Old Courthouse Museum
103 West Cherry Street
Watseka, IL 60970-1524
. Many persons will be surprised to see what a large number of men from this town enlisted and served in the army, to put down the southern rebellion. Probably no other town in the State sent as many soldiers to the war, in proportion to the number of inhabitants, as Chebanse did. The cause of this was a mistake in the war office at Springfield, by which the quota of soldiers for this town was made double what it should have been. The mistake was acknowledged in the office at Springfield; but no one would take the responsibility of correcting it. H. K. White, supervisor of the town at that time, went to Springfield to get the error corrected, but failed to accomplish anything. There was no alternative for us but to fill the double quota of soldiers, and it was done. There was no lack of patriotism, and business meetings were held to encourage enlistment and raise money to pay bounties; and the double quota was filled without the draft coming upon us. The town is now twenty years older than it was at that time, and the number of inhabitants a great deal larger. But to get that number of men, even now, to leave their homes and business, and go fight for their country, would be an immense draft upon the population.
. The following is a list of men who volunteered and served in the army from this town. And large as the list is, it is not complete; as no complete records are available:
Harrison Daniels Stephen Hamblin George Spaulding Geo. M. Cutler Erastus Root Reuben Deuel R. J. Hanna Mathew Haigh William Frith Chas. T. Magill Edward Rogers Robert Smith Jones H. Jaquith** Henry Holmes Jacob Holmes Fred L. Sanderson German Ingalls Sylvester Lyons** Geo. C. Tuttle** Eli Platt** T. D. Williams** Jerome Bard William Rogers E. W. Dodson Adam Sammons** John Franklin Thomas Haley Amos Shaw, Jr. Henry Robinson** Robt. T. Robinson** Henry Miner** John Chapman* Scott Macdonald* Jerry Goldtrap Charles Frith John Frith Frank Roth** George Stifles** Francis Ponto** Thomas Elliot** Abraham B. Ogle** W. H. Wilkinson** Michael Barnes* Joseph Hammer* Samuel Butcher** John Goldtrap* James Sellens John Jackson Peter Wright Ira Gubtail Charles Bigelow* Fillmore Dodson Luman Westover** James Martin Luther VanFosen John W. Dixon Jacob Spies George Spies John Holmes** Alexander Rivard John Barnett James Barnett William Everitt Lewis Fronville** George Stoup** Matte Brow** W. J. Forbes Andrew Wilson** Samuel Bailey Charles Day Adelbert Streeter John Luce Abraham Ogle Frank Martin Oliver Rice* Frank Ferris Robert Foster Edward Dibble Albert Smith Charles Miller George T. Hamilton John P. Countzt George Culler John Day Alvin Miller Nicholas Renville George Stump Thomas Galligher Chas. W. Biswell James Lively Abraham H. B. Ellis Melvin Cook John Carson Thomas Baxter Jos. C. Gleason J. B. Collett Dennis Galligher W. J. Hunter James Vankuren Michael Commerford** Reuben Tuttle* J. G. VanOrman Wm. S. Conover Daniel Gordon C. H. Sheldon Joseph Slinn Charles Bard** David Goldtrap John D. Young Eli Sevoie Henry Merrill George Davis Thomas McGrath* Owen Sweeney William Smith** John Gilman John Buckley* Edward Meagher J. P. Kinney L. F. Ross Frank Griffith Henry Young Samuel Boughton Henry Applebee Jonathan Dapplemire Joseph Laho N. J. Straton Thomas S. Bray Allen Brown* John F. Grosse* Mark Martin*
. Twenty-four soldiers, whose names are marked with TWO STARS, died in the service and are buried in the south. Fourteen others whose names are marked with ONE STAR came home and died and are buried here. Nine of them in the Chebanse Cemetery; Oliver Rice, at Clifton; John Buckley, at Chicago; Reuben Tuttle at the Soldiers' Home, Dayton, Ohio; and Charles Bigelow, unknown. The three last names on the list did not enlist in Chebanse, but when the war was over they located, lived, died and were buried here. Eleven others, next preceding them, came here all together, from LaHarp, Hancock county. Their own town refused to pay a bounty, and they went and enlisted where they could get one. A few others belonged outside of the town, but the great majority were our own citizens.
. The names of the volunteers are printed in order as they enlisted as near as can be ascertained. Fully the first half of them enlisted early in the war received neither town or county bounty. The others all received the town and county bounties. The bounty paid by the town was $75. It was afterwards raised to $150, and more were paid that amount than the former. The county bounty was not quite so much. Almost every man in the town who had a few dollars loaned it to the town board for a bounty fund, and received town orders. A tax was afterwards levied and the orders paid.
. When we assemble on memorial day to decorate the graves of our dead soldiers who are buried here, we should not forget the twenty-four more unfortunate ones who are buried far away and among strangers. We cannot decorate their graves with flowers; but we can remember them with gratitude and with prayers.
. Robert Nation and the writer went with the last installment of volunteers to Camp Butler at Springfield, Ills., to pay the men their bounties. We had several thousand dollars in our pockets, and had to wait about a week for the men to be examined, sworn in and credited to our town, before we could safely pay them the money. We lodged several nights in camp, but it became known that we had money, and for safety we went to a hotel in the city. Some of the men took their money with them and spent it, others sent it home to their families and some gave it to us to save for them.
. The first child born in this township was I. B. Hanna, in the village, in January 1857. Willie Sellers was born two miles south-east of town, in April 1857. Willie Haigh was born one mile south of town, on Nov. 2d, 1859. He had a brother born two years earlier, who died in infancy, and was buried on the farm. Willie Haigh cast his first vote on his 21st birth day, Nov. 2d, 1880, for President Garfield. George Schrader was born in 1858. Fred and Bart Burroughs were both born at Sugar Island; Frank Hennessy is older than any of the above, but his nativity took place in Milk's Grove. J. Patterson, now living on the old Castleman farm, south-east of town, was born on his father's farm, east of the river, near Sugar Island, in May, 1843, more than forty years ago. H. O. Vanmeter, oldest son of James Vanmeter, was born between Kankakee and Bourbonnais, in June, 1841, and is supposed to be the first white child born in that county.
