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Hahnaman History
Transcribed from the Tampico Centennial Year Book 1875-1975


Tampico Centennial Year Book

Hahnaman History


The small community was known as Hahnaman. There was a post office from January 12, 1902. An elevator was established there and is, in 1967, a huge installation.

In August, 1888 George M. Burton of Deer Grove was plowing his bottom-land, south of the Chicago Burlington and Quincy tracks and on section 27, he struck stakes of what were identified as the remains of a pontoon bridge. It was allegedly constructed about 40 years earlier by millers at Sterling and Como in an effort to attract business north.

Peter Ford may have been Whiteside County’s oldest citizen. He was born in Ireland in 1802 and arrived in Whiteside County in 1857. Mr. Ford died at the home of his daughter in Deer Grove on May 17, 1907. He farmed from about 1857 to 1887 when he moved to Tampico. He lived there until the death of his wife in 1895.

There were numerous anecdotes about the long-lived Hahnamanian and one of them was about the low ceilings in his home. Tall visitors were obliged to stoop and duck to avoid disaster but they received no sympathy from Mr. Ford who explained that he would not build a cottage for anyone taller than he was.

The one-room schools are all part of the past in Hahnaman Township. There were six of them between Hahnaman, Deer Grove, and Tampico. Maple Grove, Deer Grove, and Advance and Champion are torn down and gone; Reeves and Island have been remodeled into homes. Amish have purchased the Maple Hill and use it for their own school.

If our early friend, Reuben Davis, or Doc Davis as he was familiarly called, had been the first settlers, the supposition might be that he named the township after Hahnemann, the celebrated German physician, who died in 1843. But as he was the founder of homeopathy, and Reuben may not have believed in that method of treatment, we give up the conundrum. William Renner and family from Pennsylvania, who settled at Deer Grove in 1841, were the pioneers in this quarter.

For a small, thinly inhabited town, the men of Hahnaman rallied nobly around the flag in 1861. Then enlisted with the Yates Sharpshooters: McNickle, Hinman, Harvey, Reeves, Henry May. The latter was killed at Atlanta in 1864, Mahlon Humphrey died at Cairo in 1862. Hinman was wounded at Atlanta. Jon Renner was four months in Andersonville. J.C. Reeves joined the 8th N.Y. Cavalry. James Renner, Walter Johnson, T. B. Davis, John Chambers, Albert McNickle, H. S. Humphrey enlisted in various Illinois regiments.

Henry Pott, a veteran was with the 75th regiment in Illinois. He got his eye destroyed so he was discharged from the hospital and sent home. He purchased 120 acres near Hahnaman in 1872 for $30.00 per acre. Henry Pott and his brother-in-law, Henry Flock, ran a threshing machine, and frequently did work for Peter Ford on his farm. It was in the days when horse power was used. They had a pair of fine horses which they attached to the machine, the farmer furnishing the others. Henry did the driving with a long whip. Peter was lying barefoot by the stack, watching operations. The fat horses of the threshers were not pulling, and his own were doing most of the work, so Peter called out, “Henry, touch up your team wid your lash, the whiffletrees are dangling against their legs.” Peter was a close observeer and saw everything.

On another threshing occasion, the men started before breakfast to set the machine firmly to be ready to begin work early. But a blind horse balked, refusing to pull, and while the men rode back to the barn, on the way they had to pass a pond where a flock of geese were sleeping. The blind horse stumbled over the birds, bruising an old gander, and the whole troupe set up a furious screaming. Peter’s kitchen door was ajar, and a face peered in the direction of the clamor. At breakfast, they told Peter of the catastrophe, claiming that a wolf had killed one of the flock during the night. “Wolf!” exclaimed Peter. “It was your horse, your blind wolf, that spoiled my fowl.” To make the best of the disaster, Peter got the goose, and the two Henry’s had the fat bird for dinner.

Several years ago Peter had a sore leg with an inflamation that refused to yeild to repeated medical treatment, until a Spiritualist doctor was summoned from Polo, and the limb was restored whole as the other. This is not an advertisement, but belongs to our narrative.

His house had low ceilings, and on Mr. Pott telling him that he had to be continually dodging as he passed through the house, Peter said he didn’t build the cottage for anybody taller than he was. Peter was a small man; of light frame, and until recent years of cative habits, laboring regularly on his farm.

At one time, he had a large plantation of several hundred acres, lying northeast of Deer Grove, on the borders of Whiteside and Lee counties. Various misfortunes, however, rendered it necessary to sell parts, and at his death, he was in moderate circumstances. His son took charge of the farm in later years, and Peter with his wife retired to a home in Tampico, where he remained to h er death. Since that time he lived with his daughter. Mrs. Coleman, in Deer Grove, where he breathed his last.

His son, Dominick, lives in Sterling, and tells the writer his father at his death had a head of snow-white hair, the color originally black. He had no full beard, simply whiskers on the chin.

His death occurred on Friday, May 17, 1907. Mr. Ford was born at Killala, Ireland, June 22, 1802. He married Miss Mary A. Muldoon on Jan. 24, 1834, and came to this country in 1940, locating near Utica, N.Y., where he worked on the Erie canal. Three years later his wife and two children came over and the family then went to Canda and made their home near Smith’s Falls until 1857. They came to Illinois that year and stayed in Dixon for a short time. Mr. Ford then purchased a farm in Hahnaman and engaged in farming. In 1887 he removed to Tampico, where he resided until hes wife died. Mr. And Mrs. Ford had nine children, seven of whom are now living.

Mr. Ford retained his faculties well until his death. He was strictly temperate in his habits and never used tobacco nor intoxicating liquors although at one time he was employed for several years in a distillery. He had a retentive memory and easily recalled the war of 1812 and the Black Hawk and Mexican wars. He had a distinct memory of the death of every president of the United States except Washington.

Mr. Ford came of a long lived race. All of his brothers and sisters lived to be over 80; one aunt lived to be 115 years of age and his grandmother also passed the centruy mark.

His daughter, Mrs. Coleman, says her father had no faith in doctors, would not take medicine, and when sick, would often fast four days. He lost his last teeth ten years before his death. Although for the last four years he sat much in his chair, he was not helpless. Appetite so good that he regularly took three meals a day. Took great interest in current affairs, and followed the operations of the Boer struggle and our Spanish-American war. He never wore glasses.

Ponce de Leon looked for the fountain of perpetual youth in Florida, but never found it, because it was not there. It is in Hahnaman. People die even in California, but seldom in this favored township. Just think of two golden weddings within a week! On Sunday, Feb. 16, 1908, Mr. & Mrs. John McGuire celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage at their home, surrounded by te=heir children, grandchildren and a host of relatives. They were married in Dixon, and after three years in Sterling, removed to Hahnaman, where they have since resided. They are both hale and hearty, and will now prepare for the diamond jubilee.On Saturday, Feb. 22, by a freak of the almanac, the fiftieth anniversary of Mr. & Mrs. Fred Wahl coincided with the birthday of the illustrious George. They really belong to Hahnaman, as their active years were spent there, but farming becoming too strenuous, in 1890 they took their abode in a new home on Ninth Avenue, Sterling. This was the scene of the festivities.

Transcribed by: DDM, from the TAMPICO CENTENNIAL YEAR BOOK, 1875-1975, pps. 132, 133



RELATED LINKS: Hahnaman Township 1885
                           Hahnaman Township - Deer Grove 1877

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