In 1861, James Antrim purchased an 80 acre farm from a Mr. Booth. The land is located in Hopewell Township, Section 26.
In 1865, Mr, Antrim built a five room, two-story house. There were three bedrooms upstairs and two down. The hand-dug cellar beneath the house was reached by an outside entrance only.
With the exception of a period of six years, Antrim ancestors have resided in the home and farmed the land.
Richard Antrim, James's youngest child, married and continued to live with his parents. James, his father, passed away at the age of ninety-four.
Richard became the owner in 1887. At Richard's death in 1948, his daughter, Ethel Antrim Green, and his son, Earl F. Antrim, inherited the farm.
In 1949 Earl purchased his sister's interest and has been the owner since. For six years, after Earl's mother's death (Clara Freeman Antrim), the Antrims resided in Lacon.
In the early 1920's, Earl and his wife, Velma Campbell Antrim, returned to the farm in Hopewell.
The old home is still intact with its old oak beams and original plaster. Several additions and porches have changed the appearance somewhat. It is located about five miles east of Lacon and one mile north of Route 17.
Lunsford Broaddus Home
The home located on the brow of the Broaddus Hill, Route 17, about one and one-half mile east of Lacon, and presently owned and resided in by the Elmer Klein family is well over one hundred years old.
The original structure was erected before 1840 by Lunsford Broaddus who acquired the farm in Section 31, Hopewell Township, in 1834. One-quarter acre of the farm was deeded to James Hall and John Wier, School Trustees, in 1836. An interesting quote from the abstract reads:
"...for the purpose of a school which will also remain open for divine worship and free for any denomination Christians provided no damage is done."
The site was in the area of the present Marshall County Airport.
The old Broaddus home was left to Irving by his father, Lunsford. Irving married Ruth Forbes in 1863 and they reared a family of five; Savella, Cora, Mae, Walter and Nancy.
An important social event in Hopewell Township, 1883, was the marriage of Savella, Broaddus' eldest daughter. The following account appeared in the Lacon paper:
"On Wednesday evening last a large company of friends and relatives gathered at the Broaddus homestead to witness the nuptials of Miss S. Broaddus and Mr. J. K. Davidson. Nearly three hundred people were invited, and but few were absent. The house was tastefully decorated, two hearts being placed for the happy pair to stand under. Miss Broaddus is well and favorably known in this locality, and is an estimable and accomplished young lady, well fitted to make any man happy, and aid him in the joys and sorrows of life. She is now in her nineteenth year. Mr. Davidson is a young and rising farmer from Pennsylvania. He has resided in this locality for several years, and is much esteemed. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Mr. Tracy, at 8:20 p.m., Miss Davidson, the groom's sister, acting as bridesmaid, and Mr. F. Hancock as groomsman. The bride's trousseau consisted of cream-colored nun's veiling, trimmed in cream-colored satin, Spanish lace and natural flowers. The second day dress was plum colored silk. The groom wore the conventional black, and when the eventful questions were asked both replied in a firm and audible voice.
"Friends and relatives conspired to give them a pleasant start in the harness of wedded life, and it is our sincere hope that the car of Hymen may ever move smoothly and prosperously along. May their hearts never grow cold, their hearth fire never die out, and their larder always be full. Time fails us to tell of all the elegant costumes of the guests. The wedding march was artistically executed on the piano by Miss Hattie Mohler. After the ceremony we were shown the presents, which were many and costly, and all useful."
A detailed list of gifts followed, including a High grade Durham heifer, Mr. R. Broaddus; five dollar gold piece, Mr. and Mrs. J. Hall, Sr.
The Irving Broaddus heirs sold the farm in the 1940's and it was after this numerous changes were made in the old home. Today, the basement area and upstairs portion are unchanged. The old open porch surrounding the north and east of the house has been replaced by a sun porch. The four large west bay windows of the original dining room have been replaced by more modern windows.
A visit with the Kleins in this sturdy old farm home in its lovely setting recalls to us much of the early history of Lacon and Hopewell; early schools and Elisha Swan's first store. The family burial plots (east of Kleins) contain the names of many Marshall County's first settlers.
The Casey Homestead
In the early l860's William Vernay, a Hopewell Township early settler, wrote in "An Album of the Heart," a quatrain entitled, "To My Wife." Thus:
"Oh, the skies may bend above thee;
Other hearts may seek thy shrine;
But no other heart can love thee
With the constancy of mine."
