HISTORY OF DANA
By William Roth, Dist. 5
In the spring of 1873 the village of Dana was laid out by George
The men who gave the one hundred forty acres of land were John A. Bane, John M. Martin, Robert M. Clegg and Hugh Howell. They first named the town "Martin," after one of the early settlers. It was later called "Conklin," and then "Dana," its present name, after the superintendent of the Chicago, Pekin and Southwestern Railroad. This railroad, which ran through here before the town was built, was later purchased by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company. On June 11, 1873, Dana was incorporated, and Mr. Martin sold lots to the new settlers.
The first public building, the Christian church, was built in 1865. The graves of the deceased were near the church. These were later removed to the new cemetery at the southern edge of the village. In 1909 the old church was torn down and a large concrete block church was built. A Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1890 and rebuilt in 1915.
In 1871 Wright and Mumpower opened the first general store. The first residences to be built were by Dr. Reeder, Elias Frink and William Lane. The first grain elevator was built in 1872, by J. A. Martin and Henry Bedford. In 1873 George A. Sauer built a large elevator, which is now owned by C. B. Sauer. The first lumber yard was started by Jotham Martin and Henry Bedford. At present it is the property of L. M. Bayne, of Ottawa, Illinois. The first postmaster was P. A. Martin. A planing mill was built by W. W. Pritchett and G. W. Marshall, and was later sold to John B. Miller, who remodeled it into a small grist-mill.
The first drug stores were owned by Dr. W. R. Harvey and R. M. Pritchett. The former is now a restaurant in charge of R. E. Dickfoss. At that time the village also contained one lumber yard, two general stores, two grain dealing firms, barber shop, one hardware store, two restaurants, saloon, post office, one schoolhouse and a church.
On three or four corners there were kerosene lamps, and the officer of the town went around each night to light them; later they changed to gasoline lights; then in the year of 1923 the Public Service Company of Northern Illinois extended its power line to Dana. Concrete walks have taken the place of board walks; and gravel and oil have improved the streets.
In 1875 there was no schoolhouse, so the children went to a school one mile south of the village. Six years later a new schoolhouse was built, but was destroyed by fire and school was held in a store building until a new one was built, just east of it, which is the one being used at the present time. A two-year high school was held in the same building as the grade school until 1921, when a new high school was erected. The first commencement exercises for a high school were held in the old Crystal opera house in 1898.
On July 6, 1914, one grain elevator and ten store buildings were destroyed by fire, leaving just four frame buildings. The fire was caused by the explosion of an oil stove in a butcher shop.
The old stockyards in the north part of town, where many loads of stock were formerly shipped by rail, are used very little at this time as most stock is trucked into Chicago and Peoria by large trucks owned by Seggerman Transfer Company, of Dana.
In 1926 the Illinois state highway, route 45, was extended into Dana from route 17, connecting it with all important cities.
James McHenry, who was past ninety years old, and served two terms as mayor of Dana, was declared the oldest mayor in the United States through all the leading newspapers of the largest cities. His picture was taken with voice, and appeared in the latest news reels.
The present town board are: Mayor, William Roth; six aldermen, D. Ogilbee, R. E. Dickfoss, Fred Mattlin, J. J. Klesath, M. G. Burris and C. B. Sauer; clerk. K. W. Hakes, and treasurer, William Marston.
The population has increased sixty percent since 1880. A large brick high school and a grade school provide means of education for the children of the village and the country children nearby. Thirteen large brick and concrete buildings have been erected in the place of the old frame buildings destroyed by the fire. Modern homes have been built, and every home is provided with electricity, thus making quite an improvement over the early history of the village.