The first known resident here was a man named HART, who built a cabin on the present site of the town in 1830, which was soon after deserted. About 1831 another cabin was built, near the site of the old mill, north of the ravine, and for some time was occupied by a man named STACY, who built a log house in 1832 on the site of Webster. Elias THOMPSON came next. His house stood on the edge of the ravine, near or on the ground afterward occupied by BOWER's mill. For a long time it was the only hotel, and occasionally served as a church, the proprietor, in addition to his other duties, being a local preacher of deserved note.
Mr. THOMPSON and his son David opened the first farms in the Township, the former at the head of the ravine, east of where he lived. They devoted their time principally to raising vegetables for the "tavern."
At this time settlers hugged close to the timber, the prairies being considered too bleak arid exposed for cultivation, and only fit for pasturage.
Another log cabin is known to have stood under the river bank as early as 1833, and was occupied by a hunter named HATFIELD, who sometimes served as ferryman.
There stood a small log building near the corner of School and Front streets, and across on the north side of School street, nearly opposite the present bridge, stands the first frame building erected in the city. It was built by Mr. HALE, and occupied by him in 1835, and is now a part of Mrs. St. CLAIR's residence.
In 1831 or '32, Erastus WRIGHT and William PORTER, of Springfield, visited this section, and foreseeing a good prospect for a future town, made a claim. They also procured a ferry license from the Commissioners of Peoria County, a transcript of which they filed upon the organization of Putnam County, in the proper court.
In 1833 Anson L. DEMING and Elisha SWAN, of Columbia, also made claim to the town site, and to strengthen it procured a boat and contracted with Major THOMPSON to run a ferry for them, and SWAN made preparations to build a store.
The rival claimants after some wrangle concluded to jointly lay out a town and divide the profits on the lots as fast as sold. They sent to Springfield for a surveyor named PORTER, when the discovery was made that being school land it could not be sold, so Mr. SWAN abandoned his plans and returned to Columbia, and THOMPSON became possessor of the ferry property.
The school officers soon after circulated petitions asking of the Super-intendent of Schools permission to sell the Sixteenth Section, setting forth there were fifteen voters and fifty white people in the Township. It was granted, and B. M. HAYES appointed to survey and lay it out, which was done, and the Trustees in their report say:
"Lots from number thirty to two hundred and ninety-one inclusive, with streets and alleys within and thereto appertaining, and the public grounds on said map designated, we propose as a town by the name of Henry, in memory of the late Gen. James D. HENRY, deceased, who gallantly led the Illinois volunteers to victory over the hostile Sac and Fox Indians in the year 1832, and who lately died of disease caused by that arduous service."
To Hooper WARREN, an intimate friend of General HENRY, is due the credit of suggesting the name.
A public sale of lots was held a week after the survey in Hennepin, by Nathaniel CHAMBERLAIN, School Commissioner. There was but little competition by speculators, the lots generally being bought by citizens and settlers of Putnam County, at prices equivalent to $1.25 per acre, or one dollar per lot. When the real estate mania broke out in 1837 these lots were snapped up by speculators and held at high prices, and the growth of the town sadly retarded.
As before stated, the first farm in Henry Township was made by Elias THOMPSON and his son David in the spring of 1833, that of the former now being known as the "DAVIS place."
Sampson ROWE and William LATHROP came in 1834. Elias THOMPSON soon after built the old Henry House, and had a small garden patch broken the year previous. He subsequently sold out and went to California, where he died. He was a preacher, bee hunter and man of various trades.
John HALE, a preacher, came to Henry soon after, in about 1835, and did some work as a carpenter on THOMPSON's tavern, besides keeping a grocery store, and Mr. BURR or BRADLEY succeeded him in the latter business in 1836. He afterward went to Kansas and is reported to have died there.
David B. CULVER and Orson CULVER, sons of Orsemus CULVER, broke ground for their places in 1835. The MALLORYs came very early, in 1835. Loten FRISBEE in 1835, and Andrew STYLES the same season. STYLES brought the first threshing machine to the Township.
In 1836, William KIDNEY and Simeon POOL arrived.
George KLEIN arrived in 1837, and Fred W. BELL the same year, as also did George HILLER, Fred REINBECK, J. W. JONES, Dr. TEMPLETON, Andrew STYLES and Anton APPEL.
Valentine WEIS came in 1838, and Augustus C. ASHERMAN the same year. Also Anton SIDEL, James DENNIS and Walter PLATO.
In 1839 Fred W. TROENLY and Balser KLEIN. In that year lands first came into market here.
We cannot give the year in which Major THOMPSON built the "Henry House" and the postoffice was established. It seems to have given the first impulse to business and enterprise.
The first prominent merchant was a man named BRADLEY, who came here under the pseudonym of Joseph BURR. He had failed in business in the East and to escape his creditors, changed his name, came to this locality with the remnants of his fortune and opened a business in which he was very successful. He was strictly honorable, and when sufficient means were accumulated went back to his former home and paid every dollar. Returning, he assumed his full name and was known as Joseph Burr BRADLEY. He was the first Postmaster of the place and built the first warehouse.
Another firm was LLOYD Brothers, who came here in 1849 from St. Louis, and did a flourishing business; HARLESS & LANCASTER, CHEEVER & HERNDON, Thomas GALLAHER, and Ben. LOMBARD, were well known merchants. The last named made extensive improvements and then removed to Chicago, where reverses overtook him. He now lives in Galesburg. In 1837-8 a blacksmith shop was started on the site of LLOYD's land office.
In this year a frame building was erected on the site of B. YEAGER's saloon by Sampson HOWE; and the building known as the PASKILL House was built about 1839.
In 1837 two accidents occurred that of Reuben CONVERSE, who was drowned from off the ferry, and a Mr. LYON, who fell from a hotel window and was killed.
Extracted from Records of the Olden Time
The following list of names transcribed from the 1890 map may not be complete. As always, we welcome corrections and additions.
___ERMAN, G W
BAGLEY, M N, Mrs
BECKER, F R
BECKER, F S
BLOOD, D N
BROWN, A P
CAMERY, I W
DAWSON, C M
DURHAM, V C
EMERICK, G W
GUYER, Maria E
HARNEY, Daniel, heirs of
HARRISON, James A
HEACOCK, R E
HEINRICH, Charles L
HILDERBRANT, Mary L
HOAGLAND, C C
HORRAM, L, heirs of
HORRAM, D W
JONES, C R
JONES, Chas R
JONES, J H
LANGDELL, W H
McCLURY, H M
McMANUS, Peter, heirs of
MEAD, A B
MERDIAN, J J
MERRITT, S S
SMITH, H J
SMITH, J T
SMITH, M J
STILES, A G
Swan Lake Shooting Club
TROENDLEY, F F
VAIL, B C
WILLIAMS, J A
WILLIAMS, W P
WORLEY, S G