Plano's Fiftieth Anniversary 1903
Plano Picnic Pleases People.
The Golden Anniversary on a Golden Day.
Old Settlers Gather and are Happy. President Bennett and Secretary Freebern are Congratulated. Relics of Olden Time. Home Speakers Entertain. Honorable George M. Hollenback. Avery N. Beebe, John F. Smith Give Reminiscences.
Compiled and Edited by Elmer Dickson
Originally Published in the Kendall County Record, July 7, 1903.
Plano's fiftieth anniversary has become a page in Kendall County's history, an event long to be remembered, not only by the city but by the township of Little Rock and the County of Kendall as well. Thursday the 25th, was a bright June day, with clear sky and a light breeze. The cool summer weather that has been prevailing for some time proved to be just the thing for the picnickers, and the temperature was just right. The affair was in charge of the Historical Society of the Meramech Club of Plano and all the vim and enthusiasm of Plano's best citizens was brought into play in the preparations. The committees in charge, fulfilled their duties with untiring zeal and everybody on the grounds was generous in praising the completeness of the whole affair.
'To help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Plano and the coming of the railroad in 1853,' read the invitations. This gives the essence of the whole occasion; the first birthday Plano has ever celebrated. The people of the county turned out in full to honor the event and observe the day that to Plano and Little Rock meant so much. Steward's Park began to throng with people about ten o'clock in the morning. People with their lunch baskets and hammocks and swings began to establish themselves under the beautiful shade trees, and prepare to spend the day in comfort. It reminded one of the old-fashioned day at a county fair. The popcorn stands, peanut wagons, venders of all kinds of souvenirs, and even the merry-go-round were all there, and all seemed to be doing a thriving business. The stands with the patriotic lemonade held the crowd of buyers and the farmer lad and his lady-best sat under the inviting canopy for two or three hours at time regaling themselves on red, white and blue pop and ice cream.
In the forenoon the young lads of Plano and Leland played a close game of baseball. It was an interesting contest from the start and was anybody's game up to the last. Leland finally took the lead in the seventh inning and held it to the finish. Final score 10 to 7 in favor of Leland.
After the dinner hour the people already on the grounds began to spread around and the crowd of the day began to arrive. The railroad brought them in from all directions, and hundreds drove. The cable surrounding the large park was lined with rigs, packed as closely as they could stand. By 1:30 the crowd had assembled around the speaker's stand. A very conservative estimate of the number on the grounds at two o'clock would place the figure at 2, 000. The old settlers were numerous and everything possible was done to get them seated near the platform.
At 1:30 the audience was called to order by the President of the Meramech Club, Dr. Isaac E. Bennett. He introduced Reverend Dr. Henry who gave the invocation. The President then gave a short address of welcome and introduced John F. Steward of Chicago, President of the Kendall County Historical Society. He delivered a good address on the history of Plano and Little Rock Township, commencing in 1770, when the French missionaries and soldiers marched down the Fox River Valley. He referred briefly to the battle of the Fox Indians and French and Iroquois allies in 1730. At the close of his address he dwelt largely on the development of the harvester industry in Plano and stated that two of the great revolutions in the improvement of harvester machinery had taken place here. He introduced Honorable C. M. Marsh, one of the inventors of the Marsh harvesters, who spoke further of his experience in manufacturing harvesters in Plano, giving due credit to Lewis Steward, George Steward and John F. Hollister, who perfected the Marsh invention.
Avery N. Beebe of Yorkville then read a paper of early reminiscences, giving many amusing incidents.
Reverend John B. McGuffin of Sheridan made some spicy and well chosen remarks on his Plano experience, having been pastor of the Plano M. E. Church from 1874 to 1877. Mr. McGuffin has always been popular in Plano and his friends gave him a hearty welcome.
Dr. G. H. Robertson of Sandwich gave a short but eloquent address on 'What they did and how they lived fifty years ago.'
Honorable George Mathias Hollenback of Aurora, but born in Kendall County in 1831, gave an interesting talk on his recollections of Plano people back in the 1850's.
