Hiram E. Leonard

For those of you following our blog of Hiram Leonard’s diary through the Civil War years, many have asked about Hiram’s constant illness. Please enjoy learning a little more about the beloved shop-keeper turned weather reporter who has brought us as much information about the days that he lived as he has about his ill health.  Please also join us this Sunday evening at our 7th Annual Cemetery Walk to learn more about two of Hiram’s housekeepers, Mary Wray and Caroline McNelly Wray, who later became Hiram’s wife. For more information about the walk see our earlier post here http://warrenvillehistorical.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/seventh-annual-cemetery-walk/.

Hiram grew up in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, in the town of North Adams. As many people in the 19th century followed chain migration west, Hiram followed his Massachusetts neighbors, the Carpenters, west to Warrenville in 1835. Abel and Philo Carpenter had made the initial journey to Chicago in 1832. Philo was coaxed further west by a Julius Warren, a New Yorker selling off his recently settled land in the new town of Warrenville. Abel would soon follow and start Warrenville’s first general store and marry one of Julius Warren’s sisters. News of promising new ventures spread quickly back to North Adams where times were difficult for many. Hiram Leonard joined the group of Easterners heading west in the hopes of success.

Hiram E. Leonard

Hiram E. Leonard

As a bachelor, Hiram moved to Chicago at the age of 25 and clerked in Philo Carpenter’s drug store for a short period of time before buying land from Abel Carpenter in Warrenville and striking out on his own. Hiram’s home at 3S381 Winfield Road was finished in 1838 and he began helping cultivate the businesses of the growing town of Warrenville. Hiram was a man of all trades, cutting hair, writing deeds, repairing clocks, and grafting fruit trees. Officially he was a justice of the peace, but also worked as a broom manufacturer, merchant, druggist and post office master.

With many jobs and endeavors to pursue, Hiram was a busy, busy man. In 1859 his own store was built and opened on Big Woods Road near the river, present day 28W180 Warrenville Road. Not only did his constant work tire and stress Hiram, but he also dealt with many personal trials that no doubt added to his burden. Hiram’s sister was also mentally-ill for most of her life. Hiram took care of her and ensured that she had round-the-clock caretakers. The stress of nursing his sister is clear from his journal. She was eventually committed in the summer of 1862 and as the devoted brother, Hiram saw her to the mental institution in St. Louis.

Although Hiram was a bachelor, for many years he had helped his housekeeper, Mary Wray’s family. He raised her two children and provided all that he could for the entire family. After her death, Hiram continued to care for the family. When her son, William went off to war in 1862, Hiram employed his wife Caroline and helped her care for her son. William, like many Civil War soldiers tragically perished in the bloody battle between North and South. Hiram continued to care for Caroline and her son, William Wray, Jr. and at the age of 64 he married her, a widow just 35 years of age. When Hiram died on November 6, 1878 at the age of 68, Caroline and her family inherited his property. His home stayed in the Wray family for many years after.

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, October 13 – 19, 1864

“13th Thursday fine weather for the season. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & sick & downhearted.

“14th Friday fine cloudy weather. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ tiard lonely [in margin] Carpenter got home from Massachusetts.

“16th Sunday rather a fine day but cloudy in afternoon & evening. I did my choars & went after my cows below Hunts new school house, my cows got out of Hoyts into Carpenters & Waddle turned them into the road. I hunted till near noon, I picked a few apples what I had, & choared round the house did my choars went to office in evening came home early & went to bed about 9 nearly sick had been all day slep but little last night [in margin] Mrs Stone stayed with Leb.

“17th Monday rather fine weather for the season, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick & lonesome.

“18th Tuesday rather fine weather for Oct I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ and went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick. Mrs. Potter & Charly had been at home all day she was more pleasant & I was more at home—than for the last 6 months [in margin] all was right for the first since April.

“19th Wednesday rather fine weather for the season. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home at 8 ½ went to bed at 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, October 6 – 12, 1864

“6th Thursday A cold cloudy squalley day & evening. I did my choars was at the office all day evening came home at 8 ½ went to bed at 9 ½ lonely & sick. Daniel Jones got here on furlough.

“7th Friday A cold raw squally day with _______ I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ½ went to bed 9 ½ sick [in margin] _______ John Lewis at Naperville.

“8th Saturday rather fine cold weather for October. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home 8 ½ went to bed at 9 ½ nearly sick [in margin] Eliz had a letter from George.

“9th Sunday A cold morning froz some a fine cool day & evening. I did my choars was round the house the most of the day fixing corn crib & hog pen, went to the office between 11 & 12 wrote some in evening & went to bed between 8 & 9 tiard & sick.

“10th Monday rather fine weather for the season. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ lonely & sick.

