Putnam County, Illinois History and Genealogy
Taken From the Henry Republican
The following obituary notice of the late George Dent, was penned by his son, Thomas Dent, and published in a late number of the Hennepin Record:
Died in the 3d inst., at his residence in Minonk, Woodford county, George Dent, aged 71 years, 6 months, 18 days. The deceased was a native of Monogahala county, Virginia (now West Virginia). His ancestors were connected with the early settlement of that section, and with its government in civil affairs, and with military matters in the revolution. He was a son of John Evans Dent, who died in Putnam county, Ill., some eleven years ago, and Rebecca Hamilton, who emigrated to Muskingum county, Ohio, in the year 1808, and to Putnam county, Ill., in the year 1831.
The deceased took up his residence in Oxbow prairie in the latter year, and was of the volunteer force in the Black Hawk war in 1832. He opened a farm on Oxbow prairie, and for a number of years thereafter continued his connection with farming; but having through an accident, in the year 1836, been deprived of much use of his right hand, his attention was turned partially toward other business, and for the next following ten years he was connected with different local offices in his township and neighborhood, including the office of county assessor for one year.
In 1847 he was elected clerk of the county commissioners' court and recorder, and removed to the county seat, Hennepin, and there resided until the spring of 1869, filling meanwhile, among other positions, the office of clerk of the circuit court for some years; also the office of county judge for one term; and the office of member of the house of representatives in the general assembly, for the district composed of Putnam, Woodford and Marshall county for one term.
He removed in Minonk in the spring of 1869, and at his death was filling his second term as police magistrate of that place. The deceased was of a genial nature, and was somewhat distinguished for his recollection of people and his general acquaintance with persons and places within the range of his residence and travel in the country. In political matters, while adhering to his party in the main, he was much influenced by personal preferences. He enjoyed being hospitable, as was common in some of the earlier settlements. The funeral services occurred in the Methodist church in Minonk, on the 4th inst., and was largely attended.
The deceased had never attached himself to any church, but has been heard to signify that he should have taken a stand in early life. He also highly commended consistent profession. About one year before his death, he inscribed in the family bible, which had come down to him from his father, a sentiment, mainly a quotation from Sr. William Jones, beautifully expressive of the incomparable worth of the bible. This he is supposed to have done in order that his deliberate views on the subject might be distinctly manifested.
On the arrival of the corpse in Hennepin on Saturday morning last, a number of people, especially from the older residents, followed the remains to the grave, and viewed the face of the deceased. The following persons acted as pall bearers, to-wit: Jefferson Durley, A. T. Purviance, Wm. Eddy, Henry Casson, Martin Bauman, C. P. Towle, Patrick Dore, and Africa H. Turner. Selections from the scriptures were read by Rev. Mr. Murphy and a prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Bailey.
Taken From the Henry Republican
A correspondent, L. W. K. furnishes the Chicago Tribune with a becoming notice of CAPT. G. DUNLAVY, one of the old settlers of Hennepin township, who died on Monday of last week of apoplexy after but a few hours illness. The writer says that 47years ago MR. DUNLAVY came to Illinois from southern Ohio; and after a shortresidence in Bond county, moved to Hennepin, and built one of the first three houses created in that town, not a very elegant mansion to be sure, but one quite comfortable for those days.
Hennepin, at that time, was about the size of Chicago; but, in their race for future greatness, the former town has been somewhat distanced. The country, however, has rapidly settled up, and the broad prairies, that were then undisturbed by anything save the tramp of Indians and the howling of wild animals, are now filled with thriving neighborhoods and populous towns and villages. But those hardy pioneers who first broke the soil of this section, and planted the seeds of prosperity we now witness passing away JOHN P. BLAKE, WILLIAMSON DURLEY and WILLIAM HAM being the only ones left of the little band who settled here together.
