The history of Mount Carroll dates back to the Fall of 1841, when Emmert, Halderman & Co. commenced the
erection of the flouring mills at this point. However, nothing was done towards "laying off" a town site
until it became a settled fact, that a majority of the people of the county were in favor of removing the county
offices from Savanna. In August, 1843, the people voted upon the question of removal. Four hundred and twenty one
votes were polled, of which 231 were for the removal of the county seat to Mount Carroll, and too in favor of retaining
the county offices at Savanna, a majority of 41 in favor of Mount Carroll. A full history of the removal question,
selection of a site for the new county seat, etc., already appears in these pages, so that further reference to
the subject here is unnecessary. The names of the first settlers, a reference to the first houses built, etc.,
have likewise been written, so that but little remains to be written of the "county seat." The history
of the county and of Mount Carroll are so intimately blended since the re-location of the county seat, in 1843,
that it would be a work of supererogation to attempt any thing like an extended separate history.
The building of the mill was followed by the erection of a few scattered houses. Then came the building of the
old court house, in 1844, and the removal of the county offices and records from Savanna. This necessitated the
removal of the county officers here as well, who, with their families and the few families of men engaged in building
the mill, may be regarded as the beginning of a population that, on the 1st day of January, 1878, numbers very
nearly 2,500. The growth of the town has not been rapid, neither in wealth nor population, but in both respects
it has been solid and substantial.
The first store or trading place opened here was by the Mill Company soon after they commenced operations, probably
in 1842. The company had built a kind of three tier log house on "Stag's Point," now occupied by the
residence of I. P. Sheldon, for the accommodation of the mill hands, and one of these rooms was converted into
a store room.
The first house built exclusively for hotel purposes, was the stone house now occupied by J. F. Chapman, which
was erected in 1844, and has been so used without interruption up to the present writing.
The first saloon building was the middle part of what is now the Daniel Palmer Building. This old "rum mill"
was built in somewhat of a hurry. The materials out of which it was made were standing in Arnold's Grove in the
morning, were cut down, hauled to town, and reduced to proper dimensions, and, plastering excepted, the building
was completed before sundown.
Joe Miles was the first lawyer to "hang out a shingle." He came in 1844, and for a while worked at his
trade, that of a carpenter, on the old court house.
Anna Marv, daughter of Jesse Rapp, was Mount Carroll's first born, and Milford Kennedy was the second.
The postoffice was established in 1844, and John Wilson was the first postmaster. The mail was supplied from Cherry
Grove by carrier until the Fall of 1846, when the tri weekly stage coach, which had plied between Galena and Dixon
via Cherry Grove for a number of years, was taken from the old route and a new one established through Mount Carroll.
When the first "stage coach and four" made its appearance in Mount Carroll, it was made an occasion of
general rejoicing. The people went wild with enthusiasm. and the old "Concord" was received with as much
glee and good feeling as the first train of cars that put in an appearance on the Western Union Railroad, some
thirty or more years later.
The first teachers of common schools were Anderson, Paul, Turner, J. P. Emmert, and some others, whose names have
escaped the memory of the "oldest inhabitants." The last one before the free school system was adopted,
was H. Bitner. These schools were supported by subscriptions at so much per scholar.
The completion of the mill here made quite a home demand for wheat, and during the years 1844 and 1845, it was
not only the wheat market for Carroll County, but for Stephenson and other adjacent districts, where a surplus
was raised, Throngs of teams lined the streets, and the mills were kept busy night and day, and a number of teams
were constantly employed in hauling flour to Savanna for shipment to St. Louis.
The next stores to be opened after the Company store, were by William Halderman, R. R. Brush, R. J. Tomkins, Thorp
Lull, Nathan Blair, John Irvine & Son, etc.
The first physician to open an office was Dr. Judd, a brother of Norman B. Judd, of Chicago. Soon after, Dr. Hostetter
and Dr. White came, and in 1852 or 1853, Dr. B. P. Miller located here and hung out his sign.
The next lawyers after Joe Miles, already mentioned, were - Barker, John Wilson and William T. Miller.
M. E. Church, Mount Carroll. - The Methodist Episcopal Church of Mount Carroll, Illinois, was organized in 1839.
Rev. Philo Judson was the preacher in charge, and Rev. B. Weed, presiding elder.
The first service was held about two miles down the creek in a Mr. Martins' log cabin.
The original members were a Mr. and Mrs. Patterson, Nathan Jacobs and wife, the latter is still a member of the
church, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, Davis Newall and a Mr. Leonard.
Mr. Stubbs, an Englishman, was the first class 'leader, and Mr. Petty class leader number two.
