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The origin and the object of this work is best set forth in the following documents and proceedings. The work was engaged in by the writer without fully compréhending the undertaking before him; but, as new subjects and new interests have presented themselves, we have assumed to present them to the people fully, in the belief that the intelligent reading and appreciative people of Mason county will appreciate our efforts.
The scientific features of the work have been supplied by the State Geologists of Illinois and of Michigan. To these gentlemen we are under obligations for their assistance in "Exploring the hills of scientific truth that shade the landscapes of eternity."
It has been our aim and our ambition, in the following work, to give FACTS, and facts only; to ignore our individual opinions. With Dr. Gall we can say: “That one fact is with me more positive and decisive than a thousand methaphysical opinions.” Our opinions and our own preferences are not history. In the Biographical Department of the work we have found it necessary to practice a large amount of self denial. After a residence of over twenty years in Mason county, and the friendships formed in that long period of time, we find it difficult, in writing personal sketches of old friends and neighbors, to say much of them historically and restrain feelings engendered by their long personal friendships. How well this has been done the public must be the judge. With the sentiment, rendered immortal by the late President Lincoln, for our guide, we cannot be far wrong: “With charity to all, and malice towards none." For the military history of the county we acknowledge our indebtedness to Adj. Gen. Hillyer, of Springfield, Illinois, through whose promptness and kindness we have been furnished with the very full and perfect details which we have been
enabled to give. We are also under large obligations to Mr. Ludlam, of the Secretary of State's office, for documents and data no where else obtainable. Also, to a careful and judicious use of “paste and scissors,” for some of the most valuable extracts. In the defence of this I can only say, it is the general usage of writers. A noted author says: “I am not ashamed to borrow to enrich my own history.” My own credit, if any shall be, in uniting the links to form a chain.
We are indebted, also, for information and assistance, to numerous individuals in every part of the county, and to acknowledge all would necessitate the publication of a county directory. All will please accept our thanks. This work has been assigned us without our solicitation, and we are thus under obligations to do a work creditable alike to all, more than could be placed upon us by any pecuniary reward.
The following is an extract from the Clarion, of Havana, published by S. Wheadon, and was our first notification of the work:
“ HISTORY OF MASON COUNTY.-We understand that many of our citizens have spoken favorably of our townsman, J. Cochrane, Esq., to prepare a history of Mason county, to be filed at our national capitol, in pursuance of the recommendation of their Governor. We earnestly hope that Mr. Cochrane may be appointed for the work-being an old citizen, thoroughly acquainted with the geography, soil and products of our county, and withal an interesting writer. We know of no one who is better fitted for the task.”
In pursuance of previous call, a meeting was held at the court house on the evening of May 27, to make arrangements for the celebration of the approaching Centennial Anniversary. The meeting was called to order by I. N. Mitchell, Mayor of Havana. Major H. Fullerton was elected Chairman, and F. Ketchum and S. Wheadon, Secretaries. The Chairman addressed the audience in an able, patriotic speech, which elicited much applause.
Mr. J. Cochrane offered the following, which was adopted:
Resolved, That the Committee of Conference with other towns be instructed to use every effort to obtain the co-operation of every and each individual town in the county for a grand County Centennial Celebration on the coming anniversary of our National Independence, in conformity to the resolution of the Legislature, and the proclamation of the Governor.
Hon. J. A. Mallory offered the following:
Resolved, That this meeting recommend the appointment of Joseph Cochrane to write the History of Mason county, in ac
cordance with the proclamation of the Governor, and that an appropriation be made by our Board of Supervisors to defray the necessary expenses
of the same. Remarks on the above were made by Major Fullerton and F. Ketchum, favoring the resolution, which was unanimously adopted.
On motion of H. A. Wright, Esq., Mr. J. R. Foster was elected Treasurer.
On motion of J. M. Ruggles, Esq., the Board of Aldermen of this city were requested to appropriate from three to five hundred dollars to defray the expenses of the celebration.
It was moved and carried that these proceedings be published in the papers of Mason county, and this meeting stand adjourned to next Friday night.
H. FULLERTON, Chairman. F. KETCHAM, S. WHEADON,
Secretaries. The origin of Centennial County Histories is contained in the following resolution of Congress, approved March 3, 1876:
Joint resolution on the celebration of the Centennial in the several counties or towns:
Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That it be and is hereby recommended by the Senate and House of Representatives, to the people of the several States, that they assemble in their several counties or towns on the approaching Centennial anniversary of our National Independence, and that they cause to have delivered on such a day an historical sketch of said county or town from its formation, and that a copy of said sketch may be filed, in print or manuscript, in the Clerk's office of said county, and an additional copy, in print or manuscript, be filed in the office of the Librarian of Congress, to the intent that a complete record may thus be obtained of the progress of our institutions during the first centennial of their existence. Approved March 13, 1876.
On the 25th of April, 1876, Governor Beveridge issued the following proclamation: To the People of the State of Illinois, Greeting :
WHEREAS, The Senate and the House of Representatives have issued, and the President of the United States has approved, a joint resolution on the celebration of the Centennial in the several counties or towns, which joint resolution is as follows, viz:
Be it resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, That it be and is hereby recommended by the Senate and House of Representatives, to the people of the several States, that they assemble in the several counties or towns on the approaching Centennial anniversary of our National Independence, and that they cause to have delivered on such day an historical sketch of said county or town from its formation, and that a copy of said sketch may be filed, in print or manuscript, in the Clerk's office of said county, and an additional copy, in print or manuscript, be filed in the office of the Librarian of Congress, to the intent that a complete record may thus be obtained of the progress of our institutions during the first Centennial of their existence.
Now, therefore, I, John L. Beveridge, Governor of Illinois, do hereby earnestly recommend to the people of our State, that prompt measures be taken in each county and town for the selection and appointment, in such manner as may be deemed best, of one or more persons, who shall prepare, as suggested in the resolution, complete, thorough and accurate historical sketches of each county, city, town or village, from the date of its first settlement to the present time; one copy of each of said sketches to be filed in the office of the County Clerk, and an additional copy to be filed in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at the City of Washington. That these sketches may be of the greatest historical value, I would especially urge the importance of the utmost care in their preparation, in order that they garner many interesting facts connected with the earliest days of our State, the knowledge of which, recorded only in the memories of our older citizens, is gradually passing away, and soon will be lost to us forever.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the great seal of the State to be affixed.
Done at the city of Springfield, this 25th day of April, A. D. 1876.
JOIN L. BEVERIDGE. By the Governor:
GEORGE H. HARLOW, Sec'y of State.