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

Mason County

Early Settlement
Page 635

Though a settlement had been made west of the creek as early as 1835 or 1836, no one had ventured to cross the stream and locate in what is now Quiver Township prior to 1837. John Barnes, from Kentucky, had located at the Township prior to 1837. John Barnes, from Kentucky, had located at the Mounds as early as the first mentioned date. Of his wife it may be truthfully said that she was a faithful helpmeet. She was a woman possessed of great muscular strength, and could wield an ax as skillfully as an experienced woodman. With an ordinary amount of exertion, she could turn off her one hundred and fifty rails per day. At his home, Joseph Lybarger and family, the first settler of Quiver Township, stopped some weeks prior to crossing the creek and starting his improvement. Lybarger was from Pennsylvania, and was a blacksmith by trade. The exact date of his settlement cannot be fixed to a certainty, but it is more than probable that it occurred in the spring of 1837. There are some who think it may have been as early as the summer of 1836, but the preponderating weight of testimony is in favor of the first mentioned date. Soon after coming, he opened a shop, and for a number of years did the work of general blacksmithing for a large scope of country. In the summer of 1837, Henry Seymour came and settled east of Lybarger's About one month later, Peter Ringhouse, who had been stopping a short time in St. Louis, came and settled about midway between the ones already mentioned, though a short distance further west. Ringhouse was originally from Germany, but had lived some years in Baltimore before coming West. William Atwater came from Connecticut, and located in the immediate neighborhood in 1838. He had served an apprenticeship and for a number of years had followed the silversmith's trade. He erected a frame building, doubtless the first in the township, and began improving his farm. For some two years after coming, he led the life of a bachelor; and farmed with about the usual amount of success that all old bachelors are permitted to enjoy. The climate did not seem to agree with his constitution, and for some considerable length of time he was annoyed with chills and fever. So thoroughly dissatisfied did he become at one time, that he determined to exchange the best eighty acres of his quarter section for a horse and wagon, and the tail-end of a stock of goods in Havana. These latter articles he intended to peddle through the country, and with the proceeds and avails he hoped to be able to flee the country and make good his return to his native State. But he was destined to become one of the early permanent settlers of Quiver Township, however slow he might be to accept the situation. On communicating his intentions to one of his neighbors, he remonstrated with him at the folly of his proposition, and suggested the propriety of his taking a helpmeet and beginning life in earnest. Mr. Atwater acted upon the suggestion, and what we know is, that not many months afterward, Miss Elizabeth Ringhouse became Mrs. Elizabeth Atwater. The alliance thus consummated led to a life of happiness and prosperity. He continued to live at the place of his first settlement till the date of his decease, which occurred some eight or ten years ago. His widow yet survives him, and occupies the old homestead. John Seeley, William Patterson, and a man by the name of Edwards, settled further north along the edge of the bluff timber as early as 1840 or 1841. Isaac Parkhurst settled near Quiver Creek in the southwest corner of the township, in 1840 or 1841. Isaac Parkhurst settled near Quiver Creek in the southwest corner of the township, in 1840 or 1841. Isaac Parkhurst settled near Quiver Creek in the southwest corner of the township, in 1840, and was a Justice of the Peace when this section was included in Tazewell County. He remained but a few years, and then moved to Peoria. During the year 1842, a number of settlements were made in the township. Benjamin Ross, Daniel Waldron, William E. Magill, and George D. Coon were among the permanent settlers at the close of 1842. Ross was from Tennessee, and had settled in Cass County some years prior to coming to Mason. Waldron was from New Jersey, and remained a citizen of the township till the date of his demise, which occurred some years ago. William E. Magill came from the Quaker State to Menard County, and from there to Mason, as before stated, and is one of the early settlers, who is still surviving. George D. Coon came from New Jersey, and settled in Greene County in 1839. At the same time, Stephen Brown, his father-in-law, and Robert Cross and Aaron Littell, brothers-in-law, came and settled near him. In 1842, Mr. Coon came to Mason County, and settled in this township near the creek, and the following year moved to his present place of residence. Loring Ames, a native of the old Bay State, came West in 1818, and settled in St. Clair County, Illinois Territory. In 1823, he moved to Adams County, and, in 1836, to shat is now Mason County. In 1842, he became a citizen of Quiver, and at present resides on his farm near the village of Topeka. He served in the Black Hawk war, first as a private in Capt. G. W. Flood's company, and later as a Lieutenant in the company of Capt. Pierce, of Col. Fray's noted regiment. Rev. William Colwell, a native of England, emigrated to America in 1838, and first settled in Cass County, Ill. In February, 1841, he came to Mason County, and resided near Bath until the fall of 1842, at which time he removed to Quiver Township. He died in April, 1861, from the effects of a kick from a horse. He was a substantial citizen, a man of abilities and great personal worth. He served in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a period of about forty years, and the result of his labors will only be known in that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed. George Sleath settled in 1843, but did not remain long. He sold out to Robert Cross and moved away. In 1843, Cross and Littell came and settled on farms adjoining that of George D. Coon. These they improved and occupied until the date of their decease. Fred High, Henry Rakestraw and Freeman Marshall made settlements during the year 1843. High was from Tennessee, Rakestraw from Kentucky and Marshall was a native-born Hoosier. Some of the Rakestraws still reside in the township, near McHarry's Mill, but the names of High and Marshall have long been absent from her citizenship. Moses Eckard, whose name occurs prominently in connection with the history of the village of Topeka, came from Maryland, and located in Fulton