Picture of Canton circa 1908 submitted by Roy Girard
This excerpt was taken from the History of Fulton County, published by Chas. C. Chapman & Co. in 1879, pgs 515-531, submitted by J. Crandell. (pictures are separate)
This township was among the very first townships of this county that were settled by the whites. Captain David W. Barnes, spoken of in the first chapter, was the first pioneer to locate here with his family. Among others who came into the township at a very early date and located outside of the town, were Theodore and Charles Sergeant, Henry Therman, George Matthews, Aaron Roberts, John Pixley, Seth Littler, David Gallentine, Michael Fraker, John Coleman, Thomas Wolf, a Mr. Campbell, and Daniel Babbett. There was a family by the name of Garland and who lived here as early as 1824. Garland is believed to have been a brother-in-law of Kinny, a man who with Mr. Swan laid off Canton. Joseph Anderson settled upon the northwest quarter of Section 35 in 1823. Anderson was the first settler in Banner township and resided near Utica prior to his coming to this township. He had been a soldier in the British Army during the War of 1812, but, being taken prisoner by the American forces under General Scott, have concluded to cast his fortunes among his captors. He was a thoroughgoing, enterprising man, an Irishman by education and the kind of man especially adapted to pioneer life. He brought with him seven children, five boys and three girls. The boys were Joseph, Richard, James, Samuel and A. N., most of whom are deceased.
The very first mill of any description in this township was a band-mill owned by Michael Fraker. "Father Fraker", as he was commonly known, was a regular pioneer genius, always ready to adapt himself to any unfavorable surroundings. His cleverness was displayed shortly after his arrival by the construction of a band-mill to grind his neighbors' and his own grain. A band-mill was so called because a raw-hide band was put upon a large drive-wheel, in the place of cogs: it saved the gearing of the mill. These mills constituted the lowest and cheapest order of horse-mills. Pins were put in the place of cogs, and around them the band was placed. These pins might be changed in holes made for the purpose, so that the band might be tightened when desired. Capt. Barnes lived two and a half miles north of the present city of Canton and Michael Fraker lived east of Mr. Barnes' farm and north of the Fairview bridge. He came into the county in 1823 and in 1828 move to Lynn Township, Knox County. He was the first settler there and gave the name to Fraker's Grove. Jacob Ellis erected a water mill between Canton and Lewistown about 1824, which did a good business. About 1829 he erected another mill within 3 miles of Canton upon Big Creek, which brought milling very convenient to the people of Canton. Some of the people, who were not close to one of these primitive mills, contented themselves with preparing their meal on a "grater". These "graters" were perforated sheets of tin bowed on to a board, so that the shape was similar to a longitudinal half section of stove-pipe. The rough outside of the perforated tin would tear the grains of corn when it was rubbed briskly over its surface, and by an hour's hard labor meal enough for a small cake could be manufactured.
Those old-timer circular wolf-hunts described on page 322 afforded exciting holidays to pioneers, and scarcely a neighborhood in all this northwest went without them. Canton and vicinity had a grand one in 1842, when the center of the arena chosen was that high point of prairie northwest of Canton, since occupied by Overman's nursery, and known as Overman's Mound. It is estimated that 5,000 men that day encompassed an area about 20 miles in diameter, -- men enough to make the line unbroken, and they must have gathered up every wolf within that immense circle; the number they enclosed and dispatched was eleven. The dogs accompanying the hunters were of course numerous enough to dispose of all the wolves without any assistance from gunners, -- indeed shooting could not be allowed. Another wolf hunt, occurred in 1845, when only two wolves were killed. Wolves always seemed more numerous than they really are, they are so omnipresent and noisy. If the men could only have driven all the rattlesnakes and "hoop-snakes" together into the center and kill them too, their benefaction to the country would have been doubled; but the universal hate to which mankind bears toward these reptiles has in time lead to the entire extirpation of one, and almost the entire extermination of the other.
George Maxwell tells us that when he moved upon his place the country was all a wilderness. His nearest neighbor to the West was Hon. Oliver Shipley, and on the east towards the town was John Wolland, who lived on the old stage road. In an early day Mr. Maxwell would often be called away from home to attend to his business and would remain away sometimes two weeks. Money was scarce then and the settlers were poor. He has often remained overnight with settlers where he went to bed and could count the stars through the roof and sides of the building. To-day these people have the finest residences in the county. The settlers had no pine lumber at that time. Houses, stables, etc., were constructed of hewn timber. Prosperity began slowly and was often retarded, but at the commencement and during the war progress and improvement went on and the farmers accumulated rapidly. During those years wool sold at $1 per pound, wheat from $2 to $3 per bushel. Horses worth now from $75 to $100 then sold for $175 to $250. Hogs that sold from 10 to 12 1/2 cents per pound are now worth 3 cents. Milch cows which before the war were worth $15 to $18 were worth then $60 to $80.
