Thomas and Hannah Smalley Doyle came to Macon County, Illinois from Hunnington County, Pennsylvania in 1836. They moved to Peoria County in 1852 where Mr. Doyle died in 1877.
Owen Doyle, Thomas' son, was born in 1850. In 1871 at the age of twenty-one, he purchased the "home place" for $56.25 an acre. This land is located in the W1/2 of the SE1/4 of Section 27, Saratoga Township. In 1890 he purchased the remaining half of the section.
Owen Doyle was a thrifty, hard-working farmer and he prospered.
In 1881 when Owen Doyle and Miranda Webber, daughter of pioneer A. P. Webber, were married the little Saratoga Church was crowded for the first recorded wedding which took place after the evening services. Guests attended from as far away as New York.
The happy bride and groom moved into the lovely new home which had just been built. Material had come from surrounding areas; the foundation stone from Joliet, and lumber from the plentiful supply.
To this couple, Owen and Miranda were born four children; Karl, Herbert, Bell and Marion. Marion Doyle Cronkrite, now residing at 910 Third Street, Henry, Illinois recalls the Sundays the family attended the Saratoga Methodist Church, one mile south of their hone. Father, mother and four Doyle children made the journey to church in their fringe-topped surrey. The children walked to the Doyle School, one and one-half mile from home. This school, like all our colorful country schools, long ago succumbed to modern consolidation. The building was purchased and moved to the Howard Salisbury farm where it is presently used as a machine shed.
The original farm home constructed in l88l is still standing today. A few minor changes have been made; it is not too different from the way it was when the newlyweds moved into it in 1881. Presently the Charles Rowe family live there and farm the land.
The Thomas Doyle Farm
One-half mile south of the Saratoga United Methodist Church in the Sw1/4 of Section 27, Saratoga Township is located the farm owned by Mrs. Walter L. Bayne of 810 Green Street, Henry.
Mrs. Bayne 's grandfather, Thomas Doyle, acquired the farm in 1864. His daughter, Matilda and husband, Joseph Clark, moved onto the farm in 1881. The home into which they moved was standing then and remains today quite different from its appearance in 1881.
Even though no record of the exact building date exists, it is believed to have been in the 1850's or l860's.
Presently Mr. and Mrs, John Ryan reside in the home and farm the land.
The Saratoga Township land, NE1/2 of NW1/4 of Section 31, owned by John W. Hickey of Camp Grove, was originally the property of one Peter Bagley, who was granted this land by the U. S. Government in 1852.
He subsequently sold the land to William Gass, who sold it to Walter Cowan.
David Hickey purchased the land from Walter Cowan in 1867, and it has been in the possession of the Hickey family since that time, having been willed by David Hickey to his son, James P. Hickey.
John W. Hickey, the present owner and a son of James P., got possession in 1956 following the death of his mother.
The house that appears in the 1873 plat book was enlarged and remodeled by James P. Hickey in 1916. It is presently owned by Dorothea Hickey Hartley and her husband. Jack Hartley who purchased the house and one acre of land in 1956. John W. Hickey, who still owns the farm acreage, lived in the house from 1916 until his marriage in 1939. Dorothea Hartley is the youngest of the nine children of James P. Hickey, and was born and raised in this house and continues to live here.
Mr. and Mrs. John W. Hickey
NW1/4 of Section 8, Township 13N, Range 8E has been ovmed and operated by the Merrill, Wilson and Holmes family for 126 years. The present owner-operator bears all three of these names, Merrill Wilson Holmes.
The 160 acres situated in the tract appropriated by the United States Government, in the State of Illinois, for Military Bounty for the War of 1812, was patented March 5, 1818, No. 12921, to William Butlery, born in Wilton, Connecticut, shoemaker by trade, who was a Private in Captain Beachs' Company Regiment of Infantry, War of 1812. He died in Wilton, Connecticut, 1840, and his heirs also failed to pay the taxes.
