Putnam County, Illinois History and Genealogy
Owen L. Savage
Thomas W. Sheperd was born in Mason Co. Kentucky in 1812 and departed this life, July 8, 1891, age nearly 79 years. At the age of 6 years, he removed with his parents to Indiana and from there at the age of 23, to this county, Putnam.
In 1844, he was married to Miss Katherine Hand. Of a family of 10 children, 7 are still living. He was received
into the M.E. church at the age of 14. In 1844, he joined the True Weslyan as an ernest advocate of anti-slavery
sentiments and was also an honest opposer of secret societies. A man of firm integrity as he was, he was respected
by those even whom he opposed and was followed to his last resting place by a multitude who could not but respect
him. His funeral was largly attended from the congregational church of which at his latter years he was a hardy
and liberal supporter, his wife being a member. The pastor, A.M. Case preached an appropriate sermon ...... His
remains were interned in the Union Grove cemetery there to rest until the last great day.
John F. Skeel, who is serving as clerk of the Joliet Township High School and clerk of the Joliet Township School Board is one of the best known citizens of Will County. He was born in Putnam County, Ill., Dec. 24, 1860, the son of Linus B. and Flora (Morrison) Skeel.
The boyhood of John F. Skeel was spent in Putnam County on his fatherís farm. He attended the public and high schools of Granville, and later attended Wheaton College, from which he was graduated in 1883. For one year he taught in the schools of Tama, Iowa and was principal of the Granville (Ill.) High School for two years. He also served as superintendent of schools in Putnam County. Many years ago he came to Joliet, where he accepted the position of cashier and bookkeeper for the Barrett Hardware Company. He later was employed as an accountant for the Illinois Steel Company and as cashier of the Lambert & Bishop Company. In 1894 he was appointed principal of the Broadway school. Aug. 1, 1896, he was elected clerk of the Board of School Inspectors of Joliet. Upon the creation of the Joliet Township School Board in 1897, Mr. Skeel was appointed clerk. He has served both boards in that capacity continuously since that date.
On June 11, 1885, Mr. Skeel married Miss Flora C. Birdsell of Tamma, Iowa. They have two adopted sons: Gordon, born Aug. 27, 1899, is a World War veteran, lives at Joliet; and William H., born April 24, 1902, lives at Detroit, Mich.
Mr. Skeel is a Republican and a member of the Presbyterian Church of which he has served as elder for 37 years.
[Source: History of Will County, Illinois by August Maue, Vol II., 1928, Page 855-856]
The history of Putnam county would hardly be complete without mention of Lewis Erastus Skeel, who has celebrated the eighty-second anniversary of his birth and yet he is a man of much vigor and enterprise, who would hardly be accredited with such a length of years by those who are not familiar with his history. He is pleasantly located upon a farm about a half mile east of Hennepin, where he has long resided, and he belongs to one of the honored pioneer families of this part of the state. His birth occurred at Xenia, Greene County, Ohio, June 22, 1824, his parents being Nathan and Olive (Bacon) Skeel, in whose family were nine children, of whom he is the only one now living.
The parents of our subject were married in the Empire state, where the mother had gone when a child of six years, and later they became residents of Green county, Ohio, removing thence to Cincinnati when their son Lewis was only three years old.
Three years later they started by team for Illinois in the fall of 1830 and were accompanied also by their eldest daughter, then Mrs. Peter Ellis and her child. A brother-in-law of Mr. Skeel, Ezekial Stacy, had come to Illinois four years previously, locating near Springfield in Sangamon county, where part of the family spent the winter, while the remainder came to Ox Box prairie in the fall of that year. In the spring of 1831 they were accompanied by Mr. Stacy to Putnam county. The summer of 1831 was spent by Mr. Skeel and his family at Payneís Point and he made a claim where his son Lewis now resides, erecting a cabin near the site of the present residence.
After his fatherís death in 1841 Lewis E. Skeel assumed the management of the home farm. He has hauled wheat to market in Chicago where he would receive from thirty-eight to seventy-five cents per bushel and the trip would require nine days. On his return he would bring freight, often hauling lumber. He has extended the boundaries of his farm and throughout his entire life has carried on agricultural pursuits.
