Speech by J. H. Adams on the Future of Plano
(and responses from citizens)
January 17, 1857 - Speech
Delivered in the Academy on Thursday evening, Jan. 8th by J. H. Adams
On motion, the speaker was requested to furnish the editor of the Kendall County Journal with a copy for publication which he did as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have almost regretted since I consented to address you on the subject of your past, present and future, that I had done so -- lest, being so much a stranger to the history of your beautiful and thriving town, I might fail to do full justice to my theme -- and being conscious also, that there are those in your midst, who if they would, are far more competent to blend the prolific facts of your interesting past with your flattering present ... of prophetic exactness of the bright and encouraging future that awaits you.
But since in my yielding to the invitation to address you on the subject before us, I have committed myself to the effort, it will be vain in me to hope that an apology would be received in excuse for an entire failure. So, I pray you, however imperfect may be my portraiture, hear me candidly, as I shall in candor speak -- and judge me leniently, as my motives are just.
I have often wondered while passing over the vast prairies of Illinois -- and hove seen here and there, dotting the vast expanse, a single dwelling, a cluster of houses, a village -- how do the people live? -- Where are their resources for social amusement and relaxation from the wearisome monotony of those extended and measureless plains? What do they do for variety -- "the spice of life"? But I have as often found as I have wondered thus, that, "where there is a will, there is a way."
And I will confess to you, ladies and gentlemen, that on first visiting your spirited little village, I wondered much how you expected to become significant in the scale of magnitude or importance and especially embarrassed was I to ascertain the way in which you expected to support so expensive an agency of prosperity as the Printing Press
A few days patient waiting; a little observation opened my mind, some what as did the answer of the little Dutchman's wife" She was a large and ... been taken for a man, where he was not known. Upon being railed one day for the disparity of their physical forms, the woman, with true .. remarked: " He is smarter as he is big. -- That is, his capacity for active usefulness is greater than it appears to be.
But you were not always what you are now. Plano did not grow up like Jonah's gourd, in a single night. Time was, when even the sod on which this infant village stands, was the rendesvoux of the wild Indian. If I am not mistaken, there is but one family living in this place, who resided here prior to 1832; savages and wild animals alone enjoyed the domain -- and that family was Mr. Moore and wife. The Indian warrior Black Hawk was then here and around him were the Shabbonahs and other small tribes. And those were days of peril when the white man first came to this beautiful spot to seek a home. If I had the time, I should be indeed pleased to go somewhat into detail in reference to the fame and career of Black Hawk; but I will merely state that concerning himself and his people, aggrieved by the settlement of the whites among them, he became their implacable enemy and the enemy of all the Indians who would not join the alliance with him in driving the white settlers away. On a certain occasion he made a proposition to the Shabbonah chief to join him, declaring it was his determination to kill and destroy the white settlers. The wily chief required a little time to think of the proposition. And during that time, he sent his warriors out in secret and informed the settlers of their damage. Whereupon they fled for safety either to Ottawa, Chicago, or elsewhere, except the family of Mr. Hall, who resides in or near Munsontown, whom the Indians surprised one night -- killing Mr. Hall and wife, if I recollect right, and taking two of the daughters (young women) captive. They were kept in captivity, until ransomed by the U. S. Government. You have doubtless read the account of their captivity.
At this time there were no white settlements in this vicinity between the Indian Creek on the north to Aurora, or near these ... Grove and Hollenback's Grove. But that is immaterial. Your charming Plano was not here then.
In 1833 or '34 Mr. Moore was the only white settler in this place.
And after that for several years this vast region remained as a farming district, being sparsely settled by farmers, until 1853, when the project for building the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad was set in operation. Esq. Erwin then erected the first house in what is now the village of Plano proper. I believe Mr. Barber was the next, and others soon came and built. During that year Mr. Barber erected his tavern. The same year Mr. Erwin opened a small stock of goods in his own house, and Hugh Henning erected his store, in which Messrs. Foster and Liddington are now trading. These were your first merchants.
About the same time Mr. McMurtrie build his blacksmith shop and Mr. Mason started a Lumber Yard where Mr. Henning now keeps his. And during the same year Geo. Steward opened a Wagon shop in the village.
In September 1853 the natives were much astonished by the snorting of the Iron Steam horse who threw his mane of smoke behind his ears as he dashed along, drawing the first train of cars in Plano, or Big Rock, as it was then known. In the winter of 1854 the freight house of the R. R. was built.
