Winnebago County, Illinois
DANIEL SHAW HAIGHT. - OTHER SETTLERS OF 1835.
THE first settler of what is now East Rockford was Daniel Shaw Haight, who arrived April 9, 1835. Mr. Haight came to Illinois from Bolton, Warren county, New York. A year or two previous to his appearance on Rock river he had selected a claim near Geneva, Kane county. He sold this claim, and in company with two or three men, he came to Rockford on a tour of inspection. He selected a tract of land, which comprised a large part of what is now the First and Second wards. Mr. Haight went back to Geneva for his family, and in May he returned to Rockford with his wife and child; Miss Carey, who was Mrs. Haight's sister, and a hired man. Mrs. Mary Haight and her sister were the first white women to settle in the county, as it is supposed they preceded by two or three weeks the arrival of Mrs. Kent. Mrs. Haight appears to have been equal to the duties and trials of pioneer life. She had no acquaintance with books or literature; but she possessed a good mind, and was alert, shrewd, and affable to strangers. Mr. Haight was a rugged, roistering pioneer, and a shrewd man of affairs. Upon his arrival Mr. Haight put up a tent under a large bur oak tree, which his family occupied until his cabin was completed. This dwelling, built in the summer of 1835, was the first structure on the East side. It was built on the eastern part of the lot which now forms the northeast corner of State and Madison streets. This spot was at the brow of the tableland, from which the descent was rapid toward the river. The house was built in regular pioneer style, without the use of a single nail. The main part was about eighteen feet square, built of oak logs. It had a puncheon floor, two windows and a door. The cellar was simply an excavation under the centre. "Such a house" says Mr. Thurston, "may be built with an axe and an auger, and is a warm, comfortable dwelling. Haight made an addition in '36, with a space between ten feet wide and roofed over, which had a shingle roof and floor of sawed lumber." Mr. Haight's second house was on the northeast corner of State and Madison streets. It was a frame structure, and completed in 1837 by Thomas Lake and Sidney Twogood. This house was divided and a portion removed to the northeast corner of Walnut and Second streets. It is the oldest frame structure now standing in Rockford.
The first public religious service in Rockford was held the second Sunday in June, 1835, at the house of Germanicus Kent. and was conducted by his brother, the Rev. Aratus Kent, of Galena. It has been said that on that day every soul in Rockford attended divine worship. The audience comprised Mr. and Mrs. Kent, Mr. and Mrs. Haight, Miss Carey, Thatcher Blake, Albert Sanford, Mr. VanZandt, who was Mr. Kent's millwright, a man in the employ of Mr. Haight, and two other persons whose names are unknown. Thus it will be noted that in early June, 1835, there were less than a dozen persons in Rockford. This small number may be explained by the supposition that several workmen, who had been temporarily employed by Mr. Kent. had removed from the settlement.
It is impossible to give the name of every settler in what is now Rockford township at the close of the first year after Mr. Kent's arrival. In the autumn of 1834 Mr. Kent solicited a number of his southern friends to settle in the rising colony. Reference was made in Chapter VI. to John Wood. Another gentleman who thus responded was James B. Martyn. He was a native of the County of Cornwall, England, and had emigrated to Huntsville, Alabama, where he had made the acquaintance of Germanicus Kent. Mr. Martyn arrived in Rockford late in the summer of 1835. He subsequently removed to Belvidere, where he engaged in the milling business.
James Boswell and James Wood also came from the south about this time. Mr. Boswell settled on a claim about half a mile north of State street, on the west side of the river, immediately above Dr. Haskell's orchard. The next year Mr. Boswell traded with Mr. Spaulding for property directly opposite, on the east side of the river.
Eliphalet Gregory was born in Danbury, Connecticut, April 23, 1804. He came from New York in June, with his family. His claim extended east one-half mile from Kishwaukee street, and south from State to his brother Samuel's claim. His first log house was near Keith's creek, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, and west of Seventh street. A part of his later grout house still stands on Charles street. Mr. Gregory died February 16, 1876.
Samuel Gregory arrived in Rockford December 8th. His claim was approximately bounded by what are now Sixth and Fourteenth avenues, and Ninth street, and Churchill Place. His log house was on Seventh avenue, by Keith's creek, between Ninth and Tenth streets. Mr. Gregory spent his last years in Pekin, New York, where he died in May, 1886. His sons are: Delos S., John Clark, Homer, and James B. There were also four daughters: Mrs. Delia A. Johnson, deceased; Mrs. Addie S. Witwer, of Chicago; Mrs. Edna J. Hulbert, deceased: and one who died in infancy.
