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Chapter 37 - The Town of New Philadelphia (Grant)

The first plat was made by Lloyd Thomas, in August and September, 1858, when the railroad was first surveyed. When the railroad was constructed, it ran about half a mile to the north of the first survey, and J. H. and B. B. Wilson platted a town, in 1868, on the railroad, and called it Grant. The post office at New Philadelphia was soon afterward removed thither, sustaining its original name, and the station was also called New Philadelphia, so that the present village is more generally known by this name, although its present plat was made and appears upon the records as Grant. There is nothing upon the old site to indicate a town at present. All the business which was ever transacted there was by Lloyd Thomas and his son John. The former built the first store, in 1859, and put in a stock of dry goods, groceries, etc. He operated the same until 1877, when he closed out the stock. In 1860, John Thomas put up a store building on the plat, putting in a stock of groceries, which he closed out in 1878. The post office was established in 1856, and Lloyd Thomas appointed postmaster.


New Philadelphia, or Grant, is located on the east half of section 23, on a rather flat plain, or low land. It is situated on the line of the Toledo, Peoria and Warsaw railroad, four miles south of Bushnell, and in a valuable farming district, capable of supporting a town of considerable size. The first lots were purchased by Samuel Kost, in 1868, who put up two store buildings. In the fall of 1876, W. B. Jellison bought 14 acres from the main street, running west, and Martin Robinson purchased 18 acres running east from the main street. Each gentleman laid off 16 lots, and, through competition, induced buyers to purchase, and succeeded in disposing of them. A great deal of the building improvements of New Philadelphia were made by Mr. Jellison. About 1,500 cars of grain and 600 car loads of stock are shipped from the place annually.

Jacob Walters, of Bushnell, opened the first store in one of the Kost buildings. He put in a general stock, and operated the same about a year, when he was succeeded by Samuel Kost, the owner of the building.

Plecker & Hunt, of Bushnell, put in the second stock in the remaining store building erected by Samuel Kost. They carried on the business about a year, when they sold out to LeMaster and Swayze, and returned to Bushnell. In 1879 this firm was succeeded by James F. LeMaster, who carries a stock of groceries, hardware, etc.

James F. LeMaster was born in Sangamon county, near Springfield, December 17, 1848. His parents were Joseph and Sarah (Yocum) LeMaster. They came to McDonough county in 1863, but in the spring of the next year, the father, with his son James, went across the plains to Oregon, where they remained three years engaged in farming. After returning to this county, he remained one year on a farm, and then removed to Marshall county, Iowa, and from there to Indiana, where he staid one season, and then returned to this county, and in 1872, went into business in New Philadelphia, keeping a general country store. He died in the spring of 1876, his wife having died several years previous. James was the only surviving child. In 1869, he started out for himself, and was engaged in farming until his father's death, when he came and took the store. He has been married twice, the first time to Jane A. Sheets, September 8, 1870. She lived until March 15, 1875, when she died leaving two children--Ellis, born September 9, 1871, who is now living; and John, who died shortly after his mother's death. His next marriage occurred September 26, 1877, to Elizabeth Cullumbia, daughter of John Cullumbia, in Mound township. She died October 28, 1882, leaving no children. Mr. LeMaster is well known as the present postmaster of New Philadelphia, having succeeded to that position on the death of his father.

In the fall of 1877, Martin Robinson erected a building, 20x50 feet, two stories high, in which he put a stock of groceries. He ran it about a year, with a very small trade, after which the building laid idle until occupied by W. H. Miner, in the fall of 1878, who put in a stock of general merchandise. In July, 1884, Mr. Miner removed his stock to the building made vacant by the assignment of Porter & Cowperthwaite, where he is still carrying on business. The building is 20x50 feet in ground area and two stories high.

J. H. Nebergall engaged in the sale of groceries, etc., in 1877, which he operated about a year in the edifice also used by him as a residence, and for the accomodation of the traveling public, when he disposed of the stock to H. C. Swayze. He again embarked in this line in August, 1882, in the building he removed to its present location, adjoining the hotel and residence, in 1881. He does a fair business and carries a stock of about $600.

