Rock Island County Biographies
- S Surnames -
Charles Shuler Sr.
Interview by John Hauberg
Jan. 10, 1937, Davenport, Iowa
I was born in 1856 in Rock Island and when I was six months old my folks moved to Rapids City, Ill. My father was a cooper by trade, making barrels. There was such wonderful timber around Rapids City. There was no saw mill there to cut the lumber for them there. They cut small trees for hoops÷saplings as large as three fingers or so, and sold the barrels in Hampton where they butchered pigs, and in Rock Island for the distillery. They put the whiskey in barrels and let it age, to improve it.
Father died when I was nine years and I was the oldest of five children. My brother John was the youngest and was 14 months old when father died. There were three sisters in between. The war closed July 5th and father died of sickness July 15th. He was in the army. He did not die of a wound but of sickness.
Interviewed later at Keator Mill 2-17-1945:
When I was ten years old I went to work in the sawmill in Rapids City and worked there two years. At first they sawed only hardwoods that they cut around Rapids City, but while I worked there they began to get soft pine. Then in the winter, when they couldn't work, they moved the sawmill to Rock Island, on 24th Street, next to the river, where the viaduct is now. The mill was east of the viaduct. The reason for moving was that there was a better chance to sell the lumber in Rock Island than at Rapids City. I worked two years in the sawmill after they moved.
While I was working in Rock Island, three other men from Rapids City worked there, too, and on Saturday afternoons we walked to Rapids City and Sunday P.M. we walked back to Rock Island. One fellow, his name was Hennegan. He had bad feet, but he walked from Rock Island to Rapids City and back.
Gilchrist never owned farms. He bought coal rights. He never drilled first to see what was under the ground to find out if the coal was good. He had $4,000.00 and he put down a shaft and got to the first vein and it was only one foot thick He went 20 feet lower and found the regular vein and had a good coal mine. He mined only 40 acres and the coal was all gone. I sold him the ten acres that my father had. I sold him the coal right at $300.00 an acre and got $3,000.00 for my mother. Only seven acres and coal on it. The upper end had no coal on it. The vein just run to nothing. If I'd have been older, I'd have sold the land, too, to Mr. Gilchrist. He lived near it.
You know, I married Gilchrist's daughter, Jennie.
We opened another mine on Wainwright's land, but he made nothing. He built a railroad to it but the coal was no good. Then Mr. Gilchrist got interested in coal in Iowa about half way between here and Des Moines.
Rapids City was a big town at one time. Must have been 1,000 people there at one time. When telephones began, another kid and I got a rope and stretched it across the town and had tin cans and tried to talk to each other, but we couldn't hear. It should have been a wire.
Yes, we had Negroes in Rapids City. We had strikes twice. I brought 100 Negroes from Louisiana myself. We had a strike. Had two strikes one about seven years after the mine was opened. Both the Gilchrist and the other mine had strikes and I got the Negroes. They put the Negroes in one mine and whites in the other. They shot one Negro, but the man didn't know he had shot a Negro. He shot through a door and it hit a Negro and killed him. They had a trial about it in Rock Island. Rettig's folks saved the man who did the shooting. They showed that the man was at the saloon at the time the shooting was done. It was the darndest thing.
When I was a boy the railroad went only as far as Port Byron and Mart Rettig. Rettig had charge of the engine and when the road was built farther on north he lost his job and he started a saloon in Rapids City and it is still there.
I've been in every state but two little ones in the East. I can't remember them now. Have been in the Old Country three times to my wife's old home in Scotland and my father's old home in Germany and we were in Italy 3 months.
My father was born in Germany. My mother was born there, too. He came over first and then she came over and they were married here in Rock Island. Her name was Mary Ann Houck, born Feb. 8, 1827 and she died Dec. 31st, 1904. They were from Hauenstein in southern Germany.
My mother is buried in Rapids City. We tried to find my father's grave in the south, but couldn't find it. We were Catholics, but mighty poor Catholics. We children were all baptized in the Catholic church, but my religion isn't anything. I've read the Bible through 4 or 5 times and there isn't a true thing in it. They didn't know conditions then. The Bible says the earth is flat. Now we know it is round. When HE made the sun that was the fourth day. According to that he must have worked in the dark the first three days.