Since then your buildings have sprung up like Mushrooms. One went to bed at night and arose looking out of his window to see there the frame had been reared for the next building!
On Saturday, March 5th 1853 at the suggestion of Mr. J. T. Hollister the elegant, classic and truly chaste poet of the village, its name was changed to Plano and in 1854 your Post Office was established.
Now, here we are, to speak of Plano as she is. In less than four years from the erecting of the first house in Plano, you have three excellent and prosperous stores, 1 drug and book shop; 2 harness shops; 2 shoe shops; 1 wagon shop; 2 saloons; 2 lumber yards; 1 livery stable.
And most of all, you have this noble edifice for schools; first and best of all your enterprise; for here the mind gains wealth indispensable!
Near us, lifts high its spire, the house of public worship, and all things are ready for your future career.
...four years, as nearly as I can learn, you had but eight deaths in Plano - four adults and four children; a big recommendation for the salubrity and health of the town.
But most astonishing to all who do not know the ambition and zeal of the Young American here, unfurling the banner of the people, is the fact that you have a Printing Press and the best paper in the County, for it is independent. May it ever remain so.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I find you, -- But will you remain thus? Whispers no chaliced lips in your listening ear "Excelsior," to emulate a high enterprise? See ye, none of you, on Time's tablet a more gorgeous picture of extended streets - of crowded avenues - of multiplied manufactories - of glittering equipage, that badge of wealth?
Read ye not, on the page of the future an account current with industry, enterprise and public spirit where credit holds a sway ee'r debt by a balance of thousands where you now can reckon up but dimes?
See you not there, as demarked by the unerring and inevitable law of causes and effect, the rich reward of lawful venture?
See you not on map or plot, the retired street garnished with stately edifice -- the rude soil surface embellished with flowrets fair as nurtured and made to blossom, by the fair hands of the democratic daughters of affluence. See you not the smoke in the bright future's vista from the Foundry -- the machine shop -- the factory?
Turn over a leaf -- read on the future records of your infant county seat! See you not the Court House height -- with dome daguerred of the sky, and near perchance a prison or jail -- place of durance for mortals frail? and other buildings suited well, the fame of Plano high to swell?
Hear you not in the distance approaching the train of the Amboy, Chicago and Upper Mississippi Railroad -- trundling with speed of light across the prairie to augment and expand the muscles of gigantic commerce, and affiliate, in trade the thousands who are moving from the time worn eastern hills to the prolific and exhaustless prairies of the west for the sweets of home and the joys of wealth.
... hear ye not -- these?
O! Slow of heart to believe! Already hath the unerring hand of destiny -- inevitable progress, written on your behalf here fiat, and invited you to "look aloft!"
The talismanic bow already arches the sky over you, and pointing to there western villages which have rivaled all precedents in the history of the east, -- proclaims to you -- do and be! Will it and your proud eminence attract the wondering admiration of your sisters throughout the land?
But, as this is not a mere mythological sketch of a prolific reality -- nor is it such a "castle reared in air," that bone and muscle, mind and matter -- industry and economy -- Cold and reason are exempted from the emprize. Nor this, nor any other human achievement has ever yet been made or record where the end devised was the rich award of indolence. Even him who made the heavens and garnished them by the starry gems ... diamonds, has taught us by his stupendous creation, a philosophy so ruinous as that which separates from effects their relative causes. On the first day he "created the heaven and the earth." He laid a foundation, but he did not stop there; He "made the firmament." "And God created man" -- and woman. He worked six days thus, nor ceased to admire his omnipotent workmanship, until on the seventh day, when, in His infinite mind the glory and beauty and excellence of His handiwork arose before Him and all its inconceivable stupendousness.
So, ladies and gentlemen, if the faint picture of your future which I have given in penciled outline shall ever be seen in its realities by you or your descendants, it must be at the behest of your own handiwork. As true is it, that you must be the architects of your own fortune, as a place or locality, as that man, individually must carve the fortune he would share. If you would see the county seat in Plano, you have to will it and work for it. -- The geographical demarkations of your county and counties adjoining you most manifestly speak in your behalf with no less assurance than the nature and necessity of things. Let your sister villages around you witness a degree of enterprise and public spirit commensurate with the project, and they will emulate your zeal and extend to you their favor. Reason must be dethroned or the thousands of your county who have learned its geographical divisions will decide upon the merits of ... removing the county seat from Oswego to some more convenient and accessible place -- or such a division of counties as shall give your claims at least an opportunity for the contest.
