Monday, April 8, 1839, the county seat was established at an election ordered
and held for that purpose. At the same election and under the same special law,
the people voted for a full board of county officers. At that same election and
under the same special law, the law people voted for a full board of county
officers. At this time politics did not cut much of a figure in the selection of
candidates, although it is reasonable to suppose that the election was full of
interest to the settlers, as from that day they were to be recognized in
management of the affairs of the state as a separate and independent county, and
entitled to all the rights and privileges of the other and older counties. For
judicial purposes, the county was made to them a part of the sixth district, of
which Dan Stone, of Galena, was the presiding judge. Courts were to beld twice a
year at such times as the judge should designate, and the early records show
that Judge Stone appointed these terms for May and September. The county
officers elected were:
County Commissioners, Samples M. M. Journey, Garner Moffett, and Luther H.
Bowen; County Clerkl, William B. Goss, Sheriff, Hezekiah Francis; Probete
Justice of the Peace, John C. Owings; Corner, Mason C. Taylor; Recorder, Royal
Cooper; Surveyor, Levi Warner.
On the 13th day of April, five days after their election, two of the county
commissioners, Samples M. Journey and Luther H. Bowen, met and organized as a
county commissioners' court. The first entry made on their journal of
proceedings was the oath of office, administered to William B. Goss as county
clerk, which is in these words, to-wit:
"State of Illinois, Carroll County-I, the undersigned, being duly elected clerk
of the county commissioners' court for said county; do hereby swear that I will
support the constitution of the United States, and of this state, and that I
will fulfill the duties of my office as clerk of said court truly and faithfully
to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God.
"Subscribed and sworn before me this 13th day of April, 1839, at Savanna
BENJ. CHURCH, J. P. [Seal.["
The next entry was the oath of office administered to each of the two
commissioners, and in the same words, except that "county commissioners" is
substituted for "county clerk." The oath of office was administered by the same
justice, Benjamin Church.
The court then proceeded to business, and
"Ordered, that Elijah Bullows and Alva Daines be appointed assessors for Carroll
County, for the year 1839.
"Ordered, That Norman D. French be appointed for collector for the above county,
for the year 1839.
"Ordered, that there shall be four days' road work required of each man, if
This was the style of their orders. There was no waste or unnecessary use of
words. "Short, quick and sharp" was their method-a rule of action that
characterized "Luther H. Bowen, the guiding and controling spirit of the board,
in all his business transactions, and each order was signed by the
commissioners, as they were written by the clerk. At this session the
commissioners divided the county into ten road districts and appointed a
supervisor for each district, etc. Having thus started the county machinery, the
commissioners adjourned until the 3rd day of June following.
At this session the first business appearing of record was the appointment of C.
Grant and Jno. Ankeny, of Elkhorn Grove and Herman Downing, of the Preston
Settlement to review the road from "Stoney Creek to the county line in the
direction to Buffalo Grove, touching Elkhorn Grove," which appears to be the
first road viewed in the county. There is no record of any petition having been
presented "praying" for the establishment of this road, and hence there is a
probability that the road was petitioned for before Carroll County was set off
from Jo Daviess, or that the commissioners ordered it without petition.
Two petitions follow this order-one for a road leading from "Savanna in said
county to Knox mill on Elk Horn creek, and also a road diverging from the first
named road at or near Johnson Creek to the county line in a direction to
Harrisburgh on Rock River." The viewers appointed for tese roads were Vance L.
Davidson, A. L. Knox and Thomas Francis.
The second petition "prayed" for the location of a road "from Savanna via
Bowen's ferry to the south line of the county in the direction of Fulton City,
and that a road diverge from said road on or about two miles from Savanna and
intersect the road leading from the Savanna Mill to Prophetstown, near the farm
now occupied by Elijah Stearns."" The viewers appointed for this road were
Elijah Stearns, Asa Patrick and Andrew Dodds.
At this session of the Board of County Commissioners the regulation and
formation of election precincts claimed attention, and it was "ordered that the
Cherry Grove Precinct include all of Cherry Grove, the inhabitants within the
limits of range 5, 6, and 7 in township 25, and that Garner Moffitt, G. W.
Harris and John C. Owings be appointed judges of elections and the elections be
held at the house of John C. Owings."
Ordered. That the inhabitants within the limits of townships twenty-three and
twenty-four, east of the center of range for and west of Little Rock River or
creek, be recognized as the Preston Precinct, and that Samuel Preston, Herman
Downing and Daniel Cristian be the judges of elections, and that the elections
be held at the house of Samuel Preston.
Ordered. That the inhabitants of all that part of Carroll County laying west of
the middle of range 4, in townships 23 and 24, and all west of range 5 in
township 35, be included in the Savanna Precinct, and that N. D. French, Vance
L. Davidson and John A. Wakefield be appointed Judges of elections, the election
to be held at Wm. L. B. Jinks' tavern, in Savanna.
The following named settlers were selected as grand and petit jurors for the
first term of the Circuit Court, which was expected to convene in September of
Grand Jurors.-John Knox, A. Painter, Hiram McNemur, Daniel Stormer, Thos. I.
shaw, E. W. Todd. Francis Garner, John C. Owings, Geo. Swagert, Nathan Fisk,
Samuel Preston, Sr., David Masters, B. Tomlomson, Aaron Pierce. Thos. Roof, John
Eddowes, John Barnard, John Laswill, Stephen N. Arnold, Elijah Stearns, Wm, Wm.
Dyson, Jr., Wm. Dyson, Sr., and Daniel Christian-23.
PETIT Jurors.-Wm. Ayers, Aaron Bobble, Wm. Jenkins, Israel Jones, John Isler,
Sumner Downing, Nelson Swaggert, Irwin Kellogg, Vance L. Davidson, Alonzo
Shannan, John Orr, David Ashby, Geo. W. Brice, wm. Eaton, Levi Newman, John
Johnson, Jonathan Cummings, Geo. Christian, P. D. Otis, Elias P. Williams, Royal
Cooper, David L. Bowen, Wm. Bundle, and John W. Fuller-24.
The term of court for which these jurors were selected was not held, and
consequently the prescribed oath was not administered to them. A second
selection was equally useless because of informality in the manner of selection,
and when the court met, on the first Monday in June, 1840, they were dismissed
by Judge Stone, in the words following, as entered of record:
It being made manifest to the court that no legal summons had been issued by the
clerk of the County Commissioners' Court to the Sheriff of the County of
Carroll, commanding him to summon the persons selected by said Commissioners'
Court, at their April term, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
and forty; as grand and petit jurors, to appear before said Circuit Court on the
first day of said term; and, it further appearing that the Sheriff of said
county had summoned without any legal venise or summons, twenty-three persons as
grand jurors, and twenty-four persons as petit jurors, to appear on the first
day of said term, which said persons were in attendance as grand and petit
jurors, not having been summoned according to law, it is ordered that they be
discharged from further attendance on said court.
The County commissioners, at this term of court, also
Ordered. That the sum of seven dollars be granted to Alva Daines for three and
one half days' services as assessor, and the sum of seventeen dollars be granted
to Elijah Bellows for eight and one half days' services as assessor. And that
the above be paid out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.
It was further
Ordered, That Messrs. Smith and Journey should have a license for the term of
one year from this date to keep a grocery in Savanna, by paying twenty-five
dollars into the county treasury and giving bonds according to law.
This last order concluded the second session of the Commissioners' Court, when
they adjourned. Ad interim, County clerk Goss made the following entry:
In pursuance of the law in regard to the County Commissioners drawing tickets
for their term of service, the tickets were presented by the clerk of the said
court at their June term, 1839,, and Luther H. Bowen drew the ticket which ha
the word one year written upon it, and S. M. Journey drew the ticket which had
the word three years written upon it, and the remaining ticket which had the
word two years written upon it was left for Garner Moffit who was absent at the
Wm. B. Goss, Clerk.
A special term of the court was held on the sixth day of July, when the
following claims were audited and ordered to be paid out of the County Treasury:
To Benjamin Church, J.P., for swearing in Clerk and County Commissioners, 75
cents; to Vance L. Davidson, $3.75, for three days' services as road viewer; to
Thomas Francis, $8.75, and to A. L. Knox, $3.75, for same services. Six dollars
were allowed to John Eaton and son for three days' services as chainmen in
opening a road, etc. Nine dollars were ordered to be paid to L. H. Bowen, for
three days' services of himself and team, in assisting to open a road. Eight
dollars and seventy-five cents were allowed to Levi Warner for three and a half
days' services as road surveyor, and $8 were allowed to W. B. Goss for books and
stationery furnished the county up to date.
