Lee County Illinois
Part of American History and Genealogy Project

Dixon Township, Lee County Illinois

In such a frontier outpost as was Dixon, in its very early years, the life of the settler might be said to have been more or less precarious, especially after the Indian war of 1832 and the threatened Winnebago outbreak of the year following. Dangers, however from Indians were less to be feared than dangers from the thieves and counterfeiters and claim- jumpers, who sought the new country as an asylum and for the purpose of plying their craft.

In each community associations were formed by settlers and these associations adopted constitutions and by-laws and amalgamated themselves with the associations of other communities so that at a moment's notice, if the local body found itself unable to cope with the offenders, others reinforced still others. It was a sort of endless chain.

Almost everything of local and general worth pertaining to Dixon, has been noticed, except perhaps the Bull- Anderson claim jumping incident. A poor settler in Sublette Township was holding down a claim. A neighbor named Anderson, who owed him a grudge, came to Dixon and representing to one Bull, who bought claims once in a while, that he was the owner of the claim, sold it to Bull and the latter at once stepped over to the United States land office and paying the money, entered it in his name.

The moment the news reached Sublette precinct, the local association started to Amboy, where large reinforcements joined, and together the mass of men journeyed to Dixon to pay their respects to Bull, innocent of wrong as he was. Just south of Dixon the greater number of the committee tarried in the timber while a committee went into the old Western Hotel to get Bull. To represent Bull in the proposed trial, Messrs. Badger and Blair were chosen and, when Bull was called, he very naturally was indignant. He was picked up and passed over the heads of the people and thrown unceremoniously into a wagon. At this time the committee poured out from the woods. The wagon had started for the jail to lodge Bull there for safety.

At that particular time the notorious Bridge, of Ogle County, was confined, pending his trial. Constable N. G. H. Morrill when he saw the crowd thought it had come over from Ogle to lynch Bridge, then in jail here, and he demanded that they release the prisoner to him. But Constable Morrill was tossed aside unceremoniously. Bull at last was enabled to get a hearing and when Badger and Blair learned that he was a respectable man who at times bought claims in a legitimate manner, he was acquitted and later the neighbor settled the account by giving to Bull his note for the money paid for the claim. But not all the defendants got off so easily. Many were ordered out of the county and not one instance is recorded of the man who failed to go when ordered. The claim jumpers claimed that so long as title to the land was in the United States, there was no property in bare claims and so their sale was illegal and after the claimant had abandoned the claim, it was anybody's privilege to take it up. The claim jumpers society held otherwise and subsequently the Legislature acknowledged property rights in claims and sundry laws were passed to protect the claimant in those rights.

In 1837 the claim association was formed at Dixon's Ferry and the following persons were made members by signing the agreement: Samuel C. McClure, Hugh Moore, John Chamberlin, Samuel Anthony, John H. Champlin, James Moore, A. Menten, S. N. Anthony, Henry Moon, Cyrus Chamberlin, William G. Elder, Josiah Moore, J. D. Pratt, Robert Murray, Edwin W. Hine, Isaac S. Boardman, J. B. Dills, Alanson Dickerman, John Richards, Caleb Tallmadge, Charles Franks, Smith Gilbraith, Oliver Everett, Joseph Crawford, Timothy L. Miner, Samuel M. Bowman, James Kent, Moses Crombie, Major Chamberlin, Daniel Koons, Nehemiah Hutton, James M. Santee, William P. Burroughs, Thomas S. Banner, Charles F. Hubbard, John Carr, William Graham, Edward Brandon, G. Wetzler, J. Caldwell, J. Young, J. P. Dixon, John Dixon, J. Murphy, James Evans, (by John Dixon, his agent) , James W. Stephenson, John W. Dixon, Joseph Courtright, B. B. Browne, Samuel Johnson, Jesse Bowman, James Holly, Thomas McCabe, W. C. Bostwick, John Wilson, John Brandon, Jude W. Hamilton, Ward Rathbone, Daniel O'Brien, Stephen Fuller and Jesse P. Bailey.

The reader will notice that this list of names contained men from Galena to Peoria, and that Moses Crombie from Inlet, is included.