Ephraim Wyman arrived in September. He was a native of Lancaster, Massachusetts. In 1824, when he was fifteen years of age, he removed to Keene, New Hampshire, and from there he came to Rockford. He followed the business of baker from 1835 until 1850. In the latter year he went to California, where he remained three years. Mr. Wyman owned and platted a tract of land in the heart of West Rockford, to which reference will be made in a subsequent chapter. A street on the West side bears his name. Mr. Wyman was county treasurer and assessor in 1844-45. In his last years he was afflicted with blindness. Mr. Wyman was a worthy gentleman, and is kindly remembered. He died in the autumn of 1893. Mrs. Wyman still resides in Rockford. Their only child died when less than four years old.
Levi Moulthrop, M. D., had the distinction of being the first resident physician in Winnebago county, as now organized. Dr. Whitney had probably preceded him at Belvidere, which at that time was included in Winnebago county. Dr. Moulthrop was descended from Mathew Moulthrop, who settled at Quinnipiac, now New Haven, Connecticut, April 18, 1638, and who was one of the original signers of the Plantation Covenant, ratified June 4, 1639. Dr. Moulthrop first came to this county in the autumn of 1835, and permanently settled here in the following spring. He was born near Litchfield, Connecticut, November 1, 1805. He received his early education in his native town, and completed a course of medicine and surgery at Fairfield college, in the state of New York. In the spring of his arrival in this county, he settled upon a claim of several hundred acres near Kishwaukee, now in New Milford township, and began the practice of medicine. June 30, 1840, Dr. Moulthrop was married to Miss Margaret, eldest daughter of Sampson George, and died after a brief illness, September 12th of the same year. His son, Levi Moulthrop, was born in the spring of the following year. Dr. Moulthrop is said to have brought the first copy of Shakespeare into the county. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, a Democrat in politics, and a communicant of the Episcopal church.
Richard Montague came July 1st from Massachusetts, and purchased a tract of land near the city. A street in South Rockford, an island in Rock river and a ward school bear his name. Mr. Montague died July 16, 1878. His son, S. S. Montague, became an expert railroad surveyor.
Adam Keith came from Indiana. He was born in Pennsylvania, in 1795. From there he went to Ohio, thence to Indiana. His name was given to Keith's creek. Mr. Keith removed from Illinois to Wisconsin in 1846. He died at Beaver City, Nebraska, in 1883, at the age of eighty-seven years.
William E. Dunbar settled in what is now South Rockford, and was a leader in the organization of the county. Mr. Dunbar served as county recorder from 1839 to 1843. He died October 16, 1847.
P. P. Churchill was born in Vermont in 1804. He pre-empted a farm of one hundred and sixty acres east of the city. Mr. Churchill died January 11, 1889. He is remembered for his simple ways, kind heart and upright life.
Among other settlers in the township during the year were:
John Vance, John Caton, Joseph Jolly, Charles Hall, Lewis Haskins, Milton Kilburn, William Smith, Luke Joslin, Israel Morrill, D. A. Spaulding, Lova Corey, Alonson Corey, Abel Campbell, Ezra Barnum, Anson Barnum, James Taylor, William Hollenbeck, John Hollenbeck, V. Carter, Joseph F. Sanford, Jonathan Corey, Daniel Beers, Mason Tuttle, and Mr. Noble.
The following were also employed by Mr. Kent during the year: Squire Garner, Gaylor, Perry, Norton, Phineas Carey, Jefferson Garner, Nathan Bond, Charles J. Fox, James Broadie and wife. All these were not within the present city limits, but they were residents in the vicinity. They made the hamlet their place of trade, and assisted in its growth.