The next session of the court was held in September. An election had been held
on Monday, the 5th day of August, and Wm. B. Goss had been re-elected to the
office of County Clerk, and had filed his bond in the penal sum of one thousand
dollars, with Vance L. Davidson as his bondsman, for faithful discharge of the
duties of the office. John Eddowes had been chosen at the same election as
County Commissioner, to succeed Luther H. Bowen (who, at the first term of the
court, in April, had drawn the short-term ticket), and had qualified
For a number of years the settlers whose names figure so conspicuously in the
early affairs of the county continued to be prominent characters in the public
interests. Some of them were repeatedly elected to places of trust, and made
faithful, honest servants of the people.
The first county order issued was in favor of James Craig (a captain in the
Black Hawk War0, for $10.50, in payment for a copy of the law under which the
county was organized. Craig was a member of the House of Representatives. From
Jo Daviess County, and had introduced the bill and secured its passage.
The first term of the Circuit Court commenced on the first Monday in May, 1840.
The building used as a court house was a frame structure situated on block forty
at the upper end of town. It was owned by a railroad or steamboat engineer, and
was untenanted. Besides serving as a court house, it was used as a school house,
church, and such other meetings as the times and occasions demanded.
When court was called, Leonard Goss presented his appointment from Judge Stone
as clerk, together with his official bond in the sum of $2,000 for a faithful
discharge of the duties of the office. John Bernard and Aaron Pierce were his
bondsmen. After subscribing to the oath of office, he entered upon the discharge
of its duties.
Hezekiah Francis filed his commission from Governor Carlin, as sheriff, and also
his official bond in the sum of $10,000, with John Bernard, William R. Craig,
Aaron Pierce, D. H. Whitney, John Laswell and V. L. Davidson as bondsmen. His
bond was approved, the oath of office administered, and he entered upon the
discharge of the duties of sheriff.
Mason C. Taylor, coroner elect, also presented his official bond in the sum of
$2,000, and took the oath of office. His bondsmen were Milus C. Robinson and
After the dismissal of the grand and petit juries as already stated, the
approval of the several bonds, and administering the oath of office to the
clerk, sheriff and coroner, as above noted, the business of the court commenced.
The old docket shows that twelve cases had been entered for trial. Martin P.
Sweet, Judge Drummond (now U. S. Circuit Judge), a Mr. Chase and a Mr. Hoge,
were present as attorneys. Judge Drummond had two divorce cases-the first of the
kind in the county. They were entitled Jeremiah Humphrey vs. Hannah Humphrey,
and Dudley C. Humphrey vs. Lavina Humphrey. Of the other ten cases, two were
slander suits, brought by the same man-Robert Ashby vs. Peter Bashaw and Oliver
Bashaw. Both cases were dismissed from the docket without trial.
Among the lawyers who attended the early courts of Carroll County, quite a
number attained prominent distinction in the judicial and other departments of
public affairs. Among these, in addition to those already mentioned, were E. B.
Washburne and Judge Heaton. The name of Washburne is as familiar as household
words, not only here where he first came into notice as a young lawyer, but from
one end of our common country to the other.
For Jury rooms in those days, some of the rooms in Pierce's Hotel were brought
into requisition, for which the county commissioners usually made an
appropriation of fifteen dollars for putting the rooms in order for each tern of
Judge Dan Stone was succeeded by Judge Browne, also of Galena, since when the
succession has been Wilkinson, Drury, Eustace and Heaton.
The third selection (and the first to serve) for grand and petit juries was as
Grand Jurors,--Alvah Dains, Henry Hunter, John Ankeny, Harry Smith, Tilson
Aldrich, Israel Preston, Sr., Joshua Bailey, Col. Beers Tomlinson, Amos Leonard,
Elijah Stearns, William Dyson, Sr., James M. French, Royal Jacobs, Vance L.
Davidson, Milus C. Robinson, James Kimball-21.
Petit Jurors,--Joshua McKillops, Stephen N. Arnold, David L. Bowen, W. L. B.
Jenks, M. W. Hollingsworth, Jonathan Cummings, Samuel L. Bayless, John B.
Christian, Rezin Everts, Squire Garner, Alfred Newman, Henry Jenkins, John
Fuller, Richard Wright, William Blundell, M. B. Pierce, David Ashby, John
Fuller, Richard Wright, William Blundell, M. B. Pierce, David Ashby, Benjamin
Church, David Masters, Garner Moffett, Samuel Tontz, Joseph Hire, Daniel
Early Resident Attorneys,--"When the first term of the Circuit Court was held,"
says VOLNEY ARMOUR, Esq., in "A Glance at the Early History of Carroll County,'
"there was but one resident attorney-John A. Wakefeld. John Wilson came about
In the same paper Mr. Armour says: "I wonder what our present race of hotel
keepers would say to legislation such as the following, passed March 5, 1844, by
Beers Tomlinson, Henry Smith and John C. Owings, county commissioners, to-wit:
'Ordered, that the following be the tavern rates in the County of Carroll up to
March, 1845: Each person, per meal, not exceeding 25 cents; horse to hay and
grain per day, 50 cents; lodging, one person, 12 ½ cents; all kinds of liquor,
per drink, 6 ¼ cents,' "
REMOVAL OF THE COUNTY SEAT-MOUNT CARROLL
As settlements increased and spread out to different parts of the county, the
question of removing the county sear from Savanna to a more convenient or
central location began to be discussed, and finally took definite shape. The
removal was hastened, perhaps, by the neglect or inability of the Savanna
interests to comply with the provisions of Section 3 of the law under which the
county was organized. These provisions were to the effect that the town of
Savanna should "donate to said new county, for the purpose of erecting public
buildings, a sufficient number of lots, in the town of Savanna, for the
accommodation of the necessary public buildings, and three thousand five hundred
dollars in cash, payable in three equal instalments, say in six, twelve and
eighteen months from the time the location of said county seat is established,"
At the September term, 1840, of the County Commissioners Court, Porter Sargent,
Esq., was appointed agent "to confer with the proprietors of the town of Savanna
on the subject of the money donated by them for the purpose of erecting
buildings for the county, and in conjunction with them to devise means for
assessing the town property and making out a pro rata list and collecting the
obligations or money accordingly, and return the same to the County Court by
their next meeting in December, or sooner, the obligation, if taken, to be made
payable in instalments, as called for by the commission." In December there was
no meeting of the court, and consequently no report made by Mr. Sargent. Nor do
we find any report, whatever, in regard to this matter, although the record of
the Commissioners' Court has been carefully examined. But, on Monday, the 6th of
December, 1841, at a regular session of the court, a special session, of the
court was ordered to be held on the first Monday in February, 1842, to receive
proposals for building a jail. At that special session Messrs. L. H. Bowen, and
Vance L. Davidson were appointed a committee to confer with the property owners
of the town of Savanna "To see what measures they would take in regard to the
donation required by law of the proprietors of said town," etc. No proposals
appear to have been received for building the jail, and the court adjourned
until the next term in course. On the second day of the March term, 1842, the
following entry was made: "On the second day of the March term, 1842, the
following entry was made: "On the report of L. H. Bowen and Vance L. Davidson *
* * * it is hereby ordered that Beers Tomlinson and Norman D. French be
appointed a committee to contract with the proprietors of the town of Savanna
for a building for the use of the county, to be used as a court house and
offices for county officers, to be donated as a part of the bonus," etc.
Several orders of this kind were entered, but they seem to have been without
avail. No decided and decisive steps were taken, further than to get our some
timber of a kind of block jail, but it was never used for the purpose for which
it was intended.
Some time in 1836, Paul D. Otis, a driver, and Granville Mathews, superintendent
of the Winter's stage line from Peoria, via Dixon's Ferry and Cherry Grove, to
Galena, made a claim of the lands covering the mill site and lands at Mount
Carroll. In 1837, Daniel christian, Nathaniel Swingley, Samuel L. Hitt and
George Swaggert formed themselves into a mill company, and bought the Otis and
Mathews claim, for which they paid $1,400, but did not enter upon its
improvement. In 1841, Nathaniel Halderman and David Emmert entered into an
arrangement to build a mill somewhere in the county, and for a time had their
attention called to the site now occupied by the mills of Messrs. Wood &
Kitchen, on Plum River, then known as the Bowen mill site. Negotiations,
however, were not completed, and they purchased the interest of Daniel
Christian, Nathaniel Swingley, Samuel L. Hitt and George Swaggert in and to the
Mt. Carroll property, for which they were to pay $3,000. The original company
had dissolved its partnership arrangement some time prior to this, and had made
a division of the property. The new company was known by the firm name of Emmert,
Halderman & Co., and soon after the purchase of the property was completed, they
commenced operations-making excavations for the mill foundations, starting the
dam, etc,, etc. In the Spring of 1842, their enterprise was well under way and
the centre of attraction to new comers. The removal of the county seat to a more
central location was a general theme of conversation and interest among the
settlers, and by reason of its nearness to the geographical centre of the
county, the new mill came to be regarded as the legitimate and only rival of
Savanna. And it is not unreasonable to suppose that the managers of the new
enterprise availed themselves of every possible opportunity to keep the
advantages of their site for county seat honors before the people.
