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Livingston County, Illinois
Genealogy and History

Dwight History
Livingston County, Illinois


(Transcribed by: Teri Moncelle Colglazier)

Second largest community of Livingston County, and once famous throughout America as the home of theKeeley Institute, is the incorporated village of Dwight.

In 1950 it had a total population of 2,843. In and near the village today are located the State Reformatory for Women, built in 1930, and the Dwight Veterans' Hospital, a unit of the Veterans' Administration Facility.

Dwight was platted in 1854 by Richard P. Morgan, Jr., on land owned by Morgan and several others, among them Jesse W. Fell. The latter was a great-grandfather of Adlai E. Stevenson II, candidate for President of the United States in 1952.

After the Chicago & Mississippi Railroad was built through Dwight late in 1854, the village quickly expanded as a commercial and shipping center.

The Keeley Institute, an establishment for the cure of alcoholism, was founded here in 1879 by Dr. Leslie E. Keeley.

Most prominent of Dwight's citizens during the 1920's was Frank L. Smith, farmer, banker and leader of the Republican party in Illinois.

Today, Dwight is the only community in Dwight Township' which has a total population of 3,586.

First settler of the township was John Conant, who arrived early in 1854. He was the first postmaster at Dwight village.
[This is Livingston County, Illinois by: John Drury, The Loree Co., Chicago, Illinois (1955)]


Happenings in Dwight, Illinois
from November 1890 to January 1, 1892

Source: History of Dwight from 1853 to 1894
Author: Dustin, William G.
Dwight, Ill.: Dustin & Wassell, 1894?,

Transcribed by Faye Clark for Genealogy Trails


FROM NOV. 1890 TO JAN. 1, 1892.

The first issue of the STAR AND HERALD under the management of A. B. Zimmerman was Nov. 15, 1890. In October 1890 Dr. Houston and family moved to Joliet, Dr Oakshett buying his practice in Dwight. The C. & A. did a business of $74,000 from their Dwight office. Robt. Mayes looses two fingers while running a circular saw in Joliet. The K. P. annual ball Thanksgiving was a great success. The coal shaft ghost stalked through Dwight. Miss Jones gives an elaborate entertainment under the auspices of the G. A. R. John H. Finch, of Nevada, half brother of Freeman Spencer, died at the age of 22. The Ys gave a very fine entertainment consisting of fan and maypole drill, recitations and music. W. G. Dustin superintended the drill, and after the entertainment the young ladies presented him with a handsome rocker. Orrin Gallup sells his Union farm to Matthew Ross. J. G. Strong sell 210 acres known as the Hurlbut farm. Steven Knudsen buys the Duesler farm in Round Grove. Will Losee buys a three legged chicken. Gene Baker, formerly of Dwight, is elected county treasurer. Frank Stuck, brother of the editor of the North Star, met a horrible death at the 3 I crossing. He jumped from the Hummer, which was going about thirty miles an hour, and was drawn under the wheels and instantly killed. Miss Kate Williams and W. H. Luther were married Nov. 25, 1890. Rev. F. W. Merrell preached the Thanksgiving sermon. Henry Turnbaugh and family moved to Iowa. John C. George moved to Pontiac, having been elected county clerk. Katie Ida McCarter dies at the age of 15 years. A lecture course under the auspices of the Y.P.S.C.E. was a feature of the winter's entertainments. Dr. Hansen, of Chicago, opened the course with a very interesting lecture. Rev. Dr. McClish delivers his splendid lecture on "Man" at M.E. church. Henry C. Hollmeyer died at the age of 63 years and 11 days. Mrs. Lillian Ray Stuck, wife of the editor of the North Star, dies at the age of 26 years, Johnnie George goes to work for his father in the county clerk's office. L. D. Plummer finds employment in Chicago and moves to that city. Sadie Barnhardt dies at the age of 5 years and 7 months. S. T. K. Prime meets with a great reception during his visit east. James Paul, an old and respected citizen, died quite suddenly Dec. 6, 1890, at the age of 7 years. N. N. Mickelson builds a handsome new residence. The Christmas holidays in 1890 were duly celebrated in Dwight, and prosperity and good will seemed to predominate.