This is one of the finest bodies of land in the State, and is under the best of cultivation. Here we find the best farm houses and barns in the county, and one of the most cultured and refined agricultural communities in the State.
Map and street names submitted by Roy Girard
The city of Canton is situated at the junction of the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroads, and upon one of the most fertile prairies to be found in our great Prairie State. It is the largest city of Fulton county and one of the most beautiful and prosperous of the State. As a live, wideawake business place, Canton has no superior and but few equals in Illinois. Combined with its busy aspect is the air of a city,—the culture, refinement and wealth so noticeable in larger centers. Indeed, expressed in few words, Canton is a bustling little city. Its business houses are large and well stocked, and attract, as a natural result of these facts, together with the gentlemanly class of merchants who occupy them, a large trade, even from the adjoining towns. The residences of the city are in general neat and tasteful in external appearance, while some of them border on the palatial. The streets are kept clean, sidewalks in good repair, and indeed the same vein of enterprise which pervades the business of the town is not wanting in public affairs. While business enterprise and bustle is to be admired, and does receive recognition wherever displayed, there are other factors equally important to any community which has for its motto, Progress, as this city has,—progress not alone in a business sense,—in building large factories, in stretching out the arms of trade, in accumulating wealth, but progress also in all that pertains to the elevation of human society. Intelligence, culture and refinement must go hand in hand with business where this is desired. These ennobling elements of society soften and polish the rough life of the great business world. In these features, as in her business, Canton is also especially noticeable. Her churches, her schools, her society are exceptionally good. If the inhabitants of this city were conveyed to a wilderness an observant stranger could easily tell that they were reared amid the refining and elevating influences of the Christian Church, good schools and a cultured society.
Canton, which is situated upon sections 26, 27, 34 and 35— principally on 27 and 34—of Canton township, was laid out by Isaac Swan and a man by the name of Kinney, on the 10th day of December, 1825. In 1822 Theodore Sergeant, who is spoken of elsewhere in this volume, by mistake decided to pre-empt the northeast quarter of section 27. He erected a cabin north of the site of the present high-school building, and put into cultivation a few acres of land. Mr. Sergeant, being a single man, in 1823 employed Harrison Hughland, a blacksmith, to occupy his cabin, board him and carry on blacksmithing, which he did for about a year, but afterwards carried on a shop for himself. Hughland was a maker of cow-bells, and did the first manufacturing of any kind in the township,—making bells for the few settlers in the county. Isaac Swan appeared upon the scene in 1824 and exhibited to Sergeant a military title to the same quarter of land he had settled upon. He immediately vacated, leaving Swan in possession. Swan was accompanied by his brother-in-law, Nathan Jones, who owned the northwest quarter of section 34. By mutual agreement, owing to the fact that Jones' land was covered with timber and Swan's was prairie, they divided with each other, Swan taking the north half of Jones' land and he in turn taking the south half of Swan's. This gentleman saw in this a fine location for a town and proposed to Mr. Jones that they lay off one on the west forty acres of their prairie tract. To this Jones would not assent. At this time Mr. Kinney was living on the northeast quarter of section 27, who proposed to Mr. Swan to join in the enterprise. This proposition was accepted and one hundred and eight lots were platted. Kinney, however, did not remain a half owner of Canton very long, for during the following season John Coleman, sr., appeared with a title to the quarter of land claimed by him and he ousted Kinney and took possession of the quarter. Coleman fenced up Kinney's survey, running the fence to the center of Adelphi street, the boundary line between him and Swan. This was a source of no little controversy in regard to Adelphi street, some claiming that Coleman had no legal right to vacate it; others claiming that he had. Jones soon laid off his first addition directly south of the original town. In this he laid off the public square, he owning the property on three sides of it and Swan on the fourth.
Isaac Swan erected the first building on the original town plat, immediately after it was laid out. This building was a log cabin, perhaps 16 by 18 feet, and was for some time known as "Swan's catch-all." It was designed as a stopping-place for any family that might come in, until they could build. It was situated on Union street, above Fourth.
As a fitting tribute to the memory of Mr. Isaac Swan, the founder of Canton, we
wish to give a brief personal sketch of him in this connection. He was a native
of Vermont, but emigrated with his father to Western New York while that region
was still a wilderness. At the age of about twenty years he left New York, in
company with his brother-in-law, Nathan Jones, and started for the Great West.
