The gravestone of Israel Guild and Rachel Kellogg
parents of Eunice Hemenway,
The village's original name, Orangeville, was taken from the old precinct which encompassed Wayne Township prior to 1850. With removal of the McMillens Grove post office to the village in 1851, Orangeville became Wayne Center. For some years the settlement also was known as "Gimletville". Money in those days was scarce, and a large number of gimlets came into the possession of the Inn. Eventually they had to be given as change; hence, according to tradition, teamsters coined the nickname for the little settlement.
A schoolhouse, a log structure, was built west of the village about 1844. The district erected a new school building in 1853. On visiting this school in that year, Hope Brown, County School Commissioner, gave it a highly favorable report. He said, in part: "The school in the village of Orangeville...contains fifty-seven pupils, and is under the charge of Mrs. L.S. Sikes, a graduate of Oberlin College with an A.B. Degree and assisted by Miss J.A. Guild. This school contains not only the children of the district in which it s localed, but it has pupils from other districts and several belonging to other towns. I was highly gratified with the appearance of this school. The room is spacious, convenient and pleasant, the teachers well qualified and efficient, the pupils are interested in and attentive to their studies, and the friends of education in this place are desirous of making this school the High School of the Northern part of our county.
Oberlin College of Ohio, founded in 1833 to educate ministers and teachers for America's West, was the first coeducational collegiate institution in America, as well as a pioneer in allowing the admission of black students on an equal basis with white students. Charles G. Finney, later the president of that school, offered this perspective on Oberlin's policy of racial equality:
On commenting on the terms that must be met for Mr. Finney to come to teach at Oberlin, one such term was "that we should be allowed to receive colored people on the same conditions that we did white people; that there should be no discrimination made on account of color"
EC Guild's Underground Railroad station Elias Cornelius Guild
In the pre-Civil War days, feelings were very strong on the slavery issue. Wayne Center, settled by New Englanders, was an Abolitionist stronghold. Elias Guild (Mrs. Hemenway's brother) kept a station of the legendary Underground Railroad in his home. His son Rufus recalled hearing of one group of five slaves whom his father received one time at night, kept hidden the next day, and took to Bloomingdale the next night to the next station.
As Rufus Guild wrote: "The Post
Office at Wayne Center was a
community affair located in the general store for the convenience of
neighbors; mail addressed to them was received at Wayne village and
brought to the Center by volunteers about twice each week.
(The store was sold to Edwin Hemenway in 1871, who ran it until 1877.) Located on the northwest corner of present-day Gerber and Army Trail Roads, the store's merchandise was enumerated in an advertisement of 1876:
Wayne Center…was for many years an old landmark, and for many years its people entertained the hope of some day becoming one of the inland cities of Illinois…many of the finest farms in the county are located in this town. The first church bell ever rang in this township hangs in the belfry of the..Congregational Church at Wayne Station.
In the late 1840's western Wayne Township was awakened by the prospect of a coming railroad. Its erection long a rumor on the prairie, the railroad promised a convenient market, a supply of imported goods, and a vital link with Chicago...The first train, drawn by the "Pioneer", passed over the strap rails in January, 1850.
The decade of the 1860's
provided much excitement for the
village. Preluded by the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the election of 1860
touched off the Civil War. A number of soldiers from Wayne enlisted and
some of them never returned. During the same period, the village was
thrown into a frenzy when Amelia, daughter of John Glos, was lost in
the woods for several days. The whole community heaved a sigh of relief
when she was found, for the timber was infested with wolves, and many
feared she had perished.
from Wayne Community and Township History by Hattie and Frederick Glos
There were but few settlers in the town at the time when the first building was put up, and the owners of it anticipated some trouble in procuring help at the raising. They however, obviated all difficulty on that score by sending for a barrel of whiskey, which, with the subordinate services of only three men, performed the work in an expeditious and satisfactory manner.
No incidents occurred in the early settlement of this town but such as are common to the settlement of all new countries. But little more grain was raised during the first two years than enough to satisfy the demand at home. Prices were extremely low for all kinds of produce, and market was a great way off. The proceeds of a load of corn taken to Chicago were hardly sufficient to defray the expenses of the trip. One of the first settlers informs us, however, that he did realize three dollars and twelve and a half cents from the sale of one load of forty bushels, which he took to Chicago in 1836, after using twenty-five cents for necessary expenses. There were no difficulties respecting claims in this town, and every claimant received his full quantity of land at the time of the land sale.