In 1850, Merrill Wilson Holmes' great-great-uncle, John U. Merrill, born in Penobscot County, Maine, then of Marshall County, obtained the land by warranty deed from John Carpenter and wife of Bureau County for the sum of $250. It was filed in Bureau County in 1850 and in Marshall County in 1852, John U. Merrill moved to the farm with a son, John, built a house, and improved the land. It took until October, 1854 for John Merrill to obtain an Abstract of Title through an Attorney in Fact, James Lombard of Suffolk County, State of Massachusetts, with Ben Lombard, Jr. as subscribing witness of Wilton, Connecticut. James Lombard paid the six Butlery heirs $1.00 for this NW1/4 of Section 8, Township 13N, Range 8E, and testified that this land had never been sold before. In June, 1855 John U. Merrill received a bill for $600 to be paid before 1858 at 6% interest to the office of Ben Lombard, Henry, Illinois in consideration for such service.
A strip of land, six and one-half feet, was sold from the east side of the farm to a neighbor, Robert Schoffield, rather than remove the hedge precious for fencing purposes, set before the land was surveyed in 1853 by Thomas Patterson, County Surveyor, Marshall County.
John U. Merrill and his son, John, left Marshall County in 1872 when he sold the place to his niece, Mary Elizabeth Merrill Wilson, and husband, John Bruce Wilson for the sum of $3,000. She came to Illinois with her parents from Boston, Massachusetts in 1857, married John Bruce Wilson in 1869 in Livingston County, and they lived in Whitefield Township, NE1/4 of Section 9, on his father's farm until they moved to their newly purchased Saratoga Township Section 8 farm in 1872.
They replaced the small original one and one-half story dwelling in 1894 with the large frame house presently standing. His father, James Wilson, a carpenter helped build the house and lived with his son and wife until his death in 1907. He came from Rising Sun, Indiana in l85l to Crow Meadow, Henry Township, with his wife, Elizabeth Steward, who died in l85l, and their young son, John Bruce. Credit is given to him for building many of the bridges in Whitefield Township and some of the country schoolhouses.
The John Bruce Wilsons reared four sons and a daughter; Herbert, Oscar, Arthur, Clarence, and Jennie, all deceased except Clarence living in Mason City, Iowa. Jennie taught the Saratoga Center country school before her marriage in 1901 to Alfred W. Holmes, son of Milan and Mary Ann Marshall Holmes, and grandson of the pioneers, Levi and Lucinda Hansell Holmes of LaPrairie Township and the William Marshalls of Saratoga Township.
In 1910, the John B. Wilsons retired, and their daughter and husband moved with their two small daughters from the William Marshall farm, Saratoga Township, to her father's farm. They reared four children; Gertrude (Mrs. Hugh Beggs, Jacksonville, Illinois), Florence (Mrs. Herbert Nottage, Encino, California), Merrill Wilson, and Mary Elizabeth (Mrs. Alvin Foster, R. R. 1, Henry, Illinois, Saratoga Township). Florence taught the Wilson rural school on this farm. In January, 1917, Alfred and Jennie Holmes agreed on a sum for the purchase of the farm from her father, John B. Wilson, and continued to reside on it until 1948 when they sold it to their son and wife, Merrill W. and Henrietta. Merrill was born on this farm and here has spent his entire life.
Merrill and his wife, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Downey Wherry, (whose grandparents were each pioneers in Senachwine Township, Putnam County), were married in 1937. They reared three children; Elizabeth (Mrs. Warren T. Townsend, Belton, Texas), Carole (Mrs. Josh Franks, Toledo, Ohio), and James Merrill (Vidor, Texas).
As Merrill watched "the lengthening streaks of yellow earth and silty deposits in the drainage ditches portray the insidious work of the farmer's greatest menace, erosion," in 1938 he began to contour farm. He worked in cooperation with L. J. Hager, Farm Adviser, and the Soil Conservation Department and the University of Illinois Extension Service, and also replaced the hedge, set by great-uncle John U. Merrill along the east edge of the farm, with a concrete dam. Merrill has continued the practice of soil conservation through the years.