Shortly after the organization, Revs. Buck and G. L. S. Stuff, the latter still a member of the Rock River Conference,
came on as missionaries, and the services were removed to the house of Mr. H. Preston, two miles southwest of where
the town now stands. Subsequently the services were moved to the house of Mr. David Christian, still nearer the
village, and thence to a cooper shop in Mount Carroll.
Soon after this the court house was erected and became the regular preaching place.
The circuit, including Mount Carroll, was organized in 1847, Rev. S. Smith being the pastor, and Rev. Hooper Crews,
now pastor in Rockford, was presiding elder.
The first Sabbath school was organized in 1847. John Irvine was superintendent.
On Mr. Irvine's arrival in the place, in 1845, stopping at the hotel, he inquired if there were any Methodists
in the place. He was told of one by the name of Bennett. He soon found him, and the two held the first class meeting
ever held in the place.
Under the administration of Rev. Miles F. Reade, a very extensive revival of religion occurred, and soon after,
in the year 1851, the first M. E. Church building was erected. The present fine brick edifice was built in 1867,
when Rev. Joseph Odgers was pastor. Rev. E. W. Adams is the present pastor. There are now about two hundred communicant
members, and a Sabbath school of about two hundred scholars. F. J. Sessions, superintendent. Presbyterian. - In
the latter part of 1845, or beginning of 1846, the Presbyterian Home Missionary Society sent Rev. Calvin Gray to
labor in this county. He first stopped in Savanna, but subsequently removed to Mt. Carroll. They built a very handsome
brick church edifice, which was dedicated November 7, 1861.
The organization of the Presbyterian Church dates from the Both of August, 1844, when Rev. Aratus Kent, of Galena,
came here to assist Rev. H. G. Warner in the organization. Eight persons united themselves together under the name
of the First Presbyterian Church of Mount Carroll. The first services, and until about 1852, were held in the old
court house. In the latter year, Rev. Mr. Gray built an L addition to his residence, when their meeting place was
removed there, where services continued to be held until about 1858. For two years, about that time, no regular
services were had in consequence of want of a pastor. In 186o, the society undertook to erect a house of worship,
which was completed and dedicated at the date above quoted. During the year this house was building, the Baptist
brethren permitted the Presbyterians the use of the basement of their house of worship. After occupying their house
until about 1865, some thirty of the members residing in the Mackay neighborhood conceived and carried out the
idea of building up an organization at Oakville, which reduced the ability of the parent society to maintain a
pastor in Mount Carroll without missionary help. That help was withheld, and the society succumbed to the inevitable
and abandoned the attempt to keep up regular services, although the organization is still maintained. February
19, 1873, the church edifice was sold under mortgage to B. L. Patch for H. A. Mills. April 25,1876, James Hallett
purchased it back from Mills, and in May, 1876, Hallett sold it to the Lutheran Church Society, who now own and
occupy it as their house of worship.
Church of God. - The Mount Carroll representatives of this branch of the Christian Church (sometimes, irreverently
called Winebrenarians, because John Winebrenner was the founder of it), have maintained an organization since 1849.
In that year Rev. D. D. Wertz was sent out here by the Pennsylvania Board of Missions, and collected the scattering
members together as a church organization. He remained a year or two and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Klein. About
1859 or 1860, they built a small church edifice on the east side of Dog Run, in what is now Halderman's addition.
In the Fall of 1866 it was removed to its present site, on Main street, opposite the Union Schoolhouse. and is
known as the Bethel Church. Until the last two months of the year 1877, the society maintained regular services,
with but rare intervals. At the last meeting of the conference eldership, held at Pleasant Valley, in Jo Daviess
County, in October, Rev. I. E. Boyer, an old pastor of the society was appointed to the work for the ensuing year,
but in consequence of other pressing engagements, was not able to enter upon the work at once. The membership is
not large, but very earnest, and include some of the best men and women of the city. Their Sunday school organization
has always been maintained and is well conducted. Daniel Palmer is its superintendent.
The First Baptist Church of Mount Carroll. - Among the early settlers of Carroll County were a few Baptists who
made their home in Mount Carroll. When these Baptists numbered fourteen they resolved to organize a church to be
known as the First Baptist Church of Mount Carroll. This church was organized Aug. 28, 1853. Five of the fourteen
constituent members are now connected with the church. The first meetings were held in the old Presbyterian Church
which stood upon the ground now occupied by S. j Campbell's residence. Here the soctety met until May, 1854, when
it removed to the old court house. This it continued to use until it removed to its present site. The Sabbath school
met the first few months in the Seminary building, situated on the corner of Market and Clay streets, now known
as the Ashway Building. Oct. 1, the Sabbath school was moved to the court house till the Autumn of 1855, when church
and Sabbath school began to occupy the basement of their present house. Rev. J. V. Allison was the first pastor
of the church, and remained from the organization of the church until the Autumn of 1859. During his pastorate
the present house of worship was commenced and the basement finished. Rev. T. P. Campbell succeeded him and remHanded
till Aug. 1, 1864 during his pastorate the upper part of the house was finished and dedicated. Nov., 1864, Rev.