But very few of those men actually lived in Dixon. Most of them were hold-claims and when this large class of men came to the ferry on business, it then was a very busy place.

During the Black Hawk war, a man, and army sutler, named Tilson, established himself in the Dixon cabin as sutler and trader and in the winter of 1833-4, John K. Robison taught the Dixon and Kellogg and one or two other children in one of its rooms.

Ogee built the tallest part of this cabin, of hewn logs and this was the part used by John Dixon for merchandising purposes.

When Mr. Dixon bought the ferry from Ogee, this upright portion was all that was built. Immediately upon taking possession, Mr. Dixon built a double cabin of rough logs close to it. Subsequently when he finished the block house portion and made it habitable, he joined it to his double cabin by a connecting portion of split shakes.

The roof was built of shakes; the chimneys were built of stone, partly on the outside of the house. A small lean-to was built on the north side, which latter was used for a kitchen.

A  small building will be noticed on the north side of the river. This was the fort built by Zachary Taylor and his regulars while encamped during the Black Hawk war. It was built for the purpose of protecting the ferry during the war and he named it Fort Dixon. This building was rather longer than wide. Around it port holes were left through which to fire in case of attack.

Around all this, an embankment of earth was thrown about five feet high and covering a square of ground about 500 feet. The fort stood about 350 feet north of the present north end of the bridge and about seventy-five feet to the westward.

Up until about the year 1843 the old fort still stood. The old Galena stage road ran to the westward along this south embankment and between it and the river. Then it turned at the south-west comer of the embankment and traversed a northwesterly course through Ogle and Carroll Counties and on into Jo Daviess County. To this very day, the old diagonal road is used for a considerable distance through Carroll County between Milledgeville and Lanark and I have traveled it many times.

This old log house, the first to be erected in Dixon, faced south, being placed at a slight angle to the river and directly across the old trail from Peoria, now Peoria avenue. It stood about 200 feet from the river. The next house built in Dixon stood immediately to the east of the corner now occupied by the City National Bank, on the spot on which the directors' rooms rest today. It was a log building, built by James P. Dixon, and was about sixteen feet square, with a small lean-to built against its east side. In this building the post office was located when Mr. John Dixon was postmaster. This house disappeared about the year 1855. Some have maintained that the old north side block house stood until that year, but this is a mistake. In the year 1836, our first regular merchants. Chapman & Hamilton opened their store in the block house part of the original mansion and Father Dixon who had done a limited amount of trading and had continued to run the ferry, removed to his claim, a few rods southwest of what now is the Chicago and Northwestern passenger station.

In the autumn of 1836, the size of the place had increased by the appearance of the first frame house built by Jude W. Hamilton, the merchant just across the street from Mr. James P. Dixon's house. As a matter of fact, the little house had been erected in 1835. It was a little mite of a thing; not more than fifteen or eighteen feet across the front and perhaps twenty feet running backward to include the little kitchen built on its north side. Another house which in 1836 had been built was the one built in 1835 by James Wilson for a blacksmith shop and which has been more particularly described in that portion of this work apportioned to the courts held early in the county while we were a part of Ogle County. Another log building, afterwards covered with siding, was located on the southwest corner of River and Crawford streets. It was built by a Doctor Forrest, who was the original claimant of the subsequent Woodford farm up the river on the north side. Subsequently Smith Gilbraith lived in it and one of the old settlers made the statement that when he reached Dixon, he handed over all the money he possessed, $300, to Smith Gilbraith to keep for him, because the house was the only one that had a cellar, and cellars those days were considered impregnable. Later this house became a saloon named ''The Hole in the Wall.''

One Colonel Johnson kept boarders or private tavern in a log building built on the southeast corner of Galena Avenue and River Street where the Eli Baker building stands today.

Such were the physical proportions of Dixon in the autumn of 1836, not a very healthy six-year old!

At the same time the census showed the following residents of Dixon: James P. Dixon, Peter McKenney, Samuel Johnson, Jude W. Hamilton, James B. Barr and Edwin W. Hine. These gentlemen had families here with them. The remainder of the census, unmarried were. Dr. Oliver Everett, Smith Gilbraith, James Wilson, Daniel B. McKenney, who was a member of Peter McKenney's family. On farms immediately contiguous there lived Stephen Fuller, Caleb Tallmadge, E. W. Covell, John Dixon and George A. Marshall.

