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for the following year; Rev. 0. J. Shannon, until March, 1874; Rev. C. H. Eaton, from December, 1874, for one year. During his pastorate, the Presbyterian Church property was purchased. Rev. J. V. Nillis served as Pastor from December, 1875, until January, 1878.
Up to the time of the tenth anniversary, 101 had united with the Church, which at present numbers 78. The Sabbath school, in charge of R. E. Helms, is in a flourishing condition The congregation own a neat and comfortable house of worship, but are at present without a minister.
Lodges.—Chenoa Lodge, No. 292, F. & A. Masons was chartered in October, 1859. The charter members were William C. Carter, George Birch, James Sample, George W. Stoker, John Campbell, Daniel McLeod, Isaac Coldron, R. C. Sallee and Squire L. Payne. W. C. Carter was the first Master. The Lodge does not own a building, but the hall occupied by it is furnished very finely, and has few superiors in this particular in the State. The furniture and insignia cost about $2,000. R. E. Beard is Master. The Lodge numbers sixty members. Regular communications, second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.
Chapter No. 143, Royal Arch Masons, was chartered in 1870. The charter members were Louis Ziegler, R. C. Sallee, A. H. Copeland, James Sample, G. W. Stoker, W. H. Boies, H. L. Perkins, W. C. Arnold, A. Stevens. Louis Ziegler was first High Priest, as he is at present. There are thirty-five members. Regular convocations, first and third Tuesdays of each month.
Chenoa Lodge, No. 387, I. 0. O. F., was organized in February, 1866. The membership now numbers twenty-eight. They meet each Monday. W. A. Miller, Noble Grand; R. P. Jewett, Vice Grand; M. W. Jenks, Secretary.
Newspapers.—The history of the first newspaper in a new town is almost, without exception, a story of unrealized hopes, misdirected efforts and unpaid bills. That this was not the case at Chenoa, was owing largely to the superior qualifications of the young man, Silas F. Dyer, who was the originator of the first enterprise. He was an excellent workman-careful and painstaking in his labors, and his memory is held in grateful recollection. His early death was a loss not to his family and home alone, but to the profession of journalism of which, had his life been spared, he would have proved a real adornment. A short sketch of his life is given: Silas F. Dyer was born in Cape Elizabeth, Me., November 7, 1844, and was the youngest of seven children. When nine years of age, his father removed to Bristol, Kendall Co., Ill. His mother died in 1853, and his father in 1859. He remained in school until the latter year, when he commenced work in the office of the Kendall County Clarion, at Bristol. In the summer, though but sixteen years old, he enlisted for the war in the Thirty-sixth, serving four years and two months, participating in every battle but one in which that regiment was engaged; was not wounded and was never in the hospital. After actual hostilities ceased, he was detailed as printer at the Texas headquarters. Discharged just before attaining his majority, he returned and worked at the case in Ottawa and Chicago. In June, 1867, in partnership with James McMurtrie, he started the Chenoa Times without "bonus" from the citizens, but with liberal promises of subscription and advertising patronage, which promises were very generally fulfilled. McMurtrie died soon after, and a premonition seemed to take possession of Dyer's mind, that he was not long to survive his partner. In June, 1868, he married Miss Deborah Dixon, of Bristol, by whom two
children were born, only one of whom survived its father. He died from the effect of hemorrhage of the lungs August 8, 1871, having been confined to the bed less than a week. His body was buried at Bristol, being accompanied thither by a deputation of the Chenoa Masons, who mourned their dead brother with an affection little less than that of his own family. After her brother's death, Miss L. M. Dyer, now, as for many years, a teacher in the city schools, assumed charge of the paper, and for some months kept up the reputation which Dyer had made for the Times. It was then sold to C. H. King, who kept it going about a year; but the general unreliability of its management, the utter lack of mechanical workmanship lost the patronage the Dyers had given it, and he soon left, growling about want of support. C. R. Spore published it about a year, when C. H. John and the Bovard Brothers purchased it, and, a few months later, the latter became proprietors and changed the name to the Monitor. A few months later, C. H. John repurchased it, and, after two years, sold to the Mann Brothers, who changed the name to the Gazette, and, after two years, sold to C. H. Stickney, who still publishes it. The citizens of Chenoa have never failed to give a fair patronage when the paper has been worthy of support. The paper, under the several different managements, has always remained an independent.
