T. C. Reeves’ grocery store

By Jared L. Olar

Local History Specialist

For the next installment in our series on the downtown Pekin businesses included in the collection of 1870s business cards we’ve been featuring here at “From the History Room,” we turn to an old grocery store that once existed in the first 300 block of Court Street.

The business card says the grocery store was owned and operated by a certain T. C. Reeves. The card gives the store’s address simply as on Court Street, on the opposite side of the street from First National Bank. The 1870-71 Sellers & Bates City Directory of Pekin says that bank was on the south side of Court, between Third and Capitol. That would indicate Reeves’ grocery store was on the north side of Court.

The grocery store of Thomas C. Reeves, Pekin businessman and sometime Pekin Mayor and Tazewell County Sheriff, is shown on this business card from the early 1870s.

That doesn’t agree with the information in the 1861 Root’s City Directory of Pekin, where we find the following entry:

“REEVES THOMAS C., wholesale and retail dealer in groceries, provisions, and liquors, Court, ss., 4th d. e. Third ; res. ne cor. of Capitol and St. Mary.”

That would mean the grocery store was on the same side of Court as the bank – or at least it was in 1861.

This advertisement for Thomas C. Reeves’ grocery store was printed on page 29 of the 1861 Root’s City Directory of Pekin.

After 1861, Reeves appears in only two more Pekin city directories. In the 1870-71 directory, we find, “REEVES T. C., merchant and auctioneer ; res ne cor Capitol and Elizabeth,” and in the 1876 directory, we find, “Reeves Thomas, auctioneer, res nw cor St. Marys and Capitol.” Reeves is not in the 1887 directory nor in any subsequent directories.

Long-time readers of this weblog may recall that we have previously delved into the life of Thomas C. Reeves (1813-1896) here. It was only last summer that we recalled the historical records that tell of Reeves and his family. As we noted then, Reeves was one of the Old Settlers of Tazewell County, and he is chiefly known for his service as Pekin Mayor in 1864 and as the first man to serve four terms as Tazewell County Sheriff (1854-1856, 1858-1860, 1870-1872, 1872-1874).

But apart from his service in local public office, Reeves was also active as a Pekin businessman, as the business card for his grocery store shows. The 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County” includes a biographical sketch of Reeves’ life, which describes his activities as a merchant and businessman as follows:

“In October, 1852, he commenced keeping hotel at the Tazewell House, and kept the same up to the time of being elected to the sheriff’s office in 1858. In the spring of 1860 he bought out a dry goods store in Pekin, and besides carrying on the store he turned his attention to grain buying, closing up that business after one year’s trial, and devoted his attention to the grocery business. Two years after he opened a boot and shoe store, and did considerable business in the way of manufacturing those articles. He subsequently devoted his attention to merchant tailoring and the drug business. It is said that he kept the two largest establishments of the latter class of business ever kept in Pekin.”

The dry goods store that he purchased in 1860 is the one shown in the 1861 city directory, and is apparently the same one shown on the 1870s business card.

Reeves’ disappearance from Pekin city directories after 1876 is due to the fact that he and his family left Illinois in the late 1870s. The 1880 U.S. Census shows him as a farmer in Fremont, Kansas, with his second wife Caroline, 33, and their son James T. Reeves, 13.

Reeves died in Kansas in 1896 at the age of 82. His son James died at the age of 44 on Jan. 22, 1911, and his widow, James’ mother, survived them both until 1922. All three are buried in Rosean Cemetery in Emporia, Kansas.

#caroline-jones-reeves, #james-t-reeves, #old-settlers, #pekin-businesses, #pekin-history, #t-c-reeves, #t-c-reeves-grocery-store, #tazewell-county-old-settlers, #thomas-c-reeves

Tazewell County ‘Old Settler’ Ann Eliza Kellogg

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

Tazewell County ‘Old Settler’ Ann Eliza Kellogg

By Jared Olar

Local History Specialist

In the late 1800s it was somewhat common for local historians to compile and publish collections of biographies of the notable people then living in the area. Such a publication often would be called a “portrait and biographical record.” There was one for Tazewell and Mason counties in 1894.

Given the culture of the day, naturally we find that most, sometimes all, of the biographies in these books were of prominent men. It’s somewhat interesting, then, that the extended biographies of the “Old Settlers of Tazewell County” found in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County” include several of the county’s prominent women.

One of those women whose biography is featured among the “Old Settlers” was Ann or Anna Eliza (Hawley) Kellogg. Her biography, on page 75 of the “Atlas Map,” consists of two paragraphs:

“Mrs. Anna Eliza Kellogg, the subject of this sketch, was born in Tazewell county, Ill., January 7, 1827. She is the daughter of Gideon and Elizabeth Hawley, who were among the first white settlers of Tazewell county. Mr. Hawley was a native of the state of Vermont, and Mrs. Hawley of Kentucky. They were both good and useful citizens, and did as much to settle and improve Tazewell county as any other citizens. They passed through many hard and trying times and experienced a great many privations, which, however, turned out for the benefit of others. They raised a large and respectable family of children, nine in number, five of whom they have had the misfortune to bury; four are now good and useful citizens of Illinois and Iowa. Mr. Hawley, after living a long and useful life, died in October, 1852. Mrs. Hawley still survives, and is now a resident of Iowa.