Making several short tarryings in different parts- of Indiana, they finally
established themselves in St. Clair county, Illinois, about 1818. They remained
there until 1820, when they removed to Montgomery county, and tarried there
until 1824, when they removed to Fulton county,
arriving at the present location of Canton in the spring of that year. Isaac
Swan was a man nearly six feet in height, splendidly proportioned, and
remarkable, even among pioneers, for his strength and activity. His courage was
unquestioned, and made him a valuable acquisition to any new settlement in which
his lot was cast. Mr. Swan had only such education as could be obtained in the
log school-houses of Erie county, New York, fifty-five
and sixty years ago; yet he had so far improved his limited opportunities as to
be considered a man of fair education. He was a Methodist, an honest man and a
good citizen, one whose word was his bond. He gave to Canton its establishment
and almost all of its early prosperity, his enterprise and energy directing
attention to it and bringing in new settlers, many of whom were attracted by a
desire to settle near him. He was killed by the storm in 1835.
The first family to avail themselves of Swan's "catch-all" was the family of John Hannan, who came soon after Swan and Jones did. Hannan got a lot on Main street from Swan and built the first house in the town intended for a residence. This was a cabin, and was occupied by him until his death, which occurred at Beardstown in 1831, as he was returning from St. Louis. His widow continued to occupy the same house for some time, when she moved to a farm just east of the C., B. & Q,. Railroad.
John C. Owens came in about the same time the Hannans did, and erected a cabin on Wood street. It was in this house that, in all probability, the first white child was born in the original town of Canton. It is claimed by some that Harrison Hughland's wife gave birth to the first white child while living near the Central school-house site. If this is true, as there seems to be reason to believe, this child—whether male or female is not now known— was the earliest born within the present city limits. But John C. Owens' oldest boy—name not known—was, without doubt, the first born on the original plat. Mr. Owens was a farmer, and a son-in-law of old Father Fraker, who lived just west of Big creek at that time. Owens at this time, however, was living with his second wife, who was a sister of Lewis Walling's first wife. Owens and Fraker removed from Canton, at an early date, and settled at Fraker's Grove, Knox county.
Swan was a man of enterprise, and was determined that his town should be populated at once; so, as an inducement to settlers, he announced his determination to give a lot to any man who would build and become a settler in the town. John Hannan was the first man to secure a lot, and was followed soon by others. Swan kept this offer good until about 1833, stipulating, however, in later years, as to the kind of house that should be built.
At this time (1826) Samuel Morse resided on what was then known as the Morse quarter, west of and adjoining the town plat. Morse was the owner of a hand mill, upon which was ground much of the corn-meal used by the settlers of Canton. Morse continued to reside in Canton until some time about 1834, when he removed to Knox county. His wife, Mary Morse, was a tailoress, and the first that ever worked in Canton.
In 1824 Yelverton Peyton erected a house within the present city limits, on the Coleman tract, near where Hayden Keeling has now a brickyard. Peyton was a large man and a giant in strength. It is said that he cut the logs for his cabin and "backed" them up on his shoulders, carrying logs no two ordinary men could have lifted. Peyton lived here a few years and was taken down with consumption. He went south, finally, for his health and died.
Until about 1830 there were no regular dry-goods stores in Canton. Up to that period goods were purchased either at Edwardsville or St. Louis. The settlers would several of them club together and select one or two of their number to take a "pirogue," loaded with the neighborhood peltry, beeswax and honey, to one or the other of those markets and exchange it for salt, lead, powder, and such other goods as might be within the scope of their ambition or means. This trip occupied about two months' time, and was attended with considerable difficulty and not a little danger.
"One of the buildings erected in Canton in 1825," says Mr. Swan in his History of Canton, "was a school-house. It was situated on the west side of Wood street, between Union and Illinois streets. John C. Owens was the first school-teacher. This house merits a description. It was of logs, unhewn and by no means straight. The roof was low and covered with clapboards, kept in place by weight-poles. The house-logs were very small, of willow and cottonwood timber, principally. Several holes were cut through the logs to let the dark out, but admitted a very scanty supply of light. The floor for the first year was of the best variety of prairie soil, tramped hard by the feet of the young ideas who were there taught to shoot. The seats were logs split in two parts and supported on pins driven into holes bored for the purpose. The one writing desk was a wide puncheon, with its upper surface planed, and supported on slanting pins driven into one of the logs. The door of unshaved clapboards, swung upon wooden hinges. One side of the room was occupied by an enormous old-fashioned fire-place. There was no ceiling save the clapboard roof, although one or two joists held a wide puncheon, whereon, at overcrowded meetings—for this school-house also did duty as a place of worship—the more adventurous of the boys would climb and sit out the service, with their bare legs swinging over the heads of the worshipers below. Here Owens assembled a few of the children in the winter of 1825 and 1826—Jo. and Jim Anderson, Henry Andrews, Ed. Therman, Harriet, Elmira and Williston Jones, the Owens children, the Peyton, Hughland and Fraker children, and a few others. Owens was succeeded by Ezra Fairchild. Failchild succeeded in getting a puncheon floor put into the school-house, and some other trifling improvements made. He was an excellent teacher, and for many years held the position of Justice of the Peace in Canton, being the successor of Isaiah Stillman in that office."