Carlos Swift became pastor, and remained three years. He was succeeded by Rev. C. K. Colver, who was pastor from
Jan., 1868, to the Spring of 1870. T. Tucker became pastor, and remained until Oct. 1, 1872. In December of the
same year, Rev. H. B. Waterman became pastor, and remained until the following Dec. May, 1874, Rev. Geo. W. Wesselius
was called to the pastorate and remained until July 1, 1875. July 25, 1875, Rev. J. H. Sampson, the present pastor,
began his pastorate. During his pastorate the house of worship has been completely remodeled, refurnished, and
a baptistry has been put in, making the main audience room home like and attractive. The Sabbath school is a marked
feature in the work of the church and has an attendance of about two hundred. The aggregate membership of the church
is 352, the present membership, 163.
Lutheran. - The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mount Carroll is in connection with that branch of the Lutheran
Church of America known as the General Synod of the United States, and to the District Synod known as the Synod
of Northern Illinois. There is still a body within this body, to which this church belongs, viz.: The Northern
Conference of the Synod of Northern Illinois. There is but one congregation connected with the charge or pastorate.
Their church is situated in the City of Mount Carroll, on Clay Street, and is a brick building once owned by the
Presbyterian Society, now disbanded, and having been purchased by the Lutherans in the Spring of 1876. was thoroughly
repaired at a cost of about $1,200, and re dedicated under the name of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of
Mount Carroll, Illinois. The building stands on two beautiful lots, in a good location, and together with the parsonage,
this property is worth about $8,000.
The congregation was organized on the 7th of August, 1858, by the adoption of a constitution and electing Mr. George
Miller, elder, and Mr. John Rhodes, deacon. The following is a list of persons who signed the constitution at that
time: George Miller, John Gelwicks, John Rhoades, John Erb, Margaret Miller, Elizabeth Gelwicks, John Tridel, Hannah
Rhoades, Catherine Erb, Catherine Rinedollar, Adna Windle, Mary Tridel. Rev. J. M. Lingle, pastor. A church was
built (still standing) in the year 1860, the corner stone of which was laid on the 5th of July, the sermon upon
the occasion being preached by Rev. D. Schindler. The church having been at last completed, it was dedicated on
the 11th of November, 1860, while the Conference of the Synod was in session in this place. Rev. C. B. Thummel,
D.D., preached the dedication sermon. The congregation had a severe struggle until this was accomplished, Mr. George
Miller and John Gelwicks, sacrificing much and laboring hard with their own hands until it was completed. The church
cost about S2,000.$2,000s sold by the society sixteen years afterwards, being at the time when the Presbyterian
Church was purchased, as above stated, for $1,500. The society grew gradually in numbers, and while the record
shows that a great number have removed from Mount Carroll, there still is an active communing membership of eighty
persons. The Sabbath school connected with the congregation numbers about 150. The congregation is at present in
a flourishing condition, carrying but a trifling debt, which might be wiped out in a few days. The following is
a list of pastors who have served the congregation during its history. Rev. John M. Lingle was pastor six years.
He was succeeded by Rev. D. Beckner, who remained one year and six months. Rev. Charles Anderson was the next pastor,
who remained two years and nine months. He was succeeded by Rev. J. F. Probst, who remained but one year. Rev.
C. Baird followed him, remaining four years and nine months. Rev. Charles Fickinger, the present pastor, took charge
on the 19th of September, 1875, making his labors thus far nearly two and a half years.
The record of the congregation for the year ending Sept. 1877, is the following: Received into the church 3 by
infant baptism; 3 by adult baptism; 12 by confirmation; 4 by profession of faith; 2 from other denominations. Removed,
1 by death; 1 by letter; communicants, S0.
The Sunday school numbers 140 scholars, and 12 teachers, that during the last year contributed 840 for Sunday school
purposes. In its contributions for religious interests, this church is very liberal, the records show the following:
For treasury of the District Synod, $6.50; Home Missions, $13.65; Foreign Missions, 813,65; Education, 812.20;
Church Extension, $6.50; Pastors, Salary, $700; Local objects, $700; Extra objects, 827. Total, 81.519.50, or an
average per member of $18.99. Rev. E. Fickinger is the present pastor.
Dunkard or German Baptist - This branch of the Christian Church has a very handsome house of worship and regular
services, further mention of which will be made in a history of that church work in this county, to be found elsewhere
in these pages.