On the 28th of October, 1847, Mr. Skeel was united in marriage with Miss Nancy Jones, who is also a native of Greene county, Ohio and came to Illinois with her parents Abram and Mary (Hays) Jones, who were married in Green county, where they lived in the neighborhood of the Skeel family They located at Evans Point, Marshall county, but in 1833 removed to Princeton, Bureau county, where the father died in 1858. Their farm included that part of Princeton where the depot now stands and the brick house in which Mr. and Mrs. Skeel were married, stands one-half mile west of the depot. The mother died in 1885, at the age of eighty-three years. Mrs. Skeel is the only one of the family now living. Barton Jones died in Columbus City, Iowa. One sister, Mrs. William S. Wilson died in Ohio, Bureau County and James, Daniel and John, all farmers, also spent their last days in Bureau County.
No children have been born to our subject and his worthy wife. But from the age of eleven years they reared Huron Warren, a nephew and have given homes to other children.
Formerly Mr. Skeel supported the Republican Party, but his interest in the cause of temperance has led him to ally his forces with the Prohibition Party and he has frequently attended its state conventions. Both he and his wife are devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, belonging to a congregation which was organized in 1833, and of which his mother was one of the original members. For many years Mr. Skeel has been an officer in the church.
He continued the operation of his land until eight years ago, since which time he has rented it and now practically lives retired. He still lives, however, upon his place of eighty acres where the log cabin was built in 1831. He owns altogether, however, one hundred and eighty acres, all of which he rents and which brings to him a good return. He has long been a most honored pioneer resident of Putnam county and few men enjoy in as large measure the respect and confidence of these who have known them as this venerable pioneer, whose interest in the county dates from pioneer times down to the present period of progress and development.
[Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois by John Spencer Burt and William E. Hawthorne, 1907 Page 212-216]
Linus B. Skeel married Minerva Payne, who died at the age of twenty-seven years and he afterward wedded Miss Flora Morrison, a native of Scotland. He entered one hundred and sixty acres adjoining his fatherís farm, where he lived until 1846 and then removed to Payneís Point. He later returned to a farm near Florid where the following twenty years were passed and then went to Gibson City, Ford county, Illinois. He had served in the Black Hawk war.
[Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois by John Spencer Burt and William E. Hawthorne, 1907 Page 216]
Linus B. Skeel, deceased, was among the early settlers of Putnam County, having located there in 1830. He was born at Syracuse, N.Y., and his wife was a native of Scotland. Mr. Skeel improved 220 acres of land in Putnam County and became a successful farmer. He died at the age of 85 years and his wife died when 91 years of age. Both are buried in Union Grove Cemetery, near the old homestead. Mr. Skeel served throughout the Black Hawk War. He was a lifelong member of the Congregational Church. To Mr. and Mrs. Skeel the following children were born: Nathan L., deceased; Donald W., died at the age of 21 years; Olive, married James B. Foley, lives in Colorado; William L., deceased; John F., the subject of this sketch; and Flora M., lives in Sioux City, Iowa.
[Source: History of Will County, Illinois by August Maue, Vol II., 1928, Page 855]
Nathan Skeel was a native of New York and his wife, Olive (Bacon) of Vermont. The Skeel family is of Welsh extraction, being descended from three brothers who came from the little rock-ribbed county of Wales to America at an early day. The parents (Nathan and Olive (Bacon) Skeel) of our subject (Lewis Skeel) were married in the Empire state, where the mother had gone when a child of six years, and later they became residents of Green county, Ohio, removing thence to Cincinnati when their son Lewis was only three years old.
Three years later they started by team for Illinois in the fall of 1830 and were accompanied also by their eldest daughter, then Mrs. Peter Ellis and her child. A brother-in-law of Mr. Skeel, Ezekial Stacy, had come to Illinois four years previously, locating near Springfield in Sangamon county, where part of the family spent the winter, while the remainder came to Ox Box prairie in the fall of that year. In the spring of 1831 they were accompanied by Mr. Stacy to Putnam county.
