top shadow

1877 History of La Salle County Illinois

Sketch of the Pioneer Settlers - Peru

Peru embraces the west half of Township 33, Range 1, and lies on both sides of the Illinois river, while the east half of the township constitutes its sister town of La Salle. The city of Peru is on the north side of the river at the foot and on the bluff. Its commercial advantages are scarcely inferior to those of its rival — La Salle. The Chicago & Rock Island Railroad passes through it from east to west, and the river trade passes its levee and warehouses as it goes to and from the basin at La Salle. The long and bitter contest to secure the termination of the Canal was decided in favor of La Salle, not because it offered superior advantages, but because it was located on canal land belonging to the State. The two cities are practically one, and will eventually be included in one municipal government. The location is commanding and important, not only in reference to the County, but to the State and Nation. The rich and heavy deposit of coal, and facilities for transportation, will make it one of the largest manufacturing cities in the West. Its progress thus far in that direction is an earnest of the high position that awaits it in the future.

John Hays, and wife, came from Tennessee in 1830; built a cabin on the Illinois bottom, just above the present location of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad depot; kept the Perry across the Illinois river till 1840; sold to Hendricks; went to Hennepin, and died there. Hays was from the class at the South that was crushed and kept in ignorance by the institution of slavery. He was a rough and fearless frontiersman. His children were: one daughter, married Mr. Davis, and with her husband, was killed at Indian Creek, in 1832; Harrison, is in Bureau County; James, and two other sons.

Lyman D. Brewster came from Nashville, Tenn. In 1832, he traveled on horseback from Nashville, through Ottawa and Chicago, to Salisbury, Ct.; he returned and settled at Peru in 1834, and died at Hennepin in the fall of 1835.

William Paul, from Scotland, settled just below where Peru now is, in 1834; sold his claim to Kinney & Spaulding, and went to Hennepin, where he married the daughter of Dr. Pulsifer; came back to Peru in 18i3, and kept a store till 1867 or '69, then moved to Vineland, New Jersey, where he now resides.

Ulysses Spaulding came from Tennessee in 1834; engaged in selling goods with Kinney; died in 1836; was Justice of the Peace, and kept a grocery store. Left two sons and two daughters— one married Mr. Coffling, of Peru. Widow died in 1860.

Henry S. Kinney, from Pennsylvania, came in 1834, and bought a claim of William Paul, and in company with Ulysses Spaulding, engaged in merchandising until 1836, and after Spaulding’s death, in partnership with Daniel J. Townsend until 1838; he then took a heavy contract on the canal basin, and a few months after quietly left, leaving his workmen unpaid and his affairs unsettled. He afterward figured conspicuously in the military affairs of Texas, and was an officer under Walker in the filibustering expedition in Central America. A man of some ability and of great energy and activity, but was lacking in some more valuable qualities.

Theron D. Brewster, came from Salisbury, Ct., in 1835; he first engaged as clerk in the store of Kinney & Spaulding. In 1836 he laid out the Ninawa Addition to Peru, embracing all the business portion of the place. In 1843 he engaged in merchandising and selling town lots. In 1848, built a warehouse and engaged in the grain and shipping business, in company with H. S. Beebe; in 1853 in banking, and in 1858 in manufacturing plows and other agricultural implements; in this last he is still largely engaged.

In all these pursuits, Mr. Brewster has been successful, and while he has accumulated wealth, has always been an enterprising, public-spirited citizen, and Peru owes much of its prosperity to his efforts. When Peru was made a city in 1851, he was its first Mayor.

Mr. Brewster has been twice married; his first wife was Adeline Mann, who died in January, 1849, leaving two children: Sylvia A., and Frank, both living at home. Mr. Brewster's second wife was Martha Jones, who has four children: Jesse, Margaret, Benjamin L., and Theron D., Jr. — all at home.

Calvin and Peletiah Brewster, two young men from Baltimore, came to Peru in 1835; Calvin died the same season; Peletiah went South in 1837, and died in Texas.

