Marshall County

1976 Deep Are the Roots

Roberts Township

[Page 75]

Roberts Point was the name of a torn that was planned on paper. Where else would be a logical place but the Carl Schulz farm which was formerly owned by Livingston Roberts?

Livingston Roberts was one of the first settlers in Marshall County coming in 1828. He followed the teaming business; making five or six trips to Chicago. The return trip brought loads of merchandise for the new settlement.

Evidently it was on one of these trips that the following happened to his wife who had remained at home. An Indian came to the house and asked for food. Mrs. Roberts told him he must wash his feet before eating. As he was doing this, she killed him with an ax. Then she hid the body. Other Indians came looking for him but she claimed he hadn't been there. This took place in the old stone house which was the Roberts' first home. This 20 foot by 26 foot home was built using the stones from the creek. It was heated by a huge fireplace and the wooden windows swinging outwards were the source of the fresh air that was needed.

Mr. Roberts built the brick home in l841. The bricks were kilned a short distance away where red clay was available. The walls are solid brick and the thickest one is eighteen inches thick. Formerly there were six fireplaces but all have been sealed shut. The mantel from one fireplace is in the kitchen. There is a spiral gooseneck staircase in the hall and also a rose colored window. The front door is pictured in Betty Madden 's book, Art, Crafts and Architecture in Early Illinois, as an entrance in a former inn near Wenona. (Varna didn't exist at that time.)

[Page 76]

This house was called “Halfway House" as it was half-way between Springfield and Chicago. This was a stagecoach stop and people would stay overnight. The three-story barn had a lighted lantern in the cupola each night to guide travelers to the inn. Two or three barns have been rebuilt over the lower story because of fire. The remains of the lower story still stands. The stagecoach with four horses could drive into the barn and turn around there.

Mr. Roberts was a hospitable man and everyone was welcome. The house was a well-known stopping place for travelers and a noted landmark. Abraham Lincoln slept here many times and probably many more famous people.

The Roberts were friends of slaves and so the place was also part of the Underground Railway. The slaves were kept in the stone house during the day and they traveled at night.

The present owners are Carl and Tena Schulz. Carl was bom in this house, and has never resided any other place. The home is located on Route 89 just north of Varna, Illinois.

Mrs. Tena Schulz

[Page 77]

One of the best known landmarks in Marshall County still standing is this old homestead built by George and Penelope Shaw west of Varna. It stands as strong and able to withstand the elements as when the pioneering family built it. Built of handmade brick its walls are two feet thick and there are no windows on either end. Great walnut beams felled from the forest surrounding the home support the two story residence. There are four large rooms each with its own fireplace and between the two spacious rooms downstairs and their counterparts upstairs runs a large center hallway. The woodwork in the home is walnut, much of it hand polished by the three girls and three boys born to that first family.

George Shaw's mother was a cousin of George Washington. His father had gone to school with President James Buchanan. George and Penelope came by canal boat and stagecoach in 1829. He brought with his young bride her Negro mammy who begged not to be left behind although he had freed his slaves before they left Kentucky. The mammy's grave was also in the family cemetery at Shaw's Point.

They chose a tract of government land inland from the Illinois River about eight miles. The trees grew this far onto the prairie and jutted out into the plain. It became known as Shaw's Point and a school carried that name also. It was built when their children needed an education and remained until consolidation left it vacant. Tom Shaw became a lawyer in Hennepin, and Elizabeth married a German immigrant doctor, Henry Tesmer, They built the beautiful, great house on the side of the hill in Sparland. Hal Shaw had gone to fight in the Civil War and was permanently disabled, but Tom carried on where George Shaw left off. He married and settled along the Illinois River and contributed much as Judge Shaw in one of the three Circuit Courts in the state, later going to State Legislature.

After generations in the Shaw's name, the house was acquired in 1936 by the O'Hern family of Peoria. The Sherman V. Carlsons of Varna lived there 26 years. Now it is the dwelling of the Richard Colesons.

The house itself has changed only slightly with the years. A room was added at the back of the house, the large brick fireplace removed, the walnut woodwork downstairs painted instead of painstakingly polished by six pair of small hands. But the brick walls stand as strong as the day they were laid … a monument to George and Penelope Shaw.

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