History of Will County
By Hon. George H. Woodruff.
The first stone building put up in Joliet was the block of two stores built by Demmond, of which we have already spoken. Mr. Demmond moved his store into one part as soon as finished, and soon rented the other. It was necessary that a building of so much importance should be dedicated. This could be done properly only by a ball, and it was determined by the proper authorities that there should be one as soon as the floors were laid and before the partitions were put up. The boys at once canvassed the county for girls. Most of us knew where to find them. The result was an extensive and successful affair. The fame of it reached Chicago, and some couples came down to it. Among these were a Mr. and Mrs. Garland, a newly-married couple lately from Michigan. Of course the hotel accommodations were limited in those days. Mr. and Mrs. G. put up at the Higley House, the chambers of which could not properly be spoken of in the plural number, as there were no partitions. Mrs. G. made herself somewhat unpopular on account of the fastidiousness she exhibited in objecting to inviting "tired nature's sweet restorer" in so promiscuous a style, although nature was very tired indeed, having danced till 4 o'clock. She actually refused to go to bed until a partition had been extemporized by means of a sheet suspended from the rafters! But when she afterward came to live among us, and we learned to know her many good qualities, we forgot her unpardonable prudery, and loved her long and well.
The next stone building was on the east side, and was put up in 1836, by the Wilson brothers, who had come on here from Albany, and opened a store on Chicago street in one of Dr. Bowen's buildings. This is the old stone building next south of the City Hall. Deacon Brandon, as we have said, built this store. It is one of the buildings that are historic. The Wilsons opened a store there, where they traded some years, and were succeeded by J. A. Matteson, where he kept a store and depot for the cloths which he manufactured, part of the time with George Bradner for a partner. There, at one time, Alexander McIntosh, now pretty well known in Will County, was his clerk. Major Safford was also for a long time his clerk. He has lately died in Cairo, where he was a banker. The upper story was rented for a court-room and Clerk's office by the County Commissioners, until the old Court House was built—we mean the predecessor of the present old Court House, long since taken down, as the present one ought to be. Afterward, it was occupied by the Episcopal Church for religious worship. Our worthy citizen, S. O. Simonds, taught a private school there. S. W. Stone, and, we think, K. J. Hammond, taught there also. We can trace its history no further; time would fail to tell it all; for a long time, now, it has been occupied for a dwelling. Among other experiences of the old store we ought, however, to note the fact that in 1851, while occupied as a store house for wool by Matteson, it was struck by lightning, and perhaps that is why the northwest corner is now tumbling out. We suppose when a stranger visits Joliet and one of our citizens wishes to show him the points of interest, he is shown the Opera House Block, the new churches, the dwellings of Mr. Fox, George Woodruff, J. E. Henry, the Centennial and Aiken Blocks, etc.; but in the mind of the writer, and perhaps that of some others, these old buildings, however rusty or decayed, awaken far greater interest. They are full of memories; they are historic. And we have often thought, what if their old walls could speak—what if they were all phonographs—what if they had anticipated Edison and had recorded every word, and every sight and act as well, of the various persons that from time to time had acted or spoken within them. And what if, at one's bidding, the walls should give out again the sights and sounds which they had absorbed—all the scenes of joy and sorrow, all the acts of piety and of sin, all the oaths and prayers, all the words that soothe and comfort, and all the words that irritate and wound, all the whispers and vows of love, and the pledges of friendship, both those that have been kept and those that have been broken—what, we say, if some Edison should yet discover the secret of unraveling it all to the listener, what revelations there would be, even in the commonest houses, the rooms where any one has dwelt even but a few years! How many haunted houses there would be! Perhaps, reader, there are rooms into which we should not want to go. But this is not history. The old wooden block on North Chicago street which made such a famous bonfire a year or two ago, was built about the same time with the Wilson store, and was long the center of business on the East Side. The next stone block was the old one on Bluff street, consisting of six stores, and was built in 1837. We gave something of its history in "Forty Years Ago," and will not repeat it here. There is more unwritten history absorbed by its walls, than perhaps any other building in Joliet. What visions come and go through the halls of memory when we chance to walk by it! The National was built, at least commenced, in 1838, by J. J. Garland and John Curry, two old citizens, both of whom are now deceased. Mr. Garland died first. He was an active and valuable man here, a member of the old Union Church organized by the Foots, and one of the fruits of that revival, and his wife also. Col. Curry more recently deceased, is better known to the present generation, having been long in business here. He was a brother-in-law of M. H. Demmond, and one time a partner. He came in 1836, from Oneida Co., N. Y., and died in March, 1872, at the age of seventy.
The opening of the Canal, in 1848, was a day long to be remembered. Boats started simultaneously from either end of the Canal, to pass over the route. The one from Chicago arrived here about noon, with all the Canal officials and Chicago celebrities, bands of music, and supplies, both solid and liquid, in unlimited quantities. Of course we had some notables here, who were present to welcome the arrival; and all the population—men, women and children—turned out to see the first boat from Chicago, a sight for which our eyes had longed so many years. Cannon were fired and the welkin rang with cheers. Speeches were made by the Chicago notables, and speeches were made by the Joliet notables. Only one of these, so far as we know, has been preserved. After various persons had been called out and made their spread-eagle efforts, our popular citizen, J. A. Matteson, was called upon for a speech, to which he responded in the following glowing words: "Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen—I concur."
When the Canal was completed on the original plan of the deep cut, in 1871, there was, of course, another celebration, which may as well be noticed here. Great preparations were made for this at Chicago, by the Board of Public Works and other notables. There was poetry in the occasion. It was the "meeting of the waters"—the union of the blue waters of Lake Michigan with those of the sparkling tributary of the Mississippi, the classic Des Planes—the marriage of Michigan and Mississippi—and our valley, our beautiful bluff-bound valley, was the vale in whose bosom the bright waters were to meet. True, the poetry and the brightness and the fragrance, were somewhat abated by the odors and the mud of the South Branch, after passing through which those of the lake were hardly fit for the bridal. Tuesday, the 25th of July, was fixed upon for the day, and four large canal-boats were chartered and put into holiday trim. On these, a crowd of ten or twelve hundred persons, the solid men of Chicago, officials and notables, including Gov. Palmer and Gen. Sheridan, and Members of Congress, Legislature, etc., and, no doubt, a due admixture of bummers and Bohemians. Of course they did not set sail without a well-stocked commissariat. At 9 A. M. they started, bound for the port of Lockport. But the first part of the voyage, except for its associations, had little to interest. It was through the heavy clay and rock of the excavation of the summit, which lay in huge piles upon the banks, shutting out entirely all view of the surrounding scenery. The excursionists were forced, as it were, to turn their attention to the resources on board. These were ample, and were liberally dispensed by the persons in charge. But, from causes which we have never heard explained, the progress of the fleet was slow, although a full head of steam was kept on, and every sheet spread to the wind. They did not arrive at Lemont until 5 o'clock. It is said that there had been, owing to head winds, a great amount of seasickness aboard. At any rate, the greater share of the excursionists went ashore at Lemont, determined to take the evening train for Chicago. A few, however, went on in the Governor's steamer. Meanwhile, great preparations had been made at Lockport for their reception. Those who went up from Joliet to participate, found the city gay with bunting, and the streets filled with the beauty and fashion of the place. The Canal office was filled with the celebrities of Lockport, and on the west side of it were long tables, spread with spotless linen and loaded with eatables, and awaiting the arrival of the fleet. Great was the disappointment when, at 6 o'clock, news was received of the shipwreck at Lemont. But soon the little
steamer arrived, having on board Gov. Palmer and Gen. Sheridan, Mayor Mason, Senator Judd, and others; and, although the crowd was not as large as expected, it was select, and with this, and the Joliet notables, Lockport had to be content. Gov. Palmer was led to the stand in front of the Canal office, and introduced to the people. He was full of the inspiration of the occasion, and said many bright and humorous and clever things, in as happy a manner as could be expected from one who had just come off a sea voyage and had not yet found his land legs. Gen. Sheridan and Hayes and Judd followed in a similar strain, and all were happy. The collation was then devoured by the crowd, and darkness closed the scene. It was said that, judging from Gen. Sheridan's own statement and his appearance, his ride to Winchester was nothing to the one to Lockport. One of our local poets, H. R., broke out into poetry on this occasion, which we would like to give, but can find room for a single stanza only:
"The waters now have met again—
Lake Michigan meets the Des Planes;
The Illinois joins its refrain,
With onward flow;
Old Mississippi takes the bride,
Escorts her to the ocean tide,
Joining the groom in wedding ride,
To sea they go."
During the Avar and at other times, the question of enlarging the Canal to the dimensions of a ship-canal has been agitated, both in our State Legislature and in Congress. But all efforts have so far failed. This was the original idea, and may yet be accomplished. Mr. Gooding was enthusiastic in the belief that it would be done, and that from the first lock to the head of Joliet Lake there would be a continuous manufacturing city. In this distance is nearly half the fall between Lake Michigan and the mouth of the Illinois. As the Canal neared completion, the citizens of Lockport and Joliet commenced to build boats wherewith to navigate its waters. Lockport had the first boat launched, which was named the Gen. Fry, and the citizens of that place made Joliet a visit as soon as the water was let into the level. On this occasion, Judge Parks, then the Lockport orator, made Joliet a speech in his usual happy style; and Joliet replied by the eloquent lips of William A. Little, and all were happy. Warehouses, also, went up in both towns. Henry Fish—who is none of your small fry—Abiiah Cagwin and George Woodruff built the three warehouses which stand upon the east side of the Canal basin, and M. H. Demmond built the large stone one whose walls yet stand, below the bridge, the most substantial of them all, and yet the first one to become useless—a prey to the fire-fiend. Otis Hardy built the first Joliet boat and established the first lumber-yard, and for many years kept it in full blast, with happy results to himself and the community as well: for the piles of lumber which he sold increased, by steady gains, his pile of bank deposits, and this he now dispenses, with liberal hand, to all enterprises and charities that command his confidence and sympathies.
Among other benefits which accrued to Will County from the construction of the Canal, we must not forget to reckon the bringing-in of so many men of means and enterprise and character. Conspicuous among them was Hiram Norton, of Lockport. He was born in Skaneateles, N. Y., February 26, 1799. An orphan at the age of 14, he went to Canada in search of employment, which he found with the Canada Stage Company. At 18, having saved a little money, he went to Lowville, N. Y., and invested it in acquiring an education at the famous academy of that place, where he remained two years. He then returned to Prescott, Canada, and entered the service of the Stage Company again. He soon became pecuniarily interested in the Company, and ultimately its proprietor. He was elected to the Canadian Parliament, and twice re-elected, making his term of service fourteen years. He also served on Government Commission for the improvement of the St. Lawrence River and Canal. In 1838, he came to Illinois with the Consulting Engineer of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, and was so well pleased with the beauty of the country, and its prospective growth and importance, that he resolved to make it his future home. Lockport was peculiarly fortunate in being chosen as the spot where he pitched his tent. Being already possessed of large means, he at once built a fine residence on one of its beautiful streets, which he soon adorned with exquisite taste. He aided in the completion of the Canal, and when it was finished, rented the valuable water power created by it, and established the mills, which have become famous for their products all over the region. He established, with his sons, the house of Norton & Company, whose name and reputation are well known and command unlimited confidence. Mr. Norton was sent by this county to the Legislature, in 1858. He was elected almost without opposition. One of the most public-spirited and enterprising of our citizens, he was also one of the best and purest, and died, sustained by a Christian hope, April 1, 1875. Mr. Norton paid the highest income tax in 1867 of any one in Will County—on $35,000. The benefits of his enterprise still continue to be felt by Lockport and Will County, in the continuance of the manufacturing and mercantile enterprises he initiated, by his sons.
Another valuable addition to our population, for which we were indebted to the Canal, was Joel Manning, who was appointed Secretary of the Canal Board at its organization in 1836. He was at the time a practicing lawyer at Brownsville, Ill., having come into the State some years before. He was born in October, 1793, and was a graduate of Union College, of the class of 1818. On the opening of the Canal office at Lockport, he removed to that place, where he continued to reside until the few last years of his life, when he came to Joliet to reside with his son-in-law, Henry Fish, Esq. Mr. Manning was a prominent and active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a warm-hearted and consistent Christian, whose sympathies were not confined to his own denomination. He passed through all the trials of the hard times which followed the suspension of the Canal, and when Canal scrip was at a low ebb, and would hardly support his family with the most rigid economy, he invested some of it in Canal lots in Chicago, which in time became very valuable. He was called to pass through "great tribulation" in the loss of children, and finally in that of his wife. He died January 8, 1869, universally respected, and leaving behind him the odor of a consistent, active Christian life and example.
We suppose it was also the Canal which first brought another citizen to Lockport, a young man of great enterprise and energy, who engaged as a contractor in its construction, and in this and in other like enterprises accumulateda comfortable fortune. We refer to Charles E. Boyer. He was elected to the Legislature in 1862, and was a candidate for the State Senate at the time of his death, which occurred September 21, 1868, of typhoid fever. Mr. Boyer married a daughter of Armstead Runyon, who still survives him.