Isaac Abrams, and wife, Ellen Rittenhouse Evans, grand niece of David B. Rittenhouse, the astronomer, came from near Philadelphia in 1838. In company with his brother, Nath'l J., was engaged in selling goods for five years, and for the next five years followed the same business alone, and since has been agent for the sale of real estate. One of the substantial business men of Peru, and closely identified with all its history and growth. His children are: William H., Land Commissioner of the Texas & Pacific Railroad — resides at Marshall, Texas — he married Anna Harris, daughter of Hon. William A. Harris, of Virginia, M. C, and Minister to the Argentine Republic; Louisa, at home; Edwin Evans, a clerk, in Chicago.

Nathaniel J. Abrams, brother of Isaac, and wife, Eliza A. Evans, came from the same place at the same time; was five years with his brother, merchandising; since which, he has followed farming on Sec. 7, T. 33, R. 1. His children are: Mary E., married Lavega Gr. Kinnie; Charles H., George W., and Eugene, are at home.

George W. Holly came from Salisbury, Ct., in 1887; his wife was Miss Church, daughter of Judge Church, of same place; he was editor of the Ninawa Gazette, published by Ford & Holly, the first newspaper in Peru; a genial man and good writer. In 1839 he removed to Niagara Falls. Mr. Holly was educated at West Point, but left there on account of partial deafness.

Churchill Coffing, and wife, Asenath Brewster, from Salisbury, Ct., came in 1839; a thoroughly educated and able lawyer, but lacked energy of character, and was not successful in business; he died in Chicago in 1872, leaving one son, John, now living with his mother in Chicago; one daughter, Catharine, married Mr. Colliday, now in Philadelphia.

William Chumasero, from New York, in 1838; a lawyer of good ability; married Elizabeth Brown; and removed to Helena, Montana, about ten years since.

Dea. A. D. Brown, from New York, in 1838; settled on a farm back of town; married Cornelia Leonard, who died in October, 1877. His children are: Elizabeth, married William Chumasero, now of Helena, Montana; Henry W., married Emily Gibbs, and lives in Chicago; William, married Lucy Rattan, on the old farm; Harvey, married Lydia Tompkins; Charles, died from disease contracted while in the army.

John P. Tilden, from Marblehead, Essex County, Mass., came in the fall of 1837; a farmer, and settled on S. 8, T. 33, R. 1. His first wife was Mary Rogers, who died, and left three children: William P., lives in Peru; Mary, married James Batcheler; Eunice, married Geo. Van Dycke. His second wife was Nancy S. Gordon — has one child, Flora.

Mr. Leonard, from Rochester, N.Y., came in 1889. His children were: Harvey, a bachelor, was a Justice of the Peace for several years, went to La Salle, and died there; Cornelia, married A. D. Brown, of Peru; Greaty, married Mr. Robins, of Peru; Mary Ann, died single, in Chicago; Julia Ann, married Lucius Rumrill, of Peru; Caroline, married Charles Noble.

Henry S. Beebe, and wife, Lydia "Wilcox, from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1838. He kept a livery, was a commission merchant with T. D. Brewster, ran a foundry under the firm of Fitzsimmons & Beebe; he removed to Chicago about 1861. His children are: George, deceased four years since; Lucy, married a Mr. Weber, in Chicago; Nelly, married; Jennie, and Mary, at home; James, is married, in Chicago.

Elijah Merritt, from Putnam County, New York, in 1834, lived here four or five years; was killed by the fall of a tree near Tiskilwa, about 1855.

Daniel Merritt, brother of the above, from Putnam County, New York, in 1834; settled on S. 7, T. 33, R. 1. He died in 1870. Harriet Hopkins, his widow, and one daughter, Martha, live on the old place.

Stephen Merritt, from Putnam County, New York, settled near Peru, in 1834, afterward removed to Henry County, and now lives in Bloomington, 111.

Dr. Samuel Gr. Smith, from Berkshire County, Massachusetts, in 1840; his first wife was Mary Deland— second, Mary Ann Pomeroy; has one child, Sybil E., at home; has followed the business of a druggist; is now Postmaster at Peru.

