From Bent-Wilson History Book, 1877
Posted by Dana Fellows
Portland originally formed a part of
Crow Creek Precinct, and in March, 1837, was placed into a precinct called Prophetstown by the Commissioners Court
of Ogle county, to which Whiteside was then attached. At that time Prophetstown Precinct included all of Whiteside
county lying south of Rock River. Upon petition being made the Commissioners in March, 1838, changed the name of
the Precinct to that of Portland, to include the same territory. In 1840 this precinct was subdivided, a part being
named Rapids Precinct, and a part Prophetstown Precinct, the balance retaining it original name. The present
township of Portland comprises all that part of Congressional township 19 north, range 3 east, as lies south of
Rock river, and also fractional parts of sections 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36 in Congressional township
19 north, range 3 east, as lies south of Rock river, and contains 22,243 acres of land. The soil is for the most
part a sandy loam, and the surface generally level. There are some sloughs in the township one of which, called the
Big Slough, runs along its eastern border, continuing its course through Henry County to green river, its whole
length being about twenty miles. A good quality of building stone is found on sections 17 and 25. The township also
contains a considerable quantity of timber land. Before the settlement of the white man the township was a favorite
hunting ground of the Indians, as the prairie, extending to Eight Mile Grove in Henry county, abounded in deer, and
Rock river, which bounds it on the north afforded an abundance of fish. Near the village of Portland, on a rise of
ground called Thunderbolt Hill, in honor of an Indian chief of that name, was their burying ground, and skulls are
yet frequently dug up there.
The first settlement in the township was made by Alexander J. and Norman B. Seely, in
June, 1834. These gentlemen made claims where the Village of Portland now stands. Mitchell Ruxton also came that
year, and these three comprised the whole population of the township in 183l4. The improvements made that year,
consisted of a shanty put up by Norman B. Seely, in the grove, in which he remained all winter. The high water in
the spring drove him out of it, and he then dug a hole in the ground for a habitation where he remained until the
4th of July, 1835, when he erected his log house. He had also a few acres of breaking.
The year 1835 was a memorable one in the history of Portland. The letters written
back to the East by the few who came in 1834, and the glowing accounts the messengers gave of the wonderful
beauties of the Rock River Valley, caused the tide of immigration to flow in, the arrivals commencing as early as
June . Among the first to reach the new land of promise, were Horace Burke, Simeon Fuller, and P. Baechus Besse.
Mr. Burke made his claim a little to the northwest of where Spring Hill now stands; Simeon Fuller a few miles east
of Burke, and P. Bacehus Besse still farther east, near the village where he now lives, During the summer Alphonzo
Brook, W. H. Cushman, Joyce Avery, John Smith Rowe, Robert Getty, Simeon Cliaffe. George Straton came, and the
settlement extended along the margin of the river through the town. Joy Avery made the first settlement on the
Dutch Bottom, at what is now the Reis farm. Late in the fall John Baxter, Christian Benson and Ransom Burgess came
and settled on the Bottom at first but moved to the higher ground. Nothing was raised the first year, and the
supplies were obtained from Knox county. The nearest mill was on Spoon river, at Ellisville, Fulton county. Mr.
Burke procured his first spring wheat that fall at Canton, Fulton county, and his first potatoes at Rock Island,
bringing the latter up in a canoe. But little breaking was done, as the settlers had all they could do to provide
shelter for the Winter. and put up hay for their stock
The year 1836 made an addition of about thirty families to Portland, and it probably
then contained more white persons than all the rest of the County Among those who assisted materially in the
development of the town were Daniel Blaisdell - who was one of the early County Commissioners, Levi Fuller, Sr.,
Robert Thompson, John S. Logan, James Rowe, Allen Tuller, Guy Ray, Hiram Harmon, Rodney Besse, Dr. Wm. Price, and
Dr. Wm. Maxwell, the latter settling in he county line of Henry county, and were the first physicians in the
neighborhood. They were of the old school and believed in the potency of calomel. The perusal of one of their
bills, which will be found on page 86 of this volume, cannot fail of convincing even one of the regulars that the
first settlers were men of iron constitutions, They were educated men, and had an extensive practice for several
years. Dr. Maxwell is dead and Dr. Price when 1ast heard from was in Ohio. Guy Ray brought in a few goods, and
opened the first store in the town, but did not replenish after selling out his stock. The settlements of that year
extended principally around Spring Hill. Jacob Arnett and Lewis Rink made claims in the timber on section 35, near
the county line, but did not actually settle until the next year. Some crops of grain, sod corn, and potatoes were
raised that year. bu5 not enough for home consumption. The prairie, however, was broken, and fields fenced along
the the river road to Rock Island, so that the place began to assume appearances of civilization. The season was
not very propitious for crop raising, being wet and cold, and the following winter was noted as being very severe.