Your village will grow as you may wisely invest your capital and industry to make it grow. The revenues of the industry and toil of the rich country around you, will flow in to your use as you shall wisely seek to divert the tributary streams to your just enchantment.
The bridge you need to cross the river near Big Rock will not grow of bulrushes twined like the cradle of Moses to float the people from the groves and villas around you to your mart! No; it must be 'created.' Your rivals will not construct for you.
Hundreds of men of actual or constructive wealth are waiting in the vans of immigration to see your blocks of stores -- your houses for dwelling -- your mechanic shops with ample space stretched along your beautiful streets, and they will as surely come to cast their lot among you as they see them! Just so surely, indeed, as it is true that "where the carcass is, there will the eagles assemble."
Men of wealth in Plano! men of mind -- men of trades -- men with hands, and women, too -- this is your work. The bright gleaming of the Excelsioric eyes of an higher fame beckons to the noble work all hands, all hearts, all mutual resources, and all affiliated interests.
It is too often the case in starting new enterprises, that many of the careful and doubtful stamp will hold back their means and influence from the most practical measures of public improvement -- or will stand in the way like the "dog in manger" to the great detriment of the capital others may possess, and would be happy to invest. Every man, it is true has an abstract right to do just what he pleases with his own, but yet, in all organized societies, there are certain interests that become necessarily mutual, so that a moral obligation may justly devolve upon us in those relations, when, were we entirely alone and perfectly independent, the case would be different. Mutual partners in trade are no more equally bound to use their influence for mutual advancement than are citizens of a village like this, to bear mutual burdens, or to seek by all laudable means "the greatest good to the greatest number."
If my neighbor owns property adjoining mine, or in partnership with me which he wishes to improve, and I through prejudice, ill will or other cause, refuse to allow it to be done -- or having myself the power to do so, yet refuse to benefit myself to carry out a spite against him, I do him a great wrong.
Your prosperity in this village is necessarily so identified, that while one lot is improved, another is benefitted. The addition of improvements generally, there would, as a matter course, be the interest ominunt motive that should actuate all alike.
Should the spite of rivalry, jealousy, envy, or the like spring up amongst you at this picture in the ... Kendall, where the ... union ... to render you all prosperous it would be a serious calamity. It too often is the case that ignorant ... poor men - or men of less capital become anxious toward the rich, and would rather remain poor themselves, than to see wealthy increase in riches. Possibly, too, the rich may in some cases despise the poor -- but in no case where the mind and heart are right.
The poor and the rich are capable of being mutually employed in all things together, and the one cannot well get along with out the friendship of the other.
The future of Plano need not remain involved in dark mystery. It requires the ken of no astute prophet to declare with the certainty of truth what this location will be, whenever it shall be the united, determined purpose of every citizen to make it what it can and ought to be. A just degree of local interest -- properly demonstrated -- in which all that is assimilative in all the ramifications of society shall be employed with just conceptions of local fidelity, and you will see the stream of every branch of business -- every department of science -- every art -- every department of learning -- every social, moral, and educational association for elevation improvement and refinement receive new and permanent impulses, and the sun of prosperity, peace and happiness throw a halo of rural bliss o'er every household, and fill every coffer with the the awards of honor and love.
Oh! Plano, 'tis thus with ken prospective I view thy future, name emblazoned on the pages which a future ... holds before my sight. 'Tis thus I see the historians of another era writing thy proud autobiography.
"The cloud swept spires
Of temples high."
Shall, truly, as the rains thereon denote the direction of the air, say to the stranger passing here -- "there dwells a people whom no stinted measure of enthusiasm fired in works of public usefulness or in aught that serves to make up the innumerable veins of a growing living prosperous and happy people."
And the name of these who shall be honored as the noble pioneers of such a town will whether enshrined in Memory's casket -- living amongst the venerable and venerated -- or mouldering amidst the graves of the church yard, they will wear honors unfading, as they will drink joys perennial and serene. - Kendall County Journal
January 24, 1857 - A Few Thought About Plano
To the Editor of the Kendall County Journal
Sir: Your last number contained a rich treat to every friend of our little village, in the published address of H. F. Adams, Esq., delivered on Thursday evening, the 8th inst., and I am pleased that you have put it into a more enduring form, than its mere pronunciation would have been.