The railroads built in Rapids City were standard gauge and there was a place down by the river where we had barges and we sold coal to the steamboats. I used to haul those cars down there and going under the railroad bridge we had to stoop down. See this scar (a dark blue scar on top of head). One time a girl threw me an apple and I tried to catch it. I didnât stoop fast enough and my head hit the bridge. I was unconscious a whole day. When I came to, my wife was sitting by the bed crying and holding the oldest child, Hugh. She thought I was dying. I laughed and said, "I'll be all right."
No, there was no flour mill then, till afterward after the sawmill was moved to Rock Island. They operated the sawmill about 3 or 4 years for the natural local timber and when I was 9 or 10 they began to use the soft lumber that came down the river. There was no sawmill in Rapids City when father first went there.
There were three or four other men doing the same as father, making barrels cooper work, at Rapids City. After they moved the sawmill they turned the place into a grist mill. Where Mart Rettig's saloon is was all lumber piles and they couldn't sell it as well as in Rock Island.
My mother used to go out and help father. They had a cross-cut saw and she would take one end of the saw.
After they sawed off a length they'd split the block into staves. We had steamboats to haul the coal to LeClaire and to Princeton. We had a steamboat here and were hauling people up and down. It was named Jennie Gilchrist after my wife.
note: Charlie Shuler is a great uncle of my husband. For some reason they changed their name. Some tombstones show one name, some the other.
Charlie became a millionaire.
Submitted by Mary Lou Schaechter
John Hauberg Interviews can be found in the vertical file at the Rock Island County Historical Society in Moline.
Christian Schafer Family
b. 6/16/1828 in Hessen Germany
d. 6/14/1886 in Rock Island
buried 6/15/1886 Chippiannock Cemetery
married Catherine Clouder(Clauder)
b. 11/22/1824 in Germany
d. 12/31/1909 in Rock Island buried 1/2/1910 in Chippiannock Cemetery.
Christian listed as a lumber salesman on his death certificate, died at his home - corner of Ninth Street and Eighth Avenue Rock Island. Had 3 sons and 3 daughters as follows:
George Schafer no info on him as yet
do know that two Georges married an Alice Gunsaulis and an Anna Milton, worked as a barkeeper for his brother John, was in Los Angeles when his sister Katherine died.
Katherine Schafer -
b. 8/13/1855 in Rock Island (I believe)
d. 2/2/1923 in Rock Island.
buried Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery.
Married William Kurth on 6/8/1875 Immanuel Lutheran Church
b. 10/29/1850 in Loetz Mecklenberg Strelitz Germany
d. 10/10/1899 in Rock Island.
buried Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery.
William was a partner in the firm of Kurth and Scherer wagonmakers, sold his interest and opened a bar one year before his death.
b. 6/15/1860 in Rock Island.
d. 6/28/1951 in Cedar Rapids.
buried in Chippiannock Cemetery.
Married Mary Lockmann on 1/4/1892
b. 9/3/1871 in Frischborn, Oberhessen Germany
d. 6/14/1923 in Rock Island buried Chippiannock Cemetery.
John shows up in the city directory in 1889 as owning the Schafer House on southwest corner of 17 Street and 2 Ave listed as a hotel, bar, billiards parlor, in 1900 owning a bar on 17 Street (where Theo's Java hut is now), in 1910 as a farmer on 18th Avenue and now 33rd Street(house is on the northwest corner across from the hairstylist shop- green house). According to family word of mouth, 33 Street (brick) was installed and paid for by John, the lots to the East where given by him to his children(each received 2 lots). The lot and house that is north of the houses on 18 Avenue(between 33 and 34) was built and owned by my grandfather (William), where my father (living) grew up. The family has pictures of my grandfather's house being built and of John Schafer's house when 33rd Street was not there but the trees along the Street were there but real small in size.
b. 3/4/1865 in Rock Island.
buried Chippiannock Cemetery.
Married Theodore Holdorf
buried Chippiannock Cemetery.
Theodore had a truck farm in Sears(south RI) and a grocery store(appears that the store is where the City Limits Saloon is now).
married George L. Braun on 1/28/1886
Had one child. buried in Chippiannock Cemetery. no other info
d. 9/30/1956 in Rock Island.
buried Chippiannock Cemetery.
buried in Chippiannock Cemetery,
married James in 1905-1906.
It appears but haven't confirmed yet that this Schafer was the side that owned Schafer Movers. I don't know if it was James or one of his sons.
