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Henry County
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History & Genealogy

History of Cambridge, Henry County, IL

Source: "Corn, Commerce and Country Living - A History of Henry County Illinois"
Edited by Terry Ellen Polson, 1968

Information gathered for the town of Cambridge - transcribed by Christine Walters

Excerpt from Page 30-31 "Founders"
Previous to the year 1840, what is now known as Cambridge Township had no history save that which is common to the whole "West." In 1835 when the prospecting party headed by Ithamar Pillsbury came this way in search of land on which to locate the Andover Colony, they found a little cabin near the west edge of Sugar-Tree Grove, a few rods north of the State Road (Route 82), known as the Cadyfarm. This place was the first habitation built in Cambridge Township and was the headquarters of a party of hunters from Knox County, who paid a visit to this section annually to hunt deer.
In 1837 Joseph Tillson arrived in Sugar Grove and in 1838 he erected a pole cabin.

In 1838 William Stackhouse and James Mascall drifted this way in search of homes and found them. On the northwest quarter of section 10, Cambridge, they found a double log cabin and other improvements—a well and a small patch of broken prairie. The house was deserted and the clearing had grown to weeds. These improvements were made by a man named Chillson, who supposed he was on government land (Military Tract of 1812), but, finding there was a prior claim, he abandoned the place. Where he went is unknown. However, a man by the same name opened a farm in Cornwall. Chillson was the first who attempted to make a permanent home in Cambridge Township, and turned the first furrow. A few years later the cabin was "lifted" by Captain Mix (prominent in the development of Andover) and taken to his place in Andover.

When William Stackhouse built his first cabin in 1840, having no timber of his own, he "borrowed" some from what he supposed to be government land. One morning when he was busily cutting timber, a handsome stranger on a horse came and told him that he was trespassing on private property. When Mr. Stackhouse explained that he was going to build a house for his family, the stranger told him that he could have all that he wanted for that purpose. The stranger was Patrick Owens, known in the area as a land shark, but better known by his associates as a kind and generous man.

The same year James Mascall, then a single man, improved his claim on section 12. In common with all pioneers, Mr. Mascall met with misfortunes that would have discouraged many. Early in his career as a western farmer, his team was broken up by the death of one the other died. Being literally "dead broke," he could not buy a second horse, so he pressed a pair of young steers into service. One of these became lame and unfit for work, so he put a heifer into yoke, and with a Dolly Varden team, consisting of one steer, one heifer and one horse, he got through with his year's work successfully.

In 1841 Richard Mascall came here from Wyoming, Stark County, Illinois, built a cabin near Mr. Stackhouse and became the sixth on the settlers' roll, At about the same time, Charles Else settled on section 11. In the fall of the same year, Stephen Cady and his son-in-law, Alex. H. Showers, arrived and built a cabin where the Perkins House was later built. About the same time Elisha Attwater came from Andover to farm.

In 1842 Joseph Perry improved the farm next east of Richard Mascall's homestead, later known as the Shannon Place.

In 1846 the families of Charles Stackhouse and S.B. Randall came. A half-log house was built for a hotel and was used for many years to entertain travelers. This was located on Old State Road, but would now be back in a field since the road has since been shifted to the section line. It is thought that a post office and hotel was located on land which in 1967 was owned by Mrs. Anna Opalka; and also a blacksmith shop was located just east of Ellenwood's Oil Station.

**(Excerpt from Pag 118) - Cambridge Township, the site of our County seat, showed a population of five in 1840, Mr. and Mrs. William Stackhouse and daughter, James Mascall, and Joseph Tillson.

**(Excerpt from Page 144) - The first bank in Cambridge was a private institute organized in 1871. The first National Bank was organized in 1881 and dissolved in 1830 (error-maybe they mean dissolved 1930?).
The Farmers National Bank was organized October 1, 1881 with Richard Mascall as President. It was reorganized and opened as the People's National Bank in July 1934. The State Bank established in 1903 aand was dissolved in 1924.


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