The Spotted Dutchman’s House

Taken From the Henry News Republican
September 23, 1869

Under the above caption, a correspondent in the Quincy Whig of a late date, gives the following description of the residence of the “Spotted Dutchman” who owns a place in Magnolia township, some three or four miles from Henry. The correspondent, it seems, had a very pleasant visit at the Dutchman’s not long since:

Near the town of Henry, Marshall county, Ill., is to be seen quite a curiosity. Leaving the town, a drive of about one hour brought us to the “Spotted Dutchman’s” mansion. the name “Spotted Dutchman” is given the man on account of the peculiar appearance of his horses. They are the finest in the country round, and spotted all over from head to tail.

He has four in number, two being kept for farm use, and the other two for driving exclusively. He is what is called a grass widower, having had two wives, and both having deserted him. But he is very wealthy, owning several thousand acres of land, a portion which is covered with a splendid black walnut forest.

Some two years ago he came to the conclusion he would build him a grand seven story mansion, that should be a marvel and wonder to generations to come. To begin with, he starts from the bible, and quotes thus: “The wise seeketh the council of many.” Then he goes to this friend and that friend, and they all laugh at him and say that he is crazy and many other unpleasant things.

Still he is not discouraged, but consulting the bible once more, he fines that the wise man also builds his house upon a rock. He now builds a solid rock foundation, then lays his timber and joints, then clapboards the outside; then between this and the inside work he places 1 1/2 inch boards edgeways, which are thoroughly fastened together with heavy bolts. Between these timbers is put a mixture of tar, graves and cement, after the manner of the Nicholson pavement. Walls, ceilings and floors in the same manner, thus by his theory making it cool and pleasant for summer and warm and comfortable in winter. Then finishes with clapboards on the inside as well as the outside, the ceiling being well sealed by this process, making it as solid as a rock. And in this manner every story is built until the seven stories are completed.

On the first floor, there is one room, some 10 x 14 feet, in which he intends to always have a table spread, loaded down with eatables of the season and all kinds of drinks. Opening from this room are four small rooms to be used as storerooms for refreshments; also for holding private conversations or changing money.

The first an second floors were finished off like a good sized cottage, a nice roof being put on and painted all over with three coarse; hen a second story is built on the roof of this  and so continued until the seven stories are reached, four of which are now finished, each story growing smaller and smaller as they go up. In the seventh he says there shall be a large gilt frame, in which all who come and visit his house, by paying the sum of $1, shall be a member, and can go and bring all their relations without extra charge. The fact of his gaving built his house all alone without any help, working sometimes all night, makes it more remarkable.

There is no chimney in the house, he stating as his reason that the peculiar construction of his house does not need them. The windows are all barred with iron bars on the inside to exclude burglars. The man’s idea is partly to make an observatory of the roof of the seventh story. He confidently asserts that from that elevation, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Quincy can be distinctly seen with the aid of a telescope.

Not withstanding his former experience in the matrimonial line, the poor fellow seems to be infatuated in that direction, for he says when his task is done and his castle built, he will get him a wife to suit him, also a full retinue of servants to wait on him and his wife. Altogether, this is the most singular freak of a crazy man we ever heard of. We would say to the ladies, now is your chance if any of you wish to become mistress of a seven story castle, commence negotiations at once.

The Castle Dismantled

Taken From the Henry Republican
November 13, 1873

The “spotted Dutchman’s” castle has been dismantled to the extent of three stories, and is now reconstructed into quite a stylish residence. Mr. Roth, a Canadian, is the owner.  Had our Friend Halblibe built less “castle in the air’, he would have been happy in his old home today. His misfortune was a sad one - others reaping the benefit of his long, arduous, perservering labors.

The Spotted Dutchman Hill

Taken From The Henry News Republican
August 20, 1903

The above contains a view of Spotted Dutchman Hill, between Henry and Magnolia and also the public watering trough at the roadside up the Hill, place there by the commissioners of public highways of Magnolia township, Putnam county, some 25 years ago, for the convenience of watering and refreshing the teams as they passand repass up and down the Hill.  This trough is supplied by a spring from the hillside, the piping and trough the work of the township highway officers, a humane act which is recorded to the everlassting credit of the nobled hearted people of the township.  

The "Hill" bears its name from a Mr. Halbleib, who resided a short distance beyond the summit of this long Hill in the early day, an eccentric genius, and whose roadster was a spotted animal (red and white of the Arabian specie).  He also inspired local fame, for an attempt to construct a tower on the top of his residence so as to command a view of the Illinois river and valley.  He constructed it some 40 or 50 feet in height, against the opposition of his family and neighbors, but it was so clumsily put together, so weighty and so grotesque in appearance, that it inspired the jeers and ridicule of his neighbors and he abandoned the project, sold the property and moved away.  The "castle" or "tower" was then removed from the top of the house and the far-famed place is now only remembered by the veterans familiar with the incident.  

The picture was captured by the camera of the Junior, who thinks it is as fine a view as he has yet taken.  The locality is about three miles from our city, northeastward, and on the roadway between Henry and Magnolia  The A.H. Evans farm lies to the south as you get to the summit, and we believe the water supply to the trough is from a living spring on his land.

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