We take the following from Mr. Swan's History: "The Public Square formed a portion of Nathan Jones' First Addition to the Town of Canton. It was proposed originally to give to the public for a public square one whole block, extending from Main to Prairie streets east and west, and from Union to Elm streets north and south. This proposition, however, from some unknown cause, was not carried into effect, and when the survey was made the Public Square was limited to one-half its present area, extending from Union street south to the alley which divides the block. The two lots south of the alley were given as a donation to the Presbyterian house of worship which was erected upon one of them. It was not until in about 1841, after the removal of the church from the Public Square, that Deacon Jones,—who had not previously deeded the lots, although intending so to do,—by an arrangement between the two branches of the Presbyterian Church after the separation, deeded the lots in question, thereby making the square its present size. The deed to these lots was not immediately put upon the records, and as a result of this neglect they were assessed and sold for taxes, and purchased by Ahira Saunders. Mr. Saunders undertook, in about 1842, to obtain possession, but was met by the deacon's deed to the public, and, as public property, was not taxable, his speculation failed.
"Prior to 1830 the business of the town, as well as most of the residences, was on Wood street; and in that year, when Joel Wright and Childs & Stillman commenced business, they located their stores on that street. In about 1830 the first building was erected on the Square: it was a log house, built by Richard Stevens, a brother-in-law of Isaac Swan, and was about where Mansfield's brick store-house now stands, on the south side.
"In 1832 Joseph Anderson built a cabin on the lot now occupied by Ingersoll's store on the west side. Mr. Anderson moved into this house to be near the Fort at Esquire Wright's, during the Black-Hawk war. In 1833 Louis Bidamon erected the first frame house on the Square. This house was a very low one-story house, long and narrow, and stood on the east side. In 1834 Messrs. Tryon & McCutcheon built and occupied the first store-house on the Square. This was a frame building, and was located on the west side. Messrs. Tryon & McCutcheon sold out, a few years later, to Messrs. Markley & Solomon. The property afterward passed into the hands of Dr. J. R. Walter, who remodeled it and occupied it as a residence for many years. Messrs. Tryon & McCutcheon sold out to Messrs. Markley & Solomon in May, 1836. The Mr. Solomon of this firm was the well-known—to old settlers—Joel Solomon, for many years Circuit Clerk of the county. Judge David Markley was the senior partner. In November, 1836, Mr. Markley purchased Mr. Solomon's interest in this store, and became sole proprietor, continuing in business until 1839. Mr. Markley was a man eminently fitted for pioneer life. A large, powerful man, a wit, and at the same time a man of sound judgment, he soon became prominent among the pioneers. He had filled the offices of County Judge in Champaign county, Ohio, and of Colonel of a regiment in the war of 1812, previous to his emigration, and was very soon after his immigration identified with the public interests of the people with whom he had cast his lot. In 1838, two years after his settlement in the county, he was elected to fill a vacancy in the State Senate, caused by the resignation of Judge Hackleton, and was twice re-elected, making his term of service ten full years. In 1847 he was elected a member of the Convention to form a new Constitution for the State of Illinois, and was one of most influential members. About the same time Governor Ford appointed him a member of the Board of Canal Commissioners. While acting in this capacity, he selected the lands granted by the United States Government to the State in aid of this enterprise. In 1844 Judge Markley removed from Canton to Banner township, near Monterey, where he remained until 1856, when he again removed to Nebraska; but, not satisfied with that territory, he soon returned, and settled in Stark county, near Rochester in Peoria county.
