Village And City Incorporation
A local history of Mason County, published a few years ago, says that the town of Havana was incorporated in 1848, with E. B. Harpham, President of the Board of Trustees, and Fred Krebaum, Clerk, and that the first ordinance was dated March 2, 1848, and signed by them. We, together with Mr. Kettell, the present City Clerk, took a look through the city records, and, as a result of our investigations, found an act of incorporation dated 1853, in which the following were names as Village Trustees: N. J. Rockwell, S. E. Rogers, William Higbee, James Boggs and Joseph G. Benner. Of this Board, Boggs was elected President, Benner, Secretary, and Higbee, Treasurer. A. T. Low was elected Constable, and J. H. West, Street Commissioner.|
In 1873, it was incorporated under the general law as the city, and an election held April 15, for Mayor and Aldermen. The city was divided into three Wards and two Aldermen allowed to each Ward, who are elected for two years. That each Ward, however, may elect an Alderman each year, at the first election they were elected for one and two years. The Mayor, also, is elected for two years. The following is a statement of elections from the incorporation of the city to the present time:
1873-Hugh Fullerton, Mayor; O. H. Wright, City Attorney; Isaac P. Price, Clerk; Alex. Stuart, Treasurer. Aldermen-R. R. Simmons, August Schill, First Ward; Anson Low, O. C. Town, Second Ward; J. L. Randall, Jabez Dunbar, Third Ward.
1874-O. H. Wright, City Attorney; Isaac P. Price, Clerk; Alex. Stuart, Treasurer; W. H. Caldwell, Marshal. Aldermen-J. F. Coppell, First Ward; W. G. Stone, Second Ward; W. H. Fenton, Third Ward.
1875-Isaac N. Mitchell, Mayor; O. H. Wright, City Attorney; C. D. Lindley, Clerk; J. H. Knobbe, Treasurer; John W. Patton, Marshal. Aldermen-L. R. Haack, First Ward; Peter Lindburg, Second Ward; J. W. Boggs, Third Ward.
1876-O. H. Wright, City Attorney; H. H. Hanrath, Clerk; J. H. Knobbe, Treasurer; J. W. Patton, Marshal. Aldermen-Max Meyer, First Ward; W. S. Dray, Second Ward; Jabez Dunbar, Third Ward.
1877-J. F. Coppel, Mayor; E. A. Wallace, City Attorney; H. R. Nortrup, Clerk; N. Siebenaler, Treasurer; J. M. Hillyer, Marshal. Aldermen-Fred. Fette, First Ward; Peter Lindburg, Second Ward; J. L. Randall, Third Ward.
1878-E. A. Wallace, City Attorney; H. R. Nortrup, Clerk; N. Siebenaler, Treasurer; J. M. Hillyer, Marshal; I. S. Kirk, Police Magistrate. Aldermen-J. H. Kessen, First Ward; W. S. Dray, Second Ward; G. H. Meyer, Third Ward.
1879-W. H. Campbell, Mayor; H. R. Nortrup, City Attorney; T. B. Kettell, Clerk; Max Meyer, Treasurer; O. H. Shearer, Marshal; I. S. Kirk, Police Magistrate; Philip F. Smith, Street Commissioner. Aldermen-Jesse Pipkin, First Ward; Anson Low, Second Ward; J. F. Kelsey, Third Ward.
Havana City and Township, taken together, are Democratic in politics. In city and county offices, the spoils are usually divided, thus promoting peace and harmony in the political family. While the Mayor, and, probably, all of the present city officers are Democrats, the Board of Aldermen are equally divided, there being three Democrats and three Republicans. In the county officers, the Circuit Clerk is a Republican, the County Clerk is a Democrat; the County Treasurer is a Republican; the County Judge is a Democrat; the Superintendent of Schools is a Democrat; the County Surveyor is a Republican; the Sheriff is a Democrat and the Coroner is a Republican.
By a provision of the act of the Legislature forming the county of Mason, a vote was taken at the first election, for the purpose of determining the location of the seat of justice. The two towns competing for the honor were Havana and Bath, and, after a very exciting contest, Havana won the victory. It was also decreed by the Legislature, in the original act, that the friends of each place voted for should first place in the hands of the judges of the election a note drawn to the order of the County Commissioners for $1,000 , and also a bond making a donation of one block of lots or twenty acres of land for the use of the county. The required note of $1,000 was drawn by N. J. Rockwell, Pulaski Scoville, Lewis W. Ross and H. L. Ross, and a bond was executed by L. W. and H. L. Ross, donating a block of lots adjoining the public square. The inhabitants of Bath were very much dissatisfied with the result of the election, and finally got an act passed, in 1843, authorizing another election. This election took place in February, and resulted in making Bath the county seat, and honor it retained till 1851, when Havana succeeded in obtaining the necessary legislation to bring the question again before the people, and again Havana won the day. This probably settled the question for all time. With the railroads centering at this place, it is not likely that the county seat question will ever be again agitated. But a more complete history of the county seat war will be found in a preceding chapter.
