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1877 History of La Salle County Illinois

Sketch of the Pioneer Settlers - La Salle

La Salle embraces the E. 1/2 of T. 33, R. 1, except a small point between the Illinois and Vermillion rivers which belongs to Deer Park. It is crossed from north to south by the Illinois Central Railroad and from east to west by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal terminates in an artificial basin within its limits.

In this basin the river steamboats from St. Louis meet the canal boats from Chicago, and the locality seems destined and fitted both by nature and art to be one of the most important commercial points in the West. The progress and development of the town and its business has not equaled the anticipations of its early settlers, but its growth has been constant and healthful.

A manufacturing industry can never flourish until agriculture is developed, the population becomes dense, and capital has accumulated sufficient for its prosecution. The coal production, and the zinc and glass manufacture, have assumed large proportions, and with, the produce and shipping interest, aggregates an amount of business that must be quite gratifying to the citizens of La Salle, and of which older places might be proud. The future of the locality can have but one result, that of a great success.

Samuel Lapsley, from Pennsylvania to St. Louis, and from St. Louis to La Salle, in 1830; made a farm on the present site of La Salle, where the old Catholic church stood, extending as far north as Fifth, street, and as far east as Joliet street. He built a saw-mill on the Little Vermillion; his claim proved to be on canal land, belonging to the State, and he lost his improvements; he died in 1839.

Burton Ayres, and wife, Orilla Langworthy, from Ohio, came to La Salle in 1830, and settled on S. 14; a blacksmith, and farmer. His shop was at the foot of the bluff, near the Little Vermillion; he died in 1870. He had six children: James, is married, and lives in Iroquois County; Myron D. is also in Iroquois; Elizabeth, is married, and lives in Iowa; Franklin, is in Kansas; Warren, is single, and lives in Princeton; Charlotte, is married, and in Kansas.

Mrs. Swanson, a widow, with a family — and a sister of John Myers, from Ohio, settled near the mouth of the Little Vermillion, in 1831. She moved near the Hardy farm, and in 1840 removed to Pecatonica, then came back to La Salle, and finally moved to California, where she died. She had two sons, John and Edward, and two daughters. Aaron Gunn, from Montague, Massachusetts, was one of a colony formed in 1830, in Northampton, Massachusetts. Agents sent out to find a location, fixed upon La Salle. The colony came out in 1831. Gunn, and seven other young men bought two perogues, or canoes, at Mottville, Michigan, and floated down the St. Joseph to South Bend, then hauled their canoes across the portage to the Kankakee (the same route taken by La Salle 150 years before), they then floated down the Kankakee and Illinois to Hennepin, in nine days. The season was wet, and the colony, dissatisfied with the location, scattered over the country, mostly going to Bureau County. Mr. Gunn went to where Lamoille now is, bought a claim of Mr. Hall, who was killed by Indians, at Indian Creek, the following summer.

The next summer he left on account of the war, and remained two years at Magnolia. In 1835, sold his claim and bought 400 acres north of and now adjoining the town of La Salle. In common with most of the settlers in 1836, he supposed his fortune made, being told that his 400 acres were worth $40,000, and that he need work no more, but not realizing that sum he went one year on the Ottawa mission as a Methodist exhorter, and in 1837 was married to Nancy "Winters, of Mt. Palatine, and went to farming, finding his 400 acres worth what its production of farm crops would indicate. He is still living on a part of the $40,000 farm, at a ripe old age, probably as comfortable as he would have been had he realized his anticipated fortune. His experience and disappointment in that respect, might be written as a part of the history of many of the emigrants who came in 1836-7. His children are: Lydia C, who died at the age of 18; Nettie Z., married George A. Elliott, of La Salle; Moses W., Pastor Baptist Church, Normal, 111.; Lucy G., married Herman B. Chapman, of La Salle; Elizabeth S., married Prank L. Ay res, of Kansas; Aaron E., a farmer, of La Salle; Bella E., at home.

Dixwell Lathrop, from Norwich, Ct., came in 1835; was employed by a company in Norwich to select and purchase land. He arranged to enter land at Rockwell, adjoining La Salle, returned and brought out his family in 1886.