“Mrs. Kellogg is supposed to be the third white child born in Tazewell county, consequently she has been identified with the county all her life. She received her early education in the common schools of Tazewell county, which at that day were very meagre. In March, 1843, she was joined in marriage to Mr. William Anderson, who was a kind and affectionate husband for about fifteen months, and then departed this life, leaving his wife the mother of one infant child, who soon followed its father. On July 23d, 1845, Mrs. Anderson was again joined in marriage to Robert Kellogg, her present husband. Mr. Kellogg was born in Columbia county, New York, in 1818, and emigrated to Illinois, and settled in Tazewell county, in 1836. Mrs. Kellogg has seen Tazewell county emerge from almost a wilderness to be one of the proud and heavily populated counties in the great state of Illinois. Mrs. K. is a woman of clear intellect, and has always been industrious and economical, and has done her part to make life a success. She is well and favorably known for her charity and benevolence to both the church and the great human family. She has taken great pains in raising her family and preparing them for future usefulness. She is held in high estimation for her many good qualities by all who enjoy her acquaintance, and she is a most excellent lady and citizen.”

Curiously, Ann Eliza’s biography does not mention where she lived, but the “Atlas Map” elsewhere lists her second husband Robert as a farmer in Section 32 of Dillon Township, south of Dillon on the southern border of the township.

This detail from the 1873 map of Dillon Township shows the farmstead of Robert and Anna Eliza Kellogg in the southwest of the township. Their farm in Section 32 was several miles east of Green Valley.

Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “Tazewell County History,” page 420, includes a brief biography of Ann Eliza’s brother Norman C. Hawley, born June 6, 1837 in Cincinnati Township. Chapman writes that Norman’s father Gideon “was a native of Vermont, and his mother, Elizabeth (Caldwell) Hawley, was born in Kentucky. This couple came to the State in 1819, and were among the earliest settlers in Tazewell county.

Chapman also notes that at the time of Jacob Tharp’s arrival in Dec. 1825, Gideon Hawley was “living on the Mackinaw side of Sand Prairie.” In the spring of 1830, Hawley was one of the four men who surveyed and platted the town site of Pekin. Hawley was also one of the first settlers of Sand Prairie Township, and “died on the farm where Jas. Hamson now lives,” Chapman writes.

Hawley family histories relate that Gideon Hawley was born Aug. 13, 1797, in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, a son of Gideon and Levina (Darrow) Hawley. He died Oct. 16, 1852, in Sand Prairie Township, and is buried in Hawley Cemetery, which is located several miles south of Pekin off South 14th Street.

As for Anna Eliza’s husband Robert, he died April 15, 1896. Anna Eliza date of death is uncertain, but she must have died before the 1880 U.S. Census, because the census that year lists Robert as a “widower.” He and Anna Eliza had three sons and three daughters: William L. (born Oct. 22, 1849, in Tazewell County, died in 1929 in Muscatine, Iowa),  Mary E., Charles E., Fannie, Laura, and Albert.

#albert-kellogg, #ann-eliza-kellogg, #anna-eliza-kellogg, #charles-e-kellogg, #dillon-township, #elizabeth-caldwell-hawley, #elizabeth-hawley, #fannie-kellogg, #gideon-hawley, #jacob-tharp, #james-hamson, #laura-kellogg, #levina-darrow-hawley, #mary-e-kellogg, #norman-c-hawley, #old-settlers, #preblog-columns, #robert-kellogg, #sand-prairie-township, #tazewell-county-history, #tazewell-county-old-settlers, #william-anderson, #william-l-kellogg

Margaret Wilson Young’s pioneer narrative

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

Margaret Wilson Young’s pioneer narrative

By Jared Olar

Library assistant

Several of the pioneer settlers of Tazewell County left written memoirs of varying length that provide us with valuable information on the early years of the county. For instance, the writings of Nathan Dillon tell us much of how the land that was soon to become Tazewell County was settled, while the diary of Jacob Tharp is one of the earliest and most important sources for information on the founding and early history of Pekin.

Another pioneer whose memories of Tazewell’s early years fortunately were written down was Margaret L. Wilson Young (1818-1901), daughter of Tazewell County pioneers Seth and Sarah Wilson. “Grandma Young,” as she was known, is buried with her husband John Stillman Young (1816-1880) in Haynes Cemetery (also called Rankin Cemetery) in Cincinnati Township.

Not long before her death on Dec. 27, 1901, a narrative of her life on the central Illinois prairie during the 1820s and 1830s was obtained. At the time she was the oldest living pioneer in Tazewell County. Her memories were published by Ben C. Allensworth in his 1905 “History of Tazewell County,” pages 699-701. Following are excerpts from her narrative.

