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1877 History of La Salle County Illinois

Sketch of the Pioneer Settlers - Waltham

Township 34, Range 2, and the town of Waltham are in territory and boundaries identical. With the exception of a small grove on the Percomsoggin in the southwest part of the town, it is all prairie.

Thomas Burnham settled in the extreme southwest corner in 1834. Some others came in that locality in 1836, but the first on Waltham Ridge was Jones and others, in 1838, and it peopled slowly till after 1850, when it filled up rapidly in common with all the prairie towns. The principal part of the town is high, rolling and desirable land, and is mostly covered with first class improvements. The town has no railroad, but it has a good and convenient market at Utica and La Salle, sending its products to market by cheap canal transportation. There is a French settlement of considerable numbers in the northeast part of the town, and a number of Scotch in the northwest. Several of the early settlers on Waltham Ridge were from Waltham, Mass., hence the name.

Thomas Burnham, and wife, Climena Clark, of Granby, Mass., came from Lisbon, Ct., and settled on the Illinois bottom, opposite Rockwell, in July, 1833. The family were all sick. David Letts moved them to Cedar Point, where they made a claim. In September, 1834, he sold to Lewis Waldo and moved on to S. 30, T. 84, R. 2, now the town of Waltham. He filled the offices of Justice of the Peace and County Commissioner for several years. He died in May, 1845. He and his wife and aged father were buried on the farm, but have been removed to Oakwood Cemetery, La Salle, and a sister has placed a stone to their memory. Mr. Burnham was the first settler; erected the first dwelling, broke the first prairie, and raised the first crop in the town of Waltham. He left two sons: John, the first male child, born in Waltham, married Sarah Lathrop, and lives at Buckley, 111. Thomas was killed at the battle of Peach Tree creek.

Hannah Burnham, sister of Thomas, now the oldest settler in the town, lives with Alfred I. Hartshorn, aged 70. She came with her brother, in 1833.

Stephen A. Jones, from Waltham, Mass., in 1837; settled on S. 8, T. 34, R. 2; is still living where he first settled. He married Catharine Brewster, of Pawlet, Vt., in 1862; has two sons and one daughter, Willie, Fanny and Charles, all at home.

Zaccheus Farrell came with Jones from Waltham, Massachusetts; settled on S. 4, in J838. He went East to be married in 1840, and was accidentally shot.

George Nye, from Plainfield, Connecticut, one of the Rockwell colony; settled on S. 4, in 1840; died 1865. His widow now lives in Homer. One son in Iowa, and one daughter, the wife of William Dana, is in Waltham.

John Hill, and wife, from Plainfield, Connecticut, in 1840, now at Troy Grove.

Joseph Fullerton, from Waltham, Massachusetts, in the spring of 1838. Settled on S. 5, T. 34, R. 2; a bachelor; he died at Troy Grove in 1839.

Barzillai Bishop came from Connecticut; his wife was Elizabeth Allen, from Lisbon, Connecticut; settled on S. 29 in 1836; died soon after.

Isaac H. Lamb came in 1888, and settled on S. 32.

Joseph Meserve, and wife, Betsey Wood, from Maine to New York, and from New York here in 1840. His children are c Henry, who married Amelia Harkness, lives at Buckley, 111.; Willis, in Nebraska; Manning, married Elizabeth Coll, now of Nebraska; Marietta, married Mr. Hartshorn.

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