Although Havana as the capital of the county is a settled point, it is an established fact that its Court House is rather a dilapidated old rookery. The dingy building is bronzed with age and "tottering to decay," and, as seen from the street, its "gloomy and frowning walls" have more the resemblance of a prison than a Court House. But a redeeming feature of the place is the public square. It is well set in grass, and is filled with beautiful trees, which, when clothed in summer luxuriance, renders it not only a lovely but very attractive place.
The legal fraternity of Havana embraces a corps of gentlemen of marked ability. Among them are Dearborn, Fullerton, Lacey, Conwell, Campbell, Mallory, Wright, Wallace and others, all of whom stand high in the profession, and some of them have served with distinction in exalted positions. The medical profession is also ably represented, and a number of highly educated and experienced physicians zealously guard the health of the city and surrounding country. The merchants, too, are a class of enterprising, upright, energetic business men, and withal jolly good fellows. The city does not aspire to a wholesale trade, but enjoys an excellent retail business.
Company F, stationed at Havana, and attached to the Seventh Regiment Illinois National Guards, with regimental headquarters at Peoria, was organized August 17, 1877. The following are the present officers: W. H. Webb, Captain; J. C. Yates, First Lieutenant; S. F. Kyle, Second Lieutenant and S. A. Murdock, Orderly Sergeant. The company is about sixty-five strong, and composed of the young men of the city. The Captain, First Lieutenant and Orderly Sergeant served in the late war, and are the only members who have seen service. The remainder of the company are "fresh fish."
The city press consists of two sprightly newspapers, viz.: The Democrat and Republican. The former is a four-page paper, conducted by Mounts & Murdock, and is all printed in Havana; in other words, it has no patent side, as is the custom with so many country weeklies. The Republican is also a four-page paper, with "patent outside," and is owned and published by F. Ketcham & Son. Each paper is devoted to the political party, whose name it respectively bears. As the history of the county press has been fully written up by Gen. Ruggles, we will not repeat that portion pertaining to Havana. We would, however, drop a gentle hint, to the effect that the newspapers of towns and counties usually are not treated with the importance they merit. The county newspaper is the county's history. Even the advertisements it contains, in after years become matters of historical interest, and are of themselves historical facts. It is, in our opinion, an oversight that a copy of every newspaper published in a county is not filed away in the county offices for future reference.
The city of Havana is connected with the "State of Fulton" by a magnificent wagon bridge spanning the Illinois River at this point. It was built eight or ten years ago on substantial stone piers at intervals, and cost originally about $60,000. A few years ago, it was sold under mortgage, and bought by McHarry, who now owns it, with the exception of a few shares of stock owned by Capt. Bivens and others. This bridge is an important link between Mason and Fulton Counties, and brings to Havana thousands of dollars of trade that but for it would go elsewhere.
The city cemetery of Havana is an excellent and beautiful location for a burying-ground, but has the appearance to us of receiving less attention and beautifying than many similar places we have noticed in other cities. It contains the moldering remains of many of the pioneers of Havana City and Township, and also many fine stones and monuments, and a few hundred dollars spent upon it would considerably enhance its beauty and improve its appearance.
The little hamlet of Peterville, located in the southern part of Havana Township, was laid out in 1868 by Peter Thornburg, on Section 34, and contains a church, two or three shops, and perhaps a half dozen dwellings. A store was opened here about 1865-66 by Samuel Porter, and continued for several years, but at present the place boasts not of a single store. Thornburg & Decker carry on a blacksmith and wood shop. A similar establishment is operated by Benjamin Pulling. A church was built by the Baptist denomination about 1862-63 under the pastoral charge of Rev. P. G. Clarke, and cost some $1,400. At present, it is not used as a temple of worship, nor has it been for a number of years past, the original members having united with other congregations. The house stands alone and deserted, a monument of departed glory.
Sedan Station is a shipping point on the Springfield & North-Western Railroad, in the southern part of the township, and consists merely of a side track for shipping purposes. It has never been laid out as a town, nor even a house built on the spot.