In 1837, George W. Christian had come in possession of that tract of land now
embraced in the farm of Sherman Cole, a tract of ten acres owned by Hon. J. M.
Stowell, and extending north to the Baptist Church and east to Clay Street. Of
this tract, Christian proposed to give thirteen acres to the county if the seat
of justice should be located here. Emmert, Halderman & Co., the mill company,
likewise proposed to donate forty acres on the east side of the present town
site, on the same condition. Both partied ---I,e., Christian, and Emmert,
Halderman & Co.-kept their faith and did convey to the county commissioners and
their successors in office, the lands referred to.
Savanna had failed up to this time to comply with the requirements of the law
under which the county had been organized, and during the session of the
legislature of 1842-3, an act entitled "An acto to re-locate the county seat of
Carroll County" was passed, and "John Dixon, of Lee County, Moses Hallett, of Jo
Daviess County, and Nathaniel Belcher of Rock Island County, were appointed
commissioners to select a site for the re-location of the county seat. * * * And
the said commissioners, or a majority of then, shall meet at Savanna, in the
County of Carroll, on the first Monday in May next (1843), of within fifteen
days thereafter, and after being duly sworn to the faithful discharge of their
duties, shall proceed to examine such parts of said county as they may think
proper to enable them to select such a site as in their opinion shall give the
greatest amount of good to the greatest number in inhabitants of said county, as
a county seat; and said commissioners, after having made such selection, shall
report to the clerk of the County commissioners' Court of said county a
certificate thereof, which certificate of said selection shall be recorded by
the clerk of said County Commissioners' Court: Provided, always, that such
selection so made shall not be the town of Savanna."
Section 2, of the same act, provided as follows" "Than an election shall be held
in the County of Carroll, on the first Monday in August next, at the usual place
of holding elections in said county, for the removal of the seat of justice of
said county; at which election the clerks thereof shall open two columns, one
for Savanna, the present seat of justice, and one for the place which shall be
designated by the commissioners hereinbefore appointed, and shall receive and
record the votes of each qualified voter for one of the aforesaid places as the
seat of justice thereafter for said county. * *
The clerk of the County Commissioners' Court shall immediately after the receipt
by him of the returns of said election, in the presence of two justices of the
peace, open said election returns, compare them, and certify the same to the
County Commissioners' Court, and the place having the greatest number of votes
shall be and remain the seat of justice in said county."
Pursuant to their appointment under this law, two of the commissioners, John
Dixon, of Lee County, and Moses Hallett, of Jo Daviess County, proceeded, within
the time specified, to examine the ground, etc, and on the 17th day of May,
1843, made the following report:
The undersigned (who constitute a majority of the commissioners an appointed to
select a site as a county seat for said county), who, after having examined said
county with a view of the best interests of the greatest number of inhabitants
of said county, and after taking into consideration the liberal donation to be
secured to the county commissioners of said county for the use of the people
thereof, do, by these presents, make known and declare that the site selected,
as a foresaid, is the south half of the east half of the southeast quarter of
section one (1), township twenty-four (24) north, range principal meridian, and
that a substantial stake has been set in the place selected as a public square,
to which site we have given the name of Mount Carroll.
As witness our hands and seals this seventeenth day of May, A.D. one thousand
eight hundred and forty-three.
JOHN DIXON. (Seal.)
MOSES HALLETT. (Seal.)
The returns of the August election show that 421 votes were polled on the county
seat question, of which Mt. Carroll had 231, and Savanna 190. There were only
four precincts, or voting places, at each of which votes were cast as follows:
Precints. Mt. Carroll. Savanna
Savannah 6 130
Cherry Grove 46 36
Elkhorn Grove 78 38
Preston 101 6
Majority for Mt. Carroll 41
The report of the commissioners to re-locate the county seat was entered upon
the journal of the County Commissioners Court at their September session, 1843.
In August the people had voted and the result was known, so that at this session
the commissioners inaugurated measures looking to a removal of the county
offices from Savanna. John Wilson was appointed as an agent for the county to
demand the execution of a warranty deed from George W. Christian to the county
for the land he had agreed to donate to the county if the county seat was
located at Mt. Carroll, and also to superintend the division of the Emmert,
Halderman & Co. tract into town lots, etc, and to give public notice of the sale
of lots and to sell on such terms and conditions as the county commissioners
should direct, to receive notes, execute title bonds and deeds to purchasers
under his proper hand and seal, for and in behalf of the county," etc.
The immediate site designated by the locating commissioners by driving a stake
into the ground, was at or near
The west line of Main Street, on the top of the hill near the Baptist Church.
Upon the first organization of the county, the choice of a name was left to the
settlers in Cherry Grove Precinct, the most of whom were Marylanders, and they
named the new county in honor of that grand old patriot who wrote his name to
the Declaration of American Independence, "Charles Carroll, of Carrollton." From
the point where this stake was driven in the earth, the ground sloped in all
directions, and was elevated above the surrounding country. The name of Mount
Carroll was given to the new county seat-a place before unknown by any name
except Emmert, Halderman & Co.'s Mill Site.
THE FIRST COURT HOUSE.
December 5, 1848, Col. Beers Tomlinson, one of the members of the Board of
County Commissioners, was "appointed agent for the County of Carroll to contract
for the building of a court house of the following description, to-wit: Thirty
feet by forty on the ground; a basement of stone sixteen inches above the
surface of the earth, two feet thick. The first story to be eight feet and nine
inches high in the clear, divided into four rooms, entrance and one flight of
stairs as marked on plat number one on plan on file in this office. The timbers
of the lower floor to be good substantial sleepers; the joists of the second
story floor to be ten inches deep and two inches thick and twenty inches apart
from centre to centre. The second story to be eleven feet high, to be finished
according to a specified plan in this office. Roof, cupola, cornice, and
frontispiece all to be finished according to the last above named specified
plan. The walls of the building above the basement to be brick; first story
walls to be sixteen inches thick or the length of two brick; flues suitable to
receive stove pipes prepared in each room; doors to each room containing six
panels each and one and a half inches thick; outside doors to be two inches
thick. Floors to be of good white oak, tongued and grooved, one and a quarter
inches thick. The roof covered with good merchantable pine shingles. The
building to be painted throughout-outside and inside-the whole building to be
finished on or before the October term of Circuit Court of Carroll County, A. D.
1844, in accordance throughout with the plan on file in this office, to be built
of good sound material, and built in a workmanlike manner. If it should be
necessary, our agent, in entering into a contract with builders may make such
slight changes in the above specified plan as may be deemed proper."
A sale of lots was advertised for the 20th of November, A. D. 1843, at one third
cash in hand, one third in six months, and the remaining one third in twelve
months from the day os sale, secured by the notes of purchasers, the county
commissioners giving title bond for deed when last payments were made, the
county commissioners stipulating to receive specie, current paper and county
scrip in payment for lots, etc. The day of sale came, but in consequence of
objections raised by the Mill Company, no sales were made. In agreeing to donate
forty acres of land and one thousand dollars in money to the county, if the seat
of justice were located adjacent to their mill property, the company understood
and expected that the site for the court house would be selected near the line
dividing their land from the forty acres they would deed to the county, that
they might be equally benefitted by the nearness of the public buildings to
them. But, when Mr. Wilson, the county clerk and special agent for the county to
superintend the division of that forty acres of land into town lots, selected
the site for the court house, etc., instead of locating the court house square
on the northwest corner of the land donated by the Mill Company, he selected the
county square near the centre of the forty acres, and hence the objections of
the company. That company not only objected to the measures, so far as they had
been prosecuted by Mr. Wilson, and to the sale of lots as a violation of the
agreement entered into when they donated the land, but refused to pay the
thousand dollars which they had offered in addition to the land. The county
needed public buildings. The treasury was empty, the people were poor, and to
raise a sum sufficient to build a court house, etc., by taxation, would have
imposed a heavy burden upon the settlers-a burden they could not carry. A
thousand dollars in those days was a "bonanza" to Carroll County, and it was to
the public interest to secure the money offered by the Mill Company, as well as
the forty acres which they had donated to the county and release them from the
payment of the one thousand dollars they had offered, and also deed to them the
Christian tract of thirteen acres, they would give a sufficient number of acres
of ground near their mill, and build thereon a court house, and deed the same to
the county. The terms were accepted. And the present public square was surveyed
out and the erection of a stone court house commenced and completed on the
northwest corner of the square, which served the county until the present
handsome brick temple of justice was completed , in 1858. Afterwards, with a
frame addition built on the north side, it was used and occupied by Messrs.