“I was born in Green County, Ohio, Jan. 14, 1818, and am a little older than Illinois is as a State. My father was Seth Wilson. I came to this county in the fall of 1820 with my parents, when I was two years of age. We came to Sangamon County in 1820 and in February, 1825, we moved from Sangamon to this county. The first night after we reached the county we stayed at Nathan Dillon’s. The house we built was near the residence where Peter Unsicker now lives. Finding, however, that we had located on a school section, father came to where I now live, Section 17, Elm Grove Township, and built a second house which has been moved to the spot where I now live. Father made rails with which he fenced in ten acres of ground, and raised corn enough to last us through the season until the next crop should come in. We had to go to Elkhart and to Springfield for our dry-goods. . . . There was no money in those days; there was merely an exchange of those things which other people had and we did not have. We made our clothing from flax and linen which we raised ourselves. We had no leather shoes, we went barefooted most of the time. We got along the best we could. Father was a saddler by trade and could have made us shoes, but there was no leather to be had. . . .

“The families of John and George Cline were our nearest neighbors, they moved by us when we came from Sangamon County. George lived near where the Sugar Grove school house now is, and John lived about half a mile from where Leslie now is. . . . There were no doctors closer to us than Peoria at that time. When people got sick they doctored themselves. I remember a man by the name of Turner, an entire stranger, stopped at the house of Francis Cullom, who then lived where John Summers now lives, and taken seriously sick. A doctor was sent for to come from Peoria, and upon arrival wanted to know of Cullom why he had sent for him to see a dying man; and Mr. Cullom replied that the man was a stranger and they thought it no more than right they should do their best to save his life. The doctor laid down and, some little time later, when the sick man became aroused from a stupor and showed some signs of life, the doctor was called and they seemingly recognized each other as members of some fraternal order. The doctor then took off his coat and proceeded to do all he could to save the man’s life. His efforts were successful, and Turner, who lived for a number of years afterwards, was a Justice of the Peace in the neighborhood. This was before the deep snow.

“I remember very distinctly the time of the deep snow. The weather before this had been cloudy for some days, and I and my brother and sister went to the school house by John Cline’s place. The snow commenced falling in the morning in the latter part of December, 1830, and must have been 18 inches deep before night. Father came after us, but missed us on the road. Snow kept falling until it was three feet or more on the level, and the tops of stakes on the rail fences in many places could just be seen. It occasioned great inconvenience. The crops had not been gathered; people had to take horses with a sack and ride in the corn field and husk out corn enough to supply present needs. . . .

“There was a great deal of wild game when we first came here, but there was not very much after the deep snow. Wild turkeys could get nothing to eat, and neither could the deer, and they perished in great numbers. Father used to chain his dogs to keep them from slaughtering the deer – the dogs could run on top of the snow crust, while the deer with sharp hoofs would sink through and become an easy prey to the dogs that might be loose. . . .

“In July 1834 there was a serious epidemic of cholera. Seven out of Mr. Haines’ family went with the cholera, and seven from Thomas Dillon’s. A man by the name of Hiner went to Pekin, and said if there was any cholera there he was going to see it. He saw it – he died.

“When we first came here there were a great many Indians here. The Indians were scattered all around over the country, they had no particular place at which the staid any length of time. They did their trading at Wesley City. A trail ran right along the west side of our farm from Wesley City to the Mackinaw. They were the Pottawatomie Indians. They were peaceable. An Indian by the name of Shimshack was their chief. I do not know where they had their burial grounds. They had some trouble among themselves at Wesley City, which resulted in the death of a squaw. They took her over into Peoria County to bury her. They put her in the ground in sitting posture with the top of her head just even with the surface. Jonathan Tharp said that he saw her three times while the body was frozen in that position. They buried a butcher knife, a piece of dried venison and a bottle of whiskey with her.”

In this Find-A-Grave photograph is shown the gravestone of Margaret Wilson Young, who is buried with her husband John Stillman Young (1816-1880) in Haynes Cemetery (also called Rankin Cemetery) in Cincinnati Township.

#cholera-epidemic, #deep-snow, #francis-cullom, #george-cline, #grandma-young, #john-cline, #john-stillman-young, #john-summers, #jonathan-tharp, #margaret-wilson-young, #nathan-dillon, #old-settlers, #peter-unsicker, #pottawatomi, #preblog-columns, #sarah-wilson, #seth-wilson, #shimshack, #thomas-dillon

Thomas C. Reeves, Tazewell County Old Settler

By Jared L. Olar
Library Assistant

One of the most valuable and useful features of Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County” is that it includes chronological lists and even election vote tallies of the counties elected officials and appointed office holders. In those lists, the name of one particular early settler of Tazewell County appears several times: the Hon. Thomas C. Reeves (1813-1896).

Reeves first appears on page 615 of Chapman’s history, in the “Officials of Pekin City” list, where we find him as Fourth Ward Alderman in 1859, and then in 1864 as the 11th Mayor of Pekin (the city mayor served single-year terms in those days). On pages 616-617, Reeves is listed as Pekin’s City Assessor in 1857 and 1864. Further on in Chapman’s book, on page 713 we find Reeves serving four times as Tazewell County Sheriff, first from 1854 to 1856, then from 1858 to 1860, and finally two consecutive terms from 1870 to 1874.