There was not merchandising enough in those days to make it profitable. Tavern keeping was the most lucrative business of the early days and that accounts for the seemingly large number of taverns which were to be found in the very newest settlements, and for that matter, all along the great thoroughfares like the Chicago road.

The first hotel built in Dixon was the Western, already mentioned. It was opened in the winter of 1836-7 by Peter McKenney and Horace Thompson and that same old hostelry stands today, on Hennepin avenue, next south of Beier's bakery. Subsequently it became known as the Mansion House, the Revere House and half a dozen other names.

Over on what now is known as Adelheid Park, a townsite was platted called Burlington, and for a time it contained as many or more houses than Dixon. Stephen Fuller lived there when first he came to the country. In 1836 it still had three log houses, so that it will be seen that while the movement of people to a common center was slow, townsite speculators were active and very wide awake for the future.

Two very important things happened in Dixon in the year 1834, for Dixon: the name of the post office was changed from Ogee's Ferry to Dixon's Ferry and the Government surveyed what then was called Dixon Township.

But to return to the year 1836; the six families for a little while were reduced to four by the removal of two of them. Caleb Tallmadge lived on the Peoria road, a mile south of town, E. W. Covell and George A. Martin lived on claims on the north side of the river, Joseph Crawford lived on his claim in the bend of the river from the day he landed in Dixon in the year 1835. And, too, the year 1836 was the year Stephen Fuller was living in Burlington. While Thompson and McKenney operated the Western, they also managed the old tavern in the Dixon mansion.

Considerable mystery has been allowed to accumulate around the location of the old Phenix House, which in the early day was built here. In the year 1837 the old Rock River House was built on River Street, about fifty feet west of the southwest corner of Galena Avenue and River Street. It was run first by Crowell and Wilson, then by George Holly and Isaac Robinson; afterwards in 1846 it was destroyed by fire.

About the year 1840 followed the famous old Dixon House, built on First Street at the southeast comer of the alley between Galena and Hennepin avenues. This was built by Henry McKenney, father of Uriah McKenney of this city, and was run as the Dixon House until about the year 1855, possibly 1857, when it was moved around to the spot occupied at this time by the E. J. Countryman store on the west side of Galena avenue. There it remained as a hotel, run under many names until it was torn down by the purchaser, I. B. Countryman, who built the present Countryman store there.

In the year 1837 the first dry goods store was opened by Samuel M. Bowman & Co., on the southwest comer of River and Galena. This firm continued in business there until the winter of 1839-40 when Joseph T. Little and S. G. D. Howard opened the second dry goods store in the building. Bowman, by the bye, made the first temperance speech in Polo which ever was delivered in this part of the country.

On River Street, a Frenchman named Calmeze, kept a grocery store in 1838-9, from which he sold candles of unusual length, and which, according to tradition, contained whiskey. This building was located east of the comer of Galena Avenue and subsequently was occupied by Elias Bovey as his lumber office, and has been referred to as The Hole in the Wall.

In 1837 the number of families in Dixon had increased to thirteen and Dixon considered herself a very likely place. In the year 1843, when incorporation was desired, Dixon had forty-four voters, every one of whom cast his vote in favor of incorporation. By the year 1845, the place had a population of 400.

The year 1840 was a great year for Dixon. Through the instrumentality of Mr. Dixon, the land office was removed from Galena to Dixon. The removal was the sensation of the state. In 1838 Father Dixon had been appointed Commissioner of Internal Improvements, a great honor, and from his appointment he was presumed to carry considerable weight in Illinois politics, but to secure the removal of the land office seemed incredible for a long time.

At that time Colonel John Dement was receiver of the land office, and with the removal to Dixon of his office he was compelled to come along. This year was an important one in securing Colonel Dement; just as important a factor in the life of the town as the land office. Indeed, if the removal brought Dement here, it did a vast amount for Dixon. For fifty years the name of Colonel John Dement was most powerful. Active in politics always, he commanded a vast amount of influence, and that influence always was exerted first for the interests of Dixon before he permitted himself to consider his own interests.

