refunded the money to all advance subscribers.
Again the office lay for months idle; but in the spring
of 1863, Dr. S. S. Kaysbier decided to try the experiment of a very small cheap
paper. Accordingly he went in and commenced to issue a little sheet, four
columns to the page—again under the name of the Stark County News.
It is a notable fact that this little paper paid its
way, for the first time that a paper had ever paid in Toulon. This continued
until the first of January, 1864, when a co-partnership having been formed with
Oliver White, the paper was enlarged to six columns size. It is a matter of
history that in the first number of this enlarged paper, the name of Abraham
Lincoln was run up for a second term; and Mr. White wrote a brief editorial on
the subject, which was the first public mention of Mr. Lincoln for a second
term, in the whole country. The paragraph was taken up and hawked about, from
Maine to California—being commented on sometimes of course with a sneer, and
sometimes as a suggestion worthy of consideration. But the name stood there at
the head of the editorial column, until Lincoln was re-elected.
In the summer of 1864, Mr. Kaysbier retired from the
business and the publication was continued by Mr. White alone. The paper was now
on a paying basis, and the publisher applied all available means to building up
the office in materials. New type was bought from time to time; and in the
course of two years a very good country office for those days was the result.
But in the spring of 1866, Mr. White decided to advocate the nomination of Hon.
E. C. Ingersoll for congress, rather than that of General T. J. Henderson who
was the choice of many leading republicans, and was moreover half owner of the
press Mr. White used. We
do not wish to allude to this controversy further than to merely show its effect
upon our newspaper history.
Very naturally General Henderson objected to furnish
his opponents with weapons wherewith to assail himself, and thus Mr. White was
compelled to procure another press by means of which to advocate the Ingersoll
interests. This he did very promptly, the paper not suspending an issue. Upon
reporting this change of base to the proprietors of the first press, and
requesting to know where he should store the same, Mr. White was ordered to
store it in a very warm, country, with a very short name, but being somewhat in
doubt as to the exact locality of that place he compromised matters by throwing
the type in the "hell box," and all the wooden furniture out of a second story
window! So senseless are political animosities.
In the fall of 1868, Mr. White sold a half interest in
his office to Mr. Joseph Smethurst and in the following spring the other half to
Mr. Edwin Butler. A few months later Mr. Butler bought out Smethurst and assumed
entire control of "The Stark County News," which has since jogged along without
many romantic episodes to mark its history. It is still in 1876, under the
direction of Mr. Butler, and as it has been for the greater part of the time,
the sole organ of the dominant party in our growing and prosperous county, it is
presumable that it has paid well; at any rate the editor recently made the
characteristic remark, that "its career had been satisfactory to him whether it
had pleased any one else or not."
During the exciting campaign of 1860, the democrats of
Stark county, organized a "Douglas Club," and decided that the best wav to
advocate the claims of their candidates was to start a campaign paper, which was
accordingly done, the first number of the Stark County Democrat appearing in
July, 1860, with M. Shallenberger as editor.
Perhaps it is not too much to say that the editorial
department of this little sheet was well sustained, and in its columns were
found many able communications from the leading writers of the county who
endorsed its political faith. It was printed by Mr. Bassett, at Kewanee, and
closed its brief life with the defeat of Douglas in 1860.
In August, 1867, about the same class of gentlemen
determined to start and sustain if possible a permanent democratic paper within
Stark county. Arrangements, were made to purchase an office, that is press,
type, &c., from Mr. John Smith, now of Princeton, the same John Smith who had
supplied the antiquated concern with which Mr. Hewitt had commenced work in
1855. Benjamin Turner, M. Shallenberger, Patrick Nowlan, James Nowlan and
Branson Lowman became responsible to Mr. Smith for payment for said press. Seth
Rockwell, a young printer took charge of the publication of this paper, which
was to be called after its predecessor "The Stark County Democrat," and M.
Shallenberger took control of the editorial department for a year. This paper
seems to have secured a good circulation and met the wishes of its patrons, but
Mr. Rockwell failed to keep his engagement with Mr. Smith, and the securities
took the press off his hands and in August, 1868, sold to Benjamin W. Seaton, an
experienced printer; M. Shallenberger continuing to edit conjointly with the new
publisher for another year, at which time Mr. Seaton took entire control, and
changed the name of the paper to that of "The Prairie Chief." At this time
he enlarged the paper, and
added much to the resources of the office, his management considered eminently
successful considering time, place and opportunities. But early in the year
1872, finding a larger and more inviting field of effort in Henry county, he
sold his Toulon office to Henry M. Hall, who continued to publish a democratic
paper here from April, 1872, till January, 1876, when he concluded to remove to
the state of Iowa, where he now publishes "The Red Oak New Era," devoted for the
present to "Tilden and reform." So Stark county democrats are again without a
local paper devoted to the dissemination of their principles.
The new sensation in Stark county
journalism that marks this centennial year, is the advent of a tiny
tri-weekly, called "Molly Stark," from the office of O. White, at Toulon. It is
yet too soon in the history of this enterprise to judge of its ultimate success.
But this we can say, it is commanding a good share of attention, and deserves
more than it receives. Mr. White's idea of issuing
a small sheet often, filled, not with "Chicago hash," or "patent insides," but
with the pith of the latest intelligence, and paragraphs of local importance,
meets the approbation of many minds. And this, with his well known taste in
selection, makes "Molly Stark " like a newsy letter, very enjoyable to people
generally. An advertising medium, it is also important to business men, advantage to many interests.
However, the editor's political prescience that led him to set the lamented
Lincoln at the head of his columns in 1864, seems to have forsaken him in 1876,
as we noticed " Molly Stark " led off
with Blaine as a figure head, but has, ere many months elapsed, changed at the
bidding of party to Hayes and Wheeler.
We append a short summary of the business done in Toulon during the year 1874.
Total deposits, $1,547,240.19
Exchange sold, 746,831.66
Notes and bills discounted 588,651.96
Sales of merchandise, $189,324.40
" Hardware and agricultural implements, 26,300.00
" Lumber, 25,763.95
" Furniture, 9,000.00
" Watches and jewelry, 5,000.00
" Millinery and dressmaking, .... 7,208.70
" Drugs and medicines, . . . . . 19,000.00
" Building, 51,675.00
" Mechanics and manufactures, 38,690.96
" Miscellaneous 16,400.00
Total, $288,363 01
There were shipped from the station at Toulon during the year 1874, 200 cars of
corn, 145 cars of hogs, 107 cars of oats, 68 cars of cattle, 30 cars of rye, 10
cars of wheat, 5 cars of household goods, 2 cars of brick, 2 cars of hay, 1 car
of flour, 1 car of mules, 1 car of horses, and one car of sheep. Of merchandise,
butter, eggs, hides, &c., there were shipped 251,700 pounds.
During the same year there were received 151 cars of lumber, 8 cars of hogs, 9
cars of salt, 1 car of nails, 5 cars of cattle, 2 cars of stone, 4 cars of lime,
11 cars of brick, 1 car of sewer pipe and 1,507,059 pounds of merchandise. The
passenger business for the same time was $4,492.80.
The Toulon cheese manufacturing company was organized December 22d, 1874, with
a capital of $5,000. The manufacture of cheese was commenced May 10th, 1875, and
closed for the winter, October 23rd of the same year. During this first season
were 420, 616 pounds of milk purchased. From, this 41,800 pounds of cheese was
manufactured, and proved to be excellent in quality and flavor, and a ready
market was found for all that could be made. The milk and labor cost the company
$4,850.74. The factory is one of the best arranged in this part of the state.