Still another valuable citizen of Lockport and Will County was brought here by the Canal, John B. Preston, a son of the venerable Isaac Preston, who settled in Hadley in 1836, and now resides in Lockport. He was born in Washington County, N. Y., in 1817, and was educated for the profession of civil engineer. He came to Will County, in 1837, and took the position of Assistant Engineer on the Canal, and served in that capacity until the work stopped. On its resumption, he took the position of Resident Engineer, in charge of the south half of the work, and continued until its completion. In 1850, at the age of 33, he was appointed Surveyor General of Oregon, where he resided four years in prosecuting the work of that State's survey. In 1854, he took the position of Superintendent of the Canal, and took up his residence again at Lockport, remaining in this position ten years. He was afterward Secretary of the Chicago & Joliet Railroad (now a part of the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis), and secured for the road the right of way between Joliet and Chicago. In 1864, he became a member of the firm of Matteson & Preston, in the wholesale commission business at St. Louis, and it was while on a visit from there to his parents at Lockport that he met with his accidental death, in the prime of life, at the age of 48. Mr. Preston was a man of rare qualities and powers, of strict integrity, and foremost in every good enterprise. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Government during the war, and of every measure for the enlisting of men and the relief of the disabled. The beautiful public school house of Lockport might almost be called his monument, as he was one of the most active in its erection. The writer well remembers the 10th of April, when the first intelligence which reached Joliet in the morning was that of his sudden death, intelligence which would have sobered and saddened the community for more than a day, had it not been almost immediately overshadowed by news which sobered and saddened the nation.
Another valuable citizen (now deceased) must be credited to the Canal, Lorenzo P. Sanger, who was one of the old 1836 contractors, and also subsequently one of the firm of Sanger & Casey, who built the Penitentiary, and of the firm of Sanger & Steele, who so largely developed our stone industry. He was one of the most driving, energetic, enterprising men we have ever had. During the war, he threw all the weight of his political influeuce, which was not small, on the side of the Union, and would himself have participated actively in it had not the weight of years been too much to allow it. He died in Oakland, Cal., whither he had gone for his health, in March, 1875. His body was brought home for burial, and rests in Oakwood, beside his wife, who died some few years before him.
The construction of the Canal of course destroyed McKee's water-power, and made his mill useless for the purpose for which it was intended, and being adjacent to the Canal was taken possession of by the State. McKee recovered damages for the loss of his water-power to the amount of $17,655 and costs. The Haven boys bought the machinery, and set it up in their mill below. The construction and opening of the Canal also wrought great changes in the physical aspect of the region along the route. The west bank of the Des Planes, which, before its construction, was beautifully bordered with trees and shrubs, all through Joliet and below, was now denuded, and a stone wall and a rubble bank given us instead. Our compensation was found in the increased facilities for business, and in the increased population of the towns and country. The Canal also brought into our county great numbers of men whose boast it was that they were from the Emerald Isle, without whose assistance it seemed to be conceded no canal or railroad could be constructed. Many of these laborers became permanent citizens, both in town and country. These have acquired property as mechanics, merchants and farmers. Some have even consented to hold office and positions of responsibility. The town of Troy is largely settled by Irishmen and their descendants, and this nationality furnished its fair proportion of volunteers in the late war.
The history of the Canal has carried us a little forward in our annals, and we return to note some things of an earlier date. And first, let us correct a correction which was made in "Forty Years Ago" in relation to an important event—the first Fourth of July celebration. We have ascertained since, that beyond any question this was held in 1835. In order not to get two great events on the same day, and to render our statement credible that Dr. Bowen read the Declaration and attended the first wedding, we shall leave that first wedding entirely out of this history. It probably will not invalidate the marriage. We are satisfied, also, that we did not do justice to th« military display. Maj. Cook was the Chief Marshal, and was dressed in full regimentals, and Judge Jonathan Barnett was Assistant Marshal, and wore a red sash, and both had real swords. Both rode Indian ponies, and experienced great difficulty in keeping near the procession on account of the music. This evil was remedied in a measure by the fact that "Uncle Dick" Hobbs also commanded, on foot, using instead of a sword a crooked stick, which probably answered just as well. These points are settled beyond controversy by S. W. Bowen, our ex-Mayor, who was then a boy, and, I am sorry to say, such a graceless youth, that he, with Cal Zarley and others, lay on the ground and laughed at the cavorting of the Marshals, or rather, their horses. The writer is also satisfied that he did not do justice to the oration. Cal Zarley says that he well remembers that when the neighbors gathered together at his father's to talk over the celebration, they were enthusiastic in their praises of the effort. All agreed that it was a big thing. The only dispute was as to whether the young orator was a preacher or a lawyer. Mrs. Hadsall, the good old Methodist sister, was sure nobody but a Methodist preacher could talk so good! Our own private opinion, however, is that the only merit the production had was the fact that it was the first in Will County. It ought also to be noted that we had one Revolutionary soldier present. This was the father of Maj. Cook, who was re-interred on the last Decoration Day, over whose remains our gifted citizen, Capt. Phelps, uttered some of his finest periods. We have an interesting contribution to our history from the veteran Hopkins Rowell, which we will bring in here. We do so with especial satisfaction, as it also indorses our Fourth of July effort—a matter on which we are very sensitive.
Geoege H. "Woodruff, Esq.:
Perhaps I can contribute an item to your early reminiscences of Will County. You might properly include among the early pioneers of Joliet the late Judge Barnett, H. A. Cagwin, Sr., and myself. In the Autumn of 1804, we together journeyed from Clarkson, N. Y., and explored on horseback much of the West and Northwest as far as Dubuque. We passed twice through Joliet, which then had a name, but not many habitations. A few miles east of this prospective city, at Van Horne's Point, we found Cornelius Van Horne, subsequently a Joliet magistrate and its first Mayor. He was at this time drawing fence-stuff with an ox-team and "Sucker wagon," as he called it. This wagon was the product of his own hand, from the rough forest timber. The wheels were sawed off from a round oak log. They were about three feet in diameter, being smoothly beveled from the rim to the hub, where they were about one foot through. It did good service (or answered a good purpose). On the well-known "Linden Heights," just southeast of the city, we visited Maj. R. G. Cook and his father, John Cook, an old Revolutionary soldier, formerly from Clarkson. The old veteran occasionally indulged in a little of the "ardent," which invariably led him to "fight his battles over again," in so grotesque a manner as greatly to amuse the by-standers. The remains of both him and his son, the Major, are interred in Oakwood Cemetery. All three of our exploring party made purchases at this time in Joliet. Cagwin and Barnett remained in this vicinity, while I returned to Clarkson, N. Y. The next Summer (1835), I returned to Joliet, attended the public land sales at Chicago, and through Mr. Van Horne, who "bid in" the lands of all the settlers, secured the three eighties, just east of the city, that I still retain. The "claim" to the gravel-mound eighty I had previously purchased of the "veteran" John Cook. I give a little episode of the land sales. Many moneyed speculators were present, threatening to bid against the claims of settlers. Hundreds of the latter, with sleeves rolled up and faces frowning defiance dark as a thunder-cloud, surrounded the officers' stand on all sides, ready to visit summary vengeance upon any presumptuous speculators. All of these were intimidated save one. A powerful, gigantic Scotchman, about seven feet high dared to bid against a settler, when in an instant lightning struck him in at least twenty places, and he gladly escaped with his life.
At that time there were about three thousand Pottawatomie Indians in two encampments—one upon the Des Planes River, and the other upon the Kankakee, a few miles above their junction—awaiting removal by the Government to Western reservations. After the land sales, I had some business requiring a horse-back journey to the Mazon River. My route lay through the wild and trackless region between these two encampments. Before this I had seen many Indians, but 3,000 wilder, more uncouth and repulsive human beings can hardly be imagined. Their weird, unkempt hair, and nudity, save a frontal patch tied on, more diminutive than the fig-leaf
aprons of Adam and Eve, formed a scene never to be forgotten. It is not surprising that I got lost en route to the Mazon, in the midst of such a wilderness of Indians and trackless prairie combined. Neither is it strange that I was somewhat nervous at occasionally meeting detached squads of these villainous fellows during my embarrassed efforts to regain my course, especially when I knew they had occasionally gobbled up solitary white men. Finally I resolved to steer for the forks of the rivers and get a white settler there to pilot me on my way. Having a pocket compass, I was enabled to take my bearings and "strike a bee-line." Two or three miles' travel on this course, brought me in contact with three Indians; two of them passed me civilly enough, but the third being fuller of bad whisky, which they had obtained at "the forks," sprang like a tiger to seize my bridle-reins, brandishing a huge knife in the air and shouting like a hoarse demon, "Money, money!" Being on the alert, I instantly spurred my spirited steed Blackhawk, and "by the skin of my teeth" cleared him at a single bound, and then
(wheeling) facing him, with my effective peace-maker leveled at his head, exclaimed, "Take this money, you devil!" He slunk away like a sneaking prairie wolf, but every hair of my head seemed stiff as a Russian bristle. Permit me to add that the first season in 1884, I assisted in raising the frame of the first house in Joliet, and when a bent fell, one man getting his scalp peeled and Dr. Bowen dressed the wound. The first Joliet Fourth of July celebration was had in 1835, on the then open prairie near the jail. You were orator of the day, and though young, a very good one, while Dr. Bowen and myself had the honor of presenting the following toasts:
By Dr. Bowen—"Illinois—The prospective Empire State, as her great and varied resources will one day demonstrate."
By H. Ptowell—"Joliet—In July, 1834, not known; in July, 1835, a city in embryo."
In 1847, I introduced here the first McCormick reaper, Messrs. Stephens, Wheeler and Higginbottom being the purchasers. And although I did not move my family to Joliet until 1857, I was frequently back and forth, and had sent two different parties with teams and outfit to make improvements on my Joliet property. As to Judge Barnett, he died ten or twelve years ago at Kankakee, while Cagwin is or was in California. H. ROWELL.
Joliet, October 8, 1878.
When elected Recorder, the writer was a clerk for Mr. Demmond, and opened the office in the Demmond Block. But, as illustrative of the strife between sides, of which we have already spoken, we would say that the boys over the river soon began to complain that the Recorder's office was not kept at the county seat, as the law required. The point was well taken. Demmond had laid off his town as "West Juliet." He scorned the idea of being an addition to "that slough over yonder." West Juliet was not then, part of the county seat. But an escape from the dilemma was quickly found. The school section adjoined the town on the south, lying on both sides of the river, and this had been recorded as an addition to Juliet. A little building about 16x16 was purchased on the school section at no great distance, a little below Porter's brewery. (N. B.—The brewery was not built then, and therefore had no influence in the selection.) Here the office was opened and kept until a better one was built. Jenks, who had been appointed County Clerk, also made that his office until the Commissioners rented the upper story of the Wilson store. The first Circuit Court was held in this room (the Wilson store) in October, 1836, by Hon. Thomas Ford, afterward Governor. The entrance to the second story was by a staircase on the south side. The door has been since walled up. The Court was constituted by appointing Levi Jenks, Clerk, and Uri Osgood, State's Attorney. Fenner Aldrich had just been elected Sheriff, having heroically stepped forward to fill the gap caused by Bob Stevens' refusal, and he rang out the "O-yez, o-yez, the honorable Circuit Court of Will County is now in session," for the first time in our history, and with a rhythm and a roar which I do not believe have been surpassed during the succeeding ages. Impressed with a sense of the importance and gravity of the occasion, his voice trembled a little and his chin quivered. But this only made the scene more impressive. But this was not all the Court. A grand jury had been summoned and were now called. The following was the original panel:
Armstead Bunyon, Thomas Reed, Edward Poor, Thomas H. Rickey, Ralph Smith, Reason Zarley, Isaiah Treat, Joseph Cox, Peter McCarty, Wm. Sheriff, Justin Taylor, Charles Goodwin, John I. Davidson, Harry Boardman, Ezra Goodhue, Richard L. Wilson, Samuel Holcomb, George Beckwith, Joseph Shoemaker, Elias Brown, Aaron Moore.
Five of these did not put in their appearance, and the Sheriff, as is usual now, we believe, was ordered to fill up the vacancies from the loafers hanging around. George H. Woodruff, William Gougar, Richard Hobbs, Jonathan Barnett and E. S. Sill were scooped up. Reason Zarley was chosen Foreman. We offer this (as finally constituted) as a sample grand jury. They indicted one man for keeping a gaming-house, two others for selling an estray, and three for a riot. As to the petit jury, that being, as the name implies, a comparatively small affair, we shall not record their names, although our present worthy citizens, Rodney House and H. N. Marsh, formed a part. J. C. Newkirk, Esq., now one of the most prominent and substantial citizens of Hudson, N. Y., and a Judge, defended the rioters and got them acquitted. C. C. Van Horne and Abram Van Horne and another were the rioters. It was a claim dispute and no riot.