CAPT. DUNLAVY served in the Black-Hawk war, that was in progress at that time, and took an active interest in all that pertained to the prosperity and well-being of this entire section. He was fairly prosperous in worldly affairs, and was enabled to assist many benevolent enterprises, being rarely appealed to in vain. He was well known as an earnest and influential advocate of anti-slavery principles, and many were the interviews that we held at his residence by the Hon. OWEN LOVEJOY, HOOPER WARREN, and ICHABOD CODDING, those anti-slavery lights who have passed to their reward.
Fortunately, his last Christmas was passed with nearly all his family at home, and he was noticed by those present as being in unusually good spirits, and gave no indications of the sudden death that awaited him. It seems fitting that mention should be made of these old pioneers as they pass away one by one, who, with musket in one hand and ax in the other, fought and cut their way through to civilization, and to the comforts we now enjoy.
The bench and bar of Illinois: historical and reminiscent, Volume 1 edited by John McAuley Palmer 1899 Page 106-107
Williamson Durley was born in Caldwell county, KY, Jan. 7, 1810; died in Hennepin, Ill., Jan 14, 1901, aged 91 years, and 7 days. He moved with his parents from Kentucky to Sangamon county near Springfield, Ill., in 1819, where he was educated in a log school house with split logs for seats, hewed benches and other furniture to match. In that primitive college he laid the foundation of his knowledge on which he afterward built by the economical use of spare hours in private study.
In August, 1831, he came to Putnam county, Ill., taking part that season in the first year of the Black Hawk war. He and his uncle James Durley opened up a stock of goods under the firm name of J.& W. Durley, and continued for four years. In 1837 he moved on his farm two miles east of Hennepin and in 1811 he entered into the mercantile trade with Andrew Wardlaw, under the firm name of Durley & Wardlaw. He remained on his farm until the autumn of 1880, when he retires and moved to Hennepin.
He served as internal revenue assessor from 1862 to 1865, assistd in filling out the township quota, and was active in organizing the Union League long prior to the Rebellion. He was in full sympathy with the Liberty party and acted with the Free Soil party in 1848 and 1852, and has trained in the Republican ranks since that great party sprang into power.
He was married to Elizabeth Winters of Miama County, Ohio, Dec. 21, 1834, who preceded him to the spirit world six years ago. He was one of the foremost men of Putnam county and was only feeble a few hours before his death. He passed quietly away at 3 o'clock Monday afternoon. Funeral was held from the First Congregational church Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock. His daughters, Mrs. Hartenbower and Mrs. H.A. Stewart arrived Tuesday morning, accompanied by Hon J.J. Hartenbower of Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Durley leaves one brother, four sons, and three daughters, 21 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, besides a host of relatives and friends. The funeral was conducted by Rev. P.M. France, pastor of the First Congregation church, of which Mr. Durley was a devoted member.
I am writing you on behalf of the DENT FAMILY who lived in Oxbow Prairie in 1831. JOHN EVANS DENT and REBECCA HAMILTON settled in Oxbow Prairie in 1830. Their son, GEORGE EVANS DENT and COMFORT IJAMS settled in Oxbow Prairie in 1830, on what was later called the Law Farm. Their son, HENRY CLAY DENT, was born on July 1, 1836 in Magnolia. HENRY CLAY DENT married ELIZABETH WILCOX ELIZABETH WILCOX was the daughter of DR. LEVI WILCOX, JR. and NANCY ROGERS . They moved to Pattensburg, Marshall Co., ILL in 1838 where daughter ELIZABETH was born in December 5, 1839.
THOMAS IJAMS DENT, brother of HENRY CLAY DENT, was born November 14, 1831 in Oxbow Prairie, Putnam Co., Illinois. He became a successful lawyer and judge in Chicago, Illinois.
I hope that this information will be of help to you and that it might be added to information you already have on these early settlers.