The foregoing list, however, did not comprise the total population of the county. Settlements had been made in nearly all the townships. In June, 1860, Judge Church delivered an historical address before the early settlers. At that time Judge Church gave the following list of settlers in what are now the different townships, in September of 1835:
New Milford: Samuel Brown, William R. Wheeler, Richard Hogaboom, Phineas M. Johnson, John Adams, John B. Long, Mr. Paddleford, James Campbell; Guilford: Henry Enoch, William E. Enoch, J. A. Pike, Abraham I. Enoch, John Kelsoe, Mr. Rexford, Colonel James Sayre, Abel C. Gleason, John Brink. William G. Blair;
Butler, now Cherry Valley: Joseph P. Griggs; Harlem: William Mead, Chauncey Mead, Zemri Butler;
Roscoe: Robert J. Cross, Robert Logan, Elijah H. Brown. William Brayton ;
Rockton: Thomas B. Talcott, William Talcott, Henry Talcott, John F. Thayre, Isaac Adams. Pearly P. Burnham, Darius Adams, David A. Blake, Ellison Blake, John Kilgore, John Lovesse;
Owen: James B. Lee, Richard M.Walker;
Burritt: Isaac Hance, John McIntosh, A. M. Sherman, John Manchester and family. Elias Trask, Alva Trask;
Lysander, now Pecatonica: Ephraim Sumner, William Sumner, Mrs. Dolly Guilford, Elijah Guilford, Thomas Hance;
Elida, now Winnebago: David A. Holt;
Howard, now Durand: Harvey Lowe, Nelson Salisbury, who made claims in 1835, but did not occupy them until the spring of 1836. These, with their families, property, houses, and other improvements, made that first short period determine all the future. They possessed and enjoyed the land. Others were following close behind. The future seemed promising, and they had only to prepare for it. Considerable ground was broken for cultivation; but the newly broken soil was of little use until its turf had rotted and mellowed. There was thus probably little raised that year in crops, except possibly sod corn, potatoes, vines and garden vegetables. Winter wheat, however, was sown for the following spring.
THE PIONEERS OF 1836
THE tide of emigration, which may be said to have begun in 1835, continued for several years. When the Rockford Society of Early Settlers was organized, January 10, 1870, its constitution provided that male residents of the county who settled therein previous to 1840 were eligible to membership. In this and the preceding chapter is given a partial list of those who came previous to and including 1836. In succeeding chapters will be published an incomplete roster of settlers of 1837—39, inclusive. According to the Old Settlers' standard of eligibility to membership, these names belong to the historic roll of honor.
One of the first emigrants of this year came from the old world. Thomas Lake was a native of Blackford, in the Parish of Selworthy, County of Somerset, England. He sailed from Bristol in 1832, and arrived in New York after a voyage of seven weeks and three days, just as the cholera was beginning its westward march with such alarming fatality. Mr. Lake's reminiscences of the time between his arrival in New York and his settlement in Rockford four years later, is a vivid picture of the hardships of pioneer life. Soon after his arrival in Chicago in October, 1835, he met an old acquaintance, Sidney Twogood, from Cleveland. Mr. Lake also saw Dr. J. C. Goodhue, whom he had called to see Mrs. Lake, who was ill. The Doctor advised Mr. Lake to settle in Rockford. He and his friend Twogood accepted this advice and arrived in Rockford, and for a time they followed the carpenter's trade. Mr. Lake also took up a claim, wrhich was subsequently known as the Willis Smith farm, and now owned by P. Byron Thomas. Mr. Lake died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Jane Lake, in Guilford, in the autumn of 1886.
Herman B. Potter was a native of Connecticut. He reached Rockford in October. Mr. Potter purchased a farm about two miles south of State street on the Kishwaukee road. Later he came to the city and built a house where the First Congregational church now stands. This home was purchased by Mrs. Chamberlain. Mr. Potter was a prominent citizen in the early history of the county, and was at one time a member of the county commissioners' court. In 1850 Mr. Potter visited California. In 1853 he removed his family to Iowa, where he resided until his removal to Galesburg, Illinois. Mr. Potter died at Galesburg, March 16, 1880, at the age of seventy-five years.
Selden M. Church was a son of New England. He was born in East Haddam, Connecticut, March 4, 1804. His father subsequently removed to Livingston county, in western New York. The son came to Chicago in 1835 with a team ; thence he went to Geneva, in Kane county, where he remained until he settled in Rockford in the autumn of the following year. During his early residence in the township, when the Winnebago Indians made occasional visits to their former hunting-ground, Judge Church frequently visited their camp, and obtained such knowledge of their language as enabled him to intelligently carry on conversation with them. From an early date until the time of his death, Judge Church was a notable figure in the official and business life of the community. He filled the offices of postmaster, county clerk and county judge. The last position he held eight years. In 1847 he was a delegate from this county to the constitutional convention. Judge Church was a member of the general assembly in 1862; a member of the state board of charities in 1868; and was one of the commissioners chosen by the government to locate a bridge at Rock Island. Judge Church died June 21, 1892. He builded wisely for the educational and moral welfare of Rockford. Mrs. Church and daughters, Mrs. Katharine Keeler and Miss Mary Preston, reside on the family estate on South Avon street. The title to this property has not changed in more than half a century.