Masonic. - Cyrus Lodge, A. F. and A. M. commenced under dispensation December 5, 1855, and was chartered October
The members mentioned in the charter are J. H. Bohn, W. T. Miller, Peter Holman, Joseph Warders, Allen Sinclair,
John Brown, Jackson Lucy, and others. These others consisted of B. L. Patch, B. P. Miller, Stoughton Cooley, E.
Marsh and Geo. W. Coulter. The first officers were: J. H. Bohr, W. M.; W. T. Miller, S. W.; Peter Holman, J. W.;
Joseph Warders, Treas.; Allen Sinclair, Sec.; Jackson Lucy, S. D.; Geo. W. Coulter, J. D.
The dedication ceremonies were conducted by Rev. John Brown, who was acting Grand Master; Rev. Robert Beatty, acting
as Deputy Grand Master; B. L. Patch, acting as Senior Grand Warden; J. Lucy, acting as Junior Grand Warden; E.
Marsh, as Grand Tyler.
The last return to the Grand Lodge reported 59 working members. The Lodge is in good working condition, and receiving
Caledonia Encampment, No. 43, was instituted June 17, 1857, by J. B. Schlichter, D. D. G. P.; B. W. Marble, D.
H. P.; J. C. Smith, D. G. S. W.: Wm. Fowling, D. G. J. W.; S. S. Winall, D. G. Scribe, all of the Encampment at
Galena, Ill. Charter members: Henry Shinier, B. L. Patch, Wm. Stouffer, D. E. Stovir, B. Lepman, Henry Page, and
D. H. Stouffer.
First officers: Henry Shinier, C. P.; B. L. Patch, H. P.; Wm. Stouffer, S. W.; D. H. Stouffer, S.; B. Lepman, Treas.
Whole number that have belonged to the Encampment since its organization, 77; present membership, 45.
I. O. O. F. - Carroll Lodge, No. 50, was 'instituted March 31, 1849, by John G. Potts, D. D. G. M., of Galena.
The charter was issued July 25, 1849. The charter members were Geo. W. Harris, Evan Rea, Geo. Pyle, Jas. M. Stacy
and Harlan Pyle. The following were initiated at the same meeting: R. P. Thorp, Geo. C. Thorp, A. Beeler, Benjamin
McElroy, T. T. Jacobs and William Powers.
First officers: Evan Rea, N. G.; Geo. R. Pyle, V. G.; Geo. W. Harris, Sec.; Jas. M. Stacy, Treas.; T. T. Jacobs,
Warden; Robt. Knight, C.; Wm. Powers, I. G.; A. Beeler, O. G.; R. P. Thorp, R. S. N. G.; Geo. C. Thorp, L. S. N.
The Lodge is prosperous and 0ccupies a finely furnished hall in Keystone Block.
This Lodge has held regular meetings every Monday night since its organization, in 1849.
Admissions by card and initiations to the present time (Dec., 1877), 310. Present membership, 110. The following
named brothers have served the Lodge as Deputies and Representatives: R. G. Bailey, J. E. Frost, John Irvine, Geo.
W. Stiteley, and Henry Shiner.
Hill City Lodge, No. 8, was instituted Sept. 28, 1874, by W. L. Sweeny, P. D. G. M., of Rock Island.
Charter members: T. T. Jacobs, I. J. Petitt, D. Weidman, O. P. Miles, A. H. Sichty, S. Stakemiller, H. G. Fisher,
Ethanan Fisher, C. D. Austin, C. Rosenstock, Oliver Swartz, J. Keiter, B. F. Aikens, A. H. Nyman, C. Holman, Jones
Schick, S. Moore, R. B. Hallett, J. H. Stakemiller and L. D. Lee. First officers: H. G. Fisher, N. G.; Stakemilier,
V. G.; L. D. Lee, R. S.; O. F. Reynolds, P. S.; Jones Schick, Treas.
This Lodge holds regular meetings every Monday night, in their hall, in Bank Block. The charter members of this
Lodge belonged to Carroll Lodge, No. 50, but withdrew therefrom and took their No. 8, from a defunct lodge at Springfield,
A. H. Sichty and Ethanan Fisher have been Representatives to Grand Lodge, the former gentleman having also been
Grand Representative to the Grand Lodge of the U. S., and also M. W. Grand Patriarch of the Grand Encampment of
the State of Illinois.
T. T. Jacobs, of Hill City Lodge, is the only surviving member of those who were present at the institution of
Carroll Lodge, No. 5o, and is the oldest Odd Fellow in the county.