John Hoffman, from Tioga Co., Pa., in 1838; married Mary Ann Mann; kept a hotel, and did a warehouse and commission business in company with C. C. Charles, and afterward with John L. Coates; has been Supervisor, and Chairman of the Board; is now farming in Mendota. Has eight children: Asa, married Frances Raymond, of Ottawa; Phebe Adeline, married 0. Beardsley, she is now dead; Maria L., married L. L. Stoddard, of Englewood; John B., married Mary Thomas, and lives in Mendota; Julietta C, married Charles Wolf, of St. Louis; Maria R., Charles C, and Andrew J., at home.

J. P. Judson, from New York, in 1836; was land agent; left soon.

S. Lisle Smith, from Philadelphia, a talented lawyer; here a short time, and went to Chicago.

John Smith, brother of S. Lisle, kept a drug store; went back to Philadelphia.

Fletcher Webster, son of the renowned Daniel Webster, from Marshfield, Massachusetts, in 1837; practiced law here three years; was Assistant Secretary of State at Washington, for a short time; was appointed to an office in the Boston Custom House, by President Harrison; was killed in Virginia, in the war of the Rebellion.

Daniel Townsend, from New York, 1837; was a partner of Henry S. Kinney, in selling goods; left in 1840; now at Niagara falls.

Philip Hall, from New York, in 1838; here five years, clerk to Kinney & Townsend; went to Aurora, and was Superintendent of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad; since dead.

James Mulford, from Chicago, here in 1836, with Kinney; was partner with Daniel Townsend in commission business; went South in the Mexican war; did a commission business in New Orleans.

James Myers, from Pennsylvania, brother of Mrs. William Richardson, here several years; went to Corpus Christi, Texas; died on a sea voyage, and was buried in the Atlantic ocean.

William and Charles Dresser, from Bradford County, Pennsylvania, in 1837; tailors by trade; went to California in 1849.

Harvey Wood, from Canada, in 1837; died about 1872. He had four children: William died here; John went to Tennessee, is now in Illinois; Margaret, married Prank Casort, of La Salle; Grace, married D. W. Mattock.

N. B. Bullock, from Cleveland, Ohio, carpenter by trade, came here in 1837. He and his wife both died of cholera in 1852.

Jesse Pugsley came from Eastern New York in the fall of 1838; married Miss Wood, and second wife Miss Wood, sisters of Harvey Wood; still living in Peru on a farm.

Ezra McKinzie came from New. York in 1837; carpenter by trade; married Miss Kerr, now living in Peru. Two daughters at home.

J. P. Thompson came from Pennsylvania in fall of 1836; went South fifteen years since, and died in Pennsylvania two years ago.

C. H. Charles, and wife, Juliet Mann, came from Tioga County, Pa., in 1837; was a merchant in partnership with John Hoffman; died in 1840. His daughter, Susan, married Wm. Gilman, of Mendota; Phebe, married Hon. Washington Bushnell, of Ottawa; one son, C. C. Charles, married, and lives in Chicago.

Lucius Rumrill came from Utica, N. Y., in 1839; watchmaker and jeweler; married Julia A. Leonard, sister of Harvey Leonard, Esq., of La Salle; moved to Chicago, and died there; widow lives near Chicago. One daughter, Emily, now widow of Charles Coyrell.

Cornelius Cahill came from Pennsylvania in the fall of 1838; a merchant, and Justice of the Peace; now living in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Cornelius Cokeley came from Pennsylvania, with H. S. Kinney, in 1835; died in Peru, about 1850; widow lives in Peru. Had one son, John, and five daughters: Mary, married Mr. Miller; Maggie, married Wm. O'Neil; Theresa, married; Nellie.

Patrick M. Killduff came from Harper's Perry, Va., in 1838; married Christiana Mann, daughter of Asa Mann; was Mayor of Peru, Magistrate, and County Commissioner; died in Peru, June 11th, 1874.

David Dana came from Vermont in 1836; blacksmith by trade; was a farmer in Bureau County, now in Chicago.