Mr. Lawrence Rank told of some interesting incidents that occurred fifty years ago. One in regard to a slave trying to purchase his freedom from his master, with a letter which he read dated December 1853.
George 'Graham' Hunt, Sr. of Bristol, who came to this county in 1840, spoke of early times and of the geology of the county. He had specimens of metal from clay and rock in this county that would yield platinum, gold, silver, cadmium iridium, etc., to the amount of $300,000 per ton.
Mr. Benjamin A. Darnell, aged 72 years, born in Illinois, spoke briefly of early days. He has lived in this vicinity nearly all his life.
The exercises at the stand were opened by L. M. Eaton of Sheridan, Illinois, the youngest drummer boy of the Civil War, who played the long roll on the drum he carried in the army, and later, with John F. Steward as fifer, they gave a sample of the old time martial music.
The vocal music was in charge of Charles Fremont Tuller with Mrs. Fisher as organist. The two quartets were composed of Misses Carpenter, Burson, Kendall and Bradley; and Messrs, Tuller, Wyatt, Mighell and Young who did well with the old-time songs. The gentlemen looked ancient in silk hats and linen coats, while the ladies were adorned with old-fashioned cotton dresses distended by crinoline and poke bonnets.
A register was circulated by Amer B. Cook, and he obtained the names of 134 persons on the grounds who had been residents of Little Rock Township fifty or more years.
The Plano band dispensed old familiar tunes and patriotic airs during the day, and played them as if that line of work was their specialty. A stroll through the museum of antiquities disclosed some of the most interesting features of the day. An old oats cradle, an oxen yoke, yarn and wool spindles and spinning wheels were displayed in the large tent and each article was tagged and dated. An old flint-lock gun attracted the attention of the reporter and proved to be an interesting relic of the old days. It was brought to the United States by William Bennett, whose grandfather, Henry Bennett, used it in support of the English cause in the Revolutionary War. Rusty and weak-jointed with age, it tells a silent story of the birth of this nation and the trials of our forefathers.
In a case of old curios, a person could find material enough for a week's investigation. Indian relics found in the county, old canteens, knapsacks and other army supplies used by Kendall County men in the Indian Wars and the Civil War received a good deal of attention and handling from the crowd of interested sightseers. An old copy of the New York Herald, dated April 15, 1865, gave a long detailed account of the assignation of President Lincoln. With a scare-head half a column long and inverted column rules it presented a queer appearance alongside the news sheets of today.
An old book that was used to chronicle the first township records of Little Rock Township was dated 1850 to 1874. On the first page of the book the results of the first election of officers of Little Rock Township was recorded. We publish the report here verbatim:
'At the first annual Town Meeting held at Ryon's schoolhouse in the township of Little Rock on the 2nd day of April, A. D. 1850, the following named persons were elected to the following respective offices thereto attached to their names, to-wit:
Archibald Sears, Supervisor.
Henry J. Cook, Town Clerk.
Johnson Foster, Assessor.
Amer B. Cook, Overseer of the Poor.
Peleg Jones, Commissioner of Highways.
Nathan C. Mighell, Commissioner of Highways.
Marcus Steward, Commissioner of Highways.
Josiah Lehman, Justice of the Peace.
Thomas R. Treat, Justice of the Peace.
Henry Parsons, Collector.
Charles J. Lincoln, Collector.
We certify the above to be a correct copy of the names of the persons who were duly elected to the offices at a town meeting held at Ryon's schoolhouse April 2, 1850.' Signed Thomas R. Treat, Moderator, Henry Abby, Clerk.
