History of West Point Township, Stephenson County, Il
From: History of Stephenson County, Illinois
A record of its settlement, oragnization
and three quarters of a century of progress
By: Addison L. Fulwider, A. M.
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago, 1910


West Point Township is six miles square, is the east half of Township 28, and has an area of twenty two thousand eight hundred acres. In 1850 Waddams Township was organized, thus leaving West Point with its present boundaries. The first settlement in Stephenson County was made in West Point Township. It was made by William Waddams at Waddams Grove in 1833, the next year after Black Hawk's War. The war and the previous uncertain attitude of the Sacs and Foxes had held back the settlement of the county. The Winnebagoes also were frequently moody and likely at any moment to join Black Hawk in an attack on the white settlements. The final defeat of the old Sac Brave at the battle of the Bad Axe, August 2, 1832, made it possible for the first time for settlers to take up claims in Stephenson County with safety. Even then there were many dangers because small squads of Indians still lurked about the county. While the threshing Uncle Sam had given them had taken the fight out of the red men, yet such a foe might be expected to make trouble by means of the skulking bands which, at least, were not afraid to steal. Mr. Waddams felt the effect of Indian depredations more than once. At one time they drove away his hogs.

Mr. Waddams and his sons, Hiram and Nelson, built a plain log house of one room. The ax was the chief, if not the only tool. The logs were cut and shaped from the trees of the grove - a one room cabin, with puncheon floor and the great fire place.

In 1834, the Waddams family was joined by the families of Geo. S. Payne, John Garner and his sons, Alpheus and A. J. Gamer. Payne settled near Waddems and the Garners a half mile from Lena. The next year, 1835, came Luman and Rodney Montague and William Tucker. These families all cut away small clearings and began the cultivation of crops on Stephenson County soil. The presence of these pioneers paved the way for others and in 1836, Washington Parker made a permanent settlement. In 1837 there came Samuel F. Dodds, Jacob Burbridge, Martin Howard, John Harmon, Samuel and Marshall Bailey, George Place, David T. Perry, Robert and William LaShell, James Thompson, Oliver Thompson, Mr. Graham, John Tucker, Jesse Tucker, Benjamin Tucker. Fells Manny, who came in 1836, was made postmaster in 1838, and secured his first patent for the Manny Reaper in 1849, and began the manufacture of reapers in a little shop at Waddams before moving his work to Rockford and Freeport.

J. D. Fowler and Thomas Way took up claims in West Point Township and in 1839 M. L. Howard came. From 1839 to 1853, the township was rapidly settled up. The welfare of the settlers was held back because of the absence of a good means of transportation and because of a lack of good markets. Supplies were obtained by wagon from Galena, what products the early farmers had for sale were hauled over the same long and unbroken roads. For these reasons the people were extremely interested in the coming of the railroad. Every step in the progress of plans was watched with anxiety. When the time came to aid by subscribing stock, the people contributed to the point of sacrifice. When the first trains finally puffed into Freeport, it seemed that the day was not far distant when West Point Township would have both markets and transportation. During 1854, the road was completed through the township and on to Warren. There was almost immediately a twenty five cent advance in the price of farm lands due, in part, to the large numbers of new settlers.

In 1854, at the instigation of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, Samuel F. Dodds laid off one hundred and sixty acres for a village site and named the station Lena. The location proved to be a good one, for here grew up the largest town in the county with the exception of Freeport.

West Point Township did its part nobly in the war of the Rebellion. Every demand of the government was promptly filled. Her volunteers were to be found in the Eleventh, Fifteenth, Forty fifth, Forty sixth, and Ninety second Infantry and in the Fourteenth Cavalry.

In 1836 a Methodist class meeting was organized as the result of preaching by Rev. James McKean, the previous year in Luman Montague's cabin. A Presybterian class was organized in 1840 by Rev. Arastus Kent, who was practicing in Galena and Dubuque. Sabbath school began the same year in J. D. Fowler's cabin and a log schoolhouse was erected on Luman Montague's farm.