Its ground dimensions are 40x60 feet, with an engine room additional. The second
story, which is of the same size as the ground floor is used entirely for
drying. There are at present two vats, each of a capacity of 5,000 pounds of
milk, and with all the latest improvements in machinery, the factory is
perfectly equipped for its work. The season of 1876, at this present writing is
just opened, but shows an increase of more than double the first season in
receipts of milk. The total cost of the structure and machinery was $3,500.
Among our towns, Wyoming is entitled to the claim of
priority in order of time; being founded by General Thomas, May, 1836, it
antedates Toulon by four years, Lafayette by less than one.
For a long time it had little but a name. In a communication to "The Lacon
Herald" in 1838, it is spoken of as having upon its site "one second hand log
smoke house" which served the double purpose of store and post office.
Nevertheless its name appears upon several maps of that time, and it was a
prominent candidate for the county seat. It is said that some speculators
interested in the sale of lots, had circulars struck off and circulated in the
eastern states, in which this town was represented in 1837, at the head of
navigation on Spoon river, with fine warehouses towering aloft and boats lying
at the wharf which negroes were loading and unloading, giving the appearence of
a busy commercial mart. This may be but a story, still it serves to illustrate
the speculating mania of those days; which disease has not yet ceased to afflict
mankind, but only traveled a few degrees farther west.
A gentleman who had been somewhat victimized by such false reports, in 1838
revenged himself by perpetrating the following rhymes:
"Osceola's but a name, a staked out town at best,
Which, like the Indian warrior's fame, has sunk to endless rest.
Wyoming's still an emptier sound,
with scarce a wooden peg,
Save that my old friend Barrett* has, to serve him as
[a one-legged shoemaker who resided in Wyoming in an early day]
The town of Osceola will never be heard of again, except as a reminiscence; but
as to Wyoming, the dreams of her founders have only been slow of navigation. If
the last few years have not brought navigable water and laded steamers, they
have brought the steam engine and its groaning, creaking train of passenger and
freight cars, bringing business and consequent growth and prosperity in its
wake. The community which so long existed as a mere hamlet or village, sprang
at the shrill cry of the steam whistle into a thriving town, garrisoned with a
full and efficient corps of enterprising business men, who know no such word
For the opening of the Dixon, Peoria and Hannibal railway, now known as the Buda
branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railway, they are mainly indebted
to the untiring and long unrequited labors of Dr. Alfred Castle.
The completion of the Peoria and Rock Island railway in 1871, doubled their
facilities for business, and this together with their immense coal treasures
opens an alluring prospect for the future.
Wyoming in 1874, claims a population of thirteen hundred or
more, and is incorporated under the "general law," having a president
and board of trustees, etc. There is nothing peculiar in
the character of this board only as they are supposed to represent
the public sentiment of the town by constituting themselves an anti-license
board, so far as the sale of spirituous liquors is concerned—and this is true whatever sentiment the individuals members thereof may entertain on the vexed questions of the liquor
traffic. Public sentiment is so strongly opposed to it, that there
seems no danger of its being legalized for many years to come at any rate.
Every argument has been adduced, every device resorted to, every effort made by
the votaries of Bacchus, and those quasi temperance folks who talk about "regulating the evil," to change this legislation, but in vain. Wyoming does not
propose to "benefit her trade " by making drunkards of her sons, or raise a
revenue, by imposing fines upon them, but is so far as her government can make
her so a strictly temperance town. This state of things has obtained for ten or
twelve years, or ever since the "woman's raid," an episode which though
condemned by some, has certainly resulted in good to the community at large.
And while good citizens concur in deploring mobs at all times, if the iron of a
great wrong is allowed to burn into the very flesh of any class or party however
small or helpless, and legal redress is persistently denied, we may expect such outbreaks. Let our rulers learn wisdom; there is
an end to human endurance—even woman's sometimes fails, and then she seeks to
avenge her fearful wounds by frantic violence and unwomanly deeds.
But Wyoming is determined there shall be no future necessity for such action,
and pursues the wise policy of choosing for her municipal officers her best men,
irrespective of party politics. And the business done, the improvements made,
the economy observed, the quiet and good order that usually prevail, as well as
the evenness of the receipts and expenditures at the close of each fiscal year,
all testify to the soundness of her policy.
Before turning to other matters, it may be well to record the names of the
present town board—not for the idle compliment of naming them in this
connection, but because it is the constant aim of the writer to give names
prominent in any enterprise or proceedings alluded to, in order to give a sort
of individuality to these pages and add to their interest and value in after
years, if not at the date of publication.
President and board of trustees of the town of Wyoming 1875: President, S. F. Otman; Trustees, G. W. Scott, J. H. Klocke, C. P. McCorkle, D. H. Stone, A.
Wolfe; Clerk, W. H. Butler; Attorney, J. E. Decker; Reporter, E. H. Phelps.
Other town officials: A. G. Hammond, Treasurer; Isaac Thomas, Magistrate;
Harvey Pettit, Constable.
In this regard Wyoming has done well. Of the five denominations represented
here, four of them have respectable church edifices, the fifth (United
Brethren), although weak as regards numbers, has recently purchased a school
house and are repairing and refitting it, and will doubtless make it a good
house of worship. The others will be briefly noticed in the order of their
organization, which of course brings the Methodist to the front, as it enjoys
the honor of being throughout our land the pioneer church. Writes a
correspondent: "There is an air of antiquity about it, that does not pertain to
any other, as it had an existence before the town or county was thought of as to
name. Beyond, in the twilight of our history, when 'the groves were God's
temples', the itinerant preachers of this faith 'held forth in this part of the
moral vinyard'. My recollection goes back to 1835,—forty years ago, when their
services were held in the log school house near Mr. Josiah Moffitt's farm, there
being then no meeting house
in Wyoming, and extends to some who occupied their pulpit [pulpit is doubtless used here for the sake of euphony, as at the date
referred to there was no pretension to a pulpit in the county. These reverend
speakers probably stood behind chairs while addressing their audiences] in the olden time and
who would have graced any pulpit in the land, men like Phelps, Berryman and
Morey, and the uneducated eccentric, but gifted Pitner, whose oratory, rude
though it was, is seldom surpassed by the more polished and hackneyed phrase of
During its early struggles here, this denomination owed much to the hospitality
and liberality of General Thomas and family, but has long been on an independent
footing, owns its church building and parsonage, and pays its $1,000.00 per
annum for the preaching of the gospel. It claims about eighty members, and
ninety attendant upon its Sabbath school instructions.
ST. LUKE'S PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
An examination of the archives of the St. Luke's church in Wyoming, shows that
the first service of the church was held by the Rev. Richard Radley of Jubilee,
at the residence of Captain Henry Butler, commencing in the fall of 1848, and
continuing monthly until March, 1851, when Mr. Radley left the diocese for that
of west New York, and was succeeded by the Rev. Philander Chase, who held
service in the public school house until the present church was erected. In
September, 1851, the parish was organized, the instrument of organization as
"We, whose names are hereunto affixed, deeply sensible of the truth of the
Christian religion, and earnestly desirous of promoting its holy influence in
our hearts, and those of our families and neighbors, do hereby associate
ourselves under the name of St. Luke's Parish, in communion with the Protestant
Episcopal church in the United States, and diocese of Illinois, the authority of
whose constitution and canons we do hereby recognize, and to whose liturgy and
mode of worship we promise conformity."
"Dated, Wyoming, September 2nd, 1855. Signed by H. A. Hoist, Henry Butler,
Charles S. Payne, L. S. Milliken, Thomas B. Whiffen and W. B. McDonald."
The parish was admitted into union with the diocese, October 18th, 1855. In May,
1857, the church building was begun, and the first service was held in it on
February 28th, 1858. It was consecrated at the visitation of the Right
Reverend, the Bishop of the diocese (Bishop Chase) in August following.