At this point it may well be said that the name Dixonville, applied sometimes to this place, was so applied without any license whatsoever. The post office was named Dixon's Ferry, then Dixon. Many men of learning, notably United States Senator Young, addressed letters to Father Dixon at Dixonville, but the superscriptions always contained the real name of the post office. The name Dixonville came to be used a little because certain map men, hearing the name, applied by rumor to the place, immediately placed it on their maps. I have the various maps which contained this name. Naturally, frequent reference to the maps gave the observer the false idea that this place was named Dixonville, but after a little while the map men learned their mistake and corrected it in all future maps.

Attracted by reports of the beauties of Rock River, a number of persons of cultivated tastes, of leisure, refinement and considerable property, closed out their holdings in the eastern states and migrated to Dixon. The number included, too, others, who had been affected by the terrible panic of 1837. Among the number were the Grahams, the Charters, the Lawrences, the Roundys, the Zimmermanns, the Reardons, the Strongs, John Shillaber and many others. These people were all people of rare education. Some had considerable means and they surrounded themselves with almost feudal establishments. All were lavish entertainers.

Some had been army officers, some had been sea captains. Probably the best known was Governor Alexander Charters, a rare old Irish gentleman, originally from County Antrim, Ireland. Along in other pages of this book the important features of Dixon's history have been related. The details of unimportant daily events should have no place in history, yet to satisfy the grub, some of them must be picked up and mentioned.

In 1840 the population of Lee County was 2,035. Dixon precinct had 725; 125 persons in the latter were farmers, 17 in merchandising, 55 in manufacturing, sawmills principally; 12 professional men and one school with 30 pupils.

November 6, 1845, Friendship Lodge, A. F. & A. M., No. 7, was chartered by the Kentucky grand lodge. The first officers were Samuel Johnson, W. M.; E. G. Nichols, S. W.; W. A. Merritt, J. W.; John Arnam, treas.; S. A. Martin, secy.; M. P. Kerr, S. D.; Alvin Humphrey, J. D.

In 1845 the population of Lee had increased to 3,282. Dixon had six lawyers, four church societies, one church building, one select and one district school with combined attendance of sixty pupils. There were 149 school children under twenty years old; three physicians, five dry goods and three grocery stores, four blacksmith shops, three wagon shops, three tailors, two shoe-makers, one painter, two cabinet makers, two saddle and harness shops, one bakery, two hotels, one the old Western, kept by Aaron L. Porter, and the Phenix, on River street. There also was a young men's lyceum. The population of Dixon was 400. In 1846 the first big fire swept away the store of Stiles and Eddy, on the southwest corner of Galena and River streets, and the Phenix Hotel, just a little to the west, were burned.

In the autumn of 1846 Dixon's first brick block was built in Dixon; two stores of two stories and attic were built on the north side of First street, where today it stands adjoining the Union block on the west. James and Horace Benjamin built the west one and A. T. Murphy the east one.

In the attic of the Murphy building the first Odd Fellows' lodge was organized and its meetings were held there for a long while. Until stairs were built later, a ladder was used to reach the rooms.

The first corporation to be organized in Lee county was 'The Dixon Hotel Company' in 1837. The names of the incorporators will be found in the following letter from Secretary of State Woods; its objects as well:

July 19, 1913.
Frank E. Stevens, Dixon, Ill.

Dear Sir: In answer to your inquiry without date just received, you are advised that "Dixon Hotel Company" was incorporated by special Act of the Legislature in 1837. The law is to be found on page 242 of the "Private Laws of 1837.''

The names of the incorporators and powers granted are set forth in the following sections:

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That John Atchison, James Evans, Charles S. Boyd, Wm. C. Bostick, Charles Chap-man, John Dixon, Smith Gilbraith, James P. Dixon, L. S. Huff, John Brown, and Samuel Johnson, their associates and successors, be and they are hereby constituted a body politic and corporate, under the name of the "Dixon Hotel Company," to be located in the town of Dixon, Ogle county; and by that name shall have power to contract and be contracted with, and may sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered unto, in all courts having competent jurisdiction, and shall be vested with all the powers and privileges necessary to the object of their incorporation, as are hereinafter defined and limited.