"In about 1836 Messrs. Brooks & Cogswell opened a store on the Public Square. They continued in business until about 1839. In the fall of 1835 Jno. C. Willis erected a frame building for hotel purposes on the Public Square, on the west side. This hotel was rented to a Mr. Williamson and David Russell, who run it a short time and then gave place to Frederick Mennert, who, in his turn, was succeeded by Hugh R. Smith. Mr. Smith's successor was David Collins. In about 1841 Thos. Wills took the house, and remained its proprietor until about 1853 or '4. In 1836 Messrs. Steel & Ballard occupied one of the ground-floor rooms of this house as a store-room. Mr. Steel was the son-in-law of Ossian M. Ross. He came in 1836, and remained a resident of Canton until his death. In 1836 Messrs. Shinn & Vittum erected a store-house on the southwest corner of the Public Square, as a business house. This store was occupied by Mr. Shinn up to the time of his death.
"The first brick store-room on the Public Square was erected by Mr. John Blackadore, in 1845. It was on the south side, on the lot he now occupies. This was an old-fashioned brick, two-stories high, and was burned in 1865. In 1848 Mr. S. Smith built the second brick on the Square, on the lot east of Mr. Blackadore's building. This building was afterward purchased by the Messrs. Babcock, and was known as the "Regulator." It was burned in 1865, in the same fire that destroyed Mr. Blackadore's building.
"The same season, T. Maple erected the first three-story brick block in the city, on the southeast corner of the Public Square. The fall of the same season Mr. Jno. G. Graham and A. H. White each erected three-story business houses. Mr. White disposed of his building by lottery in 1856. In 1838 a Mr. Squires built a house on the northeast corner of the Square, and established a grocery-store. This establishment did not run long before Squires sold out to Jones & Weeks, who turned it into a dry-goods store. Jones was either a Spaniard or Portuguese, and, from his complexion, was known as "Black Jones." He spoke several foreign languages, and was quite a shrewd man, but not suspected of honesty to any great extent."
Richard Addis came from the State of New Jersey and early identified himself with the infant village of Canton. While subject to the malarial atmosphere incident to a new country, he soon afterwards succumbed to its deadly influence and died. When Mr. Addis conceived the notion of coming West he was in well-to-do circumstances. He traded a large interest in a woolen factory in New Jersey to one Munn, of New York city, for 32 quarter-sections of Illinois land just before starting, supposing, of course, that the title would be perfect. He did not receive his deeds until he had prepared to move,—indeed until he was in his wagon. No time for examination was had until he was well on his journey, when he found the supposed deeds were only a warranty for one year and no more; the consequence proved an almost total loss. After many years had rolled around, and long after "Uncle Richard" had passed away, a strange fatality seemed to overtake every effort to recover the loss. While an eminent counsel was engaged in taking testimony with a view of prosecuting the case, and ere he was scarcely through, he died very suddenly. In the course of time another friend undertook the task of prosecuting the claim, and while engaged in securing facts and evidence, he, too, was taken suddenly ill and died, while on his way from Fairview to Lewistown.
"Uncle Richard's" widow, "Aunt Jemima," as she was known, survived him many years, to the comfort and pleasure of numerous friends who took great interest in hearing her relate incidents of early life here, and especially stories about the Indians. The latter, while upon their begging excursions, would take great delight in making as many tracks with their bared feet upon her newly-cleaned floor as possible, often turning around and laughing at their successful efforts. Coming in from the trail after a rain, with their feet thoroughly covered with clay arid mud, might be sport to them to smear her floor, but we imagine the neat housewife was not a little angered; but discretion was the better part of valor, and the "less said the easier settled" was the rule. Her daughter married Isaac Swan, who was killed during the big storm recounted below. She also had an infant killed while in her arms. She afterwards married Mr. Gould, whose wife had also been killed during this tornado.
The Storm.—" There was one night in the history of Canton " says Mr. Swan in his History, "that will never be forgotten so long as one of its survivors is alive. 'The Storm' has been and will long continue to be a household word of fear among the citizens, old and new; for so vividly have its incidents been described by the old to the new citizen, that he, too, has caught the infection of dread its terror produced.
"The 18th of June, 1835, had been a showery day, and as night fell, dark clouds were observed looming up in the northwest. As the twilight deepened, from the ominous bank of thick clouds there would blaze out lurid flashes of red lightning that illuminated and made more ominous the approaching tempest. Nine o'clock came, and the people had either retired to rest or were preparing so to do. Isaac Swan was at family worship; so were several other families in town, when the roar of the thunder, which had grown constant and terrific, was almost lost in the terrors of another roar, so mournful, so dreadful and wild that it will never pass from the memory of one who heard. It was the roar of the tornado; and in a moment it descended upon the doomed village, with a devastating force which could not be withstood by any frail tenement of man that opposed its course. In a moment of time the air became filled with the roofs and flying timbers of exposed houses. Rails and timbers of all kinds so filled the air that woe to the luckless animal or person who had no shelter; and in another moment few of the citizens but were shelterless. And now came great hailstones and a rain-fall, that it seemed as though the windows of heaven were indeed opened and the rains descending in a solid volume. Over and above all the roar of the tempest, the cries and shrieks of the wounded and dying were heard, and by the constant glare of the lightning it was seen that nearly the whole town was in ruins. As the wind lulled, those who were not too badly injured would venture out to aid the wounded.
