The Old Settlers' Picnic 8-5-1896

Old Settlers' Gathering.

A Perfect Day. A Large Attendance and Enjoyable Time.
Originally Published in the Kendall County Record, August 5, 1896.
Edited and Compiled by Elmer Dickson.

At six o'clock Thursday morning, July 30, 1896, the mercury in the thermometers indicated 80 degrees of heat, and as the night had been one of exceptional warmth, it was feared by the officers that the Old Settlers' picnic at Yorkville would be slimly attended. But during the forenoon the wind worked around to the north, then northeast, and life again became endurable, and the people began to come. The number was not large before dinner, but it was a nice company that drove to the ground, ate their dinners and chatted together in the shade.

At one o'clock there was a large crowd present and when the Yorkville band began the music at the amphitheater the seats of the long structure were quickly filled, and the exercises began. There were nearly a thousand people in the seats, and five hundred more about the grounds, making a goodly show. It was a quiet home-gathering of those who have made this county second to none in culture and domestic good living.

The exercises opened with prayer by Reverend F. L. Sanborn, pastor of the Yorkville Congregational Church, and his invocation was an eloquent and fervid petition for God's blessing on the occasion, on the county, State and Nation. He asked that the Lord guide the people in their duties as the sovereign rulers of this magnificent county.

The choir led in singing 'America,' the audience joining in with a will that made the rafters ring with patriotic fervor.

Mr. John Fitzgerald apologized for appearing with so perfunctory a duty as an address of welcome, because he intimated that the pioneers of the county were the 'whole thing' and the younger generation could only rise up and say that the duty of those who had made this the garden spot of the State had been nobly done, and that they were welcome to everything there was in sight. John went on and made a capital speech which was heartily applauded.

After a splendid old song by the choir, Secretary Gale read the report of the dead of the past year, which was followed by the soul-stirring hymn, 'Blest be the Tie that Binds,' by the choir.

The election of officers for the ensuing year took place and resulted as follows:

John R. Marshall, President.

J. Arthur Gale, Secretary and Treasurer.

Vice Presidents:

Ralph Heap, Seward Township.

Morgan Alexander 'Dick' Skinner, Lisbon Township.

Thomas Jefferson Phillips, Big Grove Township.

Matthew Budd, Fox Township.

Robert Leitch, Kendall Township.

Edmund S. Seely, NaAuSay Township.

Myron L. Wormley, Oswego Township.

Aaron M. Boomer, Bristol Township.

Gilbert 'Denslow' Henning, Little Rock Township.

General Smith D. Atkins, editor of the Daily Journal, at Freeport, Illinois was then introduced and he gave an address that pleased the audience to the heart's core, and he was listened to with strict attention which was only ruffled when the General told one of his inimitable stories, which created a breeze of smiles all along the line. Mr. Atkins is an old campaigner, and he feared he could not make a speech in these stirring times without lugging into politics; but he did. He covered his forty-five minutes without a break, and spoke loudly and distinctly so that he was heard by all.

He took issue with Mr. Fitzgerald as to the location of the garden spot of Illinois, and while he accorded all praise to the beautiful county of Kendall, he wanted the people here to know that Stephenson County was in the border of this State, and that was the garden spot, as he could bear witness, after fifty years residence there. He then talked of the States of the south and the predilection of many to go there on account of the climate. He had been through that section and warned his hearers if they were well fixed in the North, it was the place for them to stay. He was in Florida last winter and experienced the beautiful climate and saw the fruit, but said that everything that was grown with any success was done by the use of commercial fertilizers. He saw an old Negro near St. Augustine and was talking with him about the crops and the General spoke of the splendid climate.

'Yes,' said the old colored man, 'De climate am worf a thousand dollars an acre, but de land ain't worf a dam.'             