A man by the name of Bowen was frozen to death between Prophetstown and Dyson's farm in Hume. The Presidential
election in 1836 was as warmly participated in by the voters of Portland as by those of the older and more refined
portions of the nation. The polls were held at the house of Horace Burke, the election being the first held in
Whiteside county. The vote was not large, yet it was that of a respectable people asserting their rights as
American freemen. The names of the voters, as near as can be ascertained, are as follows: Asa Crook. Theron Crook,
John W. Stakes, N.G. Reynolds, P. Bacchus Besse, Norman B. Seely, Alexander J. Seely, Wm. Hill Sr., Wm. D. Dudley,
Adam R. Hamilton, Chauncey B. Woodruff, John Baxter, C. Benson, Jason Hopkins, Hezekiah Brink, John Freek, John
Fenton, Simeon Fuller, and Levi Fuller, Sr. At that time Whiteside, formed a part of Jo Daviess county. The returns
were given to Solomon M. Seely, a boy then ten years of age, and son of Col. B. Seely, and being mounted on an
Indian pony, he was told to deliver them to John Dixon, at Dixon's Ferry, who would put them in charge of the stage
driver for Galena. The distance to be traveled was twenty-eight miles, with nothing to follow but an Indian trail,
and not a house on the route between Prophetstown and Dixon. On reaching what was then known as the nine mile run
(nine miles west of Dixon), he found it full and running over: but having been told to place the returns into the
hands of Uncle John Dixon he knew it must be done. The weather was cold and freezing, yet he boldly plunged his
pony into the stream and had him swim across. On reaching Dixon's house his clothes were frozen to his person, but
by the motherly care of Mother Dixon he Was put in a proper condition to return the next morning.
In 1837 Portland received an addition of about twenty-five men, a large portion
bringing families. Among them were John Kempster, who settled on he Dutch Bottom where he now resides. Lewis Arnett
with his sons Jacob, William, Joseph, George, Anthony and John all of whom settled near the county line. Reuben
Hurd, Horace Hurd, Daniel F. Cole, A. T. Bracken, Robert Woodside, James Graham, John P. Welding. James Crozier, D.
Porter Brewer, Jeremiah H. Johnson and Hiram McKenzie, the latter now living in Yorktown, Bureau county. All of
these parties have descendants now living in Portland.
They were men of good standing and contributed much to the development of the town.
Nathaniel Norton, now a capitalist in Chicago, came also in 1837, and bought the claim of W. H. Cushman, opening a
store at his house where he sold goods for several years. He afterwards sold the farm to Mr. Guild, who in turn
sold to L. C. Underwood. Dr. Richard Brown was another arrival, and practiced his profession for some time. Two
school houses were built this year, one near the village of Portland, and the other near the Sharon church, both
being of logs. George Hamilton put up the first frame house in the township this year, covering it with split
shakes. He afterwards sold it to D. Porter Brewer. The house is still standing. The election in 1837 was held at
the residence of Mr. Burke and with the exception of the election of 1840, it was held there until 1856, when it
was changed to Spring Hill.