"Bryant L. Cook was at Philip Grimm's when the storm struck. Grimm's house was unroofed, the children sleeping up stairs, almost by a miracle, preserved, and no one of the family hurt. Cook at once ran over to Isaac Swan's. He stepped upon a pile of ruins which had been the house, and as he did so Betsy Swan cried out from under the ruins 'Oh, help me!' Cook went to her and found her kept down under the weight of one of the cabin-logs. On removing it she cried, " Oh God, my poor baby is dead!" and it was. She had held it in her arms during all the storm, and its brains were knocked out by falling timber. Cook heard a groan. Betsy too heard it and said, 'Oh Bryant, try to get poor Isaac out!' Cook lifted one after another of the Jogs, and soon found Swan's body under the debris; but he was fatally injured. By this time help had arrived, and he was conveyed to the Presbyterian church, on the Square, which had sustained but slight injury.
"The people now assembled at Joel Wright's, Dr. Donaldson's, and a few other houses that were not seriously injured. At Donaldson's there was a scene of wild confusion; frightened women and children had been collecting until the house was crowded, and there too was Betsy Swan's dead baby, while many of those present were suffering from contusions and bruises. Elias Foster was killed,—a spoke out of the wheel of a new wagon was driven into his groin. His little girl was missing, and was not found until the next morning, when she was found dead, having been blown from Foster's residence on the lot on Elm street, west of Wood, now occupied by Rev. Mr. Wasmuth, to a hazel-thicket near the residence of Hiram Snow, on Illinois street.
"The storm appears to have struck the earth between Fairview and Canton, and, after passing through the timber west of town, destroying, indeed literally mowing a path through it, swept over the village, leaving but one or two uninjured buildings, and perhaps a dozen that were habitable, but demolishing or seriously injuring every other house in town. It passed a little south of east over the present poor-farm, destroying the residence of Geo. W. Gould in that neighborhood and killing his wife; then on through Duck creek timber to the bluff, where it appears to have lifted, and for some distance at least did no more damage.
"The scene the next morning was terrible. The earth was literally swept clean of fences, out-buildings, and almost of buildings, but was covered with shingles, boards, rails and timbers. Franklin P. Offield had just received and opened a large stock of goods in a new building on the corner of Main and Cole streets, opposite Piper's factory. This house was demolished, and the goods scattered over the prairie clear away to Duck creek. Cattle were killed and lying about in all directions. Chickens were blown away and killed, and the few standing houses were literally wrecked, moved from their foundations, unroofed, or with gables knocked in. The great wonder is that no more lives were lost. Out of a population approximating five hundred, only four persons were killed in town,—Isaac Swan and his infant son, Elias Foster and his daughter. In the country near, Mrs. Gould was added to the list, making five victims of the air-fiend's wrath. The destruction of property and life that would ensue were such a storm to sweep over the country now would be absolutely appalling. Then the country was sparsely settled, and of course the destruction was not so great as it would be now. The track of the storm was about one mile in width, extending from the residence of John Coleman on the north to the vicinity of the Central school-house on the south. The marks of the storm were distinctly visible in the timber west of town until in recent years, since the timber affected has been cleared up."
Canton was incorporated as a town Feb. 10, 1837. Upon that day an election was held to vote for or against incorporation, resulting in the adoption of the measure by a majority of 34, there being 46 ballots cast. Immediately thereafter the following five Trustees were chosen: David Markley, Joel Wright, Thomas J. Little, William B. Cogswell and Franklin P. Offield. They held this first meeting March 27, 1837, "at Frederic Mennert's inn." At this meeting David Markley was chosen President of the Board and Thomas J. Little Clerk, George W. Gould was chosen Treasurer, John Thorp both Collector and Constable, Nathan Jones, Lathrop W. Curtis and Isaiah Stillman Assessors, and L. W. Curtis Supervisor of Highways. Under the by-laws adopted by this Board, revenue was to be raised by a tax on all real estate within the boundaries of the town, which, it was provided, should be assessed at its true value, and upon the assessment "an ad-valorem tax of not exceeding fifty cents on every one hundred dollars should be levied by the President and Trustees annually." Section 36 of the ordinances provided that "any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at bandy, cricket, cat, town-ball, corner-ball, over-ball, fives, or any other game of ball, within the limits of the corporation, or shall engage in pitching dollars or quarters, or any other game, in any public place, shall, on conviction thereof, be fined the sum of one dollar."