As the agent of Charles and John Rockwell, of Norwich, he laid out the town of Rockwell, and in 1838 was reinforced by a colony from Norwich and vicinity, called the Rockwell Colony. The town of Rockwell was at this time at the height of its prosperity, and the arrival of the colony was supposed to insure its ultimate success; but the summer and fall of 1838 were seasons of unexampled sickness throughout the West; malarious disease existed to an extent unknown before or since. It was particularly severe along the wide and low bottom lands of the Illinois. The Rockwell colonists were all sick, many died, the survivors scattered through the country, and the town never recovered.

La Salle being selected as the termination of the canal made that the center of business, and Rockwell ' will doubtless be a pleasant suburb of its successful neighbor. Notwithstanding the failure of the town, Mr. Lathrop retained the confidence of the Rockwell Company; is residing in La Salle; he has been a successful amateur farmer and bee culturist, and is highly respected. His first wife was from Norwich, Ct., his second wife was Miss Foster. He had one daughter, who died aged 17.

Daniel Baird came from Westborough, Mass., in the spring of 1836; kept a boarding-house at Rockwell; his wife, Charlotte B. Field, and her sister, Adeline O. Field, came out in the fall of 1836. Miss Field was married to Elmer Baldwin, of Farm Ridge, in 1838. Mr. Baird and family were all prostrated by the sickness of 1838, and his business broken up. In the spring of 1839 he moved on to a farm* near Palestine Grove, in Lee County, where he resided till his death, in 1866. He had three children: Marianne, married Henry C. Chapman; Seth, married Amanda Thompson, second wife, Martha Reese; Carrie, married Newton Pumphrey. They all, with the widow, live on or near the old homestead.

Hackaliah Merritt, and wife, Sarah Smith, came from Putnam County, N. Y., in the fall of 1836. He made a farm on S. 3, T. 33, R. 1; his wife died in 1847; his second wife was Lydia Robinson, who is still living, aged 83. Mr. Merritt died in February, 1877, aged 84. He left four children: Fuller, married Julia Ide, they live in La Salle; Cordelia, married Philo Lindley, she lives in Ottawa, and is now a widow; Martha, married Frank Hunt, she is now deceased; Nathan, died in Arkansas.

Norman McFarrand came from Whitehall, N. Y., to Baltimore, in 1830; he married Mary Ann Forrest, of Ellicott's Mills, Md., and settled in La Salle Sept. 13, 1837. His wife is deceased, leaving seven children: John Forrest, Isaac Hubert, Wm. Henry, Mary Ann, Cyrene Sophia, Norman Nash, John Isaac.

John H. McFarrand, brother of Norman, came from Tioga County, N. Y., in 1837; he married Julia A. Clark; he was engaged oil several railroads before he came to La Salle; he was a contractor on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, and on the Illinois Central Railroad; was Postmaster at La Salle for several years. He is now living in Chicago.

Nahum Gould was born in Warwick, Franklin County, Mass., in 1798; crippled by an accident and unable to labor, he attended an academy at New Salem, and taught school alternately, till he entered Amherst College and graduated in 1828. He studied theology with Dr. John Woodbridge, of Hadley. He married Rebecca B. Leonard. Was ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church, and appointed a missionary in the State of New York.

May 5th, 1884, with his wife, three children and his sister, Semira (who afterward married Thomas Hartsell, of Hennepin), started for Illinois in a light wagon; they generally found accommodations for the night at the houses along the route, but were sometimes compelled to sleep in their wagon. He arrived at his wife's brother’s, Dea. John Leonard, at Bailey's Grove, on June 12th. He was first settled at Union Grove, and preached occasionally at Hennepin and Vermillionville.

He organized or assisted in organizing a Presbyterian Church at Hennepin, Dec. 29th, 1834; one at Union Grove, Dec. 3rd, 1834; at Vermillionville or Lowell, August, 1834; one at Plainfield; one at Rockwell, January, 1837. That year he built a house and settled at Rockwell.

In 1838 his wife, Rebecca Blake Leonard, died, leaving four daughters. The sickness of 1838 swept away more than half of the church. He preached at Troy Grove, and organized a church there. In 1838, being, in common with the majority of the population, taken sick, he turned his horse on the prairie to care for himself, and was taken to his sister, Mrs. Hartsell at Hennepin, where his children were. Mr. Hartsell was also sick, and his only child died. Thos. Hartsell died at Waukegan about twelve years since, and his wife, Semira Gould, died at Hennepin, thirty years since, or in 1846. Mr. Hartsell’s only surviving child and son lives at Aurora.