None of the original buildings still stand except the main structure of the large machine shed which was the original barn. In the front yard is an ancient pine tree which was standing in 1872 when the John Bruce Wilsons moved to the farm. It was not damaged when a tornado hit the farm in 1965 that demolished the silo and damaged all of the farm buildings including the house. The same year lightning ripped bark from the top to the base of the tree, but it's strength survived.
The Wilson log country schoolhouse on the southwest corner of this farm was replaced in 1872 and remained open until 1952. The schoolhouse was sold and is used for a machine shed on the farm one mile north, tenanted by James Eble and family.
This farm proudly displays a Centennial Award received in 1972.
Mr. and Mrs. Merrill W. Holmes
The Quinn Farm
James Quinn purchased this land, SW1/4 of Section 6, Saratoga Township from Samuel Mooberry and Louisa in 1866, and lived there for a period before moving with his family to Henry Township. A son, Edmund the eldest, helped plant all of the maple trees around the house, north and west including the grove at the end of the lane. The trees were continuous from the house to the road, but some years later some were cut in the pasture area between the house and the grove at the end of the lane. Some of these grove trees are still standing.
In 1904 another son, Francis Quinn, acquired this farm and moved there in 1912 on March 14th when he married Minnie E. Downey, daughter of Henry and Henrietta Giltner Downey, and lived there until his death in 1939. Minnie and Annis, an adopted daughter, and Juanita W. Quinn whom the Quinns reared continued to reside there a few more years.
The present house was built prior to 1912, but was remodeled some since that time. Annis recalls helping Mrs. Quinn cook and serve noon meals to the workers who labored on the ditch which drained the Saratoga "Goose Lake” in 1931. The tile drains into the creek on the Quinn farm.
Annis inherited the land after the death of Minnie E. Quinn in 1948, Willard and Elsie Piper are the present tenants on the farm. The present owner, Mrs. Carl Bassler (Edna Annis Wherry Quinn Bassler) now lives in West Plains, Missouri.
Mrs. Henrietta Holmes
William Kelley Estate
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kelley, both natives of Ireland, moved from a log cabin on a farm in Peoria County, Illinois, into a house on their newly purchased farm one-half mile north of the Saratoga Church in Section 22 of Saratoga Township, Marshall County, Illinois in 1868.
At that time the family consisted of five children: Anna J., John T., Richard, Robert A., and Andrew C. Soon Margaret E. and twin boys, Charles N. and William W. joined them.
The father of this young family was accidentally killed August 8, 1875 at the age of 43 years. On December 17, 1875, Charles, one of the twins, passed away at the age of three and one-half years. Anna passed away September 29, 1876, age 18 years and John passed away March 11, 1880, age 20 years. Mrs. Kelley' s mother, Mrs. Jane Knilans, also a native of Ireland, passed away at the home of her daughter November 27, 1887, age 81 years.
With the help of Richard and Robert, Mrs. Kelley and her family continued to operate the farm.
Following the untimely death of Orie Webber Kelley, Robert's wife, January 11, 1898, Mrs. Kelley, Margaret and William moved into Robert's home one and one-half miles south of their home. By that time Richard had married Harriet B. Cain and Andrew had married Ethel Tanquary and were established in their own homes.
After Mrs. Kelley' s death from serious burns in 1904, the home place was owned by Margaret and William until Margaret's death November 5, 1935, when William became sole owner. He passed away in 1957.
In the early 1900's the land was rented out until 1912 when Reverend Andrew Kelley retired from the ministry and he and his wife returned to the farm where they lived until moving to Henry in 1920.
Since that time William, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kelley; Ransom Kelley, a grandson; Ronald Kelley, a great-grandson; and Clarence Kelley, also a great-grandson and present operator of the farm have tilled the land.
Miss Mildred Kelley
Lester Lewis Farm
One hundred sixty acres, the NW1/4 of Section 27, Saratoga Township, was granted to Charles Fisher, Soldier of the War of 1812, a Matross in Hobarts Company, Light Artillery, by the United States of America on January 3, 1818. The grant was signed by President James Monroe, and Josiah Meigs, Commissioner of General Land Office.