Sec. 2. The said company shall have power and be capable of holding, purchasing, improving, selling, and conveying any estate, real or personal, for the use of said corporation; second, to improve or erect buildings on the same; third, to rent, lease, or occupy any or all such lands belonging to said company for a term not exceeding the limits of this charter; Provided, That the real estate, owned by said company, shall not exceed one quarter section of land, except such as may be held as collateral security for debts due said company, or may become the property thereof by virtue of such indebtedness.

A certified copy of this Act will cost $2.50.

Yours truly,
Harry Woods,
Secretary of State.

Nearly all the names are familiar to Dixon people. I cannot see where this corporation had any lawful right to issue money, vet it will be seen that Nicholas Biddle of the famous United States Bank received money in bits from it. An illustration of one of the pieces which came into the editor's possession is reproduced in this book.

The panic of 1837 killed it, probably. It would be very interesting to know just how this money came to be issued.

The foundation was laid for the Dixon Hotel on ground, substantially, where the Nachusa House stands today.

And while engaged in picking odds and ends, it may be well to introduce, at this point, a list of all of Dixon's postmasters. No correct list ever before has been presented:

Ogee's Ferry John M. Gay (Est), May 25, 1829; name changed. No. 23, 1833. Dixon's Ferry John Dixon, Nov. 23, 1833; Smith Gilbraith, Oct. 17, 1837; James P. Dixon, May 18, 1841; name changed, Aug. 29, 1843. Dixon James McKenney, Aug. 29, 1843; Abram Brown, Feb. 14, 1845; David H. Birdsall, April 1, 1846; Anderson T. Murphy, Sept. 19, 1849; Joseph H. Cleaver, Dec. 1, 1852; Eli B. Baker, Sept. 6, 1854; James L. Camp, April 2, 1861; Mary A. Camp, Dec. 20, 1883; James B. Charters, April 5, 1887; Benj. F. Shaw, Dec. 23, 1891; Michael Maloney, Jan. 23, 1896; Benj. F. Shaw, Jan. 29, 1900; Wm. L. Frye, Dec. 20, 1909.

In August, 1849, manufacturing interests were reaching out and we find a petition made to the county commissioners' court asking for a jury to settle on damages to lands upstream to result from the proposed building of a dam across Rock River. This was the first proposal to harness the river. In the fall of 1846 and winter of '47 a tall bridge was built across Rock River on Ottawa street. The March 20th freshet of 1847 took out the north half. During the summer Lorenzo Wood and Luther I. Towner contracted for $2,000 to rebuild the bridge two feet higher than before; and they did. The directors of this Rock River Bridge and Dam Company were John Dement, Oliver Everett, John Dixon, Michael Fellows, Otis A. Eddy, J. B. Brooks, James P. Dixon and Horace Preston. In the spring of 1849 the ice took out the south half of the bridge. Once more the bridge was rebuilt and in 1855 it was taken out again by the ice. Immediately another was proposed and it was built by Contractor Zachariah Luckey on Galena Street. In 1857 the two north spans of the bridge went out and in 1867 more damage was done by ice. March 7, 1868, the entire bridge was taken out by ice and the two south spans of the Illinois Central Railroad Bridge were swept away by ice. A temporary frame bridge was built and Jan. 21, 1859, the beautiful Truesdell iron bridge was dedicated. On Sunday forenoon at just about the hour the churches had been closed after morning service, there occurred in Dixon a most fearful tragedy. While loaded with people witnessing a public baptism in the river, on its north bank and to the west of the bridge, this Truesdell Bridge collapsed and killed outright Miss Katie Sterling, Miss Melissa Wilhelm, Miss Margaret O'Brien, Miss Nettie Hill, Miss Ida Vann, Miss Ida Drew, Miss Agnes Nixon, Miss Bessie Rayne, Miss Irene Baker, Miss Emily Deming, Miss Lizzie MacKay, Miss Millie Hoffman; Mrs. J. W. Latta, Mrs. H. T. Noble, Mrs. Benjamin Oilman, Mrs. W. W. Tooke, Mrs. Carpenter, Mrs. James Goble, Mrs. Elias Hope, Mrs. E. Wallace, Mrs. E. Petersberger and daughter, Allie, Mrs. Thomas Wade, Mrs. Henry Sillman, Mrs. William Merriman, Mrs. C. W. Kentner, two children of Mrs. Hendricks, Misses Clara and Rosa Stackpole, George W. Kent, Frank Hamilton, Edward Doyle, Thomas Haley, Robert Dyke, Jay E. Mason. Those who died very soon from wounds sustained were Mrs. Philip M. Alexander, Mrs. William Vann, Mrs. Charles March and Mrs. W. Wilcox.