In 1838, Portland received a further accession to its population of about twenty
families who settled mostly in and around the village. John Laird opened a farm near Burke's and Fred Knapper one
on the Bottom. All the lands along the timber, and about Spring Hill, were covered by claims, the prairie south of
the latter place not being considered valuable at that time, as it was hemmed in by sloughs, and remote from
timber. During this year Job Dodge, not then of age, came into the town with a peddlers wagon and sold notions to
the inhabitants during the summer, and in the winter following opened a store in Portland village. The next summer
he again commenced peddling, and so continued alternately peddling and keeping store until 1848. The currency at
that time consisted mostly of coon skins, and with some, about all the necessaries of life were considered to be
tobacco and whiskey; still Mr. Dodge kept a few luxuries like calico and coffee, and managed to get along until the
stock of hogs increased so that a few could be spared, when he commenced packing pork and shipping it to St. Louis,
by the way of Albany. He bought pork for $1.50 per hundred. In 1841, he moved his store and goods to
In 1839, the settlements began to extend considerably. Hiram Underhill, David
Underhill, and Benjamin Dow, settled at Jefferson Corners. Alonzo Davis, who had been living at Prophetstown, made
a claim at the same place. James Graham opened a farm on the road running south from the village of Portland.
Philip Rapp, Christopher Rapp, and Anderson Crozier settled on the county line. Walter Young and Amos Young settled
near Spring Hill, and altogether the town received an accession of fifteen families. The summer of 1839 was hot and
dry, and bilious fever, and fever and ague prevailed to a great extent. During that season a trading boat owned by
Mr. Cobb run up and down Rock river, and supplied the settlers with such necessaries as they required, especially
ague cures and which were in great demand. A Dr. Sappington of St. Louis, also sent an agent into the township with
his then celebrated pills. He traveled on a large mule, selling pills and establishing agencies, and the Doctor got
rich fast. Corn, wheat, oats, and potatoes were produced in sufficient quantities for home use, and hogs and cattle
became plenty so that settlers could sell at the nearest market, which made Portland a prosperous place. The grist
were yet mostly taken to the mill on Edwards river, at Andover, Henry county.
The immigration was not very large in l84O, During that year work was being
prosecuted on the various lines of railroads, and as Portland was not on any of the routes, it gained but little in
the way of population. Considerable improvement, however was otherwise made. Large crops of wheat and corn were
raised and hogs became plenty, so that the settlers had considerable to sell. The Presidential election of this
year created great excitement in Portland, as well as elsewhere. The temperance movement had not at that time
reached the West, and the campaign was conducted on the corn juice basis. Hardly a gathering of any kind was held
without whiskey being furnished in abundance. Not even a house or barn raising, or bee of any kind, could be
without it. It even assisted in the cause of education, as it is related that the first male teacher in the town
took a portion of his salary in a half barrel of whiskey.
In 1841, Marvin Frary and Richard Potter built a distillery at the foot of
Thunderbolt Hill, but having no means for grinding the grain, sent it to Haines mill in Union Grove Precinct,
twelve miles distant. When the distillery was finished and the "tangle-foot" ready, the question arose who should
have the honor of tasting the first drop of the home production. The lot fell to one David Furgeson, who laid upon
his back, with his mouth open under the end of the worm. As it took some time to get the machine started. Ferguson
became impatient and called loudly to Frary to fire up, as he was getting awful dry. The enterprise did not prove a
profitable one, as Ohio whiskey was worth only from 12 to 15 cents a gallon in St. Louis and it did not last long.
As an offset to this the good people of the lower part of the town built a meeting-house, known as the Sharon
church, which cost about $800. Nathaniel Norton contributed more than half of the amount. The building was a good
one and is standing to this day, being the only church edifice in town. Robert Getty , J.S. Logan, and others, also
aided in its construction. The erection of so good a building at that early day was creditable to the people of the
town. Rev. Daniel Rockwell was the first pastor. The building is owned by the Presbyterians. The harvest 1841 was a
good one, a large surplus of winter wheat being raised, and , as the price in Chicago was over a dollar a bushel,
it was taken there and the farmers realized handsomely. The trip took about eight days with horses, and nearly two
weeks with oxen. During the months of September and October the roads were filled with teams going and returning.