The Reverend Philander Chase having removed to Jubilee, the parish was left
without a rector, and services were sustained by lay readers until October 2d,
1869, when Reverend Thomas N. Benedict was settled over the parish. The reverend
gentleman having resigned August 2d, 1873, September following the present
rector (Reverend F. H. Potts) assumed the charge.
The present condition of the parish can be gathered from the last report of the
rector, which enumerates its strength as follows:
Number of communicants, 24
Children in Sunday school, 44
Whole number of souls, 135
The recent rapid improvement and growth of Wyoming in another direction
rendered the old site an inconvenient one for the accommodation of the
congregation, consequently in February, 1874, the church was removed from its
former location to the present more central and pleasant one on Galena avenue,
upon ground donated to the parish by one of its members, Dr. Alfred Castle. At
the same time the church was remodeled and otherwise very much improved, at very
near the cost of a new one, and rendered churchly in all its arrangements.
But no truthful history of St. Luke's church can ever be written without an
acknowledgment of the liberal gifts and gratuitus services long rendered by Rev. Philander Chase.
The history of the Baptist church in Wyoming is somewhat interesting,
considering its numerical weakness, and its poverty at the start, the obstacles
it had to contend with through its career, and its present comparative
prosperous condition, with its new church, and neat and tasteful interior
decorations, convenient appointments and accommodations, its increased
membership, its flourishing sabbath school, and the influence it is exerting in
At the time of its organization, which was in August, 1867, there were only 13
persons who presented themselves as members, and ten of these were elderly
women, and only three men, who represented so small an amount of capital that it
was thought advisable by one of the elders who took a prominent part in the
services connected with the organization of the society, that it be deferred to some future time, until they would become stronger
in numbers, richer in purse, and more able to assume the burdens and
responsibilities incident to the formation and support of a Baptist church. The
elder referred to, who then represented a wealthy and stylish Baptist church in
a city not far distant, with perhaps the best of motives, was so earnest in
his opposition that it gave offence to the poor but pious and humble members of
the society there present, and after a discussion pro and con it was determined
to proceed with the organization; and the sequel proves that it was not only a
wise decision, but that small beginnings sometimes result in prosperous endings,
that' the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong." The society met,
by permission, in the Methodist church, for the Baptists had none of their own,
and a prominent and tolerant Methodist preacher, who graced the assemblage, in
the course of the exercises added great interest to the proceedings by offering
up a fervent and eloquent prayer for the success of the church, organized under
such unfavorable circumstances. Providentially, an elder of the Baptist church,
comprehending the situation, gratuitously offered his ministerial services for
a year, at the expiration of which he was engaged for a second year at a meager
salary, and thus the society, struggled on in its devious course for years
until other and wealthier members were added to the little flock, who would no
more live without a hour to worship in than one to domicile in, when it was
determined to build a church. Men of executive ability took hold of the
enterprise; the liberal contributions of some of the members, or all of them in
fact when circumstances are considered, show what earnest men and women were
engaged in the work; and, aided by contributions from other quarters. In July,
1872, the house was finished and on the 10th of the same month dedicated for
public worship. On the day of its dedication every dollar of its indebtedness
was either paid or pledged for—some $1,400—Dr. Evarts, of Chicago, Mr. Harris of
the C., B. & Q. R.. R., and others from abroad taking part in the proceedings
upon the occasion—and contributing liberally towards liquiating the
indebtedness of the church, so that it might start upon Its career of
Since that time the house has been struck twice by lightning and saved from
burning by the exertions of the citizens.
It is no disparagement to the others to assert (at least none is meant) that
this is the most popular church organization in the town, and for various
reasons; prominent among these, is the 'ability, intellectual and otherwise, of
its pastor—Mr. Walters— who is a genial, companionable gentleman, tolerant
towards other Christian sects, and withal a devoted Christian himself,
managing the church with singularly good judgment, not only religiously but
socially. He is comparatively a new resident, being a native of Derbyshire,
England, from which place he came with his family some five years since,
locating directly in Wyoming. He immediately commenced business as a jeweller, a
calling he had long since adopted, although laboring to some extent from the
pulpit at the same time. Being a man of extensive reading, quick observation,
and a most faithful student, he soon made his presence felt for good in the
community, and became a favorite with church-goers particularly, and not one of
them all would withhold this passing tribute in connection with Wyoming
churches. February 18th, 1873, a meeting was called at the residence of Dr. Copestake, "to consider the propriety of organizing a Congregational church in
Wyoming." After electing Mr. John Hawks, chairman, and J. F. Rockhold,
secretary, they resolved to carry out their plan of organization, which was
completed April 2d, 1873, at the house of the chairman.
The original members were fourteen in number, and consisted of the following
named persons: — John Rockhold, Prudence Rockhold, John C. Copestake, Sarah C.
Copestake, John Hawks, Augusta Hawks, Henry F. Turner, Charlotte Turner, James
Buckley, Susannah Buckley, Ann Wrigley, Mary C. Scott, William Walters, Mary
In the two years passed since the organization, the membership has grown from
fourteen to forty-eight or fifty, and they have built certainly the finest
church edifice in the county, both as to interior arrangement and external
appearance and adornment. It is usually called "gothic" as to style of
architecture but as to whether it is strictly so or not, critics differ, though
all concede it is a durable and graceful structure, and reflects credit on the
designer, Mr. John Hawks. It is handsomely frescoed by Frank Dirkson of Peoria,
and the windows of stained glass, are of the latest style and admired by all.
This marks a new era in church building in our county, and it is devoutly to be
that similar ones in other localities may soon displace the unsightly
structures that offend the eye of taste.
Authoritatively, this church is known as the "Congregational Church of Christ"
at Wyoming, Stark county, Illinois.
"The government is vested in the body of Christian believers who compose it,
whose majority vote is final. It is amenable to no other ecclesiastical
authority." Trustees: John C. Copestake, John Wrigley, H. F. Turner, John Hawks
and George Kerns.
There seems to be but one cause of regret with regard to this enterprise, viz:
that the edifice was not placed upon higher ground, a more commanding situation;
of which it is so well worthy, and should have been procured at almost any cost.
Wyoming seems inclined to mistakes of this nature, the south side school house
not making the impression it would if placed more favorably. But perhaps the
critic should remember hills are rather scarce in that region.
Neither in the matter of schools, is Wyoming willing to be one jot behind her
neighboring towns. There is no recent improvement more manifestly due to the
liberality of her citizens than that of their present school buildings. The
advent of the railroad and consequent influx of population, rendered more
school room necessary, and notwithstanding the heavy burdens already imposed
upon the people they determined to submit to greater, rather than do any longer
without good educational facilities. While individual enterprise was investing
capital upon a large scale to advance the material prosperity of the town, the
idea obtained that it was right, while taking these initiatory steps, to foster
such institutions as should promote the moral and intellectual welfare also.
The result is manifest in the churches and schools of which Wyoming is justly
proud. The school houses are located quite conveniently for the accommodation of
the pupils—one on the "north side," the other on the "south side,"
representing the two wings or divisions of the town.
The former occupies high ground and is a fine brick structure, Imposing in
appearance, commanding a view of the country. Its architectural merits are
highly spoken of. the credit being due no doubt in great measure to the genius
of Mr. Hawks, who continues whenever occasion offers to ornament the town with
his fine architectural conceptions. The main building is 34x66 feet, with a wing
35x12. It is arranged for seating 216 pupils, and the plans
for heating and ventilating are said to be excellent. The work is well done, and
the cost including furniture and fixtures is something over ten thousand
dollars. This school opened September, 1874, with a. very capable teacher, Prof.