. Simms G. Parker and Sarah Jane Hannah were the first couple that got married. The ceremony was performed at Kankakee, on the 5th of January 1858. A rousing serenade was tendered them on their return to Chebanse in the evening.
. The first funeral was that of W. H. Boardman's little girl, on the 15th of October 1855. She was buried on Mrs. Williams' land, south of town, near the large maple trees. Several other children were buried there shortly afterwards. In 1858, George Carter died, and was buried at the same place. George Slinn died in 1859, and was the first person buried in the Chebanse cemetery.
. The railroad buildings were put up in 1854, including the section house. But there was not another building of any kind until the fall of 1855, although quite a large number of people located here that summer. The station agent, John Seaver, fed and lodged all that he could, and had a very crowded house sometimes; but there was not a store until the begining of winter; and not a tavern until a year later. Charles Maloy bought a lot east of the depot, and built the first house. Edwin Burnit and myself did the carpenter work for him. Before Maloy's building was finished, Spaulding & Harrington commenced one on the adjoining lot. Richard Hanna, Charles Frith and Zeno Streeter, were the builders. Amos M. Fishburn rented the Maloy building as soon as it was ready, and started the first store in town, which he kept for several years. Spaulding & Harrington also commenced a store in their building, Kept it a short time and then sold out The Maloy building is still standing, and is now occupied by Mrs. Mounts for a millinery shop. George Carter, Mrs. Buckley's first husband, built the house she now occupies, and kept a tavern and saloon, the first in town. In 1860, John Buckley, a British Soldier, came here and married Mrs. Carter. D. Hitchcock built the Chebanse house, and used it for a tin shop. When it was changed to a hotel, the tin shop and the adjoining building were both inclosed under one roof. A. M. Baldwin built the store now owned by P. D. Hall, and kept store about two years. John Linehan built the yellow house, now occupied by Mrs. Wm. Porter, and lived in it. Lewis Shmert built the Mrs. Williams house, and Joseph Platt the P. D. Hall residence, west of Mr. Burroughs'. Dr. Way built the G. H. Allen house, and it was the first one built on the west side. James A. Thompson built the next one, between the pond and the Congregational church; and it was burned down when owned by A. D. Mitchell.
. As early as 1857, a debating club was organized and carried on in the village, and became a very noticeable institution. It met weekly, on Saturday nights, and was both interesting and well attended. In fact it was the only social organization in town for several years. The meetings were held in the little school house, and then in the present one after it was built. Essays were read at each meeting, and a debate on some subject previously chosen. The best men in town took part in the exercises, and great interest was manifested. Females attended the meetings, but seldom took part in the exercises. It was a place of amusement and improvement combined. O. S. Whitehead was President as long as the organization continued. Among the more prominent men who took part in the exercises may be mentioned: Dr. Marshall, Dr. Way, Dr. Warner, John Creed, Joseph Leonard, John Test, Charles Buckner, Charles Bigelow, Moses Everly, R. J. Hanna, J. P. H. Trescott, A. M. Wilson, C. H. Comstock, Charles Frith, D. Hitchcock, Jefferson Moorhouse, and many others. Every four weeks was the monthly meeting, when a mock trial or some other amusing play was given.
. was organized in the early settlement of the township, with Ebenezer Tuttle as President. Its object was to discuss farm topics, with a view to subdue the wild prairie and make it produce good crops. Such a thing was very desirable, for about four-fifths of the settlers knew little or nothing about farming. The meetings were held on Saturday afternoons at a farm house, previously appointed. But farmers found themselves too busy to attend the meetings, and the organization soon died.
. are generally settled by poor people, or by those of very limited means. And Chebanse's early settlers were no exception to the rule. They had to contend, not only with unsubdued and unimproved nature, but with poverty as well. But nature is wonderfully accommodating; and however little persons may have, they can get along without what they cannot get. And though they may be annoyed and tormented with evils that should not exist, yet they are able to get along with what they cannot get rid of. This rule applies to every day life.
. The first regular preacher that located in Chebanse was Rev. Jno. Costler, of the M. E. Church. He used to preach in the little school house, 16x20 ft., in the south-east part of the village. He located here in 1857, and stayed here about two years. He was very easy going, good natured man, and seemed to enjoy his calling; and was not afraid to use his friends. He wore a white stove-pipe hat, and his appearance is still very fresh in my mind. When he left here he moved to the Horse Creek district; and on one occasion when he lived there, he forgot the rules of prudence, and one of the brothers gave him a severe horse-whipping for improper conduct with his daughter. Many years ago the Rev. John Costler died, "and was gathered to his Father's."
. During Mr. Costler's time in Chebanse, a friend of mine from Philadelphia, Charles W. Broadbent, who was also a preacher, came to visit me and stayed a month. We had been brought up boys together and were very intimate with each other. The first Sunday he was here I took him to meeting at the little school house. He put two of his written sermons in his pocket, and I knew he would be disappointed if he was not invited to preach. The service had commenced when we got there, but not the sermon. I whispered to Mrs. Costler, that my friend was a minister. She carried the word to the preacher, and Mr. Broadbent was invited to the pulpit; and the people were delighted with his preaching. He was a large man of good appearance, excellent address and full of ambition; he preached several times and gave a lecture in the passenger depot, to as many people could get in. He preached in Kankakee, and the Baptist congregation tried to engage him. But preaching did not bring money enough to suit Broadbent. After he returned to Philadelphia he wrote me not to put Rev. to his name any more. He afterwards became President of a Silver Mining Company, and as President of that company, he was prosecuted and imprisoned in New York for obtaining money under false pretense. When I was inNew York, in 1872, I called to see Mr. Broadbent, and found him engaged in running a steam power paper collar manufactory.