Salt, lumber, and supplies for the families were brought back on the return trip.
The following are the names of the early settlers of Portland Township, with the year
of their arrival: 1834, Norman B. Seely, Alexander J. Seely, and Mitchell Ruxton; 1835, Horace Burke, Alphonzo
Brooks, Christian Benson, John Baxter, William H. Cushman, Simeon Fuller, Joy Avery, John Smith Rowe, Robert Getty,
P. Bacchus Beese, Simeon Chaffee, Ransom Burgess and George Stratton; in 1836, Daniel Blaisdell, Mason Blaisdell,
Levi Fuller, Robert Thompson, John S. Logan, James Rowe, George Warren, Jacob Arnett, Jesse Slawson, Amos Young,
John Reed, Alden Tuller, Guy Ray, Hiram Harmon, Roderick M. Besse, Israel Spencer, George Hamilton, Charles
Godfrey, Col. E. Seely, Horace E. Seely, Horatio S. Dix, Jeduthan Seely, Sen., Joseph Fitch, Dr. Willian Price, Dr.
William Maxwell, Samue1 Hall, Samuel Stark, Ephraim Brooks, Ephraim Summers and Chauncy Rowe; 1837, Lewis Arnett,
Horace Hurd, Reuben Hurd, Daniel F. Cole, Andrew F. Bracken, Robert Woodside, James Graham, Nathaniel Norton, John
P. Welding, Jamesa Crozier, Charles Tillotson, Robert Mead, Sheldon Marsh, Sanford D. Marsh, William Eastman, John
Kempster, Benjamin Smith, Thaddeus Smith, Mr. Barton, Chauncey Reynolds, D. Porter Brewer, John Bothwell, Hiram
McKenzie, Jeremiah H. Johnson, Wm. Sweet, Silas brooks, Thomas Northup, Chauncey Van Duzen and W. T. Crozier; 1838,
John Laird, Russell Warren, Richard Potter, John White, Fred Knapper, Hiram Underhill, Horce Underhill, Joseph
Reynolds, Ledoic Underhill, George McCormick, Asa Maynard and Job Dodge; 1839, Jacob Schuck, Rudolph Urick, Dr.
A.Plympton, Walter Young, Philip Rapp, Christopher Rapp, Martin Reis, Anderson Crozier, Richard Brown, William S
Crane, Theodore Wiggins, David Furguson, Alanson Barr, Benjamin Dow and William Maynard; 1840, Arbela Adams, Horace
B. Cole, Arnold Pearson and T.J. Dow; 1841, Smith Hurd, Caleb P. Lanphere and William Graham. L.C. Underwood came
to Illinois from Pennsylvania in 1832, and settled in Portland in 1846. W.P. Taber came to Illinois from New York
in 1828, and settled in Portland in 1853.
The first death in Portland was that of Myron Frary, a son of Marvin Frary, and
occurred in April, 1836. The wife of Guy Ray died September 10th of the same year.
The first child born was Mary Seely, daughter of Norman B. and Lydia Seely, her birth
occurring in September 1834. Jeannette, a daughter of Alexander and Philena Seely, was the second one, being born
in the fall of 1835.
As near as can be ascertained, Alden Tuller and Miss Harriet M. Fuller, daughter of
Simeon Fuller, were the first couple married in what is now Portland township, the event occurring in the year
The first traveled road in the township was the one used for a time as a stage route
from Dixon to Rock Island, and known more familiarly as the river road. Its line was about where the present river
road now runs. The road was laid out in 1837, Horace Burke being one of the viewers.
At the June term, 1837, of the County Commissioners Court of Ogle county, Whiteside
county being then attached to Ogle for judicial purposes, a petition was presented by Col. E. Seely and others, of
Portland , asking that viewers be appointed to locate a road from the Galena road on Rock river, near Lyman
Bennett's, in township 20 north, range 4 east, the road to commence at or near a slough in township 20 north, range
4 east; also to review a road commencing at or near a slough in townships 19 and 20 north, range 5 east, and
crossing Rock river at the town of Portland, and continuing to the south line of the county of Whiteside, the road
to be laid out free of expense to the county. Upon the reception of the petition, the Commissioners appointed A. R.