S. S. Wood as principal, Miss B. Ward, assistant, and a roll of 80 scholars, but
this number increasing to 120 in November, Miss Carrie Butler was employed to
take charge of the intermediate department. The south side school house though
not so showy as the other, (principally because it is not so conspicuously
located) is nevertheless pleasantly situated facing the public square, which
has recently been ornamented with evergreens, and other native trees. It is also
built of brick, is a tasteful and convenient structure, furnishing
accommodations for 232 scholars. The amount of space enclosed does not differ
many feet from the north side house, but the internal arrangement is somewhat
different. It has high ceilings, good ventilation, cloak rooms, halls, and
indeed all modern appliances for comfort. And the gentlemen who superintended
its erection, are entitled to a meed [way it was spelled] of praise from all interested, that they
completed this work in so substantial and satisfactory a manner, and at so small
a cost—as it is estimated, furniture included, to have cost less than $8,000.
This institution opened its first year with Mr. William Nowlan as principal, and
if any reader of these pages is not familiar with that gentleman's record as a
teacher, let him but enquire of the boys and girls who have been going to
school, almost anywhere in Stark county for the last six or eight years; it
will not take them long to agree on a verdict. Mr. Nowlan was ably assisted by
Miss Stone, and Miss Rule in the primary department. At present Mr. W. R.
Sandham, another teacher with an enviable reputation, presides over the
destinies of the "south side" school, with Mr. W. W. Hammond in the grammar,
Miss Butler in the intermediate, and Miss Walker in the primary department.
No pains or expense are spared to make these institutions worthy of patronage,
and there is no reasonable doubt that pupils of average capacity can obtain
therein an education sufficient for all practical purposes; and we may say free
of expense to them.
"The Bradford Chronicle " had some circulation in and about Wyoming in 1872.
This was an "east side paper," but Wyoming was bent upon having a journal of her
own to support and advance her interests. So in this year (1872) Mr. E. H.
Phelps was induced by the business men of the place to locate an office here.
This he did, and uniting the interests both of Bradford and Wyoming by
consolidating the "Chronicle" with the "Post" under the name of "Post and
Chronicle." This was Wyoming's first newspaper.
In a short time it changed its name to the "Wyoming Post," under which title it
is still published. The first number of this paper was issued August 9th, 1872,
with eighty actual subscribers.
This was a five column quarto sheet devoted to the advocacy of republican
principles. For one year and a half it had "patent insides," but is now
printed entirely at home, with a steadily increasing patronage and a
circulation "grown to 850" so says our informant.
But this question of the circulation of newspapers appears to be one upon which
but few agree and we shall put but few figures upon record touching this point,
lest we be convicted of error. But that the Wyoming Post is a success,
financially and otherwise, is beyond dispute. And that the man who could
contrive to build up such an interest in so short a time, and from such small
beginnings, must possess a rather unusual combination of tact, talent, and
executive ability, must be conceded by all not blinded by personal piques or
political prejudices. Mr. Phelps is an indefatigable worker and must be "a
power" in any community.
On the other hand such characters are always positive, and sometimes rash, and
as they move with celerity are liable to "get up a breeze" at times, but are
usually willing to abide the consequences of their own acts, and repair the
damages as far as possible.
Within the last year another claimant for popular favor has appeared in
Wyoming—a well printed sheet bearing the title of "The Stark County Bee." This
busy journal is issued under the immediate auspices of M. M. Monteith, and bids
fair to be one of the leading papers of the county. It is understood to be
republican in politics, yet independent. Preferring rather to be the exponent
and promoter of local interests than to make politics a hobby.
WYOMING LODGE, A. F. & A. M.
Previous to the year 1866, though there were several "Master Masons" among her
population, Wyoming had no organized body of "Ancient, Free and Accepted
Masons." Those of her citizens who had previous to that date passed through the
ordeal of the "sublime degree," conferred together for the purpose of taking
the initiatory steps to form a lodge of Masons, but as no one among them
considered himself sufficiently posted to assume the responsibilities of the
"master's place," this desideratum was not supplied until the return of the
J. W. Agard to his former home, as a permanent resident. At this juncture steps
were taken to organize a lodge of Masons, and Messrs. J. W. Agard, Henry A.
Hoist, Isaac Thomas, W. F. Thomas, T. W. Bloomer, S. K. Conover, G. W. Scott, J.
H. Cox, master masons, and Samuel Wrigley and Henry M. Rogers, entered
apprentice masons, advanced the necessary funds required and made application to
the proper authorities to consummate its organization.
By permission of the then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Masons, of the
state of Illinois, to whom application had been made by the above named
citizens, the initial meeting of Wyoming Lodge was held, February 28th, A. D.
1866. or in the technical language of the secretary's record :—
"The worshipful master, wardens and brethren of Wyoming Lodge, U. D., met in
regular communication at Masonic Hall" on Wednesday, February 28th, 7 o'clock
p. m., A. D. 1866, A. L. 5866, and opened," &c.
John W. Agard acted as master by appointment; W. F. Thomas, S. W.; G. W. Scott,
J. W.; H. A. Hoist, Secretary pro tem ; S. K. Conover, S. D. pro tem; Thomas
W. Bloomer, J. D. pro tem; William N. Brown, Tyler pro tem. At this meeting
the secretary's record informs us that "Isaac Thomas was appointed Treasurer;
Henry A. Holst, Secretary; S. K. Conover, S. D.; Thomas W. Bloomer, J. D.; J.
H. Cox, Tyler," to fill those offices permanently.
Such are the details of the history and formation of the first lodge of Masons
convened at Wyoming. And thus it continued with only eight members at the
commencement, until its probationary time, "under dispensation," expired, when
it was granted a charter, and received its name and number, in rotation, as Wyoming Lodge,
number 479, A. F. and A. M.
The charter of this lodge bears date the third day of October, A. D. 1866, A.
L. 5866," and contains the signatures of H. P. H. Bromwell, Grand Master; J. R.
Gorin, Deputy Grand Master; N. W. Huntley, S. G. W.; Charles Fisher, J. G. W.;
attested by H. G. Reynolds, Grand Secretary.
It was granted, as the document reads, "at the petition of J. W. Agard, G. W.
Scott, Henry A. Holst, S. K. Conover, Thom as W. Bloomer, J. H. Cox, Henry M.
Rogers, John Wrigley, Simon Cox, Isaac Thomas," who were its charter members.
At a special communication November 14th, A. D. 1866, the first meeting under
the charter, the record informs us that " W. P. Master, Br. Thos. J. Henderson
being present, consecrated "Wyoming Lodge, number 479, assisted by Br. William
Lowman as Marshal, and instituted the following brethren as officers of
Wyoming Lodge number 479: J. W. Agard, Master; George W. Scott, S. W.; Henry
M. Rogers, J. W.; John Wrigley, Treasurer; Henry A. Hoist, Secretary; S. K.
Conover, S. D.; Thomas W. Bloomer, J. D.; J. H. Cox, Tyler.
The lodge, organized under a charter, has continued to prosper, from that time
to the present, and from its eight members at the start has increased to a
membership of about eighty. It held its meetings in the first place over the old
drug store of H. A. Holst, afterward over the, store of Esq. Thomas, and
subsequently, in the hall over the "Boston" store; changes made necessary on
account of its increasing membership, and continued to be held at the latter
place until those apartments became too small and inconvenient, when it
removed to its present quarters, on the corner of Seventh and William streets,
in a building erected for the purpose of a Masonic Hall, by Rev. J. W. Agard. J.
W. Agard continued master of the lodge from 1866 to 1872, and F. W. Bloomer from
that date to the present, 1876.
