History of Whiteside County, Illinois

History has an office to perform in the present by truly recording the events of the past, and that Whiteside County has made a history worthy of preservation, all admit. True, as measured by the lapse of years, the County is yet in its infancy, but its marvelous development from a wilderness, inhabited only by the savage, to its present "proud estate," is a fitting subject for the chronicler; and especially is it proper that the brave and earnest men and women who dared the perils of field and flood, savage alarums, poverty and hunger, should have their works preserved in printed form. The commonwealth they founded and developed will be their monument, but their trials and triumphs is the province of the historian to detail.

The task of preparing the History of Whiteside County was undertaken after mature deliberation, with a full sense of its importance, and a knowledge that such a work is demanded. A true history can only be written from "actual facts." The time is opportune, as the pioneers are rapidly passing away, and the few lips yet remaining to tell the story of the "times that tried men's souls" will soon be stilled by the Destroyer of young and old. The difficulties to be overcome in the preparation of the work were fully considered, but have proven even more formidable than anticipated. Forty years has warped the memories of the staunchest of the "Old Settlers"; fire, the ravages of time, and careless- ness, have destroyed many of the records kept in neighboring counties of the very earliest events that occurred in Whiteside before its organization, or when attached to other counties for judicial purposes. The early records of the County proper are but fragmentary, the details of the offices at that time being kept in a skeleton manner, or "carried under the office-holder's hat" — doubtless in those days all that was absolutely necessary.

The archives of the State, at Springfield, were thoroughly examined, and the meagre record of early Whiteside secured; the old books of the counties to which Whiteside was attached previous to its organization, were investigated, and all pertinent matter that had escaped fire and loss, carefully transcribed; the old files of the newspapers of the County have been consulted for historical facts; the official books of the different cities, towns, villages, and townships, have also been examined, and all of general interest embodied in the work; the early records of churches, incorporations, and benevolent and other societies? were looked through, and many valuable items of history secured. Either myself or assistants have penetrated every township in the County, and interviewed scores of old settlers, and gleaned many facts and incidents from them. Dates and occurrences are presented as accurately as possible, being confirmed by official records, or comparison.

When the paucity of recorded matter, and the fact that so much depends upon the unaided memory of the first settlers, is considered, it is hoped that the History will commend itself to the reader for accuracy and minutiae. The work is far from being above criticism. Doubtless errors will be discovered, but when the critic and reader properly consider the difficulties under which the History was prepared, their criticism will be mildly given. In the vast array of dates given in the biographies alone, of which nearly five hundred appear in this volume, it would almost be miraculous did not some mistakes occur. All errors of importance that have been discovered previous to the publication and after the printing of the book, are corrected in an "Errata" inserted at the close of this volume, to which the attention of the reader is particularly requested.

The plan and arrangement of the work can easily be ascertained by reference to the table of contents immediately following this introductory. Matter of general interest relating to the early history of the County is first introduced, and arranged under appropriate heads. The general history of the County is followed by a particular history of the several townships in alphabetical order. A great advantage will be gained by at least one perusal, in course, of the entire History. Many interesting occurrences therein recorded, might, without such perusal, never come to the knowledge of the reader. A condensed history of the State, and an abstract of laws of general interest to the people, immediately follow the history of townships. Since the writing and printing of the precinct history of Whiteside during its connection with Ogle county, and that of the Old Settler's Association, facts have been secured in reference to them which was then thought impossible to obtain, and will be found incorporated in this work in a supplementary form, as will also the address of Hon. E. B. Washburne, in October last, on the occasion of presenting to the County a portrait of the "Prophet," a chief of renown during the Indian occupation of the County, the address containing so much of historical interest that it is deemed advisable to preserve it in this manner. As will be seen, biographical and genealogical sketches form a prominent feature of this History. They will generally be found in the historical sketches of the towns in which their subjects respectively resided, or now reside. It has been the aim to give the biographies of those who settled in the county before 1840, where it has been possible to secure the facts from which to prepare them. If any have been omitted it has been from this cause, or from the fact that it has not come to my knowledge that they were settlers prior to that date. In a few instances, in townships not settled at that time, or if so by but two or three inhabitants, the biographies of those prominent in developing the towns are given. It was found necessary to limit these sketches to those who made settlement previous to 1840, as the influx of population from and after that date was so extensive that to include those for any number of years subsequent would have made it impossible to keep the History within the prescribed limits. The Chapter on Geology, Mineralogy, Natural History, Botany, etc., was written by a highly educated and scholarly gentleman, who, from his intimate and practical knowledge of these matters, is eminently fitted for the task. The facts contained in that part of Chapter II referring to Antiquities and Pre-historic Man, were furnished by persons specially qualified to give correct and valuable information in relation to the subjects therein treated. The part of the same Chapter relating to Indian History, and the Chapter pertaining to the Civil War and History of Regiments, were com- piled from the official records, and particular pains taken to make them accurate and detail the County's glorious share in the struggle of 1861-'65. Especial care has also been taken to make Chapter IV, which relates to the history of Whiteside as a County, reliable and accurate.