Hamilton, Ebenezer Seely, and Hiram Harmon, viewers. The viewers made return of their survey at the September term
of Court, when it was ordered that the roads be established. At the September term of the same Court, held in 1838,
it was ordered that viewers be appointed to view a road commencing at Fulton city, thence to Parker's Grove,
touching at Winchell's Grove, and crossing Rock river at the ferry of L.D. Crandall, and intersecting the Dixon and
Stephenson road in Portland precinct, near the residence of James Rowe.
Ebenezer Seely was granted a license to run a ferry across Rock river, at the town of
Portland, by the same Commissioners Court, at its June term, in 1837, the license fee being fixed at five
Nathaniel Norton laid the foundation for the first nursery in Whiteside county, by
planting seeds on his claim in Portland in 1837. The project succeeded and his trees were purchased by many of the
pioneers, thus giving them an early opportunity of setting out orchards. Col. E. Seely had a crop of apples in 1843
from trees obtained at Mr. Norton’s nursery, being probably the first apples raised in the county.
The first school in the township was taught in the summer in the summer of 1836, by
Miss Eliza Hall, in the back room of the log house put up by Norman B. Seely. About twelve children were in
attendance. Miss Hall became sick with bilious fever after teaching two months, and was obliged to retire from her
duties. The next spring Miss Lovica Hamilton was engaged, and d kept a good school that season in the same room.
The first school-house in the township was put up in the fall of 1837. It was built of logs, and stood a little
east of the old double log house of Col. Seely. A school was taught there the following winter. It was in this
school -house that many of the pioneer boys and girls of Portland received all the education they ever obtained.
Portland now boasts, in common with in common with other towns in Whiteside county, of its commodious
school-houses, where every convenience is furnished for securing an excellent common school education.
One of the notable events in the history of Portland was the tornado June 5, 1844. It
struck the town about 5 o clock in the afternoon, and came from the west, crossing Rock river at Crandall's ferry.
It must have taken the water out of the river in crossing, as large fish were afterwards found on the prairie
several miles from it. Its course was through the timber, clearing a track half a mile wide and three fourths of a
mile long and entirely destroying the trees. It struck the house of J. Smith Rowe, when the family fearing the fall
of the chimney, ran out of doors, and two of his sons were killed, one of them having a fence stake driven through
him. His daughter was also so seriously injured that she never entirely recovered. Mr. Rowe's cattle were also
killed. The next premises visited were those of Horace Burke, where it took a large frame barn that had just been
completed bodily from its foundation, and carried it over the house which had just been unroofed. As it passed
over, the wheat, oats, etc., which had been stored in it were emptied into the house. The grain was in separate
piles, which proves that the barn must have been entire when it passed over the house. The barn was demolished,
only the sills and a few of the large timber large timbers being left. There were twelve persons in Mr. Burke's
house at the time, but none were killed. The house was of logs, and being unroofed the contents were nearly all
destroyed. One of Smith Rowe’s cows was carried nearly half a mile and landed on Mr. Burke’s cook stove, still
alive, a son of Mr. Burke being seriously injured by a kick from her. Mr. Burke lost fourteen head of cattle, seven
horses, and all his hogs, and was personally injured quite seriously. The gale then struck Daniel Blaisdell's
premises, destroying everything there except a a wagon filled with grass, which was uninjured. It then visited
Robert Mead's and A.T. Bracken 's premises, its appetite still good for houses. At Mr. Bracken's it drove three
horses through a sod fence, seriously injuring them. Passing on it struck W.T. Minchins's log house at the
Prophetstown line un roofing it and also killing his stock. A wagon was taken up and carried Forty rods east of the
house, and entirely wrecked, the tire being twisted almost into knots. The pole of the wagon was found fourteen
years afterward in the big slough sixty rods west of the house, where it was driven into the mire its whole length.