Francis Ralph Dennis, a real-estate man, has operated largely in that field in different parts of the country and is the father of a number of town sites leading to the substantial development of the southwest, particularly of Oklahoma. He was born in Hennepin, Putnam county, Illinois, in 1877, a son of Francis S. Dennis, who was born on a farm near Henry, Marshall county, Illinois, in 1836. He is now living in Henry and, although he devoted his earlier years to agricultural pursuits, he later turned toward merchandising as a dealer in ice and beef. He married Ruth Bush Chance, a native of Putnam county, Illinois. Their wedding, which was celebrated in Henry, has been blessed with four sons and three daughters: Irving, deceased; Walter; James, who has passed away; Francis Ralph; Edith, who has also departed this life; and Agnes and Ella, who are both married. It is interesting to know something of the still earlier history of the Dennis family, for the grandfather, James Dennis, was an old-time newspaper correspondent and from Illinois wrote for Philadelphia papers about the Indian occupancy of this state and the pioneer development. He now lies buried in one of the oldest cemeteries of the state bordering the Illinois river, where the graves of the Dennis family indicate that they were among the first to settle in Illinois.
When Francis Ralph Dennis was six years of age his parents removed to Henry, Marshall county, and later he attended the city schools and the high school. He left home at the age of eighteen years and was afterward employed in various cities but in 1898 joined the army, enlisting for two years' service or "during the war," following the outbreak of hostilities with Spain. The war closed at the end of eight months and he was then honorably discharged. He was a member of the First Illinois Cavalry under Captain Robert Fort, a greatly beloved officer and one of the leading young republican politicians of the state. He served as state senator, as had his father and his grandfather before him. and few men were ever more greatly loved than was the Captain of L troop of the First Illinois Cavalry.
When the war ended Francis R. Dennis went to Chicago and was employed at various places before entering the real-estate business in that city. He began operations in a small way but gradually extended his efforts and was very active in establishing new towns in Oklahoma, following the admission of the state to the Union. He was the original town site man at the beginning of the boom and largely through his efforts the towns of Thomas, Hobart, Siboney, Roosevelt and Davidson sprang into existence. He has carried on real-estate dealing in Peoria for seven years and is now at the head of a large clientele in this connection. He has thoroughly informed himself concerning property values here and has negotiated many important realty transfers in various districts, largely western lands. He is also a factor in industrial circles of the city, being engaged in the building of the Hebdennis grain weighers, which are continuous weighers. These machines are all manufactured in Peoria at the "Old Pottery" site at Adams and Mary streets, where are employed several score of workmen. These machines are of great value and are finding a ready sale on the market.
On the 10th of October, 1911, Mr. Dennis was married to Miss Florence G. McKelvey, of Hedrick, Iowa, and they reside at No. 400 North Glen Oak avenue. Mr. Dennis votes with the republican party. He has been described as "a clean cut young business man and a student of up-to-date things and methods." This indicates his progressive spirit, while something of his social nature and position is indicated in the words of one who called him a "prince of good fellows" extremely courteous and a true gentleman. His experiences in life have been broad and interesting and his ambition has kept him in touch with modern progressive methods. What he undertakes he accomplishes, for he is determined and energetic, realizing ever that when one avenue of opportunity seems closed other paths may be found which will lead to the desired goal.
Francis B. Drake
Mrs. Doran’s father was Frank B. Drake, the pioneer settler of Drake's drove, from whom it received its name.
In 1835, Francis B. Drake, Sr. and family came, and moved to the timber since known as Drake’s Grove.
The journey was made in company with her parents, two brothers Frank and George, and the children of the latter, one of whom is now Mrs. Sherburn and the other Mrs. Cotton, of Sparland. The little company passed through a wild and uncultivated country, infested with game and innumerable snakes, and often made a reluctant halt beside swamps in place of a better locality. F. B. Drake, who is noted for his able rending of a good yarn, describes the traveling as endured with less fortitude when some poor soul would startle them with a deafening yell of "Get off my head!" Their team being part oxen and not decidedly fleet, were forsaken at one point by Mrs. D., who describes the self-importance with which she set forth, re marking she would walk to the next house and wait till they arrived the following day, but was met with the withering reply there was not a house within 15 miles.