To recent settlers in the place and vicinity, his reminiscences of history of the origin and progress of Plano, are interesting and instructive, affording a fund of information, which, otherwise might have remained unknown to many persons.
To Messrs. Hollister, Ervine, McDowell and others, who first prepared the ground for the future City, its growth and prospective importance, must be matters of sincere gratification and pride, and their names will be held in high esteem by the future denizens of Plano, even as now, they are honored as men of energy and enter prise, and citizens of great value and noble worth; as gentlemen whose presence confers honor upon any location in which their lot may be cast.
It cannot be said of the picture Mr. Adams has make of "Plano as it was, Plano as it is, Plano as it can, should, and must be," that it is over-wrought or too brilliantly colored, for nature has ambrobrotyped upon her own face, the picture of a place of importance in the social and commercial world, and dubbed it Plano.
Situated on a high, rolling and fertile prairie, with Big and Little Rock Creeks on either hand, and in close proximity to both, with water power for milling and mechanical purposes, sufficient to supply the wants of this region for a century to come; the banks of both of which streams are skirted with an abundance of all kinds of timber growth ample flora all ordinary purposes, and of supply inexhaustible, form its constant increase; with as rich an agricultural surrounding as the sun shines upon, and as intelligent and competent farmers as till any soil on earth; with the best Real Road in the West, binding her in iron bonds to "all the world, and the rest of mankind;" and another Road soon to pass within her corporate limits; with all these advantages everything otherwise being equal, Plano must become a large and important point for commerce.
But while nature has done so much for our town, are all other things equal? -- Do we, as citizens equally interested in the prosperity of our community, actuated by the nobler impulses of our nature, and in obedience to the dictum of that higher law, which bids us "Do to others as we would that others should do unto us:' do we, I ask, in our intercourse with each other in the various relations of life, predicate our actions upon that broad and fundamental principle, that whatever benefits one individual in the community, to a greater or lesser degree, confers a benefit upon all the rest? Rather, does not an envious, a jealous, a monopolizing spirit find a preponderance in the hearts of some of us, and does not that groveling and contemptible spirit lead us into acts which the man within us scorns? Has not that spirit of fate been busy in our village and has it not caused to be dragged from midst, by our highest judicial officers, one of our best, most unoffending citizens and neighbors; a man whom none accuse of anything worse or more criminal than the possession of a heart open; liberal and generous, and too much so, indeed, as recent events have proved. Is not the tongue of detraction and sander busy in its determination to destroy the business and private reputation of some of our citizens, and are there not those among us, who with a smiling countenance, a manner all affability, and a tongue coated all over with sweet oil and soft soap, are still striking the dagger to the heart of their victim?
If this state of doings does really exist -- and I challenge any man to disprove it -- will it not militate against the best interests of our town, by driving good and useful men from among us, and leaving the business of the place in the hands of one or two men with some capital, and more dispositions to augment that 'some,' at any hazard? Can we gather no lessons from passages in the past of a man's life, to enable us to predict what its future may be?
There is something prophetic in the remarks of Mr. Adams, which I quote, and comment to the serious consideration of every citizen: "Should the spirit of rivalry, jealousy, envy or the like, spring up among you at this posture of the affairs of Plano, where the most perfect union and harmony is needed to render you all prosperous, it would be a serious calamity.
Now, Sir, I hesitate not to say, that that spirit, or rather those evil spirits are rife amongst us and doing their ruinous work, and if not speedily checked, will work out the serious calamity predicted.
But, can the evil be checked? Yes, easily! Let every honorable man and woman -- every friend of the interests of our community, every one who despises meanness in all its forms, just stamp in large and burning character, upon the fore-head of the meddler with other men's business; the bearer of evil reports to prejudice his neighbor's welfare, the letters D. R., and give suck a creature a wide berth and a good letting alone; neither trade with him nor give him employment. ... treat him with cold neglect and scorn, thus showing him that his conduct and himself is contemptible, and whatever his name and station in society, whatever his wealth or poverty may be, he will reform and beg for mercy, or leave the place he only curses by his presence, and when he has reformed or gone, in the language of Mr. Adams, "the future of Plano need not remain involved in dark mystery. It requires the ken of no astute prophet to declare with the certainty of truth what this location will be, whenever it shall be the united, determined purpose of every citizen to make it, what it can and ought to be. A just degree of local interest -- properly demonstrated -- in which all that is assimilative in all the ramifications of society shall be employed with just conceptions of local fidelity, and you will see the stream of every branch of business -- every department of science -- every art -- every department of learning -- every social, moral and educational association for elevation, improvement and refinement, receive new and permanent impulses, and the sun of prosperity, peace and happiness throw a halo of bliss o'er every household and fill every coffer with the awards of honor and love.'