A set of nice knives and forks which Mrs. Blaisdell had wrapped in flannel, was found years afterwards four miles
southeast of the house, near Jacob Arnett's. This is the first tornado in the county of which we have any record,
and its power was felt almost entirely in the town of Portland, as it did no damage further east.
Joseph Bruce and Anthony Arnett opened a store in the village of Portland about 1843
or ‘44. Solomon M. Seely and Bradford Nichols kept store at he same place, opening in the new brick building which
was erected in 1850. They continued in business for several years. Smith & Chapman also had a store there in
1854. Soon after that the trade left Portland for Prophetstown, and as Levi Fuller. Jr., had opened a store at
Spring Hill in 1853, trade at Portland was abandoned.
In 1851, a company consisting of P. B. Besse, R. M. Besse, Col. E. Seely, Arbela
Adams, George Paddock, and David D. Dickerson, was formed under the isme of the Portland Steam Mill Company, for
the purpose of sawing the fine lumber of Portland grove. The Company built a mill and run it eleven years as a saw
mill, and part of the time also as a grist mill. Frederick Dwight furnished the engine from Springfield,
Massachusetts, sending it to Peru by Lakes and Canal, and from thence it was hauled across the country to Portland
by team. The enterprise did not prove remunerative.
In 1855, Dustin Crook and David Brown opened a store at Jefferson Corners, and after
them Wm. Fitch, but they kept for only a few years, and now the only trading point in the town is at Spring Hill.
The Postoffice at Jefferson Corners was established in 1852, about the time of establishing the mail route from
Rock Island to Princeton, and Benjamin Dow was appointed the first Postmaster; John L. Marvel is the present
Spring Hill was laid out and platted about 1853, and Levi Fuller and Horace Fuller
opened a store there, the former afterwards purchasing the whole interest, and doing an extensive business until
1872, when he discontinued trade at that point. It now contains three general merchandise stores, and one hardware
store, two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, besides other mechanic shops, and a Masonic Hall. In 1869 a steam saw
and grist mill was erected but it did not prove a success. and ran only a few years. A mail route was established
from Princeton to Rock Island, running through Spring Hill. as early as 1852. Lewis D. Crandall being the mail
agent.. The first Postoffice was established at Spring Hill, in 1853, and Levi Fuller appointed Postmaster. Dr. E.
Talcott is the present Postmaster. A daily stage route from Morrison to Geneseo, Henry county, runs through the
place. A semi-weekly mail is also carried from Spring Hill to Yorktown, which supplies Jefferson Corners. Spring
Hill has a fine schoolhouse erected in 1859. Bollen Lodge, No. 412, A. F. & A. M., meets at the Masonic Hall in
Spring Hill. The Lodge was chartered October 5,1864, the following being the charter members: Thomas Bollen, Reuben
Langdon, Amos Baxter, John Riley, S. W. Morton, Alexander J. Mead, Joseph Arnett, Levi Fuller, A. S. Scott, John L.
Marvel, James M. Lanphere, & John S. Hale, The present officers of the Lodge are : John L. Marvel, W.M.; Benoni
C. Benson, S. W.; Wm. McNeil, Jr., J. W.; J.J. McNeil, S.D. ; C. C. Fuller, J. D.; Thomas Bollen, Treasurer; B. F.
Brooks, Secretary; Wm. P.Taber, S. S.; J. Timmerman, T. The Lodge has now forty members.
