A glimpse into the life of Pekin pioneer William Haines

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in May 2014, before the launch of this weblog.

A glimpse into the life of Pekin pioneer William Haines

By Jared Olar
Library Assistant

Among the pioneer founders of Pekin was a man named William Haines, who is twice mentioned in the historical essay included in the 1870 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory, on page 9. Like many of the original settlers of Pekin, Haines came from Ohio.

Born on Sept. 13, 1801, he was the son of Joseph Haines, who came with his children to Tazewell County about 1828 and settled in Cincinnati Township. The first time the 1870 city directory mentions William Haines is in the story of the purchase and laying out of the town site that was to become Pekin.

“At the land sales at Springfield in the fall of 1828, the ‘Town Site’ was purchased by Maj. Cromwell for a company composed of himself, William Haines, William Brown, Thomas Snell, Peter Menard, Dr. Warner, A. Herndon and ____ Carpenter, of Sangamon county, and the purchase was divided in twelve parts. The question as to who should possess so important a piece of ground as the present location of Pekin created considerable excitement and the feeling rose to such a pitch at the land sale that pistols were drawn and bloodshed seem (sic) inevitable. The parties above mentioned, were successful, however, and the matter was amicably adjusted.”

Haines also appears several times in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County.” For instance, on page 244, Chapman tells of how Pekin was first designated as the county seat on Feb. 16, 1831, and county offices then were moved from Mackinaw to Pekin. “The Clerk’s office in Pekin,” Chapman says, “was located ‘in the upper room of William Haines’ corner building, occupied by William M. Farnsworth.′ The Court paid as rental for this room, where it also subsequently convened, $2 per month. These quarters were retained until Oct. 1, 1831, when the office was moved to Gideon Hawley’s room, where it remained for a month; . . . .

Then on page 563, Chapman quotes from the memoirs of Pekin pioneer settler Jacob Tharp, who wrote,
. . . Major Cromwell came in 1829, and bought out Dillon’s stock in trade . . . . In the same year, Hawley and William Haines built cabins in our town.” Chapman also quotes Tharp’s account of the surveying, platting and sale of Pekin in 1830 on pages 564-565, mentioning that Haines was one of the five original plat holders of Pekin.

Chapman also notes that Benjamin S. Prettyman married William’s daughter Sarah A. Haines in April 1845, while on page 643 of Chapman’s history is a brief biographical and genealogical sketch of William’s son Joseph. The sketch has this to say about William and his children:

″[Joseph] was born in Butler Co., O., and came to the county with his parents, William and Elizabeth (Wilson) Haines, also natives of Ohio, in the year, 1828. . . . William Haines, the father of the subject of this sketch, on coming to this county, located first at Pekin, and was one of the original proprietors. He died in that city in 1834, with the cholera. He owned, at the time of his death, all the lots fronting north on Court street, save two, of the original town of Pekin. . . . Mr. Haines, Sr., left a family of five children at his death, whose names were, Sarah Ann, now the wife of B. S. Prettyman of Pekin; Elizabeth Jane, many years deceased; Martha Ellen, who married John Gorage, of Ottumwa, Iowa, and died about the year 1872 or ’73 . . . ; Caroline Matilda, who married John M. Hedrick, of Ottumwa, Iowa, and is still living; the next, Mr. Joseph F. Haines, the subject of this sketch, is now living at Hainesville, a station on the P., P. & J. R. R., which derives its name from him . . . .” (Hainesville, today called Parkland, is southwest of Pekin in Spring Lake Township.)

As the sketch says, William’s life was cut short during the cholera epidemic of the summer of 1834 that killed many of the original settlers of Pekin. Some online genealogies state that William’s mother died in the same epidemic, William dying on July 10 and his mother on July 13. William’s father Joseph survived the epidemic, dying in Pekin in 1844.

Although William died just four years after Pekin’s founding, his younger brother James Haines, born Sept. 10, 1822, in Butler County, Ohio, lived to the age of 87, dying in Pekin on Sept. 11, 1909, making a big enough mark during his lifetime to warrant having his biography included in the 1873 Tazewell County atlas on page 55. James’ biographical sketch says he was the youngest child of Joseph and “Laura” Haines (other sources say his mother was named “Sarah”), and also notes that he was one of the commissioners appointed in 1849 by the Illinois General Assembly to build a courthouse in Pekin (the one that preceded the current courthouse).

Two other brothers of William and James were prominent in Pekin’s early history: Jonathan and Ansel, who went into business together to manufacture Jonathan’s patented invention, the Illinois Harvester. Their factory was located near Benson’s Maytag and James Field on Ninth Street, and James Haines later owned and lived in Jonathan’s former house that still stands at 412 S. Sixth St.

James’ older brother William figures in one other memorable episode from Pekin’s early history — the night the first steamboat came to Pekin (or the place that would later be named Pekin). This is the way the historical essay in the 1870 city directory tells the story:

“The first steamboat to ascend the Illinois river landed at ‘Town Site’ late in the fall of 1828. A steamboat was a novelty, or rather a mystery, to many of the early settlers. Coming up the river, the boat passed Kingston in the night. Hugh Barr, who lived near that point, heard it coming, and, being on rather unfriendly terms with the Indians, then quite numerous in the vicinity, concluded that it was some infernal contrivance of theirs to frighten or harm him. Seizing his gun and setting his equally bewildered dog at it, he pursued the offending mystery. The pilot, not being familiar with the channel, ran into Clifton’s lake. Finding no outlet, he had to back the boat out, which, Barr witnessing, drew off his dog, and though still hugely puzzled to know what manner of craft it was, gave up pursuit. William Haines then lived about where Behrens’ brick block, corner of Front and Court streets, now stands. Hearing the puff of the escaping steam, he hastily left his bed, and half dressed, crossed the street to Thomas Snell’s, now the Bemis House, called neighbor Snell out of bed and enquired as to what manner of creature was coming up the river. Snell replied: ‘I don’t know, Bill, but if I was on the Ohio river I would think it was a steamboat.’ Old father Tharp hearing the noise of the paddles and the steam whistle, thought it was Gabriel blowing his horn; that sure enough the end of the world had come in the night, and, calling up his family, engaged in prayer as a fitting preparation for the advent of a higher and better life.”

