Illinois Genealogy Trails

One of the most interesting landmarks still standing in the County
(as of 1967), is the historic Ira Weatherhead home near Barstow in which Abe Lincoln was a welcome guest during the years he was a traveling lawyer. As the photo on the right shows, the home built around 1840, is a lovely, white frame structure often referred to as a "mansion" by residents in the area of Barstow, which was to become a busy railroad junction town northeast of Silvis. (it wasn't Barstow in those Lincoln pre-Civil War days).

Weatherhead House
c. 1967

Ira Weatherhead's granddaughters, one of whom is Louise who still resides in Moline, used to recall how their father Drury Weatherhead,would tell them about the tall, gaunt, solemn-looking Abe Lincoln coming along on horseback on the old County Road, the Galena Trail. Mr. Lincoln would stop at the Weatherhead home for a glass of water, a meal,or sometimes would stay overnight. That time when Mr. Lincoln rode the trail between Rock Island and Galena, was in the late 1850's. Drury Weatherhead was then a boy of about 8, and he and his father often talked about Mr. Lincoln's visits. Abe Lincoln made several trips to Rock Island in the Effie Afton boat case, the one fn which the boat owners sued the Rock Island Railroad because of the boat's collision with the railroad bridge constructed across the Mississippi River between Rock Island and Davenport, Iowa. Ira Weatherhead was a substantial land owner, having purchased 1,000 acres of land in what Is now the Barstow-Osborn area. A native of Vermont, he worked there in a knife factory until he was about 30 years old. Then like many young easterners with their savings in their pockets, he cane west. He apparently liked the looks of the Rock River Valley. Records show he staked out a claim to some government land, went to the land office which was in Galena, and bought a large share of it, probably for $1 an acre. Fairly well established in Rock Island County with his home built and his farm producing, Ira Weatherhead sent to Vermont for his sweetheart Mary Gallup. We are told he went to Chicago to meet her, making the trip on foot, but returning to Barstow by stage coach. Mary Weatherhead enjoyed living in the beautiful home only a short time, for she died in 1843 just a year or two after her marriage.
In 1849, Ira married Jane McNeal Welts, a member of the pioneer McNeal family of Hampton. (Judge Dan McNeal is a descendant of this pioneer family.) Mr. Weatherhead died in 1878, and his second wife died in 1901. They are buried in the family cemetery located beside the Barstow Road about two blocks west of the Weatherhead homestead. Ira and Jane Weatherhead had four children, one of whom was Drury Weatherhead. Drury, who is also buried In the family cemetery, had three daughters and three sons. In 1901 the 1,000 acres of farmland was divided among the children who then were living. In 1912 Gus and William Seuss bought the Weatherhead home and 171 acres of land for $17,100, according to historical records. They found some Lincoln souvenirs in the home - several calling cards and a letter or two. It is said that Gus Seuss recalled his father telling him that Ira Weatherhead operated a little blacksmith shop adjacent to his home, and that he met his second wife there when she came to have her horse shod. It's quite probable, too, that Mr. Lincoln's horse was similarly shod by Ira Weatherhead. The Weatherhead homestead is now owned by Oscar Ellis
(as of 1967).
[Source: Rock Island Historical Society Newsletter, vol 1., March 1967 - sub. by K.T.]


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