. Mr. Costler was succeeded by Rev. D. Hall. The memorable frost of August 1853, happened on Saturday night, and the next morning Rev. D. Hall preached his farewell sermon. The farmers came to meeting with very long and serious faces, for they knew their corn was destroyed, "Iteneracy" was the text chosen by the preacher, and he was so in love with that system that he never referred to, or perhaps thought of, the great calamity that had happened the night before. Rev. H. A. Hobbs succeeded Mr. Hall, and was the most fluent and eloquent speaker that has ever filled the Methodist pulpit. Rev. Dennis succeeded Mr. Hobbs. Dennis was quite a young man, but had lost his hearing. Rev. A. G. Godspeed suceeded Mr. Dennis. Mr. Godspeed was a man of considerable force and energy, and the church was under his administration. He went to Chicago and bought the lumber on credit, and on his own responsibility; and soon raised money to pay for it, and to build the house. "Saints and sinners" were equally socialited, and equally contributed toward the new church. Goodspeed now lives at Odell, where he ownes a farm, and is a member of the State Legislature. He acted as Chaplain part of the time during the last session, and refused to recieve any compensation for it, because, as he says, the Lord had not answered his prayers on behalf of members of the House. Then came Revs. Kearns, Rutledge, Deitch, Heckard, Alford, Blackwell, Rowe, Fisher, and Kerr. The other churches do not itenerate their preachers so often, and fewer do them. Lewis and Estey were the Baptists; and Wyckoff and Guyton the first Congregationalist preachers.
. Rev. Mr. Rutledge is entitled to a brief notice. He was a very fair preacher and had an interesting family; his daughters being singers in the church choir. During his stay in Chebanse he happened to go to Gilman and Onarga during the country fair, and saw the three card monte game, and felt sure he could guess the winning card every time. So he staked money upon it and lost. He tried it again and lost all he had. His confidence was still unshaken, and he felt determined to win his money back; so he staked his silver watch, that had been presented to him by the Sunday school children and teachers, and lost it. The poor man was then "strapped" and he had to borrow money to get home. He was very humble and penitent, and the Conference suspended him for one year. He was sent where the scandal was not known, and continued to preach.
. Rev. Estey of the Baptist church, and Rev. Hobbs, of the Methodist Church, both brought disgrace upon themselves and trouble on the others,--the former in Chebanse and the latter after he had left and gone to Loda,--by improper conduct with the "sisters" of their churches.
. The first Fourth of July celebration in the township was held at Milk's Grove, in 1856. The meeting was not large, but the people were very social and patriotic. The Declaration of Independence was read and short speeches made by several persons. In his speech, Thomas Rice made the remark, "that Chebanse people need never fear a famine so long as they have such an abundant supply of Rice and Milk." The smartness of the remark was applauded, for there were three Rices, two brothers and their uncle; and Mr. Milk, even at that early day, was a large farmer and a very prominent man. The Haigh brothers made some tissue paper baloons and inflated them to add to the amusements of the day. The second Fourth of July celebration was also held at Milk's Grove. Rev. Castleman delivered the address, and it was spoken of in the highest terms of commendation. Another celebration was held at the Iroquois river, near Jones' ferry. The people left town in a body, crossed the river at the ferry and held the meeting in the woods on the other side. One of the most interesting and largely attended celebrations in early times, was held at Sugar Island, in 1866, soon after the close of the war. O. S. Whitehead read the Declaration of Independence, Dr. H. A. Stokes delivered the address, and Joseph Haigh read an original independence poem. People assembled from several adjoining towns, and the meeting was large and interesting. The victorious conclusion of the war stimulated the enthusiasm of the people.
. A few years later two celebrations were held at Mr. Gray's Grove, at Langham creek. At the first one Rev. John Caiens delivered the address. In his speech, he assumed the soul of a prophet, and foretold the speedy coming of a great and terrible war between the Protestants and Catholic of all Christendom. Perhaps that was his honest opinion, and he believed it to be true. At the second celebration at Mr. Gray's Grove, Rev. Mr. Estey, of the Baptist church, delivered the address, or rather preached a sermon, taking for his text the bible story of David and Goliath. He several times, sneeringly referred to Goliath as "that uncircumcised giant." I mention these things to show what inappropriate themes preachers are apt to fall into when they are invited to speak on such occasions. At the first of these meetings Fred and Henry Kenworthy and Edward Haigh, took their violins with them and furnished some good music. At the last one, a thunder storm came up and drove the people to Mr. Gray's house, barn and sheds, for shelter.
. In later years several celebrations have been held in town; some of them surpassing everything that had been seen on such occasions. After the speeches, etc., a procession was formed and paraded the streets with all kinds of vehicles, oddly fixed up; with men and boys in costumes and burned cork. Also a "calithumpian band," comical acting, and a living menagerie. Those were the palmy days of Chebanse, and multitudes came to see the show. One of these celebrations was brought to a sudden close by the premature discharge of a cannon, which almost killed John Spies. He was one of the gunners helping to work the piece, and both of his hands were torn to pieces, and his head and face terribly burned and disfigured. For several years that kind performance has not been indulged in, and it is not likely that it will for some time to come.
. In the fall of 1856, the ague began to make its appearance. During the spring and summer a great deal of prairie had been broken up, which liberated the malaria confined below the soil, and the atmosphere became loaded with dreaded infection, and scarcely a man, woman or child escaped an attack of the ague. A chill and then a fever; a sick day and then a well day, might be depended upon. Some persons shook so hard that they made their little shanty rattle. There seemed to be no cure for the disease so long as the seeds of it were in the atmosphere. Quinine would break it up for a time, and almost every family armed themselves with an ounce bottle of that drug. It was a very provoking and discouraging disease. I remember going into a house one day and finding all the family, about seven in number, sick with the ague. The fever was on and they were all in bed but the man; and he had just got up and was going around with a bucket of water and a dipper, giving the rest a drink. I thought I was going to get clear, as it did not attack me until the summer of 1857. But I got it, and it stayed with me for twelve months. We had a small threshing of grain done that fall, by Rogers' two horse tread-power threshing machine; and we were so weak with the ague, that Ed Haigh and myself could not lift a sack of grain from the ground; and we had to roll them on the ground to the barn. Some persons were so discouraged that they sold out and left the country. And it was no wonder, for "those were the times that tried men's souls." The malady grew less and less every year; but it was eight or ten years before the country was anything like clear of it.