Sheriff Reeves last appears in Chapman’s history on page 716, in the tally of Tazewell County election returns. On that page we find the vote tallies for the election of Nov. 5, 1872, when Reeves, a Republican, defeated his opponents J. S. Briggs, a Liberal Republican, and William Knott, the Democrat. The Republican Party had suffered a split that year resulting in the formation of a third party, the Liberal Republicans, but despite the split in the Republican vote, the county was so solidly Republican that Knott garnered a mere 262 votes, while Reeves handily defeated Briggs by a vote of 2,545 to 1,941. (Incidentally, as we shall see further on, Reeves was himself the very first member of the Republican Party in Tazewell County.)

Reeves’ successful career in Pekin and Tazewell County politics would indicate that he was a highly accomplished and capable man. That is borne out by the biographical sketch of his life that was included in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County,” which features laudatory biographies and genealogies of the “Old Settlers” of Tazewell County. Reeves’ biography is found on page 43 of the Atlas Map volume, which also, on page 121, shows the location of Reeves’ extensive farmstead in Sections 11 and 12 of Spring Lake Township, due east of the town of Hainesville (today known as Parkland).

This detail from an 1873 map of Spring Lake Township shows the farm of Tazewell County Sheriff Thomas C. Reeves, located due east of Hainesville (today called Parkland).

The biographical sketch identifies Reeves as “a native of Rowan county, North Carolina. He was born December 15, 1813, and is the sixth of a family of twelve children of James and Deborah (Chum) Reeves.” The father, James Reeves, had been born near Salisbury, Maryland, but moved to Rowan County as a young man. In the spring of 1815, James led his family “over the Cumberland mountains to middle Tennessee, and settled on Stone river, where he improved a large farm near the town of Murfreesboro.”

The sketch explains that, although James Reeves relied on slave labor for his farm work, his conscience as an Episcopalian Christian was troubled by slavery, so he freed his slaves and took his family to the free state of Illinois, “not being desirous of raising his large family under the influence of slavery.” The Reeves family – including the son Thomas – arrived in Springfield on Christmas Day 1829, wintering in Sangamon County, then heading north to Tazewell County, where they arrived on March 3, 1830. James established their farmstead on the Mackinaw River near Wagenseller’s Bridge. James’ wife Deborah died in 1831, and James died in the spring of 1856.

The biographical sketch then turns to James’ son Thomas:

“Thomas C. Reeves, the subject of this sketch, received his early education in the schools of Tennessee, what at that time were rather meagre. He assisted in carrying on the farm until the death of his mother, after which he became an apprentice to learn the carpenter trade, which business he followed about twenty-six years. . . . Mr. T. C. Reeves also learned the millwright trade.

“In 1835 he returned from Springfield to Tazewell county, which has since been the arena of his career. In February, 1840, he was married to Miss Mary Jane, the only daughter of Benjamin N. Doolittle. By that union they had four children, one of whom died in infancy; their second daughter is the wife of William Delany. Mr. Reeves assisted to build some of the first houses in the town of Tremont. Mrs. Reeves died in the spring of 1861. Mr. R. was subsequently married to Miss Caroline Jones, of Peoria county. Said marriage occurred in December, 1865. By that union they had one son.

“In speaking of the political record of Mr. Reeves, we find him, from his earliest youth, a supporter of the principles of the whig party. His first vote for president was for General Harrison in the contest of 1836. He voted for every whig candidate for president up to the dissolution of that party. In 1854 Mr. Reeves was elected, by a large majority, sheriff of Tazewell county, and re-elected to the same office in 1858. After the expiration of the latter term, Mr. Reeves retired for awhile to private life.

“In October, 1852, he commenced keeping hotel at the Tazewell House, and kept the same up to the time of being elected to the sheriff’s office in 1858. In the spring of 1860 he bought out a dry goods store in Pekin, and besides carrying on the store he turned his attention to grain buying, closing up that business after one year’s trial, and devoted his attention to the grocery business. Two years after he opened a boot and shoe store, and did considerable business in the way of manufacturing those articles. He subsequently devoted his attention to merchant tailoring and the drug business. It is said that he kept the two largest establishments of the latter class of business ever kept in Pekin.

“On the formation of the republican party he was the first to identify himself with its principles in Tazewell county. He voted twice for Abraham Lincoln, with whom he was personally acquainted; and during the war Mr. Reeves was a firm supporter of the Union cause. In the fall of 1870, the people of Tazewell county, for the third time, elected Mr. Reeves to the office of sheriff, and re-elected him to the same office in 1872. He is still the present incumbent. He is the only man whom the citizens of Tazewell county have honored with four terms of the sheriff’s office. Since his residence in the city of Pekin he has, at different times, served as alderman, marshal, and assessor of the city. In 1864 he was elected mayor of Pekin, filling that office with ability and general satisfaction to all. The many official positions to which he has been called by the franchises of his fellow-citizens, will of itself attest the warm appreciation in which he is held by the people with whom he had been so long associated.”