John Henry Nebergall was born March 5, 1838, in Augusta county, Virginia, and was reared on a farm. When he was seven years of age, his parents removed to Astoria, Fulton county, reaching that village some time in 1848. His father traded for 80 acres of land near Astoria, and remained there until 1854. In 1855, he sold out and purchased 40 acres of land in Fulton county. The parents died while living in this section. When our subject was quite young he "worked out" for neighboring farmers, and received the princely stipend of $4 per month for this first month's labor. He was married June 24, 1860, to Arminia W. St. Clair. For some years after their marriage they lived in Lewiston, and then moved to Canton, where Mr. Nebergall engaged in the pump business. The family settled on a farm in Mound township in 1865, but soon after returned to Bushnell. After several changes, our subject settled on the farm where he now resides, in 1877, and is classed among the successful and enterprising farmers. They have two children--Della and George.

H. W. Sheets engaged in the sale of general merchandise in the fall of 1879, being a successor to Samuel Kost. He carries a large and well assorted stock of goods as is usually found in a store of this kind. The main building is 20x40 feet in dimensions, with an addition 20x20 feet in size. Mr. Sheets commands a good trade and is the principal merchant in the place.

Henry W. Sheets is a native of Clarion county, Pennsylvania. He was born on March 17, 1836, and is the son of George W. and Ellen Sheets. In 1840, Mr. Sheets removed to Illinois, and settled in Mound township, McDonough county, where he took up 80 acres of land, which he has added to from time to time, until he now owns a fine farm of 200 acres. Our subject was married, in 1857, to Mary Dimkle. The result of this union was seven children, of whom five are living. He is now a justice of the peace in Mound township, and at different times has held various township offices. He is an active, earnest citizen, deeply interested in all that pertains to his county and township.

R. B. Butler erected a building in 1877, 12x18 feet in ground area, and engaged in the sale of groceries and feed. He is still a representative of that line of trade.

In the fall of 1881, Porter& Cowperthwaite, of Bardolph, engaged in business at this point. They put in a stock of hardware and drugs, which they operated about three years, when they failed, and the stock was closed out.

Swayze & Gordon are engaged in the manufacture of wagons, buggies, etc., and also do a general repairing business. The business was established in September, 1877, by Thomas Royal, as a wagon shop. He ran it until November 20, of that year, when he was succeeded by Samuel Gustin. While the business was being operated by Gustin, a blacksmith shop was added by Martin Robinson. J. Hageman afterward succeeded Robinson. On the 1st day of April, 1880, W. C. Swayze took charge of the wagon shop, and in October, 1882, W. B. Gordon succeeded Hageman in the blacksmith department, since which time the business has been operated jointly, and under the firm name of Swayze & Gordon, the former having exclusive charge of the wagon shop, and the latter of the blacksmith department. The wagon making department is 16x44 feet in size, while the other is 16x24 feet in dimensions. This firm have all the business they can attend to, their patronage extending over a radius of 15 miles.

William B. Gordon was born June 11, 1839, in Macomb, and lived in that city until 1849, when he removed to Augusta, Hancock county, and resided there until 1856, when he came back to Macomb. He lived with his parents until 1858, when he commenced with his uncle, Robert Broaddus, to learn the blacksmith trade. He worked for him about 18 months, and left Macomb in 1880, and was at different places in the state. In 1865 he settled in Bardolph, and ran a wagon and blacksmith shop, part of the time in partnership with Lewis Wilson. In 1880 he sold out, and moved his family to Vermont, Fulton county, where he left his family and went to the mining districts of Colorado, and was gone about 10 months. He came home, and moved to Bushnell, where he opened a blacksmith shop, in July, 1881; sold out and went to Macomb to work in the wagon shop of Price & Son. In October, 1882, he established himself in the blacksmith business in New Philadelphia, where he still continues. He was married, November 7, 1865, to Mary Durell, of Vermont. They have four children living and three deceased. The eldest, Hattie, was 10 months old; Charles, died at the age of 3 years and 2 months; Terry, 22 months; Margaret, Walter, George and Ralph are all at home. Mr. Gordon is a member of the I. O. O. F. lodge of Bardolph, being one of the organizers of the lodge.

Wellington Clernan Swayze is a native of Columbia county, Pennsylvania, born the 21st of April, 1855. His parents are Jacob and Elizabeth (Yetter) Swayze, the father a native of New Jersey and the mother, of Pennsylvania. The elder Swayze died in Pennsylvania, leaving a widow, who still resides at the old home. Wellington learned the carpenter's trade, and in 1878 he came to New Philadelphia, and worked for his brother in the grain business. The next year he hired out on a farm, but in the winter worked for his brother in the grain business. In the spring of 1880, he opened out in the wagon-making business on his own account, and is now doing a good business, starting with nothing, comparatively speaking. In the spring of 1885, he was duly elected clerk of the town of Mound. He was married, March 12, 1884, to Della Nebergall, daughter of John Nebergall, and has a home in the north part of the village.

