Chadwick Centennial 1886-1986

Main StreetChadwick is the youngest community in Carroll County, Illinois and had its beginning about 1853 when Jacob Isenhart built the first house on the prairie...

Early settlers included the Plumers, Prescotts, Zugschwerdts, Spealmans, Yoldings, Holts and Senneffs.

It is said when Chadwick was first settled the prairie grass grew so tall that two loads of lumber were lost. They were hauled from Savanna and unloaded. Shortly after two more loads were brought. The grass was so tall they could not find the first two piles until they went back to Telegraph Road to pick up the trail where they drove into the grass.

In 1866, when the Chicago, Burling & Quincy Railroad extended its line from Aurora to Savanna no provision was made for town sites, so the St. Paul Land Company was organized to acquire land along the right-of-way. The company decided that 60 acres (240,000 m2) which comprised the original town site and belonged to Alexander Snow of Lanark would be an ideal location. Chadwick's business district and approximately two blocks to the east are on the site of the Snow orchard which had a reputation as the apple center of the entire county.

The Land Company offered the Snows $100 per acre but Lanark merchants had persuaded the Snows that their land was worth $125. Neither party would yield and the Land Company, becoming, impatient began to consider other property. Farmers in the community became alarmed at the thought of losing the town and banded together to do something about it. Emanuel Spealman, Wilson Plumer and Werner Zugschwerdt comprised a committee to assure the location of a village on the original site. They headed a subscription list and raised $1,500, the difference between the bid and asking price. After the location was settled, a name had to be chosen. Old Orchard and Elliott were suggested but no decision was reached. So the Land Company called it Chadwick in honor of one of its officials.

The history of Chadwick, compiled by cashier June Farthing, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Farmer’s State Bank, revealed that the original plot of the town was filed for record on April 12, 1886. After the village had been plotted people began moving in from surrounding communities, building houses and establishing businesses. The steady growth called for incorporation of the town. In 1892, a meeting was called at the J.J. Prowant meat market to discuss the matter. Attorney Ralph Eaton Sr. of Mt. Carroll met with citizens and filed the necessary papers. The population was not adequate to incorporate under the law so the organizers reached out and included some of the outlying farms.

Incorporation papers for Chadwick were approved on Sept. 26, 1882. A village board was elected with Norman H. Hawk president; C.M. Kingery, clerk; E.M. Spealman, Henry Smith, Dr. F.H. Snot, Peter McGraw and Henry Myers, members. B.W. Plumer was installed as police magistrate and Seme Carbaugh as marshall. After the town was incorporated, wooden sidewalks were laid. A watering trough was installed at the town pump south of the hotel, kerosene lamps were put on posts at the principal intersections and hitching posts built in the front of the stores and office buildings. One of the duties of the village marshall was to clean, fill, and light the lamps every day. Fred Diehl organized the first community band. Dr. and Mrs. F. H. Snow and Mr. and Mrs. D.W. Plumer formed a quartet which sang at every important event. Henry Loechel, Sr. a former member of the Grand Army of the Republic, presented the village with a large flag which hung over the center of Main Street on holidays and state occasions for many years, H.L. Spealman as the official custodian.

The first birth in Chadwick was that of George Yeager, born Jan. 21, 1888, the son of Henry and Elizabeth Frederick Yeager who died in infancy. Chadwick's second child was born April 25, 1888 to August and Elizabeth Daehler Geldmacher. Frank Zinnel installed the first telephone system in the county in the early 1890s; the modern dial system came more than a half century later in 1952 by the Milledgeville Mutual Telephone Company. The Carroll County Telephone Co. was started by Frank Zinnel who was born in Lanark in 1864. When two years old, he moved with his parents to Fair Haven Twp. where he lived until 1887 when he and his father moved to Chadwick and built a blacksmith shop and the first house. In 1888 he became a salesman for the Warder, Bushnell and Glessner Co. of Chicago. Retiring to Chadwick in the fall of 1890, he built a store and opened a hardware business. Two years later he sold the store and built two large brick buildings on Main Street and continued in hardward until 1899.

While in the hardware business he built a telephone line to Fair Haven and also put in an electric light lanp in Chadwick. In 1899 he sold the hardware business and built a telephone line to Lanark, put in an exchange there, and then extended the line to Shannon and Milledgeville, with exchanges in each town. He also bought out the telephone plant at Mt. Carroll and rebuilt the entire system. In 1900 he moved with his family to Savanna where he secured a franchise and built a telephone system there. This completed, he had a system with an exchange in every town in Carroll County. In 1902 Zinnel incorporated the system as stock company named Carroll County Independent Telephone Company, himself as president and general manager. In 1911, the company had 3,000 subscribers in Carroll County. It also had Bell toll service which gave the people connections with any telephone from Maine to California.

