The Wise Man Built His House

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27


The man who built the house at Hannah’s Hill was named William Carson Kane. 
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W.C. Kane was born in southern Illinois in 1873 in Long Branch township, which is about 10 miles north of Harrisburg, IL. He held many respectable positions within the community, such as Principal of Harrisburg High School, Math Teacher, Physician, Lawyer and State’s Attorney.  
W.C. Kane
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His grandparents, Hugh Carson (1797-1857) and Isabella (Johnson) Kane (1810-1884) were both born in Pennsylvania, and were some of the first settlers in southern Illinois. The town of Harrisburg, where W.C. eventually built the homestead at Hannah’s Hill, was settled in 1847.

W.C.’s parents were Robert Carson (1848-1905) and Mary (Mings) Kane (1839-1879). Interestingly, I am related (by marriage) to W.C. Kane, by way of Mary (Mings) Kane. Some of the Mings family still live up in Long Branch township in Saline County today.

Robert Carson Kane, W.C.’s dad
Mary (Mings) Kane, W.C.’s mom
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W.C. would have been around 29 years old when he built the house at Hannah’s Hill.  (Coincidentally, we were also 29 when we bought the property.) 

At the time, it was one of the nicest homes in the area. It is located on top of a hill to the northwest side of Harrisburg, just beyond the city limits today. Missing from the photo below is the “little house” a smaller house on the property that was demolished in the late 1960s. Also not pictured, a big red barn used to stand on the property out in the pasture.

Hannah’s Hill, circa 1980s.
Main house at center, fence lined circle driveway, neighbor’s pond at center left, garage and shop at mid-right, small cattle barn far right, pond at top center/right, and between the pond and the main house is another cattle barn.

W.C. Kane married Mary “Addie” (Berry) Kane and together they had three children. Sadly she passed away at the age of 38, presumably at the main house on the property. Her obituary was sweetly written here.

Addie (Berry) Kane with children
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After Addie’s, passing, W.C. married Ethel (Belt) Kane and together they had one child, William “Bill” Kane. Ethel passed away in either 1952 or 1962 at the main house, and William Carson Kane passed away in January of 1963 in St. Louis at the age of  90. Near his death, he was living in St. Louis under the care of his son, Dr. Byford C. Kane.

W.C. was buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Harrisburg, IL.

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Soon after his death, the entire property was purchased by my grandma and grandpa, who at that time were renting “the little house”.

The main house consisted of a full basement which we think originally had a dirt floor,  a main level with kitchen, living area, den and bathroom, and then an upstairs floor with 4 bedrooms and one bath. 

A coal fired furnace and hot water radiators provided heating for the house, and there was also a water cistern system made of brick and coated in plaster, which collected rain water for use throughout the house. The house was originally sided in wood clapboard and had a red brick foundation and front porch. Old knob and tube electrical circuit is routed throughout the house, which would have been a luxury for a house built in the early 1900s. The single-car garage built by W.C. Kane still exists today, and it was constructed of the same red brick used on the main house’s foundation.

My uncle Steve in front of the original garage structure, 1970s

In the 1960s thru today, the front porch was screened-in, however I’m not sure if it was originally screened when the Kanes built the house.

1967, Oglesby kids on front porch, notice it’s screened at this time

There is evidence that the top story of the house badly burnt sometime before 1930, when W.C. Kane still owned it. We’re not certain, but believe the original design of the house was very similar to the E.W. Stillwell Large California Bungalow.

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The bottom floor of the house is exactly the same as this design (even most of the dimensions line up), however the top floor has some differences after being rebuilt after the fire. 

I did some reading and found that E.W. Stillwell didn’t start practicing architecture until around 1904. If the house at Hannah’s Hill was built in 1902, I’m not sure that Stillwell designed it. But it is remarkably similar.