Abiram and Mary Morgan left their home in Massachusetts in September on a visit to this western country. They were charmed with the Rock river valley, and determined to settle here. They purchased a quarter section of Nathaniel Loomis, and erected a small log house on almost the exact site of the spacious old Horsman mansion. Mr. Morgan also purchased section twenty-two, which was originally an Indian "float." Mr. Morgan possessed a competence, which became the basis of a large estate for his family. His religious sympathies were with the Baptist church. As soon as Mr. and Mrs. Morgan had established their home, they desired that it should be shared by their only daughter and her husband. This daughter, previous to the departure of her parents from Massachusetts, was a young school girl attending Charleston seminary, where she formed an acquaintance which led to her romantic marriage. Charles I. Horsman was then a young man in business in Boston. It was an instance of mutual love at first sight, and they were married February 10, 1834, when the bride was nineteen years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Horsman took their departure from the east soon after the arrival of her parents in Rockford. They came by way of Pittsburg, thence by the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers to St. Louis, thence overland to Rockford. Mrs. Horsman has given a vivid picture of their reception at the parental home. As the shades of night were falling, on the second day of December, they reached Rockford, on the east side of the river. They were cold, hungry, weary and disheartened. The river was full of floating ice, so that the ferry was not available; but a man agreed to row them across in a small boat, and they eagerly assented. Then they walked up from the river arm in arm, through the stately oaks, until they came to the home where the young wife's parents were waiting to receive them. In referring to that incident in later years, Mrs. Horsman said that as the door was thrown open to welcome the daughter and her husband, when the flood of light threw out its rays into the night, and the aroma of hot coffee greeted their keen senses, it seemed as if the gates of Paradise had been opened to them. On this very site Mrs. Horsman resided until her death in 1889. Mr. Horsman died March 2, 1875.
Sampson George, an English gentleman, came to this county in September. In his youth Mr. George had been educated in the profession of the law, in the office of his father; but he had a decided preference for agricultural pursuits. Mr. George purchased a claim of eight hundred and eighty acres of land, held by Joshua Fawcett. Five weeks after his arrival Mr. George was taken ill and died October 31st, leaving a widow and five children. He was buried on his farm southeast of the village. Later the remains were removed to the West side cemetery.
Charles Henry Richings, M. D., was the second resident physician. He followed very closely Dr. Moulthrop. Dr. Richings was born in England, February 26, 1815. He received his medical education in Belgium, and settled in Rockford July 18. The practice of his profession and his investments returned him a comfortable fortune. Dr. Richings was a communicant of the Episcopal church. His death occurred August 13, 1884. His widow resides on the homestead on West State street. His son, Dr. C. H. Richings, is a well known practitioner.
Bethuel Houghton came from New Hampshire, in October. He engaged in the bakery business, and at one time he was associated in this way with Ephraim Wyman. Mr. Houghton left reminiscences in manuscript, which have been of service in the preparation of this volume.
Hiram R. Enoch was a native of Warren county, Ohio. From there he removed with his parents to Will county, Illinois, and thence he came to Guilford township. Probably no citizen of Rockford possessed a larger fund of local history than did Mr. Enoch, and he rendered valuable assistance in the preparation of historical articles. Mr. Enoch was county treasurer eight years. His best known work was as editor and proprietor of the Rockford Journal. After his removal from Rockford Mr. Enoch was in the employ of the government, in the pension bureau. His death occurred at Washington, D. C.
Isaac Newton Cunningham was the first of four brothers to settle in this county. He was the second sheriff of Winnebago county, and held this office four years. He died in Rockford December 24,1865. His name will frequently appear in later chapters.
Jacob and Mary Posson came from Schoharie county, New York. In 1837 Mr. Posson purchased land four miles east of Rockford, upon which he lived five years. In 1842 he bought property on the northeast corner of Second and Market streets. While building a cooper shop on this site he received injuries from which he died November 1, 1842. His son, H. A. Posson, has resided in the county sixty-two years, and has probably lived in Rockford township longer than any other resident except Mrs. Thatcher Blake. Mr. Posson was wounded at the battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862, and his arm was amputated the following week. He was in the local mail service four years from 1890, under Postmaster Lawler.
David S. Shumway came in the spring, and settled on a farm in New Milford. He was a native of Vermont. The family was known as Green Mountain Yankees, and was of Huguenot descent. One son, R. G. Shumway, was born in Vermont; R.B. Shumway is a native of Ohio; three sons, Alvaro, Roland H., and Monroe, were born on the old farm in New Milford; also three daughters, who died young during the sickly seasons of early days. Roland H. Shumway has acquired a national reputation as a seedsman, and has amassed a large fortune.