In 1868 after the land had changed ownership several times, Wesley Smalley Doyle purchased the west one-half of this NW1/4, Section 27 from Jacob Hammel and his wife, Margaret Hammel for $50 an acre, and established a home. In those horse and buggy days over muddy roads, or behind "Old Dobbin" in the sleigh, Mary Ann Saylor, wife of Wesley Doyle, traveled many miles as a neighborly midwife to bring many new babies into this world. The Wesley Doyles lived on this farm until 1900 when their only child, Eva Doyle and her husband, Peter Lewis, and their eldest son, Lester Doyle Lewis, moved to reside here. Mrs. Peter Lewis acquired ownership of the land by deed in December, 1908 and continued to reside on it until her death in 1948 and her husband until his death in 1953.
In 1948, Lester D. Lewis, son of Peter and Eva Doyle Lewis, acquired the deed to the land. Lester, his wife, Zella Kimble Lewis, with their third and last child, Robert Edward Lewis moved to the farm in 1951, and Lester and Zella still reside there in this Bicentennial year, 1976. They have three children; Mrs. Martha Lammers, who with her husband are missionaries in Morioka, Japan; Ralph Kimble Lewis, an order coordinator for Uniroyal in Mishawaka, Indiana; and Robert E. Lewis, C.L.U. Chief Risk Appraiser for State Farm Life Insurance Company in Newark, Ohio. The six Lewis grandchildren have enjoyed many happy hours on the farm. The only other family member to live on this farm since 1868 was the Peter and Eva Doyle Lewis' second son, Lloyd. (See the following story.)
There have been many changes since the earlier days when the white man first settled in this area. The Galena Trail ran north and south a half mile west. Peter Lewis remembered when he could step across the branch of the Senachwine Creek running through this farm. It is now at least forty feet from side to side. This is a reminder of what is happening to the rich top soil. None of the original buildings remain on the farm now. The present house was built in 1925.
Across from the Lewis farm was the rural Doyle School named after Lester and Lloyd Lewis' great-grandparents, Thomas and Hannah Smalley Doyle who owned a farm north of the school site. It was one of the last to close in the township.
On the corner one-half mile west of the Lester Lewis farm was the Saratoga Post Office, a medical doctor's office, general store, and a blacksmith shop.
In 1972 the Lewis' received the Centennial award.
Mrs. Lester D. Lewis
Lloyd and Ruth Lewis Farm
In August, 1876, Wesley S. Doyle purchased the east half of the NW1/4 of Section 27, Saratoga Township, Marshall County from Thomas and Charlotte Monier, except for the two acres given from this eighty acres to the Trustees of the Saratoga Methodist Episcopal Church in 1868 by William D. Lytle and his wife, Phoebe. (See Church story.)
In 1908, Eva Doyle Lewis inherited this tract of land from her father, Wesley S. Doyle, a widower.
After the death of Eva Doyle and that of her husband Peter Lewis, Lloyd Lewis, second son, inherited this 78 acres.
Lloyd married Ruth VanOstrand, lives in LaPrairie Township, and farms this land.
Mrs. Lloyd (Ruth) Lewis
George B. Howes Estate
In September, 1861, George B. Howes and wife, Katherine, purchased the NW1/4 of Section 7, Saratoga Township from a Thomas Chase.
A small portion of this farm played an important part in the development of this area. Fifty feet along the east side of the farm were sold to the Northwestern Railroad in 1901. It was after the building of the railroad that the village of Broadmoor began, and the elevator and grain business thrived. The farmers in the area now had a near outlet for their grain.
In 1904 the Howes farm was acquired by G. B. Howes' son, George B. In 1939 the George B. Howes' estate went to Ella, his widow and children; John R. Howes and Helen E. Howes Weygandt.
In 1954 the widow, Ella, and daughter, Helen, obtained the property. In 1968, Helen E. Howes Weygandt became the owner. Mrs. Weygandt replaced the original house by a new home in 1961.