The sketch concludes with a very positive description of Reeves’ appearance, personality, and character. We must turn to other sources to learn about the remainder of Reeves’ life. Despite his long and successful career in local business and politics, for an unknown reason at some point in the latter 1870s Reeves decided to leave Illinois and strike out west. The 1880 U.S. Census shows him as a farmer in Fremont, Kansas, with his second wife Caroline, 33, and their son James T. Reeves, 13.

Reeves died in Kansas in 1896 at the age of 82. His son James died at the age of 44 on Jan. 22, 1911, and his widow, James’ mother, survived them both until 1922. All three are buried in Rosean Cemetery in Emporia, Kansas.

For more information on the genealogy of Thomas C. Reeves and other branches of the Reeves family, see The Reeves Project.

#abraham-lincoln, #benjamin-n-doolittle, #caroline-jones-reeves, #deborah-chum-reeves, #hainesville, #j-s-briggs, #james-reeves, #james-t-reeves, #mary-jane-doolittle, #old-settlers, #parkland, #tazewell-county-republican-party, #thomas-c-reeves, #wagensellers-bridge, #william-delany, #william-knott

William W. Sellers, publisher and politician

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in July 2012 before the launch of this weblog.

William W. Sellers, publisher and politician

By Jared L. Olar
Library assistant

The foundation of Pekin’s historical record was laid in 1870, with the publication of the Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory. As noted more than once in this column, included in that directory was a “History of Pekin, from its earliest settlement to the present time.”

The 1870 directory billed itself as “the first history and directory of the city.” The conjunction “and” is important – it was not the first city directory (that was the 1861 Roots directory), but it does contain the first published history of Pekin. If not for the Sellers & Bates directory, our knowledge of Pekin’s early history would be greatly impoverished.

But just who were “Sellers & Bates, Printers,” to whom researchers into our local history owe such a great debt? We first answered the “Bates” part of that question in the March 17, 2012 Pekin Daily Times, in the column, “William H. Bates of Pekin, ‘the historian of the city.’

Bates was the younger half of the printing and publishing partnership of Sellers & Bates. Sellers was William W. Sellers of Pekin, a newspaper publisher and Republican politician (there was no clear line separating the two roles in those days, even as the line between journalism and politics is obscured in our day) who enjoyed a fair degree of local prominence.

The entries for William Sellers and his printing firm, Sellers & Bates, in the 1870 Pekin City Directory which his business produced and published.

Sellers briefly appears in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” p.723, in Chapman’s account of Tazewell County’s early newspapers. One of them was the Tazewell County Republican, of which Chapman writes, “. . . Wm. W. Sellers got a hold of it, in 1863 or ’64. He made it a red-hot Republican organ and one of the best papers published in the Northwest. He was a shrewd able writer and could turn the English language into a two-edge sword when in a wordy conflict with an opponent. He conducted it until his death, which occurred Dec. 15, 1872. It was then conducted by his administrators for a short time, when Jacob R. Riblett and Wm. H. Bates purchased it.

Shown is an advertisement for the Tazewell County Republican newspaper from the 1870 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory. The Tazewell County Republican was owned and published by William W. Sellers.

The reference to Sellers’ death in 1872 explains why Sellers’ name dropped from the title of subsequent editions of the Pekin City Directory. The business partnership of Sellers & Bates was ended by Sellers’ untimely death, after which Bates continued to publish the directories alone.

The “Atlas Map of Tazewell County, Illinois” was published about 1873. The atlas includes several lengthy biographies of the “Old Settlers of Tazewell County,” all of them laden with fulsome praise of their subjects. On page 43 is a biography of Sellers that reads more like a funeral eulogy than a proper biography, but which nevertheless records all of the highlights of his life.

Sellers, the biography says, “was born May 19, 1833, in Mercersburg, Franklin county, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of a family of six children of Michael and Phoebe (Walker) Sellers. He is descended from one of the old and prominent families of eastern Pennsylvania. His early culture was received in the schools of his native town. His rare and eminent natural qualities, coupled with his active and studious mind, led him on to that success which, as a public man and journalist, he acquired in his after career.

Sellers went into journalism in the early 1850s as assistant editor of the Chambersburg Repository, but at age 22 he moved to McConnellsville, Pa., and became the owner and publisher of the Fulton Republican. “He was married July 8, 1856, in Indianola, Iowa, to Miss Lide Smith, with whom he first became acquainted in his native town.” They had five children. After their marriage, they returned to McConnellsville, where Sellers continued to publish the Fulton Republican. He also was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature.

Sellers settled in Pekin in November 1863 and soon after purchased the Tazewell County Republican. “The county was largely democratic at this time, but owing to the herculean labors of this gifted journalist, we may largely account for the political revolution of 1872, when we find, for the first time in its political record, that the county was republican,” his biography says.