The speaker then told of the settlement of the Northwest territories and gave incidents of the Black Hawk War, then branched off on his experiences a farmer's boy fifty years ago and his success in driving oxen to do farm work. His story of the yoke of oxen that ran away with him brought down the house. In the closing he admonished his audience of the duties of American citizenship and bade them to be true to the old flag and earnest in their protection of the best government on earth. He sat down amidst a roar of applause, and Smith D. Atkins had captured the hearts of the old settlers of Kendall County and their children.

The band played a fine selection and the audience became communicative with one another. So much so, it was almost impossible to get quiet while Mrs. Delia A. Aldrich, of Millington, read her paper on her experiences in the early days. But the lady managed her part with excellent tact and her remarks were very valuable as an historical account of what they did and who did it those days of old. If she will furnish the manuscript to the Record it will be published next week.

Mrs. Mary Elizabeth (Scofield) Hopper made some remarks as to the purposes of the women to build a house on the Fair Grounds as a 'rest cottage,' to be in charge of the W. T.C.U., and said calls would be made on the friends in the future for money to aid in the work. Mrs. Hopper is one of the first settlers, but we hesitate to call her an old one. She is the daughter of the late John C. Scofield of Bristol. Mrs. Hopper is an interesting speaker.

As a ballgame had commenced on the ground north of the stand, and the folks wanted to see it and to talk, the meeting adjourned and resolved itself into an old fashioned social. It was after six o'clock before the grounds were cleared. We are happy to say that it was a great success, and it was a quiet, neighborly picnic for elderly people and their friends without accessories of any fakir shows or cane rackets. Those go better for the Fair and gatherings where 'fun' is the word.


Jonas Seely was over from Joliet.

Miss Marbry Henning was at the picnic.

Miss Cassie Collins and brother were down from Oswego.

Dr. Daniel Smith Jenks and his wife Lucinda (Hickok) Jenks were over from Plano, and met many friends.

Misses Robins, Cowdrey and Malcolm of Oswego, witness the ballgame Thursday.

Rufus Gray and Harrison Albee were down from Aurora, both veterans of this section.

Mr. Crouse the Presbyterian minister of Oswego was a considerable factor in the ballgame.

Of course Reuben Owen of Little Rock Township was present. He is always happy to meet his old-time friends.

The lumber for the platform was kindly loaned by Messrs. Jeter and Boston, 'without money and without price.'

Miss Munger came down from Aurora to represent Mrs. John K. LeBaron, and was a guest of Mrs. Platt until Friday evening.

O. K. Lemere, from down the river, likes to meet with the Kendall people, and always finds time to come to this picnic and the Fair.

Mrs. Earl Palmer and Miss Mae Eggleston came down from Aurora to attend the picnic, and to call on friends who are always glad to see her.

Mrs. Dr. Calvin Wheeler has lived for fifty-seven years on the same lot on which her residence now is, on the north side of the river.

Baseball is an attraction, and when the boys began to play on the ball ground it was hard to hold the attention of the audience to the business at the speaker's stand.

Gilbert 'Denslow' Henning, so well know as Denslow Henning, has lived in the same locality at Plano for more than sixty years, and is one of the most ardent supporters of these meetings.

From the Aurora Herald: 'The Kendall County picnic was largely attended Thursday, many going down from Aurora. The day was perfect for such an event and the picnic was unusually enjoyable.

Mrs. Sarah (Wheeler) Page was down from Aurora, and while she was very young when she first settled in the town of Bristol, she does not want her friends to consider her an old settler.

Mrs. Charles E. Edgerton of Creston, Iowa, was on the ground. She is a sister of the late John Litsey, and for many years lived in the town of Big Grove, south of Newark. Her people were among the pioneers of the county.

Mr. George Bedford and Miss Bedford were over from Seward Township. on their return home they made the Record office a call. Miss Bedford has been an efficient correspondent to this paper for some time.

Mr. Ed. S. Fletcher is one of the old residents of Lisbon Township, though still comparatively a young man, he may be classed as one of the early settlers because his life has been spent pretty much all in this county.     

