1877 History of La Salle County Illinois
Sketch of the Pioneer Settlers - Utica
Utica embraces that part of T. 33, R. 2, which, lies north of the Illinois
river, being about half a township; the river, which is the southern boundary,
running about due west near the center line of the town. There is a wide strip
of bottom land between the bluff and the river, most of it very valuable for
agriculture, but more so for the rich mineral wealth it contains. The beds of
hydraulic lime which here lie near the surface, and are easily accessible, are
the only ones found in the State, and the source of a large and valuable
This bottom land was the favorite resort of the Illinois Indians, who occupied it in great numbers, and both savage and civilized men have ever regarded it as a point of attraction, for its beautiful scenery, its rich soil, and mineral wealth. Old Utica was a town on the river first occupied by Simon Crosiar, and when the business was all done by river boats, was a commercial point of some importance, the boats arriving and departing with considerable regularity. It was regarded as the head of navigation, except at very high water when the boats ascended to Ottawa. But the building of the canal and the Rock Island Railroad, both along the foot of the bluff, on the opposite side of the valley, a mile distant, and the river boats all discharging at the basin at La Salle, dried up its sources of business, and it now stands like Goldsmith's deserted village. Instead of the panting of the river boat, its shrill note of arrival and departure, and the busy hum of the cheerful denizens of the embryo town on shore,
"Along its glades a solitary guest, The hollow sounding bittern guards its nest; Sunk are its bowers in shapeless ruin all, And the rank weeds o'ertop the crumbling wall."
But New Utica, a mile north, has taken its place. With the railroad and canal for transportation; its large manufacture of hydraulic lime, and sewer and drain tile, and export of St. Peter's sand for the manufacture of glass, with the large shipment of grain from Utica township, Waltham, and other towns on both sides of the river, the young town may well anticipate a successful future. But while it exults in its own prosperity it should remember the changes and mutations which attend towns and cities, as well as men, and heave a sigh for the disappointed anticipations which once clustered around its older rival.
Should the contemplated ship canal become a reality — a not improbable occurrence — and the business return to the river, Old Utica might arise from its ashes, and drop a tear for the blasted hopes of the New.
The town of Utica, with its wooded bluffs running nearly through its center, with the Percomsoggin, crossing its western portion, with Clark's Run and other points of timber piercing the prairie, was so well supplied with timber that it commenced settling at an early day.
Simon Crosiar was born near Pittsburgh, Pa.; his wife, Sarah Owen, was from Clermont County, Ohio. He left Pennsylvania in 1815, and went to Ohio, and was married in 1817; removed to Illinois and settled at Cap an Gray, in 1819, and removed to Calhoun County, where he remained until 1824, then to Peoria, and to Ottawa in 1826, where he put up a log cabin on the ravine near where S. W. Cheever now lives; resided there one year and then removed to the south side near the Bass rocks, where he remained about two years; removed to Shippingport in the fall of 1829; built a mill on Cedar creek, and removed there in 1831. He was Postmaster, and carried the mail to and from Peoria once a month. Sold the mill to Mr. Myers; built a saw-mill and carding machine on the Percomsoggin; started the saw-mill in the spring of 1833 and the carding machine in the fall after. Removed to Old Utica, on the north bank of the Illinois in 1834, kept a store and warehouse for storage and commission business, and for a time was Captain of a steamboat on the river. He died in November, 1846; his widow died in 1871.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Crosiar were bold, hardy and resolute, and well calculated for frontier life. Mrs. Crosiar told the writer many incidents of her pioneer life; she said she was not afraid of the Indians even when alone, unless they were drunk, but they were like white men when intoxicated, unreasonable and dangerous. On one occasion, during her husband’s absence, they came and wanted whisky; she had covered up the whisky barrel and told them she had no whisky; they told her she had, and went to uncover the cask; she then seized a hatchet and told them they should not have it if she had; they told her she was a brave squaw, but raised their tomahawks, and she was compelled to yield to numbers; they got the whisky and had a big drunk, but did not molest her.
Mr. Crosiar was an active participant in the Black Hawk war, and was one of the party that buried the victims of the Indian Creek massacre.
In his numerous removals he followed the rivers, transferring his family and effects in a keel boat, and frequently served as a pilot on the river. The latch string of the Crosiar cabin was always out, and many an early emigrant gratefully remembers their kindness and hospitality.
They had a large family of children, but they have all left except one. Amzi Croziar, the only child remaining here, married Miss Brown, and is an extensive farmer and prominent citizen of Utica.
