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Bureau County Illinois  
Westfield Township History


Westfield Township
[Source: History of Bureau County Illinois, H. C. Bradsby, Editor, Chicago Publishing Company 1885, Page 424-425]

Mason Dimmick staked out a claim for the whole of Lost Grove in 1830. He partly built a cabin, where Arlington now stands, but never occupied it. He abandoned his claim after two years and for several years after this the township remained wild and unsettled, and deer and wolves in great numbers were the only temptation for the chance visitors in the pursuit of game and the destructive wolves. In the fall of 1834, a man named Hough completed Dimmick's cabin and moved into it. He lived in lonely content for a while and then concluding he never would have any neighbors, tried to sell his claim, for which he asked $25. Col. Austin Bryant and Enoch Pratt examined the property, with a view of purchasing in the spring of 1835. After a careful examination they concluded that $25 was a goodly amount of money, and further, they thought there was not enough timber in the grove for two farms, and they did not buy. Hough then abandoned the property and his improvements went to decay and for the next five years no adventurous soul lived in the township.

In 1835 two young men were contending for the claim to the grove; while contending about it Benjamin Briggs entered the land, and in 1840 he sold it to Michael Kennedy Sr., who made a large farm here. In 1840 David Roth, then a contractor on the Illinois Central Railroad, built a house on Section 10. The next year he sold to Martin Corby. In 1843 Daniel Cahill made a farm on 26, and Daniel Lyon on 27. Afterward George W. Gilson built on Section 8, and sold to James Waugh. In 1847 Peter Cassaday made an improvement on Section 10, and Elijah Little on 17. In 1850 David Nichols and J. Aldrich settled on Section 4.

Arlington was laid out upon the building of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, 1853, by James Waugh. Nathan Linton kept the first store and was the first grain dealer in the place. J. C. Gibbons dealt in grain and lumber, on the south side of the track. He failed and went to Kansas. A. Linley bought out Linton and kept a general store in Gibbons' old stand but he failed and went to Iowa. Luke Lawler and Charley Westcate were the first blacksmiths. Dr. Pyronet was the first physician; he went to Missouri. The next physicians were Dr. Tuttle and Dr. George. Van Law and Clint Robinson were among the first carpenters and then Albert Morgan who is yet hard at it. James Waugh was the first hotel keeper.

An index to the libidinous capacity of some of the people of Arlington we give the fact that here no less than five different men have been killed by the trains from either sitting on the track or walking on it. The first accident was to a young man named Rowen; he had been out to a charivari and was cut to pieces. A tailor named Burnside, then John Bell, and a peddler next and then a German.

Samuel Karney committed a shocking murder in the village, killing Mrs. Elizabeth Sheehan, nearly cutting her head off, after shooting her twice. He also shot her father through the thigh and severely cut Mrs. Sheehan's mother. The wretch then cut his throat and must have astonished the pit keeper by his early arrival at his permanent home. It is hardly necessary to explain that the wretch was desperately in love with Mrs. Sheehan.

Arlington Lodge, No. 418, I. O. O. F., was organized April 20, 1870, with the following charter members: J. T. Larkin, M. D. Palmer, Joseph Andrews, William Price and D. H. Hayner. The following members were initiated the first night: Thomas McGann, T. A. Maul, James Waugh, Robert Barrett, J. B. Grimes, Rev. W. H. Haight, C. H. Betz, I. H. Booth, I. C. Black. Present number of members about fourteen.
First officers: J. T. Larkin, N.G.; M. G. Palmer, V. G.; Joseph Andrews, Sec.; William Price, Treas.
Present officers: Fred Walters, N. G.; Jacob Doll, V. G.; A. Weibel, Sec.; George Hansel, Treas.
On the third day of January 1878 permission was given by the Grand Lodge to work in the German language.

Peter Cassaday laid off an addition to the southwest of the town in 1854.

James Waugh was one of the liberal minded, large-hearted men of the early settlers. He lived on a great thoroughfare for immigrants and was compelled to keep a house of entertainment. And here many a weary traveler found a haven of rest. The first post office in this part of the county was at his house, and his daughter, Catharine was Post Mistress. She continued in the office after the town of Arlington was laid off. Nathan Linton, son-in-law of Mr. Waugh, kept the first general store in the village.

[Source: the Past and Present of Bureau County, Illinois. Chicago: Pioneer Publishing, 1906, Page 118 and 119 - Westfield Township]

 As early as 1830 Mason Dimmick staked out a claim which embraced nearly all of Lost Grove. He also began to build a cabin about where Arlington now stands, but he never finished it. After about two years of roughing he finally abandoned the cabin, claim and all, and for several years there was no further attempt to settle this township.

In 1834, a Mr. Hough completed Dimmick's cabin and occupied it for some time, but becoming lonesome and dissatisfied with his location, as there was no prospect of ever having any neighbors, he offered cabin and claim for twenty-five dollars. No one seemed to make this purchase, so the claim was again abandoned and all of the improvements went to decay, and for five years, the territory of Westfield was without human inhabitation, but the wolf and deer were much in evidence, and great sport  was had in the chase during those years.

In 1840 Benjamin Briggs and Michael Kennedy, Sr., settled in this township. Also David Roth, a contractor on the Illinois Central Railroad, built on Section 10. In 1843 Daniel Cahill and David Lyon settled on sections 26 and 27. George W. Gibson settled on section 8, afterward owned by James Waugh. Peter Cassady, Elijah Little, and David Nicholas were among the first settlers.

The Village of Arlington

After 1843, settlers began to come to this part of the county. Arlington was laid out by James Waugh about the time the Burlington railroad went through in 1853. Nathan Linton kept the first store and was also the first grain dealer. J. C. Gibbons bought grain and sold lumber on the south side of the railroad, but reverses came to him and he moved west. The first blacksmiths were Luke Lawler and Charles Westcote. The first physician was Dr. Pyronet. He was followed by Dr. Tuttle and Dr. George.  The first carpenters were Van Law, Clint Robinson and Albert Morgan. The first hotel was opened by James Waugh  In 1854, Peter Cassady platted an addition to the southwest of the town. Sidney Gray  and L. O. Hills kept a store for some years  in Arlington. Mr. Gray now lives in Nebraska and Mr. Hill is in the south.

Nathan Gray, who was one of the active men for many years in Bureau county, moved upon his farm in Westfield in 1852, where he resided until his death in 1892, having lived beyond four score years. Most of the early settlers of this township, like all of the others of this county, have finished their course on earth and joined the great majority, and all that is mortal in their being is returning to the natural elements.

Arlington was incorporated June 8, 1874. Westfield township, by census in 1900, including the village of Arlington, had a population of 1118; the corporation of Arlington, 400. The following are the names of those who served as supervisors:

Michael Kennedy Jr., 1851
Edmund Polke, 1852
Michael Kennedy Jr., 1853
Nathan Gray, 1854
John C. Gibson, 1855
Nathan Gray, 1856-59
Michael Kennedy Jr., 1860-62
H. I. Briggs, 1863-64
Michael Young, 1865-66
C. Gray, 1867
J. McCreedy, 1868-71
Daniel Bouden, 1872
James S. Willson, 1873
James McCreedy, 1874-75
Martin Corley, 1876-77
Louis Zearing, 1878
Michael Skeffington, 1879-1900
John Dwyer, 1901-05
S. P. Prescott, 1906


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