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

Mason County

Trading-Points, Milling, Etc.
Page 676

What Chicago is to Illinois and the West, Havana was to the early settlers of Mason County-the point to which all their produce must be brought to find sale and shipment, and in which they obtained their dry goods and groceries. Hogs were sometimes driven to Beardstown and slaughtered, as, at one time, it enjoyed the distinction of being the "Porkopolis" of the entire region. Meal was obtainable in limited quantities at Mount's mill, on Crane Creek, but, when flour was to be procured, they were obliged to make the journey to Woodrow's or Kinman's mill, on Mackinaw, or to Wentworth's, on Otter Creek, in Fulton County. The former, though more distant, were generally preferred on account of the scarcity of the "needful" to pay the toll at Ross' Ferry (now Havana) which was 87 cents the round trip. It was by no means an unusual occurrence to consume four or five days in making the journey back and forth to mill, the length of time being governed somewhat by the period one might be required to wait for his grist to be ground. The mills of Simmonds and McHarry, on Quiver, built at a later date, brought almost to their doors conveniences which the early settlers scarcely dared dream of, much less expect in their own day and generation. All mail matter was received at Havana. There was never a mill built or a post office established within her borders until since the advent of railroads through this part of the county. They enjoyed the distinction of having a blacksmith-shop convenient to them at quite an early day. Martin Scott opened a shop just across the line, in Havana Township, as early as 1843 or 1844. Eli Hibbs built a shop in 1848, the first in the township, and has worked at his trade more or less every year since.

Before the building of schoolhouses, the "school marm" was abroad in the land. Miss Eliza Dentler was the first to instruct the youthful Suckers in this part of the county. The school was kept at the residence of her mother. She was regarded as a first-class teacher at the time, though it is probable that her literary attainments would fail to secure for her an appointment in most of our city schools of to-day. The first schoolhouse built in the township was designed to be located on the southeast corner of Section 8, on land belonging to James H. Chase. Upon a more accurate survey, it was found, however, to be on Section 9, on the land of Amos Heater. The building was erected in 1846-47, and Abe Millerson presided over the destinies of the first school. At present, the township has seven good school buildings and makes ample provision for the education of all her youth. The circuit-rider, who came to proclaim messages of divine love, followed early in the wake of the first settlers. Rev. Michael Shunk was, perhaps, the first through this section. Revs. Moreland and Hardin Wallace were here in an early day. Moreland was a man remembered for his more than ordinary ability in the pulpit, while Wallace was a young man noted for his fine singing. Of the latter, it is said he could open services, deliver his sermon, and close the exercises all inside of twenty minutes, especially when a few handsome young ladies were in his audience. Moreland was sent from his charge here to Purgatory Swamp, a name suggestive of the fact that all his eloquence and persuasive powers would be needed to reclaim its inhabitants. A small frame church, the only one in the township outside of the village of Easton, was erected by the German Evangelical Society in 1855 or 1856. Amos Heater and wife, John Shinglemeyer and family, Jacob Shinglemeyer and family, Henry Mehlhop, P. Morgenstern and others were among the early communicants. The first practitioner of the healing art was William Coder, who had settled in the eastern part of Havana Township in 1838. He was a minister of some reputation as well as a physician, and sought by his labors to heal spiritual as well as physical infirmities. Dr. Allen, from Indiana, was a man of fine abilities, and was also here at quite an early date.

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