“11th Tuesday rather fine weather for the season. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ nearly sick & lonely.

“12th Wednesday rather fine for the season. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & sick.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, September 29 – October 5, 1864

“29th Thursday rather fine cool weather for Sept. I did my choars was at the store all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & sick.

“30th Friday rather a cloudy damp disagreeable day. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed 9 ½ tiard lonely & about sick.

“October 1st Saturday A cool cloudy damp day & evening. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & sick.

“2nd Sunday rather a fine day & evening but some cloudy. I did my choars was round home all day went to office twice came home & went to bed about 9 nearly sick. A Wellman was here, I turned my cows into Hoyts lot & brought Hoyts bedclothes home with me.

“3rd Monday rather fine cold weather for Oct. I did my choars was at the office all day & in evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick.

“4th Tuesday rather fine weather & pretty dry. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ¼ went to bed 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick.

“5th Wednesday fine cool dry weather. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick with trouble. Bostwick shelled my corn over one hundred bushels.”

Seventh Annual Cemetery Walk

The Warrenville Historical Society is happy to announce “Dead Men Talking – And Some Women – VII,” which will be held on Sunday, October 19, 2014. The outdoor 45 minute tours will start every 15 minutes beginning at 6:00p.m. with the last tour at 7:30p.m. Tours are given on a first come first serve basis. For those not wishing to walk through the cemetery, a presentation by the interpreters will be given at 5:00p.m. in Trinity Lutheran Church.

cemetery image

During this year’s event, heroes of Warrenville and the history of their families will be highlighted, including those who helped found the Warrenville Fire District, which celebrated its 75th Anniversary this year, and Warrenville veterans from the War of 1812, the Civil War and World War I.

Singers performing historic songs during the 2013 cemetery walk.

Singers performing historic songs during the 2013 cemetery walk.

Cemetery tours begin at the Warrenville Cemetery, located on the north side of Warrenville road between Curtis and Warren, Warrenville, Illinois. Luminaries will light the way to lantern-lit gravesites where costumed interpreters will tell the stories of Warrenville citizens who lived 150 years ago in 1864, during the long second year of the American Civil War. Tour admission is free but donations will be accepted and are appreciated. All donations benefit the Warrenville Historical Society. Parking is available at Trinity Lutheran Church located at the N/W corner of Curtis and Warrenville Rds. Refreshments will be served at Trinity Lutheran Church after the tours.

 

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, September 22 – 28, 1864

“22nd Thursday A fine day but warm for Sept I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ tiard & went to bed at 9 ½ tiard lonely & about sick. Mrs Potter went to Mr Owens.

“23rd Friday fine but some cloudy & rained in afternoon I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & sick.

“24th Saturday A cool cloudy damp morning but a fine cold day & night froze. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick. Mrs Potter went to Pelhams & Lanes to stay over night.

“25th Sunday rather a fine cool cloudy day & evening I did my choars was at the house amost all day went to the office after breckfust choared round was about sick went to bed about 9 tiard lonely & sick. Mrs Potter was at Pelhams & Lanes all day, got home at ___.

“26th Monday rather fine weather for the season I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick & lonely [in margin] fair at Wheaton commenced.

“27th Tuesday fine weather for the season I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick.

“28th Wednesday rather fine weather for Sept I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home at about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & sick [in margin] A Wellman came at 2 oclock.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, September 15 – 21, 1864

“15th Thursday A fine pleasant morning but dry I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick & lonesome as can be. George Potter started in the stage to go to Chicago to go back to his Regt at Little Rock Arcanses, his wife felt bad.

“16th Friday rather fine weather but some cloudy I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick [in margin] Go. Potter left Chicago tonight.

“17th Saturday rather a fine day but some cloudy & windy. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 9 & soon went to bed tiard lonely & sick Mrs Potter walked up to Mrs L Kenyons started about 4 oclock in afternoon.

“18th Sunday rather a cloudy morning with a light sprinkle rather a fine day but some cloudy I did my choars was at home all the forenoon a writing & choaring round I went about 2 oclock to Kenyons after Mrs Potter, got back towards night went to bed about 9 nearly sick.

“19th Monday rather fine weather for the season but dry I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick.

“20th Tuesday rather fine weather for the season I did my choars was at the office the most of the day came home about 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick [in margin] Geo Potter started from Kankakee to go to Regt A T Jones was married about this time.

“21st Wednesday fine dry weather for Sept, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick etc.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, September 8 – 14, 1864

“8th Thursday fine weather but dry I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ tiard sick & lonely.

“9th Friday rather fine weather. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & sick.

“10th Saturday fine weather but dry I did my choars was at the office all day & in evening came home 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick [in margin] George P. got home from Chicago.

