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from school were frosted, and the mud froze to their shoes, so that it was almost impossible to walk. The small streams were so frozen over, in about twelve minutes' time, that it was almost impossible to cross. Small animals, unused to such matters, were frozen in the mud; many were picked up and carried in to save their lives, after they were unable to extricate themselves. Without any weather bureau, and without the aid of telegraphic reports from all along the line, it was difficult to fix the storm-center, area and origin of this peculiarly severe streak of weather ; but from such information as could be learned, it seems to have come from the regions of the usual sudden changes —the history and direction of which are now very accurately understood—to have traveled in an east by southeasterly direction, at the rate of from twenty to thirty-five miles per hour, and that its center was nearly that of the center of the State.
Thomas Smith soon after this took up land on Section 29. William Hepline was the first to build a brick house in town, though this happened several years after the date of which the present is a record. From this (1837) until the railroad age (1851), very little can be said of this settlement, more than of hundreds of others all over the West. The general crash which followed the speculative era of 1835 and 1836, the political doctoring immediately following, a bankrupt State, saddled with a debt which seemed to be irredeemable, all tended to prevent immigration. Certain it is that very little change took place in the real-estate market of Lawndale. The score or two of citizens who inhabited the future town were not of a speculative turn. They held the timber-line close, occupied the prairies back of it freely, raised a few cattle that there was a market for, raised a little pork for sale, and found a market for it at Bloomington, Pekin or Chicago. They did not want to sell their timber-land, and did not want to buy the prairie ; did not encourage immigration ; indeed, they now very unanimously believe that their time would have been a happier one, with fewer regrets and less trouble, had the ante-railroad era continued. They became thoroughly conservative in regard to the influx of new neighbors, from the little experience they had soon after the time that the land upon which they lived came into market—a crowd of hungry speculators, with all kinds of wild-cat bank bills appeared, ready to buy them out, or, if possible, to find where there was an available tract of timber-land to be purchased of the Government. They would“ prospect ” for “corners” by the day, and, with compass in hand, run lines all over to find what the settlers refused to tell them. There was no end to the devices of these “ locusts" to find out where certain lands could be found. It was very natural that the residents should be unwilling to show them any accommodation.
THE RAILROAD AGE. Though Lawndale never had a railroad, and some of her citizens undoubtedly think them the sum of villainies, their present prosperity is, beyond question, owing to the building of these great highways. Hon. John Cassedy, with whose name the growth and development of the township has been so identified in its every interest, came here from New York City in the summer of 1851, determined to be a farmer. A sketch of his life, and of his experience, is well worthy of preserving, not more as a memento to a faithful public officer, than as a preserving of certain incidents and customs that never will be repeated in the time to come, however much history may “ repeat itself."
John Cassedy, at the age of eighteen, had received a common-school education : had helped his father to clear a timber farm in the wilds of Michigan ; was tall
slender, not remarkably robust, physically, but mentally of a cast which, as was said of the discoverer of America, would have constructed a new world if he had failed in discovering one. He returned to New York City, the place of his birth, to accept a clerkship which had been offered him, devoting his earnings to assisting his father in the maintenance of the family until his majority. At the age of twenty-three, he had saved from his earnings about $250, $160 of which he paid at the broker's office of Jacob Little & Co., then famous in Wall street, for a 160-acre land warrant; first stipulating that, in case he did not locate it, they would buy it back for $150. He took a railroad ticket to New Buffalo, a point on Lake Michigan, once quite important, but now forgotten, except by those who, coming to Chicago about that time, found that the terminus of the Michigan Central Railroad; putting the remainder of his fortune in gold, with his land warrant, which he dreamed was his farm, into a belt around his body, he struck out afoot to find a farm. He knew that the Illinois Central Railroad was soon to be built, and that it was to pass through Bloomington; and, after much study and some considerable doubt about locality, decided to get as near that line of road as possible. The land, for fifteen miles each side of that line of proposed road, had been withdrawn from market when he got to Danville. The fifteen-mile exemption covered the township of Lexington. He procured from the land office at Danville, a plat of Town 25, Range 5, which adjoined the railroad land, and also a plat of Town 26, Range 6 (Indian Grove), intending to locate his land warrant somewhere on the former, and, with $50 of his money, get a forty-acre piece of timber in the latter, for he found no timber-land still in the hands of the Government in the former.