. Chebanse has had many a severe drenching, but the heaviest rains and the greatest floods ever seen in the township, occurred on the two last days in May, 1858. On the latter it seemed as if fully one-half of the country was under water. Early in the morning of May 31st, the flood washed out a railroad culvert two miles south of town; leaving the iron and ties standing across the breach without support. A stock train coming north about daybreak in the morning ran into it and was badly wrecked. The cars were literally piled one on tip of each other; and scores of cattle and hogs were killed or crippled. When the cars were opened, fat steers plunged out into the stream and were carried far out on the prairie before they could touch bottom and get out of the water. A large number of cattle and hogs were crippled and had to be disposed of or left on the ground. The writer bought a fat ox for five dollars and took it home on a sled and dressed it. June 1st was a very clear and beautiful day. Amos Shaw, Sr., started from here to walk to Kankakee on the railroad. But when he got to Gar creek, two miles south of the city, he found the railroad bridge at that place was also washed out. The water was so high he could not get across the stream, and he had to return the way he went.
. The great storm of January 1st, 1863, was the most severe that Chebanse ever witnessed before or since. It commenced in the morning with a snow storm, which grew colder and fiercer all day. The wind blew a gale, and was the most intense ever witnessed here, Travel on the railroad was stopped for more than twenty-four hours, on account of the extreme cold and fierce wind. A passenger train was storm-bound in town all day and all night. The passengers got off and were taken care of by the neighbors. The storm came on suddenly and the people were not prepared for it. Large numbers of cattle drifted away with the storm in the night and perished. The Hickeys, at Laugham creek, lost a large number. Some of Joseph Wadleigh's cattle drifted before the storm until they lodged at the railroad fence, twelve miles away, and died. Edward Quayle, two miles east of Babery, lost his entire herd of 25 head, and never found but two of them alive, though he spend weeks hunting for them. Hundreds, and perhaps thousands of chickens and turkeys were frozen to death, or gagged and choked with a plug of ice in their throats, in this township. The storm extended through the north-west, and the papers brought accounts of many deaths by exposure. And indeed I had a narrow escape, having gone to the timber on the other side of the river in the morning. I got there well enough, but coming back at night the storm was in my face, bitter, cold and blinding. The track lay across the prairie, and my only guide was a thin strip of grass that came up between the wheels tracks. Had I lost my way, I never could have seen daylight again. Three miles from home I left my load of wood; and still I had the greatest difficulty to get my team to face the storm and travel. Mrs. Forsyth was one of the passengers on the storm bound train. She was traveling in the interest of the Good Templars, and was employed by the Grand Lodge. While she was here she organized the first and the best Good Templars Lodge that ever was in Chebanse. That lodge flourished for several years, and became very popular. During its existence it gave the saloons and grocers a great deal of trouble.
. But few of the men who first settled and improved the farms of this township were practical farmers. Perhaps not more than one in five had farmed for a business. They were merchants and manufacturers, preachers and teachers, mechanics and laborers, etc., etc. But they were practical, wide -awake men, and those who persevered succeeded in their new business. It was often remarked at town meetings and public gatherings, that very few of the men were farmers. But that was their cherished ambition; and indeed, there is no business or profession under the sun that is more useful, more necessary, more healthy, or more independent. To describe the various qualities and attainments of those men would require a long chapter. In closing this, and for sake of variety, I will give a poetical, but jocular correspondence that took place between two of the old settlers, which appeared in the Watseka Republication of the dates that it bears. And either of those writers have original poems enough to fill a good sized book;
When out upon an evening promenade, From party, church or ball, With a gentleman escort by your side, Or at an evening call; Should he press your hand, tho' he had no right, And ask a kiss as well; Don't do it girls, just bid him good night, For he's a fellow who will tell, He will-- One who will kiss and tell. Should he speak to you in a slighting way, Of another lady friend, You had better quickly tell him "No," Should he ask to come again. For kisses and sweet loving words are his, Who promised a marriage bell; Should such a one apply, don't do it girls, He is a fellow that will tell, He will, One who will kiss and tell. Buckley, Ill., March 1879.
When on an evening promenade, From party, church or ball; With you, fair Lizzie, by my side, I never could act small; I think so much of your fair sex, And love a "smack" so well, You may depend upon it, dear, I will not kiss and tell, And tell; I will not kiss and tell. I'll promise you a marriage bell, If you re my true mate; So when I want a loving kiss, Pray do not let me wait. Some other gent might play the flirt, Or ape the foppish swell; But while I live and love the girls, I will not kiss and tell, And tell; I will not kiss and tell. Chebanse, Ill., March, 1879. J.H.
I've read of warm feeling from afar, From good old friends of mine: With cheering words of tenderness, Yet none with LOVE LIKE THINE. And thou must own I'm innocent Of wiles, thy heart to win; But life's a disappointed dream, Of things that "might have been." Unknown, while still I must admit, The fabled god is blind; Yet he, "who Arabs seek at night, May there a tartar find." Ah friend! I fear that when to thee The truth I must restore, Far smaller wilt thou act than when Thou wore thy pinafore. Fond heart, thy tender hope is vain; Thy love's a useless thing; My sympathy I offer with This rude awakening. Thy longed for "smack," my six foot man, Might change for thee, I wist, And when thy yearning lips sought mine, Might find a brawny fist. Be comforted, and give thy "bell," Thou boldly offered me, To maiden; for friend n-e-v-e-r m-o-r-e, Can I be ought to thee. And when time gives thee wifely love, I lift a warning voice,-- Don't tell her, that with thee, J. H., She is but second choice. Buckley, Ill., April, 1879.
How many happy fancies fade, And brightest hopes are blighted; When a young man's tender love Is by his sweet heart slighted. The Godess love may be stone blind, And lead a man astray; But I adore her right or wrong, Whatever people say. I do not fear that tall young man, Or his large brawling fist; For I am six foot high myself, With SOMETHING on my wrist. Had you but said that happy word-- That little y-e-s; No fellow, fiend, or fire, could My loving suit suppress. But you are like your mother Eve, Refusing good advise; She ate the fruit to make her wise, And thought it very nice. She would have "mittened" Adam too,-- I think that was her plan; But when she came to look around, There was no other man! I'll take your crumb of comfort, Lizzie, And seek a maiden true; But is she serves me as you did, Good bye "choice number two." And when time gives me wifely love, Or rather wife herself; I WON'T TELL HER HOW MANY GIRLS HAVE LAID ME ON THE SHELF. Chebanse, Ills., April, 1879.
. The history of Clifton would be very incomplete without an account of the kidnapping case that occurred there in 1860. And I regret that I am not able to give a more complete and accurate account of the transaction.