The year 1891 is one which will long be remembered by the residents. It was this year that the little prairie city sprang into prominence the world over on account of the great discovery of Dr. Leslie E, Keeley, "Dwight" and "Keeley" became household words and the fame of our honored townsman was great. The year was the time of many of the substantial improvements and remarkable growth in population. May sensible sets and many foolish ones adorn the history of the year. The results of the boom were good and bad. Many people made money, and some lost. The fault lay with the "boom," and no individual should be charged up with any bad results. It was like all booms. Some people lost their heads and their pocket-books, others, more cool-headed and experienced, took advantage of circumstances and made money. The price of property went away above reason and still there were plenty of buyers and sellers. The last owner got left for the time being. After the boom subsided, as it were, people began to count the cost, but found it not great. While a few individuals lost, Dwight had about 700 more population, and was much improved by the addition of fine brick blocks, an elegant depot, opera house, hotels and many handsome, modern, comfortable dwellings. Public improvements, such as water works, electric lights, etc., were here to stay. So much for 1891 in this line.

Among the many interesting items we note the following, Col. and Mrs. J. B. Parsons celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. J. C. Lewis' mother dies in New York. Leta Sheldon, of Campus, dies. "National Keeley Club" organized, and constitution and bylaws adopted. This was probably the first real organization, although the patients had organized locally at W. M. Weese's blacksmith shop some time before. The objects are to more closely ally the patients and help in lifting up fallen humanity. Under the name of "Keeley League" it is now one of the solid temperance organizations of the world, and the membership numbers about 25,000. Thus another national organization sprung into existence from our prairie city. The Masonic installation and banquet was a great affair this year. Early in the year the electric light was turned on for the first time in Dwight, and it was highly appreciated after using the old oil street lamps for years. Howard Huey was made agent of the C, A. road here. Mrs. Steven A. Goodman died Jan. 12 of heart disease. A successful revival was held in the M. E. church in January. The first public joint installation of the G.A.R., W.R.C. and S. of V. took place in January and was very successful. The organizations have followed the same course since, and are in splendid condition at the close of this history. The STAR AND HERALD publishes interviews with citizens regarding electric lights and they are considered good. Albert Fisk and Miss Ewing were married Jan. 23. Len Hahn and Gus Keim dissolve partnership in the meat business, and the latter returns to his home in Ottawa, Ill. J. C. Lewis buys the Hetzel property. W. G. Dustin purchased a half interest in the STAR AND HERALD Feb. 15, 1891, and became editor, which position he has held ever since. Frank Bunting and Gertrude Haynes were united in marriage Feb. 13. Thomas Gogley and Lizzie Hanlon were married. D. McWilliams purchased the James C. Spencer farm just in the edge of Dwight, containing 473 acres, for $25,000 cash. It is known as the "Prince of Wales farm." F. A. Haise buys the Cleveland property and erects a handsome residence. The order of Eastern Star becomes an important society of Dwight. Mrs. Anna K. Rutan and W. E. Finch were married in Chicago. Miss Maggie Sloan dies Feb. 17. Mrs. De Voir, of Bloomington, and Dr. M. McLane were married. The first annual "write-up" of Dwight appeared in the STAR AND HERALD of Feb. 20. The issue consisted of twelve pages and nearly every business man of Dwight was represented. Five thousand of these papers were sent over the county, and attracted much attention to Dwight. The edition was illustrated. The "Accommodation" only runs to Dwight.

