A contemplative mind is imbued by a sense of sadness in noting the wonderful and varied changes wrought by time in a comparatively short space. So when reflection, sided by memory, carries us backward for half a century to note the changes made in this place and vicinity during that time, we feel a sense of loss in all familiar things. That Newark is ancient there is no denying. However, old age may reveal much that is interesting. The following bit of local history furnished the writer by Mrs. S. Bingham, clearly and truthfully demonstrates the fact that sudden changes strike one forcibly as a shock. Where changes are forced upon the mind by a gradual process, they hardly leave a trace, unless much time is given to reflection.
In the year 1843 there resided in the counties of Tompkins and Tioga, New York, with a radius of a few miles, fourteen families who were intimate friends and neighbors. The ever-relentless spirit of change and a desire to improve their worldly condition possessed them. One or two families at a time left the familiar scenes of childhood to seek a home in the, then, far western wilds of Illinois.
Whether it was choice or Providence that decided the location our informant saith not. However, Newark and vicinity proved to be the haven of rest where the weary travelers built their future homes. In 1843, Harry Gridley, Selah Gridley, and Lott Preshure families came. In 1844, S. Bingham, Reverend Philander Taylor, Hiram Scofield, Ira Scofield, Aaron Petty, Charles Gridley and families followed them. In 1845, Squire Lewis, Stephen Scofield, Gabriel North and Peter North came with their families.
At the time of the removal of the first families, not one of the others had any thought or intent of ever leaving the homes they had established until they had gathered in as sheaves for the harvest of the great reaper. Death and so sorrowful good-byes were said from time to time, as one by one they took up their westward march.
Within the short space of three years, the little colony was reunited. They cast their fortunes for weal or woe together. With one or two exceptions they became permanent residents, making this portion of Kendall County to blossom as the rose. While they endured toil, danger and hardships for the sake of love's contentment rather than wealth, they were building better than they knew.
While they helped to make it possible for the generation of today to enjoy so much comfort, luxury and comparative ease, where are they now? Ah! Well may we exclaim, "Our fathers, where are they?" Gone the way of all the living. Only two of the head of families is left. S. Bingham and Mrs. Hannah Prickett, who was the wife of Peter North at the time of westward journey. They alone are left to tread the silent halls of memory.
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