Sellers was elected mayor of Pekin in 1865, but he resigned in the fall of 1866 after winning election as a representative in the Illinois General Assembly. Besides the elective offices he held, the biography states that Sellers also “was appointed, by President Grant, postmaster of the city of Pekin, which position he held until his death, which occurred at his residence on the 15th of December, 1872. His amiable and accomplished wife is still continuing the paper which was so ably conducted by her husband.

Somewhat remarkably for that era, after Sellers’ death, President Grant appointed Sellers’ widow as “postmistress of Pekin.” “The appointment meets the approbation of the citizens of Pekin, and it is well conducted through her management,” the biography says.

In tribute to Sellers’ journalism, his biography comments, “It is a well-established fact in the minds of our intelligent citizens, that the press is the most potent agency for good or evil in Christendom. The same is true in state or municipal affairs. Every city owes its progress, in a great measure, to its press. Newspapers are now becoming the vehicle of thought, as well as the means of heralding the virtues of every people and the beauties of every locality to the world. In respect to these facts, Pekin was indeed benefited by the short but incessant labors of William W. Sellers.

This color advertisement for Sellers & Bates Printers, a Pekin business located in an upstairs office on the south side of Court Street four doors east of Third Street, features the business trademark. Sellers & Bates produced the 1870 Pekin City Directory, in which this ad was run.

#1870-pekin-city-directory, #celestial-city, #celestials, #old-settlers, #pekin-daily-bulletin, #pekin-history, #pekin-mayors, #sellers-and-bates, #tazewell-county-republican-newspaper, #the-bulletin, #william-h-bates, #william-sellers, #william-w-sellers

Westerman’s Rose Villa and the Herget Mansion

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Recently we highlighted the somewhat tense and at times colorful relationship that noted Pekin distiller Henry P. Westerman (1836-1922) had with the local press. As we previously recalled, at one point Pekin editor and printer (and the city’s first historian) William H. Bates “was threatened at his very domicile by H. P. Westerman, the old head of the Pekin whiskey ring,” as the Peoria Journal mentioned on Nov. 3, 1881.

Westerman was of course known for much more than evading the federal whiskey tax and threatening the lives of newspaper editors. In fact, he and his wife Mary were prominent and influential members of the community, as one might gather from Westerman’s extensive and laudatory biography which was included in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County,” page 38, among that publication’s lives of the “Old Settlers” of the county.

Another unmistakable sign of the Westermans’ exalted status in Pekin’s society was their impressive place of residence, a large Victorian-style mansion known as “Rose Villa.” Their mansion was located on Washington Street at the head of Buena Vista, at the street address today designated 420 Washington St.  A lithograph engraving of Rose Villa as well as an engraved portrait of H. P. Westerman himself may be found in the 1873 “Atlas Map.”

Later in life Westerman moved to California, where he died. The block on which Rose Villa stood was acquired by a member of another of Pekin’s prominent German families, Carl Herget, who replaced the old Westerman frame mansion with his own brick Classical Revival structure, known today as the Herget Mansion, now 103 years old and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The blueprints and specifications for the new building were drawn up on July 15, 1912, by the architectural firm of Hewitt & Emerson, 321 Main St., Peoria.

It should be noted that Rob Clifton’s “Pekin History: Then and Now” (2004) has an incorrect statement regarding the relationship between Westerman’s Rose Villa and the Carl Herget Mansion. “Then and Now” says, “Around 1912 George Herget bought and then converted the house to its current appearance.” George, founder of Herget National Bank and donor of the land on which the Pekin Public Library was built, was Carl Herget’s uncle. The 1912 construction of the Herget Mansion was the erecting of a new structure from the ground up, not merely a major remodel of a previously existing structure.


This engraving of Rose Villa, mansion of Henry P. Westerman, was published in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County.” The Carl Herget Mansion on Washington Street stands on the site today.

#carl-herget, #carl-herget-mansion, #george-herget, #h-p-westerman, #old-settlers, #pekin-history, #rose-villa, #w-h-bates, #william-h-bates

Tazewell County Old Settler Daniel Rankin

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Following on last week’s portrait of the life of Pekin Mayor Daniel Sapp, we turn this week to the life of another early settler of this area who also had the name of Daniel – Daniel M. Rankin (1803-1877), whose family surname is today borne by Rankin School on South Fifth Street, a few miles south of Pekin. The residence and farm building of Rankin’s farmstead were situated on the east side of the road that is today South 14th Street, but the Rankin family farm stretched west to Fifth Street.

A native of Lancaster County, Pa., Rankin arrived in Tazewell County in the autumn of 1828. Consequently, he was one of the survivors of the extremely harsh winter of 1830 which the county’s pioneers remembered as “the Deep Snow.” As one of Tazewell County’s “Old Settlers,” his biography was included in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County,” page 58. A lithograph of Rankin’s farm, called the “Odley Farm,” is found on page 117 of the same atlas.


This engraving of Tazewell County Old Settler Daniel M. Rankin (1803-1877) was published in Charles C. Chapman’s “History of Tazewell County.”

