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

Mason County

Trading And Milling Points
Page 607

The nearest trading-point, as well as the one most easily accessible to the first settlers of this portion of the county, was Delavan. To procure the smallest amount of merchandise required a journey of thirty miles to be performed. The sharpening of a plow necessitated the same pilgrimage. Their milling was done at the Mackinaw, either at Doolittle's or Woodrow's mill. Their letters, which, like angel's visits, were few and far between, were likewise received at Delavan. The era of railroads gave to almost every community conveniences to which otherwise they must have remained strangers for many years. Dr. J. P. Walker was the first physician to engage in the practice of the healing art, as a resident practitioner. In 1857, he joined with others in laying out Mason City, and, in 1859, made its his permanent home. The first school building in the township was erected in the grove, in 1853. The old "timber schoolhouse," long since removed, and, though lost to sight, yet still to memory dear, was presided over at its opening by a young Miss Woods, daughter of Alexander Woods, of whose settlement in the grove mention has already been made. The earliest religious services were held by Rev. Levi Ingle, a minister of the New Light or Old Christian order. Rev. George Miller was the first circuit-rider. Meetings were held at the residences of the settlers, till the building of the schoolhouse, when they were transferred to it. No public house of worship, with its tall spire towering heavenward, adorns the township outside of the villages of San Jose and Natrona. The remarkable hailstorm that occurred throughout this section of the country on the 27th of May, 1850, mention of which is made in other portions of this work, is well remembered by some of the earlier settlers. The storm, accompanied by a high wind, was of short duration, yet so vast was the amount of hail that fell, and to such a depth was it drifted, in some instances from six to eight feet-that on the following 4th of July large quantities of it could still be gathered from the drift piles. Mr. Houchin, who was an eye-witness to the storm, avers this to be a fact, and says that its effects were plainly visible for years afterward. As late as 1851, fully four-fifths of the township was Congress land. During the years 1851 and 1852, large tracts throughout the township were entered by capitalists and speculators, and it was not till some years later that these lands passed into the hands of permanent settlers. The year 1867 witnessed the completion of the Jacksonville Branch of permanent settlers. The year 1867 witnessed the completion of the Jacksonville Branch of the C. & A. R. R. from Jacksonville to Bloomington and with it came a flood of settlers, the establishment and laying-out of villages, etc., etc. Though of but recent settlement, when compared with other sections of the county, in the importance and value of its products, it ranks second to but few townships in the county. It embraces within its limits large areas as well adapted to agriculture as any to be found in this entire region. With her rapid development, her educational interests have kept equal pace. She has eight school districts, each supplied with a good frame building, in which schools are kept the greater part of the year.

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