Submitted by Jay Schafer
(Data has NOT been verified by Genealogy Trails! Please try and verify all data for yourself)
Son of David B. Sears, pioneer
From the Rock Island Argus, December 31, 1925
David Sears, 87, Rock Island Resident, Claims To Be First White Child Born in Moline
Claim to the title of being the first white child born in Moline is advanced by David Sears, 87 years of age, pioneer settler of Rock Island county, and one of the founders of the former village of Sears. Mr. Sears, in spite of his age, is still vigorous, and declares that he is able to work with "the best of 'em." He resides at 4409 Fourteenth street, Rock Island, with his wife and one daughter.
Mr. Sears performs the major portion of the heavy duties around his home and claims, that if necessary, he could saw a cord of wood. He trims the lawn around his house, which is located on a slight bluff, so that one can see the country for miles around. The pioneer has an exceptional memory for dates and events, recalling occurrences in his youth with ease.
Mr. Sears is the son of David B. and Delilah Sears. His father came from Lima, Livingston county, New York, and his mother from Covington, Ky. His father came to the village of Camden Mills, now known as Milan, but refused to make his home there because of the numerous saloons and the absence of churches. Prominent men of Camden Mills wanted the elder Sears to settle in Milan, but he declined the invitation. He went to Moline and purchased more than 500 acres there in August, 1836. There were only three families living there at that time, and the coming of the Sears family marked the fourth.
The elder Mr. Sears made the trip to Moline by prairie schooner from Shawnee Town, White County, Ill., and his wife and children later came by a boat on the Mississippi River. Mr. Sears formed a partnership with Spencer White and John W. Spencer of Rock Island, then known as Stephenson, to erect a dam from the eastern end of the Island of Rock Island, now identified as the Rock Island Arsenal, to the Iowa side, for a flour and saw mill. The dam was built in 1840. Mr. Sears bought out the shares of his partners in the enterprise and he constructed a saw mill and flour mill.
Moline from Scotch
The present city of Moline was given its name by the old settlers from the Scotch word for milltown. Mr. Sears, the son, was informed of the origin of the name by his father.
The elder Sears, upon settling in Moline, opened a general store. In 1842 he was appointed postmaster of the first post office which was in his general store where religious services also were held. Rev. A. B. Hitchcock delivered the sermons at the services. The principal business of Mr. Sears was packing pork and shipping produce down the river to Memphis, Tenn., New Orleans, La, and other southern points.
Mr. Sears was married twice, being united in marriage to Melinda Stokes, and later to Delilah Caldwell. He had seven children by his first marriage and six by his second. Divid Sears, the son residing in Rock Island, was his father's first son and his ninth child. He had seven step-sisters, three brothers and two sisters, all of whom preceded him in death. Mr. Sears was born in the log cabin built by his father in Moline, March 23, 1838, and lived in the home of his birth until he was 11 years old, when the residence was shifted to a location near the south end of the mill dam in Moline, now fifteenth street. Mr. Sears had for his playmates Wyandotte Indian children, and knew few white children until he was in his youth.
Mr. Sears of Rock Island received his education in a country school in Moline. The tuition was $3 a term and school was held only during the winter months. He was given work in his father's sawmill, and he learned the sawyer's trade of cutting lumber. Later he entered the flour mill to learn the milling trade, but this did not appeal to him.
Opens Store at Minnetonka.
In 1859 his father gave him a stock of goods and he opened a store located near the outlet of Minnetonka lake, Minn., where his father had bought land, and built a saw mill and furniture factory. On March 15, 1859, he was married to Marian Stimpson at Minnetonka City, 12 mile west of Minneapolis. he sold out his business and moved back to Moline in 1860. His father built a flour mill there, and he later operated it in conjunction with his brother, William H. Sears. The mill was in their charge until the government condemned the property for military purposes in 1864. Mr. Sears enlisted twice, but he was not accepted because of the intervention of John Deere, S.W. Wheelock, and Judge John M. Gould, all of Moline who believed that he was doing more to aid the government by operating the mill and employing men than shouldering a gun in the ranks of the army.
His father failed financially and he accepted the post of surveyor general to survey the boundary line between the state of Iowa and the territory of Minnesota in 1852. David Sears, the son, moved to a farm in Cleveland, in Henry county, Ill., after the government took over the flour mill, and he lived there for a year. He moved to Vandruff's Island, May, 1867. His father had purchased about 500 acres of land on the island, and in Rock Island. This land included the future territory of the village of Sears. The elder Sears and his son laid out the village of Sears, and, it was a suburb of Rock Island until it was finally annexed to the city.