The summer of 1831 was spent by Mr. Skeel and his family at Payneís Point and he made a claim where his son Lewis now resides, erecting a cabin near the site of the present residence. There the family removed in the following fall, their nearest neighbor being Samuel Patterson, who was a half mile distant. In the fall the Indians began to gather and three or four hundred camped on the river near the trading post, but in the spring scattered again. They belonged to the Pottawattamie tribe. In the following spring the people became frightened because of the Indian troubles and the Skeel family lived a part of the time in Hartzellís building, which had been removed to the village of Hennepin, the women largely spending their nights there. Some of the time was passed at Fort Cribs, which stood at Florid and was so named on account of being constructed from two old corn cribs and surrounded by a stockade. They also spent a portion of the time at old Fort Caledonia. The Indians, however, never molested them and that year more settlers were added to the community.
The Skeel family were in limited circumstances and during those pioneer days lived quite frugally. In the first cabin erected upon his place the father (Nathan Skeel) died June 1, 1841. He was an industrious, energetic man and had succeeded in placing eighty acres of land under cultivation. Wild game was found in abundance and furnished most of the meat used by the frontier families. In the winter of 1831 a man by the name of Gallagher started an ox mill near Florid, which ground some corn meal and even flour. The mother (Olive (Bacon) Skeel) of Mr. (Lewis) Skeel died at the old home, September 30, 1879, being ninety years, three months and eleven days old.
Nathan and Olive (Bacon) Skeel had nine children, of whom he(Lewis) is the only one now living. At the time of the fatherís death four of the children, three daughters and one son were married, while Lewis E., aged seventeen and Louis Jane, aged 10, were still at home. The other son Linus B. Skeel married Minerva Payne, who died at the age of twenty-seven years and he afterward wedded Miss Flora Morrison, a native of Scotland. The sister of our subject, who was married on coming to this state, located at Payneís Point. Another sister, Lucy Ann was married in 1832 to Daniel Warren of New York, who made a claim on Big Indian creek in La Salle county and there died. She later became the wife of Peter H. Dick, who also lived in that county and is again a widow, making her home in Ottawa.
[Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois by John Spencer Burt and William E. Hawthorne,
1907 Page 215-216]
Milton Cushing Springer
Milton Cushing Springer was for a number of years one of the most prominent and public-spirited citizens of Wilmette. He was born at Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois, May 3, 1837 and his death occurred at Wilmette, December 26, 1890. He was the sixth in a family of twelve children born to Isaac and Charlotte (Ijams) Springer.
Isaac Springer was born in Maryland, May 7, 1798. His parents, John and Rebecca Springer, were descendants of some of the pioneer American families who originally located at Wilmington, Delaware. The Springer Family was founded in this country by Charles Christopher Springer, who was sent hither in the interest of the King of Sweden. He sprang from German ancestors, who were connected with the royal family of that nation. Charles C. Springer was the owner of large estates, comprising a portion of the town site of Wilmington, where he located about the middle of the eighteenth century. When Isaac was about two years old the family removed to Grove Creek Hill, West Virginia, and thence, a few years later, to Muskingum County, Ohio, settling on a farm near Zanesville. There he grew to manhood, and learned the carpenter's trade. In 1822 he married Miss Elizabeth Cowan, who died in February of the following year leaving two children, one of whom, Mary Ann, still survives. In the spring of 1826 he was married to Charlotte Ijams of Muskingum County, Ohio.
In the fall of 1834 he became a resident of Illinois, locating first at Magnolia, Putnam County and a few years later in Marshall County, where his death occurred March 17, 1853. He was a first-class mechanic and erected many of the principal buildings in that county. He was a man of more than ordinary intellect and endowed with a wonderful memory. Being a studious reader, he became well informed on the topics of the day, and acquired an extensive knowledge of law, and his counsel was often sought by those who knew him best. While a resident of Ohio, he was Captain of a company of state militia and at one time took command of the regiment, putting them through the drill, which their Colonel was unable to do. After his removal to Illinois, his fellow-citizens frequently recognized his executive ability on public occasions by making him Marshal of the day. He was ever active in promoting public enterprises andworks of internal improvement and foresaw in the state of his adoption one of the grandest commonwealths of the Union.
