History of Weston, Illinois
Previous to the year 1366, there had been a switch and a water-tank about two miles east of where Weston now stands, which was on the west line of Livingston County, three miles from Fairbury. This watering place was, for this or for some other reason not known to the oldest inhabitant, called Weston. When, in the year above mentioned, the switch and town plat were laid out on Section 3 of Yates, westward the name of Wesson took its way, and became attached to this place. The plat and its surroundings embrace about 120 acres in the southeast quarter of Section 3, which the abstract of title shows passed from the United States to Horatio N. Wheeler, of Peoria, and from Wheeler and wife to W. F. Bryan, of Peoria, so that there is no trouble in regard to the title of all town property. It was understood that Mr. Cruger, the Vice President of the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw Railway, was to be a partner in this town speculation, but no such arrangement was made, and Mr. Bryan continued sole owner.
The town was surveyed by the late Nelson Buck, of Pontiac, and embraced twenty-three blocks besides the public common, lying between the depot-grounds and the blocks, and one square which has been set apart for a public square, and set out to trees. For some years, there was no depot-building or freight-house. Mr. H. D. Legerwood was agent, and Dr. H. E. Johnson was Postmaster, and kept a few groceries for sale. J. 0. Exley came here in 1868, from Philadelphia, and built the large store which he still occupies for a residence and store, and put in a stock of goods. About the same time, Mr. McKee, a carpenter by trade, built a store and rented to Henry Culp for mercantile purposes. Dr. Holderness, Dow of Chenoa, also built, and opened a small stock of drugs and medicines. The grain trade, by this time, demanded better accommodations than shovel and apron, and John Boland built the elevator now standing. Boland soon after sold it to Exley, who put in a run of stones to grind corn, and put in steam power. George Hancock put up the first blacksmith-shop, and G. W. Allison the first wagon-shop, the same year. A. W. Howard and C. C. Enslow, under the name of A. W. Howard & Co., soon after this commenced the grain business here and built the western elevator. The firm carried on a large business here, buying grain and selling goods, for ten years.
In 1871, Mr. Boyd built the eastern elevator, 24×45 feet, 30 feet high to the top of the square, and has a capacity of 15,000 bushels. He remained in trade only about a year, since which Haynes, Jorden & Co., of Chenoa, have occupied it; three years later, Mr. A. Rakestraw entered into partnership with them and carried on a large business in the firm name of Rakestraw, Haynes & Co. In 1872, John Pool left his farm and came to Weston to engage in the mercantile trade. He has built a large and lucrative trade, carrying the largest stock of goods in the village. The same year, Edgar Blaisdell came from Chenoa, where he had been in trade six years, and became business manager for Haynes, Jorden & Co. Three years later, be purchased the western elevator, a fine building 24×32, feet, 40 feet to the top of the square, which, together with the old building, 24×30 feet, 18 feet high, has a capacity of about 25,000 bushels. He is a business man of large ability, and, besides his large grain trade, is agent for Mr. Bryan, Postmaster, and, in partnership with Mr. Purdy, is interested in the store. A good idea of the business of Weston can be got from the following figures: Of the crop of 1878, there have been purchased here 83,000 bushels of corn, 38,000 bushels of oats, 8,000 bushels of rye. Grain is usually shipped from here to Philadelphia, occasionally to Peoria and to Chicago. There are now twenty-five residences in Weston, three churches, three elevators, eight stores, and a dozen shops, offices, etc.
The Methodist Church was built in 1873; is a plain, four-walled structure, without ornament, 32×46, and cost $1,700. Since its organization, the Weston Church has been a part of Chenoa Circuit, and has been regularly supplied by the pastors of that charge, whose names appear in the history of that place. It has about fifty members, and begins to feel the need of a pastor for full time.
The Christian Church was built the same year; is 30×40, plain, like the other, and, like it, is kept nicely painted; cost, $1,400. Elder H. D. Legerwood was the earliest and is the present Pastor of this church, and it is through his faithful labors. in a great part, that this comfortable house was built and religious services kept up.
By far the sightly church edifice is Zion Church, the building of the German Evangelical Church, which was built in 1875 and 1876, and dedicated to religious worship in February, 1876. The building is 24×36, twenty feet high, with a spire sixtyfive feet high, from in front of the centre. The trustees who had this building in charge, and who so faithfully did the important work, were Messrs. Anton Adam, .Joseph Adam, Kiradan Raedle, John Nagel and J. Jikadanz. The building cost about $1,800. This church belongs to the Illinois Conference, and is in the Pontiac Circuit, the other appointments being Sand Ridge, Owego, Ocoya and Rooks’ Creek. Rev. George Eichenlaub is Pastor.
The Weston School is in charge of Mr. David Vance, Jr., who is doing faithful work in behalf of education ; number of pupils enrolled, 50; average attendance, 39. Pupils are taken through the statutory studies.
The persons and firms now engaged in business here are: Dry goods, etc., John Pool, H. C. Purdy S, Co., R. R. Grady, J. 0. Exley, J. W. Finley; grain, Rakestraw, Haynes & Co., Blaisdell & Leeret ; blacksmiths, W. H. Loper, Warren Chamberlain ; wagon maker, G. IV. Allison ; restaurant, J. W. Finley;. physician, – ; station agent, H. E. Lamb; baggage and trackmaster, James McNally.
The Postmasters have been H. E. Johnson, A. W. Howard, H. C. Purdy and Edgar Blaisdell.