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Henry County "Firsts"

Source: "Portriat and Biography Album of Henry County", 1885, p. 727-8

Transcribed by Deborah Lacy


THE following is a complete list, in their order, of the first separate acts and events as they occurred in the history of Henry County. They will prove a source of easy reference and great interest to the readers, as well as valuable in the settlement of those vexing questions that sometimes find their way into the legends and stories of the early settlements, and especially as to where, how and when given events transpired, and who were the actors and participants in those interesting beginnings of things:

First settler, Dr. Thomas Baker, April 8, 1835.

First white child born, Henry S. Aldrich, Dec. 16, 1835.

First white female child, Hattie Hanna, now Mrs. Odell.

First cabin put up, James Glenn, May, 1835.

First tavern, kept by Geo. Brandenburg.

First town laid out, Dayton.

First Postmaster, Geo. Brandenburg, Dayton.

First election, Dayton, June 9, 1837.

First County Commissioner's Court, P. K. Hanna, Thomas Pillsbury and Jno. Browning.

First Sheriff, Robert McCullough.

First Coroner, R. R. Stewart.

First Recorder, Joshua Harper.

First Surveyor, Arba M. Seymour.

First term of the County Commissioner's Court, in Dayton.

First County and Circuit Clerk, James M. Allen.

First Treasurer, Charles Atkinson.

First license granted by the Court, to John P. Hanna and George Taylor.

First school, taught by Narcissa Stewart.

First chartered ferry, at Cleveland.

First newspaper, started by I. S. Hyatt.

First plow in the county, made by James Glenn.

First furrow plowed, in 1835.

First School Commissioner, James M. Allan.

First census, 1840, by Arba M. Seymour.

First charity subject upon the county, John Thomas, 1840.

First Doctor, Thomas Baker.

First wedding, J. P. Dodge and Samantha Colbert, Feb. 7, 1836.

First lawyer, Samuel P. Brainard.

First term of the Circuit Court, at Richmond, 1839.

First case in Circuit Court, Job Searls vs. Moses T. Stimpson.

First criminal indicted, John Porter.

First dairy, 1837, by Cromwell K. Bartlett.

First land purchase, by William Paddelford.

First frame building, 1836, in Cleveland, by Atkinson & Wells.

First temperance society, organized in Geneseo, 1836.

First wagon road petitioned for by the people, Andover to Geneseo.

First land entry of the Government, by Giles Williams, which was the north half of section 34, township 18 north and 2 east, now Hanna Township.

First wheat planted, by Washburne, 1835.

First mill, at Andover, built in the winter of 1836-7.

First militia officer elected, James M. Allan, Major, 1837.

First Member of Congress, John S. Stewart.

First member of the State General Assembly, Joshua Harper.

The first attempt at fruit-tree growing here is told of fully elsewhere. The trees were seedlings, and the first crop of apples ever gathered in the county consisted of 36 specimens, and even then this was a marked event among the people. About the first grafted apples raised in this portion of Illinois were the Milam, under the name of Winter Pearmain. These were not really grafted trees, but had been propagated from the suckers.

The winter of 1855-6 was noted for the wholesale destruction of fruit-trees. It was estimated that one-half of the bearing apple-trees were destroyed or rendered worthless. This for some years greatly discouraged tree-planting, especially fruit-trees. All the orchards in the county have been planted since.

Lewis Hurd and Miss Caroline W. Little were married by Rev. Ithamar Pillsbury, Aug. 22, 1837. this it appears by the records was the first marriage in the county. Possibly, there may have been an earlier marriage; but if so it was while this was still Knox County. The next wedding was the festive Rev. Ithamar himself with Miss Caroline E. Miller, of Andover, December 18. This knot was tied by Rev. Enoch Meade. The next was W. B. Goss, of Jo Daviess County, and Ellen Baldwin, of Cleveland, by the above Rev. Ithamar.

There were five weddings in the county in the year 1838. In the year 1839 there were six. "It is not good for man to be alone;" but a more imperative order just then prevailed here: It is good to people this rich waste.

James M. Allen and Susannah D. Stewart were married by Rev. James Wilcox, March 6, 1839. In 1840 there were ten couples spliced for life. (Divorces not yet fashionable.) In this year Morristown had her first wedding, Mahlon Lloyd and Miss Amelia L. Davenport, December 30. In 1841 there were twenty-two marriages. This year, James Knox, afterwards in Congress, was married to Miss P. H. Blish, January 20. In 1842, 23 marriages; 1843, 15; 1844, 18; 1845, 21; 1846, 25; 1847, 23; and 1851, 63.

The first election in Henry County was held June 19, 1837, to elect a Sheriff, Coroner, Surveyor, Recorder and three County Commissioners. The Judges were John P. Hanna, Charles Atkinson and Roderick R. Stewart. clerks,--James M. Allan and Arba M. Seymour. Ithamar Pillsbury, Philip K. Hanna and Joshua Browning were elected County Commissioners. Rufus Hubbard had 21 votes for Commissioner. Joshua Harper was elected Recorder, receiving 24 votes; Thomas R. Saunders got 22 votes and Eben Townsend had 11 votes. For Surveyor Arba M. Seymour received the full vote cast--58 votes. For Sheriff Robert McCullough was elected, getting 31 votes to Stephen Marshall 24 votes, and for Coroner R. R. Stewart got 58 votes.