Among the Oswego ball players were Newton Pearce, center rush of the Northwestern College football team; Garrett Seely of the University of Illinois; Charles Reed of Beloit College; and Scott Cutter, a graduate of the University of Illinois.

Mrs. Walter Pearce, mother of George W. Kimball, was one of the oldest settles present. She has been a resident of Oswego Township for sixty-five years. Her son George came down from Aurora to escort the aged mother to the picnic, and the good old lady enjoyed the meeting.

John M. Kennedy and daughter, Miss Kennedy, were out from Chicago and enjoyed a splendid day with the old-time neighbors. Mr. Kennedy settled near Plano, May 7, 1834, and lived in that vicinity for many years. He was warmly greeted by the older people, who were most happy to see him.

We believe ex-Sheriff and Mrs. Ami D. Newton are about as early comers as there were on the ground, and there are no people better known. They were living here early in the 1830's, and are a good part and parcel of Kendall County.

The Pearce family was one of the earliest to come to the Oswego region settling here about 1833. About all of the fathers and mothers have now passed away. Messrs. Their worthy descendants, Colvin Pearce and James Pearce were on the grounds Thursday.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jefferson Phillips of Newark have a very early record in the history of the county. They were married under a license issued by Marcus A. Fenton, the first County Clerk of the county. We are not going to say how long ago, for they are a well preserved couple, and the Record is very cautious about giving away a lady's age.

The managers of the Kendall County Fair Association most kindly gave the use of the grounds and buildings for this occasion, and it is certainly a great accommodation. It is hoped the good people will remember the courtesy and reciprocate by a generous attendance at the fair the first week in September.

The Oswego ball team came down to assist in the celebration by playing the Yorkville 'Maroons,' and a more laughable game could not have been played. Both sides played loose ball and didn't hold together. The utmost good nature was characteristic, and the 'Maroons' closed the game in the sixth inning with the score 34 to 11 in their favor.

Aunt Harriet Hay, who lives her son, Supervisor Hay of Somonauk, was present with her son and daughter, Harriet Payne. Nearly sixty years ago she lived in old Bristol and for some years on the lot where Dr. Hoadley's residence now is. She is nearly 96 years of age, and may be ranked as one of the oldest of our people. She never forgets little Kendall and the days she was one of its people.

The venerable and honored Thomas Finnie, of Fox Township, is the only surviving member of Kendall County's first Board of Supervisors. The county was placed under the township organization law in 1849, and Mr. Finnie was the first Supervisor of the town of Fox. He is still living on the same old farm but did not feel strong enough to attend this picnic.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Naden were here from Seward. They were alone. Uncle Tom says they have nine children married and settled in homes of their own. The good old couple is just where they commenced life, oh so many years ago, with just the two of them at home.

The venerable John Shurtliff of Seward, who came here in 1831, and is now nearly ninety years of age, was not able to come to the gathering, but sent his warmest regards to the association by his neighbor, Ralph Heap. Uncle John's compliments were properly presented to the meeting.

Secretary and Treasurer, J. Arthur Gale did his work splendidly, and makes this report of the financial part of the affair, which was not expensive. He received from rent of privileges for lunch and candy stands, etc. $7.00; from the general collection, $13.00. Total receipts, $20.00. He paid out for the band, $15.00; hauling lumber, erecting stand, etc. $3.25; for printing and postage, $1.75; which certainly was a very economical outlay for a gathering of 1,500 people.

Honorable George Mathias Hollenback was, of course, here. While his physical being is housed in Aurora, his spiritual being remains in Kendall County, the place of his birth. He was born in what is now the town of Fox, December 1, 1831, the first white child born in the county. He has a twin sister now living in Macon County, Illinois, and this couple will always be known in the history of the Fox River Valley. Mrs. Julia Ann (Woodworth) Hollenback (Mrs. George Mathias Hollenback) and her sister, Mrs. VanDoozer, were also present.