The officers of the lodge for the present year, 1876, are T. W. Bloomer, W. M.;
Selden Miner, S. W.; M. P. Meeker, J. W.; John Wrigley, Treasurer; W. H. Butler,
Secretary ; John Ellis, S. D.; Jerry Cox, J. D.; Isaac Thomas and Alonzo
Moffitt. Stewards; E. C. Wayman, Chaplain; P. H. Smith, Tyler.
We are indebted to Mr. W. H. Butler for the above items as regards the A. F. &
A. Masons, without whose kindness the secret societies of Wyoming must have
passed almost unnoticed.
ROYAL ARCH MASONS.
Our information is very meager as regards this order.
It is the only lodge of this degree in the county; was chartered October 9th,
1868, as "Wyoming Chapter number 133, R. A. Masons."
The charter members were J. W. Agard, William Lowman of Toulon, William
Eagleston, George W. Scott, Samuel Wrigley, Thomas W. Bloomer, John Ellis, Henry
M. Rogers, James M. Rogers, and J. Harvey Cox. The present strength (September,
1876) of this lodge is forty-six active members.
On the 29th of May, 1862, a family of the Eastern Star was organized at the
house of J. W. Agard, styled "Wyoming Family Eastern Star," number 134. The
first members were J. W. Agard, H. A. Holst, S. K. Conover, George W. Scott, J.
M. Rogers, John Wrigley, Mrs. Margaret Conover, Mrs. Mary C. Scott, Mrs. Martha Agard, Mrs. Ann Wrigley, Mrs. Harriet Rogers and Miss Rebecca Butler. The order
was well sustained, and continued to increase in numbers and influence until
February 18th, 1871, when by general consent of the members it was superseded by
"Wyoming Chapter, No. 52, of the Eastern Star." The present strength of the
lodge is eighty-two resident members. But three deaths have occurred in the
order since its organization, viz : Mrs. Martha Agard, Mr. H. M. Holst, and Mrs.
Harriet Ticknor. To the objects common to all lodges of this order the Wyoming
Chapter has added that of cultivation of a literary taste, and the exercises of
this character have become a very marked and interesting feature of its
meetings. Great credit is due to very many members of this order for the great
success it has attained but especially to Mr. J. W. Agard, who has been its
worthy patron since its organization, and to Mrs. Sarah Otman, who for three
years served as Worthy Matron. To their interest and indefatigable labors much
of the prosperity of Wyoming Chapter is due.
Wyoming Lodge number 244, I. O. O. F., was organized on October 15th, 1857, in
Wyoming, Stark county, state of Illinois, with the following charter members:
Henry A. Holst, W. B. Armstrong, John Hawks, C. W. Brown, U. M. Whiffen and
Isaac N. Tidd.
This order prospered until October, 1863, the members being called away by the
late war, they surrendered up their charter. The lodge was again reinstated by
the following members: Henry A. Holst, Thomas W. Bloomer, John Hawks, Chas. 8.
Payne, John C. Wright and C. W. Brown, on February 6th, 1871, with the
following as officers for the term: H. A. Holst, N. G.; Thomas W. Bloomer, V.
G.; John Hawks, B. S. ; C. W. Brown, Treasurer. Total membership, at this time,
nine. At the close of the year of 1871, total membership twenty-three; at the
close of the year of 1872, total membership forty-eight; at the close of the
year 1873, total membership forty-eight; at the close of the year 1874, total
membership fifty-eight; at the close of the year 1875, total membership
fifty-nine; at the close of term, June, 1870, total membership sixty-one, with
the following officers for the current term:
H. J. Cosgrove, N. G.; Elisha Clark, V. G.; S. B. Fargo, B. S.; William Lyons,
P. S.; J. M. Cox, Treasurer; C. F. Hamilton, representative to Grand Lodge.
They have a very fine hall, one of the best in the county, 22x60. The order is
in flourishing condition, their rent is paid in advance for seven years, with
money at interest, and the utmost harmony prevails. Their regular nights of
meeting are Tuesday evening of each week.
WYOMING ENCAMPMENT, NUMBER 174.
The first and only Encampment in Stark county at the present time, was organized
and instituted March 24th, 1876, by P. C. P., N. C. Nason. Charter members : J.
M. Brown, C. F. Hamilton, J. M. Cox, T. B. Wall, D. S. Hewitt, H. J.
Cosgrove, J. D. Woods, I. P. Carpenter, J. L. Moffitt. Dennis Guyre, and John
Officers for present term, commencing July 1st, 1876, are H. J. Cosgrove, C. P.;
J. D. Woods, S. W.; John Hawks, H. P.; T. B. Wall, Scribe; J. M. Cox, Treasurer: Peter Lane, J. W. Total number of
After what we know of the churches and schools of
Wyoming, one would expect
to find the people, as a rule social and intelligent if not religious. And it
is said that this is eminently true; that there is a hearty co-operation and
commingling of all classes of society in social relations and simple pleasures,
somewhat at variance perhaps with conventional rules, but entirely consonant
with the spirit of republican institutions. Then they are earnestly
cultivating a love of letters and fine literature by sustaining a literary
society with this especial end in view.
The fine arts, music and painting, also have their votaries in this busy
community; great attention being given to cultivating these tastes among the
youth, almost every household having its piano or organ. Yet the complaint is
here, as elsewhere, that church music does not reach as high a standard as it
should. It is much to be regretted that this beautiful and important branch of
Christian worship does not receive the attention it deserves in many parts of
our music loving land. As Wyoming, in common with other parts of the county is
still in the active stage of life, intent on making money, building up business
enterprises, &c., not having had time to accumulate a surplus of wealth to
devote to luxuries and recreations, such things are still to a great degree
undeveloped. Still there are two good public halls, "Central" and "Union," both
of which enjoy good patronage, besides a Masonic and Odd Fellow's hall, "manifesting an admirable esprit de corp." But after all "the chief end of man"
seems to be business, in this region, and we pass to notice the
Second to the agricultural interests only, as to its commercial and economic
value, and as a source of wealth to this place and the surrounding country, is
that of coal mining and the coal trade, which though yet in its infancy, as it
were, probably contributes more to the growth and prosperity of Wyoming than
that of any other interest, with the exception mentioned. The supplies of coal
being inexhaustible, and of a superior quality, the demand steadily upon the
increase, both for the local supply and for shipping, one can hardly estimate
its intrinsic value in connection with the future of Wyoming. From the fact that
there is a motive power, though lying dormant, commensurate with an unlimited and
inexhaustible supply of fuel, with the requisites of cheap living, favorable
location, and easy transportation, an inviting: field is presented to
capitalists to engage in extensive and varied manufacture at this point.
It would be interesting to give an extended and detailed account of the coal
business as it has been developed from year to year from the commencement,
giving an exhibit of its annual increase, but as the miners themselves have
kept no particular record of it, and can give no very reliable information upon
the subject, the speculations of a novice would hardly be satisfactory. The
immediate locality of the coal trade, however, is fast filling up with a mining
population, and as to numbers will soon be a town of itself, containing its
average of intelligence, morals, industry and thrift as a community, while its
numerical strength is. becoming an object of interest and of competition as to
its connection with our trade, and of speculation as a balance of power in the
settlement of important questions.
