VILLAGE OF LELAND
By Loretta Wright, Dist. 319.
The first settlements in the vicinity of Leland were made as early as
1837 and '38. However, there were few persons located here before the
railroad was built. This was due to the flat, swampy condition of the land,
which had never been drained.
Tobias Satter, an old settler of Leland, also the only old Civil war veteran living there now, tells of the time when you could put your skates on at your door and skate from pond to pond until you reached Indian creek without touching land. This was a distance of eight and one-half miles.
The town was started when they made the survey for the railroad. Its location is above the surrounding country, and this fact, with others, induced the people nearby to survey and lay out a village.
Some of these persons were Christopher Fuerborn, his brother Henry and the Whitmore brothers. All these men owned land but Christopher Fuerborn was the only man living on the land at that time. The survey was made by J. H. Wagner and is recorded June 24, 1853. The town was called Whitfield.
When the railroad erected their freight houses and passenger houses, they named the station Waverly and under that name a post office was established. Because there was another post office by this name in Morgan county there was a petition made by the residents of Waverly Station to change the name.
Due to the fact that the postmaster's name was John Leland Adams, the name Leland was proposed and was accepted in 1864. The town is still known by that name.
The first store was opened in 1853 by Abraham Skinner. The store stood on the south side of the railroad. Mr. Skinner ran the store until his death, in 1855. The first mechanic was Elias Hanson, who opened a blacksmith shop in 1854. The same year the second store was erected.
Before the first grain warehouse was built in 1853, the men hauled their grain to Chicago. Companies were formed where several wagons went together. The trip required six days.
The grain warehouse was chiefly used by the farmers to store their grain in for an autumn shipment. The lower part was used as a freight depot, and this was the only building for grain for several years.
From 1853 to 1860 the growth of the village was very slow. That year a good trade was maintained until the disastrous fire in 1886. The fire burned most of the business part of the town and stopped its progress quite a bit, from which it has never recovered.