The Franz Waldinger family reside there and operate the farm.
The William Marshall Farm
William and Elizabeth Bryan Marshall came from England (probably in the 1840's) where William had been employed as a butler and Elizabeth had been employed as head housekeeper in the house of Lady Clan-Williams, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria. William became a victim of tuberculosis, known then as "consumption." As a last resort, his doctor advised an ocean voyage. They intended going to Australia, but missed their ship while waiting for a grandmother to bring their son, Samuel, to the port to go with them. When the boy failed to come, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall departed on the first ship out, which was headed for the United States. They never saw their son again and he died before the age of 20.
The ship took them to New Orleans. They came up to Illinois by boat, and Mrs. Marshall worked for a time in a mattress factory in Peoria before moving to a farm in Valley Township, where their only daughter, Mary Ann was born, Mary Ann Marshall (Mrs. Milan Holmes) often recalled her girlhood to her family with recollections of the times she rode her horse over the hedge rows. In some places rows of these Osage orange still exist to form the fence lines between fields.
It is interesting to note here that records indicate Captain William Mann is credited with bringing the first Osage orange seeds here from Texas after the Mexican War. Mann came to Peoria, Illinois in 1848. Being unable to sell the seeds of the then unknown plant, Mann laid out his first nursery on the site of the present city of Normal, Illinois. Eventually the business spread to LaSalle and Marshall Counties.
John O. Dent who is said to have furnished Osage orange plants to farmers and stockmen is a name better known in Marshall County. The early prairies became crisscrossed with these sturdy hedges of Osage orange. The hedges' rapid growth made a fence impenetrable to man and beast and was preferred over the ungalvanized barbed wire which quickly rusted.
The corn crop was hauled by ox team to Peoria, the round trip taking about a week. Corn sold for ten cents a bushel. Later they came to Marshall County, Illinois, where they farmed for a short time before buying and moving to the farm of 160 acres in Section 35, Saratoga Township. They had to pay from 12 to 20% interest on money borrowed at that time. Chickens sold at $2.50 a dozen. Mrs. Marshall kept boarders, raised turkeys and chickens to help pay for the farm.
An amusing incident concerning Mrs. Marshall's turkey flock occurred one day when she discovered the whole flock lying, apparently dead, around the yard. Being a thrifty soul, she decided to pluck the feathers and at least salvage that much. Imagine her surprise when she looked outside sometime later, and saw the flock of naked turkeys walking around the yard. Evidently they had discovered and eaten fermented fruit that proved their undoing !
Elizabeth Marshall was always ready to go to the aid of sick neighbors to help in any way she could. Mr. Marshall eventually seemed to recover his health and outlived Mrs. Marshall.
After William Marshall's death, the farm went to the daughter, Mary Ann, who was then Mrs. Milan H. Holmes and living on a nearby farm. Eventually the Holmes' oldest son, Alfred, and his wife lived at and farmed the Marshall place until moving to Mrs. Holmes' folk's farm in northwest Saratoga Township. Charles Holmes moved there in 1914, a short time later the place was deeded to Alfred, Bessie Holmes Gray and Charles Holmes. The Gray's bought Alfred's share and have continued to own the South one-half of the 160 acres. It now belongs to their son, Charles E. Gray. The North one-half belonging to Charles R. Holmes was sold when Charles retired from the farm. The original house was torn down and replaced around 1918 or 1919 by Charles Holmes.
Mrs. Charles Gray
R. R. 1, Box 148
Saga of Saratoga Lake or Goose Lake
The following article written by Margaret Dewey appeared in the Henry News Republican on December 30, 1971.
"Many years ago, there was a huge body of water in Saratoga Township, Marshall County, located about three miles southeast of present day Lake Broadmoor. This water was designated on early plat books and maps as Saratoga Lake, and covered an area of considerably over 100 acres. (In comparison, the Lake at Broadmoor today covers some 30 acres.)