The ball game in the afternoon was between the Aurora team of the Interstate League and the Chicago Gunthers. It was a long drawn out contest, with no exciting features and entirely devoid of fast ball. The grass diamond and trees in the field are to blame for a great deal of the uninteresting part of the contest. If a batter could hit a ball into the trees in left field he could take two bases anyway, and several times during the game the left fielder had to stand and wait for the ball to fall out of the tree, and incidentally watch the dress parade of base-runners walking bases. At times Munsch would let the candy men hit his delivery all over the field and then he would settle down and demonstrate his ability to play a strike-out game. 'Duke' Antoine, a young Somonauk man, played his first game with the Aurora club and made a creditable showing behind the bat. He is favorably remembered by the local team of two or three years ago and his friends are glad to see him playing in fast company. Aurora began to lead in the fifth inning when the score became 8 to 5, and the Gunthers saw no more of the shining light that leads to victory. The final figures were 16 to 13 in Aurora's favor. The desire of both teams to give the crowd a 'good old-fashioned game' doubtless accounts for the high score.
It was nearly six o'clock when the ballgame was finished and the crowd in a rush for something with which to sustain the inner man, literally swamped the hotel and restaurants. Those more fortunate beings that had also brought their suppers enjoyed them in peace in the park. The athletic sports took place up town on Main Street. Foot races, sack races, tugs of war and several other events to amuse the crowd were pulled off. The hose cart races by the two Plano companies were interesting to watch and the two teams made good time in their runs. Louis Warby was tripped near the water tank and the heavy cart wheel struck him in the head cutting a wide gash in his scalp. He was taken into Dr. Lord's office where his wound was dressed, and it is thought his injuries will not be serious. Milton Irving was overcome by the exertion of the two races and rolled over unconscious. After some effort he was brought back to consciousness and taken to a place of comfort.
The band gave a concert in the park on the south side of the business street and the day was completed with an old fashioned ball at Steward's Opera House in the evening.
There is a movement to make the organization permanent and the picnic an annual occasion. It is suggested that the affair be held at the different towns in the county each year, with Newark, Oswego, Plattville, Lisbon or Yorkville having it next year.
Quite a number of speakers who were prominently mentioned in the advertisements were not present and many of the old residents expressed their disappointment. Speaker Hopkins, 'Billy' Cummins, B. J. Gifford and others well known to Kendall County in years gone by, and who are affectionately retained in the memory of our people, were expected to be present and talk to their old fellow citizens, but for some reason or reasons they were absent.
Dr. Isaac E. Bennett, President and Professor J. R. Freebern, Secretary, are responsible in a great measure for the success of the affair. All those gentlemen wearing the badge with the 'Reception Committee' did their level best to make the day a record breaker and every individual as happy and comfortable as possible. The crowd was the largest ever entertained in our neighboring city and the Meramech club can feel proud of the way in which the visitors were handled.
List of Curios.
Copies of eleven papers published in Kendall County since 1850: Little Rock Press, 1853; Courier and Free Press, Oswego, published by H. S. Humphrey; Kendall County Record and Yorkville News, published in Yorkville; News, Mirror, Latter DaySaints Herald, Times, Pivot and Press, published in Plano.
Time-card of Chicago and Aurora railroad in which Newark appears instead of Sandwich.
Gilbert 'Denslow' Henning's commission as Plano's first postmaster.
Original subscription list for Chicago, Amboy and Upper Mississippi Railroad, which with the Chicago and Aurora became the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy main line.
Old letters written previous to 1840, directed to Holderman's Grove, Penfield and Little Rock to persons living in Little Rock Township.
The Hollenback rifle and revolvers.
Nathan Carr Mighell's flag on which is painted the names of Lincoln and Hamlin, carried by Mr. Mighell in the campaign of 1860.
Good Templar's charter dated 1854, with Lewis G. Steward as Worthy Chief Templar.
An old McCormick reaper sickle of 1850, owned by James Scofield.
An old linen home-made shirt made in 1810, from Mr. Hahnenstein of Yorkville, and other things in great numbers.
The old prairie plow owned by Frank Seely of NaAuSay was particularly viewed by the younger generation.
The surveyor's compass used by Archibald Sears 67 years ago was duly admired as an important relic of pioneer days. This compass was used in the original government surveys in this county and is now the property of his son, James Morris Sears.