Blake & Stowell as a hardware store. It was burned down in October, 1872.
Nathaniel Halderman, of the firm of Emmert, Halderman & Co., seems to have been
the representative, or business man, of the Mill company, and to have conducted
all their business matters, particularly in arranging and adjusting the
differences that came up between his company and the county, and to no one man,
perhaps, is there due a greater degree of credit for the inauguration and
management of the public interests of Mount Carroll than to Nathaniel Halderman,
who, though now nearing the last of the years alloted to man, is remarkably well
preserved, intellectually and physically, and one of the most active business
men of the community, and highly respected not only at home, but abroad.
March 6, 1844, while the county commissioners were in session, Beers Tomlinson,
building agent for the county, submitted his first report, in the words
To the Honorable County Commissioners Court, of Carroll County, Ill.-GENTLEMEN:
In conformity to required duties, on the first day of January '44, I presented a
blank bond, received from the clerk of said court, to Messrs. Emmert, Halderman
& Rinehart, to be executed by them to the people of said county, which they
refused to sign, stating that the bond required more of them than they agreed to
perform, which was the addition of a cupola, bell, frontis and elevation of the
upper floor. With that alteration they would sign said bond. Accordlingly a bond
was drawn, copied from the original, with the above exceptions, and signed by
David Emmert, N. Halderman and S. M. Hitt, for the completion of said house as
required in the original blank bond. At a subsequent period, I made a verbal
contract with the said Emmert & Halderman, to put up the said house with stone
instead of brick. The last named alteration was, that the building should be 31
by 41 feet, instead of 30x40. I am informed by said E. & H. that about one half
the stone is now on the building spot. Thus far I have gone and no further.
Very respectfully your humble servant,
SAVANNA, 5th March, 1855
Second Report.-At the June session of the County Commissioners Court, Mr.
Tomlinson presented his second report, as follows:
To the Honorable County Commissioners Court of Carroll County, Ill.-GENTLEMEN:
Since my last report, I have made no alteration in the construction of the court
house. The men who are engaged in putting up the building are progressing as
fast as can be expected. The walls are stone instead of brick, as was calculated
in the first place, when the contract was made. The first story of the wall is
laid, and the work appears to be done in a good, substantial, workmanlike
manner, and the house will be completed by the first of October next, and I see
no reason why the next Circuit Court should not be held at Mount Carroll. All of
which is respectfully submitted. 3d June, 1844.
Tuesday, June 4, 1844, the County Commissioners Court
Ordered, That the several officers of this county who are required to hold their
offices at the county seat, move their offices from Savanna to Mount Carroll on
the first Monday of September next, and that Henry Smith, Esq., be required to
procure suitable offices at said Mount Carroll, to be occupied by said officers,
Careful inquiry fails to locate the offices after their removal here anywhere
except in the court house. As it was only about one month after their removal
here until the court house was finished, if they occupied any other quarters, it
must have been in Mr. Wilson's private residence-a house that stood on the
corner now occupied by the bank block, at the corner of Main and Market Streets.
When Emmert, Halderman & Co. entered into a contract to build the court house,
the exacted a guaranty from the county authorities that, when completed, it
should be open for a period of ten years to religious meetings and such other
public gatherings as occasion and the necessities of the time demanded. July 4,
1844, the building had so far advanced towards completion that it was fitted up
and decorated with evergreens, etc., for a celebration of our nation's birthday,
which was the first time the day had been publicly observed and respected in Mt.
Carroll. Hon. Thomas Hoyne, then of Galena, but now of Chicago, and at one time
not long ago mayor de jure of the latter city, was orator of the day, and
although there have since been thirty-three recurrences of the day, nearly all
of which were publicly observed, non of them were more happily spent. In pioneer
life there is a should and a feeling-a genuine spirit of hospitality and
sociability that is comparatively unknown, when a country grows older and
richer. Pent-up conventionalities and self-constituted castes do not interfere
to cripple the truer inwardness of the human soul. Distinctions and fashions do
not turn up their noses at their neighbors. The people more fully believe in the
truth of the sentiment that "all men are created free and equal: than they do in
later years, when farms have been opened and made remunerative, fine houses made
to take the places of log cabins, cities to supersede wayside post-offices, and
finely-constructed church edifices, with their cushioned pews, to supplant the
old log school houses and primitive dwellings as houses of worship. These modern
achievements are well enough in their way, but they cripple rather than develop
the grander and nobler attributes of the human heart, and dwarf that genuine
hospitality and sense of humanity that obtains among pioneers everywhere.
The first session of the County Commissioners Court held in Mt. Carroll,
commenced on Monday, the 2nd day of September, 1844. There were present of the
old board, Henry Smith and John C. Owings. Beers Tomlinson had succeeded at the
August election by Henry B. Harmon, who presented to the board his certificate
of election, when the oath of office was administered to him by Leonard Goss,
P.J.P., and he entered upon a discharge of the duties of a county commissioner.
During this session of the commissioners (on Wednesday, the 4th), the court:
Ordered, That the debt of Carroll County in the hands of Emmert, Halderman &
Co., amounting to six hundred dollars, is this day funded as follows: Said
indebtness to be paid at the expiration of two years, in six equal instalments,
with interest payable half yearly, at the rate of eight per cent per annum; and
the clerk of this court is authorized and required to give bonds in accordance
with the above agreement, the evidence of the original indebtedness, as above,
having been given up in open court and paid over to the treasurer. Also.
Ordered, That John Wilson, clerk of this court, be our agent to procure suitable
furniture for the court house, and to see that the same is put in readiness for
holding court in October next.
The next session of the County Commissioners Court was held in December, the
recorded proceedings of which show that emmert, Halderman & Co. were allowed 850
for two stoves and seventy pounds of pipe, including, three elbows, and that
Leonard Goss was appointed to take possession of the stoves on behalf of the
county, and directed to appropriate one to the use of his office (Circuit Clerk)
and the other to the use of the room designed for the use of the County
Commissioners Court. From these several orders last quoted, it would seem that
the court house had been completed and turned over to the uses of the county,
but, in hunting over the journal, the writer could find no record of the fact-an
omission that should not have occurred. But oral evidence, as well as an order
directing County Clerk Wilson to procure the necessary furniture and prepare the
building for the fall term (1844) of the Circuit Court, the completion of the
court house is fixed about the first of October of that year. In the completion
of the building, Emmert, Halderman & Co., as shown by an order made at the March
term (1845) of the County Commissioners Court, had done extra work to the amount
of one hundred and fifty-six dollars, to secure the payment of which the
following contract was entered into by and between the county commissioners and
Emmert, Halderman & Co.:
They (Emmert, Halderman & Co.) shall be permitted to rent out that part of the
court house used as a school room, at a reasonable price, until the above amount
(156) is raided, provided such time shall not exceed a term of ten years from
the 10th day of October, 1844; and unless the above amount is raised as a
foresaid, then the above order to be void, and no liability resting upon the
county. It is also understood that said room is at all times to be open for
county purposes, free of charge. The said Emmert, Halderman & Co, are further
required to report semi-annually the amount received as above, which shall be
credited on this order.
On the margin of this order appears this endorsement:
This contract cancelled and contract given up, March 4, 1847.
This, it seems, completed in good faith, all matters between Emmert, Halderman &
Co. and the county commissioners, in relation to the building of the court
Nearly six years had come and gone since the county was organized and the first
election of county officers in April, 1839. The county had increased largely in
population and wealth, and, so far, its public affairs had been carefully and
economically managed. The liberality and enterprise of Emmert, Halderman & Co.
had provided for any new county, and one that answered well for nearly twenty
years, thus enabling the people to avoid making a debt, or subjecting them to
heavy taxation for public building purposes. This liberality and public spirit
of the founders of Mt. Carroll, Emmert, Halderman & Co., provided the means by
which the county could prepare themselves against the day when a larger and
better court house would be needed.
Thus far only the first settlement at Savanna, the history of the organization
of the county, the re-location of the county seat, the building of the first
court house, etc., etc., have been followed. To render our undertaking more
complete and comprehensive, the settlement of the different parts of the county
will now be taken up, that the names of the first settlers and some of the
pioneer incidents may be preserved.