They intended wintering at Springfield, but could find no habitation excepting those whose former inhabitants had all died of the cholera, and not liking these, they pushed on 8 miles further to a settlement of southern people, who had been there for 20 years, and owned 300 acres of splendid land and large droves of cattle, feeding them on unhusked shocks of corn, which the following spring was burnt if not consumed by the stock, preparatory to another crop. Their food consisted of bread ground on an ox or horse mill, and pork fried to a cracklin over their fire-places—stoves being unknown—no fruit or vegetables, excepting a very few sweet potatoes. Their school house, l2 by 14 feet square, furnished light from one window having but four small panes of glass, and scholars numbering about 60, all of whom, both boys and girls, had learned to chew tobacco. In the winter these resolute emigrants received a visit from Dr. Wm. Thompson, who having some acquaintance with the country and being most pleased with what is now Marshall County, advised their removing there, which they accordingly did in the year 1835 and found the country very sparsely inhabited, save with wolves, deer, wild hogs, prairie chickens and wild turkeys.
They settled on Senachwine Creek, what has since been called Drake's Grove, in honor of Mrs. D's father, F. B. Drake, Sr., who was the first white settler. Their nearest neighbor on the east was a Mr. Graves, living where Sparland now stands; on the west was Gen. Thomas, at Wyoming, a distance of 16 miles: on the north lived Elder Chenoweth, a Baptist minister, this being 15 miles distant. In Lacon there was but one house, though there were several scattered along the river bottoms.
The wild animals were fierce and quite dangerous, wild hogs sometimes "treeing" settlers and keeping them there until friends came to their relief, which might not be until starvation seemed imminent. Deer were so plenty that the hunters killed several a day, while the Indians were peaceable, but earned much anxiety from their peculiar mode of association, coming into the house and searching for something they wished, and upon finding it, would offer to swap their venison and wolf meat, the latter of which the settlers invariably declined. The distance to mill being twenty-live miles, the trip, including detention at the mill, would often occupy a week, while those at home would pound corn upon which to subsist during their absence. Obliged to travel over a trackless prairie, they often became lost from wandering round and round, supposing they were taking a direct route for home. To pay for their land they took their cattle on foot to Chicago, receiving $6 to $10 a head for the best, while Mrs. Drake's mother took cheese, etc., to St. Louis to lighten the family expenses.
Frank Drake, Sr., had five children, of whom George was the eldest. His second son and namesake lived here until 1877, when he removed to Texas and is still living. His daughter Sally married Samuel Ellis Thompson and still survives. His daughter Cynthia died September 13, 1835; and his daughter Delia (born in 1824 in Athens county Ohio) married Thomas Doran, and lives on the old homestead. George first settled in the bottoms east of the County poor farm, and lived there until 1855, when he emigrated to Texas. He was a brick mason by trade and erected most of the early brick houses of this section.
In March, 1846, $300 was appropriated by the County Commissioners to build an embankment through the sloughs from Lacon ferry to Sparland, on condition that the citizens would contribute $400 in addition for the same purpose, and F. B. Drake was appointed a Commissioner to expend the money and superintend the work.
Mr. Drake was once employed by William Fenn, then engaged in merchandising, to plough a furrow from Sparland to Wyoming, to direct people here. It may be set down as the longest advertisement ever made. While living in the state of New York himself and two others discovered a den of rattlesnakes, and destroyed 300. One of the men fell in convulsions from the poison inhaled and died on the ground, the other died not long after, while Mr. Drake was ever after subject to cramps, and finally died from cancer in the face, the effect, as stated by physicians, of inhaling the poison.
[Source: Record of Olden Times or 50 years on the Prairie, 1880, Page 314, 541, 756 - Transcribed by Nancy Piper]
The maternal grandfather of our subject was Robert Dugan, a native of Ireland, who came to America and settled in Pennsylvania; later moved to Ohio, and about 1833 came to Putnam County Illinois, and settled on a farm. He was nearly eighty years old at the time of his death. His family comprised six members, three sons and three daughters.
[Source: Biographical and Genealogical Record of La Salle County, Illinois, Volume 2, Lewis Publishing Company 1900, Biography of William G. Wilson]