I trust we shall all live to see the "good time coming,' thus predicted for Plano, but come it cannot, until certain evils are reformed , and certain excesses are excised and then no power on earth can stay the tide of prosperity which shall flow into the City of Plano.
Now, Mr. Editor, it is said of the wind of the Good Book, that 'we hear the sound there, but cannot tell whence it cometh, or whither it Goethe.' So with this article it has a source and a direction and if any are exercised in mind about it or feel as if they were touched in a tender place and are anxious to be informed sufficiently so as to enquire over their own name or names in the Journal, he or they shall be posted through the same medium as the writer, his object in writing, the persons written about, with a few reminiscences of their past history.
Plano, Jan. 24, 1857
Jan. 31, 1857 - Answer to VINDEX
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L . Steward
For the Kendall County Journal
"There was a man in our town
and he was wondrous wide;
He jumped into a brier bush
And scratched out both is eyes."
As the sun sand behind the horizon and darkness had thrown its mantle over all the fire was bright within' the lamp was lighted, and all things wore a quiet night. I drew an easy chair, picked up a Plano paper and sit me down to glean a few ideas therefrom. In reading it through my eyes rested on the piece headed " A few Thoughts about Plano."
Now, as I have quite a home feeling, and a feeling of pride as regards home things, and especially our active, thriving little town of Plano, I was surprised on reading the piece. I came to the conclusion that its source was from an over heated brain of a person the very embodiment of jealousy, envy, hate, selfishness, &c. Perhaps something had gone wrong with him through the day, something to rile his feeling, and he had been "nursing his wrath to keep it warm."
Thus such feeling as he asserts, exist here, I have not the least doubt, had I have had, the reading of that piece would have removed them. And where they exist, is in the very breast of the writer. -- The name which he has signed is false' he is not a defender or a protector, but rather the aggressor -- the first one to pitch battle.
As I finished reading, I leaned my head against the chair and began to think and as my feelings became more calm and I dreamed a dream which I will relate as well as I can.
I thought by some means or other as I left Plano and was gone for some time -- some three or four years -- and when I returned with all my home feelings stirred within my breast, thinking of that lovely spot which time nor change could never obliterate. all things seeming dearer to me for my absence, what were my feelings on looking around me to find Plano almost deserted. The paths where I had so often trod was nearly grown over with weeds and grass, plainly showing that there the foot of men at least, seldom trod. the houses that I had left looking so neat and homelike were now covered over with moss -- quite dilapidated and nearly forsaken. The farmers had ceased to bring their loads of grain, and the ware houses were of no avail.
The "iron horse" had ceased to halt, bringing with it its cheerful, bustling air, depositing and receiving loads, in fact, Plano was no longer a depot, but a deserted village which the surrounding country shunned as if it were infested with a pestilence.
Even Providence had ceased to smile upon it' the fields no longer bro't forth fruit; it was either blighted by the frosts of winter, or the scorching suns of summer' not a flower in nook or corner, but thorns and thistles flourished everywhere; the wheels of the mill stood still and powerless; no grain to grind and no water to grind it with. Tis true there were a few of the inhabitants -- yes, the business of the place was left in the hands of one or two just with some capital and more disposition to augment that some at any hazard, but of what avail was that disposition to the ... over with sweet oil and soft soap had ceased to have influence; their neighbors had fled; there were none to trade with them or give them employ; their goods lay mouldering on the shelves, the letters D. R. were stamped upon their fore heads and all things wore a .. aspect. One of the dejected beings came along and I inquired the cause; he looked up in astonishment and replied; "have you not heard that Vindex had removed his establishment -- transferred to some other locality, thereby removing his influence; and that is was produced the fall of Plano."
I sat me down in despair to give vent to my over burdened feelings in a flood of tears, when a cray from the cradle awoke me to the sterner duties of life: I found Plano all right , and came to the conclusions that Plano with its business men would do as the mood did when the dog looked at it: go right on as if nothing had happened. Jane S. Henning
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