The first saw mill in Portland was run by man power. N. G. Reynolds and Col. E. Seely
had each brought a pit saw, and taking advantage of the hole in the ground in which Norman B. Seely had wintered in
1834, turned it into a mill by clearing it out and laying hewn timbers over it. By this means they arranged the top
and bottom sawyer, and cut lumber for the first floors laid in the cabins of the pioneers. One hundred and fifty to
two hundred feet was considered a good day’s work for each saw. Kempster’s saw mill is situated at the lower end of
the Dutch bottom, adjoining a fine body of timber, and was erected in time winter of 1855-’56 by William and Ephram
Kempster, and Jacob Butzer. The latter afterwards sold out to J. Henry Kempster, and the three brothers have
continued the business until the present time. The mill at first had a double rotary saw, the power being furnished
by a Gates engine purchased in 1855, in Chicago, which is still good. In 1872 a new mill was added, and other saws,
together with a turning lathe put in, since which turned material has been manufactured to the amount of $10,000 a
year for firms in Davenport, Iowa, and other cities. Lumber to the amount of six hundred thousand feet per year has
been sawed at this mill. Martin Reis also built a saw mill near the Kempster mill about 1853, but ran it only a few
In 1846, David B. Seely found imbedded in the bank of Rock river, at the village of
Portland, twenty-seven feet below the surface of the ground in a gravel and sandy formation, a tusk which was
declared by the savants at New York to be that of an elephant. It was four feet and four inches long, five inches
in diameter, and weighed in a partly decomposed state, thirty-two pounds. It was taken to New York, and became a
part of Barnums collection, and was probably burned with his museum. There was also found at the same place, a
portion of the hip bone of an animal, with a socket hole as large as a wash basin.
The agricultural resources of Portland were at first winter wheat and cattle. The
former was raised about eight years, and then spring wheat for about the same length of time. Corn is now the
principal product, nearly all of which is fed to hogs and cattle.
The Presbyterian Church and society in Portland, was organized at Sharon 1839, by
Rev. Mr. Wilcox, of Geneseo, Henry county. The first members were: Deacon Kemmis, Mrs. Kemmis, his mother, Mr. and
Mrs. Jeremiah H. Johnson, Mrs. Nathaniel Norton, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Getty, Mrs. Durfee, Reuben Hurd, and Horace
Hurd. The society was organized in the school house near James Rowe’s place, and in which the little church held
their meetings. It was not long before they were blessed by the addition of members, mostly by confession of faith.
The old log school house became too small for the requirements of the church, and steps were taken to build a
meeting house. Such was the energy with which the work was prosecuted that on Christmas Day, 1841, it was finished
and dedicated. Nathaniel Norton was the largest contributor towards the erection of the church but all contributed
according to their limited means. Mr. Norton soon afterwards donated ten acres of land to the church, and assisted
largely in erecting a comfortable parsonage at a cost of $400. Rev. Daniel Rockwell was the first settled pastor
and he ministered to their spiritual wants for two years, some twelve members being added to the church during the
time. Rev. Mr. Bliss, a returned missionary, then took charge and remained one year. Following him was Rev. Amasa
C. Lord, who remained a year and a half. Rev. E.R. Martin then became pastor, and continued his labors for seven
years. Under his pastorate the church obtained its greatest prosperity, having fifty-one members. Unfortunately the
parsonage, with all the church records, was burned at this time. A new one was, however, soon erected. At the close
of Mr. Martin’s term, Rev. Joseph Baldwin became pastor, remaining only six months, and was succeeded by Rev. Wm.
Kenricks, who continued in charge for three years. The next settled clergyman was Rev. J. P. Chambers who continued
his labors for three years, after which the church was without stated pastoral supply for six years. Rev. Mr.
Corbet is the present pastor, and during his ministry twenty-five have been added to the church. It now has a
membership of forty. There is a fine cemetery adjoining the church, and in it sleep a large number of the oldest
settlers. There is also a cemetery adjoining the school house on section 14, in which there is a handsome monument,
erected by the citizens of the town in honor of her brave and noble sons who fell in the war for the preservation
of the Union.