Amanda Waddams, born in 1836, was, no doubt, the first white child born in the county. Eunice Waddams and George Place were married in 1837, July 4, this being, it is claimed, the first marriage in the county. The first burial in the old cemetery was that of Minerva Rathburn, about 1839.


The Lena Star was founded in 1866. In that year, John W. Gishwiller, a photographer of Lena, and Samuel J. Dodds. postmaster, formed a partnership to secure material to start a newspaper and job office. They expended about one thousand four hundred dollars for a Washington Hand Press and other necessary equipment. The firm secured the services of John M. Shannon, who was then in Lena on a visit to his brother, the station agent. They also secured Robert Shannon of Chicago, then one of the fastest typists of the west, and Captain S. C. Harris, another printer. The complement of men was completed by Charles Weaver, the printer's "Devil." After considerable work by the "Devil" and others in blacking the faces of the new type, the first paper of Vol. 1, No. 1, of the Lena Star went to press. S. J. Dodds was editor.

March 21, 1867, Mr. Dodds withdrew from the firm. May 3, same year, Mr. John M. Shannon secured control of the paper. February 12, 1869, Mr. James S. McCall, of Freeport, Illinois, purchased the Star outfit and secured James W. Newcomer, of Freeport, as manager and editor. 1878, April 5, W. W. Lowis purchased the paper.

1892, A. O. Rupp bought the plant. 1893, July 24, Irving S. Crotzer, one of the "Devils" who had risen to be foreman, bought the plant. In 1900, T. Francis Gaffney, one of the Star's "Devils," assisted a stock company in starting a newspaper and a job office. It was called the "Lena Independent," and Gaffney became manager and editor.

December 21, 1902, Miss Rosalie Taylor, of Lena, was employed as manager and editor. She was assisted by Charles Weaver, who had just returned from a twenty years' sojourn at Fort Scott, Kansas. Miss Taylor and Weaver conducted the paper till the equipment was bought by Charles O. Piper, December 17, 1903. It was evident that one good newspaper would satisfy the crying demands for a weekly paper at Lena, and March 24, 1905, Mr. Piper bought the old Star office and moved the "Independent" plant to the Star office, thus combining the two in the name of the Lena Star Printing Company.

August 27, 1908, Professor Howard C. Auman purchased the Star and directed its destiny till October, 1909, when the Star passed into the hands of the present proprietor, D. W. Gahagan. Mr. Gahagan is a newspaper man of experience, having been in that business seven years at Seneca, Newton County, Missouri. Miss Rosalie Taylor is again employed on the Star as local editor. The Star is now a four page, six column paper, typographically a model of excellence, full of news and advertising. Almost a complete file, both of the Star and the Independent, are kept in the Star office.

This account is taken from the Lena Star, October 14, 1909: Mr. Gahagan is putting out an excellent paper, which in general appearance is a credit to Lena and the community. The large number of space ads shows that the services of the Star as an advertising medium are highly appreciated by the business interests of the county.


The Lena Bank is a private bank, the firm being George L. Baldwin & Company. The officials are: President, F. A. Latham; vice president, Peter Seise; cashier, George L. Baldwin. The bank was organized in 1867 by S. Rising, under the name of Rising, Smith & Company, and in 1870 changed to Folly, Corning & Company. In February 1878 the firm name again became S. Rising & Company. Later, the firm became Folly, Narramore & Company, and in 1906, became George L. Baldwin & Company.

The Citizens Bank of Lena was organized in 1880 by Andrew Hinds and George L. Stevens. Later, the firm name was Charles Waite & Company. The present officers of the Citizens Bank are: President, Anthony Doll; vice president, Charles Leseman; cashier, J. C. Dunn. The directors are the above officials, and George Shick, A. J. Clarity and J. D. Hinds.

Both banks do an extensive business in Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties and are sound and reliable institutions. The Lena Bank steered safely through the panic of 1873 and both banks have weathered the panics of 1893 and 1907 in a way that proves the stability of their organizations.