. For several years previous to the rebellion, slavery had been very bold and intrusive; and nothing but annihilation was able to a stop to its aggression. The slave states were determined to carry their pet institution into the new states and territories; and the free states were as determined they should not. The term "Bleeding Kansas" was very appropriately applied to that young state, on account of the determined effort of the south to plant slavery there, and the equally determined effort of the north to prevent it, and many lives were sacrificed. The fugitive-slave-law was honored(?) in the north as well as the south. The "under-ground railroad" was in active operation, and well patronized. The yoke of slavery sat heavily upon the shoulders of the negroes, but it was only the most bold and brave that ventured to run away, for they knew the terrible consequence if they happened to be captured.
. During the summer of 1860, five or six runaway slaves were employed about Clifton. Howe, Kingman, White and Walker, each employed one or two. It was on a Sunday afternoon, in the latter part of that summer, when a gang of slave catchers came to town and pounced upon the negroes. It happened that they had got together at Sellers boarding house, and were amusing themselves over a game of cards when they were pounced upon. The poor blacks realized the situation at once, and made an attempt to escape. And two of them did get away. One of them hid in Mr. Viets' door yard, which was then a wheat field. James Smith, of Ashkum, was with the kidnappers, and was supposed to be their accomplice in the foul business. A farmer who happened to be in town with his wagon and team, was hired to take the party to Ashkum; and they got on the first southbound train and took the slaves to St. Louis. But from some cause, it was said, the supposed owners failed or declined to recognize them; and the human "blood hounds" did not secure the bounty expected.
. The capture was made very sudden and unexpected, and the citizens scarcely realized what had happened until it was too late to do anything. It has always been believed that with a good leader, a posse of citizens could have raised, able to over power the gang and rescue the slaves. Mr. Viets was away from his home that day, which he very much regretted himself. Had he been in town the matter might have ended different; for nothing could have pleased him better than to over-power the gang and rescue the slaves from the kidnappers. It was one of the most successful attempts at kidnapping ever made in the free states.
. These dreadful calamities are often occurring in different parts of the country, leaving ruin and desolation behind them. But none ever occurred in Chebanse since its settlement; or before, that anyone knows of. While in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and other States have suffered terribly from those storms. And the American bottoms, the Ohio river country, and other low places have suffered immense loss, both recently and long ago, by floods, sometimes depopulating whole towns and villages. I will have to refer to the case of THOMAS MARCOTT, who has lived on a farm in this township for twenty-five years. He married, raised a family and prospered in his business, and never received injury or loss of any kind by a bad storm. But he was not content in well doing; and in the spring of 1882, he sold his farm and moved to Iowa; and before he had been in his new location twelve months, a cyclone wrecked his building, killed one of his family and injured several, besides making him a cripple for life. On account of our geographical position between the Atlantic and the rocky mountains, and our relation to the isothermal lines, it is believed that this locality is not subject to those terrible storms so much as some other places. But this world was never created especially for mankind, and with a benevolent design. If it was, cyclones, floods, pestilence, gamine, rainy seasons and long drouths would nor exist. In some places people, and even wild animals cannot exist, and in others it is mild and fertile, and the necessaries of life are easily procured. We find ourselves in the world and surrounded by certain conditions. If we exercise wisdom we shall be able to live and enjoy life; if not, we shall perish, and this great universe will never miss us, nor even the little 7x9 planet that we inhabit, if it also disappeared.
. Jacob Tubbs was killed by the cars in 1862, about a quarter of a mile north of town. Lived on F. H. Brook's farm, now owned by Chas. B. Danforth, two miles north. Tubbs was an elderly man; and some of his children were grown up. He was very quiet, but subject to intemperance. He was intoxicated when he left town for home, at night, and was supposed to have sat down on the railroad track and fallen asleep.
. Sylvenus Howland was killed about one mile north of town, and a half a mile south of his own house, about 1865. He was going to town and tried to get on a freight train that was running slowly in that direction. He lost his hold, fell down and was killed. He left a wife and one child; and his farm has been managed by a guardian, for the benefit of his child, ever since.
. An unknown soldier fell from the cars in the night, during the war, a little south of town, and was killed. His remains were buried in the Chebanse cemetery. During the war the cars were sometimes filled with soldiers, both inside and on the top.
. Mr. Merrill and Mr. Smith, station agents, were both killed by the cars, near the depot. Mr. Merrill in 1873 and Mr. Smith in 1876.
. Danville is about 75 miles from here and every pre-emptor had to go there to prove his claim and pay for his land. There was no railroad and scarcely any horses; and the journey was generally made on foot. The following is given as a representative trip to the land office at Danville, Ills.
. In December 1855, George Slinn, Alexander Sword, Amos Shaw and myself, started to Danville on foot, to prove up and pay for our land. I had been there the September before to file my claim, and walked 63 miles of the journey the first day; but with company we did not get over the road so fast,. Danville was then a small town with but one tavern, a few dwelling houses and the Government land office. It was a rainy December and the roads were muddy, and we traveled mostly on the commons. In crossing a deep ditch, three of us managed to jump over, but Mr. Sword, in making the attempt came down with a plunge into water above his knees. We stopped at a very primitive farm house for lodging and refreshments; the like of which I think could be found in the State to this day. The farm, the house and the family were all large; and they seemed to live independent of the outside world; and yet they had all they needed in abundance. Their meat, vegetables, fruit, cider, wine and brandy, were all home grown and home-made. All the clothing they wore, and even their window curtains and bed hangings, were their own wool, spinning and weaving and coloring; and the cloth was good and handsome. The people were intelligent, social and thrifty. We could not help admiring their independent and comfortable home. We got to Danville the second night and found the land office crowded with men proving their claims and paying for their land. Gold and silver were the only kinds of money received at that office. On our return trip, we got to Coon creek at dark the first night. There was no bridge and the water was high; but we could see a light at a farm house on the other side. In trying to cross on some drift wood, two of us got afloat in the middle of the stream, and by super-human "yelling" we made them hear us at the house. The man came down with a lantern to see what was the matter. He went back and sent a boy with a horse, who took us across one at a time on horse-back, and we lodged there that night. The second night we got to Mr. Lawhead's, south of Plato. Some horse drovers had just put up there and they could not keep us. But Mr. Slinn was so-tired he could go no further. He said he would have to sit on the door-step all night if they could not take him in. So they kept Mr. Slinn. The rest of us went on and stopped at John Yates'. In the morning the drovers came along with their horses and Mr. Slinn was riding one of them. They were going our way and we all mounted and rode to Chebanse. But a more tired lot of men never was seen. Not one us had of rode a mile on horse-back for ten years, and it tired us more than walking. Besides, the drovers saw we were green and they were bound to have their fun out of us. So every little while they made their horses canter along at a brisk rate and ours would keep up with them in spite all we could do to hold them back. We were full of ambition and would not give up the ride; so we hung on to the neck and mane for dear life, and got a shaking up that was worse than purgatory.