County in 1839. The following year, he came into what is now Mason County. In 1844, he was married to Sarah E. Simmonds, daughter of Pollard Simmonds, who settled in Havana Township in 1838, and built the mill elsewhere referred to. In the fall following his marriage, he moved to his present place of residence, and has continuously lived there since. At the date of his settlement few, if any, others were living in the southeastern section of the township, all the settlements so far having been made along the bluff timber and in the central portion. In 1847, John M. McReynolds, whose father had settled in Havana Township in 1838, located about two miles northeast of Moses Eckard's. His residence still remains on the farm he first improved. Hon. Robert McReynolds, the father of John M., came from Columbia County, Penn., in 1838, and settled some seven miles east of the present city of Havana, in Havana Township. In 1849, he became a citizen of Quiver Township, and, as he was at an early day officially connected with the interests of the county, we deem it proper to give some points of his life in this connection. In 1845, we find him a member of the Board of County Commissioners. To this office he was re-elected in 1846, and again in 1848 and 1849. In 1849, he was chosen Associate Justice with John Pemberton, Hon. Smith Turner being County Judge. In every position, public or private, conscientious integrity marked his course. He was an earnest and zealous advocate of the Gospel as taught by the Wesleys, and, having united with the M. E. Church in 1831, was not only a pioneer in this county but a pioneer in Methodism in the West. In building his first residence, and extra large room was provided, which was not only designed for the use of his family but also for religious worship. Quarterly meetings, over which the venerable Peter Cartwright presided, were held here, and, on one occasion, fifty of the brethren and sisters were present for breakfast. The first Sunday school in the county was established at his house in 1841, and consisted of twelve teachers and twenty-one scholars. His death occurred in 1872. His son, following in the footsteps of his father, has been an efficient member of the Church since early boyhood, and for many years has held official relation to the congregation at Topeka. Stephen Brown, who has already been mentioned as having settled in Greene County in 1839, ten years later became a citizen of Quiver. John Appleman, from New Jersey, Thomas Yates and George Ross, from the Buckeye State, became citizens as early as 1848 or 1849. These all settled in the region of the township familiarly known as "Tight Row." Appleman died some years ago, and Yates in 1876, Ross, after a residence of two years, returned to Ohio on a visit, and while there sickened and died. From 1850, the settlements increased so rapidly that any attempt to enumerate them in the order in which they occurred, would be a fruitless task. Of one who came into the township in 1845, we must speak somewhat at length, as, perhaps, no one of her citizens is more widely or more favorable known. Hugh McHarry, a native of Ireland, emigrated to America in 1825. He was but a "broth of a boy" of some eighteen or nineteen summers, who had come to try his hand at making a fortune in "Swate America." He started in life in the land of his adoption penniless. Soon after coming, he engaged in labor on the Erie Canal, but the natural bent of his mind was toward milling. He soon obtained a situation in the mills at Louisville, Ky., where he remained till 1842. During his residence in Louisville, he became an ardent admirer of George D. Prentice, the veteran editor of the Journal, and through its influence, was molded into a stanch Henry-Clay Whig. With this party he acted during its existence, and, on the formation of the Republican party, he was among the first to espouse its principles. In 1842, he came to Beardstown, Cass County, and again engaged in milling. In 1843, he purchased the mill site on Quiver Creek, and, in 1845, constructed a grist-mill. Julius Jones, Charles Howell and William Pollard had built a dam and erected a saw-mill at this point some years previous. For the improvements made and the site, McHarry paid the sum of $1,500 cash. The saw-mill stood on the east bank of the creek, but when the grist-mill was constructed it was placed on the west bank, and, consequently, stands in Havana Township. A complete history of the enterprise will be given in connection with the sketch of that township. Mr. McHarry's residence stand on the bank of the creek in Quiver Township, and amid its pleasant shades and quiet retreat he is quietly passing his declining years, enjoying the society of his children and friends and the large competency he has acquired by a life of honest toil and well-directed energy. He is by far the wealthiest man in the township, and owns a large amount of the best land in the county. Few citizens of the county are more widely known or more highly esteemed for their good qualities of head and heart, than Hugh McHarry, the miller.

Though Quiver Township has never had a mill erected within her borders, she has enjoyed the benefits of the early construction of both the Simmonds and McHarry mills, as they stood upon the very threshold of her borders. The first school building in the township was situated on land belonging to William Atwater, and stood near the present site of the Christian Chapel. It was built as early as 1845, and a German pedagogue by the name of Volerath presided over the destiny of the first term of school. In addition to the regular course of study, he introduced the science of vocal music, and accompanied the exercises with the violin. This feature of the school was decidedly objectionable to the more pious of his patrons, who could see in a "fiddle," as they termed it, naught but a device of the emissary of the evil one to capture and lead their young children down the broad road to ruin, and so his services were not needed for a second term. Volerath was from New Orleans, and his high ideas of Southern life did not accord well with the notions and views of the Western pioneer, and so he was not exceedingly popular with any class. Among others who, at an early day, wielded the rod of correction, and led the aspiring youth along the highway of knowledge, we may mention the names of Didier Waldo and George Caven.

In an educational point of view, the township has kept equal pace with her neighbors, and to-day her every district is supplied with comfortable frame school buildings, and the annual amount expended in schools is not far from $2,000.

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