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

Mason County

First Settlement
Page 680

While permanent settlements did not begin to be made, prior to the year 1849, in this township, still, as early as the fall of 1844, one adventurous spirit was found within its limits. Ambrose Edwards, from Kentucky, made a squatter's improvement in what was Red Oak Grove, at the date above mentioned. He was the first to erect his log cabin and begin the cultivation of the soil. The grove in which he located was near the center of the township, but has long since faded from view. It was of small extent, perhaps one mile in length by one-half in width, and was consumed by the earliest settlers while most of it was held by pre-emption right by non-resident parties. Francis Dorrell, who had been a resident of the State since 1835, came from Sangamon County and settled on Section 31, in 1849. His was doubtless the second improvement in the township. His widow is still a resident. When he settled, not a human habitation was visible on the north, east or west. Stretching away in the distance, visions were sometimes caught, at sunset, of the village of Delavan, twenty-five miles away. Near the same date, William Briggs settled a short distance from where the village of Teheran now stands, but whence he came or whither he went, no one at present living there is able to say.

Peter Speice, from Ohio, came early in 1850, and located on Section 20, and was shortly afterward followed by George Sweigert, his father-in-law, who settled in the same locality. They both made improvements, and, after a few years' residence, sold out and moved to Mackinaw in Tazewell County. A year or two later, quite an influx of population was added to the citizenship of this section from the Keystone State. The settlement became so large in a few years, and the additions made were so uniformly from the same section of country, to the exclusion of almost all others, that it early acquired the distinction of Pennsylvania Settlement, a name yet in use to designate a certain portion of the township. In the fall of 1848, Henry Cease, from Luzerne County, Penn., came and stopped a short time in Havana. He soon purchased a farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits. During the spring and summer of 1851, Joseph and Abraham Cease, Jimison H. Wandel, John W. Pugh and Benedict Hadsall all came in from the same section of country. The Ceases were men of family, while Wandel, Pugh and Hadsall were single men. All were in what in now Havana Township a short time. In December, 1851, Henry Cease, J. H. Wandel and Abraham Cease went east across Crane Marsh to explore the country, and, on reaching Section 22, in what is now Pennsylvania Township, determined to locate and begin and making of their farms. They each entered a quarter-section and pre-empted the same amount. During the summer of 1852, Abraham and Joseph Cease each built a frame house and began opening up their farms. In April of the same year, Pugh, with whom the climate did not seem to agree, and who had disabled himself by hard work, prevailed upon Wandel to accompany him back to his former home. Wandel, whose favorable impressions of the great and growing West had led him to write back such glowing accounts of the country to his kinsmen, found, to his utter astonishment, upon the day of his arrival, a sale in progress at his father's and uncle's, both of whom, with their families, were on the eve of starting for Mason County. After a short sojourn among his native hills, in company with James Wandel, his father, Isaac Huneywell, a brother-ion-law, George Wandel, and uncle, and their families, he again turned his face westward. The entire journey was made by water, and the time consumed in coming from Pittsburgh to Havana was seven weeks. With bright hopes and eager expectations of what their future Western homes would soon be, these families had severed the ties that bound them to their native land, to battle with the thousand difficulties incident to pioneer life. But alas for human expectations, the shadow of a great grief accompanied them on their journey. The decease of Mrs. Huneywell, who had sickened on the way, occurred on the very night of their landing at Havana. Heart-broken and discouraged, with the care of five small children upon his hands, Isaac Huneywell, with J. H. Wandel as a companion, retraced the course so lately passed over. For a time, at least, it seemed that Wandel was destined to belong only to the floating population of the county. During his stay in Pennsylvania, he prepared himself more fully for citizenship in Illinois by taking as a helpmeet Sarah E. Depue, and, in the fall of 1852, with his father-in-law, Aaron Depue, and family, he again came to Mason County. In the summer of 1853, he erected his house and improved forty acres of his farm. He remained a citizen of the township until a few years ago, when he became a citizen of Mason City, in which he at present resides. The others mentioned all settled in the eastern portion of the county, though not all in Pennsylvania Township. Philip Cease came to the county in 1852, and settled south of Wandel on Section 22. George Wandel purchased an improved farm on which he settled near where the village of Teheran now stands. This, doubtless, was the farm owned and occupied by William Briggs, whose early settlement has already been noted. James Wandel entered and improved a farm on Section 27. James Depue and his family, consisting of George, Henry, James, Jr., Moses, Isaac and one daughter, Mary, settled just across the line, in what is now Salt Creek Township. During the spring and summer of 1853, we find the following settlers added to the list already given: George W. and Alexander Benscoter, William Legg, Asa Gregory, D. V. Benscoter and Joseph Statler. The Benscoters and Gregory were from Pennsylvania, Statler from the Buckeye State and Legg from Cass County, Hoosierdom. Legg entered the land pre-empted by J. H. Wandel, and made an improvement in the summer of 1853. The summer following, he sold out to George W. and Alexander Benscoter. Asa Gregory settled in the northwest corner of the township, remained a few years, then sold out and returned East. Joseph Statler settled in the south part, a short distance north of the present village of Teheran, on land now owned by J. McClung and J. H. Matthews. The records of the county show that he (Statler) was chosen Assessor in 1858 and 1859. He was also ex-officio County Treasurer, as these two offices were combined in one prior to the adoption of township organization, in 1862. A man of strict integrity and fine business abilities, it is needless to say that in these positions of public trust his duties were promptly, faithfully and ably performed. Some years since, he became a resident of Mason City, and the citizens of that thriving and prosperous city, recognizing his worth, have honored him with the office of City Judge.