. In the early settlement of the township cattle were allowed to go at large; and almost every family in the village kept a cow. In the fall of 1864, a disease got among the town cows, and nearly all of them died. About twenty died in all, and nearly every family lost their cow. It was a mysterious disease, and no one could stop it or tell what it was. E. L. Wright had a large flock of geese on the pond west of Chestnut Street, and some thought the disease was caused by the cows drinking the water poisoned by the geese. Some thought it was Texas fever, but no one could tell for certain, or save the cows from dying.
. In the summer and fall of 1855, there was not a store of any kind in town, although a large number of people had located here at that time; and those who needed to buy anything had to go to Kankakee. The section hands often went on their hand car on Sunday, and done their trading. On one occasion the writer for with them. I had been here about three weeks, and was waiting for Slinn and Summers--who had come out with me to pre-empt--to return from Chicago with their cattle and goods. My shoes had given out and my shirt needed changing. I went to Mr. Fluke's shoe shop to buy a pair of boots, but he had gone to meeting, and a boy was sent to call him. Religious meetings were then held in the garret of the freight warehouse, and that is where Mr. Fluke was. He came down and sold me a pair of boots and then went back to the freight house to finish his prayers. I bought a new shirt at another store and then went up the river above the bridge and took a free and private bath. In the evening I returned with the men, on the hand car, who had laid in a supply for a week.
. For several years after Chebanse began to build up all the houses and all the business were on the east side of the railroad. It was several years before any houses were built on the west side; and several years more before a store was commenced there. The railroad cattle yard was on the west side, just north of the depot, and lots were very cheap; while on the east side they brought good prices. Shortly after the war Mr. Milk built the combination store; and with the grain warehouses convenient to it, it soon became a business center; but as water seeks its level, and a snow bank forms on the lee side of a fence, so the business was attracted to the west side. John Grosse moved his store from the east side. Porch's store was built on the lot his residence now stands on. Murphy & Porter's store was built in the south part of town, by E. W. Warren. Spies' saloon was built on the county line, by Moses Eyerley; and all were moved with the tide of business. DeVeling's store at the north end of town and Laughlin's store at the south end, where the last to give up business. They were the two best stores in town; and the emigration of business reduced them in value at least 75 percent. Laughlin's store has been dead property for nearly ten years; and DeVeling's store went up in smoke. For more than ten years Chebanse enjoyed an immense business. The nearest town west was Odell, 35 miles distance; and east was St. Anne, 10 miles away; and there is not a better country in America. It was no uncommon thing for the grain men to receive 10,000 bushels of grain in a day, in the busy season of the year. And this prosperity met with no check until the south-western railroad was built, in 1878. That was intercepted the grain trade from the west, and has built up four or five small towns with the business that formerly came here. But what is our loss is somebody else's gain; and the farmers west of here have now got markets near home and convenient. Three years ago the Continental railroad was surveyed through Chebanse village, and it then looked as if it was going to be built. If that should be the case, Chebanse will again become a business center; but otherwise its growth will be slow, but solid.
. In the spring of 1858, Wm. B. Glover and Moses Eyerley had a little tussle, the cause of which was so comical that I will relate it here. Glover lived on his farm just east of town, and Eyerley occupied one about a mile south-west. At that time there were very few horses in the town, nearly all the farmers used ox teams. About this time it happened that Eyerley bought a good looking horse and brought him to town. The first time Glover saw the animal he fill in love with him and stumped Eyerley for a trade. Eyerley did not wish to part with the horse, but finally Glover offered him such a good trade that a bargain was made. Glover gave a yoke of oxen, a cow, and some money for the horse, and felt proud of his bargain. But after a few days he thought he had given too much and rued his bargain. Glover had his own way of doing things, and instead of asking Eyerley to trade back he went in the night and took the cow and oxen away, and expected Everley to go and get his horse. But Everley considered it took two to make a bargain every time. When he got up the next morning he missed his cow and oxen and thought they must have strayed back to their former home as cattle often do. But on looking for the yoke he discovered that it had gone to. He then became suspicious, for ox yokes never stray alone. He started off to Glover's to look for his cattle, and I happened to be on the road near Glover's at that time, going to mill with my own oxen and wagon. Eyerley asked me if I had seen his cattle, and looking towards Glover's we saw them grazing near the house. Eyerley began to drove them away, when Glover came running out shouting that those were his cattle. Eyerley said, no sir! they belong to me. And while Glover tried to drove them one way Eyerley drove them the other. I stopped my team to watch the fun. Very soon they got excited and grabbed each other, but Eyerley was too much for his opponent. Glover had only his pants and shirt on when he came out, but when they parted he did not have a bit of shirt left. Glover called to me to know if I was going to sit there and see him killed. But as I had seen the whole encounter and understood what it was about, I knew that he was to blame. Eyerley took the cattle home with him, and Glover went to town to make complaint against him for assault and battery. But his own side of the case was so bad that he withdrew his complaint.
