FIRST ADVENTURES WITH
May 21, 1921
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.