The first town meeting in Portland township, under the township organization law,
was held April 6, 1852, at which town officers were elected for that year. The town records show that a vote was
passed at the town meeting in 1854 to pay a bounty of one dollar for every wolf killed, and in 1859 it was
increased to two dollars. The consequence was that many wolves where killed. In 1855, and again in 1864, every
person owning more than one dog was taxed one dollar for each additional canine, the amount collected to go to the
school fund. In 1857 it was voted "that all estrays, after being ten days in the possession of any person taking up
said estray, shall cause an entry to be made in the town records, or pay a penalty double the value of said estray,
to defray the expenses of the town the ensuing year." At the town meeting in 1870, and again in 1871 it was voted
to fine all hogs and sheep found running at large ten dollars a head, the owners, of course, having to pay the
fine. The proposition to build a Town Hall was defeated in 1873, by a vote of 15 to 86. The town of Portland did
not pay any extra bounties during the war, but filled her quota with the county bounty, and had surplus enough left
to defray the town expenses for 1867.
The following have been the Supervisors, Town Clerks. Assessors, Collectors, and
Justices of the Peace, elected in the township of Portland, from the organization of the township, in 1852, until
the present time:
Supervisors:-1852 George Paddock - Mr. Paddock resigned during the year and P.
Bacehus Besse was appointed to fill the vacancy; 1853-’58. P. Bacchus Besse; 1859-60. Alphonso Brooks; 1861, Daniel
F Cole; 1862, A. T. Bracken; 1863-’64. Horace B. Cole; 1865, P. Bacehus Besse; 1866, Levi Fuller; 1867. Henry
Kempster; 1868-69, P. Bacehus Besse; 1870-’71, Daniel F. Cole; 1872-74, John L. Marvel; 1875-~76, P. Bacehus Besse;
1877, Daniel F. Cole.
Towu Clerks:-1852, Alphonso Brooks; 1853-’54, Solomon M. Seely; 1855-57, Alphonso
Brooks; 1858-65, Caleb P. Lanphere; 1866, H. J. Anderson; 1867- 68 Caleb P. Lanphere; 1869, D. F. Cole; 1870, E.
J. Talcott; 1871-73, J. Fradenburgh; 1874-75, Caleb P. Lanphere-Mr. Lanphere died in 1875 and J S Logan was
appointed to fill the vacancy; 1876, J. S. Logan; 1877, Alfred D Booth.
Assessors: 1852, John S. Logan; 1853, John M. Brooks; 1854, Horace B. Cole, 1855 D.
Porter Brewer; 1856-58, John S. Logan; 1859-60, George Paddock, 1861-63 John S. Logan; 1864, Arbela Adams; 1865-69,
Rodney M Besse; 1870-74. John S. Logan; 1875-77, Andrew J. Seely.
Collectors: 1852, Levi Fuller; 1853, Edward S. Dickinson; 1854-’56, Levi Fuller. 1857
Richard Brown; 1858-’65, Levi Fuller; 1866, George Fuller 1867-68 Samuel J. Arnett; 1869, Levi Fuller; 1870,
George Fuller; 1871-72. B. F. Brooks; 1873, Erastus Fuller; 1874, B.F. Brooks; 1875, Erastus Fuller; 1876, William
McNeil, Jr.; 1877, W. C. Graham.
Justices of the Peace:-1852, John P. Welding; 1854, John Ruffeom, David B. Seely;
1858, Daniel F. Cole, John S. Logan; 1860, Daniel F. Cole, Alphonso Brooks; 1864, Daniel F. Cole, John S. Logan;
1868, Daniel F. Cole, John S. Logan; 1872, Daniel F. Cole, George T. Martin; 1873, Daniel F. Cole, John Riley;
1875, Gilbert Rogers; 1877, Daniel K Cole, Gilbert Rogers.
The township of Portland contains 15,049 acres of improved land, and 7,194 acres of
unimproved laud. The Assessors books show that the number of horses in the township in 1877, was 773; number of
cattle, 1,969; mules and asses, 29; sheep, 239; hogs, 3,174; carriages and wagons, 245; watch and clocks, 192~
sewing and knitting machines, 101; pianofortes, 1; melodec and organs, 29. Total assessed value of lands, lots, and
personal property 1877, $423,010. The population of the township in 1870, according to the Federal con of that
year, was 986, of which 882 were of native birth, and 104 of force birth. In 1860 Portland had a population of 906.
The estimated population in 1877, is 1,050