Christopher C. Duffy came up from Ottawa to see his old neighbors and former school pupils. He had no political errand, for though he is a candidate on the Republican ticket for reelection as Appellate Court Clerk, he has no opponent, and is sure of election. It is always breezy when Chris. Is around, and he talked soldier talk and politics until his arm was tired. His daughter, Miss Ruth Duffy, accompanied him and went over to Plano to visit Miss May Foster for some days.

Mrs. Shields and Miss Beaubien were out from Chicago and have been guests of Mrs. Robert Lormor (Elizabeth A. (Tremain) Lormor) and Miss Harriet 'Ada' Lormor. These ladies are granddaughters of the late Mark Beaubien, who in his lifetime was one of the best known men in Northern Illinois. He was a pioneer indeed, and the first hotel keeper in Chicago. The stories told of Mark Beaubien would fill a book. He was often out in this section of the country, and some of the older people doubtless remember him. It was an honor to have two of his descendants at the picnic.

Among others present (and there was a host we cannot recall) there were:

Dr. Blexton Harris.

George Washington Harris.

Jacob French Pope.

Conover Rezo Cook, Sr..

Sheldon Hiram Wheeler.

Mrs. Sarah Ann (Hollenback) Boyd; (Mrs. William Price Boyd.)

John Parker.

Lewis M. Morgan.

John A. Wheeler.

Chancy Y. Godard.

John S. Seely.

Lucy C. (Spellman) Seely; (Mrs. John S. Seely.)

Henrietta (Emmons) Loucks; (Mrs. Almerin Loucks.)

Matthew Budd.

Louisa (Wing) Newell; (Mrs. John A. Newell.)

John H. Morgan, Sr..

William Grimwood.

The above parties came to the county before 1848, and are ranked with the pioneers. The Record would be pleased to name all of the pioneers, but the editor had his hands nearly full Thursday, and has done the best he could. It is hoped the Vice-Presidents elected will take up this work and report the pioneers present at future gatherings from their several towns.

The choir was a great help; it perfected the program in a marked degree. When you want any singing done, call on Captain Franklin Moody Hobbs and his able co-adjustors. The singing sounded splendid and the song 'Illinois,' by Captain Franklin Moody Hobbs with Fred B. Hill, William Hill, and Arthur Prince  (A. P) Hill as chorus was encored. It was a pleasing feature of the day. Those who made up the choir were:


Mary Evelyn' (Hill) Hobbs; (Mrs. Charles Franklin Hobbs)

Miss Lina Bebee.

Miss Jessie Crum.

Mary (Marshall) McClelland; (2nd Mrs. Robert A. McClelland.)


Miss Sophia Hill.

Mrs. F. L. Sanborn.

Elizabeth R. (Austin) Kinnett; (2nd Mrs. William E. Kinnett)

Helen (McOmber) Elliott; (Mrs. George Elliott.)

Ella D. (Ricketson) Hill; (Mrs. William T. Hill)

Jennie (McMurtrie) Godard; (2nd Mrs. James Aaron Godard)

Miss Mabel Beebe.


William T. Hill.

Franklin Moody Hobbs.

John E. Crum.

Paul Dearborn.


Dr. William E. Kinnett.

Fred B. Hill.

Arthur Prince (A. P.) Hill.

Necrological Report.

Date of death.                                                                                   Age.   


Jul 30             Nelson Hubbard, Kendall                                      66

Jul 30             Thomas Atherton, Kendall                                     70

Aug 1             Melissa (Dodge) Cleveland, Big Grove               75

Aug 6             Henry S. Jessup, NaAuSay                                   64

Aug 15           Lewis W. Harvig, Bristol                                         50

Aug 17           Carrie L. Dyer (Miss). Bristol                                 41

Sep 2              George Gale, Little Rock                                      78

Sep 11           James S. Cornell, Kendall                                     87

Sep 12           Mary D. (Hopkins) Congdon, Oswego                 76

Oct 6               Lott Scofield, Big Grove                                        70

Oct 8               Sidney S. Collins, Oswego                                   67