THE LATHROP COAT, MINING COMPANY
is the most extensive institution of the kind in this vicinity; employs a
heavier force of men than any other, or probably all others combined, and of
course has invested in the business a very large capital. It has under its
control, either by purchase or lease, eight hundred acres of the choicest coal
land in the neighborhood, the securing of which, exclusively by sagacious,
enterprising and wealthy business men, may give one an idea of its 5 present
value and of its future importance in a commercial point of view. This company
does not interfere with the local trade to any considerable amount, but only as
an accommodation occasionally, when there is a deficiency in the latter, but
confines its business principally to shipping and supplying the rail road with
coal. The "shaft" and machinery, in all their appointments and arrangements,
above and below, are No. 1. For safety and the comfort of the miners, it has its
"escape shaft" and the best of facilities in its steam engines, iron tracks,
cars, its system of drains, hoisting, and pumping apparatus, screens, chutes,
etc., for carrying on the business in a complete and economical manner, and
preparing the coal for commerce. The works below are laid out scientifically by
a practical surveyor, and order and system prevail. Connected with these works
are a large boarding house
and a number of tenement houses, which are added to from time to time, and
already the "shaft" neighborhood, distinct from any other, is beginning to
assume the proportions of a respectable village, resulting in a corresponding
increase in the value of real estate on the "north side."
The capacity of this company at the present time, or rather of its works at
Wyoming, for they have several others, is three hundred and fifty tons of coal
per day, if the demand should be to that extent; its working force the past
winter was fifty men per day, upon an average; and the shipment for 1874,
including supplies to railroads, amounted in round numbers to 600,000 bushels
Connected with this enterprise is the "company's store" on the north side, an
individual affair however, where most of the employes do their trading, and its
proprietor is said to have a "mighty good thing " in securing the patronage of
PRIVATE SHAFTS AND RANKS.
The local trade in the article of coal is almost entirely confined to those
shafts and banks owned and operated by private individuals. There are seven of
them now in operation. Together they employ a considerable force of men, and in
the busy season, as the miner is always a liberal trader and flush with cash, an
impetus is given to business not witnessed at any other time. Portions of both
Marshall and Peoria counties are tributary to these banks for their supplies of
fuel—a trade which is extending in area and increasing annually, doubtless by
reason of the good quality of the article obtainable here, and the facilities
for meeting any demand. Though it is like "carrying coals to New Castle,"
shipments have also frequently been made to Peoria and Henry counties, from
these mines, or those generally confined to the local trade, facts which may
substantiate our estimate of the quality of Wyoming coal, and that the effect
the trade will have upon this as a business point ultimately is not merely
As to the business of the private shafts and banks an estimate has been made by
several of the miners of the aggregate amount of coal mined and sold by them for
the seven months of the coal season of 1874 and 1875, which has been averaged at
per week, or 28,000 per month, aggregating 196,000 bushels for the season of
seven months. From these data, added to the 600,000 bushels shipped and
supplied by the Lathrop coal mining company, one can see at a glance the
extent of the coal trade at this point, for a given time, and obtain some idea
perhaps what it will be, averaging its increase as past experience and facts
have developed it, when all these coal shafts and banks, with others added to
them as the demand increases, will be worked to their full capacity, the effect
of which in time also may certainly if not satisfactorily demonstrate the
problem so many are trying to cipher out as to which locality will hold the
preponderance of population.
It has been deemed best to give the general business of the towns in a tabular
or statistical form, as comprising the most explicit information in the least
space. The year 1874 has been chosen, although rather an unfortunate year for
many kinds of business, but as the returns of the current year are not yet
complete, therefore are not available, as a basis of calculation, it is
probable that 1874, well answered the practical end in view, viz: to furnish a
standard of comparison for past and future years.
PRINCIPAL BUSINESS OF WYOMING FOR THE YEAR 1874.
It is to be regreted that there are some serious omissions in the following
statement, but as all the reports are acts of courtesy on the part of the
gentlemen making them, the historian has no power to compel such service in
behalf of a public interest.
RAIL ROADS.—C. B & Q.
Amount collected on freight received, $12,373.11
Amount collected on freight forwarded, .... 10,432.25
Amount Tickets sold, 3,171.65
Amount Telegraph and express receipts, 977.66
PEORIA & ROCK ISLAND.
Amount collected on freight received, $8,672.58
Amount collected on freight forwarded, 6,679.02
Amount Ticket account, 6,443.91
Amount United States express account, 813.92
Amount Telegraphic receipts, 182.40
Business of Scott & Wrigley and A. B. Miner & Co.
Total amount of deposits, $2,209,469.00
Notes and bills discounted, 927,419.00
Exchange sold, 1,491,825.00
Total, - §4,628,713.00
Sold by Scott & Wrigley, $72,425.00
Loans upon by Scott & Wrigley, 65,700.00
Sales of merchandise, $180,600.00
Sales of Hardware and agricultural implements, 65,000.00
Sales of Lumber, lath, shingles, etc., 58,468.00
Sales of Furniture, 7,650.00
Sales of Watches and jewelry, 6,500.00
Sales of Millinery and dress-making, 8,065.00
Sales of Drugs and medicines, 20,890.00
Sales of Building, 56,995.00
Sales of Mechanics and manufacturing, .35,160.00
Sales of Miscellaneous, 22,062.00
Lathrop coal mining company, bushels, 600,000
Local coal trade for seven
months, bushels, 196,000
Shipped by J. M. Leet & Co., bushels, 250,000
C. S. Payne and Dexter
Wall, not reported.
C. S. Payne, three run of stone; Dexter Wall, three run of stone, and a saw mill
attached; Snedeker and Oziah, three run of stone.
The above firms represent a capital in the milling business of $50,000 as an
investment, but an accurate report of the business cannot be obtained.
As a further evidence of the business of Wyoming, it may be stated on good
authority that during the past six years her citizens have invested in
buildings alone the sum of $292,529. The items to prove the correctness of
this aggregate are before us as we write.
This town was laid out by William Dnnbar, in July, 1836 about three months
after Wyoming had been planned by General Thomas. At first it consisted of ten
blocks, but subsequently received an addition from Jonathan Hodgeson.
Micheal Fraker was the first white settler in this neighborhood. He removed from
some point in Fulton county, prior to the settlement of this, and took up his
abode at a grove on what is now the Knox county line, which has ever since borne
his name. For a time he domiciled with his family in a wigwam, although how
large his family was at that time we have not the means of knowing, but sooner
or later this venerable old man is said to have rejoiced in the paternity of no
less than twenty-six children. He
and his were devout Methodists, and his memory is still esteemed precious by
the old settlers of that creed. However a man by the name of Jesse C. Ware built
the first house within the town limits, and also a small store on the site
occupied by Mr. Lynd. But Theodore Hurd and Barnabas M. Jackson were the
principal business men of this place. Beginning as early as 1838, they sold
goods side by side for a long series of years, rivals, yet friends; even selling
goods for one another when occasion required, with a friendship undisturbed
even by political differences. They drove a thriving trade in 1838-9, drawing
patronage from all the country round, prices were good and business brisk. Then
reverses come to the state at large, the products of the soil hardly paid the
farmer for hauling them to market; the heaviest pork would not command more than
$1.50 per hundred weight, or the best cow more than eight dollars. Under such
circumstances the credit system crept in, but they seldom lost anything
ultimately by trusting the pioneers; they were almost invariably honest men and
expected to pay for everything they bought. The "fast" habits and expensive
indulgences of the present time were unknown.
Ira Reed also set up business in Lafayette in 1838, in a little 8x10 room on a
borrowed capital of $20.00, but being a good shoemaker he stuck to his lasts
till they brought him some forty or fifty thousand.
The first school house here was built of hard lumber, sawed at Leek's mill, near
Centreville. and occupied the site of the present improved structure.
The first church, or house of worship of any kind, was a small frame, built and
controlled by Mrs. Eunice Miner, to which allusion is made in another part of
this work. There have been several later and better ones, but as we have failed
to elicit any particulars concerning them, or the present status of the town,
we must content ourselves with recording these reminiscences kindly furnished
us by an old settler. Here was the first attempt to establish a manufactory in
our county, being one of felt hats, made by Dunbar and sons, as early as 1838.
They are said to have made a good article, and sold them readily, until the
stringency of money matters in following years, crushed their enterprise.