Mr. Gould returned to Rockwell late in the fall, and in the spring of 1839 married Sarah Dewey, daughter of Roswell Dewey. He left for his health and lived at Princeton one year, then settled at Troy Grove; preached and taught the district school and kept a station on the Underground Railroad, and claimed that the passengers went safely through. While at Homer he was a sort of an itinerant on a missionary circuit to Indian Creek, where he organized a church in 1843; one in Paw Paw in 1844; preached in Harding and Serena; suffered many hardships and encountered many dangers and narrow escapes in fording streams and other new country experiences.

In 1846 he removed to Gouldtown, in the town of Freedom, where he resided four years, then to Northville, and to Somonauk in 1859.

In November, 1850, his wife, Sarah Dewey, died, and in 1858 he married Lois Jane, widow of Rev. Francis Leonard, of Galesburg. His family lived with or near him till 1871, when one daughter went to Nebraska, one died, one went to Iowa, and one to Minnesota.

In October, 1871, he removed to Nebraska, and settled at Kearney Junction. He secured the organization of a church at Kearney, aided efficiently in organizing the presbytery of Kearney and synod of Nebraska, and presided at the first meeting of each.

He died at his home in 1872, aged 74, and his grave overlooks the city which had but one house when he went there. But few men have had more varied experiences— seen more of new country life, or labored more zealously in their chosen field, or accomplished more for which his church should be grateful.

Barney Martin, from Ireland, in 1838.

William Riley, from Ireland, in 1838.

Bartlett Thompson, in 1839.

Dr. Thomas W. Hennesey, from Ireland, 1837, was a practicing physician in La Salle for twenty years, then moved, on to a farm, in the town of Dimmick, where he now lives; he married Charlotte Cadwell, daughter of Sheldon Cadwell, of Deer Park.

Daniel Burdick, and wife, Sally Adams, from Norwich, Ct., in 1837, settled on a farm. He enlisted in the army, and died in 1864, soon after his return.

John Higgins, from Detroit, to Chicago, in the spring of 1836, and to La Salle, November 1st, same year. Is now in the grocery trade, which he has followed since he came to La Salle. Married the widow O' Conner, daughter of William Burns — has a second wife.

Mr. Vaughan, and wife, from Connecticut, 1838, one of the Rockwell colony. Both soon died.

Giles Lindley, from Connecticut to St. Louis, from there here in 1840; married Jane Knight, from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, who is living in La Salle. Mr. Lindley died, leaving nine children.

Philo Lindley, from Seymour, Connecticut, came in 1836; married Cordelia Merritt; was seven years Clerk of the Circuit Court of La Salle County, and County Clerk one term; was Quartermaster of the Fifty-third Regiment Illinois Volunteers, and was killed near Altoona, Mississippi, 1863; his widow resides in Ottawa, with three children — Philo, George, and Laura M.

Myron D. Downs, from Connecticut, in 1837; he married Elizabeth Allen; he sold goods in Rockwell and went to Chicago in 1838, or 1839, where he is now living.

WUliam Baldwin came in 1837; merchant in Rockwell; went to Chicago in 1838 or 9.

James O'Neal, from Ireland, in 1836; laborer.

William Burns, and wife, Sarah Harris, from Ireland to Pittsburg, Pa., in 1812, came to La Salle in 1887; was the contractor for building the canal aqueduct over the Little Vermillion, and the lower locks on the canal; a good mechanic, and physically and mentally a superior man. He died in the Sisters' Hospital, in Chicago, in 1873, aged 101 years. His children were: Eliza, who married David L. Gregg; John C, died in the State of Maryland; Sarah, married Mr. O' Conner, of La Salle, and, after his death, married John Higgins, of La Salle — she is now deceased; Joseph, died at St. Louis; two grandchildren only living.

Daniel Cosgrove came from Ireland in 1837; was Justice of the Peace for several years; died in 1872. His wife was Miss Garrity. His children were: Annie, Daniel, Terrance, Cronise, and Luke.

John Cody, from Ireland, came to La Salle in June, 1837; he married Miss Turney; he is still living; his wife died in 1870. Has three children: James, married Mary Whalen, is now a grocer in La Salle; Bridget, married James Duncan, the present Mayor of La Salle; Ellen, is unmarried.

James and William Crosiar, brothers of Simon Crosiar, from Pittsburg, Pa., settled on Section 36, near Shipping port, in 1831; they both left in 1833.

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