Excerpts of Rankin’s biography from the “Atlas Map” here follow:

“Daniel M. Rankin, the subject of our sketch, was born in Lancaster county, Pa., on the 31st day of October, 1803, where he received his early education, and where he remained until seventeen years of age engaged in working upon the farm, and at which time he concluded to learn a trade. Choosing the blacksmithing, he engaged with one of his brothers, John Rankin, with whom he remained three years, at the expiration of which he began journey work, and worked two years at Hawksville, Pa.

“On the 7th of July, 1825, he was married to Miss Esther Lefevre, a native of Lancaster county, Pa., and in the spring of 1826 he began housekeeping. In 1827 he sold out, and in the month of September, 1828, he bid farewell to the hills and valleys of his native state and emigrated to the Great West, making Tazewell county, Ill., his point of destination, coming all the way by wagon, which required about six weeks’ time. He says he had splendid weather for traveling. When he first saw Pekin, it was but a small village composed of a few log houses.

“He settled on section 27, Sand Prairie township, Tazewell county, where he moved into a log cabin, and he immediately began opening up a farm. He remained there until 1864, when he sold out his farm and moved into the city of Pekin, where he remained some two years, and in 1866 he purchased the farm where he now resides, three miles southeast of Pekin, consisting of four hundred acres of good land – in fact, some of the most valuable in the county. . .

“He had the misfortune to lose the companion of his early life. She died on the 6th of August, 1855. They had fourteen children, seven of whom are now living and are comfortably situated. His son, George W., has charge of the farm, and is one of the most active young men in the county. He possesses all the qualifications necessary to success in life. He is thoroughly posted in every department of agriculture, and his farm is stocked with fine herds of cattle, hogs, and horses. . .”

At the time his biography was written, Rankin was living with his son George and two of his daughters on the Odley Farm. The biography concluded with the hope that he would “long live to be a blessing in the future, as he has been in the past, to his family and the society which he has been identified with for so many years.”

However, by the time Charles C. Chapman had published his 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” Rankin had passed away, as Chapman noted on page 422 of his history. Rankin died July 30, 1877. He is buried just at the northeast corner of his old farm, in Rankin Cemetery, also known as Haines (or Haynes) Cemetery, located on the north side of Veterans Drive.

#daniel-rankin, #haines-cemetery, #odley-farm, #old-settlers, #pekin-history, #rankin-cemetery, #rankin-school, #tazewell-county-history

Old Settlers Enoch and Quintus Orendorff

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Among the old families of the Delavan and Hopedale areas are the Orendorffs, whose ancestors settled on land in what would become Tazewell County during the 1820s. This family name has previously appeared in this space, when we recalled the shocking account of the brutal murder in 1860 of the wife and little daughters of George W. Orendorff of Delavan. Most of the clan, of course, experienced far less tragedy than did George, but their lives were often notable and sometimes attracted the attention of early historical writers.

An extended biography of Darius White Orendorff, with a detailed genealogical narrative of the branches of the Orendorff family in Tazewell County, was included in the 1894 “Portrait and Biographical Record of Tazewell and Mason Counties,” pages 656-660. Mentioned in this genealogy was Darius’ kinsman Enoch Thomas Orendorff, who was born Nov. 29, 1799, in Jefferson County, Va., first coming to the territory that would soon become Tazewell County in 1826. (See also Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” page 445 – the Orendorff name is frequently met in Chapman’s history.)

As pioneers of the county, Enoch and some of his Orendorff siblings and kin (name originally spelled “Ohrendorff,” and sometimes later spelled and misspelled “Orndorff” or “Orendorf”) were grouped among Tazewell County’s “Old Settlers.” Thus, among the biographies of the Old Settlers of Tazewell County that were published in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County,” the following brief, glowing sketch of the lives of Enoch Orendorff and his son Quintus is found on page 90:

“Quintus Orendorff was born in the present limits of Tazewell county, November 10, 1828. He is the oldest child of Enoch T. and Rosanna Orendorff, who were both natives of Kentucky (sic). He emigrated to Illinois and settled in the present limits of Tazewell county in 1826, where he was soon after married to Miss Rosanna Orendorff. They have had by this union a family of four sons and one daughter; three of the former are still living, viz.: Quintus, residing in Delavan; Dr. Charles, residing at Kansas City, Mo.; and John L., who is engaged in the jewelry business at Delavan. Mr. Orendorff followed farming through life. He was called out near the close of the Black Hawk war, but was not engaged actively in any of its campaigns. Himself and family were members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He was one of those energetic and moral citizens, whose influence in the community for good was duly felt and appreciated. His earthly labors closed April 2, 1852. The death of his worthy and estimable wife occurred April 15, 1851.

