Story of the Hollenbacks and the Phillips brothers.
Published in the Kendall County Record, October 2, 1907
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson
The destruction by fire, September 24th of the house owned by Oliver Anderson and occupied by Ben Fister, across the street from Coy's Grove, Newark, was reported in last week's Record as the third loss of that kind on these premises. The fact is it was the fourth loss by fire.
In the spring of 1832 a house on or near the same spot and occupied by Clark Hollenback, was reduced to ashes by the Indians. Mr. Hollenback had gone to Ottawa to get a plow sharpened and during his absence word was brought to the Newark settlement by a nephew of old Shabbona, warning the people to flee, as the Indians were on the war path. The settlers effected their escape none too soon. Hollenback's family made their way on foot and horseback to the fort at Ottawa. They started about dark and reached Ottawa the next day toward evening. On returning to Newark, as they did later, they found their house in ashes and not a trace of any of their belongings was left except a butcher knife on a stump and a tin cup at the spring. The spring is still there near the sidewalk as you approach Coy's Grove from the south.
The second fire on that place occurred in November 1837, when Mr. Hollenback's new barn burned. John C. Phillips, a brother of Thomas J. Phillips, was the carpenter who erected the building and his tools were in it when it went down. The grain and hay of that year were also in it and all was lost. John C. Phillips was deputy sheriff at the time and he and Hollenback and most of the neighbors were attending a lawsuit at Ottawa when the fire occurred. It was currently believed then and afterwards that there was foul play at the bottom of it, in connection with the lawsuit. A curious fact in this connection is that Mr. Phillips' house just across the woods on the Millington Road was consumed by fire the same day, while his wife was at the creek washing clothes. What is the difference, after all, between Indians and whites, that is, some whites.
The third conflagration took place soon after the Civil War, when Edward Wright's residence was accidentally consumed. It was a big disaster for that amiable family. Mr. Wright was the father-in-law of Attorney John "Hale" Fowler, Dr. C. A. Freeman, John "Henry" Verbeck and Charles E. Adams.
The fourth visit of the fire fiend to those premises on September 24, 1907 was a little more than 75 years after the first one. The origin of this last fire is a mystery, as it occurred in the daytime and the family occupying the house was at home. There was scarcely any wind and the fire burned slowly and could have been extinguished had there been a supply of water and other conveniences.