The first railroad station was a box car on the south side of the track equipped with the necessary wiring and telegraph instruments for receiving and sending messages on the movement of trains. A new station was built in 1887. Frank Lacy was the first agent but was a telegraph operator only. There were no tickets for sale and passengers paid their fares on the train. William Bird of Wacker was the first full time agent. The station was enlarged in 1926. Henry Zinnel conducted the first business in Chadwick, a blacksmith shop. He had a cider mill in his shop which proved popular, and a combination woodworking shop. He later disposed of the business and moved to Rockford. Shortly thereafter, his son Lee Spencer opened a blacksmith shop which later became Spencer's Garage. John Trip's blacksmith was well known and continued in operation until his death.

Adam Stove from Savanna opened a shoe store, John Mest, a cigar store; Bennie Van Sicle followed by William Schwartz handled and repaired jewelry; a Mrs. Carrie Miller had a millinery store; carpet weaving was done by John Divelbiss while James Taylor had a music shop. It was no trouble to find a tailor; three of the best were John Klitz, Charles Hicks and Carl Geldmacher, a business that declined with he rise of the ready-made clothing industry. Chadwick always had a lawyer until recent years. First practicing attorneys were Sherm Markley, Orin M. Grove, John Turnbaugh and John O. Kerch who came in 1896 and practiced until his retirement when he sold the business to James Thorp who since has moved to Milledgeville. Chadwick once had a hotel known as the "Nicholas House" later as the “Chadwick House”, where the name can still be seen on the corner building on the east side of North Main Street. Because of the rapid growth of the town after the railroad came a need for a hotel was felt. Emanuel Spealman, Werner Zugschwerdt, Wilson Plumer and Henry Shirt formed a company and built the hotel in 1887. A proprietor was necessary and the record shows that S.M. Mummert, the Shirk and the Frank Shultz families took a turn at it.

One of the pioneer occupations in Chadwick, as in every town, was the livery business. Its first owner was E.S. Carbaugh. Later the horse barn was owned by Schick Brother, J.P. Hanaford, Charles Demmon, John Schrader and R.C. Dial. Schrader had horses shipped in from Omaha and Missouri which were sold at combination sales. During Hanaford's ownership it was known as the “Chadwick Horse Exchange”. Charles Bender was the first harness maker and Peter Schweishuth opened a second harness shop. A drayman was needed and Amos Artz came from Shannon to fill this post with his famous span of mouse-colored mules. A.A. Hawk came from Lanark to Chadwick in 1887 and bought livestock and grain. In 1888, his brother N.H. Hawk became associated with him later taking over the business. He sold out to the Chadwick Supply Company which was later sold to Henry F. Weber and then to Harold J. Fink. Chadwick also had a bakery operated by a Mr. Nickoff and Poole. Dr. F.H. Snow came from Lanark in 1886 and was the first resident physician. He was followed by Drs. Miller, Wright, Camp, Nathason, Perusse, Harrison, Basham, Hartfield, White, Calkins and VanRiet. There has been no resident physician after Van Riet. It isn't generally known that Chadwick once had a woman doctor. She was one of the first to practice here. She and her husband Rufus Emerson, a son and daughter, moved from a farm southwest of Chadwick where the Emerson school was located. Due to failing health she lived only two years after moving to town.

On Oct. 13, 1893 the most dreadful and costly disaster in Chadwick's history occurred. On the site of Don's Hardware store was formerly a two-story frame structure with a warehouse and barn at the east end. The first floor was occupied by the Miller, Smith and Company hardware store. The upper story was used as a residence for the Artz, Heybeck and Henry Smith families. Sometime after midnight the residents were awakened by the long shrill whistle of a train passing through town. A fire had started at the back of the building and having been seen by some of the trainmen, they had taking the means to arouse the people. Some had already been awakened by the reflection of the flames on their windows. South of the hardware store was a buggy shed. Next door the P.T. Schweisguth harness shop and the family living above. South of this stood the Miller, Smith and Company's implement shed, the photograph gallery and meat market. These buildings together with a barn and outbuildings on the Stuart property across the alley were destroyed by the fire, the origin of which has never been determined. Windows in the building across the street were broken by the intense heat. The only water supply was from wells and cisterns. Citizens formed a bucket brigade attempting to keep the fire within certain bounds.

The Chadwick Cemetery is unique in that it is the burial place of one of Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers. Peter Bohn was born in 1782 and lived in Germany. During Napoleon's military career and his invasion of Russia to Moscow, he engaged 100,000 men from the "Federation of the Rhine", one of whom was Peter. Peter Bohn was one of the few survivors who came to America and settled on what is known as the George Weber farm. He and his sons owned 1,144 acres (4.63 km2) of land here. They laid their claim and obtained the land from the government for $1.25 an acre. Mr. Bohn died Feb. 18, 1866 at the age of 84. On his tombstone is engraved a mounted soldier bearing the flag of France. It is said that a medal received from Napoleon is buried with him. It has been said Peter Bohn's real name was Boone and his brother was the famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone. He donated the first four tiers of graveyard land. The deed dates back to June 4, 1862. In 1868 it was deeded to the settlement of Chadwick.

In 1936 Chadwick celebrated its 50th anniversary in connection with the 5th Annual Cheese Day Celebration by presenting a pageant depicting the growth of the village from its first settlement to that time. The pageant was prepared by Mrs. Oscar Daehler and read by Louis Frank."