A wooden Howe truss bridge was built at a cost of $18,000 and the present iron affair succeeded that.

On July 27, 1848, Dixon Lodge, I. O. O. F., was organized in the attic of the Murphy building, and it is one of the many prosperous lodges in the city. I have thought many times that Dixon was "lodged" to death. The Elks, however, seem to be so strongly entrenched in the affections of the members that no rivalry can reduce its membership, now nearly 500. A club house costing $35,000 has been built of brick on the old Doctor Everett lot, the northeast corner of Second Street and Ottawa avenue.

The Knights of Columbus is the youngest lodge; it has a very large membership, and so does the Woodmen lodge.

When the year 1850 is reached, we find the population of Lee County to have increased to 5,289. On Feb. 19, 1849, the Legislature had provided us with a township organization law and in 1850 Paw Paw or Wyoming, Brooklyn, Harmon, Lee Center, Bradford, Fremont (now China), Amboy, Hamilton, Dixon and Palmyra had been organized.

On May 1, 1851, The Dixon Telegraph and Lee County Herald, the first printed paper in Lee County, appeared. Charles R. Fisk was the publisher, Benjamin F. Shaw was the editor and James C. Mead, Henry K. Strong and John Moore were compositors. Off and on for varying periods, Mr. Shaw was with the paper until his death, and the same Telegraph, under the ownership and management of Mrs. E. E. Shaw and the editorship of George Shaw, a grandson, is issued today, daily and semi-weekly. A great many papers have come and gone since that far away date; suffice it to say, we have today The Telegraph, The Daily News, both republican; The Weekly Citizen, democratic; and but lately, The Daily Leader, a progressive paper, has acquired a plant and very soon will issue a daily.

In 1854 the cholera swept over the county and took from this community thirty-four between June 20 and August 7.

During this period lots in Dixon were selling at fabulous figures. A first-class boom was doing its work. A telegraph office had been established and real railroads were promised. In 1859 a city charter was adopted.

On Jan. 10, 1836, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad Company was incorporated. To secure money the first meeting was held in Rockford Nov. 28, 1845. Then it was the design to rim from Chicago to Galena. In September, 1847, the engineers were put to work, and the eastern part of the new road was run along the Chicago and Dixon road to the Des Plaines. Strap rails were used between Elgin and Chicago. December 15, 1848, the road was finished to the Des Plaines, ten miles.

The Pioneer had been purchased March 5, 1849. On Sept. 1, 1853, forty-five miles of the Dixon & Iowa Central had been built. On Dec. 4, 1854, the Dixon Air Line had been built into Dixon, sixty-eight miles from Turner Junction. At approximately the same time the Illinois Central was built into Dixon. In 1880 this road forwarded 3,668 cars and received 1,208. Its ticket sales were $33,170.10. For the year just past over $100,000 were collected here for passenger tickets and over $400,000 for freight charges; the best record on the road. The freight collections show in the year an increase of $100,000 for the year.


It would be insufferably tedious to go back and insert the many little items which showed our efforts to build up manufacturing plants. Col. John Dement, one of the most enterprising men Dixon ever had, began in the early '50s the manufacture of plows. He also joined Moses Jerome in the manufacture of flax bagging and until Congress removed the tariff on jute hundreds of boys and girls were given employment by the flax mills. Maj. O. J. Downing was the pioneer in flax bagging, entering a partnership with Jerome as Jerome & Downing; then the firm became Jerome & Dement and then John Dement. Henry D. Dement and Jacob Spielman opened another on the north side of the race. Wood Brothers operated for a long time a woolen mill and then a flouring mill. The mills of Becker & Underwood turned out flour that sold from coast to coast, but an explosion put them out of business two or three times, the last time forever. William Uhl was an old-time miller, too.