Mrs. Charlotte Springer died in Marshall County, Illinois in June, 1870. She was born in Muskingum County, Ohio in June 1806. She was a daughter of Judge Thomas Ijams, who preside over the court of that circuit for a number of years and was for several terms a member of the General Assembly of Ohio. His wife's maiden name was Duval. Mrs. Springer was a lady of great energy and splendid intellect, and devoted Christian. As her husband's business kept him away from home most of the time, the responsibility of caring for their large family amidst the privations of a frontier settlement devolved chiefly upon her. Dr. J. G. Evans, President of Hedding College, had this to say of her; "She was a woman of much more than ordinary ability and of rare attainments. I have never met, in all my travels, any woman as entertaining or edifying in conversation as she."
Milton C. Springer spent his boyhood on a farm in Marshall County. From an early age he gave evidence of having inherited the ambition and energy with which both his parents were so amply endowed. When about nineteen years old he entered the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington, and a few years later became a student at the Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois. Though his studies were more or less interrupted, he contrived to graduate in 1864 from the university and also from Garrett Biblical Institute the following year. While attending this school he helped to rescue the victims of the "Lady Elgin" disaster, a catastrophe long to be remembered by those who were living in this vicinity at that time. Before completing his studies, he began to recruit troops among the students and was commissioned Captain of Company F, One Hundred and Thirty-third Illinois Volunteers. He led this company until the close of hostilities, being chiefly employed in scouting and skirmish duty in Missouri and other central states.
After the war he engaged in teaching, and was for five years President of Hedding College at Abingdon, Illinois. He then came to Cook County, and after living a short time at Glencoe, became a resident of Wilmette, in May, 1873. During his residence at this place he subdivided a portion of the village and was always interested in tis progress and development. Soon after coming to this county, he was appointed by President Grant Chief Deputy of the United States Internal Revenue Office in Chicago, being the real head of that office through successive changes of administration for the next twelve years. Among the officials and others who knew him his name was a synonym for kindness, integrity and honor, and it may be truly said that no man ever left the public service with cleaner hands or clearer conscience. After resigning this position he became the Secretary and Treasurer of the Anderson Pressed Brick Company, but was obliged to server that connection on account of failing health. Later he was interested in the Chicago Universal Building and Loan Association, officiating as President of the Board of Trustees and Superintendent of Agencies, and this connection was continued until his death.
For three years previous to his demise he served as President of the Village Board of Wilmette, and that body adopted resolutions of sympathy and regret at the bereavement which had afflicted the whold community. He also served asa member of the School Board of the village for several years contributing freely of his time and talents to help advance the cause of public education and supporting many other movements calculated to promote the culture and prosperity of his townspeople. He was a man of great activity and enterprise and a recognized leader in every undertaking in which he became interested.
On the 25th of March, 1865, he was married to Mary Elizabeth Ward, daughter of George and Betsy Ward of Big Foot, Illinois. They became the parents of six children: Lewis B., George W., Frank V., Mary C., Milton C. and Nora P. The youngest son died in boyhood, and the survivors all reside in Wilmette, the sons being interested in business in Chicago.
Mr. Springer helped to organize the Methodist Church of Wilmette, with which he was identified during the remainder of his existence, often filling the pulpit. He was a Thirty-second Degree Mason, being connected first with Apollo Commandery and later with the Evanston Commandery, of which he was a charter member and also a member of Oriental Consistory. He was a consistent and steadfast Republican, but always placed the cause of good government above mere personal ambition or the advancement of party interests.
One who had known him well wrote at his death: "He never lost sight of his original plan of life, never shirked a duty, never failed to be a friend to his friends, and an enemy only to abstract meanness and downright rascality. Modest and unassuming, shrinking from notoriety, he still had that greatest of all courage, which enabled him to do right at all times and under all circumstances. He was true to himself, true to his fellow-men, true to his God, and no better epitaph could be written of mortal man."
A brother-in-law of Mr. Skeel, Ezekial Stacy, had come to Illinois four years previously, locating near Springfield in Sangamon county, where part of the family spent the winter, while the remainder came to Ox Box prairie in the fall of that year. In the spring of 1831 they were accompanied by Mr. Stacy to Putnam county. He located first on Ox Bow prairie and later removed to the west side of the river where he laid out the little town of Webster, which at one time became quite a village, but has now disappeared. There Mr. Stacy died.
[Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois by John Spencer Burt and William E. Hawthorne,
1907 Page 215]
Jacob Streamer, drug and variety store, Pontiac; familiarly known as "Uncle Jake Streamer;" he is one of the early settlers of Pontiac, having resided here since 1852; he was born on the 8th of Feb., 1818 in Williamsburg, Blair Co., Penn.; he was raised to the business of a tailor and came to Illinois in 1844 settling in Putnam Co., and opening a grocery store; he established the first Sunday school in Putnam Co.; in 1850 he came to Reading in this county where he remained two years, and then removed to Pontiac, when there were but six houses in the place, and opened a tailor shop; he acted as Postmaster two years, although the regular appointee was J. P. Garner; he has been Justice of the Peace twelve years. He was married April 14, 1853 to Miss Salina Sturman who was born in Virginia, Oct. 3, 1831; they have three children--Mary E., hattie E. and Francis M.
--Taken from The History of Livingston County Illinois Illustrated Chicago: Wm. Le Baron, Jr., & Co., 186
Dearborn Street 1878, Pontiac Township page 649
Nancy (Raley) Swaney Moffitt
Sarah (Kirk) Griffith
Sarah (Griffith) Swaney
John Swaney, a farmer living on section 15, Magnolia township, where he owns a valuable and well-improved tract of land, was born at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 8, 1824, and in the paternal line comes of Irish descent. His parents were James and Nancy (Raley) Swaney, the former born on the Emerald isle, while the latter was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Her father, Eli Raley, belonged to an old Virginia family and was a member of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. The parents were married in the Keystone state and made their home in Harrisburg until the father's death, which occurred in 1829. Four years later the mother removed with her family to Washington County, that state, and there became the wife of James Moffitt. In 1842 the family made their way westward to Illinois where they settled on a farm in Magnolia Township, Putnam County and here the mother passed away in 1872. By her first marriage she was the mother of three sons; John, of this review, David, of Nebraska; and Barnett, a resident of La Salle County, Illinois. By her marriage to Mr. Moffitt she had one son, Eli Moffitt, who is a resident of Adrian, Michigan. Three of the sons were loyal defenders of the Union cause during the Civil war, while the fourth furnished a substitute.
John Swaney, whose name introduces this review, accompanied his material grandfather, Eli Raley, to Putnam County in 1840, being then a youth of sixteen years. His education, begun in his native state, was continued in a log school-house near the home of his grandfather in Putnam County his teacher being the late Judge Burnes of Marshall County, this state. Mr. Swaney was reared to agricultural life, early becoming familiar with the various duties which fall to the lot of the farmer and in early life he learned the wagon maker's trade, serving a three-years' apprenticeship, after which he followed the trade for two years. In 1847 he began steam boating on the Illinois River, serving as second clerk on the Anglo-Saxon, running from St. Louis to La Salle. He was later promoted to the position of first clerk and served in that capacity until the breaking out of the rebellion, being employed on various boats which plied the Illinois, Ohio and upper and lower Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
In October, 1861, his patriotic spirit being aroused by the continued attempt of the south to overthrow the Union, Mr. Swaney made application to enter the Navy at St. Louis with Commodore Rogers, and was commissioned as acting master and ordered to the receiving ship, Maria Denning, where he began his naval drill. Later the Maria Denning was sent to Cairo, Illinois, carrying the ordinance to equip iron clad gunboats built at St. Louis. After the battle of Fort Donnelson he was transferred to the gunboat Cairo, which was ordered to Nashville, accompanying General Nelson. His company were at Pittsburg Landing, later at the bombardment of Fort Pillow above Memphis, in which they took part. After the naval battle at Memphis, where the rebel gunboats were destroyed or captured, they were ordered back to Cairo. Acting Master Swaney was then transferred to the Conestoga, under command of Lieutenant Commander, later Admiral, Selfridge, now a retired rear admiral of Boston, and his vessel was one of the number engaged in cruising from the mouth of White River down the Mississippi River to Columbia, Arkansas, a distance of sixty miles, the river being divided into naval divisions by Admiral Porter. He was subsequently transferred to the United States steamer, Kenwood, which he commanded with the rank of acting volunteer lieutenant until August, 1865, operating on the Mississippi River from the mouth of Red River to Baton Rouge and Donnellsonville. He dismantled his steamer at Cairo in August 1865, but was not discharged until the following October, when he returned home after four years of faithful and arduous service.