Col. R.L. Wilson, of Sterling, an old settler, and well known in the County, had for some years intended to publish a history of Whiteside. Of this I was not aware until after I presented my prospectus to the public in March last. Soon afterwards Col. Wilson and myself harmonized matters, and an arrangement was perfected whereby he was to furnish what historical matter he had prepared, and devote himself to the interests of this work. He has furnished the facts and biographical data from which were written the histories of Grenedee and Jordan; a portion of the facts and biographical data from which were written the histories of Hopkins, Lyndon and Sterling; the biographical data incorporated in the history of Coloma, and a part of the biographical data included in the histories of Clyde, Hume, and Mt. Pleasant. In this connection it is but just to accord credit to Frank Curhino, Esq., of Portland, for providing the facts and biographical data from which were written the histories of Portland and Prophetstown. Grateful acknowledgements are due to George Terwillioer, Esq., formerly editor of the Sterling Gazette and Fulton Journaly and to Dr. W.H. Boals, late local editor of the Whiteside Sentinel, for their special and valuable aid in the preparation of this History. For the kind- ness and consideration met with from the many to whom I have applied for information and material to engraft in the work, no words of mine can duly compensate. Upon all sides I have been greeted with well wishes and hopes for success. If success has been attained, the greater part of it is owing to this generous aid and appreciation.

I thank the citizens of the County for their generous patronage thus far bestowed, and trust merit enough may be found within the book to repay them for their confidence and support. Hoping that it will prove all that is expected, and that errors from circumstance will be overlooked, I remain.


Table of Contents.

Geology 9

Antiquities and Pre-historic Man — Indian History 31

Civil War of 1861-'65— History of Regiments — 8th Cavalry — 13th Infantry— 34th Infantry — 46th Infantry - 52nd Infantry — 75th Infantry — 93d Infantry — 140th Infantry — 147th Infantry — 156th Infantry 40

Name of County Building — Circuit Court — Probate and County Courts — Early Life of Pioneers, and Incidents— Annexation to Wisconsin — Marriage Licenses — First Instruments Recorded - Early Votes — Railroads — Claim Societies and their Objects — The Tornado of 1860 — Swamp Land Matters — Agricultural Societies — Whiteside County Grange — Old Settlers' Association — Caledonian Club — County Bible Society — Sunday School Association — Concessional Districts — Senatorial and Representative Districts — List of County Officers — Statistics, Population, Etc — Public School Affairs — Vote of 1876 53

History of Albany Township, and Village — Societies — Biographical 109

History of Coloma Township — Biographical — History of Rock Palls — Nurseries — Manufacturing Establishments - Newspapers — Churches and other Organizations 126

History of Clyde Township — Biographical 140

History of Erie Township — Biographical — History of Erie Village — Churches and Societies 147

History of Fulton Township — History of the City of Fulton — Newspapers — Churches and other Organizations — Biographical 150

History of Fenton Township — Pratt — Fenton Center — Biographical 193
History of Garden Plain Township — Biographical 205

History of Genesee Township — Biographical — Coleta 217
History of Hahnaman Township — Deer Grove — Biographical 232
History of Hume Township — Biographical 237

History of Hopkins Township — Como — Galt — Empire — Biographical 243

History of Jordan Township — Biographical 257

History of Lyndon Township — Biographical — Village of Lyndon 265

History of Mt. Pleasant Township — Biographical — History of the City of Morrison — Newspapers — Churches and other Organizations — Biographical 291

History of Montmorency Township — Biographical 326

History of Newton Township — Biographical 333

History of Portland Township — Biographical 341

History of Prophetstown Township — History of the Town of Prophetstown— Newspapers — Churches and Societies — Biographical 363

History of Sterling Township — Biographical — History of the City of Sterling - Newspapers — Manufacturing Establishments — Churches and other Organizations — Biographical 390

History of Tampico Township — Biographical — History of the Village of Tampico — Newspapers - Churches and other Organizations 451

History of Ustick Township — Biographical 462

History of Union Grove Township — Biographical 473

History of the State of Illinois 487

Bill of Rights — Descent of Property - Exemption Law - Limitation Law — Organization of Corporations — Fence Law — Estray Law — Lost Goods, Money, Etc — Weights and Measures — Marketing Products — Game Law — Fish Law 501

Preacinct Organization — Old Settlers' Association — Presentation by Hon. E.B. Washburne of the Portrait of the Indian Chief "Prophet" to Whiteside County 509

Errata and Addenda 533

Index 535


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With the Niagara period closes the work of continent building for a long period in Whiteside County. Not until the opening of the carboniferous age does there appear to have been any change of which nature has made an entry in her records. For ages its surface had been dry land. Had it been covered by the waters there would have been some strata deposited to tell the story.