Among the early and valuable acquisitions to the West Side, in 1835-36, were John M. Wilson and Allen Pratt. They came together and were both from Massachusetts. They had some money and they invested in West Juliet. Both were long and well known here. Pratt built many buildings. He died in 1856. Wilson has become known as Judge Wilson, long a practicing lawyer here, and later a Chicago Judge. Wilson and Charles Clement initiated the grain trade of Joliet. Their warehouse was an old barn which stood where the brick block on Bluff street now stands. We have not the figures of the number of bushels they handled, but the profits of one year's operations, when the firm dissolved, were $9. Probably the number of bushels was something less than are now handled by Carpenter & Marsh, who in one day this season shipped 100 cars of grain. 0. W. Stillman was, we believe, the first Justice of the Peace on the East Side, and we need not say he was a good one, although the boys used to say that he had no Bible, and was in the habit of swearing the witnesses on a copy of "Volney's Ruins." The Universalist Church is largely indebted to his efforts for the fine church edifice they have. He is now a granger on Maple street.
William Blair was our first tinsmith and stove and hardware dealer. He ultimately moved to Chicago, where he has long been known as an extensive wholesale dealer, and one of the wealthiest and most honorable of her citizens. Deacon Rodney House, of the East Side, opened the first wagon-shop, and Deacon Beaumont soon followed on the West Side with another. Deacon Beaumont built the house now occupied by Edward Aiken, since re-habilitated (we mean the house), and in this the good, old Deacon lived, using the front room for a shop during the week, and, every Saturday night, cleaning it up and holding meetings there on the Sabbath, in which he was joined by the good Deacon on the East Side. We remember to have heard one of the Beechers (Edward) preach there. The old Deacon had his peculiarities—some of them perhaps were faults, as who has not—but there never lived a kinder neighbor, and Joliet has not had many more earnest and sincere Christians. He always showed his colors, and was always on the side of justice and temperance and revivals. He could have no better epitaph than what was said of him by a simple child, who, when she wanted to designate him and did not know or had forgotten bis name, described him as "the man who lived in the church." She had never been to church or prayer meeting or Sabbath school, that she had not found the Deacon there before her, and she supposed that he literally "dwelt there in the house of the Lord all the days of his life." Our readers will all remember how suddenly he went home in June, 1876, at the age of 73 years and 9 months.
George Woodruff, we need not say, is our present well-known banker, one of the men who have stuck to Joliet through thick and thin—and we have had some pretty thin times—and now enjoys the competence he has acquired. Our names still get mixed occasionally as they used to do in early days. The most ludicrous mistake is when parties go to George H. to borrow money. Only strangers do this. The first public building of the county, which was a Jail and Court House combined, was built in 1837. Blackburn and Wilson were the contractors at the price of $2,000. This stood a little north of the present Jail, and was used not only for holding courts but for other public purposes. The first Baptist Church held their meetings there under the pastorate of Elder Solomon Knapp and others. A very powerful revival was enjoyed by this Church during Elder Knapp's pastorate, in which he was assisted by Elder Powell, an evangelist of much ability. This revival was the year subsequent to the one spoken of in "Forty Years Ago," under the labors of the Footes. This church was organized by Elder Ashley, of Plainfield, who preached to it every alternate Sabbath until the coming of Elder Knapp. It consisted of seven original members as follows: Elijah Johnson, Deacon Green and wife, Mrs. Higginbotham, Mrs. Chauncey, Mrs. Cagwin, and Elder R. B. Ashley. The first baptized convert was the Hon. Henry Snapp. The place used for baptisms was the deep hole below the island. It is hardly necessary to say that this was before the river had been converted into a sewer, while it still bore some little resemblance to the Jordan. How many and how varied the scenes which transpired within those old Court House walls—County and Circuit Courts, temperance and political meetings, the pleadings both of lawyers and preachers, thrilling trials and solemn charges of Judges, the weeping of the condemned and the rejoicings of the acquitted, the groans of sinners and the shouts of the redeemed, all have been heard there—but all are silent now. The voices of Newkirk and Wilson, of Henderson and Boardman, of Fellows, of Osgood and Little are heard there no more. Save the first two, all are silent in death. The building has been razed to its foundations. Thus
"We build with what we deem eternal rock,
A distant age asks where the fabric stood,
And in the dust sifted and searched in vain.
The undiscoverable secret sleeps."
Perhaps the reader thinks that a pretty large quotation for so small a building as the old Court House of forty years ago. We think so, too, but it came handy, and we wanted something that sounded well in this history. The present Court House was commenced in 1847, and strange as it may seem, this is what the Signal said of it in 1848: "The new Court House makes a magnificent appearance and when completed will be an honor to the county." The True Democrat (from which the Republican developed) took down its vignette of the American bird and substituted a cut of the Court House as an ornament. It must be remembered that there were then none of the present surroundings, the Centennial Block and the Aiken Block, with its classic statuary.
In 1837, we had reached such magnificent proportions that it became necessary to obtain an act of incorporation. We could get along pretty well in every other
respect but the matter of taxes. These continued to be ridiculously insignificant, and it was felt by those who had the prosperity of the place most at heart, that a
just self-respect demanded that we should have more taxes. Accordingly, a public meeting was called in March, at "Uncle Tenner's," at which it was decided by a unanimous vote that we would incorporate. And so we did, by calling an election under the provisions of the general law, for the election of five Trustees, two of whom were to be on each side (or in each Ward.) And now came the opportunity for one of the fiercest contests between the two sides. To gain the odd Trustee was an object of transcendent importance. The act required that all voters should own real estate within the corporate limits. This simplified and narrowed the field. The town was thoroughly canvassed, and it was ascertained that the West Side had the most property-owners. We think that from the first and all through our earlier history, the West Side had the most money, but the East Side had the most shrewdness and diplomacy. So it was on this occasion. An expedient was found by which the West Side majority was overcome. Even in those early days that great moral institution known as the circus, made us an occasional visit. One happened to be here at that time. The men were invited to become real estate owners and voters. Impressed with a sense of the high honor, they accepted, and thirty-six voters were added to the East Side, by the gift of a lot from Charley Sayer. It was a piece of strategy which has not been surpassed even in modern times. The West Side had no lots to throw away, and no circus handy, and was defeated. The first Board were J. A. Matteson, J. J. Garland, Daniel Reed, Fenner Aldrich and R. C. Duncan; Dr. William Scholfield, Clerk. But the next year we laid out the East Side, and without a circus, too. It was generally supposed that Dick Wilson's was the fertile brain where this scheme was devised. Dick Wilson: What old settler does not remember him. "Alas, poor Yorick! where be your gibes now? your gambols, your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table in a roar?" This Board of Trustees built bridges, which with the act of incorporation made us one town. The bridges went off the next spring, and the "fiat" money with which they were built underwent a slight change—the "i" was lengthened into an "'," that was all. If we were not fully determined not to admit any politics into this history, we should here drop a suggestion that such might be the change that would come over all "fiat money." After playing city two or three years longer, the people concluded that taxes were no great luxury after all; at least, we ceased to hanker after them. The corporation was dissolved by act of Legislature. The era of hard times had come on, and we were willing to dispense with luxuries.
The city was organized under the present charter, in June, 1852, with C. C. Van Horne, Mayor. Aldermen—First Ward—N. H. Cutter, D. Cassidy; Second Ward—Joel George, Michael Shields; Third Ward—E. Wilcox, T. J. Kinney; Fourth Ward—F. L. Cagwin, S. W. Bowen; Fifth Ward—P. O'Connor, Uri Osgood. But this is modern history and we go back to older times.
We have spoken, a little back and elsewhere, of the rivalry between the sides of the river. This was especially conspicuous when the Canal was being surveyed and located. The great question of the day was, would it go down the river through town, or would it go around through the slough? Slough stock and river stock rose and fell alternately from day to day until the matter was finally decided in a way which made the west siders happy. Demmond used to tell how Abel Gilbert took the level of the slough with a tin dipper and a shingle, in order to convince the verdant inquirer after lots, that the Canal was bound to take that route. But we had a common enemy—Lockport—and, like the Jews during the siege of Jerusalem, we used, temporarily, to forget our domestic quarrels, and combine to fight the common foe. The Signal and the True Democrat let each other alone occasionally, and both pitched into the Lockport Telegraph. The Canal authorities seemed, at least to our jaundiced eyes, to throw all their influence to favor and build up a rival city. We used to dilate largely against the Archer road and the Canal basin and the Canal office, etc., etc. One thing which specially galled us was a map, which was reported to be drawn and exhibited to speculators and persons seeking a location, displaying the Canal route from Chicago to Ottawa, on which all the villages were noted, with one exception. There were Romeo and Athens, Kepotaw and Scotchtown, Lockport and Channahon, etc., etc.; but the only thing to indicate the whereabouts of Juliet was a spot marked McKee's Dam. That was a good joke; and if we did not meet it with something equally foolish, it was not for want of disposition. We were also foolish enough at one time to be jealous of Chicago, especially when she tried to defeat our cut-off. But we have got so big now that we do not cherish any vindictive feelings, even against her; and, indeed, all these old rivalries and jealousies, whether political or personal or between sides of the river or rival towns, we have long since outgrown, and they only call up a smile when remembered. For men are like apples. While some are crabs, and no culture can ever make them anything else, and while, when green, all are more or less acrid, yet the really good fruit grows mellow with age, the sour juices of the Spring time are converted into sugar in the heats of Summer and Autumn, and the fruit becomes pleasant to the eye and grateful to the taste. So it is with men—those who are men. They, too, mellow as they ripen and lose a large share of their acidity as they pass through the discipline of life and ripen for the husbandman's use. Do you question this? Just watch when you see some of these old fellows that were at loggerheads forty years ago over town-lots or schemes of speculation or politics; watch, when you see them meet, and see how they grip each others' hands and laugh over the rivalries and contests and jealousies that once made them mad, as the best of jokes.
There are some other buildings in Joliet beside those noticed in the preceding pages that have become historic, and may, without impropriety, come into our general history. One of these is the old factory which stands just below the lower bridge, and which is now occupied as a foundry and machine-shop by Mr. Sandiford. This building was erected by Joel A. Matteson, in 1845, and in 1849 manufactured 2,000 yards of cloth per week. It was for several years a most prosperous enterprise, furnishing a market for the wool raised by our farmers, and employment for many persons. The business was, part of the time, carried on under the firm of Matteson & Bradner, and the old Wilson store, of which we have spoken, was the depot for buying wool and sale of cloths. This factory was seriously attacked by fire in 1849 (the same Summer in which the old steam mill was burned). This fire occurred when we had no fire department, and for some time its destruction seemed inevitable. Great crowds collected on the bridge and elsewhere to see it burn. It had taken fire in the roof, and was making a fine bonfire. There was plenty of water close by, and the idea seems to have struck the minds of O. W. Stillmah and some others that it would be a good idea to put it out, although it seemed a pity to spoil the fan of the spectators who, at such great inconvenience, had left their beds and gathered there to see it. Stillman, with some assistance, succeeded in getting men enough of his own way of thinking to organize a line for passing pails back and forth; and, after a hard fight to keep the men in the ranks, and with the devouring element, the building was saved, except the roof and attic. Like many other seeming calamities, this soon had its compensation, as it led, first, to organizing a fire company, and, secondly, to its being rebuilt with an additional story, and cupola as well; and, under the vigorous exertions of Matteson, it was soon in full blast, with greatly enlarged capacity. But, in time, a change came over the old factory. Matteson was made Governor in 1852, and our city lost his enterprise, and the old factory, after a few more years, ceased to manufacture cloth, etc. While, however, the factory was still in successful operation, Matteson built the brick store opposite, and occupied it for the sale of goods, cloths, etc., and in the second story opened the first bank in Joliet—the old Merchants' and Drovers', William Smith, President, and R. E. Goodell, Cashier, and that is how we got Goodell, who married the Governor's eldest daughter.
We have probably never had a citizen in Will County to whom we have been more indebted for his energy and enterprise, than to Joel A. Matteson. He was born in 1808, in Jefferson Co., N. Y., received the common school education of the times, and, after a varied experience as teacher, farmer, merchant and contractor in various places, came to Illinois, in 1833, with a wife and one child. He first settled on the Au Sable, in the present Kendall County, when there were but two neighbors within ten miles. He made a claim and opened a farm, but when the speculative mania of 1836 struck the country, he sold out and came to Joliet. From that time to his removal to Springfield, on his election as Governor, he was the most energetic and enterprising of our citizens. The monuments of his enterprise still stand in our midst. Among these are the old factory and the brick store near the Jefferson Street Bridge, of which we have spoken. He also built what was then the finest residence in the city, on the corner of Jefferson and Chicago streets, which were surrounded with beautiful grounds, extending over the lots now covered by the Monroe, Simonds and Werner Hall Blocks; and for a long time the light of a happy and hospitable home shone out from its windows. It was some years since removed further north, and now another kind of light shines forth there—they call it the Sun. Mr. Matteson was soon called into public service, first as Justice of the Peace, then as State Senator for four years. His well-known executive and financial ability secured his nomination and election to the office of Governor. His nomination was received with great satisfaction in his own county and elsewhere, by men of the opposite political party. A great jubilee was held at Joliet—speeches and firing of cannon showed the satisfaction of our citizens. One of our present police force will always carry a souvenir of that demonstration—an empty sleeve. Mr. Matteson's administration as Governor was eminently successful. His messages were characterized by large views and enlightened liberality and foresight. During the four years of his administration, the State made great advances in wealth and general prosperity. The debt of the State was reduced $7,000,000, and at the same time the taxes were reduced. The 400 miles of constructed railroad were increased to 3,000 miles. Gov. Matteson retired from office with a reputation and with prospects that seemed enviable, and a fortune that made him a millionaire, and the owner of a house at Springfield that was palatial. How all this was reversed is a matter of so recent a date as to render its recital unnecessary, even if it came within the scope of our history. Gov. Matteson died in the Winter of 1872-73, at Chicago, and his remains sleep in the family ground at Oakwood.