Amzi Crosiar, brother to Simon, came from Pittsburgh, and settled on Sec. 36, near Shippingport, in 1826; came to Utica in 1833, and settled at the foot of the bluff on the south side of the river. He was killed by a runaway team in 1848.
James Clark, and wife, Charlotte Sargent, came from England, to Ohio, and from there here in 1833, and settled on S. 17. He was a contractor on the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and was the first to develop and manufacture hydraulic lime for the market from the Silurian strata of that neighborhood, conferring a great benefit upon the locality and the whole Northwest, and enriching himself. Mr. Clark has been Town Supervisor and member of the Legislature, and is now General Agent of the Consolidated Cement, or Hydraulic Lime manufacture of the West.
His children are: John, who married Julia, daughter of Truman Hardy; is living in Utica and is partner with his father, doing a large business; Charlotte, who married James B. Peckham, and lives in Utica.
Mr. Hudson, from Virginia, lived at Old Utica, about two years, and went back to Virginia in 1838.
Hiram Higby, from New Hartford, Ct., and wife, Frances M. Tamer, from Middlesex County, Ct., in 1836. Mr. Higby was the first Supervisor of the town of Utica. He died in 1864. Mrs. Higby died in 1854. Their children were: Arthur, deceased; William, deceased; Prances, the widow of Charles Powers; Thomas- Frederick, served in the 53d Regiment Illinois Volunteers, and died soon after his return; Helen M., married C. M. Buel; H. W., is a druggist in Utica; Julia, is deceased.
William Simmons came from Kentucky to Ohio, and to Ottawa in 1834; bought land in Utica at the sale in 1835, and made a farm on which he resided till his death, leaving one son and one daughter.
Edward Holland came from Clermont County, Ohio, in 1840; his wife was Eva Hess. He died in 1846, leaving eleven children. His widow married Henry Gorbet, who had fifteen children.
Zenas Dickinson, with his wife, Mabel Clark, came from Granby, Mass., in 1836, and settled on Section 10. Mrs. Dickinson died in August, 1846. Mr. Dickinson died in November, 1857.
Samuel Dickinson, son of Zenas, came from New York to Utica in 1835. He was a partner with Jas. Clark in a large contract on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, at Utica, and subsequently, for several years successively, captain of the steamboats Dial, La Salle, and Belle, running from the head of navigation of the Illinois to St. Louis. He went to California in 1850, and died there in 1851. He never married.
Zenas Clark Dickinson, also son of Zenas, came from Massachusetts with his father in 1836; settled on Section 10, where he still resides. His wife was Harriet Donaldson; they have six children — all at home.
Six sisters of Clark and Samuel came with the parents: Caroline, married Mr. Johnson, she is deceased; Cemantha, married Robert Shepherd, now a widow in Chicago; Amelia, married Mr. Wood, she is now deceased; Susan, married and lives in Chicago; Olive,' married Mr. Munger, in Montana; Margaret, married Mr. Fairchild, now in Indianapolis.
Ira Hartshorn, and wife, Joanna Burnham, came from Lisbon, Ct., to Madison County, K. Y., and from there here in 1836; moved his family in 1837, and settled on Section 6. He died in September, 1859; his widow died in 1875. Joshua P., married Jane Simon, now in Iowa; Erasmus D., married Marietta Meserve; Alfred I., married Terrena Culver, now in La Salle; Pliny, married Sarah Simonton, second wife, Amelia Dean — lives in Waltham; Calvert, married Anna Niles; Mary, married Frank Dean — her second husband, Eli Strawn, now of Buckley; Lucy, married Mosely Niles, of Buckley; Lydia, married Robert V. Dunnary, of Livingston County; Charles B., died in the army, at Pittsburg Landing.
Benjamin Hess, and wife, Barbara Ann Simeon, came to Illinois in 1833, and settled on the bluff north of Utica village. Mrs. Hess died in 1848, aged 75; Mr. Hess died in August, 1850, aged 77. Jeremiah, married Laura Sevins, and lives on the old farm; Benjamin, died in 1846; Susan, married Mr. Mulford, she is now deceased; Abram, married Mary E. Wallrod, and lives .at Utica; Eva, married Edward Holland, and had eleven children — second husband, Henry Grorbet; Elizabeth, married Mr. Wallace, and lives at Bureau Junction; Jemima, married Chester Hall, then of Ottawa — she is now deceased.