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May 21, 1921


During the seasons of 1837-8 there were large additions to our population.  Among them the following:  Geo. Garrett; Ed Evers; Samuel Slocomb and family, Gilbert Buckingham and family; John Robertson; Mrs. Winans, mother of Mahlon and Aaron; Samuel Hopper; Cheney Olds and family; William Barnes and family; Henry Fuller, afterward senator from Colorado; Mr. Boyinton and family and men named Bliss and Carpenter; Cooper; Melvine and Rice whose first names I cannot recall.


Among the improvements of the period Alfred Slocumb built a store, Samuel Slocumb built a house and his son Samuel built another one.  Buckingham built a house; Wash Olds and Sam Mitchell built a store. Meanwhile the country was settling up and farms were being opened and Slocumb and Minty streets were thoroughfares leading into the country.


As to steamboats the Brazil was making a round trip every two weeks between Cincinnati and Galena.  The Relief, commanded by Capt. Smith Harris, was also in service.  One trip he went up Rock river with her as far as he could and staked out a claim calling it Harrisburg.  This claim is now being occupied by the city of Sterling.


Right here I might say that Smith Harris went to Galena in 1828 with his father and four brothers.  Keeler, Scribe, Meeker, and Jack, all later steamboat owners and masters except Jack. Smith Harris was one of my first steamboat acquaintances and a life long friend.  At one time he built the Rock River, with which to navigate that stream, but found it a losing venture and put her in the upper river trade.  He and his brother built and owned many boats during their career.  Among them are the Pioneer; Preception; Pizario; Lightfoot; Otter; Grey Eagle; West Newton; Senator and Dr. Franklin No. 2 on which boat I did my first steamboat work.  Many of these steamers took first rank in their day.


Getting back to Albany again will say that the first school was held in the fall of 1837 in one room of a house built by Samuel Searles and then occupied by Cherry Olds and family and stood where is now Amos Pletcher’s stable.  C. R. Road was the teacher and here is where I got my first schooling.  Religious services were not frequent, perhaps once a month up to that time.  The congregational church was built in 1838, the work on same being practically all donated.  Am sure I did my share.  One of the first preachers I can remember was a Mr. Emmerson, later of Sabula, Iowa.  I think a Methodist church was built the same season.


From this time the incidents I shall relate may not be in proper order up to the fall of 1841.  They are perfectly clear in my memory but the time of their occurrence in many cases is not clear.


Among those who came in and went on claims outside of town were the Minty’s; Grant Newitt; some of the Slocumb’s; Spurlock and Beardsworth.  Among those who located in town were Peter Van Nest; B. S. Quick; S. D. Ewing; the Hugunins.  A man named Boyce, and some others, built a saw mill in the upper part of town in1840.


During these years I was engaged in a great variety of labor. We had broken another forty, we made rails from timber on the island and hauled them over and fenced it.  Some of the previous fencing not proving just what we wanted, we cut cedar posts, which were quite plentiful along shore and very numerous on what was known as Cedar Creek, and with these posts and pine timber we replaced portions of the old fence in good shape.  It may be interesting to know that today, January 23, 1905, I can locate some of these posts on the places of W. D. Gopst and H. D. Booth, set out more than sixty-five years ago. On this place we raised several crops while I remained with Alfred Slocumb and one crop of potatoes I remember especially as it was the largest yield and the largest potatoes I ever saw. I placed eleven of them on a half bushel measure and it was as full as it could hold.


Around the home I had the care of half a dozen cows.  Slocumb boarded by contract the stage horses which were coming in once a day from each way, changing at this point of which I had the care.  Then there was the flat boat, we used in the operation of a wood yard, that was hauled wholly by myself and a helper.  We would take it or have it towed above to where the elder Chandler was cutting and putting wood on the bank, get part of a load, float it down to the yard finish loading and have it ready for the next boat. I also helped to cut a great deal of the wood on the island.  I prepared wood for the house which was run as a hotel.  Here I will say that the first stoves I ever saw were bought by Slocumb in Cincinnati during this time.  One was a cook stove and the other called a Franklin for use in the office in the hotel or “bar room” as it was then called.  The two cost one hundred fifty dollars and the Franklin was open built like a fire place with brass mounted and, irons or fire dogs.  I watched the arrival of the boats and escorted people to the hotel.  I knew many of the captains of the boats that wooded with us and later numbered many of them among my friends.


One morning I went to the landing to meet a boat the Falcon,  I think and the captain tied a barge to a bit pin oak that stood near the house.  As he was backing out the Captain called to me and asked if I would look after the barge saying he would be back the next morning.  I said I would.  Next morning we were both on time and I said “Captain, there’s your barge, all right.”  He put his hand in his pocket and threw me what proved to be a Mexican dollar, the current coin of the time.  It looked to me to be about as big as a cart wheel and was the first dollar I ever got of my own.


In 1839 a state road was laid out from Albany southward to Penny’s ferry on Rock river, thence on to Geneseo and beyond, Alfred Slocumb was one of the county commissioners and I assisted in the survey by hauling out the stakes and driving many of them.  Think C. R. Road did the surveying as he had been elected county surveyor.  The first mile was set on the edge of Spurlock bottom near the corner of Dr. Dimond’s farm and the Ellingham place; the second was in the gully on the other side of the bottom and the third at the Slocumb street school home where it turned south to the “Dosia” bottoms.  I remember the locations of many others but these are sufficient.


When we located at Albany it was apart of Joe Davis County, which was early organized and settled owing to the discovery of lead in the Northern part of the state and county.  When Whiteside county was organized.  I was a witness and know of the subdividing and naming of townships and the fractional townships along the river.  The latter were among the first surveyed and the land placed on the market.  The settlers then on this land went to the U. S. land office at Galena, and finished getting title to their places.  The uniform price was one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre.


One incident out of the ordinary I recall, think it was in 1840, that will show public sentiment in those days and how that sentiment will change.  A man named Lee came to town and began teaching music and geography, the latter science being often taught separately from other school work in those days.  Where Lee came from I cannot say but he was getting on fairly well when one day he gave utterance to some abolition sentiments in an address which resulted in a plan to rotten egg him and some eggs were actually thrown at the door of the house in which he was speaking.  The names of those participating in the demonstration would include the best and most prominent citizens of the day.



Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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