After his return from the Navy, Mr. Swaney resumed his farming operations, taking up his abode on the farm which has since continued to be his home. Through a long period he was actively engaged in farm labor and has been an active and helpful factor in the development and up building of this portion of the state. As the years passed he prospered in his undertakings so that he added from time to time to his landed possessions and today is in possession of a valuable and well-improved farm, on which he still makes his home, although he rents the land, and from this he derives an income sufficient to supply himself and wife with all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life, so that now in their declining years they may live in well-earned ease.
On the 17th of Mary, 1846, Mr. Swaney chose as a companion and helpmate of life's journey Miss Sarah Griffith, a native of Cadiz, Ohio, born on the 12th of October, 1830. Her parents George and Sarah (Kirk) Griffith, were both natives of York County, Pennsylvania, where they were reared and married, and on leaving the Keystone state removed to Cadiz, Ohio, where they made their home for a few years, but in 1836 made their way to Putnam County, Illinois, settling on a farm on section 15, Magnolia township, known at the Whitaker farm. Their first residence was a log house, which was later replaced by a more substantial and commodious brick residence, the brick and lime for its construction being burned by Mr. Griffith. Mrs. Griffith passed away May 24, 1838, and was the first adult buried in the Friends cemetery. She had become the mother of ten children, but with the exception of two, all are now deceased. Isaac, William and Julia Ann, all deceased; Martha Jane, residing in Marshall County, Iowa; Oliver G., George and John, all of whom are deceased; Sarah, now Mrs. Swaney; and Eliza and Ruth, deceased. After the mother's death, the father was married again, his second union being with Lydia Comly, and he is still living and was ninety years old November 24, 1906. To this union four children were born: Hiram, of Montana; one who died in infancy; Frank, also residing in Montana; and Mrs. Isabel Beck of Magnolia Township, Putnam County.
Mr. Swaney first gave his support to the abolition party and afterward to the republican party, but is now a prohibitionist, thus indicating his views on the temperance question. He has always taken a very deep and helpful interest in the advancement of this party and has frequently attended its district, state and national conventions. In 1885 his name was placed before the public on both the republican and prohibition tickets as a candidate for state senator, but as his party was in the minority at that time he was defeated in election. In former years he frequently contributed to agricultural journals, thus taking a deep interest in the agricultural development of his part of the state. He was instrumental in securing the post office at Clear Creek, which was first called Whitaker, and for twenty-one years served as postmaster.
In 1866 he was assistant United States revenue assessor, and in educational affairs has taken a helpful interest. For many years he served as school trustee of Magnolia Township, and in 1905 he donated twenty-four acres of land for the establishment of a new consolidated district school, three districts uniting. A large and commodious brick building is now under construction and when completed will be one of the finest in Putnam County. Mr. Swaney employed a landscape artist from Chicago to lay out the grounds so that they are most beautifully and tastefully arranged. The children are taken to school in covered wagons, which have been built expressly for that purpose. Thus it will be seen that Mr. Swaney is a warm friend to the cause of education and his efforts in the cause of educational system are proving of great benefit to the youth of his community. Mrs. Swaney, like her parents, is a devoted member of the Society of Friends and both she and her husband are charter members of the Magnolia Grange, in which she has held office, while he has filled all of the chairs in the organization. He has also served as a member of the State Grange executive committee and was also identified with the first organization of the Grand Army post at Magnolia.
Mr. Swaney has now passed the eighty-second milestone on life's journey and has lived in Putnam County for sixty-six years, so that he is thoroughly familiar with the pioneer conditions which existed in this community at that early day. He and his wife are venerable and highly respected people of this portion of the state and umber their friends by the score.
[Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties, By John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne, Printed by the Pioneer Publishing Company, Chicago, 1907 Page 160, 165]