The grain business now carried on by Henry C. Swayze was established by George Fritz, of Bushnell, at the time the railroad was completed to the place. William Steele carried on the business for Fritz until 1868, when the latter gentleman sold out to S. A. Hendee & Co., of Bushnell. They let it lay idle for about a year, when the present proprietor came into possession of the business. The building is 28x50 feet in ground area, and contains bins with a capacity of 5,000 bushels. On account of competition and cutting up of territory, business has considerably decreased during the past two years. From Aug. 9, 1882, until April 1, 1885, Mr. Swayze has shipped 174 cars of grain, mostly to Peoria.

The grain business is also represented by William H. Miner, who established the same in 1879, building an office on the main street near the railroad. He erected a warehouse 24x40 feet in dimensions, and with a capacity of 4,000 bushels. There are also corn cribs, with a capacity of 12,000 bushels. He ships principally to Peoria.

G. W. Solomon & Co. engaged in the stock business in 1880, the firm being composed of G. W. Solomon, J. A. Cowperthwaite and W. N. Porter. This firm continued in the purchase and shipment of stock until November, 1883, when they were succeeded by S. A. D. Farr and J. A. Cowperthwaite. This firm are among the present representatives in this line, and do a business of about $40,000 annually. They ship to Chicago and Peoria, principally the former place. Mr. Farr is the principal buyer.

S. A. D. Farr, the subject of this sketch is a native of Fulton county, and was born near Ipava, October 29, 1854. He farmed for several years and then removed to Nebraska, where he engaged in agriculture. He returned in 1880, and went into the lumber business, and sold out to Mr. Cowperthwaite in 1883, and engaged in the stock trade as noted below. He was married December 23, 1873, to Phrania Lindsey and has four children. In 1883, Mr. Farr entered into partnership with Mr. Cowperthwaite in the stock business and the firm now does a business amounting to $40,000, annually. They buy principally in Fulton and McDonough counties, and ship from various points. They handle all grades of fat cattle, and their principal markets are Chicago and Peoria. Mr. Farr is the manager for the firm, and attends to the business details.

The stock business is also represented by Henry C. Swayze. He commenced buying stock in 1877, shipping to Chicago during the winter and to Peoria during the summer seasons. For the year ending March 1, 1855, he did a business of nearly $17,000. He is also engaged in the sale of the Leman tile, commencing the sale of the same in 1884. In 1882, he handled the Bushnell tile.


J. H. Nebergall operates the only hotel in the place. It is not considered a regular hotel, as it is more of a private residence, although the traveling public are accommodated here. The house was built in 1877. Mr. Nebergall is also engaged in the sale of groceries in a building adjoining.

George W. Makinson is a native of Belmont county, Ohio, and was born February 25, 1843. He passed his early life on a farm in Ohio. He enlisted early in 1861, as a private in an Ohio regiment, and served for three months, when he was discharged on account of failing health. He recovered, and in July, 1862, enlisted in company B, 98th regiment, Ohio volunteer infantry, under Capt. J. B. Mitchell, as a private, and was afterwards promoted to corporal, and served as such until the Atlanta campaign, when he was made orderly sargeant, and discharged as such, with a commission as 2d lieutenant. He took part in the battles of Chickamauga, Graysville, Mission Ridge, Knoxville and a number of minor engagements. He was in the famous march to the sea, and was in the battle of Bentonville, where Col. Reaves was killed, and finally wound up his career as a soldier in the grand review at Washington. He was discharged at Cleveland, Ohio, and began studying for the ministry. After a course of study, and some time spent in teaching, he went to Tennessee, where he was connected with the Freedmen's bureau, in 1867-68. After some years of varied experience, he entered the railroad service, and during the strike of 1877, filled two mens places, at different points. He was married, April 10, 1869, to Alice Baughman. They have three children. He is a member of lodge 71, I. O. O. F., Warsaw, Hancock county.


The first marriage in the town was Isom B. Shaw and Mary J., daughter of J. H. Wilson, in 1873.

The first death was Mrs. J. A. LeMaster, a daughter of George Sheets, and a sister of H. W. Sheets. Her death occurred March 15, 1875.

Source: The History of McDonough County, together with sketches of the towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; portraits of prominent individuals, and biographies of the representative citizens, 1885, pages 976-981. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen

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