D. V. Benscoter located on Section 26, east of Statler's, and, with many others of the family, is still a citizen of the township. Jack Conroy, from Ohio, made an improvement in the summer of 1854 on the southeast corner of the school section, where James Hurley at present resides. About the same date, Daniel and James Riner and David E. Cruse became citizens of the township. In 1856, J. Phink, from the Keystone State, made a farm in the south part of the township, and was soon followed by Jacob Benscoter, his father-in-law, who located in the same vicinity. While very many of the early settlers have passed over the river, to the land of shadows, many of their descendants remain citizens, and not a few occupy the farms entered and improved by their fathers.

Of others who became citizens of the county prior to 1860, and located in this township, we find the names of Andreas Furrer, A. J. Cates, Alexander Blunt, Charles Hadsall, J. L. Ingersoll, T. L. Kindle, Joel Severns, W. K. Terrell and John Van Hoon. Furrer was from Germany, and settled near the western limits of the township. Cates was from Tennessee, and Blunt from Kentucky. They both settled on Section 32, where they at present reside. Hadsall, Severns and Van Hoon were from Pennsylvania; Ingersoll, from Ohio; Kindle and Terrell, from New Jersey. Ingersoll settled in the northwest corner of the township, and the remainder in the central and eastern portions, except Terrell, who located in the southwest corner, on Section 30. From the year 1860 forward, changes occurred so frequently, by removals and new arrivals, that any attempt to point out the order in which citizens came in and took up their residence would necessarily be a vain and useless task. John W. Pugh, a citizen of later date, has been so prominently identified with her interests as to be worthy of more than a passing notice. He is mentioned as having come to the county in 1850. He did not locate in Pennsylvania Township until 1864, since which time he has served his fellow-citizens eleven years, in the capacity of Supervisor. He is the present incumbent, and his influence and sound judgment have much to do in the legislation of the affairs of the county. In 1874, he was chosen a member of the General Assembly, and here his influence was felt, and his votes stand recorded creditable to himself and his constituents. His entire official career has been alike creditable to his head and heart.

The earliest settlers of Pennsylvania Township were not wholly exempt from the inconveniences and difficulties which are ever attendant companions to those who pioneer the way in the settlement and improvement of a new country. The snorting of the iron horse had not at that date been heard within the limits of the county. Mason City and the villages in the eastern and southern part of the county had not yet been born. Havana was the only point for the shipment and sale of their extra produce. A large and, for the most part of the year, impassable swamp lay between them and it. In order to "fetch" their grain to market, the unloading and reloading of it five or six times was by no means an unusual occurrence. So accustomed to miring did teams become that the moment a halt was made, even though it might be on solid ground, they would lie down, through fear of finding the bottom some distance below the surface if they remained standing. Much of the early settler's time was consumed in marketing his produce, and the feat of crossing the swamp successfully with a good full load could only be accomplished during the severity of winter.

Those coming in since the era of railroads in different portions of the county know but little, by experience, of the difficulties and trials that the settlers of 1849 and the early fifties endured. Their early milling was done on the Mackinaw, and, of later years, at Simmonds' and McHarry's, on Quiver. Their nearest post office was Havana, distant some fifteen or eighteen miles. The township has never had a post office established within its limits, save the one at present existing at Teheran. No grist-mill, so far as we have been advised, has ever been erected in any portion of it.

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