Upon the 21st of February, 1848, an election was held to vote for or against a second incorporation of the village. There were 120 votes cast "for" and 42 "against" the said measure of incorporation. It being carried, an election of town officers under this incorporation was held March 1, 1848, when William Parlin, William Kellogg, George S. McConnell, James Wills and John G. Piper were elected Trustees. These gentlemen assembled on the following day in official capacity and chose Mr. McConnell President and Henry F. Ingersoll Clerk. On the 14th of April the latter gentleman was chosen Treasurer of the town; James R. Parker Assessor and Harrison P. Fellows Collector and Constable. An election was held Feb. 27,1849, to vote for or against the acceptance of a charter granted the town by the Legislature. For the charter were cast 156 ballots, against, 9. Under this charter the President and four Trustees were to be elected by the people; previously the President was chosen by the Board. The Board divided the town into four wards for voting purposes. The first election held under the charter was on April 28, 1849, when Davis Ferguson was chosen President; William Thompson, Alderman from the First Ward; N. H. Turner, Alderman from the Second Ward; William Parlin, from the Third Ward, and J. B. Hinman from the Fourth.
Canton had grown to considerable size by the year 1853 and was quite prosperous, so much so indeed, that she desired to don the name of "city." The Legislature during its session that winter granted to the town a city charter. The first election under this charter was held April 4, 1854. Louis Corbin was chosen Mayor; D. H. Dewey, Supervisor; B. F. Moyer, Marshal; Aldermen—First Ward, W. M. Thompson; Second Ward, Atharin Keeling; Third Ward, J. M. Thompson; Fourth Ward, James Wills. The Council on the 6th of January, 1855, enacted a very stringent prohibitory liquor law, and vigorously prosecuted all violations of it, but not with entire success. It was during the administration of this Council that the ladies destroyed yhe whiskey of Canton, an account of which we take from the history of Canton by Swan.
"The Whiskey War--In 1835 the Town Council, acting in accordance with the desire of the people of Canton as expressed by their votes, passed a very stringent prohibitory liquor law. This was openly set at defiance by some of the liquor-sellers. They not only continued to sell, but sold, in at least one case, in an open, defiant manner. These parties selling liquors were arrested, and one of them, finding that the suit was likely to go against him, proposed a compromise with the city, agreeing, if the suit against him was dropped and the city Council would pay the cost of the suit, giving him fifteen days to close out his stock, he would close out his establishment and quit the business. This compromise was agreed to by the city, but violated by Mr. Mallory, who it was claimed, went on from bad to worse. Other prosecutions were brought against him, which he appealed, and, when they were brought to trial in the Circuit Court obtained a change of venue to Mason county, showing a determination to contest the law, as he had an undoubted right to.
"The temperance ladies of Canton were very much dissatisfied with the slow progress being made in closing up the offending saloons, and finally determined to take the subject into their own hands. Secret meetings of the ladies were held to consider the ways and means by which the sale of liquor could be stopped, and a plan of action was finally agreed upon. It has been asserted that a woman cannot keep a secret. This was proved to be a mistake in this case, at least. So secretly had the women moved that Mr. Mallory, the chief of the offenders, entirely unsuspecting, and with no premonition of the fate that awaited his whisky-barrels, went to St. Louis to make additions to his already large stock.
"The firm of Charles Smith & Co., doing business on the south side of the Public Square, had been holding a series of ladies' auctions, at which they were disposing of a considerable stock of ladies' fancy goods. To this auction, on Friday, the 4th day of April, 1856, the ladies, by previous understanding, came. The auction began about one o'clock, and it was observed that the crowd began to collect in the auction-room at an early hour. The auctioneer was delighted at the great numbers of ladies who surrounded his stand, and cried himself hoarse with praises of his goods; but, to his astonishment, no body bid. The women continued to collect, coming in twos and threes, all wearing shawls or cloaks, although the day was bland and pleasant, until about two hundred had collected.