Arriving here, he made the acquaintance of Shelton Smith, with whose aid he soon selected the quarter-section he wanted on Section 18, where he still resides ; but to get his timber land was a more difficult matter. He knew that there were two forty-acre pieces in the Indian Grove timber still subject to entry. One of these he must have or he could not take the prairie farm, for a prairie farm with no timber land to look to for fuel and fencing was, at that day, practically valueless. Striking out across the country for the Grove, he could not make out the corners so as to find out the particular forties which he wanted to inspect. If he let the residents of the Grove know what land he wanted to buy, there was nothing to prevent their getting to Danville ahead of him and entering it, as he was on foot. They all had land to sell at $10 per acre, but, unfortunately, he could not buy more than one acre at that price, and must depend on his mother wit to find the cheaper land. Another trouble he met was that, learning he was from New York, and still wearing the soiled "Broadway suit," they recalled the sorrowful experience with some Yankee peddler who had recently depleted the cash of the Grove neigh borhood by selling some new-fangled Yankee invention, which worked very well in model, but which utterly failed to realize the fortune which the imaginative speculator had portrayed. They did not want any Yankees in there, and all with one accord began to make it difficult for him. By strategy, he got sight of his forty, and went to Dan. ville and entered both tracts. At that time, standing on the land of Section 18, he could see the roofs of Pleasant Hill, a few houses along the Mackinaw, and, from the high land north of his house, could see the roof of Ben Walton's house, in Belle Prairie, just then being built. From his farm east to the Indiana line, over the Grand Prairie, there was not probably a house or an inclosure. He returned to New York and continued in the employ of the company that he had clerked for, who sent him to North
Carolina to superintend a mine, where his strong democratic notions in regard to the right of one man to own and sell another received a decided weakening. In 1855, he returned to Lawndale to live, broke up his land, built a house and went to farming. He raised three crops before there was any chance to sell his corn. In 1860, it became necessary to sell some. He hired a man to shell, which cost him, with the hands he had to employ and board, 3 cents per bushel. Shelled 1,200 bushels, hauled it to Lexington, hired three cars and sent it to Chicago, and waited for returns. They came, and it did not take much ciphering to make out that his corn in crib just netted him 7 cents a bushel. Such was farming, even after railroads were built. Mr. Cassedy is a man of large information, positive convictions, and, everywhere and under all circumstances, true to those convictions. He was the first Supervisor elected from the township. Ten times elected to that important office; five times served as Chairman of the Board. Has continually served his town in other official positions. Has served the county with great credit in the Legislature during the most important General Assembly, when the Revision of 1874 was adopted, and has never been a failure anywhere. Politically, he was a Democrat originally, but joined the Republican party early in its history, and has stood firmly by that party since. But it is, perhaps, less as a partisan than as a clear-headed, progressive and earnest friend of right and home interests that he holds the reputation which he does. Not always over-nice in the terms which he uses, he sometimes aroused animosities, particularly when in the Legislature, which, fortunately, led to nothing more serious than a challenge he once received after a wordy crossfire in which it would seem that he had said something to arouse the ire of a city member. The message was sent by a page of the House, and was probably intended to frighten the country member. Cassedy read it, coolly picked up his pen and wrote this reply: “SIR - Yours received and accepted. Place of meeting, on the top of the State House dome; time, 12 o'clock to-night; weapons, pistols for two, coffee for one. P. S. You won't need
Resp’y, J. C.," and returned it by the same page. During the years from 1854 to 1857 inclusive, Lawndale was pretty generally settled
persons who owned the land they settled on. Among others, the following appeared here during that time: J. W. L. Matheny, settled on Section 5; he was the first blacksmith in this part of the country, and his house was the home of the Methodist ministers who served their generation on this prairie. He took a deep interest in the Sabbath school and indeed in every good work. Meek and retiring, he never sought public cotice, but earnestly followed where conviction led, even to the battle-field.
George W. Hanks built on and improved the southwest of Section 6, after wbich, he moved to Yates Township, and has recently died. He was a man of enlarged views, public spirited, and in all respects a good citizen.
Joel Smith came on to the southeast of Section 5, from Ohio, and still resides there, a trusty, good citizen. John F. Smith on the southwest of Section 4.
James T. Ayers, a public-spirited, pious man, improved a farm and resided here until he enlisted in the army. He was a local Methodist preacher, was full of good works, and his influence all for the right. His son lives in Allin Township. John Burdett came here from Kentucky and bought land in Sections 9 and 16. In company with Dr. J. W. Yoemans, then a practicing physician at Pleasant Hill, he bought three acres of land near the Henline stream, half a mile below the old fort, and eighty rods
west of the Evergreen Church, upon which they erected a steam grist-mill, the first and only one in the township, about the year 1853. They put in one run of stone and later, bolts, and for a time did very good work. Dr. Yoemans afterward moved to Pontiac, where, in 1866, he was appointed Postmaster, and soon disappeared in consequence of being charged with complicity in the murder of Mr. Yoe.
S. Withers, living now on the Shelton Smith farm, bought and improved on the northeast quarter of Section 9. H. H. Hughs moved here from Kentucky onto the southwest quarter of Section 10, and died here. His wife was burned to death while burning off some rubbish. S. L. Greenwood took up and improved the southeast quarter of Section 10. J. R. Moon improved a farm on Section 16, where he died. James B. Williams came from Ohio to, and settled on the southeast quarter of Section 8. He was a local preacher and lives now near Pleasant Hill. James Wilson, from Ohio, settled on Section 25. John Hawthorne, an Irishman, took up and improved a farm on the southwest quarter of Section 28. Joseph Hamilton, from Ohio, a man of many good qualities, took up and improved a farm on Section 3, and T. A. Hopkins on Section 4.
