ALMOST A CITY
By Romaine Tyrrell, Dist. 316.
As people's hopes are sometimes shattered, so it was with the expectation
of the early settlers that founded the village of Northville. This little
village consisted of seven houses; a schoolhouse, a church, a blacksmith
shop, a wagon shop, and a doctor's office. There was a store, post office
and a dwelling place all in one. The doctor's office, the church, and three
of the houses are gone now.
My great-grandfather, John Tyrrell, brought his wife there as a bride and she lived there the rest of her life. They had eleven children. Four of them, Mrs. A. Weller, Mrs. W. Gletty, Mrs. F. Gletty and Mr. C. P. Tyrrell, still live. My great-grandfather worked for Mrs. Finnly in the blacksmith shop and later he bought it. It stands on the corner. There are two of the forges left and the bench vise is still there. There were two blacksmiths besides himself and two helpers working in the shop. They did all kinds of blacksmith work. The work was brought here from many miles.
Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Tyrrell, my grandparents, are living in one of the old places. On their land are several small hollows where the cellars of some of the houses that are gone were. They bought the place of Mr. Ballou.
Rev. Geo. McKinley, the pastor of the church forty-eight years ago, married my grandparents. Fourteen years ago he married two of my aunts and twelve years ago he baptized two of my cousins and myself. He died last June at Peotone.
My great-grandfather made tables for the basement of the church. My grandmother and one of my aunts each have one of the tables. My grandmother also has one of the pews which was in the church. She sang in the choir and also was the organist.
The schoolhouse is where my grandparents and my father got their education. My cousin is going there now. It used to be east of where my grandather lives now, but when they built the new one they built it south of the church, "right up in the town." When my grandparents went there, there were seventy pupils. They used benches and double seats. The ones that didn't have many books sat on benches. They sat two of the little children in one seat and sometimes three sat in one of the double seats.
One of our friends told about once when he went to school there about fifty years ago. The boys chewed tobacco in school time. They had inkwells then so they would spit the tobacco juice in them. The teacher caught them at it once and then he made them stop it. One day when he went for dinner the boys took the stove poker and got it red hot (this was in the winter), then they burnt a hole in the floor by their desks so they could spit in that. He also told that when they would do anything the teacher would hit the palm of their hand with a ruler as hard as he could, to punish them.
The doctor's office and house were south of the schoolhouse. The doctor was Mr. David.
The store was next. Jim Powell owned the store; in 1864 Mr. and Mrs. John Culmer bought it. They owned it for thirty-seven years. Then Mr. Culmer died and Mrs. Culmer sold the store. She and her family moved away. They used to run the post office, too. At one time the stagecoach went through here and left the mail, and later when the railroad was built, it was brought over from Sheridan by horse and buggy and then taken back, until they had free delivery. The old store is standing yet and is used as a dwelling house. The large front windows still there are evidence that a store was here at one time. Mrs. Culmer died at her daughter's in Somonauk, March 30, 1932.
South of the store was the restaurant; it was run by Mrs. Barby. She served lunches and also alcoholic drinks. It has been removed years ago.
The first time S. P. Dickson went through Northville he was driving a team of oxen. He had a well-digging outfit with him. Later he made his home here. He is one of the few old settlers living there now.
This little town has been like some people's lives. They are prosperous at first, but as they get older they fail. So it has been with Northville. If the railroad had gone through
there, instead of five miles north, at Somonauk, or about four miles southeast, at Sheridan, it would have become a town that would have made early dreams come true.