In 1849, 1850 and 1851, chiefly in 1850, occurred a great hegira from Will County. The discovery of a little gold by Capt. Sutter in 1848, changed the destiny of the whole Pacific Slope, and of thousands upon thousands of men and families all over the States as well. Those who are old enough will recall the wonderful excitement which took place all over the land, pre-eminently throughout the West. Gold, gold, gold, was the word upon every lip, the theme of every newspaper, and of everybody's waking or sleeping dreams. The county papers were filled with advice showing the folly of leaving a comfortable home and an honest livelihood for the uncertain venture. The Lockport Telegraph thus humorously speaks of the matter in 1849; "The world-wide malady has at last extended to our midst; symptoms about the same as elsewhere—violent itching of palms, a sensation of nausea at the mere thought of common business, a great relaxation and debility of the mechanical muscles, frequent giddiness of the head, optical illusions in which everything is seen in a yellow light, raging appetite for maps, reports, dispatches, yarns, etc., terminating in a frantic effort to sell out and settle up, at which stage the disease is considered incurable." The editor then falls into a more serious strain, and advises the people to be content with Will County and steady gains. Our other papers spoke in a similar strain. But advice had but little effect. Quite a number from our county went in the Spring of 1849. Some of these came back the next Winter and Spring, having been successful. Carlos Haven came back with $5,000, which he had dug with his own hands in seven weeks. J. A. Gooding and Calvin Rowley also returned successful. This added fury to the flames, and in 1850 and 1851, the number which went from our county was large. We have tried to form an estimate of the amount, but have no reliable data. The True Democrat, in 1850, gives a list of nearly four hundred that had left that Spring from Will County. The list embraces many of our best and well-known citizens (then and since). The greatest emigration was in 1850, although it was kept up in 1851. Most went the overland route. The business of the county was, of course, greatly affected. Merchants made a point to furnish those articles needed for an outfit. The papers of the day were filled with advertisements of parties who wanted to sell out, and of emigrant supplies, and with letters from those who were on the way or had reached the Eldorado. Prominent among the correspondents of the True Democrat, was our friend Alexander McIntosh, now of the Phoenix. We need not say that his letters are interesting reading now. It was an interesting sight for those who remained to watch the teams as they passed through, and note their different rigs and general appearance. From ten to twenty teams a day passed along Jefferson street during the Spring. There were some curious outfits. We recall an instance in which two men had an old crow-bait of a horse between them which carried their slender supplies, and on which they sometimes rode by turns. Another man was on foot, having a knapsack and rifle, intending when he got to the frontier to buy a cow to carry his supplies and furnish him with milk, with which, and his rifle, he expected to subsist. But most went with good outfits—some with cattle and some with horses. Of those who went from our county, some few became permanent settlers there. The large majority, however, returned in a year or two, some with pockets full, and some glad to get back with empty pockets. Our county, no doubt, received back much more than she invested. We remember one who died en route—Benard Ingoldsby—who was out of health when he left. One company lost their way and wandered off, and lost all they had, and lived upon their teams; were six days without water, and four of the company died. Others had a pretty hard time, and were often hungry and sick. Many now among us could many a tale unfold, some harrowing and some ludicrous. Two of our boys, one a son of Deacon Brandon, and the other named Middlemass, met with a frightful accident, the result of their own carelessness. They came across a keg of powder which had been thrown overboard by some previous voyager, probably to lighten his ship, and they thought they would enliven the solitude with an explosion. They adjusted a slow match and retired to a safe distance. With eager expectation they waited the result. After waiting what seemed to them a long time, twice as long as necessary, they concluded that the match had gone out. We have always noticed that persons on such occasions make great mistakes in their estimate of time. They both approached the keg to lay another train. Just as they got to it, it had got ready to explode, and did, tearing and burning the poor boys frightfully, and almost beyond recognition. Persons who saw them say it was the worst sight they ever saw. None of those who saw them expected they could recover, but cared for them as well as they could. But they ultimately did recover.
We have spoken of Dr. Bowen and Dr. Comstock, but those were by no means the only doctors in the early days. Dr. R. E. W. Adams came to Joliet in 1836, and was for many years one of our leading physicians. He was an active member and one of the organizers of the old Union Church, and was zealous in all moral reforms. He was soon followed by his brother, M. L. Adams, the builder of the first foundry, who still resides here, and by William Adams, so long known as mine host of the National, now a resident of Chicago, and also Peter Adams, now of Galesburg. Dr. Adams removed to Springfield some years ago, and has since deceased. We once rode to Chicago with the Doctor at an early day, before the canal was opened, when we went by private conveyance. In those days we used to stop at Flag Creek for dinner. The Doctor was a zealous temperance man. The place where we stopped for dinner was kept by a temperance man, too; but the story had got about that he kept a little of the "critter" on the sly, for the accommodation of such of his guests as could not get along without it. While the landlord was out taking care of our horse, the Doctor mentioned the rumor and suggested the propriety of making a search to see if any evidence could be found of its truth. In one corner of the room was a little closet which was locked, but the Doctor had a key which turned the bolt, and on opening the door, behold there was a decanter well filled with a liquid, the smell of which left no doubt on the mind that it was whisky. The Doctor took his medicine case from his pocket and took therefrom a little vial marked "antim. et pot. tart.," and emptied its contents into the decanter, shook it thoroughly and replaced it, locking the door again, and sat down to dinner as coolly as if he had done a good thing. It relieves our conscience a little to remember that though accessory after the fact, we uttered a mild protest at the time. Now the subsequent history of that decanter we are unable to give, and must leave it to the reader's imagination; it was no doubt interesting, and, perhaps, cured several persons of a love for whisky, and thus, on the principle that the end justifies the means, vindicated the act of the Doctor. While the Doctor was in practice here, he started the first drug store, in the old wooden store of Demmond's on the corner of the lot now owned by Mrs. Curry. He afterward moved up into the old wooden block which stood opposite the old stone block (now burned down), and there he took into partnership, both in practice and selling drugs, a young doctor of the name of J. S. Glover, who resided here until his death some years after. Drs. Adams and Glover were both lame in the same manner and from similar causes—an affection of the hip joint, and being of the same size were often mistaken the one for the other. The writer bought out the drug store of Adams & Glover in 1842, they having before bought out another establishment in the upper end of the stone block (Haven & Rood), and there, where Page bottles pop, and some other things, we commenced the brilliant career of an apothecary. Dr. M. K. Brownson was another of our early physicians, who settled on the Chicago road in 1835, and came to Joliet in 1836 or 1837. Dr. Brownson was our Postmaster under Fillmore, and also held the office of Public Administrator. The Doctor now lives in California. Another early physician was Dr. Scholfield, who was also City Clerk under the first organization. He left for the West soon after the city scrip which he executed, went the way of all "fiat" money, and has been some years dead. Still another of our early physicians, was Dr. Wallace A. Little, who also left many yrears ago, and went to Jo Daviess County, which he has represented in the Legislature, and it is also said that he has got rich in mining operations. Schofield & Little were in partnership, both in the practice of medicine and also in running a small drug store for a while. Another of these benevolent institutions was started in 1846 by Mr. Brown, the father of our present druggists of that name. This was started on Chicago street, opposite the old wooden block. Having spoken of the doctors and druggists of the ancient times, it is proper that something should be said of the
In the early settlement of the county, it, in common with the West generally, suffered more or less from malarial diseases, and it acquired the reputation of being unhealthy. During the digging of the canal, too, there were two or three seasons in which there was an unusual amount of sickness, and many died, especially among the laborers—a good many of them, no doubt, as much from the treatment they received as from the disease. But since the county has been generally settled and cultivated, and the people and the physicians have learned better how to treat these diseases, they have ceased to be formidable. In common with most parts of the country, this county was visited with epidemic cholera in the years 1848 to 1854, and we lost many valuable citizens, among others C. C. Van Horne, O. H. Haven, M. H. Demmond, Dr. Comstock and others; but since the last-named year there has been no recurrence of the epidemic. In the census of the county taken in 1850 by Mr. Marsh, the population of the county is given at 16,709, and the number of deaths for the year previous at 232, being 1.38 per cent. This was a cholera year, and no doubt a large portion of the deaths were due to cholera, although the exact number cannot be ascertained. Our papers of the time told very definitely how many died of cholera elsewhere, but were sadly ignorant of its devastations at home
—not an unusual thing, we believe. We confidently assert that at present no part of the Union is more uniformly healthy than Will County. We used to boast at an early day, when the question as to the health of the West came up, and we were charged with being sickly, that there was one disease of which people never died at the West, to wit, old age. But we cannot make this boast any longer. A large number of the oldest settlers have recently deceased at an advanced age, while others still linger, who must ere long swell the list. Quite a number of persons have deceased within a few years at Joliet, who have crowded hard upon a hundred years, and we have heard of others who exceeded that age. We have many now who, by reason of strength, exceed the allotted limit of fourscore. But inasmuch as Ponce de Leon did not, in 1512, find in Florida the fountain which would restore to old age the vigor of youth, and as no subsequent explorer has found it there, or elsewhere, not even in Minnesota, and as it is "appointed unto all men once to die"—here, as everywhere,
"Pale death, with equal step, knocks at the cottage of the poor
And the palace of the king."
We have spoken of the diseases of the county at the early day. The most common of these, although not the most formidable, was the one known in common parlance as the "ague," or the "fever and ague." This has become almost obsolete (at least in the original form), but it used to be a common experience. True, we never could boast of such a prevalence of it as they could in Michigan, where, it was said, the church bells used to be rung in order that the people might know when to take their quinine. But it used to be considered one of the things that was necessary to constitute a man a settler, the other being the prairie itch. The writer well remembers his first hug at the ague. He had been in the country some three or four years, and had often laughed at the exhibition which others made while undergoing "the shakes," and felt himself proof against it. He had gone through various other stages of Western experience; he had had the prairie itch; had come to the age of citizenship, if not of discretion; had bought a city lot and paid taxes; had run for office, and got elected; had gone back East and got a wife; and yet had never had the "ager." One beautiful September morning, in the year 1838, he thought he would show the little woman he had persuaded to come back with him, some of the beauties of the country. This could be done in no better way than by a ride to Channahon, or the "mouth of the Du Page," as we then called that locality. Accordingly, in the early morning, with a horse and buggy, we set out. We could say we now with propriety, and we were not a little proud of it, and that was one reason why we were going, to show our cousin Minerva—Mrs. Risley—who ee were. The morning was fine and bracing. We anticipated much pleasure. For what is more delightful than a drive into the country when the roads are good, the horse fast and sure, the air balmy and cool, and the dearest little woman in all the world by your side! We have said that the morning was cool and bracing. It soon began to feel quite cool, and so the writer remarked to his wife. She said she was warm enough. We rode a little farther, and, though the sun got higher, it seemed to grow increasingly cold. In short, it grew colder and colder, as the sun got higher and higher, a phenomenon that seemed inexplicable. Presently, he felt an irresistible desire to yawn and stretch both his upper and lower extremities. There was hardly room to do this; out went his legs over the dashboard, while his arms went over the seat and around his wife, and pushed out right and left, promiscously. And still it cold and colder grew. He put on the heavy blanket coat, which, fortunately, he had brought along, and his wife's shawl, which she said she did not really need. But it all did no good; the stretching and gaping continued, and even his teeth began to chatter, and to crown all, he shook—yes, shook; oh, how he did shake! and, incredible as it may seem, he shook all over and to the remotest extremities, and, like great Caesar's, "his coward lips did from their color fly." And all the while, the little wife said she was warm enough. If she had not been the dearest little woman in all the world, he would have been provoked to see her sit there as warm and comfortable as in July, while he was experiencing January and February condensed. But by this time she began to wear a look of anxiety at the strange contortions of her husband. One more resource remained. Giving the reins to his wife, he got out to try what exercise would do, and told her to whip up, while he traveled on behind, with his hands hold of the end of the buggy. He followed this up until too leg-weary to continue it, and it seemed to do little good. He could not get warm, and still he gaped and stretched, and chattered and shook, and all the time he had not the least suspicion what the matter was. After riding on a while longer, his sensations gradually underwent a change. Hot streaks seemed to alternate with the cold ones. The gaping and stretching seemed to moderate, and other sensations took their place. A slight headache came on, and he felt a suspicion of nausea. The pallid and puckered appearance of the countenance gave place to flushes. The weather seemed to undergo a change. It grew suddenly warm. Off goes the shawl and blanket overcoat. He asked his wife, presently, if it was not getting hot, and was almost provoked at her cool reply that she did not see much change. But it certainly was getting hot, he knew it was, and off goes his undercoat. He became thirsty, and longed, oh, how he longed, for water. Strange ideas and fancies were passing through his mind, and he began to talk strangely and loquaciously, almost incoherently. The little wife looked more troubled and anxious than ever, and wondered what had come over her sedate and usually silent husband. Presently he began to feel strangely tired, listless and uneasy, and to long for a good bed and rest and sleep. And now, fortunately, the comfortable log house of Risley appears in sight. Oh, how welcome! With no little exertion he gets out, leaves his wife to look after the horse, and soon occupied the whole of Mrs. Risley's lounge, and one or two chairs besides. When he and his wife between them had given an intelligent account of what had been happening on the way, Mrs. Risley says, "Why Hen! you have got the ague!" Great guns! here was a revelation indeed. After all his boasted immunity from the ague, his defiance of it, the enemy had stolen the march upon him, and here he was, lying prostrate and humbled before it. And even yet he was not done with it; another stage of the disease comes on, the nastiest of the three. The half-delirious fever passes off, and he begins to perspire. Perspire! that is no name for it; let us use the more homely but expressive word he begins to sweat. Ah, how he sweats! It seemed as if all the water in his body—and physiologists say every man has two or three buckets in him, (although we have seen some men we don't believe have a gill of water in them)—it seemed, we say, as if all the water in his body was coming to the surface, and not much sweeter than the Chicago River. And so he continued to sweat, sweat, sweat, for a good hour, saturating towel after towel, until exhaustion closed the scene and he slept. When the afternoon was well-nigh spent, he awoke, refreshed, and was able to do some little justice to Mrs. Risley's fricasseed chickens and doughnuts, and to start home, an humbler if not a wiser man; subdued in tone and spirit, a little the worse for the encounter, and with the cheering prospect of a recurrence of the experience in one, or at most, two days. But he invested $1.50 in a box of Sappington's Pills, and thus headed off the fever. This is not an advertisement.