Mary Carr Vemay, the subject of this verse, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1808. In March of 1830, she married David Vemay and three years later, 1833, came to Hopewell Township with her husband, who came to work for John Strawn. Soon after his arrival Vernay bought 80 acres of land from John Iliff and the holding became the site of what is currently, in 1976, known as the Casey place, containing the original brick residence which still is the home of the Casey clan, Miss Johanna and Edward (Ted). Two brothers, Franklin, resides in Lacon which lies a mile west of the Casey residence on Illinois Route 17; and Charles W. Casey (Colonel, U. S, Army, retired) resides with his wife, Elizabeth Buck Casey in Carmel, California.
During the first season of his residence in the county David Vernay purchased the 80 acre claim and later added 60 acres northeast of the 80.
Two children were born to David and Mary Carr Vernay, William and James. William married Ellen Forbes and established a residence, site now unknown, north of the brick house. James moved to Kansas and contact with him was not maintained.
William and Ellen Forbes Vernay had a daughter, Nellie, born September 17, 1863. She died November 17, 1886. William Vernay died in October, 1865, leaving 80 acres of the farm to his widow and two year old daughter, Nellie. Five years after her husband's death, Ellen married her late husband's cousin, Charles W. Casey. They had three children, Clara (1871); Laura (1873); and Wilbur (1879). Nellie Vernay died in 1866, leaving 80 acres to her mother and step-father.
During the years in which the foregoing events occurred Mary Vernay lived in the old brick home which, it is believed, was built in the l830's. After her death in 1884, Charles Casey and family moved into the brick house. In the late l890's, a frame kitchen was added, and in 1973, Ted and Johanna Casey added more space to the original building, a two-story wing at the north side which replaced the old kitchen.
When the William Vernays came to Illinois from Maryland the home they built reflected the Eastern style of architecture. It has withstood the ravages of time and storm and has been kept in excellent repair. The old brick undoubtedly is more staunch than much modern architecture. The house was of Federal style, very plain and simple, without fancy or elaborate paneling, moldings, or wood carvings. The unadorned pattern was suited to the frontier where tastes and tools were less sophisticated and limited materials were close at hand but expert craftsmen were scarce. Houses were largely devoid of ornament, with the exception of an occasional fanlight or horizontal transom. The Casey home has several of these. Simple gable walls and roofs incorporate chimneys for fireplaces at the east and west ends of the house.
The Nicholas Garrat house in Cahokia, Illinois, the oldest brick building in the state, built in 1800, is much like the Casey home in features and appearance.
The main part of the old brick house is constructed of sun-dried soft brick believed to have been made at the John Wier brickyard several miles to the southeast. The house has walnut door and window frames. Also doors of oak and yellow pine and seven-inch boards are used for floors, baseboards and window sills.
There are three fireplaces, now bricked over, all made of original small bricks. The brick house has six rooms, three on each floor. Square wrought iron nails were used throughout the house and basement timbers were put together with wooden pegs. Horsehair plaster was used to finish the interior of the fourteen inch walls.
The original part of the two-story home is the basic part of the structure and is in daily use. Some changes have been made, however. All inside doors retain their heavy iron locks and some still sport ceramic doorknobs. There remain some of the original windows with rough, bubbly glass.
Changes made in the original six-room brick have been limited to installation of a partition in a downstairs bedroom to convert a portion into a bathroom. This partition was made in 1930. Also in 1930, an L-shaped porch was replaced with an enclosed porch. Frames of the one-story kitchen and back porch were added to the north side of the house in the late l890's.
In 1973, the old kitchen and porch were removed and replaced with a two-story four-room wing with attached garage. No changes were made in the old brick part except to convert a north window into a door opening into a large closet which is part of the new wing.
The old mellow-hued brick thus furnishes the sturdy shell of a home modern in every convenience, and no winter wind nor summer sun affects the house built more than a hundred years ago by David Vernay, who came from Maryland to work on the John Strawn farm in Richland Township and remained to found a modest dynasty and family in Hopewell. He built well, with wooden pegs and wrought iron nails and laid foundations and walls of brick that promise to endure for untold years.
Maud E. Uschold
The farm Just east of Lacon about three miles in Section 33, Hopewell Township, and owned by the heirs of the last J. Foster Held contains one of Marshall County's oldest homes. The house was built by Lemmuel Russell about 1837 and is much the same today as it was almost 140 years ago.
The old stone foundation, soft brick fireplaces; one upstairs, one down; simple Federal style are typical of the early pioneer homes.