A. O. U. W. - This society was instituted Nov. 24, 1876, with 30 members. P. M. W., H. M. Ferrin; M. W., H. G.
Fisher; F., Seaborn Moore; O., A. B. Nelson; R., W. D. Hughes; F., J. W. Miller; R., Thomas Squire; G., Solomon
Lohr; I. W., C. D. Austin; O. S. W., Sample Mitchell. The society is in a flourishing condition.
Sons of Temperance. - Between 1845 and 1847, a division of the Sons of Temperance was organized, and was the means
of accomplishing a great deal of good. For a while the organization was prosperous. About 1851-2 the Hydraulic
Company was organized, and under the impression that it was to distill alcohol, and that its products would not
get into the market as whisky, almost every body took stock in the enterprise some of the Sons of Temperance as
well as others, and it is maintained by many of the old members that the temperance distillery killed the order
in Mount Carroll. Father Irvine was not a friend of alcoholic distillery, but opposed it from its inception, and
fought it with unyielding courage. For a time he infused a little new life into the temperance element of the community,
but it was sickly at best. In 1863-4 a Good Templars Lodge was organized, flourished only a little while, and gave
up the ghost. In 1874, the present division of the Sons of Temperance was organized, and has maintained its organization
to the present, accomplishing much good.
In November, 1877, under the direction of Dr. McCallister and Major Cooper, a great temperance revival was inaugurated,
and a large number of the citizens donned the Red Ribbon. A hall was leased and fitted up, and the movement vitalized
in every way. As the work of writing this history is being brought to a close, the members are thoroughly and effectively
organized and promise great usefulness.
The graded school system was organized about 1857 or 1858, under the management of Miss Witt. She was succeeded
by Hayes, Long, Smith, et al. The present fine brick Union school building was erected in 1866, at a cost of $16,000.
The school has met the expectations of the people in every particular. The very best educational system has been
maintained, and the best educational talent of the country has always been employed. The school is now supplied
with an excellent library and all the modern appurtenances to aid the pupils in the prosecution of their studies.
Present Corps of Teachers. - Principal, Prof. J. H. Ely; Assistant, Miss Mary Mooney; Room No. 1, Miss Mamie Irvine;
No. 2, Miss Clara Fisher; No. 3, Miss Mattie Lumm; No. 4, Miss Emma H. Tomlinson; West Mount Carroll, J. Charles
Ferrin. Prof. Ely has the reputation of being one of the ablest and most thorough teachers in the country, while
his aids-de-camp possess all the requisite qualifications to make good teachers - well educated, industrious and
Among the numerous educational institutions that have been built up in the land of the Illini and other parts of
the Great West, there are not many, if, indeed, there are any, that surpass in influence, usefulness and capacity
the Mount Carroll Seminary. The history of this place of learning dates from 1852, and forms so important a part
of the history of the county being written that it demands separate and distinct mention.
About the year 1840 or 1841, Judge Wilson came to Savanna from Macoupin County, and was elected the second clerk
of the county commissioners court, William B. Goss being the first one, elected in April, 1839. Mr. Wilson was
the clerk of this court when the county offices were removed from Savanna to Mount Carroll, in September, 1844,
and thus became thoroughly identified with the early interests of the county. He was a warm and ardent friend of
education, and belonged to that class of men who would make education a compulsory measure, as is the practice
in Germany and some of the other European countries. He was a graduate of Yale College, and consequently possessed
a collegiate education. Aside from this, he was a man of enlarged views and liberality, and warmly attached to
that system and diffusion of education that would fit the lowest and humblest, as well as the richest and greatest,
for any duty or position in life.
In 1850, William T. Miller. of Mount Carroll, was elected to represent Carroll County in the state legislature.
In 1852, there was an extra session of that body, when Mr. Miller presented and secured the passage of a bill,
prepared by Mr. Wilson, incorporating the Mount Carroll Seminary. John Wilson, Nathaniel Halderman, Calvin Gray,
Leonard Goss, David Emmert, B. P. Miller, James Hallett, James Ferguson and John Irvine, senior, were named as
the incorporators. From the early records of this seminary, the following agreement is transcribed, as showing
the plans and purposes of the incorporators:
WHEREAS, It is intended to purchase grounds, not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres, for seminary purposes;
also to erect a seminary building, within a distance of one half mile of the Town of Mount Carroll, in accordance
with the provisions of a charter entitled "An Act to Incorporate the Mount Carroll Seminary," passed
at the special session of the legislature, 1852; now, therefore,
We, the undersigned, agree to take the number of shares of stock in the said seminary set opposite to our names,
to pay therefor to the treasurer of the board of trustees of said seminary the sum of five dollars for each and
every share of said stock set opposite to our names, respectively, in manner and proportion as follows, viz.: Five
per cent upon receiving public notice, in some newspaper in Carroll County, that two hundred shares have been subscribed,
and the remainder in instalments, not exceeding ten per cent during any subsequent period of three months; and
provided, also, that any subscriber may, at his option, pay at any time, after two hundred shares are taken, the
full amount subscribed by him.