“11th Sunday A fine day for Sept I did my choars was at the house all day & in the evening choaring round went to office twice came home and went to bed at 9 nearly sick H Goulds wife went up to Cals, George & Elizabeth went up to 3.

“12th Monday A fine day I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ nearly sick tiard & lonely, George Potter is a getting ready to go back next Thursday to his Regt.

“13th Tuesday rather fine weather for Sept I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick.

“14th Wednesday fine weather but dry I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick [in margin] George & wife to Griffeths.”

Annual Meeting featuring lecture on the history of St. James Farm, Monday, September 8, 2014 at 7PM

On Monday, September 8 at 7PM at the Historical Museum, 3S530 Second Street, the Historical Society will hold its Annual Meeting and invites the public to attend a quick business meeting to hear about the programs of the Society followed by a presentation on the history of St. James Farm by Kevin Davis.

What is known today as St. James farm was an area that played an important role in the early settlement of DuPage County. Please enjoy this except from Leone Schmidt’s The Life and Times of Warrenville about the first settlers in DuPage County and the troubles they faced in their first years in the area.

“Spring 1832 saw the west branch of the DuPage Rive dotted with settlements extending north as far as what we know now as Winfield Township of DuPage County.

“The first settler in present-day DuPage County, Bailey Hobson, came from Indiana on horseback in May 1830..the next settlement on the DuPage was ‘Napiersville.’ After having made an exploratory trip in February, Joseph Napier captained his ship the Telegraph from Ashtabula, Ohio on May 31, 1831, landing in Chicago July 15. With him was his brother John, and Lyman Butterfield, Harry Wilson, John Murray, and their families. They went at once to the site previously selected, on the DuPage River about four miles north of Bailey Hobson…

“The honor of ‘first’ within the boundaries later established for Winfield Township goes to Erastus Gary-grandson of Josiah Gary and son of William Gary, both ex-Revolutionary soldiers. William, a school teacher and farmer, had died at the age of 51 when Erastus, the third of seven children, was only eleven. After a few years of eking out a meager existence from the 13 acres of rocky soil that had been his allotment from the family estate, at the age of 25 he sold his share to his elder brother Charles and left Connecticut in 1831. He traveled by horse or carriage as far as St. Joseph, Michigan and then crossed the lake in a canoe to Chicago and continued 28 miles further west (probably on foot) where he staked out 640 acres-the present location of McCormick’s St. James Farm. Too late in the season for breaking sod, he returned to St. Joseph to teach school during the winter. In the spring he paddled back in a homemade dug-out with three fellow travelers.

early warrenville map copy

“Hardly had Erastus turned over an acre of new rich soil when the Sauk’s war whoop pierced the air. Black Hawk was openly repudiating the treaty that had been signed by Keokuk and other chiefs of the Sacs and Foxes agreeing to vacate their Illinois lands lying between the Rock River and the Mississippi. On April 6 he crossed the Mississippi into Illinois and led a march northeast along the Rock River…”

Many of the settlers fled to Fort Dearborn, in Chicago, for protection from the fighting. Women and children spent the entire summer confined in the Fort, while the men protected their recent claims and attempted to plant and care for their fields.

“The war was short-lived, and after the surrender of Black Hawk at Bad Axe, Wisconsin August 3, Captain Naper’s company was mustered out on August 15 and the settlers went back to their claims to start over again.”

Five years later the Garys established a settlement in present day West Chicago near Route 59 and Roosevelt Road. Erastus Gary became an influential man in DuPage County and worked with the Wheaton brothers to shape the town of Wheaton’s development and growth. Erastus’s son, Elbert Gary, became a leading steel man, creating the town of Gary, Indiana, for the sole purpose of making steel.

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, September 1 – 7, 1864

“September 1st Thursday rather a fine day & evening I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed 9 ½ tiard lonely & nearly sick. Robert Millard Jr got to his fathers here about 5 oclock this morning & his father died about 8-3/4 this forenoon.

“2nd Friday Rather fine weather for Sept but dry I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ and went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick etc Robert Millards funeral was today at 2 oclock at Baptist house Elder Ofield preached.

“3rd Saturday A pretty fine day but some cloudy. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 10 oclock & soon went to bed tiard & sick.

“4th Sunday rather a fine morning but cloudy I did my choars was at the house the most of the day a choaring round was at the office twice & fixed straw stack etc went to bed about 9, nearly sick & lonely, it rained a little between one & two.

“5th Monday rather fine weather for the season. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 tiard lonely & sick.

“6th Tuesday fine weather for Sept but rather dry I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick [in margin] George went to Chicago got his eyes doctered.

“7th Wednesday fine weather for the season I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ tiard & sick, lonely as can be.”

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