Taking these settlements in their regular order, we return to Savanna, to add a
few additional items that were omitted in the beginning of these pages for want
of the proper data. After the work had been commenced, the writer visited Dr. E.
Woodruff, of Savanna, to solicit his aid in making some corrections and
supplying some important dates, etc. While on that visit, that very courteous
and intelligent gentleman kindly consented to "hunt up" sundry items of
Savanna's early days, without which this history would incomplete. True to his
word, as he has ever been to all his promises, Dr. Woodruff remits to these
pages the missing links in the history of that part of Carroll County of which
he has been an honored, respected and useful citizen and representative man for
over forty years.
SAVANNA, Ill.., nov. 19. 1877.
H. F. KEET & Co. Dear Sirs: I wrote to Mr. Pierce, at Hampton, Ill., for items
of interest to your praiseworthy undertaking-the "History of Carroll County,"
but owing to the death of his sister, Mrs. Rhodes, his attendance at her
funeral, etc., I did not receive an answer until this morning, when I received
"Mrs. Mary Jane Rhodes, whose death is referred to above, was the first white
child born in what is now Carroll
County. She was born May 8, 1829, and died Nov. 14, 1877.
"The principal tribes of Indians here when the settlement at Savanna was
commenced were, the Foxes, Keokuk, chief; the Sacs, Black Hawk, chief; and a few
Winnebagoes and Pottawatomies."
The first marriage occurred (I think) in 1835, when Vance L. Davidson was
married at Harriett M. Pierce. They subsequently moved to California, where they
were still living at last accounts.
Marshall B. Pierce, (now of Hampton, Ill.,) and Julia A. Baker procured the
first marriage license after the county was organized, and were married by
Benjamin Church, Justice of the Peace, Aug. 24, 1839.
We had occasional preaching, as a preacher happened among us. No church record
prior to 1858 is known, to my knowledge, although there was an M. E. Church
organization as early as the Spring of 1838, but I can not give you any definite
information about it.
The first death of which I have any positive knowledge was in the family of
Luther H. Bowen, when they lost an infant son. The second death was in the same
family, in the Fall of 1887, when the wife and mother followed the infant son to
a home beyond the skies.
The first church edifice was erected by the Methodist people, in 1849.
The first steamboat to land at Savanna was the "Red Rover," Captain
Throckmorton, that stopped to take on wood-red cedar, cut along the bluffs above
town. In these days, when cedar posts, for fencing posts, etc., are worth
twenty-five cents each, that kind of fuel would be rather expensive.
The land upon which the town of Savanna was built was patented by A. Pierce and
George Davidson. I think Vance L. Davidson also patented some, but I can not say
now what part, or how much.
M. B. Pierce says in his letter to me: "Father's house was a hospital for the
sick of the whole country for several years, which was the cause of Savanna
bearing the name of being a sickly place, bilious fever and ague being the
principal diseases." And again he says: "Rattlesnakes were very plenty and
denned in the bluffs above town. For the first few years we used to go snaking,
and killed hundreds of them as they came out of their dens in the spring." Since
my acquaintance with him, I have often heard him relate snake stories of his
James Craig built the first saw mill. It was built on Plum river, about two
miles east of town, at the site now occupied by Messrs. Wood & Kitchen's
The Winter of 1842-3 was a long and cold one. Snow commenced falling in October,
and did not entirely disappear until late in April. On the 10th of April, 1843,
we crossed the Mississippi River on ice, with four yoke of cattle, hauling
bridge timber. During the Winter, owing to the severe and intense cold and deep
and continued snow, stock of all kinds suffered severely, and a great many
cattle starved and froze to death. The like of that Winter has never since been
Very Respectfully and Truly Yours.
The 4th of July, 1876, was celebrated by the Mt. Carroll people in Right royal
style. In perfecting their arrangements, C. B. smith, Esq., was selected as
orator of the day, and Volney Armour, Esq., was appointed to prepare and read a
historical sketch of the early history of the county, which was subsequently
reproduced in the Carroll County Mirror, running through several numbers of that
paper. While compiling this book, these papers were placed in possession of the
writer, and very materially assisted him in perfecting his chain of history, and
especially regard to fixing the dates and names of the settlers in the different
parts of the county-facts now under consideration. Referring to the condition of
Savanna when the first settlers came there, in the Fall of 1828, Mr. Armour
Above the place, where the Irvine Saw Mill used to stand, extending from the
bluffs nearly to Main Street, the timber was splendid. The trees, however, were
all dead, having been girdled by the Indians a year or two prior to the arrival
of the settlers. Some of these trees were more than ten feet in circumference.
The near neighbors were the few settlers at Albany, Whiteside county, Dixon, Lee
County, and Hanover, Jo Daviess County. Eachof the first settlers brought with
them a pair of cattle, with which they did their logging and breaking. They
planted the first crop ever cast into the bosom of the prolific earth of Carroll
County in the Spring of 1829, and while they planted, the Lord watered; yet the
earth would have brought no increase except that the boys and girls had been
kept by day scaring the countless millions of birds of every kind and hue from
devouring the germinating seed in the Spring, and the ripening corn in the Fal;
and the men and boys had kept in check the hundreds of raccoons that came upon
their fields, like the plagues of Egypt in the night. But perseverance and
industry conquered, and the settlers gathered a harvest of golden grain, that
gave proof of the fatness of the land. M. B. Pierce says that we of to-day have
no idea of the throngs of birds that filled the groves and made vocal the
solitudes around, nor of the wild fowl that swam in the sloughs and creeks at
that time. I gather from what he says that they swarmed around Savanna then like
the grasshoppers on the plains and prairies of Colorado. * * * * The Indians at
that time were numerous and friendly, and, for a trifling compensation, shared
the products of the chase and fish from the streams. These substantials, as well
as delicacies, the mere thought of which, at this late day, makes our stomachs
hunger, and our mouths water, consisted of venison, wild turkeys, prairie
chickens, and ducks, geese, woodcock and snipe,, in their season; and
occasionally buffalo meat, as countless herds of bison then roamed the prairies
of Iowa and Minnesota. Whether these settlers hankered after the flesh-pots of
Egypt, such as hog meat. I do not know, but certainly the grunt of the porker
was yet unheard in Carroll County. And I know, they sighed for milk and butter,
for of these they had none until M. P. Pierce and his father went down to Bong
County in the Summer and came back in August, 1829, with a few cows. They also
brought up a few horses. While these settlers had so much to gladden their
stomachs, the county was not without its, pull-backs or draw-backs, for the
voracious musquito sang and hummed about the unsilent couches, and wood ticks,
buffalo gnat and horse flies sought their life blood in revenge for being
disturbed in their hitherto quiet domain.
In the Spring of 1830-1, John Bernard settled in what is now Washington
Township, at the Hatfield place. Hayes and Robinson settled on the George Fish
far, the same Spring. Corbin (heretofore mentioned) on the land now included on
the Noah McFarland far. Corbin's house or hut was built in a tree about ten feet
from the ground, to avoid snake bites, rattlesnakes then abounding in all this
region. An idea of how numerous were some of the fur-bearing animals around the
Dyson neighborhood, in York, may be reached by a statement of the fact that M.
B. Pierce and another man, in five weeks, killed 1,000 muskrats, the skins of
which brought them the snug little sum of $200 per man,.
Mr. Armour next referred to the breaking out of the Black Hawk War and the
attack made by the Indians upon the Savanna settlement, and account of which we
had already written, and the statements are so nearly alike that a further
mention would be entirely superfluous, hence the omission of this part of his
address. Resuming an examination of the address from which we are copying, the
Aaron Pierce was Savanna's first tavern keeper; he even commenced entertaining
strangers while living in the old council house, and still continued afterwards.
He built the present Chambers House in 1836-7. Luther H. Bowen built the
Woodruff House, which was first called the Mississippi House. These hotels were
built in anticipation of a glorious future for Savanna. During the Winter of
1835-6, the Legislature of Illinois inaugurated its grand scheme of internal
improvements, embracing about 1,350 miles of railroad. One of these contemplated
lines was intended to terminate at Savanna, and had this road been built at that
time, Savanna would, no doubt, have become one of the most important cities of
the state. What Quincy is, may be safely regarded as a fair representation of
what Savanna might have been. It was in anticipation of this supposed future
that these hotels were built. They were then the best hotels in all this region
of country. It is sad, even at this late day, to contemplate what possibilities
for Savanna were blasted by the financial tornado of 1837.
The late Luther H. Bowen, probably the most enterprising citizen Savanna ever
had, came to the state in 1832, and assisted in the early surveys of the
northwestern territory. Although he came to Savanna several years after the
Pierces, Davidsons and Blundells, he became the original proprietor of the town,
in connection with some Quakers by the name of Murray, of Philadelphia. Settlers
came in slowly until 1833 and 1834, when there was a very noticeable increase.