Joseph Lampbert is president of the town board, and Captain J. M. Schermerhorn, eighty two years of age, is town clerk. The following are members of the board: J. D. Hinds, William Boeke, Jacob Lutz, George Boeke, Charles Berhenke, and H. R. Nelson. George Sloatman is City Marshal.

The ladies of the G. A. R. have an excellent organization of which the following are officials: President, Mrs. W. H. Crotzer; vice presidents, Mrs. Fred Harris and Mrs. Anna Kostenbader; chaplain, Mrs. Kramer.

The Lena schools are now under the efficient management of Professor L. M. Carpenter. The High school with Miss Wilson as assistant, maintains a good reputation, and is accredited by the University of Illinois. The first school was in the log house on Samuel F. Dodd's farm. In 1850 a log schoolhouse was built on Franklin street and served till 1854 when the old stone schoolhouse was built at the corner of Franklin and Lena streets. A two story stone building was built in 1859. The two districts were combined in 1866 and in 1868 a large adequate school building was erected. The board of school directors is made up of the following officers and members: President, Frank M. Halliday; clerk, George Baldwin; Dr. Stiver, Lewis Heidenreich, J. C. Lampbert and R. M. White, members.


The complete roster of teachers for the Lena schools for the coming year is as follows: Principal of High school, L. M. Carpenter; assistants in High school, Miss Sue E. Wilson and Miss Vera Trump; grammar department, Miss Lydia Vautsmeier; second intermediate, Miss Luella Buss; first intermediate, Miss Mary Perkins; primary, Miss Selina Rutter.


The William R. Goddard Post, G. A. R., of Lena, has always been an active and enthusiastic organization of the Civil War Veterans The Post took its name from William R. Goddard, a citizen of Lena who served in the Mexican war, and who, at the outbreak of the Civil war, again entered the services of his country. As a soldier and a commander, he won distinction on the battlefield and won rapid promotion till he became Major of the Fourteenth Illinois. Major Goddard fell while leading his men at the Battle of Shiloh.

The first commander of the Post was General Charles Waite.


At one time the Benjamin R. Goddard Post of Lena numbered about one hundred members. Some have moved to other parts of the county, but most of them have honored graves in the Lena Cemetery. The Post has not been less faithful as its membership has declined. The Post had charge of the dedication of the Black Hawk War Monument at Kellog's Grove and each year conducts the Memorial Day services. Another patriotic and fraternal duty, that of conducting the burial services of the old soldiers who pass from this life, is faithfully performed. At the present time the Post has the following members:


Commander of the Post - C. F. Houser, Co. G, Ninety second Ill.
Senior Vice Commander - John Reeder, Fifteenth Ill.
Junior Vice Commander - E. Kahel, Ninety third Ill.
Quartermaster - A. S. Crotzer, Ninety second Ill.
Chaplain - W. H. Crozier, Ninety second Ill.
Officer of the Day - George Shoesmith, One hundred and Forty sixth Ill.
Officer of the Guards - Chas. Gassman. Co. A. Ninety second Ill.


Waddams Grove is a small village, having a store, a postoffice, a creamery, an elevator, the Illinois Central Station and a few dwellings. The school is located a mile or more beyond the village. The venerable J. H. Osborne, who built the first store in Waddams, is now postmaster, a position he has held for 39 years. The elevator is run by L. F. Keeley. The feature of the village is the beautiful park maintained by Mr. George Schultz. The owner is a student of science and takes a special interest in flowers. The park is one of the prettiest places in the county.


A pretty little cross roads settlement on the road from Lena to Waddams Grove is Louisa. It lies where the Galena Road intersects a cross roads, and contains a church, cemetery, school, and a group of houses. There is no general store nor is there any need for one, for the village is only about two miles northwest of Lena, and the farmers of Louisa are accustomed to do their trading at the larger town. The settlement is of recent origin, and hardly promises to become a village of any great importance. It deserves mention however as one of the rural communities so numerous in Stephenson County, along with Waddams Center, Afolkey, Legal, and others of equal unimportance.

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