Schools.-Ever since Chenoa has became a city, it has had excellent schools. District No. 1 embraces Sections 1, 2, 11 and 12 of the township, the schoolhouse standing in almost the exact geographical center of the district, and is a beautiful and sightly structure, 60 feet square, three stories and a basement, adorued with belfry and minarets, is kept thoroughly painted and scrupulously neat. The rooms are high, the floors deadened, and cost, when built (1867), $26,000, $23,000 of which still remains a debt on the district. There are two rooms on the first floor, two on the second, and one large one and two recitation-rooms on the third. The school interest of this district is in good hands. The present Directors are R. G. Jordon and J. E. Wightmantwo leading business men of the city-and Rev. M. M. Travis. Prof. J. A. Miller is Principal; Mrs. Miller, Assistant; Miss Kays, teacher of first intermediate; Mrs. Lenny, second intermediate; Miss Dyer and Mrs. Duley, of the first and second primaries. The annual expense, including interest, does not vary much from $6,000. By the school census, 1878, the number of children between six and twenty-one years was 327 ; number enrolled in school, 275; average daily attendance, 230. Professors Glover, Lony, Morrow, Poor and Pingrey have in turn served as Principals here previous to the present one. The course of study includes all the common branches taught in district schools, including botany, philosophy, geology, chemistry, Constitution of the United States, and the following " optional:" astronomy, mental and moral philosophy, Latin, Greek and French -preparing graduates to enter college. The text-books used are " Independent” readers, "Monteith's" geography, “White's" arithmetics, “Ray's" algebra, “Greenleaf's" geometry, “Tenney's” natural history, “ Brown's” physiology, “ Cooley's " philosophy, “Stecle’s” geology, “Gray's” botany, “Kiddle's” astronomy, “Scott's" United States history.
Fires.-Several very damaging fires have occurred in the city. The fine large depot and hotel building was burned just after it was completed, in 1856. L. 1870, Ziegler's large wagon-shop was totally destroyed. In 1871, the stores of R. C. Sallee. Ketcham & Seybolt, and of Ednars were consumed, and little saved out of them. In 1873, Ilaynes, Jordan & Co.'s large elevator, with all the grain it contained. ID 1874
Ziegler & Dehner's large four-run grist-mill. The same year, R. C. Sallee's two stores, and in 1876, Ziegler's second mill. Mr. Ziegler naturally thinks he has had enough in the conflagration line, and prefers some other kind of accidents in the future.
In the matter of patriotic reply to their country's call, the citizens of Chenoa were not behind their neighbors. The aggregate population at that time was small, and no company was formed there, lying in between the two county seats, Bloomington and Pontiac, where recruiting was almost continually going on; those living in Chenoa went to those places to enlist, and many were likely “credited” to those places who resided in Chenoa. During the earlier years of enlistment, it mattered not where one enlisting was "credited;" but in the latter days, when drafting became first a threat, and then a reality, those liable to draft began to hurry around, to find where the credits of their township were. In all, some fifty to sixty soldiers enlisted from this place; many going into the Ninety-fourth, some into the Thirty-third (Normal), quite a number to the One Hundred and Twenty-ninth, and some to the First Cavalry and to many other regiments.
MEADOWS STATION, on Section 6, lies four miles west of Chenoa, on the T., P. & W. R. R. ; was platted and recorded in 1877, by Charles Parker, who owned the land there. It is a flag station, having in its limits a post office-Charles Klein, Postmaster—a store, grainhouse, eight or ten dwelling-houses. A large quantity of grain is shipped from there, but its other business is not large.
Empire, in the southern tier of townships, is the third from the eastern boundary, and, like all in this tier, is eight miles long by six east and west, and is described as Town 22 north, Range 4 east, and the first twelve sections of Town 21, Range 4 east of the Third Principal Meridian.