Stephen N. Arnold, who gave his name to the landing above Savanna, settled on
what subsequently became the farm of John Robinson, came about this time. Royal
Cooper came about 1835, and was an active participant in the early affairs of
the county. Nathan Lord and Elijah Bellows settled in the Savanna district about
the same time. At the April election, 1839, when the first board of county
officers was elected, Savanna precinct cast 127 votes, of which 60 were
residents of the village. This, according to the established rule of estimating
five persons to each voter, would fix Savanna's population at that time at 300
men, women and children.
CHERRY GROVE,--This settlement next claimed Mr. Armour's attention: "The first
settlement of any locality is always around a grove, if there be one, or along
roads of travel, if there be any. Carroll County was not an exception to the
rule, for we find that our first settlers, except those at Savanna, who came
there to found a village, settled at Elkhorn Grove, Chambers' Grove, which, in
fact, is a part or branch of Elkhorn Grove, and Cherry Grove, in the immediate
vicinity of the route of travel from Dixon's Ferry to Galena, but as Chambers'
Grove is almost entirely in Ogle County, we will have but little to say about
that old-time land mark. At which particular grove the first settler marked his
claim and reared his hut or cabin, is not very clear, as no record of the event
seems to have been kept. But, from the best and most reliable data to be had,
the first settlement is credited to Cherry Grove, and was made by Thomas Crane;
and from the fact of his having built a log or block house in the grove, a
little east of the Garner Moffett House, he must have had some companions or
associates. It is also presumable that he had some knowledge of Indian character
for he surrounded his house by an abatis* to protect its inmates from surprise.
The walls of the house were pierced with post holes, and the abatis was large
enough to include within it a small garden. For many years this old house
offered shelter and protection to all new-comers and wayfarers. Geo. W. Harris
and family found shelter within it in 1837; David Emmert and family in 1840; and
the father and family of W. A. J. Pierce in 1841. Numerous other families whose
names are not remembered at this late day, also found temporary homes beneath
the old house's friendly roof and within its protecting walls.
A species of fence placed in front of a breastwork, or on a glacis,. For the
purpose of impeding the advance of an attack. It is usually made of felled
trees, with the branches pointed outward.
"Shortly after the close of the Black Hawk War, Thomas Crane sold his claim to
Samuel M. Hitt, of Maryland, who afterwards became prominently identified with
the public affairs of Ogle County, and Crane removed to what was subsequently
known as Crane's Point, in Stephenson County. Francis Garner, wife and family,
including five or six children, came here from Southern Illinois soon after the
Indian troubles were conquered. His youngest daughter, Mary, and probabky Jane,
also (but of this I am not certain), was born in Carroll County. Garner had been
one of the army against the Indians, and he selected his claim when he was en
route home, after his discharge at Galena.
"In 1833, Wm. thompson settled either at Cherry Grove or Arnold's Grove. If at
cherry Grove, he soon sold out and took up the claim of the old Arnold and Henry
Strickler places. Levi Walden (or Walker) took up a claim the same year. George
Swaggert came the next year, and soon after his arrival his wife died. She had
selected the place for her burial, and hers was the first grave in the Cherry
Grove graveyard. Garner Moffett came in 1835, and purchased a claim, probably
Swaggert's. Moffett lived in the original log house until 1846 or 1848. Wm.
Daniels came in 1837, and made a claim on the creek near Lanark, where George
Ransover now lives. This was the pioneer claim-away out beyond the frontier line
of settlemetn, and was considered a bold move on the part of Mr. Ransover. In
1837, George W. Harris, another Marylander, came to the Grove, more to look
after and take care of Hitt's interests than as a settler. He first lived in the
old, fort-like house built by Crane, and kept a kind of tavern therein for three
years, when he built the old Cherry Grove House for Hitt, which he also occupied
for a time, as did also David Emmert in 1840 and 1841. Emmert was succeeded by a
Mr. Pierce. John Iler and Peter Meyers came about the same time that Harris
came. Some time about 1835 or 1836, a line of stage coaches was established
between Galena and Peoria, via Dixon's Ferry. The line was kept up until 1846,
and made a station with Harris as long as he remained at Cherry Grove, and when
he removed to Plum River, his place there was made a station, also. Emanuel
Stover afterwards came into the ownership of the farm on which the Cherry Grove
House stood, and either Mr. Stover, or some one to whom he sold it, removed it
to Lanark, and it now makes a part of the Taber House barn.
Sarah, daughter of Garner Moffett (now the wife of Emanuel Stover), was born in
1837, and is the oldest native resident of that vicinity.
When Harris left the Grove, he took the claim that is now covered by the farm of
Samuel Ludwick, on Plum River. In 1847, he moved to Mt. Carroll, where he was
postmaster from 1853 to 1861-eight years, and justice of the peace for a much
longer period. He died in 1875. Jas. Mark came without money or property in
1837. In 1841 he was living in an 8 by 10 pole shanty on his claim, east of
where H. F. Lowman now lives. Nathan Frisk, Israel Jones, and Bradstreet Robbins
made claims about 1838-9. Frisk located on the north side of the Grove, Jones at
the Big Springs near Shannon, and Robinson east of the Grove-Jones venturing
further out than any settler had ever attempted before. Some time previous to
these last-named accession to the Cherry Grove settlement, the father of John
Laird either selected or bought a claim. When George Swaggert left the Grove, he
bought the claim of Wm. Thompson, who in turn took up the Shultz farm in
Woodland, which, a few years later, he sold to Daniel Arnold and Henry Strickler,
and in 1838, together with S. M. Hitt and Daniel Christian, bought the Otis and
Mathews claim to Mt. Carroll and vicinity, and in 1841-2 lived where Hartman now
resides. In later years, he took up the farm two miles southeast of Mt. Carroll,
where he died in 1856 or 1857.
"John C. Owings came to the county in 1834, from some one of the Southern
States, and settled a little to the southwest of the Grove. He was a man of
energy and influence, and a kind of leader or representative man, and served for
a number of years as a justice of the peace, and also as postmaster. He removed
from the county in 1868, and now lives in Iowa.
"Garner Moffett, of whom mention has heretofore been made, was a kindly, genial
gentleman, of fair talents and some degree of culture. He filled several offices
of trust and honor, always being elected by large majorities, notwithstanding he
was a Democrat, and the county decidedly Whig. He was a member of the
Constitutional Convention in 1848, and died in 1856, respected and regretted by
every citizen and acquaintance."
ELKHORN GROVE.-This settlement dates back to 1830, at which period John Ankeny
and Thos. Parish built cabins on the east side of the Grove. Both near, of not
both on, the Harry smith place, but both left about the time of the breaking out
of the Black Hawk War, in 1832. So far as known, neither one of them ever
returned to their claims-in fact, Parish was never heard of afterwards, while
Ankeny turned his attention to keeping a hotel or tavern at Buffalo, a few
months after leaving his claim. This beginning excepted, Elkhorn Grove remained
an unbroken, undisturbed wild until about 1834, when Levi Warner settled on the
south side of the Grove. A surveyor by profession, he was elected county
surveyor at the first county election, in April, 1839, and re-elected for
several successive terms. He came here a bachelor, and remained in "single
blessedness" for a number of years. John H. Hawes now lives where Warner first
settled. In 1835, Alvin Humphrey settled at the norteast corner of the Grove,
and Caleb Dains and thos. Hughes at the southeast corner. Humphrey was a great
wag, and a great many of his "jokes" are still remembered with broad faces. John
Knox and family, including Geo. W. Knox, came about 1834 or 1835, and made a
claim on the south side of the Grove, where he "set out" the first orchard
planted in the county. Geo. W. Knox now occupies the old home place. In 1835,
John Ankeny returned to the Grove. Uncle Harry Smith and Samples M. Journey
settled at the Grove in 1834-the first-named on the land where he now resides,
and the latter a little further to the east, on the farm on which Ransom Wilson
died a short time ago. Miles Z. Landon, Elder John Paynter, Joseph Steffins,
Manasas Neikerk and Lyman Hunt came soon afterwards. A rapid tide of immigration
now set in, and among them came a number of our now most prominent citizens. In
1837, Elijah Eaton built a saw mill-the first in the township. The same year the
people of the Grove celebrated the 4th of July with great pomp and ceremony, at
the place of Alvin Humphrey. Felix Conner delivered the oration, and a right
good one it is said to have been. In 1834, a millwright name Peters settled on
Elkhorn Creek Bottom, near the present village of Milledgeville, but, falling
sick, he gave up his claim to Jesse Kester, who improved it with a saw mill.