"Present day conservationists and advocates of ecology would have been delighted with this early paradise of hunters, trappers and fishermen. The slough grass was higher than a man's head, with wild geese, deer, cranes and other forms of wildlife in abundance,
"About 1870, a man by the name of Mr. Henry Seeley purchased several pieces of land both to the east and to the west of the Lake area, and moved to the farm (where George Stange lives today) about 1/2 mile from the east shore of 'Goose Lake.' Mr. Seeley made his home there for over ten years before moving to Henry, Illinois, where he died in 1896. His obituary stated that he was the largest man in the area, weighing over 275 pounds, and possessed a booming laugh that could be heard a block away. Judging from some of the newspaper items concerning him which appeared in the Henry paper during those years he lived near 'Goose Lake,' he must also have been possessed of a wonderful sense of humor.
". . . Through the years much difficulty was encountered in trying to drain this Lake, to utilize the swamp-like land for farming purposes, as well as to prevent flooded road conditions after heavy rains and snows. All efforts to achieve this proved unsuccessful however, prior to the organization in the late 1920's of the Saratoga Lake Drainage District. Commissioners, appointed by the County Court, ascertained just which lands in that area of Saratoga Township had water draining into the Lake, and assessed those farm owners for their share in paying for the Drainage project.
"The contract for draining the Lake with 48-inch tile was awarded to an Iowa man for approximately $50,000. This was a huge sum of money for some twenty farmers to raise, especially when corn was down to 15-cents a bushel in those early Depression years.
"After the Lake was drained, the late Chris Beyer cleared the willows from the land, and Louis Stotler of Camp Grove remembers walking behind a plow and helping cultivate the old Lake bed prior to the planting of crops there. His father, the late Ike Stotler, helped Chris Beyer harvest the first crop from old Goose Lake that fall.
Many Saratoga residents, who well remember the Big Tile Project, as well as much of the bitter controversy concerning same, report that since that time there has never been so much water in the old Lake area, or clear across the road, as this year. The heavy spring rains flooded the area, and this was repeated in September when the excessive rainfall was breaking records again, and inundated the crops standing in the fields.
They say that history has a habit of repeating itself, and that hunters are again in that area this fall. The subject of so much water draining into what was once Saratoga Lake, and what to do about, is being discussed again."
As a house is not a home until it is lived in; neither is a church a center of a Christian community unless it is entwined with the faith of its people. The early Methodist families who pioneered and broke the sod, set hedges for fencing, built humble homes, endured the hardships and privations of a lonely prairie, were in the early days of Saratoga Township these kind of people; deeply embedded with a Christian faith and desirous of the fellowship of worship in the participation of their faith.
About the time Saratoga Township was organized in 1857, Corydon Gillett, Archie McVicker, and Hugh McVicker formed and were leaders of the first Methodist Episcopal Classes, and affiliated with the Whitefield Circuit. George Scholes and Sam Divelbiss attended the quarterly meetings faithfully. These class members met in the Ray, Gillett, McVicker and Doyle School Houses. Later Thomas Kelley, Darby, and A. P. Webber were leaders. Interest increased and plans were formulated to erect a church. Funds were collected, and on June 12, 1868 William D. and Phoebe Lytle deeded two acres from their farm on the NE1/2 of the NW1/4 of Section 27 to the Trustees of the Saratoga Methodist Episcopal Church for a church and cemetery. The one room well built edifice was already under contract with Dryden and Russell; and was to be thirty-six by fifty feet with two entrances to the east and a porch. It was plastered, painted and furnished with pews and pulpit. October 11, 1868 was a "glorious day for Saratoga," when the new church was dedicated by Rev. J. T. Evans. The total cost of the church had expanded to the figure of $2,835 and included a $300 donation for hauling. Rev. James Cowden was appointed as the minister.
The first members recorded were Corydon Gillett, Alonson P. Webber, M. J. Webber, Hannah Carse, James E. Jones, Mary Jones, John Green, Kate Green, Thomas Kelley, Martha Kelley, Emily Darby, Sam Divelbiss and Rachael Divelbiss.