And it is further stipulated that the amount paid on the stock hereto subscribed shall bear interest, from the
date of payment, at the rate of six per cent per annum, payable at the office of the treasurer of the board of
trustees, in Mount Carroll, on the first Monday of July and January each year, until dividends shall be declared
by the board of trustees, out of the profits arising from said seminary.
And it is further agreed that a failure to pay any instalment called upon our shares of stock respectively, for
sixty days after the same shall have become due, and of which due notice of a call thereof shall have been given,
shall authorize the board of trustees, at their option, to declare the stock upon which instalments shall have
been called and shall remain due and unpaid, and all sums previously paid thereon, forfeited t,osaid incorporation.
Shares of stock were placed at five dollars each, and the old stock book shows that five hundred and forty eight
shares were taken, ranging from one to fifty shares to each individual subscriber, and, omitting the Misses Wood
and Gregory - of which, more hereafter - representing eighty three different individuals. These 548 shares, at
five dollars each, were supposed to be equal to $2,740, but the authority from which we are quoting shows that
out of the entire eighty three different subscribers, only six of them paid up their stock in full. These six were:
R. G. Bailey, 5 shares, $25; E. Funk, 5 shares, $25; William Haiderman, 10 shares, $50; T. W. Miller, 10 shares.
$50; H. B. Puterbaugh, 2 shares, $10; Thomas Rapp, 10 shares, $50. Total paid up shares, 42; total cash receipts
from this source, $210; from partly paid up shares, etc., $750.75, making the grand total of cash receipts only
Synoptical. - Whole number of shares subscribed, omitting Wood and Gregory's, 548; supposed cash value, $2,740.
Of this sum only $960.75 was ever realized in cash. Settled by notes, $300.75, on which but a very small per cent
was ever paid.
Such were the surroundings of the seminary, now so prosperous and popular, in its early days. By means of a business
correspondence with Isaac Nash, a wealthy farmer of Saratoga County, New York, Mr. Wilson learned of two young
ladies of that county, graduates of the Normal School at Albany, who were desirous of coming West to engage as
teachers, for which profession they had qualified themselves, intending to make it the business of their lives.
These young ladies were Miss Frances A. Wood (now Mrs. Shinier) and Miss Cinderella M. Gregory. When the seminary
was chartered by the legislature, Mr. Wilson opened a correspondence with these ladies, and, in May, 1853, they
came to Mount Carroll as teachers, under the patronage of the seminary interests. Soon after their arrival, they
commenced their engagement in the second story of the building now known as the Ashtray Building, and then the
only brick building in town. At that time the land where the seminary buildings have been erected, down as far
as the Baptist Church, on Main Street, was a wheat field, valued at only $7.50 per acre, and considered away out
of town. Although it was generally understood that these teachers were employed in the seminary interests, they
were thoroughly independent of the board of seminary trustees. Only the influence of the seminary incorporators
was behind them. They made all the necessary arrangements, provided the school room, paid all the bills, and collected
all tuition fees. Their first term commenced on the nth of May, 1853, with eleven pupils, but closed with forty
This select school (for it was in reality nothing more) was continued down town about one year and three months.
When the Board of Trustees came to select a site for the contemplated seminary building, there was a remarkable
vigilance on the part of land owners, and the movements of the board were carefully watched. Wherever they perambulated,
lands suddenly and rapidly increased in value. As an example: When the Misses Wood and Gregory came to Mount Carroll,
in the Spring of 1853, the lands from the depot down as far as the Baptist Church were held, as previously stated,
at $7.50 per acre. But when a site was selected there for the seminary building, they jumped up in price to $100
per acre. The magical charms of Aladdin's lamp, as related in the tales of the Arabian Nights, were lost as compared
with the touch of these trustees. But five acres were purchased for $500, and in 1854 a brick building 42 by 46
feet on the ground, two stories and a half in height, with basement, was erected thereon. This building was erected
under contract at a cost of $4,500, not including window blinds, etc. It contained twenty rooms, and as soon as
finished, which was in October, 1854, the seminary formally organized under the charter, and the Misses Wood and
Gregory employed as teachers at a stated salary of $300 per year each.
About the time the building was finished, the teachers were enjoying a vacation, and had gone back home to Saratoga
County, New York, on a visit to their friends. Money was borrowed to furnish the building, and forwarded to Misses
Wood and Gregory with instructions to expend it in the purchase of such furniture as, in their judgment, was necessary.