We are sensible that our history is getting dull, and it is high time that we should enliven it with a murder story. The readers of "Forty Years Ago" will remember that we recorded one there. We were afraid that we could not find one for this history, but, by the aid of the Signal, we are able to record one for the present occasion equally as tragic as that one. On Thursday, April 80, of the year 1858, some boys, ranging about Hickory Creek near where it enters the Des Planes, came upon the body of a female, partly covered with dirt and stones, lying in a gully about one mile south of the city. It was so much decaved that the features were unrecognizable. The boys gave the authorities notice of what they had found, and the proper officers and many citizens went to the spot. The unanimous conclusion of all who saw the body was that she had been murdered. There was a deep wound in the temple and another in the breast. The hands and feet had been cut entirely off, and were found near the body. An inquest was called, and a verdict was found, in which the public belief wras expressed that a foul murder had been committed. Who could it be? and by whom had the deed been done? were the questions on everybody's lips. The public were not long held in suspense. On Saturday, a woman residing in the outskirts of the city, having heard of the discovery, came forward (after the inquest) and informed the Marshal, J. C. Van Auken, that her daughter—a girl of sixteen—had mysteriously disappeared some three weeks previous. The body was taken up again and
another inquest was held, at which the woman testified positively that the body-was that of her daughter, Mary Cook. Other persons expressed the same belief. The mother also stated that, at the time of her daughter's disappearance, she was enceinte, having fallen a prey to the wiles of a man named David Richardson. One of the physicians who examined the body gave a professional statement in respect to it which confirmed that of the mother. The mystery was made plain. Our city had been made the theater of a most foul murder, perpetrated to conceal a crime hardly less diabolical. The public voice was unanimous that the foul perpetrator must be found and brought to justice. Richardson was found and arrested on Sunday morning. He had not been long a resident of the city, but, so far as any one here knew, he had borne a good character, and every one was surprised to find that he was guilty of so foul a crime. But that a crime had been committed, there was no room for doubt, and it seemed equally clear that he was the perpetrator. The Signal said, in its issue of the same week: "We will not prejudge the case; but a young and unprotected girl has been seduced and ruined by a demon in human shape, and murdered to hide her betrayer's guilt. If there is any virtue in law, let it be applied now." The Signal spoke the voice of the public, which was almost ready to string Richardson up to a lamp-post. Indeed, it seemed at one time as though our city would be disgraced by an application of lynch law. Two days were consumed by the examination of Richardson. The Court House was crowded. State's Attorney Bartleson, assisted by Streeter, conducted on the part of the people, with E. C. Fellows for the prisoner. The former testimony of Mrs. Cook and others was brought forward, and the same facts reproduced. The old woman swore positively as to the body being that of her daughter, and the doctor repeated his professional statement. Meanwhile the sharp counsel of the prisoner had adopted a theory for the defense. The body had been again examined by four other physicians who came into court and swore positively that the body was that of a woman, and that it had been used to promote the purposes of science, and was partially dissected. They affirmed that the body was that of a much older and larger person than the missing Mary Cook. This testimony produced a ripple in the current of public opinion which had been flowing so strongly in one direction. Was this so, or was this a cunningly devised scheme of Fellows' to get the villain clear? For a little the question hung in great doubt, each side having earnest advocates. When this suspense was at its height and had become truly painful, relief came. In walked Constable John Roberts with a veiled lady upon his arm. The whisper ran around the court-room, "Another witness." She drew aside her veil, and it was indeed another witness, and no less a person than the murdered girl herself—the young and interesting Mary Cook, alive and well! It only remains to say that it was soon discovered that the body was that of a Mrs. Schemmerhorn, a woman about twice the size of Mary Cook, who had died a few weeks before, and who was the wife of a man who tended the lower lock. The body had been, resurrected by some one for the purposes of dissection, as had been alleged by some of the medical gentlemen at the examination; some of whom well knew that they were speaking the truth. Old Mrs. Cook had trumped up her story to get black-mail out of Richardson. The affair furnished one more warning against hasty judgments founded on circumstances alone. The doctor who gave the professional opinion has never been called to fill the chair of anatomy in Rush Medical College. The parties connected with the case have generally gone elsewhere, although one lingers about here still
who is supposed to have had a hand in it.
If any of our readers hanker after a real murder case, we might relate that of Benjamin Pickle, the old blacksmith, who was shot through his shop window on the night of December 6, 1861. Circumstantial evidence fixed the crime upon his brother-in-law, William Zeph. The paper was found in the ear of Pickle's body was a piece of a German newspaper, the rest of which was found in Zeph's house; the parts exactly fitted each other. He had a trial, was convicted; his lawyers got him two new trials, and he was convicted the third time; then they got a supersedeas, and while the matter was still pending, he escaped jail and was never found.
The first execution in our county was that of George Chase for the murder of Joseph Clark, Deputy Warden at the Penitentiary, in April, 1864. This occurred during the Sheriffalty of John Reid.
We have given some account of the figure our county made in the Black Hawk war, and, in "Forty Years Ago," we related what was done in the Canal-Irish war. As to what Will County did in the Mexican war, there is not much to be told. This is not on account of the politics of our citizens at the time, for the county then, by a considerable majority, sustained the Administration, and adopted the motto—"Our country, when she is right; aye, and when she is wrong, too!" As is well known, under the earlier calls for volunteers, our State furnished five regiments. For one of these regiments, a company was organized in Joliet, under the captaincy of Robert Stevens, which reported at Springfield just one day too late to get in, so quickly had the quota of the State been filled. What these men would have done to add luster to the already glorious military record of our county, must be left to conjecture. That their career would have been a brilliant one we may safely conclude, if the men were worthy of their Captain. We are able only to name one of them with certainty, as no muster-roll of the company has been preserved. This one now wears a star, not a general's but a policeman's, and is known as Frank Fellows. He was a mere boy at the time, and had to steal his chance to enlist, as the old Captain, his father, although himself a hero of the Irish war, as we have elsewhere related (see "Forty Years Ago"), was the very embodiment of Whiggery, and did not take much stock in the Mexican war. Many public meetings' were held, and considerable excitement existed from time to time during the progress of the war. Companies from other counties passed through Joliet, and the martial spirit was more or less waked up, and, it is believed that some joined these companies. One from Kane County is particularly remembered, which marched up and down Bluff street one Sunday, with fife and drum, not a little disturbing the worshipers in the old stone block. The ladies of Joliet presented this company with a handsome flag, and quite a time was had over it, eloquent speeches being made on both sides. This flag was returned in 1849, twenty months after presentation, by P. R. Norton, Captain of the company, who assured the ladies that it had waved in triumph over the battered walls of Puebla, Tampico Alta, Sierra Madre, Convent of St. Domingo and the Halls of the Montezumas. Uri Osgood received the flag in behalf of the ladies and made an eloquent reply. So we at least had some bunting in the war. Toward the end of the war, our State furnished another (the Sixth) regiment, and we find a statement in the history of the State that one company was from Will and Iroquois Counties. Whether the regiment reached the seat of war, and who of our citizens belonged to it, we have not been able to learn. If any one from Will County fought, bled or died, we should have been glad to record his name. In the late war of the rebellion, our county has a proud record. First and last, between three and four thousand of our citizens went to the war; and more than five hundred sacrified their lives to preserve the Government and the Union. Having already, as we think, pretty fully and faithfully told the story of what our county did in this war, we do not think it necessary even to give a summary here. If any of our readers have not a copy of "Fifteen Years Ago, or the Patriotism of Will County," he can easily obtain one either of the author or publisher, for the trifling sum of $4. It ought to be in every man's library, and in every school district in the county. This is not an advertisement, but a piece of disinterested and sound advice—as disinterested as a patent medicine advertisement!
We gave in "Forty Years Ago" some account of the first newspaper started in Joliet, in 1839. This was the premonitory symptom of the well-known Signal. We understand that the township historian, by whom we are to be followed, will "write up" the press, and therefore we shall have little to say on the subject. We wish, however to leave on record our impression of the immense value of the files of county papers as sources of history. If we were to have the privilege of living over the past, we would keep files of each county paper; not by any means for the sake of reading over the old editorials, but because their pages would give a picture from week to week of both national and local events, which could be found nowhere else. Even the advertisements give much of history. There ought to be provision for keeping such files in our county and city offices; for the files at the printing offices are liable to be destroyed by fire, as some have been in Joliet, and as all have been in Chicago. And we here record our thanks to the proprietors of our papers for the free access given us to such files as have been preserved. They have afforded us both amusement and instruction, as well as aided us in our efforts to recall persons and events. We have noticed that editors are not very reliable as prophets; for previous to every election we have been told that the fate of the country hung upon the result, and that if the opposite party triumphed, the country would go to universal smash; and yet the other party often did succeed, and the country went on all the same! Another thing is very noticeable, and that is that it was always the other party that did all the mean and dishonest things; and, also, that no sooner did a man who had all along been respectable and reliable, change his way of voting, than he became at once a vagabond and a scoundrel. Perhaps one of the punishments that will be awarded editors in the future world, will be to read over their old editorials! At any rate, that is the worst we would inflict upon them. We will give a resume of one number of the Signal of the year 1846, twelve years after our city was born, omitting the editorials. It gives a picture of the early times. In the way of news, we have Gen. Taylor's early dispatches from Mexico, when he was on the Rio Grande and skirmishing with Gen. Ampudia. We have also accounts of the negotiations with England, when we backed down from the "54° 40' or fight" position, and took up a more tenable one on °49, and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. As an interesting item of home news, we are informed that an opposition line of stages has just been put upon the route from Chicago via Joliet to Ottawa. By the way, we have in Joliet a souvenir of those old stage times, in the person of our friend Kipp, now a citizen of Joliet, who in those days held the ribbons for Frink & Walker with a skill and ability that was never surpassed. We have also, in the way of news, the proclamation of Gov. Ford against the Mormons, who were threatening to cut up at Nauvoo, and the announcement that a line of telegraph was soon to be opened from Buffalo to Detroit. The citizens of Joliet village were notified, also, to meet at the Court House and organize a wolf-hunt. If you want to know how this was done, read "Forty Years Ago." (We are referring to that great work pretty often, but we can't help it.) By way of advertisements, J. A. Matteson tells the public that he is ready to card the wool and weave the cloth of the people of Will and adjoining counties, and to buy their wool and sell them cloth and other goods. Major Safford announces that he has concluded to stop with Matteson another year, and will try to please everybody, especially the ladies. Uncle Billy Hadsall advertises as the administrator of the estate of Philip Scott, deceased. (Uncle Billy's own estate will have to be administered on soon.) Francis J. Nicholson tells the public where he keeps the "Emporium of Fashion," and is ready to give the gents the latest styles just received from Paris, London and Philadelphia. (The fashions have changed with "Nick" since that day, and will change still more ere many years.) Alex. McIntosh advertises a select school, in which he proposes to teach on common sense principles—not to cram; and "Cal." indorses him, and advises parents to send their children to him; (Mack's wife now beats him—we mean at keeping school.) Charles Clement says he has lots of goods that the people can have cheap by calling at his store, opposite Merchants' Row. J. H. Brown offers pure and reliable drugs and medicines, which can be found in the store opposite the old wooden block on Upper Chicago street; and G. H. Woodruff offers pills and powders to the West Siders at his store, in the old National. Hervy Lowe says he has seventy-five packages of summer goods he wants to get rid of at a very small advance above cost, on the corner of Chicago and Cass streets. M. L. Adams offers to cast anything you want at his steam foundry, on North Bluff street. Norton & Blackstone, of Lockport, advertise large and splendid stocks of everything; and Lane & Weeks, of Lockport, manufacture steel plows. A. W. Bowen, Postmaster, tells who has letters in Joliet Post Office, that have not been called for; among others, Sam Anderson and Col. Curry. (If they have not been called for before this time, they never will be.) H. N. Marsh says he is ready to sell or manufacture anything you want in the furniture line. (We have got one of his tables, and it's good and strong yet.) A good cook is wanted at the National Hotel. (That's what the boarders thought, too.) Dr. Brownson advertises Sappington pills. Daniel Curtis offers to deal out justice as wanted, and E. C. Fellows and Osgood & Little to superintend its administration. Demmond & Wood advertise dry goods and groceries cheap at the City Cash Store. (That piece of Wood is our old reliable insurance man, and we are glad to get him into this history, for he is a pretty well seasoned piece of timber, although he has lately got more young.) Richard Doolittle says he keeps an auction and commission store. (Dick does a little in the way of administering justice now.) P. Filer advertises Jew David's plaster, and tells the poople that they can find it both at Brown's and at Woodruff's. (That's the plaster the people used to put on the barn-doors to draw the cows home at night, and it will do it yet.) Etc., etc., etc., etc.