The surface of the town is generally uneven, consisting of rolling prairie. Wheat, oats, and corn are the chief agricultural staples. Probably no town in the county is better adapted to the culture of grain.
Fruit is cultivated to a considerable extent in this town, especially the more hardy kinds. Apple trees grow well; but the fruit is rendered an uncertain crop on account of the severity of our winters. Frequent attempts have been made to raise pears, peaches, plums and cherries, without much success. The red English cherry, being the most hardy, does better than any of its class. Mr. Luther Bartlett, of this town, has been more persevering in his efforts to introduce choice kinds of fruit than any other person in this part of the county. Some four years since he procured, at great expense, from eastern nurseries and by importation from Europe, about five hundred dwarf pear trees, and set them out on his farm. The first two years the trees did well, and gave promise of coming fruitfulness; but during the summer of 1856, which followed an unusually hard winter was also unfavorable, and gave an impetus to the work of destruction commenced by the former season, which almost desolated this field. There are now scarcely a dozen trees living of the five hundred planted four years ago. We think the experiment of Mr. Bartlett fully determines that this region is not adapted to the raising of choice kinds of fruit.
The attention of the farmers has been of late directed to the introduction of "blooded stock". Wool is becoming an important article among agriculturalists. The farms throughout the town present unmistakable evidence of thrift and industry; the dwellings display neatness and taste; and the barns are constructed on a scale commensurate with the great and growing demands of the harvest fields.
The Congregational Church is the only organized religious body in this town. This society was formed in 1842, or thereabouts, and worshiped in the school house at the Centre, until 1849, when it united with the school district in erecting a building suitable for a church and school-house.
The first settlement at the Centre, alias, "Gimletville", alias, Orangeville, was made in 1836, by Mr. Guild. Mr. A. Guild is the postmaster at this place. It is a small settlement, containing one church, one store, and a few dwelling houses. There is a small settlement at the railroad station, consisting of two stores, one hotel, a post office, station house, and several dwellings. The station is thirty-three miles west of Chicago.
There are no manufacturing establishments in the town, if we exclude the manufacture of brooms, which has been carried on pretty extensively at Wayne Centre. The present population is about 1,100. The town is peaceable and healthful, being cursed by neither lawyers nor doctors.
As a whole, in the elements of material prosperity, this county is not behind any other territory of equal extent in this part of Illinois. The chief staples are corn, wheat, rye, oats and potatoes; but barley, buckwheat, peas and beans are cultivated to some extent. Considerable attention is given to fruit raising. Some varieties of the grape are grown, and the produce is abundant.
The Guild House Wayne, Illinois
On the front porch of his little country store in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln and Berry, his partner, stood. Business was all gone, and Berry asked, “How much longer can we keep this going?” Lincoln answered, “It looks as if our business has just about winked out.” Then he continued, “You know, I wouldn’t mind so much if I could just do what I want to do. I want to study law. I wouldn’t mind so much if we could sell everything we’ve got and pay all our bills and have just enough left over to buy one book—Blackstone’s Commentary on English Law, but I guess I can’t.”
A strange-looking wagon was
coming up the road. The driver
angled it up close to the store porch, then looked at Lincoln and said,
“I’m trying to move my family out west, and I’m out of money. I’ve got
a good barrel here that I could sell for fifty cents.” Abraham
Lincoln’s eyes went along the wagon and came to the wife looking at him
pleadingly, face thin and emaciated. Lincoln ran his hand into his
pocket and took out, according to him, “the last fifty cents I had” and
said, “I reckon I could use a good barrel.” All day long the barrel sat
on the porch of that store. Berry kept chiding Lincoln about it. Late
in the evening Lincoln walked out and looked down into the barrel. He
saw something in the bottom of it, papers that he hadn’t noticed
before. His long arms went down into the barrel and, as he fumbled
around, he hit something solid. He pulled out a book and stood
petrified: it was Blackstone’s Commentary on English Law.
Lincoln later wrote, “I stood there holding the book and looking up toward the heavens. There came a deep impression on me that God had something for me to do and He was showing me now that I had to get ready for it. Why this miracle otherwise?” - Bible.org
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