“Quintus Orendorff, in his early culture, was indebted to parental training and the common school facilities of Tazewell county. To these he had, by application and observation, coupled with his own experience, added a fair practical business education. He was married September 24, 1854, to Miss Emma E., daughter of John and Anna Kelly, of Delavan, and formerly of Providence, R. I. They have had, by this marriage, a family of two sons and three daughters, in the following order of birth, viz.: Oren B., Anna B., Olive B. (deceased in infancy), Charles B., and Jesuline B. They are living with their parents. Mr. Orendorff began life as a business man with some capital. He erected a steam flouring mill in Delavan in 1855, which was the first in the town. This enterprise, in the sequel, was a convenience to the community and a loss to himself. He commenced a mercantile career in Mason County, Ill., where he established in December, 1858, and continued there until December, 1869, when he located in Delavan, where he is now engaged in the sale of groceries, queensware, and confectionaries. As a husband and a parent he is kind and affectionate; as a citizen and business man he is public spirited and reliable. He unites to an active temperament probity and an earnest zeal. His first impressions are usually correct, although he is sometimes impulsive. He is a firm supporter of moral and intellectual culture, and takes pride in the education of his children. As Mr. Orendorff is one of the oldest native citizens of Tazewell county, and having been long identified with its interests, he is too well known to need any eulogy at our hands, as the record of his past life is the true index which points out his real value as a citizen and upright business man.”

Quintus died Sept. 24, 1904, and is buried with his wife and children in Prairie Rest Cemetery, Delavan. Many other members of the Orendorff family, including the parents of Quintus, are buried in Orendorff Cemetery in rural Hopedale.

#enoch-orendorff, #old-settlers, #quintus-orendorff, #tazewell-county-history

Tazewell County’s Old Settlers

Ben C. Allensworth’s 1905 “History of Tazewell County” devotes an entire chapter (Chapter VII) to the Tazewell County Old Settlers’ Association, a group that formally organized in Delavan in 1884. Even before then, however, it was already common to think and to speak of the earliest pioneers of the county as the “Old Settlers.” Thus, we see that the biographies in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County” frequently bestow the designation of “Old Settler” upon various individuals.

By 1884, according to Allensworth, many of the Old Settlers felt a desire to form a permanent association “to promote acquaintance and friendship among those who had lived in the county forty years, thereby cementing the ties which have bound the pioneers of the county together during that period, and to keep an accurate record of the birth-place and age at which each came to the county, as well as the date of the death of those who have passed away.”

The Old Settlers’ Association began with about a dozen members, who elected Ira B. Hall as their first president and Cyrus M. Kingman as secretary. The group would have an annual meeting or reunion at the Tazewell County Fair in Delavan. An account of one of their meetings is found in an old newspaper clipping from the collection of Darlene Hamann of Green Valley. The clipping, dated Wednesday, Aug. 29, 1900, was reprinted in the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society Monthly, June 2014, page 1030. Under the triple headline “Tazewell’s Old Settlers,” “They Assembled 400 Strong at Delavan Yesterday – 21 Died During Year,” and “Officers Re-Elected – Fair News,” we read the following:

“The feature of the opening day of the Tazewell county fair at Delavan yesterday was the gathering of the old settlers from all parts of the county. In round numbers there were 400 of the county’s ‘early birds’ on the grounds, renewing acquaintances and exchanging reminiscences. The organization has over 700 members and during the year 21 have been called to their reward. The morning was consumed by routine business and a number of very interesting short talks were made. President James Haines of Pekin, Ira B. Hall of Delavan, Judge N. W. Green of Pekin, and M. D. Pettett of Lincoln all spoke briefly. Mr. Pettett was 90 years old last May and is as spry as the average man of 60. Mr. Hall is 88 years old and has lived in the county over 60 years. The oldest woman present was Mrs. Margaret Young of Pekin aged 82. She came to this county in 1820. The business meeting was concluded by the election of officers for the ensuing year as follows:
“President – James Haines Sr. of Pekin; fourth term
“Vice-President – C. M. Kingman of Delavan; second term
“Secretary and Treasurer – W. F. Copes of Pekin; sixth term
“In the afternoon Judge William Don Maus of Pekin of Pekin delivered the address of the day. It was an eloquent and lengthy discussion upon the scenes and incidents of the times of the pioneers. The address was eagerly listened to by a great crowd of people and all expressed themselves as enjoying it very much.”

Allensworth wrote in 1905 that there was little change of the Association’s officers during the two decades following its organization. After the 1884 founding, Allensworth wrote, “The next year, Ira B. Hall was elected President and W. F. Copes, Secretary and Treasurer, which position he had held for nineteen years and is still in office. The same year, S. M. Woodrow was elected President and held the position about a year. Then Mr. Hall was elected to that office and held it for ten years. Mr. James Haines was then elected President and still holds the position.”

During the 19 years that Copes was secretary and treasurer, the Old Settlers’ Association had 768 members, 182 of whom had died by 1905, in which year there were 587 members of the rolls.

Among the Old Settlers of Tazewell County was a select group known as the “Snowbirds” — pioneers who had survived the unusual “Deep Snow” of the  extremely harsh winter of 1830-31. Shown below is a group photograph of the surviving “Snowbirds” at a gathering of the Tazewell County Old Settlers during a Tazewell County Fair in Delavan circa 1880.

#deep-snow, #old-settlers, #snowbirds, #tazewell-county-history