Early settlers in the Northwest used to speak of a great fall of snow which occurred in the Winter of 1830-31, which must have been very remarkable. It is said to have killed-off the native game animals to such an extent as to have made them very scarce for several years, and to have been a serious loss to the Indians. It is said to have been four feet deep on a level. We have met with some mention of this remarkable snow in the history of Livingston County. We remember to have heard Mr. Kerchival speak of it when we first came. He warned us who had settled under the bluff on the West Side, that we would some day get snowed in, saying that he had seen the snow one gentle slope from the top of the bluff across the river, completely concealing the river. But we have never had any such visitation up to this day. There was a deep snow which blocked the railroads, as we shall relate further on, a few years ago. We have never been visited in this county by devastating cyclones, although we not unfrequently have had storms of wind and rain and hail, which have been somewhat destructive in limited sections. All our streams are subject to heavy floods, especially upon the breaking-up of Spring, when snow and ice are abundant, and much loss has been experienced at times in mills and bridges, etc. In January, 1849, there was a big flood, especially in the Kankakee. Many families in Wilmington were compelled to leave their houses, and the upper mill was partly carried away by ice, and also the woolen-factory and a saw-mill, and the bridge over Forked Creek. The feeder was also damaged seriously. Another flood in 1867 carried off the railroad bridge landing it within a mile of Morris, and during the ice-gorge below, the water rose several feet in the main street of the city. The damage at this time was estimated as high as $100,000. Thunder and lightning are often very severe, especially along the rivers, and occasionally both animals and men have been killed. Such a thunder-storm once struck the city of Wilmington, and produced effects which were startling in the extreme, and at the same time had a ludicrous side. It occurred during a political meeting held at the hall, in which Judge Parks was making a political speech, able, and of course on the right side, for that is where the Judge always means to be, even if he has to take the back track or go across lots to get there. He had just reached one of his sublimest flights of fancy and patriotism, holding out the American eagle with outstretched wings over his attentive audience, who, spell-bound by his eloquence, had taken little note of the approaching storm, until a thunder-bolt struck the building and passing into the crowd, struck about twenty of them to the floor, killing one of the number, and knocking the Judge's spread-eagle into smithereens, closed his speech with a climax which astonished the speaker no less than the auditors. The Judge was accustomed to seeing his audiences electrified, but never before or since in so startling and literal a manner. He yielded the floor, and acknowledged himself vanquished with his own weapons. The most terrific storm of this kind occurred on Sunday, the 31st day of July, 1864. During the morning service at the German Catholic Church in the north part of the city (the small stone church which has since been replaced by the present large and fine one) the steeple was struck by a thunder-bolt, which startled the entire city. The fluid passed down to the gallery immediately under the steeple, where it separated and passed down to the earth in two currents. For a moment the whole congregation was paralyzed. When consciousness returned, the scene was beyond description, and without a parallel in Will County. The smoke or vapor of some sort which followed the report, gave the impression that the church was on fire, and an insane rush was made for the doors and windows, which were broken out and torn from their hinges, and but for the presence of mind of the Pastor, a still more frightful loss of life must have resulted. When the terror of the crowd had been calmed, and the fact ascertained that the church was not on fire, the killed and wounded were looked after. They were carried out into the open air, and those who were not fatally injured recovered consciousness in the falling rain. The following persons were found to be dead: Mrs. Hartman, a young mother, 35 years old, leaving three children, one a babe; Mrs. Ingles, age 56; Nicholas Young, a lad of 15; Matthias Engle of the age of 17, and Samuel Weyman of 18 years. About twenty more were seriously, but not dangerously injured. The entire congregation were more or less affected. The scene was heart-rending—the moans and cries of the injured and the frightened as well—and the lamentations over the dead, no one who witnessed it will ever forget. We have had many floods in Joliet, more or less damaging to property, especially to bridges, but the one which was the largest, and which will live longest in the memory of our citizens, occurred on Wednesday, the 9th of August, 1865. On that day, which was a rainy one, there occurred during the afternoon, and again in the evening, two showers, which all who witnessed them will say were the heaviest they ever knew. They seemed to be like the cloud-breaks we have read of as occurring in some of the canons of the mountains of the West. Every one, however, went to bed serene, not anticipating that there was to be anything serious, although conscious that it was a big shower and the river had commenced to rise considerably. About midnight, the city was alarmed by the ringing of the bells and the shouts and cries of the people, and a scene of terror was presented in the dim light of the stars, which baffles description. The moving about of people with lanterns and the reflection in the waiters, gave a strange and weird aspect to the city, as seen from the bluff. A river of no mean volume was pouring down the R. I. R. R. track from Spring Creek, which was now a mighty stream, covering all the bottom lands in its vicinity. The wall of the upper basin had given way and a Niagara was pouring out, carrying off King's planing-mill and other buildings, and greatly endangering Howk & Hyde's mill. All that part of town known anciently as "the slough," was a second Mississippi, the houses were surrounded by water from Scott street to the eastern bluff, and the people were being rescued by boats. Furniture and fences were afloat, and men and women imploring help from the windows of the upper stories of the beleaguered houses. The basements on the east side of Scott street were converted into cisterns, and the provisions and utensils necessary for the morning's breakfast were afloat. The old Des Planes which had often been on the rampage before, outdid all former exploits, and was full to the top of the tow-path, and poured over the lock without any regard to canal regulations. It was easy to believe the theory that all this beautiful valley from bluff to bluff was once a mighty Mississippi. Great feats of energy and daring were performed in rescuing the inmates from the houses in the sloughs and on the bottom below the R. I. R. R. which was also all afloat. The scenes of that night, both harrowing and ludicrous, will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed them. Many families had a tight race to set from the lower floors into the chambers, and some who had no chambers to flee to found refuge on the roofs. The family of James Congden, on Cuss street, reached the second story barely in time, and in the morning, on taking a peep into the parlor which had been so neat and cheerful the night before, they found two pigs had floated in and quartered themselves on the piano, where they were waiting patiently for the waters to assuage. A hired man of M. O. Cagwin's on the same street, was not aroused until the waters came over his bed. Without taking very much time to make his toilet, he jumped for the door and on stepping out found the steps had gone, and when he planted his feet where they had been he went in all over. He swam for the barn, cut loose his team and saved them from drowning. The lumber-yards were all afloat and many thousand feet of lumber sought a Southern market without a shipping bill or clearance. Bluff stock rose suddenly; many fled thither for refuge. W. S. Brooks said his beautiful place on Scott street was for sale, but he still stays there, and we presume does not lie awake nights for fear of a recurrence of the scene. Many felt for a time that they would like to go up higher; but as the floods subsided we suppose they concluded it was not much of a shower after all. The excitement and damage was by no means confined to Joliet. The railroads leading to the city were flooded and greatly damaged, bridges swept away, culverts destroyed, tracks torn up and embankments torn away, and the bridges on all the county roads were in like condition, and a virtual blockade was established for a few days. Farmers were also great sufferers, stacks of grain and hay were destroyed, and few escaped some damage.
The opening of the canal made a great change in our mode of travel to Chicago. We had been wont to go by stage, a long and tedious ride—hot and dusty in Summer, and cold and uncomfortable in Winter. Or, we could drive our own conveyance, occupying from three-fourths of a day to a day and a half, according to the weather. Sometimes it required a day to get across the nine miles lying between "Widow Berry's Point" and the Chicago River, a low, wet, prairie then, although much of it is now included in West Chicago. It consumed three days, generally, to go do business and return. But now the canal being open, we could go aboard a packet at night and wake up (if we were lucky enough to sleep) in Bridgeport, transact our business and return at night, thus losing only one day. This was a great improvement, and for a while we were happy and content. But after a few years, we began to sigh for something better and swifter. Canals were slow. They were safe, to be sure; but who would not rather risk his life than to be all day or all night going forty miles, when he could do it in a couple of hours? We must have railroads. The principal towns in the county became agitated with railroad projects; public meetings were held, and the county papers were filled with the reports, and with discussions and projects. The Chicago & Rock Island Railroad Company was chartered in 1850-51, and organized in 1851. One of our citizens, N. D. Elwood, Esq., was one of the Directors, and Secretary of the Board. The road was opened from Joliet to Chicago in October, 1852. Matteson was a large contractor, and the work was driven with his usual energy. The President of the road gave Joliet and vicinity a free ride. The packet-boat business soon dwindled and expired. Capt. Connett, the famous canal captain, had to get metamorphosed into a railroad conductor. Now we could go from Joliet in the morning, buy half the city (if we had the dimes), and return at night. Lockport was left out in the cold, and she was welcome to her old canal office, over which Jolietians had growled so many years. The Rock Island Railroad was opened to the Mississippi in 1854. The builders of the road (Earnham & Sheffield) chartered some steamboats, and gave the people a big excursion to St. Paul. Happy the man who was important enough to get a ticket. Pleasant memories of that excursion still linger in the minds of many of our citizens. Some interesting stories are told of the affair. Some strong temperance men at home were said to have been very much afraid of Mississippi water in its undiluted state. Preachers, on their return, made the country and the Great West the theme of their discourses. It was not known then that the writer would be a historian, and everybody had forgotten that he was Judge, and consequently he got no ticket, and therefore cannot expand the subject. That was a great oversight in Messrs. Earnham & Sheffield. But there was a compensation—we did not have to drink Mississippi water. There was an incident, however, connected with this road, which occurred soon after it was in full operation, about which we know something and will relate a little. On Wednesday night, November 1, 1854, a most appalling accident occurred on the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad, a few miles below our city, near Rock Run. The engine of the down passenger train was thrown from the track by running over a horse, and upon it the two forward passenger cars were thrown. One of the steam-pipes of the engine was severed, and the escaping steam was poured through the cars, terribly scalding sixty-two of the passengers, literally cooking some of them alive. Twelve of this number died within a few minutes. The train was brought back to the city about 8 o'clock in the morning, and the scenes of suffering presented at the depot were indescribable and sickened the heart of every beholder. N. D. Elwood, Esq., and other officers of the road were indefatigable in their efforts to relieve the sufferings of those who survived. The stone house on Scott street, next to the present residence of W. A. Steele, was appropriated as a hospital, and thither the survivors were taken. Our physicians, Drs. Harwood, Danforth and McArthur, were in attendance by order of the railroad company, and nobly acquitted themselves. The citizens of Joliet, especially the ladies, were untiring in their attention, and everything possible was done to alleviate the sufferings of the survivors. Among the number of the dead was a man from Gettysburg, Pa., his mother, wife and two children—five of one family; their name was Laughlin. A niece of Mr. Laughlin was also supposed to be fatally wounded, and four others. Seven others were dangerously scalded, and eleven scalded more or less severely. Four of these died subsequently, making sixteen deaths in all. The hospital was established with Dr. McArthur as Director, and Drs. Bailey, Davis, and others beside the three previously named were called into the service. For many weeks the attention of these doctors, and of our ladies as nurses, was demanded. Some of those who survived were seriously injured for life, losing an eye or an ear, and will carry the marks of the terrible burns to their graves. They will not forget the gratuitous and unremitting services of our men and women as volunteer nurses. Two villages have been built up by this road in our county—New Lenox and Mokena.