Lemmuel Russell was one of Hopewell's earliest settlers, having arrived in Putnam County with the Jessie Sawyers in 1831. He purchased two lots in Lacon, but finding it to be mostly Indian trails and a gloomy place with nothing doing he went to Pekin, Illinois for a short time.
He returned to Hopewell after the Black Hawk War and entered the land east of Lacon.
In 1833 he married Sara Ann Edwards. They reared a family of eight; Willis, Margaret Ann, Love, Sara, Lemmuel, Mary, Amanda and E. (?) Russell.
It is interesting to note here that Mrs. Foster Held has in her possession Lemmuel Russell's cane and a window pane from the old house with the words "Love Russell" scratched in the glass. This old farm home was the first residence of Foster and Annie Bellows Held after their marriage in the early 1900 's.
A visit to the little country "Russell Cemetery" west of the house about two blocks reveals the graves of Lemmuel and Sara and several members of the family.
The Old Cider House
One of the first settlers to acquire land around Lacon was John Wier who came in 1832. He took title to land in 1833 which is still in the family. He built a log cabin above the present hone of the Ralph Wier family. It over-looked the river. An old mulberry tree still stands by where the cabin stood.
The only remaining building is the cider house built in 1848 by John Wier and his sons, Henry and Dan. It stands behind the present barns and remains sound, built of hardwood lumber and foot-wide pine siding. Oak and walnut are in the beams and sheeting. It is a two-story building with a basement room for storage. It is entirely insulated with a brick lining. The soft red bricks were made from the clay pits on the farm and supplied many nearby farmers. The best known building remaining made from Wier brick is the Budd building, corner of 5th and Main Street, Lacon, which was constructed by Henry Wier for vinegar storage.
The cider house was the processing plant for the surrounding area when vinegar was a necessity for food and cleansing everything from kitchenware to human bodies. At one time 600 acres southeast of Lacon were in apple orchards planted by John, Dan and Henry Wier. There were seven cider presses made with 16" X 16" oak beams, 24 feet long. A wood-fired steam engine drove a line shaft with well greased hard maple blocks for bearings. It turned the presses and various other equipment. Large cisterns provided water for steam when the streams went dry in the fall.
The building is still a picturesque sight though acid vinegar put cider pressing out of business. The cooperage in Lacon supplied barrels for the vinegar which was shipped by boat down the Illinois River for cities in southern and eastern United States.
Mrs. Delight Wier
Wier Centennial Farm
The sixth generation of the Wier family is residing on and operating a tract of land bought May 10, 1832 by John Wier from Sam Hamilton and James Hamilton who had purchased it from the U. S, Government July l6, 1831. John Wier came by horses and wagons to Illinois from West Virginia because he was opposed to slavery. The purchase price was $1.25 per acre. This Centennial farm is unique in that direct male descendants of John Wier have always resided on and operated the farm.
The home farm lies in Hopewell Township with a small strip extending into Lacon Township. The first purchase made by John Wier was 80 acres. It is the South half of Section 31 in Hopewell Township. The succession of title runs from John Wier to Dan B, Wier and wife who sold it to Henry E. Wier November 28, 1872. Conveyed by warranty deed to Frederick E. Wier and wife, December 11, 1888, it came to Charles Wier, May l8, 1960. Ralph Wier and sons operate the farm at present. The home farm grew to 440 acres with the addition of SW1/4 of NW1/4 of Section 31.
Other land was bought and extensive orchards were planted. Dan Wier operated the Lacon Nurseries south of Lacon where Club 115 stands. He experimented with fruits and wrote for horticulture magazines and lectured on his findings. The Henry Republican, September 15, 1870 reports "D. B. Wier of this county is said to have the largest orchard in the state. It consists of over 200 acres of apple and peach trees and about 30 acres in small fruit. It will take 20 men two months to gather his apples." Again in I871, October 26, “D. B..Wier of Lacon, one of the best entomologists of the country, informs us that there are three flights of chinch bugs this year, instead of two, as is usual, and the third brood is now preying on the fall wheat." In 1879, July 3, "Henry Wier 's Orchard produced 4,000 barrels of apples last year."
The present house was built in 1898 and was remodeled to add the east half in 1917. It replaced the soft red brick home on the same site. Some of the original bricks fired by hand in the Wier brickyards still show in the basement walls.
There is a central hall leading to an open stairway to second floor. The living room has hardwood flooring of maple. Ten foot ceilings and a large bay window area make the house unique.
Mrs. Delight Wier