Putnam County

1907 Past and Present



Amos T. Purviance, who served this county faithfully and very satisfactorily as county clerk over forty successive years (1857-1898) had a penchant for acquiring data and souvenirs and has left about the court house many very interesting relics and records of interest to the present generation. From Mr. Purviance's compilations and from data gathered by other historians we gather some very interesting items of importance, showing many names whose descendants are still prominent in public affairs, though so numerous have become people that everybody no longer knows everybody in the county.

The first election in the new county was held at the house of William Haws, near Magnolia, and besides the judges of election, but one voter appeared. Of course there were no "split tickets" and Thomas Gallagher, George Ish and John M. Gay were declared elected as county commissioners, Ira Ladd as sheriff, and Aaron Paine as coroner. James W. Willis was subsequently appointed treasurer. Hooper Warren filled the offices of recorder, clerk of the county and circuit courts and justice of the peace.

Among the members of the bar who attended court here were: Senator David Davis, who came from Bloomington on horseback, and Judge John B. Caton, who came down from Chicago, riding an Indian pony.

The first death in the counties of Bureau, Putnam or Marshall was in the family of Aaron Mitchell, who lost a child in August or September, 1829. There being no lumber in the country a puncheon coffin was made by N. and S. Shepherd and the child was interred near Captain Price's near Magnolia.

The first corpse buried in Hennepin Cemetery was that of Philips, shot by the Indians, June 4, 1831. No memorial stone marks the place, and his grave is unknown.

Most of the early settlers were young men, and in those days a woman or a baby was as much of a novelty and excited as lively an interest as ever they did in Roaring Camp. Some of the men however, brought their wives, and with them came other female marriageable members of their families who speedily found husbands; we find among the early records the following marriages:

The ladies whose names appear in the last two notices were the Hall girls whose thrilling experience with the Indians is given elsewhere.

Some of the early ministers of the county were Revs. John McDonald, Elijah Epperson, William H. Heath and Joel Arlington.

The first farm opened in Hennepin township was that of James Willis, at Union Grove, in 1828, and his was the first dwelling house outside of the village of Hennepin.

Elizabeth Shepherd was one of the first white women in this locality, coming in 1829.

Austin Hannum is claimed as the first white child born in the county. His parents lived in Magnolia.

Isabel Patterson, since Mrs. R. W. Bowman was born in 1832, and Augustus Shepherd in1830.

In the court house at Hennepin hangs a large frame with the portraits and names of many old settlers, and the date of their coming to the county, it will be observed that many of the descendants of these pioneers are still residents of the county:

Extracted from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne, published in 1907, pages 82-83.

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