The Secretary of this road, Nelson D. Elwood, was so long identified with Lockport, Joliet and Will County, that a brief mention of the part he played in our history is called for. He came to this county in 1837, and settled at Lockport, where he obtained employment in the engineer department of the canal. Having the misfortune to lose his father at eight years of age, his opportunities for acquiring an education were limited; but he was possessed of so quick and inquiring turn of mind that he readily acquired the elements of a substantial business education, and was an accomplished penman, accountant and surveyor. In 1843, he was elected County Clerk, and held the office six years. During this time he studied law, and was admitted to the bar of Will County and of the Supreme Court of this State in 1847. On leaving the office of County Clerk, he formed a partnership with Judge Parks, which continued through his life. He was one of the original directors of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, and for five years Secretary to the Board, as above related, and mainly instrumental in obtaining the right of way. With Gov. Matteson, he built the Joliet & Northern Indiana Railroad, commonly known as the "cut- off," and now a branch of the Michigan Central, and was its President until it was sold to the Central. Mr. Elwood was also closely identified with the prosperity of the city of Joliet. He was Mayor during the years 1855 and 1856, and an Alderman from 1857 until his death. He was also placed upon the first Board of Penitentiary Commissioners, and continued until his death. He was re-appointed when laid upon what proved to be his death-bed, and this appointment was made by an administration adverse to him in politics. Mr. Elwood was long an official member of the Episcopal society, and also eminent as a Mason, holding many important offices in all the grand bodies of the State. He died February 24, 1861, leaving one son, James G. Elwood, present Mayor of Joliet, and a widow now residing in Chicago.
The Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad was chartered and organized in 1851-52. The work was commenced in 1852, and the road opened to this city in August, 1854, and from this city to Chicago in 1857. This road added greatly to our commercial facilities. Passing through Wilmington, Joliet and Lockport, it gave Joliet another route to Chicago and access to the coal-fields of our county; also to Wilmington and Lockport, the railroad communication they had so long desired. The daily "bus" between Lockport and Joliet was
useless, and that city was happy. During the Winter of 1854-55, occurred a great snowstorm, which is, no doubt, yet remembered by many. The train which left Joliet at noon on the 25th day of January, with 350 passengers, 22 of whom were members of the Illinois Legislature, was brought to a full stop when near Dwight. The weather had grown cold and the engines had frozen up, and they were utterly unable to proceed. They were held in this condition for six days and nights, during which it was excessively cold, and there was much discomfort, to use no stronger expression. It was several miles to timber, and the stock of fuel carried by the train was soon exhausted. The seats of the cars and also the second-class cars were cut up for fuel. They had no provisions the first day excepting a few cans of oysters and a few boxes of crackers, which were in the freight car. Relief, to some extent, was brought in sleighs from the surrounding farmhouses and the nearest villages; and on the seventh day, an engine from Joliet succeeded in forcing its way through and bringing the shipwrecked train back to Joliet. Some of the Legislature, among them Messrs. Parks and Osgood, went forward from Dwight in sleighs. We wish that this was the only disaster that we were called upon to record in the history of this road. But on Saturday evening of August 16, 1873, there was one which was indeed frightful, and exceeded, in the number lost, that of the R. I. R. R., as there were twenty-three persons killed and thirty-one wounded. The accident occurred about one-half a mile this side of the Sag bridge, in Cook County. The train which left Chicago at 9:40 was well crowded with passengers. Although about ten minutes behind at Willow Springs, it had the right of way to Lemont, and the conductor ordered the engineer to make up the time. There was a heavy fog in the valley, and as the train passed around a curve at the feeder, the engineer saw the flash of a headlight. He instantly reversed his engine, opened the valve and leaped for life. An instant collision occurred with a coal train, coming on at full speed,
and with much the heaviest locomotive. The passenger engine was thrown into the ditch, and that of the freight train went on like a mad bull, and, tossing the express and baggage cars one side, like a leaf in the wind, plunged, with terrible force, into and under the smoking-car. which had been raised up by the collision. The passengers were thrown in a heap to the rear end of the cars, and some tossed, with the seats on which they sat, into the air, and fell, bruised and scalded, into the swamps on either side. The smoke-stack of the locomotive was broken ofF at the first collision, and the end of the smoking-car was pushed over the boiler and rested on the top of it, and the escaping steam filled the car. Only two men in the car escaped injury, and they were in the first seat and were thrown into the air, while one who sat by their side was severely scalded. The concussion of the collision was so great that the passengers in the other cars were stunned for the moment and did not realize what had happened, and that many of their fellow-passengers were dying around them and being scalded alive. Indeed, the only effective assistance came from the neighboring houses, after the citizens had been aroused. The scene which met them was heart-rending in the extreme; the cries of the suffering pierced the night air, and the crash of the collision and the roar and hissing of the steam were heard at Lemont, and aid dispatched to the scene. Dispatches were sent from Lemont to Chicago, and a relief train, with physicians, nurses and supplies, reached the scene at 2 o'clock A. M. In the mean time, the wounded and scalded had been removed to the uninjured cars, and were attended by those who had come to their rescue from the vicinity. Their condition was indescribably horrid. Six were found already dead, and forty wounded, who were enduring the most intense sufferings. They were taken to Chicago hospitals; two died on the way and fifteen afterward. Among the latter were J. W. Smith, the recently-appointed Warden of the Penitentiary; J. W. Fluerey, the Purchasing Agent of the same; James O'Neil, a crockery merchant on Bluff street, Joliet, son-in-law of Dr. Leavy, and two other residents of Joliet—Jacob Lauser and John Metzgar, a brakeman. The engineer of the coal train was arrested and put in jail. The conductor was a resident of Joliet and had been some time in the employ of the company here, and was regarded as a sober and reliable man. He was the son of one of our most ancient Irishmen (who died soon after). He was not to be found for some time, but was afterward arrested at Monee. He could give no explanation, except that of forgetfulness. There is still another incident of great interest touching this road. In October, 1862, the road was sold at the Court House in Joliet on the third
mortgage, for the benefit of the first and second mortgages as well, all representing the trifling sum of $6,500,000. It was bought in at this sale by Samuel J. Tilden and partner, for the sum of $1,600,000. We are happy to have this opportunity of getting Samuel and his "barrel" into the history of Will County. This he will no doubt feel to be some compensation for having been swindled (?) out of the Presidency. And as matters have turned out, we are very glad we did not bid against him. We hardly know why we did not, but perhaps the following circumstance, which occurred a little before and which we take from the files of the Signal, will account for it. "The residence of G. H. Woodruff, of this city, was entered last night by some miscreant and about $100 taken from Mr. W.'s pants." Now this "miscreant" is the only man we have not forgiven, but we promise to forgive him if he will return the principal, and we will say nothing about the interest and ask no questions. This is certainly a liberal offer as the interest would now exceed the principal. Anyhow we give him due notice that he can't do it again. There we have succeeded in getting into this history, and in such company, too!
Another railroad, the Chicago, Joliet & Peoria Railroad, has been opened from Joliet to Streator. This passes from Joliet along the east bank of the Des Planes, through the towns of Joliet and Channahon, crossing the Kankakee near its mouth, and so on through Grundy, Livingston, Woodford and Tazewell Counties, to Peoria, connecting with Streator by a cross-road. We thus have access to vast coal-fields, and our coal dealers supply those who wish with Streator coal. Yet another railroad—the Chicago, Danville & Vincennes—has been opened, which passes through the townships of Crete, Washington, the ancient village of Crete and the modern ones of Goodenow and Beecher, giving the extreme eastern part of our county all needed facilities. The Joliet & Northern Indiana Railroad, commonly called the cut-off, and now owned and controlled by the Michigan Central, is becoming one of the most important railroad connections, furnishing as it does a direct communication with the Eastern markets, and it is making Joliet one of the most important centers of the grain and pork trade, as will appear from statistics elsewhere given. The opening of this road was strenuously opposed by Chicago, she being unwilling to lose any part of her immense trade. A fierce paper war was waged during its incubation, but the project was so important and so obviously just that it was bound to carry in time. This road was built in 1855, and among the benefits which accrued to us from it, we must not forget, was the coming here of Calvin Knowlton, long time its Superintendent. His given name, we think, another case of lucus a non lucendo. It has also built up two stations—the villages of Spencer and Frankfort. The Chicago branch of the Illinois Central road, which was part of the grand scheme of 1887, but had no vitality until Congress made the magnificent donation of 3,000,000 acres of public lands to the State for its construction, passes through the towns of Peotone, Will and Monee, having created the two flourishing villages of Peotone and Monee. Several other roads have been projected and surveyed through our county, and will, perhaps, sometime become fixed facts; but as they are still in the future, we leave them for some future historian.
The Oswego & Indiana Plankroad was chartered in 1849-50, and the subscription books opened in 1851, and the stock soon taken. Directors were chosen in May, 1851. These were J. A. Matteson, M. H. Demmond, H. D. Risley, Isaac Cook and Uri Osgood. The Directors organized by choosing H. D. Risley, President; Uri Osgood, Treasurer, and H. E. Streeter, Secretary. Under the energetic superintendency of the President, the road was soon opened to Plainfield. Work was also done beyond. This road was in use for several years until worn out, when the road was abandoned. It was under its charter, which was a liberal one, that considerable railroading was done. A plankroad was also constructed for a few miles south of the city. Lockport also rejoiced in a plankroad, chartered under the name of the Lockport, Plainfield & Yorkville Plankroad, organized in June, 1855, at Plainfield. Hiram Norton, John F. Daggett, George Gaylord, D. C. Norton and S. Hamlin were Directors. Hiram Norton, President; J. F. Daggett, Treasurer and Secretary; A. J. Mathewson, Surveyor. They built a road to Plainfleld, which has also ceased to be a plankroad. Plankroads, like many other things, seem to be obsolete. There are several persons who have been prominent in our early history, but who have now passed from the scene of their earthly activities, about whom it is proper that something more should be said than we have found it convenient to do in the progress of our narrative. Some of these we will now briefly notice. We begin with
He was born in Bennington, Vt., in December, 1812. His father, Col. Martin Norton, was a soldier, serving his country at the time of his birth. He pursued the usual preparatory course and entered Williams College in 1881, and graduated with honor in 1835. Having no means, and entirely dependent upon his own exertions, he immediately commenced teaching, first at Wheeling, Penn., and afterward in Potosi, Mo. While here, he formed the acquaintance of the lady he soon married, Miss Phebe A. Sheldon. In about one year after their marriage they came to Joliet—in 1839. The writer well remembers his first meeting with Mr. Norton, soon after his arrival, and how greatly prepossessed he was by his courteous and winning manner, and he soon formed an intimote acquaintance with him and his wife. His genial manners soon made him popular and beloved by the community where he had settled, while his ability and integrity soon won a way for him in professional and political life. In 1846, he was elected County Judge, and re-elected in 1848. He was chosen to represent our county in the State Constitutional Convention of 1848. In 1850, he was elected to the State Legislature, and, in 1852, was chosen to represent this District in Congress, and was re-elected in 1854. In 1857, he was elected Circuit Judge, and discharged the duties of the position with ability. In 1862, he was again elected to Congress. In 1866, he received the appointment of District Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and removed to Chicago. He discharged the duties of this office with ability until April, 1869, when he became associated with Judge J. R. Doolittle in the practice of law, and kept up this connection until the great fire of 1871, which destroyed their library and papers. He subsequently received the appointment of Counsel to the City of Chicago. He died August 3, 1875, and his remains were brought to Joliet, where the greatest portion of his active life had been passed, and they rest in Oakwood. Mr. Norton was an able and effective speaker, both at the bar and on the "stump," and in the legislative hall. During his residence in Joliet, he was a member of the Congregational Church (now the Central Presbyterian). Mrs. Norton and four children survive him.
was one of our first lawyers—first in point of time and also of ability. He came here the same year in which our county was organized (1836) and from that day to that of his death was one of our most prominent men. He was gifted with more than ordinary mental powers, and took a high position at the bar. He also filled offices of trust and responsibility. He was elected to the State Senate in 1852, and was the Democratic candidate for Congress in 1858, and made a strong canvass in a Republican district and against a most popular opponent. Mr. Osgood accumulated a considerable property, and established a private bank. He was a man of strictly temperate habits and pure life. His death was remarkably sudden. He had partaken of his breakfast as usual, and risen to go down town to attend Court, when he complained of a pain in his chest. His family at once sent for Dr. Casey, who arrived in a few moments, but found Mr. O. in a dying condition. He did not live half an hour after getting up from his breakfast. Mr. Osgood was a native of Chenango County, N. Y., and 62 years of age at the time of his death, which occurred February 8, 1871.
another Joliet lawyer, died October 19, 1870. He was the son of Deacon Ezra Goodhue, one of the early settlers of Plainfield, and a graduate of Knox College, Galesburg. He came to Joliet and commenced the practice of law in 1857. He was comparatively a young man at the time of his death, and his friends anticipated for him a useful and successful career. He had just served as a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1870, participating actively in its debates and serving on important committees. He was one of the Committee that prepared the address of the Convention to the people. Mr. Goodhue was a member of the Congregational Church in Plainfield. He died Oct. 19, 1870, in the 39th year of his age.
