1879 History of Menard & Mason Counties
Published by: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street

Mason County

Havana Township
Page 501

A late writer, reviewing this fast age, remarks that "the world moves much after the fashion of a falling body," and that at present it "has acquired considerable momentum." True, its velocity is simply astounding, yet it moved slow enough in the beginning. In the old times, it took nearly a century for a man to cut loose from the maternal apron-strings, and three or four centuries to attain the prime and vigor of manhood. Rome was seven centuries in expanding her power and reaching the zenith of her glory; the temple of Diana at Ephesus saw 250 years from its foundation to its completion, and the architects of Babel and the Pyramids planned work for hundreds of years ahead. In these days of mushroom magnificence and tinsel show, one can form but little idea of the gorgeous spectacles, the boundless luxury, the surpassing extravagance of those far-away times. Cities grow up now-a-days in a few years, or decades at most, but they amount to little, except as bonfires. Witness Chicago. Its growth was unparalleled. It increased in population as no other city perhaps ever did. Like Aladdin's castle, it disappeared in a dingle night, as it were, and arose again, as if from a touch of the wonderful lamp, and "the new city was more glorious than the first." In the year 2500, where will it be? Is it likely that it will be Queen of the West, as it is now? We dare not think so. It will have had its day, and, perchance, its crown will adorn some other brow.

Speaking of the Olympian festivities and the old Roman triumphs, and the millions expended on them and their accessories, one of our shrewd business men recently remarked, "We've got beyond all such things now, and I am glad of it, for such things wouldn't pay." That is it exactly; we have no time for what don't pay. We are economical, and, count the cost with the closeness of a Jew. Everything is done for an object, and with a rush. We live fast. Three or four lifetimes are compressed into one. Is it any wonder that our madhouses are filled with insane, with all this strain on vitality and energy? The ancients were wiser in this respect than we are. They allowed time for their mental and physical capacity to develop. In everything we undertake is the same rush and hurry; we never calculate projects a hundred years ahead, but live wholly in the present and for the present. As an example of the rapidity with which we move, in 1800 the present territory of Illinois had a population of about 12,000, now it has over 3,000,000, or a population equal to the thirteen colonies at the time of the Revolutionary war. Fifty years ago, Mason County was an unbroken wilderness of marshes and san-hills, with not a half dozen white people within its borders. But a few years have passed, and behold the change! The city and township to which this chapter is devoted, have sprung into existence. The marshes and sand hills have developed into fine plantations, adorned with palatial homesteads, and in their midst has arisen a beautiful little city. At the touch of civilization, the wilderness has been made to "blossom as the rose;" herds and harvests have followed the pale-face pioneer, and hundreds of human beings of a higher civilization have taken the place of a few wandering hunters and fishermen. This is the fast age of the nineteenth century, and illustrates our wholesale mode of doing business.

Havana Township lies on the east side of the Illinois River, south of Quiver Township, west of Sherman, north of Kilbourne, and, according to Government survey, embraces Town 21 north, Range 8 west, a part of Town 21, Range 9, a part of Town 22, Range 8, and contains altogether about fifty-six sections of land. It is diversified, like the entire portion of the county along the river, with low, wooded hills, rolling prairie, level land, etc., some of the latter inclined to be a little marshy until drained by artificial ditches. Much of the town is of a sandy nature, but very productive, yielding corn, oats and wheat in good abundance. The territory now included in the township of Havana was originally, perhaps, one-third timber, the remainder rolling and level prairie. It has no water-courses, except those forming a part of its boundaries, viz: Quiver Creek on the north and the Illinois River on the west. The P., P. & J., the I., B. & W. extension and the Springfield & North-Western Railroads traverse it in all direction, and, with the "narrow gauges" now projected, together with the Illinois River, boatable the greater part of the year, it lacks no facilities for travel and transportation. Havana, which is particularly noticed in another chapter, is a thriving little city of the township and the capital of the county. Besides this, is Peterville, which has been surveyed and laid out as a village, but is merely two or three shops and a few houses. With this preliminary description of the township, we will now proceed to notice its early settlement.

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