For a long time it was known as Le Roy, taking its name from the village ; but when township organizations went into effect, it became necessary to change the name, and S. A. Moore, Esq., suggested the name “ Empire” which was proudly and eagerly accepted by the people, for to them it seemed really an empire. Salt Creek, which took its name from some real or supposed saline springe along its bank, runs nearly through the center of the township. The west branch rising in Downs, connects with the eastern and northern branches in Section 33, and the stream flows south through Sections 4 and 8 of the southern township, making one of the finest cattle townships in the county. The Kickapoo Indians gave the stream its naine. “ Buckles' Grove," or “ Buckleses Grove," as the citizens persist in calling it, winds around with the stream through Empire, and Old Town Timber skirts the northern tier of sections part way across the town, making originally about ten or twelve sections timbered. The timber was of an excellent quality, and abounded with game of every description, as did the stream with fish. Wild honey was so plenty that the people who came here did not need to stretch the imagination much to call it a "land flowing with milk and honey,” for with the mere trouble of milking, and chopping down the trees, all the milk and honey one needed might be obtained. The surface of land outside the timber-belts is moderately rolling, and the farms that now occupy the virgin prairie soil which old John Buckles looked on in 1827 as being of no earthly value but to hold the timber portion of the world together, are some of the finest in the county. John Buckles, a Virginian by birth, had wandered around until he struck this grove in 1827. He had lived in Edwards, Sangamon and Logan Counties, and pushed in this direction because he had been info med, or more likely his own instincts (for he was a hunter rather than a farmer) told him that there was somewhere an earthly spot which white man had not ruined by crazy civilization. In coming from Logan County, be passed by Randolph's Grove, which was in all respects as fine as this, except that it was already occupied by several families. John Buckles had a family of thirteen children-nine boys and four girls. Just why the Lord was so partial to these old pioneers, in the way of children, when they did not even possess, many of them, a foot of land, and just how the mothers managed, moving as they did every two or three years to some new spot, to get their work done up, take care of baby, and get a stitch of sewing done, are questions which the women of the present age have never satisfactorily answered.
Buckles did not bring all his children here, for some had settled in other places. The first cabin erected by white man, in what is now Empire, was on Section 28, north of the Grove, and about one mile south of Le Roy. From here, old John and his boys sallied out to hunt and to explore the country around. The following year, Jesse Funk and his brother-in-law, James Burleson, drove a great lot of hogs to this grove, because there was so much here for them to eat. They made a camp for the protection of their men who cared for the hogs, and the same year Aquilla Conaway came from Kentucky and purchased the claim which Buckles had taken, he moving farther west onto Section 29. Here Conaway and his children remained several years. The earliest recollection of this new home which Mr. Conaway has, was a black wolf which the Buckles youngsters had fastened to a pole by a girth around its middle, and was thus exhibited to visitors as a trophy of the chase.
The old man Buckles made a tannery, perhaps several of them, here at the Grove. No ruins are now discernible, perhaps owing to his method of building. He cut down a large oak log and dug it out so that it would hold several barrels, and used it as a vat for tanning his hides, putting the bark which was on the outside on the inside to do duty. Mr. Buckles was the largest man ever known in these parts; he weighed 380 pounds. The years 1829 and 1830 brought in at least a dozen families into the Grove, so that during the winter of the deep snow there were enough here to form quite a community.
Michael Dickerson, who had lived two years near Lytleville and two years at Long Point, in De Witt County, at the former of which places he had built the first mill erected in Randolph's Grove, came here and purchased a claim of Mr. Bennett on Section 20, near where his son Henry so long resided. Dickerson was brother-in-law to the Rutledges. His sons Frank and Henry have been long known as among the best citizens of Empire. They had been just a month in their new home when the deep snow came, finding them poorly prepared for such an emergency. There was no mill at the Grove yet, and for weeks the corn had to be prepared for cooking either by soaking in lye, or by pounding in a mortar. The boys attended the first schools ever held in this Grove, in a schoolhouse standing on the northwest corner of Section 28, near H. C. Dickerson's. It was built of logs, and by contribution, of course, as there was yet, in 1832, no common-school system in operation.