The pictures of the Hanna barn at the north edge of Lanark printed last week in PDQ Me was of the barn raised to build a lower floor under it with the old becoming a loft and roof, have been suitably welcomed to rural views of the county. The undated photos were probably taken prior to World War I . . . The ladies are still in long dresses. The barn seen this week is the contemporary version of the one last week.
The lob cabin once stood a little to the northeast of the barn on a little “knob” jutting out and up on the south side of Straddle Creek. The dilapidated old log house is shown in other views and sometimes labelled “1834, stage stop” ...etc. but in the 1878 Carroll County history it reports that William Daniels came in 1837 to make a claim near present day Lanark. “It was a pioneer claim away out beyond the frontier line of settlement and was considered a bold move.”
There was no timber for shelter or fuel other than a couple miles away at Cherry Grove or Garner’s Grove to the northwest. Years ago Don Shaner, Lanark, did an archeological dig at the cabin site and did discover several “artifacts” that indicated activity there.
The trail and stage line probably crossed Straddle Creek a little east and though the cabin may not have been the “official” inn, it may have taken in travelers.
With the Cherry Grove House and later Garner’s Inn more likely to have stagecoach people stop, the horses changed, etc., they just northwest on the ridge.
The trail ran diagonally across Carroll County from Chamber’s Grove (near Brookville) to Crain’s Grove (the fort) then onwards to Galena and the lead mines. In the early day the legend grew that, was it Isaac Chambers who was short and squat(?) bet a team of surveyors that there was no need for a bridge crossing the creek because it could be straddled and in showing them with a foot on either side of the stream, couldn’t swing back again and fell, kersplash, into the water. Or as another version told, the pony under the bettee walked out from under him when he did straddle the creek. Either tale told the basic story. The history book goes on to say that in 1878 the younger generation being so refined that in polite society, Straddle Creek wouldn’t do so it was called Carroll Creek in some environs or at Mount Carroll, the Waukarusa! Straddle Creek, however, is so Midwestern, we’ll keep it as a unique identification.
The log cabin has been razed long ago but the venerable barn still stands for us to be attracted to for its infamy as a still in the 1930’s. Before that, it a roomy horse barn. William Hanna’s contribution of last week’s pictures is appreciated. Some of the balance of his letter is printed herewith. It tells of changing times and a part of our history long past. Mr. Hanna had begun a book and this was to be part of it.
“Living in small town Milledgeville was a real change from our war time home in Ozark, Alabama and I soon began discovering the past. Here were Dad’s Hanna cousins like the village clerk, “Gabe” and Desa, a former head nurse at a large Chicago hospital, had come home to take care of her father, my Dad, Uncle George. She spent the remainder of life in Milledgeville and was a stalwart member of the Brethren Church. I recall her prayers as lasting forever in Sunday School. Before the war when Memorial Day came, at first, years back we were able to go to the Bethel Cemetery just outside of town to decorate the grave of Grandad William and Grandma Emma’s, Dad’s brothers who had died in infancy and great-grandfather Gabriel and his wife, Eliza Ann. The graves of my departed ancestors there at Bethel, at Mt. Carroll and Lanark where my Dad’s grandad, George Spanogle and his wives, and my mother’s family, were buried, soon made me realize why my mother felt so much at home in Illinois for as I have now learned people live in your memory and the decoration of their graves brings solace to the living and not the dead.
“My first car, an old “Model A,” added to my family history when Dad told my brother, Pat, and I that he had given a “vital tool,” needed to fix the Model A specifically to Bill Ewers, Milledgeville. It was a valve clamping wrench. Bill had been a friend of Dad’s for years and had been one of grandad’s hired men. Bill showed us how to fix our car and then told us how grandad could figure by the train car loads the quantities of lumber for building and how the box stalls in his barn north of Lanark which we had always heard the story of with its story of the infamous still after we’d sold it. And how the stalls were made of solid walnut timbers. That barn was known to my brothers and me because my dad had a postcard of it. Grandad had taken the Lanark barn and built a lower floor with box stalls and constructing an inclined plane, using a steam engine to place the old on top of the new floor to serve as a roof and loft. This must have been a local event because postcards were made of it like Dad had and were sold in Lanark.
“The effort and pride Grandad took in building that Lanark barn were a reflection of how much love he had for horses. We all knew of Grandad’s love for horses from the stories Dad told us. He would buy a train car load of them and advertise sales, this just before World War I when others had been selling their teams and wagon horses in favor of cars and steam engines. (He had one, too.) Grandad kept buying horses and when the war came on he made considerable money selling horses to the Army at Camp Grant. Dad would tell of the small Arabian horse Grandad had bought him and because Dad had grown to six foot three, the pony could almost walk between his legs. Grandad was one of the first to bring in Belgian horses. (One was named Echo). He had a beautiful team of them and made them available for stud. One night a mare was left in the barn and one of the Belgians, not wanting to wait till morning, kicked and broke down stalls, doing considerable damage to the stalls which Grandad kept varnished and cleaner than some homes.
“His love for horses was too great for him ever to accept gasoline driven cars. Dad told us that Grandad did buy a car and drove it home but ran into a hitching post. He called the dealer and told him to come get the car. Till he died he kept a beautiful carriage and team of horses. He also had “Coach dogs” or Dalmatians. The Coach dogs lived in the barn with the horses and would run alongside the carriage to chase away any dogs that would run out after them to spook them. The Dalmatians would chase them away in turn. Most people don’t realize that’s why Fire Department’s hook and ladders and hose carts originally had Dalmatians and became a tradition with fire companies.”
That is the end of the segment Mr. Hanna sent us, that about the “Lanark barn” he’d sent pictures of for us to see, the barn in its unusual raising. We appreciate knowing the “human” stories behind a picture. And every picture has history. Write it down.