At the end of six months the creditors began to clamor for their money, and it was found that a new financial management
was necessary to the success of the institution. The expenses exceeded the income. The stock subscribers became
dissatisfied, and the corporators began to devise ways and means to shift the responsibility of the enterprise.
At last an arrangement was made by which the two New York women agreed to pay the cost of the building, $4,500;
the trustees to donate the furniture on condition that they (Misses Wood and Gregory) would continue the school
for a period of ten years, and Rinewalt and Halderman donated five acres of ground. Subsequently, claims for money
borrowed, etc., were presented, which the plucky and enterprising teachers likewise assumed, on the condition of
their being released from their ten years, obligation. All of this indebtedness, however, was not paid in money.
Mr. Rinewalt, who had always been a firm and fast friend of the institution, as well as of the teachers, assumed
and paid the furniture debt, in turn for which a life scholarship in the seminary was issued to his son. Thus it
will be seen, as the history of this institution progresses, that the seminary owes all of its successes, merit
and popularity to the Misses Wood and Gregory - the former of whom was the financial and business manager, and
the latter the school worker. All the help they ever had from the community in which the seminary has been built
up, was the donation of the five acres of ground and about one thousand dollars of money paid in by the stockholders.
In this connection it is proper to remark that when these women came to Mount Carroll, all their cash capital was
about $80, belonging to Miss Gregory her sole savings of three years' teaching after their graduation. This was
all that Miss Gregory ever put into the enterprise in money, either directly or indirectly - i. e., nothing through
her home friends as a loan or otherwise. Miss Wood had nothing at the time in her own right, but an indomitable
will and determination. But with such a heavy debt hanging over them, without help from some source, their undertaking
would have fallen. In the person of Isaac Nash, before mentioned, who married a sister of Miss Wood, the institution
had a friend in whom there "was neither variableness nor shadow of turning," and he came to the relief
of his sister and her co-laboror when relief was most needed. To his generosity, liberality and confidence in her
ability, honesty and management, Miss Wood acknowledges her obligations. To his help, when all other sources failed,
she accords a large share of the success that at last crowned the seminary of which she is now the sole manager
and principal. Whatever of honor and fame attaches to this seminary, and it is wide spread, should be equally divided
between the Misses Wood and Gregory, and Isaac Nash, the financial and liberal farmer of Milton, New York.
Referring to Isaac. Nash, the seminary's best friend, Mrs. Wood Shimer says in her own language:
"While true I came at the time empty handed, my brother in law, Isaac Nash, coming with us and defraying my
expenses, etc., I afterwards put into this enterprise a small patrimony received on the settlement of my father's
estate, of about two thousand dollars. This, of course, was a little help, but quite inadequate to meet the exigencies
liable to arise in such an undertaking, and here came in the valuable aid, as backer, of Mr. Nash, who not only
stood ready to relieve any business emergency, but did so many things to contribute to our comfort and pleasure,
and as one instance of his thoughtfulness, indulge me in giving you the history of my first horse and carriage
in the West. In the Summer of 1854, while I was East purchasing the furniture for the new seminary building put
up by the trustees (for they entrusted this all to us) Mr. Nash said to me: 'You have always enjoyed driving so
much, you must have a horse and carriage at Mount Carroll. Go to Saratoga with your Cousin David (whom many of
the citizens will remember spending the Winter of 1854-5 here) and select as handsome a carriage as you choose,
and order a harness to match. Cousin David shall break Franky (a very fine young horse Mr. Nash had raised) to
go single, and then he shall take the entire rig out to Mount Carroll for you.' All was done according to orders,
and a few weeks after our return here in September, 1854, Cousin David arrived with horse, carriage and harness.
This is but one of many examples I might give of the thoughtful kindness of my brother in law. Mrs. Nash, my only
sister, who was some twenty one years my senior, and more as a mother to me, was also constantly mindful of our
wants, and contributing with a liberal and untiring hand to our necessities and to our pleasure. To me it seems
that such another noble, generous couple as my sister and her husband can rarely be found, and such untiring benefactors
as they proved through all those years of labor and trial which must be met in the pioneer work of such an enterprise,
but few are blessed with. That noble sister has gone to her reward. The brother in law, though now eighty years
of age, continues to pay me annual visits. I am now (December, 1877) in daily expectation of his arrival. That
he enjoys witnessing the success that has crowned our enterprise, I need not say.
