Lee County Illinois
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Harmon Township, Lee County, Illinois

Like other towns far removed from the old highways or stage lines, Harmon was one of the newer towns in point of settlement.

John D. Rosbrook is said to have been the first settler in this township. He bought a tract of land in the eastern part of the township, subdued it and very soon other settlers followed. But Mr. Rosbrook had few neighbors for a very long time.

In 1853, with three sons, he came from Niagara County, New York, and settled at the ''Lake,'' a clear body of water covering something like forty acres of land. The following spring the two other sons came out. George Rosbrook held the plow that broke the first sod in Harmon Township. Pretty soon Mrs. Robert Tuttle brought her family from Knox County and settled in Harmon. Mr. Tuttle, who had come from New Hampshire, settled in Knox County. He had been a lumberman, and desiring to obtain employ-ment in the forests of the North, he started to walk northward. At Dixon he was taken very sick. A man named Henry Stores drove down to Knox County and brought Mrs. Tuttle back to Dixon just in time to see her husband before he died. She was a sister of Mitchell Rosbrook and very soon she with her five children located in Harmon and built a good house. This was in 1854. Very soon she opened a private school in her house; Miss Vienna Tuttle taught, and many a good old-fashioned dance was given in the early days by that same estimable lady, Mrs. Tuttle.

Ox teams were used to break the sod. Fortunately sod crops prospered with the new settlers so that no especial hardships were encountered.

In the early days of the country snakes were very plentiful and to some of Harmon's early settlers it seemed as though there were many more in that township than in any other town in the county. Rattlesnakes especially were a source of great annoyance. Blue racers would crawl over on the sod to bask in the sun and remain until the ox team came along to frighten them away. The blue racer many times grew excessively familiar. So much so that he would wind himself around the ankles of the plowboys and frighten them half to death.

In 1854 Thomas Sutton and his large family came to Harmon and settled a mile south of the lake. It is said of Sutton that there were nineteen children in his family and often he lamented because there were not an even twenty.

In 1854 Mitchell Rosbrook came to Lee County from New Hampshire with his family of wife and six children and two years later settled in Harmon. This devout gentleman founded the first Sunday school in Harmon Township. It was held in the granary of John D. Rosbrook. This same Mitchell Rosbrook built the first house erected on Mount Washington in the White Mountains.

Lewis Hullinger, John L. Porter and James Porter, Jr., came along soon after. The first two elections were held at the house of Mitchell Rosbrook.

In 1856-57 Austin Balch with his wife and two children moved into the township. So did Joseph Julien, C. H. Seifkin, Israel Perkins, George Stillings, Henry and Louis Isles.

At this first election just mentioned, James McManus was elected supervisor; Mitchell Rosbrook, town clerk and George Stillings, constable.

Bogs, swamps and impassable sloughs bothered the Harmon people fearfully in the early day ; more perhaps than almost any other people, and the stories of miring down and the difficulties encountered in dropping into the mud, taking off the load and then taking the wagon apart to get it ashore, would baffle the autoist of today.

Game abounded in the township during its infancy to such an extent that to repeat some of the stories related of hunters would set down the person telling the story today, as an extravagant liar; yet those stories were true.

Mr. C. J. Rosbrook is the reliable authority for the statement that Charles K. Shellhamer shot one hundred geese down there in one day, a wagon box full. A hunter from Dixon, named Kipp who will be remembered by some of us older people, shot and killed thirty-six mallard ducks with one shot. Five deer out of a gang of thirteen were killed by a party of hunters. Cattle herding in Harmon was done on a scale as large as in Hamilton. Harmon too seemed to be in the line of cattle drives and Mr. Rosbrook has told us of one band of five thousand Texas cattle passing through Harmon on the way to the Chicago market.

He also has told of us once seeing a colony of sandhill cranes not far away which covered nearly one thousand acres. Game was that plentiful.

When Alonzo Kinyon projected his road from Rock Falls through Lee County, it was graded through Harmon.

Lewis Hullinger, who came to the township in 1855, was supervisor at about the time the railroad demanded the issuance of bonds in consideration of the building through the township. Amboy, Brooklyn and Wyoming had voted the bonds and issued them. They litigated their legality, but ultimately the bonds had to be paid. Not so with Lewis Hullinger. He opposed the bond scheme and the issuance of any bonds and Harmon was spared the liability which nearly bankrupted Amboy, Wyoming and Brooklyn, largely through the pertinacious fight put up by Lewis Hullinger.

But the Harmon of today is a splendid body of land. Large sums of money have been spent to drain the land, and while some portions of the Harmon lands are sandy, the great majority is black loam, rich, and great crops are raised. As a grain market Harmon keeps pretty well in the lead. I doubt if there is more than one other town in the county which ships more grain than Harmon, something like six hundred thousand bushels last year, by the Neola and the other elevators.

D. D. Considine does an enormous business in general merchandising. Thomas P. Long also does an enormous business in agricultural implements. W. H. Kugler and Frank Kugler each enjoy a fine general trade. Harmon has a bank, of which Mr. W. H. Kugler owns controlling interest.

The Harmon schools long have been noted for their efficiency. The building is a beautiful brick. H. J. Durr also runs a nice hardware business.

Harmon has one of the best plants for fire protection and domestic use in Lee County. A very modem standpipe produces a force sufficient to throw four streams over the tallest building. It is also forced into various homes and business blocks in the village.

At present, Harmon has a population of 350. It is located on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.

It was through Harmon that the big tornado crossed before devastating so many homes further east. But in Harmon not a bit of damage was done. Of course not many people dwelt in this township then; but those who remember; say the storm had lost control of its force while crossing Harmon.

Recently, the Northwestern Railroad in reaching Peoria, entered Harmon Township, but no station has been established in this township along the line of the road.

Harmon early learned the benefits of hard roads and now, year by year, her people are spending considerable sums for macadam for her muddy roads. The rural schools of Harmon township number six, I believe, and I am told that they rank just as high as the splendid village schools. County superintendents tell me that Harmon for years has had the best of schools and that the children rank high in all their examinations. Only a few months ago, St Flannen's Catholic Church burned down. Nothing was saved. Yet with commendable perseverance, the congregation went to work and in less than three months arrangements had been perfected and the funds had been provided to build the present beautiful new church and parsonage. Church work in Harmon and Marion takes front rank among the towns of Lee County. The new church and parsonage were dedicated last fall.

Lee County Townships

 


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