Simon Nelson freezes to death while intoxicated. Memorial services to the memory of W. T. Sherman were held in the M. E. church in February. Robt. Martin moves to town. B. A. Buck purchases the Kenyon homestead property. Losee & Brown purchased the business of Will Losee. Albert Barr and Chet Gould open a steam laundry next to the STAR AND HERALD office. The Chicago Tribune began to open its columes to any one who has taken the Keeley cure to testify to the facts regarding the the cure. Dr. Milton R, Keeley and Miss Jennie Buckingham were married Tuesday, March 10, at the home of the bride's parents at Decatur, Ill. Annie Lowere and Kate Brown form a partnership for dressmaking. Mr. Steven Parmenter dies suddenly. Will Losee buys a half interest in Hans Rosendall's cigar store. August Hern and F. B. Doughty marry. Daniel Gallup dies at Pomona, Cal. Mrs. Leach, mother of John Leach, dies March 27. Sarah Rielly and Gus Lawson are married. Lida M. Menapugh and T. E. Gillispie follow suit. Roller skating was a "craze." Mrs. Lizzie Travers, only daughter of Geo. Kepplinger, dies. A public meeting was April 10 to agree or disagree on a union ticket for municipal election, which was productive of much good. W. G. Dustin was chairman. Remarks were made by Col. R. P. Morgan, Major C. J. Judd, Rev. F. W. Merrill, C. A. Stuck, G. S. Baker, J. P. McWilliams, A. R. Zimmerman, Jesse Diefenbaugh, Dr. Rabe, John Geis, J. B. Bell, James Kelagher and others. The meeting resulted in there being only one ticket in the field, as previously stated in this history. The spring township election resulted in the election of E. T. Miller, clerk; James Kelagher, assessor; Mr. Young, collector; B. A. Buck; school trustee. At the municipal election the following officers were elected unanimously: John Thompson, president; W. H. Taylor, D. B. Stevens, and John Leach, trustees; Andrew Doherty, clerk. Dr. Palm was elected president of the school broard and John Pettett, John Geis and J. R. Oughton members. Sam Lower demolishes the old blacksmith shop on Mazon avenue and erects the handsome Pennsylvania House. Mr. And Mrs. F. A. Lakin move to Sandwich, Ill. W. H. Cool is made C. & A. agent at Dwight. Thos. Weldon purchases the Deale property on Seminole street. Major C. J. Judd retires from the village board, having served faithfully in every capacity for ten years. The first banquet ever given under the auspices of the Bi-Chloride of Gold Club was in an Alton dining car April 20, 1891. Miss Kunigunda Eusner and Carl Tock were married April 19. Hetzel & Romberger dissolved partnership, and the Hetzels, who were so long residents of Dwight, left for their future home in Englewood, Ill. Geo. W. Patton delivers the annual address to the Odd Fellows. Real estate transfers were made right and left at right and left prices. Edward Kemeys Henry is buried in Dwight April 28. Miss Emma T. Patterson dies at the age of 20 years. Hershal Hagerty weighs mail for the government. James Austin retires from the office of marshal and Robt. Orr took his place and occupies the position yet. The handsome "Livingston" was opened in May. DeWitt Miller and Ame Orr open a restaurant. Edward and James McWilliams cross the ocean. David McWilliams breaks ground for his handsome residence. The Leslie E. Keeley Co's offices are moved to the opera house, which they purchased, and J. D. Ketcham purchased the former office, and ground was broke for the present handsome laboratory. Dwight base ball team defeated the Wilmingtons. The Keeley League meets in Kepplinger's hall in May. Mrs. J. M. Reeder died and is buried in Highland township. O. B. Stanton buys the lease of The Livingston of L. J. Trunnell.