"One other couple, not residents of this county, to whom I am indebted for much of encouragement in this work,
I would name Rev. Thomas Powell and wife, of Ottawa, Illinois. Mr. Powell became pastor of the church to which
my parents and sister belonged (in Saratoga County, N. Y.) when I was a babe six months old, and thus the first
ten years of my life, though not of a very appreciative age, I sat under his preaching, and to me he was the model
preacher. Mrs. Powell I recollect as one of my very earliest teachers the first teacher of whom I have any distinct
recollection, as I began my school life at two and a half years of age (quite too young, by the way, for sensible
children to go to school), and one for whom I entertained the greatest admiration (I had almost said adoration)
of any teacher I ever had, and the lapse of over forty five years has in no measure diminished the feeling, but
matured it into the highest regard for both as friends and counsellors. Over forty years ago Mr. Powell came to
Illinois under the auspices of the Mission Board, and the great pioneer work he so successfully achieved renders
him peculiarly susceptible to, and appreciative of, sacrifices in others. Thus have I had a most valued adviser
and sincere sympathizer in all my work here, and when he shall be tailed to his reward, Mount Carroll Seminary
will lose a most valued friend. Long may that day be deferred."
In 1857, the managers felt justified in undertaking an addition to their building, and, acting as their own architect
and draughtsman or draughts woman - Miss Wood prepared the plans and specifications for an addition 21 by 60, to
the southeast part of the original building. This addition was all completed under her own immediate supervision.
Mechanics were employed and paid by the day, and the closest economy exercised in every particular. This addition,
like the original building, was raised two and a half stories above the basement, embraced twenty three rooms,
and cost the same as the first - $4,500.
Success and popularity attended the seminary from the time it passed under the exclusive management and control
of Misses Wood and Gregory. When it was formally opened by the trustees and incorporators, in October, 1854, the
salary paid these ladies was only t00 each. When the original management grew discouraged, their united savings
did not exceed t00, but they had confidence and faith in the enterprise, and they determined to make it a success,
and when a woman once wills to do a thing, she generally does it. But here were two women with one will to accomplish
the one purpose, and they succeeded. The debt hanging over the institution when they assumed its management, and
which they agreed to pay, was only an incentive to greater energy and determination. Seven out of every ten men
would have shrunk from the undertaking, but these women seemed to accept the situation as a harbinger of success,
and from April, 1855, to the present, success has attended its every step. As its patronage increased, the debts
were paid off, and new plans devised for its enlargement and improvement. Miss Wood planned and schemed and worked
outside in the school room. When necessary; in the kitchen, when occasion required superintended the building of
the additions painted (the cornices excepted) and papered some of them entire; contracted for the material wherever
the most favorable terms could be had, and managed everything with a skill that defied opposition, while it commanded
admiration. Miss Gregory was no less earnest among the pupils, and thus the work went on.
Up to 1864, the seminary had been open to both sexes, but in that year it was closed against young men and boys,
and devoted exclusively to the education of girls and young women. This was not because the management was opposed
to educating the sexes together, but because the accommodations were not sufficient. On the contrary, the principal
is in favor of the co-education of the sexes, and hopes, at no distant day, to be able to re open the seminary
to boys and young men. This year another addition was undertaken. This addition was built on the west side of the
first addition, was thirty feet in width and seventy feet long, extending ten feet south of and taking in the first
addition. Both additions were raised to a uniform height with the old building, which was unroofed, and the whole
placed under one cover, presenting the appearance of one building. This last addition added thirty eight rooms
to the institution, all of which were larger than any previously provided. These enlargements and improvements
cost about $11,000.
A third addition of 40 by 100 feet at the northeast corner of the buildings already erected, was commenced in 1865
and completed in 1867. It has four stories and a fifteen room attic - adding, all told, seventy one rooms, and
increasing the other conveniences in like proportion, and costing about $30,000. As in the construction of the
other additions, so in this one, Miss Wood superintended the building from its commencement to .its completion.
She contracted for the lumber with Minnesota Mills, and had it delivered in strings of rafts at Savanna. There
she contracted with planing mills to receive it, reduce it to proper dimensions for particular purposes, to dress
it and deliver it on the cars, having also contracted with the railroad authorities to deliver it from Savanna
at the Mount Carroll depot. In this way she maintains that she saved fully, if not more than half in the cost of
the lumber as compared with the price asked by dealers here. Lime, glass, paint, paper, etc., were bought the same
way. The stone used was taken from her own quarries by men hired by the day.
When the seminary was located, the owners of the lands thereabouts laid off an addition to Mount Carroll. and the
town commenced to grow up that way. When the financial panic of 1857 fell upon the country, these improvements
were materially checked. Wishing enlarged grounds, steps were taken to secure the vacation as a town plat of that
addition, and the seminary interests, by purchase, at St oo per acre, increased its domain there to twenty five
acres. These grounds were enclosed by a substantial fencing and planted with trees, shrubs, vines, etc., until
it has become a garden of beauty, as well as an ornament, not only to the seminary, but to the town at which it
[Forward to part 2.]