Oct 9               Anna (Stamper) Wilkinson, Lisbon                      65

Oct 10             Mary Ann (Wheeler) Johnson (NaAuSay)           72

Oct 15             Cyrus Baker, Oswego                                           82

Oct 16             James McCauley, Seward                                   66

Oct 17             Delight E. (Tuttle) Hanna, Lisbon                         48

Oct 23             Mason Marble, Bristol                                           98

Nov 2              Henry Hable, Kendall                                             73

Nov 5              Martha (Ames) Mabbott, Bristol                           75

Nov 7              Sarah Ann (Burton) Minkler, Oswego                  81

Nov 20           Fred Beane, Seward                                              62

Nov 26           Jeannette (Eldredge) Casler, Little Rock             66

Nov 30           Elsa 'Almira' (Newton) Barrows, Big Grove        64

Dec 1              Henry Rickert, Oswego                                        70

Dec 16           Lucinda Tooley, (Mrs. Henry) Bristol                    86


Jan 9              Sarah E. (Marvin) Ketchum, NaAuSay                60

Jan 14            Ebenezer Neff, Big Grove                                    63

Jan 14            Mary Jane (Austin) Thompson, NaAuSay          69

Jan 19            Eli Darnell, Little Rock                                          65

Jan 23            Anna (Baumgart) Salfisberg, Kendall                75

Feb 5              Clarence Hall, Kendall                                         35       

Feb 7              Ellen (Smethhurst) Shaw, Lisbon                       85

Feb 14            Maria Bowne, Kendall                                         75

Feb 17            Joseph Jenkinson, Kendall                                 72

Feb 18            A. B. Whipple, Oswego                                       84

Feb 19            Maria Ann (Wetsel) Burr, Oswego                      86

Feb 24            Martha Jenkinson, Kendall                                   68

Mar 1              Jesse Brady, Little Rock                                       82

Mar 5              Cora 'Belle' (Newton) Jackson, Fox                   37

Mar 9              Huburtus Martin Falkenburg, Seward                  57

Mar 11            Samuel A. Lyons, Little Rock                               60

Mar 25            Stephen Fox, Oswego                                          48

Mar 29            Eva May (Broad) Skinner, Lisbon                       65

Apr 7               David Gillam, Bristol                                             91

Apr 12            Bethia Prine, (Mrs. Simeon N. Prine) Bristol      84

Apr 15            Jacob Budd, Fox                                                   84

Apr 23                        James R. McLain, NaAuSay                    89

Apr 29                        Marvin Connelly, Little Rock                     41

May 2             Elizabeth (Hobson) Foulston, NaAuSay             74

May 6             Lyman Lane, Bristol                                               97

May 11           Isabella S. (Crothers) Jolly, Bristol                       81

Jun 4              Gertrude (Boyd) Lewis, Bristol                             47

Jun 13            James C. Shepard, Oswego                               76

Jun 25            Sarah E. 'Sally' Litsey Tallmadge, Kendall        60

Jun 26            Rachel (Hopkins) Richards, Oswego                  87

Jul 4               Peter Phillips, Lisbon                                            77

Jul 8               William B. Lord, Little Rock                                  77

Captain Garrett Collins, formerly of Big Grove, died at Aurora, aged 76 years.

There have been fifty-seven deaths among the old settlers in the county since July 18, 1895.

The oldest person who died was Mason Marble of Bristol, aged 98 years. The youngest was Clarence Hall of Kendall, about 35 years of age. The average age was 71 years.

There were three deaths over ninety years, Mason Marble, 98; Lyman Lane, 97; and David Gillam, 91; all from the town of Bristol. If you want to live long, come to Bristol. There were thirteen deaths of 80 years or over; sixteen of 70 and over; sixteen of 60 and over; and nine under 60. While some of these have died out of the county they have been residents here most of their lives.

Hoping that the Grim Reaper will deal more gently with the residents of this county in the coming year, I am, J. A. Gale, Secretary.

Last Modified on 2012-12-21 05:08:48-0600 CST by Elmer Dickson