. On the 6th day of November, 1878, the Old Settlers' of Chebanse had a reunion in DeVeling's hall. The women brought their baskets full of refreshments, and the men arranged tables and started fires to warm the tea and coffee. A great many persons were present, and in the evening all sat down to an enjoyable repast. Persons who had not met for years got together and refreshed each others memories with events of by-gone years. The Chebanse Cornet Band was present and enlivened the meeting with music. After super a meeting was held and a permanent organization formed. Luther Gubtail was elected President and Jos. Haigh, Sec'y. for one year. The speeches, toasts, song and music were in order, and the time was spent with pleasure and enjoyment, until a late hour. Short speeches were made by Luther Gubtail, J. M. Burrongs, J. P. H. Trescott, E. L. Wright, Joseph Haigh, R. Enos, Cap. Sutherland, T. Babcox, A. Sword, A. Sellers, Wm. James and others. An original poem was read by the secretary which is now published in the Iroquois County history. The first old settler's re-union at Chebanse was great success; and all seemed to enjoy themselves who took part in it.
. The second Old Settler's Re-union was held in Sept. 1879, at Chapman's grove, east of town. Lumber was hauled from town, and a sufficient number of seats, and a large platform were erected. The Cornet band turned out and furnished music as usual. A considerable number of persons assembled, and ate their dinner in the grove; but not so many as was expected. The meeting was continued two days. Judge Starr was the chief orator on the first day and G.W. Parker on the second. It was intended to have a re-union every year, but a lack of interest was manifested at this one that was discouraging to those who took an active part. Our merchant's and business men, almost to a man, stayed at their stores and their offices, interested only in the extra trade that the meeting might bring. In the evening a meeting was held in DeVeling's hall, consisting of speeches and music. E. A. Westover was elected President, and E. L. Wright Secretary, for the coming year. That is four years ago, and no re-union has taken place since.
. For ten years after the first settlement of the township, there was a large amount of uninclosed land; and stock raising was followed much more than in later years. Almost every farmer had a herd of cattle, the size of which was limited only by the amount of his means and ability to take care of them. At that time cattle were allowed to run at large, and crops had to be fence in. And many disputes arose by one person's cattle breaking into another's field and damaging his crops. At that time an accident happened to an ox that is worth relating here. The writer's cattle range was on section 24, to Langham creek, and one night a large four year old steer "came up missing." I hunted several days and found no track of him. When nearly a week had passed I made another search, and in going towards the creek, passed Abraham Seller's empty house, which was afterwards occupied by J. H. Sands. The door had been left open and the missing ox had gone in. The floor gave way under his weight, and the missing steer went through into the cellar. He could neither get up or get out, and was there nearly a week without food or water. I went home for a team, spade and a chain; dug a hole under the sill, hitched the chain around his neck, and drew him out with the team. When he was pulled out he got up on his feet; and after resting awhile walked home.
. During the latter part of the war there was a great demand for hay to supply the army; and hundreds of tons of wild hay was bought, and stacked in the west part of the village. Five dollars a ton was the price paid, and the quality was sometimes very poor; but every load was eagerly bought and stacked up. E. W. Warren, George Wells, E. S. Richmond, Mr. Mason, and several others were the buyers. When the war closed the demand stopped at once, and hundreds of tons were on hand and immediately became worthless. The long rows of stacks stood there for about a year, and then took fire and burned; together with the barn and the press.
. In 1869, a "wild cat" railroad company, sent agents through this and adjoining counties, to induce people along the line of the proposed road, to subscribe for their capital stock. Those agents found a number of men in Clifton who favored the project, provided the road was run through Clifton village. Twelve of those men signed a petition, praying that a special election be held in Clifton, to vote upon the question of donating $50,000 to that dubious speculation. The election was held on the 12th of May, 1870. And though farmers are very busy at that season of the year, they turned out and voted down the ruinous donation by a large majority. But that did not satisfy the friends of the scheme, and another was held the next month to vote $30,000. A number of persons opposed the scheme, and not wishing to be called out every month to vote down that railroad subscription, caused an injunction to be served upon the election board, to restrain them from holding any more elections for that purpose. The election board being in favor of the donation, disobeyed the injunction writ, and held the election. They were prosecuted for violating the injunction. They appealed the supreme court, which reversed the decision of the lower court, and remitted the lines. The parties then commenced suits for damages against those who had caused the injunction to be issued; and laid their damages at ten thousand dollars. A large number of persons had taken part in causing the writ to be issued and served; but the plaintiffs, Walton, Parmeter, Sheldon, Smith and Sanderson, selected only four persons for their victims, DeVeling, Trescott, Haigh and Huckins; and commenced suit against them in the circuit court, at Watseka. A change was taken and the case was tried at Pontiac, Livingston Co., and verdicts rendered for the plaintiffs. The defendants appealed to the supreme court, which reversed the decision of the lower court. From first to last the cases were in court ten years, and cost the parties over $2,000, besides much loss of time and great vexation. The prosecutions were not ended until the plaintiffs withdrew their complaints from the court and agreed to pay half of all the costs that had been made. The railroad subscription and the law suits that grew out of it, caused a spirit of rivalry and bad feeling between the two villages for several years. But since the railroad scheme is dead, and the law suits that grew out of it amicably settled, they are again at peace and on good terms with each other.
. On the 14th of May, 1867, and election was held for or against dividing the county. Chebanse people were the originators and most interested in the movement. The village is less than nine miles from Kankakee court house, and thirty miles by railroad from that of Iroquois Co. It is looked upon as a great misfortune and a geographical deformity, to be so located. Our business and social relations are with Kankakee, and will continue to be so.
. The county line divides the village; and also cuts congressional township 29 in two; leaving four miles in Iroquois, and two in Kankakee. The proposed division gives four miles to Kankakee, making the county line correspond with the congressional township line; which would be an advantage in many respects. Clifton people had but little interest in the matter, as it still left them in Iroquois. The rest of the county looked upon the division as a war of conquest, and voted against it. The result of the election in this town was 278 votes for, and 33 against. All the other towns voted against it, and the division was defeated. Watseka polled just one vote for the division, and that was voted by A. B. Roff, attorney. If we had canvassed the county and informed the people of our situation, I believe the result would have been different. Of late years the subject is seldom spoken of ; and yet, it would be more convenient for Chebanse people to have their county seat in Chicago than in Watseka.