The graduating class motto for '91 was "Purity," and the names of the graduates were as follows: Misses Maggie Kern, Mildred Gould, R. May Morris, Minnie E. Barr, Marcella Ferguson and Mr. Fred de Clercq. Prof. Fisk was principal and Miss Krohn assistant. Rev. P. M. France presented the diplomas. May 28 a business men's meeting was held in the town house and a permanent committee consisting of the following gentlemen as representatives of the people were elected: C. L. Romberger, chairman; J. C. Lewis, S. T. K. Prime, B. A. Buck and David McWilliams. This committee accomplished much good for Dwight, and their successful efforts were highly accredited. The next evening a monster meeting was held in Kepplinger's Hall presided over by S. T. K. Prime. Among the speakers were Dr. Keeley and Hon. O. W. Pollard. This was the most enthusiastic meeting ever held in Dwight. Its final results were good, but nothing as to what was expected. A permanent Business Men's Association was organized in May. Another important meeting was held about this time, the results of which will stand as monument for all time to come. We refer to the visit of the Chicago & Alton railroad officials and a meeting of prominent citizens with them in their private ear. The officials present were T. B. Blackstone, president; C. H. Chappell, general manager; T. M. Bates, superintendent of transportation; K. F. Booth, chief engineer; O. M. Richards, superintendent; John B. Drake, director. The citizens of Dwight present were the citizens committee as previously mentioned and Dr. Leslie E. Keeley, Major C. J. Judd, J. R. Oughton, Hon. O. W. Pollard, Col. R. P. Morgan and W. G. Dustin. The permanent result of this meeting is the handsome new depot. There is none nicer in the state. Decoration Day was duly celebrated. Rev. P. M. France delivered the address. Miss Edith Kneeland and Dr. O. P. Hanson marry. Miss Kate Steichen and N. L. Marner do the same thing. Friday night, June 12, was the great "Jollification" in west side park. The citizens committee make their report, the thirty one acre park was resented and the band played "Annie Rooney," and everybody was happy. Dwight had been in an uproar some time. Outsiders tried every way to get The Leslie E. Keeley Co. to move away, but the company purchased the Hahn farm, the McPherson house property and other places, and the people made up their minds the company would stay. John Stern dies suddenly June 8. At a meeting of the village board June 9, a resolution was passed asking Geo. C. Morgan to come to Dwight. He came and presented his views on water works, which would have been adopted and saved the people lots of money, only for the selfish motives of some of those interested in making some money out of the town. The Illinois legislature appropriated $2,500 to the Keeley Institute for the use of afflicted people who were unable to pay for treatment. Religious services were held Sunday mornings in June by the Keeley League for he first time. This beautiful custom has been continued ever since. Dr. and Mrs. Leslie E. Keeley sailed for Europe June 24. Hon. J. C. Nicolay, of Washington, D. C., visits Dwight. The Keeley League occupy Presbyterian church. Sam Boyer starts a livery. Carl Miller and Ben Weber visits faderland. The sub-district convention Epworth League met here. Hamilton Spencer meets sudden death in Chicago by being struck by a cable car. Mrs. Robert Mays died June 19, after a long illness. Miss Della Butler and Frank Currier, Mrs. Kate Brown and F. L. Evans, John Weicker and Maggie Euzner get married all in one week. Fourth of July was celebrated on a large scale and the city was literally filled with people. Col. Nate A. Reed, Jr., delivered a patriotic address. The merchants display was the finest ever in Dwight. Hunt Cutting opens a cigar store. Miss Lula Harris and Everett Kenyon marry in July. Mr. James Charlton dies suddenly July 14 at the age of 83. O. W. Pollard attends the funeral of his mother in Rhode Island. Bishop Merrill addressed the Keeley League July 12. James Goodman erects a fine residence on Mazon avenue which purchased by Rev. E. F. Wright, who resides there now. Ketchum & Smith, two young Dwight men, become large and enterprising real estate dealers. They moved into their present handsome office in July 1891, and have built up a large business in real estate in all parts of the country. John P. McWilliams lays out Renrew addition to Dwight into blocks and lots. Elsie Potter and Harry Harrison marry. Will Ketcham builds a handsome residence in Renfrew-his present home. Andrew Baker dies in August. Walter Scott goes into the ice