William HUTTON

Family 1: Elizabeth BOWMAN
  1. Fletcher HUTTON
  2. Maurice HUTTON
Family 2: Sarah BOWMAN


"...William Hutton was a native of Berwick, Columbia County, Pa., and was of English descent. He married Elizabeth Bowman, who was also a native of Columbia County. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Hutton were born four sons and two daughters. He was a second time married his wife being Mrs. Sarah (Bowman) Bacon, who had two children by her first marriage. In 1839 the came to Illinois. They traveled overland with teams, camping out along the wayside at night and at length located at what is now Gap Grove in Palmyra Township. For several months after their arrival they lived in a log cabin, which was the home and shelter of four families. As may be surmised their quarters were not the most commodious but they managed to get along until other provisions could be made for a home. In 1840, William Hutton pre-empted a claim not far from Gap Grove and purchased the same from the Government when the land came into market. It continued to be his property until his death, but in the meantime he retired from farm labor. He was a man of great energy and enterprise and by his perseverance and industry acquired a handsome property so that, in 1855, he determined to live a retired life and removed to Sterling. He owned a fine residence in that place and continued to make it his home until his death, which occurred August 20, 1864, at the age of seventy-three years...[He and Sarah] were both members of the Methodist Church and active workers in the Master's vineyard."

--Portrait and Biographical Record of Lee County, Illinois, 1892

"The family traveled overland by teams of oxen, camping out along the way-side at night. They located by what became known as Gap Grove in Palmyra Township, Lee Co., IL. For several months after their arrival they lived in a log cabin, which was home for four families. Along with the other early settlers of this area, they settled in a grove until they were able to secure claims from the government. Some of the hardships were reduced as fuel was close at hand and free. The Groves of trees also assured that water was available and some protection from winter winds was provided. The wild game was abundant, along with wild fruit like blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, grapes, plums, etc. From Indians, some settlers learned to make sugar and syrup from maple trees.

"The first family to settle in the township arrived in 1834, two years after the Blackhawk War against the Sac and the Fox Indian tribes. By 1840, there were about sixty voters, with two families of Huttons. Failure of the United States Bank caused many local banks to fail and hard times set in. Emigration was checked, and as there was no longer a demand nearer than Chicago for the surplus produce prices fell, and wheat was the only item that would sell for cash.

"Nearly all of these early settlers teamed to Chicago, until the Illinois Central Railroad came through. Produce was cheap, but it was one of the only ways to secure some money. Often they returned home with a few trifles, the gross profits from a eight or ten days trip. Often they traveled in groups of 10 ox-teams, entering the city in the morning and coming out at night to sleep in their wagons. Many times drivers had to un-hitch the team and carry the load over a slough, sometimes repeating this chore several times on a trip.

"At that time almost everyone went to church. The Huttons were of the Methodist faith, as were other immigrants from Columbia Co., PA. Churchgoers had to ride in lumber wagons a long time before they could afford something better. Many of the older people had chairs put in for their accommodation. Some came in vehicles that were pulled by oxen. One family was conveyed in a wagon that had wheels which were sawed out of solid blocks of wood. It was said, the creaking and groaning could be heard more than a mile away.

"In 1839 Lee Co. was created from a part of Ogle Co., and the population of the county in 1840 was 2,035. That same year, William preempted a claim near Gap Grove, later buying the land from the government when it became available. He was an energetic man, who prospered, and in 1855 he retired to Sterling, IL, where he had a comfortable residence."

--William R. King, Descendants of Reuben Mott