The son resided in Searstown, 44 years, and in Rock Island 10 years. His home in Searstown was located at what is now Twelfth street and Forty-sixth avenue, Rock Island. His father died in Searstown, and his mother preceded him in death in Moline.
Mr. Sears' first two children were born on the upper end of the Island of Rock Island. He has five children, three daughters and two sons. They are Mrs. Delilah M. Currie of Medicine Lodge, Kan., Mrs. F. S. Laflin, Rock Island, Mis Vesta H., at home, Hugh R. Sears of Coda, Neb., and John D. Sears of Rock Island, street commissioner of the city.
Mr. Sears and his father built a mill on the north shore of Rock river and sold it to a Rockford firm, which operated a cotton factory and distillery.
Mayor of Searstown
As a resident of Searstown, Mr. Sears was mayor for three terms and three terms was chairman of the board of trustees at a salary of $1 a year. he was a school director in South Rock Island township for nine years and also commissioner of highways in South Rock Island township. he is an active member of the rock Island County Old Settlers' association, and was president for one term. He has been a member of Eureka lodge, No. 65, Masons, of Milan for more than 50 years. Mr. Sears was the last master of the lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen at Milan and was also a member of the now extinct branch in Milan of the Ancient Order of Druids.
He has been an active republican all his life and votes at every election. Mr. Sears used the privilege of voting for the first time in the first campaign of Abraham Lincoln. He voted for him again four years later and asserts that if Lincoln still lived, he would still give him his vote.
Pioneer Women Best.
Mr. Sears is not much in sympathy with the feminine sex of today. The pioneer women were much superior to those of this age. She was independent and self supporting, an entirely different woman from the woman of today.
He attributes his long life to the obeying of a saying of his father, "live right and live long." He does not smoke, chew or drink and like his father, is very temperate man, practicing the principles of industry, economy and honesty. Even though an old man, he can hear well and his eye sight is of the best. His wife who is 11 months older than he is, is not in good health, and their daughter, Miss Vesta remains at home to take care of her aged parents.
Rock Island County Pioneers
- David B. Sears -
David B. Sears came from Lima, Livingston county, New York, and his mother from Covington, Ky. He came to the village of Camden Mills, now known as Milan, but refused to make his home there because of the numerous saloons and the absence of churches. Prominent men of Camden Mills wanted David B. to settle in Milan, but he declined the invitation. He went to Moline and purchased more than 500 acres there in August, 1836. There were only three families living there at that time, and the coming of the Sears family marked the fourth.
David B. Sears made the trip to Moline by prairie schooner from Shawnee Town, White County, Ill., and his wife and children later came by a boat on the Mississippi River. Mr. Sears formed a partnership with Spencer White and John W. Spencer of Rock Island, then known as Stephenson, to erect a dam from the eastern end of the Island of Rock Island, now identified as the Rock Island Arsenal, to the Iowa side, for a flour and saw mill. The dam was built in 1840. Mr. Sears bought out the shares of his partners in the enterprise and he constructed a saw mill and flour mill.
Upon settling in Moline, he opened a general store. In 1842 he was appointed postmaster of the first post office which was in his general store where religious services also were held. Rev. A. B. Hitchcock delivered the sermons at the services. The principal business of Mr. Sears was packing pork and shipping produce down the river to Memphis, Tenn., New Orleans, La, and other southern points.
Mr. Sears was married twice, being united in marriage to Melinda Stokes, and later to Delilah Caldwell. He had seven children by his first marriage and six by his second.
The entire article from which this excerpt was taken can be found in the December 31, 1925 issue of the Rock Island Argus where the story of David B. Sears is told by his oldest son, David Sears.
STANLEY, Elijah Henry, real estate and investment securities; born, Drury Township, Rock Island Co., Ill., ( Nov. 28, 1870; son of Joseph Richard and Elizabeth Charlotte (Essex) Stanley; educated in district school until 1879, public schools of Rock Island until 1882, and Muscatine, Ia., until 1884; removed with family to Cloquet, Minn., and attended school until 1887; married at Duluth, Minn., Mar. 14, 1893, Miss Leonore Elizabeth Milton. Learned printer's trade and worked at it for five years in various places; has been engaged in real estate business and investment securities at Detroit since 1900. Secretary American Realty Syndicate. mason. Recreation: Travel. Office: Majestic Bldg. [Source: "The Book of Detroiters", Edited by Albert Nelson Marquis, 1908 - Sub. by Christine Walters]
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