Now we have no flouring mills, but over on the north side, in Swissville, we have the greatest milk factory in the world, owned by the Bordens. This splendid plant was built by George H. Page in 1888 for the Anglo-Swiss condensed milk factory. He built the best plant in the world then, fully expecting to return to his boyhood home to spend the rest of his life; but pneumonia took him off and later when the two big companies made their trades of certain interests, this plant went to the Bordens. Condensed milk and candy are made here for the general trade. Ralph W. Church is superintendent. Two hundred and fifty people are employed here. The milk of 5,500 cows is consumed every day and the amount of money paid out approximately in Dixon every year is $400,000. Thirty thousand tin boxes are used to box this product. From three to four million pounds of caramels are shipped annually. The Central Machine Shops here make all the machinery for all other plants and the Central Can Shops make all the cans for the other shops.

The cement plant occupies the biggest place in our affairs. W. E. Wuerth is the superintendent and there is not a single ingredient or a single cogwheel needed in the manufacture of his product but he knows all about it the instant his attention is called to the same. It is reported that he is the best cement man in the world, and in all his vast plant, if called upon to go in the dark to repair a break, he can do it. The name of this concern is the Sandusky Portland Cement Co. (of Sandusky, Ohio). I believe the Medusa brand is the specialty of this plant. About 300 men are kept working here all the time. The plant runs twenty-four hours per day and 365 days in the year. During the past year 1,730 cars of coal were burned, which will approximate 86,000 tons. Four thousand nine hundred and forty cars of products were shipped last year to Iowa, Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. But most of it goes to Illinois. To give an idea of the enormous business which this great concern does, let me state that it paid our two railroads last year the enormous sum of $89,000 for freight on coal alone. The total coal .bill was $165,000. The annual pay roll is $310,000. In 1906 the company started to build. In the fall of 1907 it started its furnaces. For the large tract of land owned by the company $300 per acre was paid. It lies along the east bank of Rock River and only a few days ago Fuller's Cave, known far and wide, was blasted. To load the stone upon trains, five steam shovels, monsters, are used and five locomotives are used to pull those trains; all outside work.

The buildings occupy at least 1,000 feet square of ground. They are the most modem in the world. During the year past the company increased its capacity 25 per cent and its output more. Another vast expenditure is for plaster. Over 5,000 tons per year are used at a cost of $13,000. It is a beautiful sight at night, when the dozen or more stacks are spouting fire. Asked if the company had enough rock in sight to feed such vast appetites, Mr. Wuerth gave the assurance, "for five hundred years.''

But recently the Brown Shoe Company has taken over the old Henderson plant and they are increasing their force all the time.

The old Grand Detour Plow Company, organized in 1837, is one of the reliable institutions of Dixon. Col. W. B. Brinton, the president, rims summer and winter and during many of the years of drought that plow company was the only thing in Dixon besides the milk and cement plants that gave any employment to labor.

Four years ago Dixon began to mend. Something like a dozen beautiful brick buildings were erected. The present year the Dixon National Bank is finishing its beautiful five-story pressed brick building. In March they expect to occupy it.

The greatest prize that ever came to Dixon, however, was the location recently of the State Colony for Epileptics, which the Board of Administration located on the north side of Rock River, beginning with the F. E. Stevens tract upstream and coming down to include the A. C. Warner tract. The first expenditure is to be $1,500,000. For this piece of rare good fortune we may thank our present mayor, Col. W. B. Brinton. On Thursday night, February 19, 1914, a banquet was tendered him in the Elks club by over five hundred citizens and friends. The beautiful homes of Dixon have been sung in story ever since 1837, when William Cullen Bryant came over to visit Gov. Charters. Space cannot be spared to enumerate them. But the beauty spot of all beautiful Rock River was the river front tract just obtained by the State and how fortunate it is that the poor sufferers may enjoy the brightest charms nature ever gave to man.

Churches of Dixon Township
Churches of Dixon Township
Rock River Assembly
Saint Luke's Church

Lee County Townships

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