business. W. E. Fenn builds a fine residence on Waupansie street. Mrs. Walter Maitland, mother of Dan Shearer, and Samuel Louden, died in September, the former at the age of 72 and the latter at 92. Rev. France leaves Dwight for Linden, Whiteside county, where he accepted a pastorate. He will do good wherever he goes. Hahn Bros. sell their meat business to Rowe & Horr. Morris' barber shop is burglarized in September. Tuesday morning, Sept. 8, Prof. H. D. Fisk passed away. He was a splendid man. His widow and family reside in Dwight yet. Mrs. Ellen Gould dies in California in September. John H. Smith marries Miss Lucy Aumann in Kansas. A. T. Jones erects a fine residence on Delaware street. Rev. A. M. Conard comes to Dwight M. E. church, and Rev. F. W. Merrill goes to Rock Island. Miss Mary Weller and Frank Lower are married in September. Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Weldon celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding Sept 13. Rev. Flavius Brobst visit Dwight and speaks to the Keeley League. J. D. Bevans opens a clothing store for McWilliams & Smith. James Harrison, of Goodfarm, dies Sept. 19, at the age of 71. Miss Amelia Portz and Levi McLane wed. Col. A. C. Babcock, of Chicago, visits Dwight and the Keeley Institute, and was very much pleased with his visit. Harry Lawrence opens a cigar store. The proprietors of the Star and Herald purchase the Gardner Journal. J. R. Oughtan pays $39,000 for the Mills section. Saturday morning, Oct. 10, the last great fire in Dwight took place. The fire caught in the engine hose back of the Kepplinger block about 9:30 o'clock, and as all the buildings in the row were wooden structures, everything was gone in about 2 hours. Following were the losers; Star Herald, North Star, Geo. Kepplinger, Thos. Perry, Barr & Dame, Mrs. Koehnlein, M. Rinehart, Mrs. A. Strufe, John Crocker, Leslie E. Keeley Co., Ketcham & Smith, Mrs Gertie Kayler, John Thompson, Jens Jacobsgaard, Sam Lower. It was not long before the present Kepplinger block, Mazon, Deifenbaugh, Mrs. Koenlein, Strufe house were erected, as at present-a grand improvement on the old tumble down buildings. The Star and Herald moved into Williams' carpenter shop, bought a new outfit and never missed an issue. Albert W. Barr died Oct. 11 at the age of thirty-two. James Funk, the well known politician, moved to Iowa. Mrs. Alice J. Carthy and Oscar Mulford, Miss Hattie Garrett and Wm. Mikesell are married in October. The Empire Steam Laundry goes into business on Mazon avenue. Martin Seabert erects a fine residence on Mazon avenue, where he resides at present. Major McClaughry visit's the Institute. Dan Morris' new home in Renfrew is finished and occupied. Witt & McKay go into the restaurant business. Miller Bros. Are robbed two consecutive Saturday nights in November. J. R. Oughton's brother dies in Chicago. The club reaches the 2,000 mark in January. The Keeley League is incorporated. Robt. Willmot erects a cottage on Delaware St. The Star and Herald office is moved to East Delaware street. Miss Katie Doherty and Geo. E. Goebel are married in Joliet in November 1891. Trustee Jesse Diffenbaugh resigns at a meeting in November. Miss Grace Kneeland and T. W. Davis were married Thanksgiving day. R. H. Mills suffers a painful accident by catching his hand in a corn sheller. John Dunlap goes into the laundry business. Mrs. Dr. Broughton and family arrive in Dwight in December. Thos. Blair & Co. were a new plumbing firm. Grandma Loudon dies in December at the age of 87. Patrick Burke dies from the effect of injuries received in a runaway. Mrs. Cynthia Potter dies age of 75. McConnell & Real purchase Judd Williams livery business. C. A. Stuck moved to Odell in December. Frank Reser moves here from Gardner. The Keeley Co. erects a handsome modern building corner of Washington and Chippewa streets for the accommodation of lady patients. Mrs. Dr. Oakshett dies Dec. 12. Dr. Keeley delivers an address at the Auditorium in Chicago Dec. 18. The last Star and Herald in the year was a large one and assisted greatly in advertising Dwight. Wm H. Gillispie died Dec. 12 at the age of 58 years. H. H. Cutting sells his cigar store to Sargent & Bassett. A brass band is organized. Little Mary Ethel Adam dies.
The year we are about to close - 1891 - will be remembered by the residents of Dwight as long as they live. We have included such news as was at our disposal in a compact a form as possible, and if we have left out anything of importance the reader will have to forgive us and make the best of it, the same as we have tried to do.


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