A joint stock company, also, some years later, started a carding
mill and woolen factory, but this proved abortive and was abandoned after
bringing heavy losses on those most interested.
Lafayette has indulged in ambitious dreams if not schemes, looking to the
possession of the county seat. At one time an effort was actually made to
secure its removal to this village on the extreme western boundary of our
county. This was through the instrumentality of Mr. B. M. Jackson, when that
gentleman was in the legislature. The law upon this county seat question was
different then, and had not the secret been betrayed, an act might have made the
proposed change, before any effort had been put forth to defeat it.
For many years Lafayette grew but slowly if at all, but awakened to new life at
the coming of the rail road, she now evidently does a good shipping trade in
farming produce, hogs, stock, etc., and her streets often bespeak to the
observer a brisk local trade. This much we can read from the car window, as the
train pauses at her depot; and this is all the information of which we have the
Bradford is the "youngest born" of our Stark county towns. It is true there is
Duncan, Lombardville and Castleton, laid out still more recently, but they have
hardly yet arisen to the dignity of towns, but are stations along the line of
the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railway, and all do considerable shipping
Bradford was laid out by Benj. C. Sewell, July 18th, 1863. It was incorporated
under special charter 1869; reorganized as a village, under the general law in
1873. Territory, one mile square, and its population at present date, is
something over five hundred persons. It is also on the line of the Dixon, Peoria
and Hannibal rail road, as it was first called, now usually styled the Buda
branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railway. It is finely located on
very high ground, overlooking fertile farms for miles in all directions, and drawing rich subsidies from the same, while far to the eastward Boyd's grove
skirts the horizon. Approaching the town from the west, the view is quite
imposing, crossing the railroad cut over a fine bridge, the train dashing through
beneath, the traveler sees crowning the high hill before him a busy village,
with ample streets, commodious and well filled business houses on either side,
and all the bustle and stir of active business life. It is a well established
fact that neighborhoods as well as individuals, take on during the period of
their growth, certain well defined characteristics; that of Bradford may be
said to be an all pervading hearty liberality, pertaining alike to matters of
opinion, and every day affairs of business and courtesy, it is true there is
nothing so good in this world that it cannot be abused, and perhaps even this
sentiment sometimes manifests itself in a sort of rollicking dissipation, not
commendable, but it is certainly capable of many noble developments, and it has
come to be pretty generally understood that nothing "little" or mean can long
withstand the social atmosphere of Bradford. Their public generosity reveals
itself in churches and schools, benevolent societies, &c., all of which
flourish finely, considering the size of the town. The four denominations
established here, are Methodist, Baptist, Universalist and Catholic.
The Methodist church is now in course of construction, and is estimated to cost
$3,500, when completed, and will be capable of seating two hundred persons. The
Baptist church is the most tasteful structure in the town and was built in 1870,
at an expense of five thousand dollars; it also seats comfortably about two
hundred persons. This body was organized in 1869, with only eight members, and
it is a noble commentary not only on the exertions and sacrifices of the few,
but upon the public spirit of the citizens generally, that the following year
this graceful little church was erected and dedicated to the worship of God. The
membership has advanced to thirty, and they have a flourishing union sabbath
school of over one hundred names, employing as their superintendent Mr. William
F. Patt, and as a pastor, Rev. S. D. Fulton.
The Universalists also own a chapel that will accommodate one hundred and fifty
persons. This denomination has always been a, leading one in Bradford, many of
its first citizens (first as to settlement and social standing both) having
inclined to the views of this denomination. They have a resident pastor, Rev.
Alvin Abbott, and also have at times enjoyed the pastorial services of other
able men, as Mr. Barnes and Mr. T. H. Tabor. They also maintain a sabbath school of about fifty-five attendance, under the supervision of
Mr. Alonzo B. Abbott.
The Catholics are building here the first church of their own in Stark county;
it will be quite large, estimated to seat four hundred persons, and will cost
six thousand dollars.
The people of Bradford cannot boast of grand and expensive school edifices.
Their school house is a substantial, two story wooden building, pleasantly
situated upon a large and beautiful lot (1 3/4 acres), and convenient to all the
pupils in the district. It is contemplated to build a "wing" to it next year,
as it is already too small to accommodate the number of pupils in the district.
While they do not boast of the quality of their school building, they do think
that they may justly feel proud of their schools. Mr. J. W. Smith, the
principal, is fairly entitled to be called one of the most successful educators
in the county, and says a resident: "In Miss M, L. Smith, we think we know that
we have the best primary teacher in the county." "Our directors believe it is
impossible to make thorough scholars out of pupils who have not received proper
training and instruction in the primary, that there the foundation is laid upon
which they may build their future intellectual edifice, and that it is highly
important that the foundation contains no imperfections." They will employ none
but the very best teachers, as well in the primary as in the higher
departments. They pay their primary teacher sixty dollars per month, and will
not employ a teacher who is not worth the money. Pretty sensible conclusion!
The present directors are: W. F. Patt, M. Bevier and B. F. Thompson.
Average attendance of pupils, September, 1875, was one hundred. Total number
attending, one hundred and twenty-eight.
On the 3d day of August, 1S66, James B. Doyle, Bradford F. Thompson, Harmon
Phenix, Samuel A. Davidson, Charles B. Foster, George W. Longmire and William
H. Doyle obtained a dispensation for a Masonic Lodge.
On the first day of October, 1867, the lodge received its charter as Bradford
Lodge number 514, A. F. & A. Masons. The officers of the lodge for the first
year were James B. Doyle, W. M.; Bradford F. Thompson, S. W.; Harmon Phenix, J.
W.; George W. Longmire, Treasurer; Samuel A. Davidson, Secretary; William H.
Doyle, S. D.; Charles B. Foster, J. D.
The masters of the lodge have been James B. Doyle, Bradford F. Thompson, Harmon
Phenix and Alonzo B. Abbott.
The present membership (October, 1875) is about sixty. Last year the lodge moved
into its new hall, in the brick building of Messrs. W. F. Patt & Co. The lodge
expended $1000 for new furniture, and it is safe to say that no better lodge
room can be found in the state of Illinois, in any town of less than one
thousand inhabitants. The officers for 1876 are H. Phenix, W. M.; W. H. Hall,
S. W.; A. S. Thompson, J. W.; W. P. Dator, T.; A. B. Abbott, Secretary; B. F.
Thompson, S. D.; D. F. Fate, J. D.; George Couhing, T.
Bradford Lodge, number 571, I. O. O. F., was constituted June 4th, 1875.
Charter members: Joshua Prouty, A. M. Mutchimore, W. A. Holman, W. H. Hall, A.
J. Sturm, Edmund Ewing, Cyrus Bocock, H. J. Cosgrove, J. D. Woods. Present
membership (August 14, 1875,) 20.
The enterprise of the place is further represented by fourteen stores, embracing
all the departments of trade:—Dry goods and general merchandise, hardware and
drugs and medicines, millinery, clothing, furniture, books notions, jewelry, &c.
Manufactures and other business:—Wagons, gang and sulky plows, boots and shoes,
brooms and barrels, harness and saddlery, artificial stone, bank, two hotels,
paint shops, blacksmith shops, barber shops, meat and vegetable market, hay
press, lumber yard, carpenters' shops, grain elevators, public hall, restaurants,
&c. Amounts invested in these several departments not reported. However, the
assessed valuation on real estate in Bradford for 1875, is $106,990; personal
property, $41,880; making a total of $148,870.
RAIL ROAD BUSINESS.
Freight shipped from this station for the year ending March 31st. 1875 :—296,446
pounds of way freight; 728 cars of grain, 114 cars of stock, 1 car of hay,
making a total of 843 cars of grain, hay and stock; amount of freight,
$25,478.55. Of freights received, express and passenger receipts, no reports.