"From some expressions let fall in the auction-room, it began to be understood upon the street that 'Sebastopol,' as Mallory's saloon was called, was to be taken. Mr. Mallory being away from home, his friends determined to volunteer in his defense; and accordingly quite a number of them took their positions at the entrance to the building,—which was securely barricaded,—determined, as they averred, to defend the establishment at the peril of their lives, if it needed be. Among the defenders of the grocery was a constable then serving a term in an adjoining township, a man of nerve, and whose veracity has never been called in question, who addressed a crowd of several hundred men and boys gathered before the door, urging them to aid in protecting the property of the saloon-keeper, at the same time swearing that no woman could enter the door without passing over his dead body. This gentleman little dreamed how soon the death he was invoking might be staring him in the face.
"When the time for action came, over two hundred of the most prominent women of Canton marched out of the auction store and arranged themselves in columns, two by two, on the Public Square. The excitement by this time was growing intense. Everybody, male and female, appeared to be upon the Public Square, either as a looker-on or a participant in the mob upon the one side or the other. As the Amazonian column formed, a citizen stepped up to the leader and urged her to desist, saying that the proprietor of 'Sebastopol' was not at home, and urging them at least to give him a chance to defend himself. The ladies responded that they were convened for business, and that business must go on.
"The line of march was now taken up, the leader carrying a short sword in her hand, which she flourished in quite a martial manner, arriving at the door, the crowd parted, except that three or four determined fellows maintained themselves before the door. One of these, the constable referred to above, declared his determination to resist the onslaught, and declared, in response to the quiet and low-spoken 'Stand aside gentlemen: we are going in there,' of the leader, himself as ready for the sacrifice by the remark, 'Not by a d—d sight: you ain't going in unless you go over my dead body.' Mr. Constable was a brave man; Mr. Constable was a man of truth; therefore it cannot be doubted that he met with a bloody death right there, as, within one minute after his self-sacrificing declaration, the door against which he and two or three more braves were standing was shivered to a thousand fragments, by blows well and vigorously aimed from gleaming hatchets that leaped out from the cover of two hundred shawls in unison. Mr. Constable therefore must have perished, fallen gloriously at his post of duty, then and there.
"The door of 'Sebastopol' demolished, the work of demolition began. Bottles, unoffending candy jars, glasses and decanters, all were smashed into a thousand fragments, and shelving and counters shared the same fate. The cellar contained a large quantity of liquors. This was invaded, and barrels were knocked in, until the spirituous flood had accumulated on the cellar-floor to the depth of several inches, when they bailed it out and threw it into the street, determined none should be saved. Some of the women had a lighted candle in this cellar, and it was almost a miracle that they had not set fire to the spilled liquor and all have perished with the object of their wrath.
"By the time their destruction of 'Sebastopol' was completed, the fumes of the liquor had ascended to their nostrils; and it is no exaggeration to say that one-half of the ladies were, as temperance advocates, in magnificent order to furnish the fearful example for any ambitious temperance orator who might secure their services. About twenty barrels of liquor, besides his saloon and bar fixtures, were destroyed for Mr. Mallory.
"This work completed, they re-organized and marched to the grocery of Mr. Butters, on Main street, just south of the Public Square. Mr. Butters sold nothing stronger than beer, and rolled out the only barrel of it in his possession on the sidewalk, willing to sacrifice it rather than trust the now infuriated Amazonian army within his establishment. This barrel of beer was at once demolished and the line of march again resumed.
"There was a rectifying establishment, kept by Lamon & Childs, near the present cemetery. Thither the ladies marched, and there, after overawing a feeble effort at resistance on the part of the proprietors, marched in and destroyed about thirty barrels of whisky and highwines.
"This establishment destroyed, they returned to the Square and invaded the office of Col. Wm. Babcock, who had a barrel of untapped whisky there, that he was saving for domestic use after his boy, then a babe, should become of age. The ladies will probably remember why they did not destroy this barrel.
"All the liquor which the ladies knew to exist in the place having been destroyed, they re-convened at the auction store and passed the following resolution:
"Whereas, We, the ladies of Canton, being wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, have experienced the dread calamity of seeing our husbands, sons and brothers, made drunkards by the lawless rum-sellers of our town, and having seen the law tried to be enforced in vain; and whereas, those engaged in the damning business of rum-selling have been appealed to in vain by moral suasion, to desist and save the peace of our families; we have therefore, in defense of our firesides, and with a view to save from destruction those most dear to us on earth, been compelled to destroy the spirituous liquors in our city, and it is now
"Resolved, That, as often as the practice is resumed in Canton or vicinity, we will rid ourselves of its curse,—peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must.
"Canton, April 4, 1856.
"Thus was liquor—at least until a new stock could be procured —put down by the ladies of Canton.
"During the day several fights occurred, between parties who were in sympathy
with the ladies on the one side and with the saloon-keepers on the other."
Post card of Canton 1909, submitted by J. Crandell
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