Nathaniel Loomis and his son, H. W. Loomis, came from New Jersey. Other settlers in the county were: Charles Works, Alonzo Corey, Charles P. Brady, Spooner Ruggles, Henry P. Redington, Jonathan Wilson, A. G. Spaulding, Scott Robb, Numan Campbell, John Peffers, Herman Campbell, Homer Denton, John Robb, Edward Smith, Joseph Ritchie, Herman Hoit, Martin W. Borst, Philip Culver, Thomas Williams, Joseph Vance, Austin Andrews, Edmund Whittlesey, Joseph Miner, Albert Fancher, Eli Burbank, Mr. Barnaby, and Miss Danforth, a sister of Mrs. Israel Morrill, and who became the wife of D. A. Spaulding, the first government surveyor of northern Illinois.
John Greenlee and John Armour, from Campbelltown, Argyleshire, Scotland, settled in the spring of this year at Harlem, and formed the nucleus from which has grown the large and flourishing colony known as the Scotch Settlement.
The Northwest Territory had been consecrated to freedom by the Ordinance of 1787. This principle was reaffirmed by the first constitution of Illinois. When the state had become a member of the union, however, and was thus given control over its own internal affairs, a desperate effort was made to introduce slavery. This effort was partially successful, and the famous "Black Laws" gave the commonwealth an odious reputation at one time.
Only one man ever lived in Winnebago county as a slave. His name was Lewis Kent, although he was more familiarly known as Lewis Lemon. In 1829, when Germanicus Kent was a citizen of Alabama, he purchased of Orrin Lemon a colored boy named Lewis. He was born in North Carolina, and had been taken by his master to Alabama. He was about seventeen years old at the time he was sold to Mr. Kent for four hundred and fifty dollars in cash. When Mr. Kent decided to remove north, he proposed to sell Lewis; but the colored man preferred his old master. Mr. Kent made an agreement with Lewis when they arrived at St. Louis. It was in substance that Lewis should pay him for his freedom at the expiration of six years and seven months, the sum of eight hundred dollars, with ten per cent, interest. Lewis obtained his freedom, however, in four years and four months. On the 6th of September, 1839, Mr. Kent executed and placed in the hands of Lewis a deed of manumission. At a session of the county commissioners' court held in March, 1842, Mr. Kent filed for record the instrument which officially proclaimed Lewis Kent a free man. The transcript of this document, which is on file in the county clerk's office, is the only evidence in Rockford of the existence of slavery, and that one of its victims here found freedom and a home. The following is the text of this document:
Be it remembered that at the present term, March, A. D. 1842, of the county of Winnebago, state of Illinois, Lewis Lemon, a free man of color, presented the evidence of his being a free man by the following writing of Germanicus Kent, of said county, which being duly acknowledged by him, is ordered to be filed and entered on record:
To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting : That whereas the undersigned, Germanicus Kent, of Rockford, Illinois, did in the year A. D. 1829, being then a resident of the state of Alabama, purchase of Orrin D. Lemon, since deceased, a colored boy named Lewis, then about seventeen years of age, as a slave for life; and whereas, upon the removal of the undersigned, from said state of Alabama, to said state of Illinois; now this is to certify that said Lewis by my removing him to said state of Illinois, and his residence there ever since, did become free and emancipated from all services due to me as a slave, and that he is, and by right ought to be, free forever hereafter. And this is to further certify that said Lewis was born a slave of said Orrin D. Lemon, then residing in Wake county (N. C.) from whence he removed to Madison county, Alabama, where I purchased said Lewis of him. The said Lewis is aged about twenty-seven years; in person he is five feet, eight inches high, well built, rather stout, and weighs about one hundred and seventy pounds; his features are good, dark yellow complexion, open and frank countenance, mouth prominent and large lips.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal at Rockford, Illinois, this sixth day of September, A. D. 1839.
[seal.] Germanicus Kent.
In presence of W. E. Dunbar and William Hulin.
State of Illinois, Winnebago county, ss: This day before me, Selden M. Church, clerk of the county commissioners' court of the said county, came Germanicus Kent, known to me to be the real person described, and who executed the within instrument of writing, and acknowledged that he executed the same for the uses and purposes therein expressed.
Given under my hand and private seal (there being no official seal provided) at Rockford, this 11th day of March, A. D. 1842.
[seal.] Selden M. Church, Clerk County Commissioners' Court Winnebago Co.
After his manumission Lewis obtained some land, and earned his livelihood by the cultivation of garden produce. He died in September, 1877. His funeral was attended by members of the Old Settlers' Society.
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