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1877 History of La Salle County Illinois

Sketch of the Pioneer Settlers - Groveland

Township 29, Range 2, constitutes the town of Groveland. It is the southernmost town in the county, and the last settled. With the town of Osage, it lies between the counties of Marshall and Livingston, and when those counties were organized from territory taken partly from La Salle, both of them refused to take the territory included in those towns. So La Salle from necessity had to keep it. With the present population and wealth they constitute no insignificant portion of the county. The west side of the town is the most elevated. Prairie creek rises near New Rutland and runs to and along the north line. Long Point creek rises near Minonk, and crosses the town from southwest to northeast, while the southeast portion is drained by Diamond creek. All these run northeastwardly to the Vermillion, and make effectual drainage. In 1855 the town was an unbroken prairie, without an inhabitant. The first house in the town was moved on to the present site of New Rutland, and made a section-house on the Illinois Central Railroad. It was made a liquor saloon, and destroyed by a mob in 1865. The railroad was built through the town before it was settled, and doubtless was the agency that developed its resources. Abner Shinn built the first house and Oscar Jacobson occupied it in March, 1855, being the first resident in the town. He left in 1862. The second resident was Elias Frink, and wife, Emily Whitman, from Onondaga County, N. Y.; he settled on S. 22. His only child, W. E., married Orvilla Kenyon, and has seven children. He was a good soldier, and is Police Magistrate in the village of Dana. The third was Lewis W. Martin, from Indiana; he made an improvement on Sec. 10; sold to Alva Winans and went to Nebraska. Geo. W. Gray located and lives on S. 11 in 1855, and raised a large family. The fifth settler was William Martin; he pre-empted the northeast quarter Section 26th. An Englishman by birth, he enlisted in the 33d Regiment, and died on his way home from the army; a bachelor, he left no relatives but a sister, Mrs. Anna Swift of Bloomington. Nelson Cooper, from Maryland, a carpenter by trade, settled on S. 17. He enlisted in the 104th Regiment. His wife was Sarah M. Jacobson, daughter of John Jacobson. He is the present Supervisor of the town. John Jacobson, from Germany to Ohio, was a magistrate there; was Supervisor here for several years, and moved to Nebraska in 1869.

An emigration association was formed in January, 1855, of about two hundred members, residing in the vicinity of Rutland, Vermont. Each member paid ten dollars, and was to have a lot in an embryo city to be located somewhere in the far West. Dr. Allen and W. B. Burns were the locating committee. The present site of New Rutland was selected, being the northwest 40 acres on S. 18, and southwest 40 on S. 7. The railroad gave the members a preference in the selection of their lands at 20 per cent, discount. W- B. Burns came on the ground in August, 1855; built a house and occupied it in 1856; he was the master spirit of the enterprise and insured its success; bad health induced him to remove to California, where he died in 1875. Willard Proctor and Rufus Weston were the first to select lands under the arrangement with the railroad. John Wadleigh came to the town in the fall of 1855; settled in the village in 1856; was Capt. Co. I, l04th Regiment, and bad the care of the regiment for awhile; now Postmaster at New Rutland. Daniel Wadleigh came about the same time as his brother John.

Daniel Arnold came in the spring of 1856. Has been Justice of the Peace and Supervisor, and held other town offices.

S. L. Bangs came in 1856; he was agent for Mark Bangs, a younger brother, in building five dwellings, and purchasing about $100,000 worth of railroad lands, and breaking 800 acres of prairie. The speculation failed of success in the revulsion of 1857.

John T. Grove came in 1856; was called the village blacksmith; was afterwards a merchant. His son, E. Gove, was a successful teacher; a Lieutenant in the Thirty-third Regiment, and breveted a Major.

Charles Lamb, Andrew Moffatt and Reuben Taylor came in the spring of 1856.

John Grove and son, J. M. Grove, came and settled on the west half of Section 15, in the spring of 1 856. John Grove was the oldest man in the town. J. M. taught school from his eighteenth year; studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Ohio. He held the offices of Assessor and Justice of the Peace and Supervisor.

John H. Martin, born in Wayne County, Illinois, was raised in Marshall County, having lived there since 1829; removed on to Section 25 in March, 1856.

Alexander Clegg, from West Virginia, settled on Sec. 25. His daughter, Florence, was the first child born in the town.

Marshall Smiley, on Sec. 36; Thomas Keeder and Joseph H. Brown settled near the south line of the town; A. Mullen and B. Ballihger settled on S. 6 — all in the spring of 1836.

The first religious meetings were held in the hotel stable; and afterwards in the hotel. Esquire Barney O'Neal on the Vermillion, twenty miles away, was the nearest Justice of the Peace; there was no law, yet all was orderly. At the Presidential election in 1856, the political excitement reached the infant settlement, and all went twenty miles to the house of Alif Goff, near the Vermilion, to vote — all but one voting for Fremont. Groveland was made a town in the fall of 1856. First election was held in April, 1857; W. B. Burns, Supervisor; John Wadleigh, Clerk; and J.M. Grove, Assessor.

Groveland has two villages and railroad stations within its limits: New Rutland on the Illinois Central Railroad, and Dana on the Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern — both of which roads pass through the town. New Rutland has five churches, a graded school, ten stores, a grain elevator, mill, and 800 population. Dana, in the southeastern part of the town, has two grain elevators, one church, six stores, a mill, and 250 population. Like all settlers in a prairie town, the people know the importance of timber-planting, and belts and groves of timber are scattered over its surface on nearly every farm.

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