Kester subsequently sold out his claim to Adam Knox, who built the grist mill.
In 1839, his daughter, Eliza J., was born, which was the first birth. Soon
after, his son Albert died, which was the first death at or near Milledgeville.
In 1844, a post-office was established there, and Jacob McCourtie was appointed
postmaster. At that time, Milledgeville (it is said) was a larger place than Mt.
Carroll. In 1839, Simeon Johnson and his son, J. B. Johnson, Byron and Nelson
Fletcher, and Abel Eastabrook, the father of L. F., and the other Eastabrooks
boys, settled in the present town of Wysox. About this time-some a little before
and some a little afterwards-the following named persons had settled in the
Elkhorn Grove neighborhood, in which are included the towns of Lima and Wysox:
Tilson Aldrich, John Richardson, I. H. Woodruff, Hiram McNamer, Geo. G. Colton,
N. Spencer, Alvah Daius, Henry Hunter, E. W. Todds, Chas. Redman, Stephen
Jenkins, Philetus Peck, several by the name of Grant, and D. Stormer.
"With but few exceptions, these settlers hugged the Groves, only the boldest of
them venturing out on the prairie. The sweep of the winter winds, it was thought
by some, would render the prairie practically uninhabitable., Others could not
bear the idea of removing so far away from the timber. Two gentlemen who had
sold their farms in Pennsylvania, came to Milledgeville in 1840, with the
intention of investing their means in lands thereabouts, and rearing stately
homes on the broad fields nature had cleared. Some parties had accompanied them
to show them the beautiful prairie between Milledgeville and Cherry Grove, etc.
After traversing the broad and undulating expanse, vaster than anything o f the
kind their imagination had ever pictured, they came to the conclusion that the
prairie was and must forever remain worthless, because it could never be
inhabited to any extent for want of timber. So they repacked their dollars,
turned their backs upon that garden-spot of nature, and re-invested their wealth
in rocks and mountains and hills and timber of Pennsylvania.
"A Mr. Ingalls was the first school teacher in the Elkhorn Grove neighborhood,
and taught in what is now known as the Centre School House District."
MOUNT CARROLL.-"Samuel Preston, Sr., made the first claim and was the first
settler in Mt. Carroll Township. His claim covered the water power of Fulrath's
Mill and what has ever since been known as 'Preston's Prairie." The same day,
Paul D. Otis and Granville Mathews made a claim of the land and water power at
Mt. Carroll, which afterwards became the property of Emmert, Halderman & Co.
These claims were made some time in 1836 and in 1837. Messrs. Otis and Mathews
built a cabin near what subsequently became the Christian homestead, and into
which Mr. Mathews removed his father. As already stated in these pages, Otis and
Mathews, sold their claim to Geo. Swaggert and others, and they in turn sold it
to Emmert, Halderman & Co., who were the real founders of Mt. Carroll.
"In the Fall of 1836, Nathan Downing took a claim that is now known as Kinney's
Farm. Nathan Downing sild his claim to his brother, Heman Downing, within a year
afterwards, who continued to occupy and improve it until 1856, when he sold the
farm to John Kinney.
"The first white child born in the Mt. Carroll settlement was a daughter to
Nathan Downing, born in the Spring of 1837. When this daughter grew to
womanhood, she was given in marriage to Gideon Carr. This same Spring, Rezin
Everts took up the land now known as the Trail Farm; and Samuel S. Bayless
claimed a part of section 12, at the present fair grounds. He laid off a town
there, which, in honor of the capital of his native state, Virginia, he called
Richmond. He made liberal offers of lots to settlers, and two small houses were
built, but the financial troubles of 1837 killed Richmond, and blasted the hopes
and expectations of its founder. Otis and Mathews, like a great many other
claim-takers, were greedy and tried to 'slide' their claim over on to Bayless',
but he 'didn't scare worth a cent,' and wisely held on to his claim. In 1839, a
post-office was established at Richmond and was entered on the post-office
records at Washington under that name. When the Whigs came into power under
Harrison, in 1841, the 'Richmond, Carroll County, Illinois' post-office was
stricken from the list of U. S. P. O's, and has never since been known by that
name/ A little circumstance in connection with the appointment of the first
postmaster at Richmond is worthy of preservation. A part of the settlers want
old 'Squire Chas. G. Hawley for postmaster, and another part of them wanted
Heman Downing. Both were Whigs. The appointing power (Van Buren's) was
Democratic, so Downing's friends ventured to assert in their petition that he
was a Jeffersonian Democrat, thinking that would be an irresistible and
unanswerable argument in his favor, and sure to settle the question-and it did.
Both parties handed their petitions to Luther H. Bowen, postmaster at Savanna,
who was a Democrat. He looked over the petitions and made this simple
endorsement on Downing's: "He is a Whig." He said nothing about Hawley's
politics, but Hawley got the post-office.
"In the Spring of 1838, Daniel christian moved on to the Otis and Mathews claim
and built the old saw mill down the creek. Wm. Mackay (the elder brother of
Duncan Mackay) and John George leased and ran the mill for some time. This year
Heman downing built the first frame barn of any in the county. Its sill and
posts and beams and girders, were made of hewn oak timber, and, as was the
practice in those day, they were large and heavy and required the united
strength of all the settlers between Plum River and cherry Grove to raise it. It
was the model barn of the county in those days, but its glory departed before
"In 1838, Geo. W. Stewart settled on the Samuel Hayes farm, on the Savanna road,
and a man by the name on Hinckley settled on the land now covered by the Daniel
"Somewhere about 1838 (the exact date is unknown), John Kinney, Joseph Ferrin,
Rezin Everts and others were fishing down Carroll Creek, early in the Spring,
and all at once they heard a hissing and rattling noise, and looking around,
they found themselves overtaken by hundreds of rattlesnakes that had come out
from their dens to sun themselves. They quit fishing and went to snake-killing,
and when none but dead ones were to be seen, they took an inventory of the stock
on hand, and found that they had disposed of one hundred and ninety, and they
didn't think it was a very good day for snakes either!. The had more snakes than
" In 1839, Mr. Whipple, a travelling Presbyterian minister, preached the first
sermon on the prairie. The first school was taught the same year, by Sarah J.
Hawley, in the upper part of the senior Preston's house.
"Previous to the time which we have reached in the history of the county, Sidney
and Lewis Bliss, John O'Neal, Benj. Church, Jos. Ferrin, John Kinney and a few
others had settled on Preston Prairie, and David Masters a half a mile south of
the Mt. Carroll depot.
"A man named Leonard built a grist mill in 1838-9, at the site of the mill now
owned by Adam Fulrath. The mill-tones were quarried from the Galena Limestone
that crops out along the creek, one of which may still be seen at the Fulrath
MOUNT CARROLL.-"David Emmert and family, of Pennsylvania, came to Cherry Grove
in May, 1840, and kept the Cherry Grove house for awhile, In the Fall of 1841,
N. Halderman, also, came into the county, and, stopping at Cherry Grove, made
Emmert's acquaintance, and entered into an arrangement with him to build a mill
somewhere in the county. Their attention was directed to Mount Carroll mill
site, which Halderman examined some time in the month of November, and being
fully satisified with its advantages, a mill company was formed, and site
purchased, and operations commenced. The company was compose of David Emmert, N.
Halderman, John Rinewalt, and Thomas Robinson, of the firm of Irvin & Robinson,
of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A log house was built at "Stage' Point," on the
ground now occupied by the residence of I. P. Sheldon, and in January, 1842, the
Emmert family moved in and occupied it. About this time Haldermand fell in with
Daniel Hurley, at Cherry Grove, who, with Hugh Slowey and one or two other men,
were en route for Galena hunting a job of work. Halderman entered into a
contract with Harley to build the dam and lay the foundation of the mill
building. Some twenty men were employed on this work, quarrying the stone for
the mill, etc., all of whom boarded with Emmert. The next dwellint houses were
built by some of the men employed in the mill enterprise. Jesse and Thomas Rapp
settled here in 1842, intending to unite their fortunes with the mill company,
but subsequently changed their minds. Jesse Rapp built the first house south of
the stone hotel (now the Chapman House), soon after the town was laid out, some
two or three houses having built in advance of the survey. The first season
after the survey, a man named Goltman built a house on the lot subsequently
occupied by John S. Miller's store. The same year a house was built on the first
corner south of that now occupied by the Chapman House. Until 1844, when the
Chapman House was built, this was the largest and best house in town, and was
used as a boarding house by Thomas Rapp. Soon after the completion of this
(then) somewhat aristocrtic house, Harlan Pyle built another one just west of
the mill-race, which was afterwards rebuilt by Evan Rea." This commenced the
settlement of Mount Carroll, and here the settlement will be left to be taken up
again in a local history of the growth and prosperity of the city.