Shown here is an advertisement for James Haines’ insurance agency in downtown Pekin, from the April 13, 1860 Tazewell Republican newspaper. James Haines was the youngest brother of Pekin co-founder William Haines.

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Bates recalls Pekin’s ‘Early Times’

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

This week we return to Pekin’s pioneer historian William H. Bates, from whom we received most of our knowledge of Pekin’s early history. It was in the 1870-71 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory that Bates first historical sketch of Pekin was published, but Bates also told the stories of Pekin’s past in other places and venues, such as in booklets, pamphlets, and newspaper columns.

One of the ways that Bates told Pekin’s history was in a lengthy essay entitled “Early Times in Pekin and Tazewell County” that he wrote for a magazine called Shades’ Monthly in May 1913. That issue of the magazine was included in the 1914 Tazewell County Courthouse Cornerstone time capsule. Bates’ essay was reprinted in recent issues of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society Monthly (May 2017, pp.1911-1919, and June 2017, pp.1942-1946).

Bates’ essay bears a close resemblance to the historical sketch that he printed and reprinted over the years in his Pekin city directories. It’s also similar to a historical sketch that Bates wrote for his “Historical Souvenir to Commemorate the Dedication of the New Tazewell County Court House.” But in the Shades’ Monthly essay he varied his expression somewhat, and also included some details and anecdotes not found in the city directory account of Pekin’s past.

Following are some excerpts from Bates’ “Early Times” essay, telling of the original Native Americans inhabitants and the settlement of the site of Pekin by the first pioneers. Bates said one of his chief sources for the recollections of the site’s Native American inhabitants was a pioneer named Daniel C. Orr “who played around Shabbona’s wigwam.”

Pottawatomi leader Shabbona, shown in a daguerreotype printed in John Leonard Conger’s “History of the Illinois River Valley,” 1932.

“Yes, Pekin is located on historic ground. For unnumbered years prior to the coming of the white man, the red man held full sway; roaming from one favorable location to another, as fancy, convenience or war dominated him.

“Indian villages occupied high ground above the possibility of overflow by the floods, but were always near the streams, which gave the aborigine fishing and hunting privileges.

“The high ground, from the upper end of Pekin Lake to the southern limits of Pekin, was the home of a tribe of Pottawatomie Indians, under the leadership of Shabbona, an able chieftain, who gained the friendship and gratitude of the white pioneers by warnings and tribal protection, for which he was appropriately named ‘The White Man’s Friend.’ In the Indian war of 1832, because he refused to join Black Hawk, in an attempt to exterminate the ‘pale face,’ he had to seek refuge near his white friends in order to save his life.

“Shabbona, and his immediate followers, while in this vicinity, occupied the high ground near our present Gas Works, on what is today Main street, southward to a point near the present C. P. & St. L. [Railway’s] round house. . . .

“Jonathan Tharp was the first permanent white settler in ‘Town Site,’ the date being 1824. He located his crude log cabin near the family wigwams of Shabbona, just west of the present Franklin School.

“Jesse Eggman, a boon companion of Tharp, also located in ‘Town Site,’ the name the hunters and trappers had given the high bluff . . .

“‘Town Site,’ as seen by the pioneer settlers, was on the first ridge; then came ‘Bitzel’s Lake;’ then another sand ridge between Third and Fourth streets; then a succession of low places and ponds between Fourth and Fifth streets. One of these ponds, about where Albertsen & Koch’s store now stands, was a great resort for ducks. Mr. B. S. Hyers, the oldest Pekin merchant, now living, told the writer that he ‘shot many a mess of ducks at this pond.’

“Then came ridges and ponds for over a mile to the east until you had in view a beautiful body of water afterward named ‘Bailey Lake,’ at the foot of East Bluff . . . .

“Joseph, son of Jonathan Tharp, was the first male white child born in ‘Town Site,’ his natal day being March 10th, 1827. . . .

“In the fall of 1828, the first steam boat that ascended the Illinois river, created wild consternation. The Indians fled to the hills or dense timber. Near Kingston, where Jesse Eggman had established a ferry, one Hugh Barr, who had never seen a steam boat, hearing the hideous noise made by the escaping steam, and seeing the open fires under the boilers, which looked like two great eyes, at the weird hour of midnight, turned out with dog and gun and chased the ‘monster’ until it passed up the river. The small band of settlers who lived along our river front, were awakened from their peaceful slumbers by the grewsome (sic) noise. They gathered in groups and waited the approach of ‘the monster of the deep.’ Good, old Father [Jacob] Tharp gathered his family together for prayers, doubtless thinking that Gabriel was blowing the final call; and good Aunt Ruth Stark prayed the ‘All Wise One’ to have Gabriel call at Fort Clark (now Peoria) first, as they were ‘wickeder up there.’ . . . .”

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