1877 History of La Salle County Illinois
Sketch of the Pioneer Settlers - Ophir
The town of Ophir is identical with Township 35, Range 2, and is a prairie
region, with the exception of about one section of timber on Sections 18 and 19,
being a part of Troy Grove, which was originally as fine .a tract of timber land
as there was in the county. It lies mostly in the town of Troy Grove, and at an
early day was surrounded by pioneer settlers.
The first one here was Joseph Reynolds, and with Elias Carey and Hiram Thornton, were the only families at this point at the breaking out of the Black Hawk war. They all left, and Reynolds did not return. After the war, settlers came in quite rapidly and were about equally divided between the towns of Ophir and Troy Grove, the grove of heavy timber being the center of the settlements.
Joseph Reynolds, brother of Martin Reynolds, of Deer Park, came from Champaign County, Ohio, to Morgan County, Ill., then to Tazewell County, and next to Deer Park, and to Troy Grove in the spring of 1830; was the first settler here. He settled on S. 19, T. 35, R. 2; left at the breaking out of the Indian war in the spring of 1832, and in the following fall sold his claim to Asahel Baldwin; went to the Big Woods, and from there to Hickory Creek, now New Lenox, Will County, where he died, and where his three sons. Smith, Newton, and Milton, now reside.
Elias Carey, and wife, Margaret Collins, from Ohio, on to the Wabash, in 1829, or 1830, and to Troy Grove, in 1831. Settled on S. 24, T. 35, R. 1. He left during the Black Hawk war, but returned at its close, and made a farm in Ophir. He died in Mendota, in 1868. His children are: Nancy, now dead; Sally, married William Thompson, now in Iowa; Minerva, married W. Pollins, in Mendota; Abijah, and John, went to Oregon; Calvin, to California; Washington, is now here; Absalom, in Iowa.
Justin D. Wixom, from Erie County, New York, to Ohio, and, with his father's family, from Ohio to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1827; from there to Tazewell County in 1829, and to Troy Grove in 1833, and settled on S. 18. He married Wealthy Ann Johnston. He died in 1860, aged 58.
Asahel Baldwin, from Colebrook, Connecticut, in the fall of 1882; bought the claim of Reynolds, on" S. 19. Married Flora Holcomb, and in 1884 moved to Indian creek; returned for a short time, and went to Iowa.
John Johnston, and wife, Delila McCarty, from Ohio, in the fall of 1832; he died in 1843. His children were: James; Cynthia, married James Hall, of Marshall County; Aurelia, married James N. Reader; Wealthy Ann, married Justin D. Wixom; George, married Mary Ann Beaver, settled on S. 25, T. 35, R. 1— he died 1876.
Gideon Gillett, and wife, Ruth Goddard, from Granby, Connecticut, came in September, 1833. He died in 1866. His children were: Emeline, died single; Almon, died — his widow married Levi Carter; Luna, married Pliny Dewey; Ruth, married Siinon Cooley; Dennis T., married Mary Smith, in Iowa; Daniel S., married Susan Worsley, in Iowa; Samuel N., married J. Weisman; Simeon B., married Eliza Baker.
Leonard Towner, from New Jersey to Ohio, and from there to Ophir in 1833; he married Julia, daughter of Justin Dewey; settled on S. 18, T. 35, R. 2. Has fourteen children: Ezra, in Washington Territory; Jane, married Joseph Billings, of Mendota; Nathaniel, married C. Ormsby, in Missouri; Lorenzo, is dead; Matilda, married Eakin Smith, is in Iowa; Hiram is in Washington Territory; Letitia, married Mr. McKim; Justin D., married Miss Gordon, second wife Miss Bugg, live in Vicksburg; Daniel, married Flora Hoffman, live in Mendota; John H., is in Kansas; James, married, lives in Mendota; Katharine, is in Iowa; Mary, married Mr. Tobias, in El Paso; Horace E., is in Texas.
Stephen R. Beggs, and wife, Elizabeth Heath; a Methodist preacher of note on the frontier. He came in 1834; laid off a town where Triumph now is, and named it La Fayette. It failed to make a town. Beggs moved to Plainfield, and to Chicago. He published "The Early History of the West and Northwest," a sort of autobiography of himself and brother preachers of the Methodist persuasion.
Joseph Worsley, born in England, came from Ohio here in 1834, married Margaret Weitzell, and settled on S. 30. He died 1870, aged 87. His children are: John, who married Matilda Morehouse; Frederick W., married Caroline Dewey; William Y., married Lovina Cooper, lives on S. 10, T. 35, H. 1 — has been Justice of the Peace, and Town Supervisor; Ann, married Charles Webster; Margaret, married William D. McDonald; Joseph F., married Esther Crandall; Henry, married Miss Eastman.
Edward Y. Waldo, from Suffield, Connecticut, in 1834; settled on S. 18, T. 35, R. 2. His father was Chaplain to Congress when over ninety years of age; died at the age of l0l. He had three wives. Hannah Merritt, Phebe Rice, and Mary Johnson. Had two children: Anna, married a Mr. Terry, of Indiana; Charles, married Miss Geer, of Bureau County.
Abner D. Westgate, from New York, 1836. His wife was Caroline Waterman. His children were: David, who married Miss Waterman, of Ophir; Thomas, is single; Joseph, married Miss Fleming; George, is in Missouri; Emily, in Ophir.
Joseph B. Westgate, and wife, Emily Brad win, from New York, in 1836. He died in 1848. His widow died 1874. They had three children: Joseph, James, and Mary. They have all left the county.
Gurdon Searls, from Connecticut, in 1836. He married a sister of Dixwell Lathrop, of La Salle. His daughter, Ann, married Elisha Merritt.
Robert Carr, and wife, from Connecticut, in 1837, settled on S. 29. Mrs. Carr died in 1875. Mr. Carr is still living, at the full age of 80 years. His son, Daniel, married Bridget Gardner, and lives on S. 29. He, with Mrs. Scranton, are his only children.
William H. McDonald, from Erie County, N. Y., came with Joshua Brown in 1835, and settled on S. 7, T. 35, R. 2, where he still resides. He married Margaret Worsley.
Simon Cooley, from New York, came in 1836; married Ruth Gillett. He was a carpenter by trade; went to Iowa.
Hiram Barnhart, and wife, Lucy Swarts, came here in 1837, and left in 1839 — removed to the Wabash.