The township has always been and is yet a large corn-producing one. There have been occasional trials of some other cropping. Very early, wheat was a great crop, and occasionally a crop of barley and of flax has been raised Oats has proved a good crop, and the little wheat which has been sown late years has done well. For a number of years, cattle raising and feeding was the great business. During the war, it was very profitable, but latterly many have suffered losses and the feeding of cattle is nearly discontinued. The corn is now sold off or fed to hogs, which branch of farming has, one year with another, proved most profitable.
David and William B. Henline have for many years been the largest owners of real estate and the largest farmers in the township. They early bought large tracts of land and successfully managed it for many years.
L. R. Wiley, one of the early settlers on the Mackinaw, whose house stands on the township line in such a position that he sleeps in Martin and washes and eats his meals in Lawndale, owns and works 440 acres in Sections 27 and 33. He is a good farmer, and, with the aid of his boys, now grown up around him, works it well.
Hon. John Cassedy owns and works 600 acres in Sections 4, 7 and 18. He formerly fed cattle largely, but now only feeds about two car-loads (thirty-two head) per winter. He has a good, plain house and very comfortable feed yards, sheds, etc. He keeps his business well in hand and is successful.
George Davis, a wagon-maker, living in Lexington, has a good farm of 320 acres in Section 14, and James Wilson a like farm in Section 25. These farms are both in the hands of good tenants.
S. Weeks has a fine farm on Sections 13 and 24, with fine buildings, neat and tasty grounds, hedges well trimmed, everything showing thrift, care and close attention to business. He has been a successful cattle-feeder, and still continues in that line. T. B. Kilgore has a good farm of 320 acres in Section 26, and is esteemed by his neighbors one of the best farmers in Lawndale. He is a man of great energy and thorough attention to his business, and fairly successful. J. T. Starkey, John White and M. W. McNab, while perhaps making less pretensions to large business, are neat and successful farmers.
In the earlier days, like many others, the community was not blessed with stated religious teaching from the pulpit, and there was not a disposition to seek spiritual guidance. It is told of one circuit-rider who thought he had a call in this “neck of woods,” that when he rode into the neighborhood, the boys mistook him for one seeking an opportunity to trade horses, and seized him by the bridle, and, nolens volens, pressed him to the stable to trade horses. His protests against trading were only esteemed a well-assumed shyness to appear too anxious to trade. In the year 1851, a small building was put up at the timber near where the residence of Benjamin Taylor now stands. It was a small house, but comfortable. There was no regular preaching, but the Methodists and United Brethren occupied it occasionally. When there was to be preaching, the minister would advertise it by marking on the building with a coal at what time he might be expected. As he seldom failed to meet an engagement, he had a full turnout from miles around. Revs. Messrs. Calhoun, Craig, Frank Smith, A. Winset and others, preached in the little chapel at different times. In 1856, politics ran high and party spirit was not exactly toned down hereabouts. Some of the Methodist preachers were more than suspected of being“ Abolitionists” in very thin disguise. “Abolitionism ” did not rage in this country. “Bleeding Kansas" and " Topeka Constitution" were not terms of endearment. When one of the preachers preached and prayed in favor of bringing their religion to the polls, and such other generalities, some of the hearers thought it was political preaching, and went out and made a battering-ram out of a good-sized sappling and bombarded the house of worship in real earnest. The preacher escaped without much injury; but not so well the bombarders, for the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and Lawndale soon after became in political sympathy with that kind of preaching
The Methodist Church now standing on Section 5 (at the southeast corner) was built in 1865. Service had been held for some years by the itinerant preachers of that denomination, and, in 1860, an organization was formed in that part of the township, services being held in the schoolhouses until the church was built. The building is 24x36, plain, and cost about $2,000. J. W. L. Matheny and H. H. Scott were the leading spirits in the enterprise. It belongs to the Pleasant Hill Circuit. Rev. Messrs. Carmack, Day, Hart, Frank Smith, William Underwood, Stevens, Jones and Rogers, have officiated successively.
The "Evergreen” M. E. Church, a neat and commodious building, 24x40, about eighty rods east of the center of Section 30, was built in 1868, at a cost of about $2,700. The men to whom, among many others, only in less degree, the building of this edifice is due, were Shelton Smith, David Hitch, J. T. Starkey and John Cassedy. This belongs to the same circuit and the same ministers have preached there.
was effected in 1858. The first officers elected were: John Cassedy, Supervisor ; T. S. Smith and J. T. Ayres, Justices of the Peace; John Burdett, Clerk; H. H. Hays, J. R. Moon and Alfred Heath, Commissioners of Highways; J. H. Burdett, Assessor, and J. R. Moon, Collector. The town was divided into four road-districts. John Cassedy was Supervisor for ten years and Shelton Smith, J. W. Vawter, T. B. Kilgore