Of the newer and smaller villages that are naturally springing up as our county
grows in wealth and population, but little need be said. Their history is yet to
Lombardville, Duncan, Castleton and Wady Petra, are railway
stations, convenient points of shipping for the productive country that
surrounds them. All do quite a business in grain, stock and lumber, the details
of which we would gladly give could we but command them.
The last mentioned has now a rival, within a mile or so, to be called Stark, and
although this is a good name, two villages can hardly both flourish, even within
the rich precincts of Valley.
West Jersey and Slackwater are older, but lack railroad facilities up to this
date, though we believe a "narrow gauge" road is now talked of, that will
strike these points. The former is however, an important point for the farmers
of the township, as it supports a good general store, churches and schools, and
shops of all kinds for the accommodation of the agriculturist.
CONCLUSION OF PART I.
This finishes the general history of our county and its towns, so far as we
have been able to learn it, and we can but conclude, as we began, by regretting
that in some directions the record is so meager. We feel that a chapter on our
judicial and political history would make a fitting close for this part of our
work. But it is simply impossible for us to make such an addition now. It would
require an outlay of time, and a careful research we are unable to devote to it
under existing circumstances.
Had we known a man who could write a political history of the last twenty-five
years, unbiased by party feeling, we might have been tempted to implore his
assistance in behalf of a public interest.
But where should we look for the individual? Every one intelligent enough to
undertake such a task, has been fully committed to one side or the other, on
all the great points at issue between the parties during that eventful epoch.
So perhaps the facts and figures of our appendix are after all the safest guides
as to the views of our citizens, and for local purposes the best history.
However, many pleasant and amusing reminiscences of the great campaigns in which
our politicians have participated, and the great campaigners who have honored
our county with their visits, might be gathered, that would reflect
unpleasantly upon no one. We shall merely recall two that richly deserve to
become historic, if for no other reason, than that they are associated with the
names of Lincoln and Douglas, and the exciting canvass of 1858. Our little
county has been wont to grow demonstrative upon such occasions. Whe *Yates,
Oglesby, Richardson, or the Ingersolls, or other greater or lesser lights in
the political firmament, visited us as representatives of great principles,
they have been greeted with an enthusiasm and heard with an appreciation that we
are vain enough to believe was not common, even for them.
But in 1858 this feeling, call it what you please, patriotism, or hero worship,
was roused to the fullest extent, and a perfect ovation was extended to both of
these gentlemen at the county seat. It was desired by many that a joint
discussion should be arranged so that our people could see their great champions
meet face to face and measure arms. But it seemed prior engagements defeated
that plan, and if our memory serves us correctly, Douglas arrived one day in
advance of Lincoln. The Virginia House was,
as it often has been, republican headquarters, while the brick hotel, then kept
by B. A. Hall, performed the same office for the democracy. It was chilly
November weather, a cold penetrating rain fell continually, but nothing seemed
to dampen the ardor of the people.
In the early morning, deputations on horseback, consisting of ladies as well as
gentlemen, were astir, others followed in carriages, and some equally
enthusiastic, trudged on foot to the point designated for the meeting, some half
mile outside the town limits. Now the manner in which these two great men
conducted themselves on these occasions was so characteristic of each, and so
totally different one from the other, that at the risk of appearing trivial we
shall give the details as we witnessed them, or as they were given us by eye and
Amidst scenes like these, Douglas was perfectly at home— "master of the
situation," and enjoyed the applause of the multitude; or counterfeited
enjoyment so well as to answer the purpose of gratifying his admirers. Then, he
knew the real value of such demonstrations in affecting public sentiment, as
well as did the first Napoleon, and probably few men ever lived who better knew
the popular heart than Stephen A. Douglas.
So when he made his appearance on our streets at the head of an imposing
procession, he was riding with head uncovered in an open carriage, and waving
smiling responses to the vociferous cheering that greeted his progress. He was
accompanied by Lieutenant Governor Payne of Ohio, and other gentlemen whose
names we do not now recall. Fortunately, the rain abated for a time as the
carriage drew up before Hall's Hotel, and the dense crowd that packed the
street, kept silent as Mr. Shallenberger uttered a few words of greeting and
welcome in behalf of the resident democracy of Stark county. To this, Douglas
responded briefly but gracefully and passed into the parlor to meet the ladies
who had assembled there, to all of whom he spoke some pleasant word, kissed the
little children, and held them on his knees and told them stories of his own
little boys. When dinner was announced the same careful politeness marked his
demeanor, and all tired and exhausted as he must have been, so near the close of
this hard canvass, nothing that was intended to be complimentary to him,
escaped his notice. Even the fine vegetables and floral garniture of the tables,
which Dr. Hall had the honor of furnishing, received due attention, which had
the effect of making that gentleman supremely happy as he quietly ate his
dinner beside a veritable United States senator. At two P. M., the
crowd collected oh the east side of the court house, against the wall of which a
high platform had been erected for the speaker, and here they stood for hours
despite the cold rain, and listened to that voice few of them ever heard again.
He was hoarse from much speaking, but as he warmed with his subjects his voice
regained something of its wonted power.
And here on the stand his inborn courtesy found another opportunity to reveal
As the rain came faster and faster, some gentleman stepped up to shield the
speaker, but he motioned him back, saying, "not while so many ladies are
standing uncovered to listen."
These are all little things, but they mark the man and we know we but record the
simple truth when we say the impression he made upon his entertainers at Toulon,
was eminently a pleasant one.
An address from Lieutenant Governor Payne in the evening closed that eventful
The next dawned and it was still raining, but Lincoln was coming, so who
regarded the rain? not Stark county people surely, for they poured in from
every township by scores and hundreds, and the delegations rendezvoused on the
open prairie, on the Kewanee road near where Mr. N. J. Smith and Mr. Robert
McKeighan now reside.
It is claimed by many that this was the finest procession ever witnessed in our
county; when the head of the column reached the Virginia House, the rear was
just wheeling into line opposite Mr. Smith's. They formed in a hollow square on
the prairie under the direction of the Chief Marshal, Mr. Whitaker, and
awaited the coming of their hero; he had given orders to wait until he signaled
them to cheer, and when the signal came the cheers were so sudden and so
deafening that the horses fairly crouched to the ground in mortal terror and
then sprang up in such an affright that for a time, one's personal safety
absorbed attention. But order being restored the various delegations paid their
respects to Mr. Lincoln, and the ladies on horseback, decorated with state
badges, rode up; the one representing Illinois was provided with a wreath of
leaves and flowers, with which it is presumed she meant to crown or encircle the
man they delighted to honor, but Mr. Lincoln very quietly said, "wear it
yourself dear, they become you better than me."
He declined any formal greeting at the hotel, but with an expression of intense
weariness on his face sought the solitude of his own room till dinner.
Of the merits of the two speeches, we say nothing; 0f course the widest
diversity of opinion prevailed. But it has ever been a source of satisfaction
that these two distinguished statesmen visited our county and enjoyed such
Two years later, when the fierce clash of opinion brought four tickets into the
presidential canvass, Stark county rallied for Lincoln or Douglas, with a
fervor it hardly could have felt for men it had never known. In this contest Mr.
Douglas was defeated, Mr. Lincoln elected to cope with the terrible vengeance of
the slave power.
And no citizen of Stark who was old enough to take cognizance of facts, can
ever forget the day when the telegraphic wires brought us the terrible tidings
that "Lincoln was assassinated." But why dwell upon those sad days; they are
still fresh in the minds of our people, and form part of our nation's annals.
Therefore we leave them, to talk for a while of our friends and neighbors, the
Pioneers of Stark County.