A cemetery was laid out with ninety-nine lots, and fenced in 1871. Twenty-five men were listed as helping haul lumber and posts and building the fence; and others contributed money. Thirteen soldiers who served in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II are buried in the cemetery.
The Saratoga United Methodist Church has always been a part of a circuit; in 1871 the Church became a part of the LaPrairie Circuit. The minister was housed in the parsonage there, and commuted by horseback and carriage. The Church gained in membership when the Brick (Presbyterian) Church closed around 1880 and the Whitefield Center Methodist Episcopal Church closed in 1914. In 1930, the Church ceased its relationship with the LaPrairie Circuit and became a part of the Wyoming Charge which was composed of Wyoming, Saratoga and Camp Grove. In 1938 after the Camp Grove Church closed, two more churches were added to the appointment and the Rev. C. Nicholas served four churches, including Castleton and Snareville. In 1939 with the Uniting Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, The Methodist Episcopal Church South, and The Methodist Episcopal Church North; the name was changed to the Saratoga Methodist Church. In 1945 the Henry-Saratoga Charge was formed and has remained a happy friendly relationship through the years. In 1968 with the Uniting Conference of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church, the name was changed to The Saratoga United Methodist Church.
Through the years this church has opened its doors to many community activities from singing and Bible Schools, study classes to homecoming celebrations and picnics. Farm Bureau and Homemaker Extension meetings, programs, suppers, family nights, weddings, showers, ice cream socials, plays, receptions, and a long list of many activities which have brought fellowship and pleasure to the people of Saratoga Township for over one hundred years.
Records and memories of the past well preserved in the hearts and minds of the people of Saratoga were transferred to written form in 1968 when the Church celebrated a Rededication of its Building, and a historical book was written which is still available to those who would like a more complete history of this rural agricultural community fellowship.
Even though the excitement of 1936 was a moment of great discovery when the Coleman gas lamp was replaced with a new Delco Light Plant, and rural electrification became a reality for the church in 1941; nothing has excelled quite as much as the faith of the Saratoga people who have given of their time and talent to keep their church building in the excellent condition it is today.
With an increase in attendance following World War II, extensive plans were started under the direction of Rev. C. Nicholas, and continued under Rev. D. Lemkau for remodeling. The basement was excavated, a new church foundation was built, the narthex built with a new entrance to the north, the ceiling lowered, the old coal stoves replaced with a furnace, the one classroom was divided, and the sanctuary was remodeled to include a divided chancel and new flooring.
Even though the Church has never had a large membership, it has always been and still is a stable congregation; about the same size in membership as when it first began, and today carries a membership of ninety-eight members with its present pastor, Rev. Prosper O. Tournear serving as the sixty-third minister of this active rural congregation. It has apparently been, and still is, God's will to relate to the people of Saratoga Township through the facilities and faith of the United Methodist Church of Saratoga.
In 1860 Alanson P. Webber obtained, for the sum of $1,500, this I60 acres located in the NE1/4 of Section 28, Saratoga Township.
It is thought that Mr. A. P. Webber moved here, in the present home, about 1866. It is not known for certain the exact date the house was built. It is one of the very few remaining old residences of Saratoga Township.
Some of the features which seem to indicate the age of the building are: rock foundation; slate roof; wide front door with glass panels along both sides, much like the more elaborate Georgian homes the early settlers remembered from their Eastern roots. Original six-inch wide board floors, ten-foot ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows are still in use. The smaller windows throughout the house contain the twelve lights, a popular design in many early homes. Through the years, sane of the original house was removed and minor changes made in the front porch, however, basically the house looks as it did in the middle 1800 's.
Alanson P. Webber died in 1902. His son, Allie, then lived in the home and reared a family. In 1905 he moved to Stark County and the farm was sold a couple of times.
In 1942 the farm was purchased by Fred and Alice Pyell. They lived here until Mr. Pyell's death in 1956. Mrs. Pyell continued to live on the farm until 1961. In that year she moved to Wyoming, Illinois where she resides today.
The farm is now operated by Mrs. Pyell's nephew, Donald Down, who along with his family reside in the old home.