In the year 1840, one of the most brilliant and promising young men we have ever had came to Joliet. This was William E. Little. He was born in the State of New York, but while quite young his parents moved to Pennsylvania. He acquired a good education, chiefly by his own exertions. One year he spent in Oberlin College, Ohio. After leaving Oberlin, he, at the age of 19, entered the law office of his brother, at Montrose, Penn., and afterward pursued his professional studies at Wilkesbarre, where he was admitted to the bar at 21 years of age. He was then married to Miss Mary J. Curtis, and immediately (1840) removed to Joliet. Young as he was in years and in his profession, he at once took high rank at the Will County bar, which then numbered in its ranks such men as Newkirk, Wilson, Boardman, Henderson, Osgood, Fellows, Parks and others, and where he also encountered such men as Caton, Collins, Spring, Butterfield, Dickey, Goodrich and others from Chicago. In such a bar and in such a circuit, young Little commanded the respect and admiration of his older brethren, and was justly regarded as a young man of great promise. He also soon entered the political arena, and was as ready and as popular on the stump as at the bar. He was elected, in 1848, by the Democratic party to represent this district, then embracing Will, Du Page, Iroquois and Kendall Counties in the General Assembly. While in the Legislature, he was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and prepared able reports on the subjects committed to it. It is an interesting incident that, at the same time, his brother was Chairman of the like committee in the Legislature of Pennsylvania. In the canvass for the Democratic nomination to Congress in 1850, his friends brought him out as a candidate for the nomination, and he received as high as 38 votes. Richard S. Malony, however, received the nomination. All who knew him believed that his election to Congress was only postponed a little, and that a brilliant political career was before him. He was a graceful and effective speaker, and while he lived he divided the honors of Fourth of July oratory with Judge Parks. But all his own aspirations and the hopes and expectations of his many friends were blighted bv his early death, which occurred September 30, 1851, at the age of thirty-four. The members of the bar of this and adjoining counties, the societies of Masons and Odd Fellows from Lockport and Joliet testified their respect by full attendance at his funeral, and numerous testimonials of respect filled the papers at the time. Mr. Little left a widow and four daughters, who have long been known to the people of Joliet, and loved and honored on their own account as well as that of the husband and father. A beautiful tribute to his memory was given in the True Democrat, from the pen of the assistant editor, Mrs. E. A. W. Hopkins.
must be added to the list of brilliant young lawyers who have once shone at the Will County bar, and who have now gone to a Higher Court. Of his early history, we are not informed. He came here at an early day, was some time editor of the first paper—the Courier, the predecessor of the Signal—was elected to the Legislature in 1840, was appointed Secretary of State by Gov. French in 1851, came within two votes of Gov. Matteson for the nomination for Governor; was appointed Commissioner to the Sandwich Islands by President Pierce, and after his return received an appointment to a Nevada land office, where he died in 1869. He wras first admitted to the bar in Joliet. He was an accomplished scholar, a brilliant orator and a warm politician. We must mention the name, also, of
once a prominent lawyer in the early day, a partner of Judge Henderson and a brother-in-law of Joel A. Matteson and Henry Fish. He was a man of strong reasoning powers and able in argument, although so quaint or odd in his manner of expression as often to make it difficult to suppress a smile. He went from here to Lake County, where he became County Judge. He died when visiting some friends in this county, in October, 1872. His death was very sudden.
As appears, from the foregoing pages, Mr. Fellows first came to Channahon in 1834, and soon after took up his residence and hung out his shingle in Joliet, and from that time until failing health prevented, he was one of our busiest and most successful lawyers. He was a man of keen and penetrating mind, and especially noted as a criminal lawyer, generally employed on the side of the defense, and no client ever suffered from his neglect. He was a native of Columbia County, N. Y., and died at Lockport in August, 1876.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Nebraska, was still another Joliet lawyer for several years, and figured somewhat in our politics. He had many friends here who justly esteemed him for his many fine qualities of head and heart. He always labored under the disadvantage of poor health and a feeble physique, and his ambition always outran his strength. He was a fine speaker, and at the commencement of our war era, as well as in political campaigns, was often heard in eloquent advocacy of what he believed to be the cause of justice and the Union. He enjoyed political excitement, and if his health had been equal to his ambition, would have made, no doubt, a brilliant career. But consumption had early marked him as her prey, and he died February 20, 1863.
was for many years one of our most active and reliable business men. He resided in Chicago a few years, and came here about 1837. He commenced here at his trade as a shoemaker, and gradually increased his business from year to year, growing with the place until he became a wholesale dealer and manufacturer of boots, shoes and leather, employing largely, at one time, convict labor. He built several stores, not less than six in all, and two fine residences, one on Broadway and another on Richard street. He served the city as School Director, Alderman and Mayor. He was a member and a liberal supporter of the Methodist Church, and aided liberally all other church and benevolent enterprises. He was a man of few words, but he led an active, busy, useful life. Many will remember his mysterious death, and how startled the community was by the intelligence that his body had been found in the Chicago River. Various theories and conjectures have been entertained in respect to his untimely taking off; but the facts are still wrapt in mystery and will probably never be known until the great day when all things shall be revealed. His death occurred August 10, 1872, at the age of 55.
was born in Schenectady, N. Y., came to Joliet in 1845, and was for a long time a prominent business man here. He received the appointment of Postmaster under Taylor, which he resigned in 1852, to take the position of Cashier in the Merchants' & Drovers' Bank, established by Matteson—the first bank of issue in Will County. While on the Tennessee River, in the Spring of 1862, upon matters of business connected with the army, he was taken sick and reached St. Louis only to die May 19, 1862.
for some time Pastor of the Baptist Church, bookseller, School Commissioner in 1859 and 1860; highly respected as a Christian and an able preacher; died of consumption April 27, 1863. He left one son, on whom his mantle has fallen. He was 46 years of age.
one of the early settlers of Channahon, afterward Sheriff of our county for four years—1840-43, President of the Joliet & Oswego Plankroad, and long and well known in business circles here and at Wilmington, where he some time resided; was born in Oneida County, N. Y., and came west from Onondaga County in 1833. He died in December, 1862.
one of the earliest settlers of Du Page, and the first Supervisor of the town, and also our Representative to the State Legislature in 1846 and in 1848, was a fine specimen of a Will County yeoman, physically, intellectually and morally. He died, greatly regretted, in March, 1851.
There have been several county agricultural associations in our past history, and two places, besides the one now occupied, have been fitted up for their use. The first was located on the well-known Stevens Farm, in a beautiful grove having a beautiful and abundant spring, and buildings were erected, and considerable improvements made. When the war came on, it was changed into a military camp and barracks, and afterward reverted to Mr. Stevens. A place was also fitted up on the hill above the Penitentiary, on the Lockport road, and considerable money expended. This was, however, more of a hippodrome, we believe, than an agricultural association. The present Agricultural and Mechanical Association is now (Sept. 12) holding its ninth annual fair. It has beautiful grounds in the southeastern part of the city, near the termination of the street railway, which have been beautifully fitted up with the necessary halls and stock pens, and all the usual conveniences of such establishments. There is a fine spring on the grounds which furnishes all the water necessary. The programme for the fair now being held, offers a large and liberal list of premiums, which are open to all competitors. The Association was organized in 1869, under the general act of the Legislature, and has a capital of $26,000. The Board of officers is as follows: President, Charles Snoad, of New Lenox; Vice Presidents, William E. Henry, of Joliet; C. A. Westgate, of Peotone; B. P. Carter, of Troy; R. J. Boylan, of Elwood; Frank Searles, of New Lenox; Secretary, William T. Nelson, of Wilmington; Treasurer, E. H. Aikin, of Joliet; with a Board of nine Directors, and eighteen Superintendents under the General Superintendent, L. E. Ingalls.
In no way can we so well give an idea of the kind and amount of productions of the county as by the following condensed abstract from the Assessor's returns:
|Winter wheat||112 1/2||2,330|
|Spring wheat||1,684 1/2||23,069|
|Buckwheat||226 1/2||2,567 1/2|
|Castor beans||1 1/8||22|
|Irish potatoes||2,650 35/100||180,506|
|Apple orchard||4,025 1/4||1,639|
|Timothy meadow||43,615||56,965 1/2|
|Prairie meadow||30,180 79/100||36,650|
|Millet and Hungarian||505 3/4||428|
|Turnip and other root crops||82 1/4||$90635|
|Other fruit and berries not included above||22||2363|
|Other crops not named above||9148 68/100||3239|
|Pasture (not including woodland)||88,552|
|Woodland (not including pasture)||17,830|
|Uncultivated land not included above||17,279 1/2|
|Area of city and town real estate not included above||l,807 22/100|
|No. killed by dogs||252|
|Average value of number killed by dogs||$3 30|
|No. of pounds of wool shorn||30,582|
|No. of fat sheep sold||961|
|Average weight per head||108|
|No. of cows kept||17,366|
|Pounds of butter sold||787,012|
|Pounds of cheese sold||57,860|
|Gallons of cream sold||10,060|
|Gallons of milk sold||1,322,646|
|No. of fat cattle sold||9,352|
|Average gross weight per head of fat cattle||942|
|No of fat hogs sold||37,500|
|Average gross weight of fat hogs||254|
|No. of hogs and pigs died of cholera||2,064|
|Average gross weight||87|
|No. of bushels of timothy-seed in 1877||9,513|
|No. of bushels of clover-seed in 1877||1,898|
|No. of bushels of Hungarian and millet seed in 1877||4,744|
|No. of bushels of flaxseed in 1877||13,111|
|Pounds of grapes||15,815|
|Mules and asses||501||16,529 00|
|Assessed value of land exclusive of city lots||9,271,860 00|
From the above it will be seen that sorghum makes but a small figure in our present agricultural productions: but, in common with many other counties, Will County took its turn at the sorghum fever. This raged along between 1855 and 1865. The farmers generally, at one time or another, raised sorghum. They made their own molasses, and tried to make their own sugar. Merchants sold sorghum-seed, and the sorghum-mills ornamented the farmers' door-yards, and the tall and handsome canes grew in luxuriant beauty in his fields. The war added stimulus to its production, as it seemed for a time as though we should be cut off from our Southern supply of sugar altogether. Sorghum conventions were held, at which samples were displayed and the modes of cultivation discussed. Among the most enthusiastic believers in sorghum was the Rev. Royal Reed, for some time a Congregational preacher here and elsewhere. He believed that it was going to prove a bonanza to the farmers and the country; that it would supply sirup and sugar from its juice, a beautiful dye, outvying the famous Tyrian, from its seed, the best and cheapest fiber for paper in its stalk, and last but not least, a spirit could be distilled from the pomace which would put New England and Jamaica to shame. The dominie had a little plantation on which he raised the cane, and he set up a mill in his yard, and the steam of his evaporating-pan went up, day after day, a sweet incense to Ceres. He tried to make sugar, but the product was small. But his rum was a success. The libations he poured out to Bacchus were the admiration of the neighborhood. Many were permitted to taste just enough to see what could be done with sorghum, but only in medicinal doses. Not much was heard about the dominie's sugar, but the praises of his rum were on the lips of not a few. But the sorghum fever passed away, like many another. It did not prove a success; its sirup always had an unpleasant twang, and refused to granulate, and soon the farmers stopped raising it, and the sorghum-mills rotted and no longer ornamented the landscape. This mention of sorghum has given us an opportunity to tell a pretty good story of its enthusiastic disciple. He is still living, but just over the county line in Grundy County, so we think it will be safe. It illustrates the manner in which so many people blunder when they attempt to quote Scripture, and thus it has a good moral. If it were not for the good moral we should not tell it. While Pastor of the old Congregational Church here, he boarded awhile in the family of some ladies who kept a female boarding-school. They had quite a large family of teachers and boarding scholars. These ladies had a rule that, as each one, teachers and boarders, took their seats at the table they should repeat a text of Scripture—a very pleasant and commendable practice, in favor of which much might be said. On one occasion, one of the ladies gave as her text: "Duty is ours, consequences are God's." It was the dominie's turn next, and he matched her quotation with another equally scriptural, if not equally beautiful: "Let every tub stand on its own bottom." The Dominie had to hunt another boarding-place. How many fevers we have survived! The bilious fever, the gold fever, the land fever, the oil fever, the superheated steam fever, the war fever, the sorghum fever, the woolen-factory fever, the rolling-mill fever, the Linden Heights fever, the horse-railway fever, the "Dolly Varden" fever—and yet we still live! And then the dress-reform fever, which raged in 1850—51-52. We had thought seriously of writing up its history, but we feel incapable of doing the subject justice, and it is a delicate theme. It was a brave and heroic attempt on the part of a few to bring about a change in female costume; but it failed, notwithstanding it