Timothy Cokeby came from Pennsylvania in 1837; now on a farm.

Daniel McGinn came from Ireland in 1840; tailor; went to California in 1849.

Zimri Lewis, and wife, Hannah Brown, came from Dryden, Tompkins County, N. Y., in 1835; kept a hotel in Peru for several years; spent the last year of his life with his son-in-law, S. W. Raymond, in Ottawa, where he died in 1867. Had three children: Lorilla, married S. W. Raymond, now in Ottawa; Zimri, Jr., in California; William, died of cholera in 1849.

Samuel W. Raymond came from Woodstock, Vt., in 1837; lived in Peru ten years, and kept the ferry part of the time. In 1847 he was elected County Recorder, and removed to Ottawa; he has held the offices of Recorder, County Clerk, and County Treasurer for many years; an excellent and popular officer. He married Lorilla Lewis, daughter of Zimri Lewis, of Peru. He has ten children: Prances, married Asa Hoffman; Susan, married John A. Corton, of Iowa; Mary H., Charles, Emeline, Floretta, Samuel, Jr., Corrin, and Walter, at home.

Hiram P. Woodworth came from Vermont in 1837; was engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad, then a merchant. Died of cholera, at Hennepin, in 1852. His widow lives in Chicago.

Silas Woodworth, brother of Hiram, was assistant engineer; went to Oregon.

George B. Martin, kept warehouse; went to the Au Sable.

William H. Davis, clerk for Kinney; went to the" Au Sable.

Dr. Seeley came from New York in 1837; a physician here till 1848; went to the Au Sable. Died recently.

George Low came from New York in 1838; shoe and harness maker, then merchant; went to Iowa; kept hotel; then to New York; died there, and was buried in Peru.

M. Mott came from New York in 1838; kept the hotel at the Sulphur Springs, between Peru and Ottawa; died there.

F. Le Beau came from St. Louis, lived here five or six years, then went South.

A. Hyatt, and wife, sister of Jesse Pugsley, came from New York in 1837; merchant with Mott, and Postmaster; left in 1840, and is living East.

Ward B. Burnett came from New York; resided here from 1837 to 1841; was engineer on the canal when building; now living in New York.

O. C. Motley came from Hennepin in 1837; he built the Motley Hotel on the bottom, near the old ferry; the hotel was carried away by an ice flood, and Motley left.

Lewis Waldo, from New London County, Ct., and wife, Alice T. Baldwin, from Canterbury, Ct., in 1834, settled on the bluff south of Peru, where they still reside. They have three children: Ella S., married Wm. H. Bryan, of Peru; Sarah H., and Herbert L., are at home.

George W. Gilson, of Connecticut, graduated at the Norwich University in 1837, came to Peru in spring of 1838; was an engineer on the original Central Railroad, built under State authority, under T. B. Ransom, resident engineer; he married Miss E. C. Greenfield, of Middletown, Ct., a sister of Mrs. Ransom; he removed to Lost Grove, but returned to Peru, and was elected Mayor in 1855. He removed to Chicago, and became a member of the real estate firm of A. J. Galloway & Co.; he died Sept. 29, 1856, leaving four children: George T., lives in Chicago — he married the daughter of Prof. D. J. Pinckney, of Ogle County; the widow and Frances are living with Emma, the wife of Judge M. R. M. Wallace, in Chicago; Ella, is the wife of Wm. J. Russell, of New York City.

William Richardson, and wife, Mary Myers, came from Catarangus County, N. Y., in 1837; kept hotel in Peru several years; bought a farm of Thomson, in the Brown settlement. South Ottawa, and dealt largely in cattle. He died July 13, 1854, of cholera, in Ottawa, aged 56. His widow is now the wife of Dr. Coles, of Ottawa. His children were: Wm. Capron, married A. Palmer, his second wife was Anna Hossack — he died May 9, 1868; Henry, married Sarah Benedict, died soon after; Susan, died single.

William Rouse came from New Orleans, in 1837; grocer; died in 1874.

John Aaron came from New Orleans; grocer; died in 1875.

Templates in Time