YORK.-To Norman D. French belongs the honor of pioneering the settlement in this
division of the county, where he made a claim in 1835; broke up some ground in
1836; built a cabin in 1837, and raised his first crop in 1838. Mr. Armour says
he had, by his early experience among the hills and mountains of Vermont, became
disgusted with them, and while assisting in the United State's survey of the
lands along the Mississippi, selected the site of his present home. William
Dysen, Sr., and his sons, William, Jr., and Hezekiah; his son-in-law, Russell
Colvin, and George Helms, a relative, came in 1836. These new settlers, because
of the numerous gushing springs to be found there, made their claims along the
bluffs. A year or two later, a man named Edgerly settled near French, and
William St. Ores and Jacob Potter settled just west of the centre of town 23,
range 4-probably on section 9. No other settlements are recorded until 1838,
when Col. Beers Tomlinson located on the lands now occupied by his son, Beers B.
Tomlinson. When Col. Tomlinson came to Carroll County to locate a new home his
attention was directed to York by Samuel Preston, Sr., who says of him: "Colonel
Tomlinson was a man of dignified presence, and would at once be recognized as a
man born to lead and not to follow. Yet he had none of those airs of loftiness
suggestive of the great 'I' and little 'U' that characterize some men. His
nature was social and jovial, and he relished a joke equal to the best in that
line. His wife was a Bailey, and he was soon followed to his new home by that
family and their kindred, the Balcoms. His brother, Seymour Tomlinson, and the
Athertons came afterwards, but only Daniel B. Kenyon and his sons, and Joshua
Bailey, came prior to 1841. Col. Tomlinson was a captain in the war of 1812, and
was born almost in sight of old Fort Ticonderoga, and, no doubt had some of the
Ethan Allen spirit in him." Levi Kent was York's first school teacher and taught
FREEDOM.-The earliest settlers of Salem, of whom any trace has been kept, were
David Masters, George Swaggert, Seymour Downs, William Mackay, Duncan Mackay,
and Henry Reynolds David Masters being the first settler, having selected a
claim and built a cabin, in 1837.
ROCK CREEK'S first settlers were David Becker and Zachariah Kinkaid. Becker sold
to Daniel Belding. Richard A. Thompson was an early settler, and the first to
introduce cheese-making in the county.
LIMA.-John Chambers and Philetus Peck were the first white occupants of this
beautiful and naturally rich and attractive section of the county. Peck came
some time previous to 1840.
WOODLAND.-This is the most heavily timbered part of the county, and was first
occupied by William Thompson and Moses Wooten. The Hendersons and Gills came in
1842 or 1843, and Uriah Green came about the same time.
These notes on the first settlements in the different parts of the county bring
us back to the general history of the county, at the point from which we
digressed. A first court house had been erected and was occupied by the various
county officers. The first term of the Circuit Court in the new building was
held in October, 1844-Judge Thomas C. Browne, presiding. The following named
citizens were the
Grand Jurors.-Alvin Humphrey, Samuel Drain, David Becker, Jamed McCourtie, James
Webster, E. Longsdon, Royal Cooper, David B. Hartsough, James Burnett, Thomas B.
Rhodes, Vance L. Davidson, Francis Garner, Israel Jones, John Johnson, Peter
Atherton, Griffith Carr, G. W. Dwinnell, R. R. Bush, Harlan Pyle, Beers
Tomlinson, William Harmon, Alexis Bristol, B. C. Baily-23
Petit Jurors.-David L. bowen, Nathan K. Lord, William Blundell, Andson Closson,
Butler E. Marble, John P. Goff, Thomas Hough, Benjamin Church, William Owings,
John Pierce, Jr., Robert Beatty, John Fosdick, Hiram McNamer, J. C. Shiottenkirk,
William Lowry, Cyrus Kellogg, Lyman Kent-24.
L. B. Welle, the attorney for the people, not being present, the Court appointed
James M. Strade attorney for the people pro tem. There were eight criminals
cases-one for perjury, on a change of venue from Joe Daviess County; one for
assault with intent to kill; one for contempt of court, as a grand juror; one on
forfeiture of recognizance; one for riot; one for larceny, on a change of venue
from Jo Daviess; one on indictment against a supervisor; and one on indictment
for malicious mischief-shooting a mare.
It is to the credit of the people of the county that but few really bad or
desperate characters ever found an abiding place in their midst. The criminal
docket, as compared with other counties, shows a lower percentage of convictions
than most of them-not because evil-doers have not been prosecuted, but because
were not committed.
In 1843, six years after the county was organized, the total amount of county
tax was $935.27. The old journal of the county commissioners court, under date
of Wednesday, June 3, 1846, shows that the "following settlement was made with
the collector, Sumner Downing:
Cr. For amount of tax paid into treasury $841.39
" " " " delinquent list 49.60
" " " " collector's percentage 44.28
Which being the amount of receipts for county tax-list, 1845, the same were
ordered canceled and satisfied."
Compared with the annual tax-lists for the last seven years, this amount of
$935.27 is very insignificant, indeed. From 18709 up to and including 1877, the
amount of county tax is as follows: In 1870, $12,135.63; 1871, $14,332,86; 1872,
$17,339.58; 1873,$15,250.50; 1874, $17,927.02; 1875, $17,542.64; 1876,
$15,222.95; 1877. $17,452.88. Total in seven years, $127,204.06.
In 1840 the population was 1,023. In 1850 it was 4,586; in 1860, 11,733; in
1870, 16,705; increase from 1860 to 1870, 4,792, or a little over twenty-five
per cent. Since the last census, in 1870, the increase, according to the best
sources of information, has not been more than ten per cent.
COUNTY JAIL MATTERS.
In October, 1846, the commissioners ordered the county clerk to advertise for
sealed proposals for building a jail, the "walls to be of stone, each two feet
in thickness, and not less than one and a half feet long and one foot deep,
jointed and coupled top and bottom with iron pins, three quarters inch rod; the
walls to commence four feet below the surface of the earth, and to raise twelve
feet above the surface; the building to be 16 by 20 feet on the outside; the
first floor to be made of solid hewn timber, ten inches on the outside; the
first floor to be made of solid hewn timber, ten inches thick, and to be firmly
set in the outside walls, and to be covered with well seasoned, two-inch,
merchantable oak plank, jointed, the top of the wall, of solid hewn timber,
jutting over sufficiently to give eave, and to be covered on the inside with
well-seasoned one and a half inch oak plank, and spiked the same as the lower
foor," etc. The inside of the building was to be divided, according to the
plans, into three apartments, or sections, by strong, thick oaken walls, made of
seasoned two-inch oak plank, three thickness, firmly bolted and spiked together.
The outside door was to be a heavy oaken one, covered with sheet iron. The inner
one was to be of equal thickness, and same kind of material.' Bids were
solicited through the advertising columns of the Jeffersonian and Gazette, of
Galena, and by three written notices put up in the three most conspicuous places
in the county, etc. The records, however, do not show that any bids were ever
received. But this is not surprising, for it is a subject of universal regret,
if not of complaint, among the people of the county, that the records in the
county clerk's office were very indifferently and negligently kept until Major
Hawk succeeded to the office, in December, 1865. When he came into the office
many of the important papers had not been filed in regular succession, but had
nearly all been tumbled into boxes, without any regard to order, and it was many
months before they were resurrected from chaos and confusion and arranged in any
thing like decent shape. Now, there is a place for everything and every thing is
in its place.*
Whether any bids were received for the building of a jail or not is a matter of
but little consequence, since it is known that no jail, such as proposed in the
plans quoted above, was ever built. In those days there were not many evil doers
in the county, and what few there were, were of the petty order, and in cases
where they were unable to give bail, they were placed in the keeping of some
citizens. Sometimes a pretty hard customer would "turn up," that couldn't be
trusted to the keeping of any citizen, and such characters would be taken to the
jail at Galena. This practice prevailed until about 1850, when one of the lower
rooms of the old court house was converted into a jail and divided off into
cells, and continued to be so used until the erection of the present county
buildings. That jail was none of the strongest, and when, perchance a desperate
character, tramping through the country, would commit some of the higher grades
of crime, and would be arrested and held to answer, he would be transferred to
the jail of Jo Daviess County, to await trail at the next term of the circuit
court. But with the erection of the present count house and jail-the latter
being considered the strongest and best in the state-the county became
thoroughly independent in this regard, and fully competent to take care of the
worst of "jail birds."