. In 1803, 200 acres of the school land, representing $1,400, came very near being lost to the township. This land had been sold to G. W. Gere, at seven dollars and acre. No purchase money was paid, but a mortgage was supposed to be on record for that amount, in favor of the trustees. In 1862, Gere traded this land for goods in Chicago, which he took south and sold to the soldiers. The title to the land came into the possession of a lady in Chicago. By some means it came to the knowledge of Geo. K. Clark that the papers had been lost, and that no record of them was on file. The writer was then township treasurer, and upon examining into the matter found that there was nothing on record to secure the trustees for the purchase money. N. M. Bancroft, Co. Superintendent, had made the sale of the land and had neglected to record the mortgage, and had even lost the instrument. I laid the matter before the trustees, and they requested me to do something at once to secure the land or the purchase money. The matter looked very doubtful. I talked it over with Geo. K. Clark, and there was no better lawyer in Chicago. He said our only chance was to get Bancroft to resell the land. But in so doing that he would be liable to prosecution; and in not doing it he was liable for the loss to the township. The land was then worth double the amount, and was a good thing for any one who would take the risk of buying it. A lawyer from Winona, Minn., bought it. I told him just how it was, showed him the land and took him to Watseka. While I went to Old Town for Mr. Bancroft, he fixed up the papers to suit himself. I told Mr. Bancroft I had a purchaser for the land, and wished him to go with me and make the sale. He hesitated a long time, but he finally went with me and did the business. I had agreed with the purchaser to go with him to Springfield, and see the papers filed with the State Superintendent, before he would pay me the money. But when we got through everything was so straight and clear that he paid me the money, $14,00 and went to Springfield alone. The Chicago lady sent an attorney to Chebanse, and took a large number of depositions, intending to bring suit to recover her land. But Bancroft and his bond were thought to be worthless and the suit was never commenced.
. Chebanse village suffered great inconvenience for water during its early settlement. Neither the water-witch nor good luck seemed to locate the right place. The railroad company wished to make this a watering station, and sunk a well about 60 feet deep, north of the depot, but failed to get a good supply. They succeeded better at Clifton, and put in a watering tank there. The deep well at this depot was used for domestic purposes for a few years, and then filled up. While it was in use, Susan Bowman, the hired girl at the depot, fell into it. There was water enough to break her fall, but not enough to drown her, and she escaped without much injury. During the great hay fire, in 1865, it was difficult to get a few buckets of water to protect the houses that were in danger. But for many years past no town is better supplied with water. There are several public and many private wells that never fail; besides the public Water Works, whose immense tank, fifty-one feet high, is filled by a steam pump from a never failing artesian well. Hydrants are located in the streets, and faucets in the stores and dwelling.
. On Saturday night, August 29th, 1863, a heavy frost destroyed the entire corn crop of the country. Up to that time the prospect for an abundant crop was never better. Laborers had been very scarce during the summer, on account of so many men having gone to war. But those remaining at home had worked hard and long, and the fruits of their labor was destroyed in one night. It was a terrible calamity, and the people were not prepared to stand for it. But stand it they must; for people can always do without what they cannot get, and can always get along with what they cannot get rid of. The following poem was published in the Watseka Republican, the first issue after the frost:
Jack Frost, thou art a mean old scamp, The meanest in the land; Destruction, want and misery, Are works of thine own hand. Why didst thou leave thy chilly home, In August fair and mild; And turn our golden fields of corn, Into a desert wild? Thy conscience must accuse thine hand, And fill thy soul with dread; For every honest working man, Will curse thy hoary head. How many faces beamed with joy, In hope of their reward; Which now have lost their happy smile, And look downcast and hard. How many hearts were light and gay, With bright hope they had; Which thy rude hand so wrecklessly, Hath made both sore and sad. The honest farmer plowed his field, And sowed the golden seed; He worked with pleasure, for it was His little ones to feed. The new beginner, too, was true, As his hard toil denotes; That he might promptly meet and pay His fast maturing notes. But thou, Jack Frost, what hast thou done? No tongue or pen can tell; The brightest hopes-the sweetest joys- Are sunk as low as hell. If the good Lord did rule supreme, We ne'er should see such evil; But it seems thou art in league, And working for the devil. A welcome guest thou sometimes art, As any ever seen; If at the proper time thou comes; BUT NOT WHEN THE CORN IS GREEN! Let chill November breezes blow. And ice, and snow storms bring; Then thou art welcome, come along, When merry sleigh bells ring. But if again thou showest thyself, Or any white snaps send; While August or September last, No one will by thy friend. Chebanse, Ill., Aug. 30th, 1868. J.H.
. The early settlers of Chebanse township, who still reside here, have, within less than thirty years, seen a wild and uninhabited waste, changed into a prosperous and flourishing country. The first houses were mostly small "shanties," built of rough boards, which have since been replaced by comfortable and commodious dwellings. We have no ancient history or illustrious ancestors to pride ourselves upon; but we may well be proud that we are the first civilized people who have inhabited this part of God's footstool. Theologians believe the world is about 6,000 years old, but scientists think it is millions. In either case our history is a very small speck; and the land we occupy must have been a solitary waste for untold ages.
. As late as 1850, there was not a mile of railroad in Illinois, or in any state west of it. And to day there are tens of thousands of miles. If we go back fifty years, there was not a railroad anywhere. Steam power was almost unknown, and telegraphs and telephones were not invented. While today the world is a net work of them; and steam power is performing more work than manual labor. Coal oil had not been discovered, or a kerosene lamp made; or even a match invented to light one with. Within that period nearly all of our useful inventions and labor-saving machines have been brought into existence; and people are enabled to enjoy infinitely more comforts and luxuries than they possibly could without those improvements.
. Social and moral improvement has taken place as surely, if not so rapidly, as intellectual and scientific improvement. Within the last fifty years our system of benevolent and charitable institutions have mainly been established and developed. In the same ratio that knowledge increased, superstition and persecution disappear; and people become more humane and tolerant. Capital punishment is made as easy for its victims as possible; and punishment for belief or disbelief has almost ceased; and the word 'hell' has been left out of the revised New Testament. The march of progress is still going on; and may we not reasonably expect, that within the next fifty years, Heaven and earth will be brought together and consolidated; religion and infidelity become one and the same thing; and Priests and Preachers no more frighten ignorant people about purgatory and perdition?
. More progress and improvement has been made within the last fifty years, than in five hundred years previous; and my advise to every body is, to take the best care of yourselves--to LIVE SLOW and LIVE LONG, and who knows but you may see greater progress and improvement than have already taken place.